Challenges to the Reform of the Social Body

We are centering our discussion here to the limits of ideology’s capability to resolve social problems, specifically, those which are borne of human prejudices as they extend to social systems.

We proceed with a negative view of ideology taking into account the historical circumstances under which ideology can prosper today. These historical circumstances generally indicate that ideology has exhausted its social efficacy to advance meaningful reforms.

One can simply look at the general phenomenon of social disparity in our country, which to say the last, is class-oriented. When we say class-oriented we refer to the classical economic theory of the relation between labor and capital resources. The crux of the matter is that this relation prospers on an asymmetrical basis. If an economy survives because of this asymmetry, there is no other scientific explanation than the fact that asymmetry can manage to balance out the differences between labor and capital. We should not however be misled of understanding this equalizing force as something inherent to the system itself. In fact what helps the system balance out, on the level of social appearance (or social phenomenality) the economic differences is beyond the purview of economy. We are referring here to the political implementation of an economic model, in this case, the classical economic model. As an aside, what today is dubbed as a neo-liberal economic model is nothing less than an extension of a more enhanced political model vis-à-vis the administration of economy. The classical framework is still there, only the political motivations go beyond the founding intentionality of the classical model without destroying it.

Generally speaking an economy is something that does not happen by its own will; rather, it happens by the will of the political. We mean the political, for instance, as a system of running the affairs of the economy as well as the social body as a whole like a political system, a political platform, etc. This chain of causations can go on infinitely. Scientifically speaking, however, the chain of causation stops at the limit of human actions that can cause things, namely, the ideological.

Ideology roughly means a set of belief systems or outlooks which in their raw state, that is, at the crude level of the personal, is deeply rooted in human biases. Biases are formed by two major causalities: the ecological and the bioethical. By ecological we refer to the environment as a whole which may be sub-classified as that in and around which the person is situated, such as the family, the community, the ethnic, the geographic, the national territory, etc. By bioethical we refer to the individuation of the human being, a fundamental learning process of discovery and rediscovery throughout the course of a lifetime. Individuation refers to the process of self-discovery, which may be obtained through experience, formal and informal. The bioethical, however, is by nature weak in terms of its capability to alter the environment. This explains the ethical part of self-discovery: discovery should become a co-constitutive process, a co-discovery with others, in short. The process of co-discovery at times can obtain a sufficient force to alter the ecological dimension by means of reform or revolution through the collective decisionism of individuals forming themselves into a societal force whose primary objective is to transform the status quo of the ecologic. The process of co-discovery may be understood also as a process of devising an ideological plan for the reform of the ecological. But first co-discovery must transform the nature of ideology as personal into the political for it to be an effective saturation mechanism in terms of filtering individual differences.

We can notice here that the inspiration behind the creation of an ideological system is the bioethical which is rich in person-oriented goals. It suffices to say that the bioethical has an equal inherent tendency to become self-absorbed and espouse parochialism. Owing to its natural orientation, the bioethical can become deeply personal, enough to turn its goals and beliefs into an ad hominem system. Such tendency, for instance, characterized the bioethical mode of past human societies, lacking in sufficient opportunities to expand the personal horizon as well as in social mechanisms to push self-empowerment into the dimension of co-empowerment with others. In other words, past societies were limited by the ecological, by their environment. This also means that the bioethical had a limited capability to alter the state of things.

On the advent of modern social formations, the bioethical has been accorded opportunities to alter the ecological which, more than its social environmental connotations, has also extended to the biosphere and the natural physical sphere of ecology. However, this phenomenon is not much to be desired. In the course of self-empowerment, the ecological—both the social and the physical environment as a whole—has taken the hardest blow in terms of population explosion, pollution, displacement of human dwelling, and recently, the phenomenon of climate change. All these are administered to nature and society through massive industrialization, urbanization, or in short, the modernization of human society.

Indeed, modernization has accorded wondrous opportunities for self-empowerment but with steep consequences, not only to the ecologic in general, but also, and more crucially, to the bioethical as a whole. Self-empowerment has turned in on itself by reducing and blocking off access and opportunities for others to empower themselves on equal terms. This is the classical explanation for what modernity has done to human civilization in general, which can also explain the disparity that the classical economic model has tolerated, creating a divide among classes, between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the oppressed, between elite and mass culture, etc.

The fact that these disparities exist in modern societies wherever they are today indicate that modernity has championed an idea of the bioethical that centers on individualism. Self-empowerment is performed with anticipation of gratifying individualistic goals. True enough these individualistic goals encourage social divisions as they exist today. Class disparities are nothing less than the extensions of individual differences, but at a more enhanced level such that differences are observable in terms of social status, rank, and class that persons occupy. Rank, status, and class are all encrusted with personalistic biases which disguise themselves as social (impersonal) structures which sanction the popular view that persons are simply agents of systems not the active molders and architects of systems themselves. This creates a social consciousness in which persons await their destinies, not as persons who shape their own fates. One way to explain this is the fact that majority believes that to be rich or to be poor is a matter of preordination, such as what most religions teach.

We speak here of the majority as the majority consciousness shaped by modernity. As we have stressed, this consciousness in general is founded on the premise of self-empowerment, of the bioethical transforming the ecological or social landscape. Modernity is about an aggressive promotion of self-empowerment the consequences of which would be too extensive to discuss here. As long as self-empowerment remains the paradigm of modern social existence, the problems it has engendered will continue to beset us. Therefore the resolution lies beyond the modernist paradigm.

This is to say that the bioethical has become ideological in the second degree. The first degree ideological refers to the individuation process that has been overtaken by individualistic goals. Individuation as a process of self-discovery and rediscovery is transformed into a process of self-acquisition, self-aggrandizement, self-territorialization,etc. We have emphasized previously that this form of bioethical learning is weak, in fact, slow in nature vis-à-vis the compelling and aggressive framework of the bioethical as an ideological self-empowerment. Indeed, this weak and slow nature of the ideological in the first bioethical degree is no match to a much stronger, much aggressive form of relating to the ecological or social reality. With massive industrialization and urbanization alone the autochthonous essence of the bioethical has been erased to the point of beyond recognition. The more we modernize human society the less we can rediscover the values of the past which, among others, can teach us the virtue of circumspection, discretion, and the ability to take time before a drastic decision is made such as would encourage a truly democratic exchange of opinions and views before a decision can be made.

In our previous discussion, we have recommended a return to the primordial without being anachronistic. Our discussion here is an elaboration of that option vis-à-vis the problems that modern society confronts today. Among our recommendations is the need to neutralize the aggressiveness of modernity and channel this to a revival of enabling traditional values of the past. One way to do this is to deprive modernity of its effective weapon, namely, its aggressive spirit. This may be done, among others, by depending our social reform agendas less on ideological terms.
August 5, 2009

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