Archive for October 2008

LOIN EMPOWERMENT: CHURCH CRANKY POLITICAL DISCOURSE

October 29, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Religious fundamentalism is among the mega-waves of the moment. Secularism, which was a 19th century wave yet, had reached its full circle around the 3rd quarter of the 20th century. From 1980 onwards, with the advent of Islam Fundamentalism and Religious Right (Christian Right, Hindu Right), secularism has been taking the backseat as fundamentalism’s seductive new dogma delivered their devastating blows on erstwhile ‘enemies of God’.

Catholic fundamentalism has been riding along this mighty wave since then, and had already dealt its own devastating blows on perceived God’s enemies: (a) Irish Republic Army partisans killing thousands of children-women-aged ‘collateral damage’ folks; (b) Croatian Army, armed by the Opus Dei, storming the Serbian bastion, killing thousands of ‘collateral damage’ folks, and declaring a separate republic, along a largely contorted notion of ‘nation’ (ethno-nation); and (c) Christian militias armed to the teeth in many parts of the globe, causing enormous damages and misery on the affected folks.  

More such violent genocidal campaigns will be fomented by Catholic crypto-fascists in the months and years to come yet. This is not to count those hundreds of millions of deaths caused by the Crusades, Inquisition, imperial conquests of Catholic powers (Spain, Portugal, Bavaria, Hapsburg, etc). During the Philippine Revolutionary War against Catholic Imperial Spain, no less than half a million Filipinos died, while millions died more due to the forced labor, population resettlements, and abominable cruelties by the Catholic Spaniards.

If we reflect on all of those past genocidal campaigns done by the Catholics, and add the death tolls inflicted by contemporary terroristic adventurisms of Church partisans, we may wonder what ‘pre-emptive right’ do Catholic cryto-fascists possess that render them as indubitably clean, spotless, pure souls who cry wolf whenever issues concerning population control and/or reproductive health are raised, in the name of a new distorted moron one-liner ‘pro-life’.

The same puritanical quacks, none of whom lives a life that is unblemished and sagely worth our emulation, are again in the heat of raising the same fear-based ‘pro-life’ in the electoral campaign in America. Here in Manila, the same puritanical  quacks have been on the rampage over the legislative victory of the long-awaited Reproductive Health Bill, using the same pathetically bankrupt one-liner ‘pro-life’ spiced with highly nauseating lies about “the destruction of Philippine way of life” by the noblesse legislators. Nay, the same quackery has been raised by the fear-mongers to convince Filipino-Americans not to vote for Obama next week, for Christ’s sake!  

Come to think of it, if we examine the underlying logic of the puritanical quackery, we can see the fear of Church Hierarchs & lay leaders in a rapid diminution of church devotees across the coming decades. The political economy of church operations clearly reveals thus: the more people participating in church life, the greater the power of the purse of the Bishops, priests, religious orders, and lay organizations. This reality of political economy explains why the Church today remains very powerful, because it is the world’s wealthiest corporate entity taken in the aggregates, whose wealth no nation or corporate group can ever surpass.

To restate the thesis in another manner: loin power means purse power. Following from that logic, purse power means greater prestige and political power by the Church. A diminished loin power, due to the meteoric ascent of ‘reproductive health’ and/or ‘pro-choice’ discourse in the realms of legislation and administration also means the consequent decline of the purses of the Church operators.

As the issues and defenses are raised across partisan lines, Islamic partisans are mobilizing their forces of engagement, ready to start a World War III in their region, a war that could embroil the entire planet in another 30 Years War and see the eventual erasure of nations in a Post-Westphalia regime. Catholic militias and terrorists are increasing by the numbers across the globe, evidenced in my own country by the return of the infamous Tadtad and Ilaga groups that have regrouped and mobilized to engaged marauding Jihadist terrorists in their Mindanao backyards.

Since the Church is awash with cash, gold bullions, estates, and hedge funds anyway, every Catholic diocese may as well begin arming militias and related partisans who would be tasked to run after Catholic infidels or those who do not follow the faith in the manner so dictated by Paleolithic fogey dogma. In order to defend the ‘pro-life’ line, kill more, bomb more, cause miseries on more people, in the name of God! Praise be to God!

Urbanization is another mega-wave in our planet today, a wave that brings with it the ever-widening individuation of the human psyche. Herd discourse such as those peddled by the Pied Piper puritanical quacks, which induces a retreat to the folk spirit or folkgeist and is tantamount to retrogression of the species, has no place in an increasingly individuating psyche. Spirituality may also increase with time, but this spirituality will be of the ‘seeker’ or ‘freethinker’ type, a spirituality that is not susceptible to mind-bending manipulation by the folk spirit Pied Pipers. 

This could be the reason why, in the Philippines, amid the much ballyhooed 86% membership of Filipinos in the Vatican church or corporation, the devotees have voiced a predominantly pro-reproductive health inclination according to official nationwide surveys. Obama has got nothing to do with this inclination, the legislators’ pro-active measure on population & development has been in Congress for nigh two (2) decades now, but we do see the increasing individuation among an increasingly sophisticated urban habitué led by the urban boheme & intelligentsia.

The same Catholic puritanical quacks are joined by Christian Right groups in the USA in waging a last-ditch attempt to derail the popular gains of Obama versus his contender McCain as per latest survey. The same sickening discourse, characteristic of mental bankruptcy and mediocre “understanding” (sic!) of the human condition, is being mass-disseminated by a loose alliance of cryto-fascists, all working to subtly use loin power to keep their groups in hegemonic positions in the private sphere.

What nauseating, pathetic buffoons these folkgeist progenitors are! If they have nothing worth talking about, nothing worth their ilk, they better wrap up and mobilize for armed partisans and face their infidels in the Middle East. While the same puritanical quacks, both Islam and Christian, would be busy slaughtering each other, as they did hundreds of years back, the true peace-loving, life-loving,  dialogue-wielding, universal love-driven citizens of Earth would be collaborating in their efforts for lasting peace and development worldwide.

[Writ 27 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]

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OBAMA IS AMERICA’S MAN OF THE HOUR

October 26, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

The candidacy of Barak Obama had generated a lot of surprises and raised hopes about reversing the trends of economic decay and neo-conservative (fascist) aggression by the USA, henceforth catapulting the USA back to its role as a world leader and friend of the world’s nations. Not only in the USA but also overseas, did Obama capture wide audiences and sympathies, and his image is still moving up the ladder of meteoric ascent as of the moment.

Indubitably, the standard banner candidate of the Democrat Party for the 2008 Presidential Election, Barak Obama, is the Man of the Hour. Intelligent, charismatic, competent, and young, he exudes the aura of a Man of Destiny, and is the man to watch across the globe this decade till next.

Already, a personality cult has been spontaneously rising and interwoven with his personal character, all over the world. Putting this cult aside, I am declaring my sympathy for this candidate, and honestly say that he is an ally to many causes that I advocate. To repeat: Obama is an ally, and a leading ally, not an object of my cult worship. Let those superstitious cult worshippers hold Obama in the highest esteem as their messiah, I have no qualms about their superstition provided that they do not hurt other people whose reverence for Obama isn’t identical to theirs’.

I shall no more dwell on the means for catapulting him to meteoric ascent, as this is better done in some mass communications and political science classes or opinion pages. I would prefer to dwell on Obama’s savvy for public policy, he being a legislator for some considerable numbers of terms now. This to me is the most important feature of his competencies, as public policy will be the cutting edge of his presidency if ever. That includes both domestic policies (economics, welfare & social sectors, growth for the states) and foreign policy.

To sum up my preliminary observations about the man, Obama has what it takes to re-chart the USA towards a new life, as far as public policy is concerned. He knows what policies destroyed America’s economic base, what policy architectures and politico-military actions destroyed America overseas, and he knows what policy options to install in order to reverse the trends. And he has the constituencies to embark on bold policy initiatives, rest assured, even if those policies are unpopular to the elites of his country.

Based on his grasp of public policy, Obama can in fact boldly undertake a revolution in America and across the globe. Obamanomics can be crafted to replace the Reaganomics of the last quarter of a century that resulted to catastrophes in both the USA and across the continents. The thematic directions could very well integrate the state interventionist frames crafted by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Friedrich von List, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, all aimed at promoting the general welfare, effecting prosperity and equity, and galvanizing national unity under the aegis of the US Constitution.  

‘Obama Doctrine’ can be introduced in foreign policy, that can reverse the equally catastrophic neo-conservative (fascistic) unilateralism, global police aggressor deodorant, and anti-terror campaigns that destroyed nations and yet paradoxically led to the broadening and strengthening of terrorist forces worldwide. ‘Obama Doctrine’ may need to recast both the (a) Wilsonian civil rights advocacy and (b) Roosevelt’s New Deal advocacy of engaging America in the development of backward nations, (c) integrate both doctrines, and then use the new doctrine to foster lasting peace, international cooperation and prosperity in the entire planet.

The man has the sophistication to craft the core principles and concepts of his Revolution, I have no doubt about this. No matter how brilliant his core staff may be, he’s got the competence that enables him to exercise ‘relative autonomy’ from his technical team who can, in the end, add the flesh and tissues into the Obama core concepts. At the same time, Obama has the savvy to listen to his brilliant team people and the mass leaders that supported his candidacy, as listening is among his strengths that must have been tempered by his youth upbringing and grassroots work early in his life.

The last ingredient to his success, which should never be underestimated, is his coffers tactics. His candidacy having been funded largely by people’s donations rather than the elite’s purses, Obama is enabled to exercise a ‘relative autonomy’ from the patrimonial interests of America. This fact allows for a ‘14th Brumaire’ of American leadership, a direly needed element to strengthen the institution of both the presidency and the US Constitution. The ‘relative autonomy’, reinforced by a massive constituency, enables the presidency to use sticks against erring elites and emancipate state institutions from the enslaving claws of the Military Industrial Elites.  

Obama brings hope not only to his fellow Americans but also to peoples across the globe who are so sick and tired of imperialistic wars, deaths, and the catastrophic effects of Reaganomics liberalization-privatization-deregulation oligarchic policies. Being an Asian observer, I’d urge my fellow Asians to give the trust to this great leader in the making, give him at least four (4) years to exhibit his performance level, and pray that peace and prosperity can be had globally under Obama’s reign over his federation.

Let’s give peace and prosperity a chance, and here is a man who can demonstrate that building our cherished dreams of peace and end to poverty are viable ones.

[Writ 22 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

36 MILLION DEAD BY AMERICA’S AGGRESSIONS, WHAT SAYETH OBAMA?

October 21, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

In just a couple of weeks’ time, the US voters and electorate will make their decisions about who should be the next American chief exec and vice-president. As a US observer (from Manila), I can now advance my own forecast, based on survey polls and the emerging ethos in the USA, that Barak Obama is the man of the hour, the next president of the USA.

I would now wish to bring the matter of US aggression and its toll to the American voters and the Obama camp, this being a most urgent agenda for international peace and cooperation. As per latest count, since after World War II, when the USA was transformed into a World Power status politico-militarily, over 36 Millions of peoples worldwide already died as aggregate casualties of all the US offensives and related military initiatives. What sayeth Obama and his team about the matter?

For an outside observer, it hardly matters what foreign policy architecture were periodically installed by the US administration to justify aggression of every type. The much hyped ‘global cop’ cliché no longer bites the dust, nobody believes today in the rationale for any further US aggression across the oceans save for fascistic elements that profess sympathies for US imperialistic violence and conflicts. What matters is that (a) the aggressions were committed by (b) an imperialistic power, (c) under the guise of performing a global police role, (d) resulting to a staggering 36+ Million deaths!

Will the Obama leadership finally put a reversal to the policies of global carnage and infernal destruction of nation-states by the US military juggernaut machine? Will the new presidency at least put a break to the pedals of the unstoppable destructive deus ex machina within the next four (4) years?

Will there be no more US aggressions of whatever type beginning in January 2009, when the new president takes his oath of office? Will the unilateralism that was shamelessly and arrogantly exhibited—that alienated the USA from the entire world community for the past eight (8) years—be finally put to rest, and that the USA thereafter go back to multilateralism whereby all military initiatives will be concurred within the framework of the United Nations at least?

How about those victims of all the US aggressions, those men, children, women, disabled, blind, deaf, and humble folks-–will they be indemnified by the United State if ever? Isn’t it time that those demonic aggressors within the US Establishment, who were responsible for those carnages, be brought to international justice to answer for their war crimes?

 

How about those 1,000,000+ Filipinos who died during America’s invasion of my beloved Philippines in the years 1898-1900, during that war of US imperialistic expansionism in East Asia, will their families and descendants ever get to be indemnified if ever? Or maybe it hardly pays to consider those Filipinos as humans, because anyway they aren’t homo sapiens but were rather “brown monkeys with no tails”?

While the Philippine-American War was going on, American soldiers were quick to compose and popularize songs that condescendingly denigrated the islanders to the level of animals. One particular song says “monkeys have no tail in Zamboanga” which captures the American campaign in the Mindanao island that was then predominantly Muslim. The genocidal campaign there was among the most horrific of destructive events, surpassed only by the Batangas and Samar campaigns where entire towns were leveled and razed down the ground, bringing their populations down to zero.

The song summarizes the intent and content of US aggression a full century ago. Invaded populations were no human populations anyway, so it hardly matters to observe civility or protocols of war on the subjected peoples. The explicit order is: do anything necessary to neutralize and destroy them, including razing entire towns and cities to the ground, and do the tasks without compunction. For those warm bodies are not of humans’ but of “monkeys with no tails.”

Did US aggression (in the generic sense) ever change its underlying theme and tone from a century ago to the present? That all those conquered lands outside the US borders, whatever names and cultures they represent, are not of humans’ but of Things other than human? “Take them at all cost pronto!”

Does the more human face exuded by American troops today suffice to conceal what could be an insidious, evil, demonic theme behind every imperialistic-fascistic aggression? When will true civility and ‘rule of reason’ ever govern the use of instruments of aggression by the US military juggernaut, now that such a juggernaut had grown to a complexity unparalleled anywhere in human history?

Like many members of the world community, I am sympathetic to the Man of the Hour, Barak Obama. Like everybody else, my expectations are very high that his regime would deliver the goods and reverse the trends of imperialistic aggressions and carnages. I hope this regime won’t let me down, as my exasperation over American doublespeak had already reached its limits.

I’ve raised my questions, and I’ll assign myself four (4) years to watch. What sayeth you, Fellows out there?

[Writ 21 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila] 

FORESTRY SECTOR & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: GHANA CASE

October 18, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Magandang umaga! Good morning!

 

It is interesting to examine how state players can somehow enable the social responsibility field by enforcing rules on certain market players to recognize the social responsibility criterion in their areas of operations. One such appropriate case is the country of Ghana, where logging firms must follow the same criterion through an instrument called ‘Social Responsibility Agreement.’

 

A summary of the report about the country case is shown below.

 

[07 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]


 

 

Social responsibility agreements in Ghana’s forestry sector

Authors: Ayine,D.M.
Produced by: International Institute for Environment and Development (2008)

In Ghana, legislation requires logging firms to commit a portion of their financial resources towards the provision of social amenities to local forest communities. Logging firms must perform this legal obligation by signing and implementing “Social Responsibility Agreements” (SRAs) with forest communities. This report is about legal arrangements for enabling forest communities in Ghana to participate better in the benefits generated by timber activities.

The document considers whether SRAs serve as effective vehicles for the sharing of benefits between local forest communities and investors. It reviews experience with Social Responsibility Agreements, and looks at what difference they have made to forest communities. In addition the author assesses the design, implementation and outcomes of Social Responsibility Agreements in the forestry industry in Ghana, drawing on a number of SRAs concluded between timber firms and local communities. Conclusions include:

  • Ghana’s experience may provide interesting lessons for other countries that are looking into developing arrangements to promote benefit sharing in forestry or in other sectors
  • the positive features of SRAs include clearly laid out minimum standards, explicit legal backing, and consideration for the conditions laid out in SRAs in the selection process for competitive TUC bids
  • wthe legal framework provides an enabling environment for the negotiation of SRAs, the actual practice of negotiating and implementing these agreements leaves much to be desired
  • Social Responsibility Agreements may become a more effective tool if local groups are better equipped to negotiate them. This requires establishing mechanisms to broaden community representation, so as to minimise local elite capture of SRA benefits. 

REFLECTING COMMUNITY WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

October 13, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Gracious morning to you!

 

A country such as Tanzania that is known for possessing large swaths of wildlife can provide to us a wonderful database regarding the impact of political and economic changes on community wildlife management.

 

Such is precisely the purpose of a report prepared by the Drylands Programme, as summarized below.

 

[05 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]


 

Emergent or illusory? community wildlife management in Tanzania

Authors: Nelson,F.
Produced by: Drylands Programme, IIED (2007)

As the country known around the world as the home of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, few natural resources are more closely associated with Tanzania than its wildlife populations. By the 1980s, Tanzania’s wildlife management practices were under increasing pressure from a set of internal and external forces largely linked with the broad economic and political changes occurring in the country at that time. This led to support for greater local community involvement in wildlife management as a means of pursuing both conservation and rural development goals. This paper considers the outcomes and impacts of wildlife areas in Tanzania, and considers the emergence of community wildlife management (CWM) strategies.

The author highlights that the outcomes of over a decade of CWM in Tanzania reflect broader internal political struggles over land rights, resource governance, and participation in policy formulation, as well as challenges facing efforts to devolve natural resource management to local communities throughout the tropics. The paper concludes with some suggestions for how practitioners in Tanzania and elsewhere might foster more effective and adaptive CWM approaches in light of these outcomes and experiences:

  • new institutional models are needed if CWM is to emerge in Tanzania in a more effective and robust manner
  • efforts to support CWM need to take greater account of the institutional incentives that influence reform outcomes, and recognise that in most instances enabling CWM will require long-term negotiations between local and central interests over resource rights and uses
  • long-term and adaptive strategies for moving the institutional balance of power towards the local level are fundamental to CWM
  • development aid agencies and international conservation organisations need to find innovative ways of supporting institutional processes if they are to make more productive investments in CWM.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=39350&em=240908&sub=enviro

CONTINUING BOURSE PLUNGE DOWN NEAR DEPRESSION LEVEL

October 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good afternoon, Fellows of Planet Earth!

The planet’s bourses are still plunging as of yesterday (Friday), a day that was dabbed as ‘black Friday’ in Japan which saw the Nikkei plunge by 10%. ‘Bloody Friday’ may be a better term, as the word ‘black’ in ‘black Friday’ could be construed as a racial slur.

This gentleman is among the economists/social scientists in Manila who forecast, way back in the late 1980s yet, that the Western economies led by the USA will experience another horrific depression this decade. We were then following the trends of a yawning gap between the ‘financial economy’ or ‘virtual economy’ and the ‘real economy’ based on the GDP statistics. The American economist Lyndon LaRouche devised a very potent graph of the event which he termed as ‘collapse function’.

As of late 2007, debts in the USA already exceeded the GDP by four (4) times. That means that, in the event of a bubble burst (which came from the realty markets), the economy will come crashing down. It is simply impossible for a $13 Trillion GDP to pay up for debts approximating $50 Trillion last year. In the secondary debt markets, financial derivatives exposures breached the $120 Billion mark in the USA last year, and that all the more exacerbates the weakness and fragility of a $13Trillion economy that simply doesn’t have the money to pay up for ballooning private and public debts.

My own forecast is that the stock market plunge across the globe, which is now in the vogue of a ‘freefall’, will continue till next year yet. At its best, the Dow Jones index reached past 13,000 points about less than a couple of years ago. The same index had already shrunk below 10,000 points at its worst. By next year, the Dow will further shrink by as low as 8,000-8,500 points, the range that actually represents the real value of the entire US economy.

1 Point in the US bourse is equivalent to $1.5 Billion more or less, at its best. A shrunken size would deflate the value to around $1 Billion. At 13,300 points, the Dow index represents a value worth $20 Trillion, which seemingly exceeds the GDP of the entire federation. But that amount is largely speculation, the speculative value exceeding beyond 50% of the real value of the commodity lines traded.

8,500 points in the Dow index would yield, at deflated value, around $8.5 Trilion dollars. That same estimate is the real value of the US economy in GDP terms, per year, as of today. The value of $13 Trillion includes the value of speculation and fiction, on account of the predominance of the ‘virtual economy’.

As I’ve already explained in a previous article, the Bush-Paulson bailout, allocated an amount of $700 Trillion, is a faulty measure to salve the financial ailments of the USA. It follows from the flawed Japanese ‘crisis management’ bailout of huge banks that went in the red last decade, a tragic measure that flattened Japan’s growth to almost zero for around ten years at least. It is a band aid solution to a gargantuan problem that is equivalent to cancer, and everybody knows that band aid doesn’t cure cancer.

That explains the jittery situation of the post-bailout law scenario. Financial traders and investors who still recall well the Japanese fiasco just couldn’t be appeased by a repeat of the same band aid solution, this time to an economy almost three times bigger than Japan’s (in real value). For as long as no strategic solution to the global financial crash is in site, the stock markets will be jittery till next year, and before long we would see both the USA and Europe plunge back to the depression years of the mid-1920s to early 1930s.

Let’s see what will happen to the election fever in the USA. Some liquidity will be produced by the election spending there, and the optimistic pitch created by the electoral situation may somehow drive back the bourses up a bit. That is just a temporary respite from the blazing flames of the crash, rest assured.

[Writ 11 October, 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

FORESTRY EDUCATION & TRAINING UPDATE

October 6, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Forestry education is among those human development engagements that are urgently being delivered today.

A study done in Kenya, by Temu A & Kiwia A, examined how future forestry education can respond to expanding societal needs. The study is summarized below.

[04 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]

Future forestry education. Responding to expanding societal needs

Authors: Temu,A.; Kiwia,A.
Produced by: World Agroforestry Centre (2008)

Forestry education in recent years has largely failed to adequately respond to the dynamics in forestry practice, the demands of the job market and the challenges of new global forestry paradigms.

This policy brief consolidates recommendations of the first global workshop on forestry education held in September 2007, at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. Attended by 85 participants from 29 countries representing Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe, the workshop deliberated on vital issues for guiding, coordinating and linking relevant institutions and stakeholders in the process of transforming forestry education. They agreed that:

  • increased investment in forestry capacity is imperative
  • improved coordination mechanisms are key at national, regional and global scales to reinforce the quality and content of forestry education and training
  • enhanced harmonisation of forestry with other related sectors is needed in order to achieve synergy of strategies and actions
  • regional and global mechanisms for collaboration in forestry education be established and sustained

The brief asserts that major changes in forestry education, research and practice are urgently needed to improve relevance and popularise forest science, technologies and practices. Obvious implications for neglecting forestry education are noted as:

  • schools of forestry will continue to produce inadequate graduates, lacking the required expertise to handle the emerging complex societal and environmental challenges
  • forestry professional ethics could deteriorate further, leading to indiscriminate destruction of natural resources – the backbone of human livelihood
  • due to the link between agriculture and forestry, the destruction of forests may lead to water flow challenges impacting on food security
  • our knowledge and capacity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change will remain weak, further accelerating global warming, flash floods and droughts
  • further losses of biodiversity will deny the world of important plants and animals with the potential to solve health and other problems

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=39445&em=240908&sub=enviro