Saturday, November 29, 2008


"What luck for rulers that men do not think" - Adolf Hitler

PLEASE DONATE CORE SUBJECT BOOKS TO OUR HOMELAND (i.e. your hometown public schools, Alma Mater, etc.). Those books that you and/or your children do not need or want; or buy books from your local library during its cheap Book Sales. Also, cargo/door-to-door shipment is best.  It is a small sacrifice.  [clean up your closets or garage - donate books.THANKS!]

" Fear history, for it respects no secrets" - Gregoria de Jesus (widow of Andres Bonifacio)

The following previous posts and the RECTO READER are essential about us native, Malay Filipinos and are therefore always presented in each new post. Click each to open/read.
  2. WHAT IS NATIONALISM [Filipino Nationalism]?
  3. Our Colonial Mentality and Its Roots 
  4. The Miseducation of the Filipino (Formation of our Americanized Mind)
  5. Jose Rizal - Reformist or Revolutionary?
  6. The Purpose of Our Past, Why Study (Our) History?
  7. Studying and Rethinking Our Philippine History
  8. Globalization (Neoliberalism) – The Road to Perdition in Our Homeland
  9. Resisting Globalization (WTO Agreements)
  10. Virtues of De-Globalization
  11. Our Filipino Kind of Religion
  12. Our Filipino Christianity and Our God-concept
  13. When Our Religion Becomes Evil
THE RECTO READER is presented in several postings. Click each to open/read:

NOTE: Recto's cited cases, examples or issues were of his time, of course; but realities in our homeland in the present and the foreseeable future are/expectedly much, much worse. Though I am tempted to update them with current issues, it's best to leave them as they are since Recto's paradigms about our much deepened national predicament still ring relevant, valid and true. In short, Recto saw the forest and never got lost in the trees.- Bert

Hi All,

It was about 20 years ago, while at our Bechtel office in London that my project manager asked how come we had chosen a stupid President. He was referring to Ronald Reagan. His query was a welcome surprise to me since I have learned to hate Reagan, whose Reaganomics demolished most of our federally-supported synfuels mega-projects that caused me to experience, for the first time, being laid-off.

It was Reagan who began the destruction of labor unions, the dismantling of federal regulations in business and industries, etc. At the same time/period, he encouraged the flaunting of wealth and privilege (starting with historically the most lavish American presidential inauguration that made the true and respectable conservative Barry Goldwater comment: " When you gotta pay $2000 for a limousine for 4 days, $7 to park, and $2.50 to check your coat at a time when most people in this country just can't hack it, that's ostentatious.") It was Reagan, who publicly lied that he did not trade arms with the Iranians for hostages, plus other lies and "I do not recall" excuses.

Fast forward to late last year, a Belgian I met in Valencia, Spain expressed disgust about George Bush Jr.; the latter's stupidity, connections with the religious fundamentalists and neoconservatives, his lies presented to rationalize American invasion and occupation of Iraq, etc., ad nauseam.

The lying by Reagan then, by George Bush Jr now.

[And of course, we Filipinos do not have to wonder about all these political shenanigans, to describe them lightly, in the deteriorated quality of American politics. As we Filipinos constantly witness them in our homeland politics where we all watch and sadly, just be indifferent and/or make jokes about them. And thus, thanks especially to us so-called educated and selfish cowards, we deserve what we got, i.e. Marcos-Aquino-Ramos-Estrada-Arroyo; as Americans as well deserve what they got in the last eight years. But Americans may have a better chance and luck for changes they need today with Barack Obama and his team.]

Below article by George Monbiot briefly addresses this issue of ignorance among the current breed of the American electorate; its ignorance primarily due to: illiteracy, religious fundamentalism, corporate media (TV primarily) and the failure of American school system to instill critical thinking.

- Bert


The Triumph Of Ignorance
By George Monbiot
29 October, 2008

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numb-skulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?(1)

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The US has the world’s best universities and attracts the world’s finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan’s response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. 

Carter - stumbling a little, using long words - carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said “there you go again”(2). His own health programme would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he (Reagan) had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn’t always like this. The founding fathers of the republic - men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton - were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W Bush and Sarah Palin?

On one level this is easy to answer. Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. US education, like the US health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on earth, one adult in five believes the sun revolves around the earth; only 26% accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of US voters cannot name the three branches of government; the maths skills of 15 year-olds in the US are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries of the OECD(3).

But this merely extends the mystery: how did so many US citizens become so dumb, and so suspicious of intelligence? Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason provides the fullest explanation I have read so far. She shows that the degradation of US politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies.

One theme is both familiar and clear: religion - in particular fundamentalist religion - makes you stupid. The US is the only rich country in which Christian fundamentalism is vast and growing.

Jacoby shows that there was once a certain logic to its anti-rationalism. During the first few decades after the publication of The Origin of Species, for example, Americans had good reason to reject the theory of natural selection and to treat public intellectuals with suspicion. From the beginning, Darwin’s theory was mixed up in the US with the brutal philosophy - now known as Social Darwinism - of the British writer Herbert Spencer

Spencer’s doctrine, promoted in the popular press with the help of funding from Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, suggested that millionaires stood at the top of a scala natura established by evolution. By preventing unfit people from being weeded out, government intervention weakened the nation. Gross economic inequalities were both justifiable and necessary(4).

Darwinism, in other words, became indistinguishable to the public from the most bestial form of laissez-faire economics. Many Christians responded with revulsion. It is profoundly ironic that the doctrine rejected a century ago by such prominent fundamentalists as William Jennings Bryan is now central to the economic thinking of the Christian right. Modern fundamentalists reject the science of Darwinian evolution and accept the pseudoscience of Social Darwinism.

But there were other, more powerful, reasons for the intellectual isolation of the fundamentalists. The US is peculiar in devolving the control of education to local authorities. Teaching in the southern states was dominated by the views of an ignorant aristocracy of planters, and a great educational gulf opened up. “In the South”, Jacoby writes, “what can only be described as an intellectual blockade was imposed in order to keep out any ideas that might threaten the social order.”(5)

The Southern Baptist Convention, now the biggest Protestant denomination in the US, was to slavery and segregation what the Dutch Reformed Church was to apartheid in South Africa. It has done more than any other force to keep the South stupid. In the 1960s it tried to stave off desegregation by establishing a system of private Christian schools and universities. 

A student can now progress from kindergarten to a higher degree without any exposure to secular teaching. Southern Baptist beliefs pass intact through the public school system as well. A survey by researchers at the University of Texas in 1998 found that one in four of the state’s public school biology teachers believed that humans and dinosaurs lived on earth at the same time (6).

This tragedy has been assisted by the American fetishisation of self-education. Though he greatly regretted his lack of formal teaching, Abraham Lincoln’s career is repeatedly cited as evidence that good education, provided by the state, is unnecessary: all that is required to succeed is determination and rugged individualism. 

This might have served people well when genuine self-education movements, like the one built around the Little Blue Books in the first half of the 20th century, were in vogue. In the age of infotainment it is a recipe for confusion.

Besides fundamentalist religion, perhaps the most potent reason why intellectuals struggle in elections is that intellectualism has been equated with subversion. The brief flirtation of some thinkers with communism a long time ago has been used to create an impression in the public mind that all intellectuals are communists. Almost every day men like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly rage against the “liberal elites” destroying America.

The spectre of pointy-headed alien subversives was crucial to the election of Reagan and Bush. A genuine intellectual elite - like the neocons (some of them former communists) surrounding Bush - has managed to pitch the political conflict as a battle between ordinary Americans and an over-educated pinko establishment. Any attempt to challenge the ideas of the right-wing elite has been successfully branded as elitism.

Obama has a good deal to offer America, but none of this will come to an end if he wins. Until the great failures of the US education system are reversed or religious fundamentalism withers there will be political opportunities for people, like Bush and Palin, who flaunt their ignorance.


1. For a staggering display of ignorance and bigotry, see:

2. You can see this exchange at

3. All these facts are contained in Susan Jacoby, 2008. The Age of American Unreason: dumbing down and the future of democracy. Old Street Publishing, London.

4. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Chapter 3.

5. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 57.

6. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 25.


‘I helped the poor and they called me a saint, I asked why they were poor and they called me a Communist’ – Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara

  1. THE FILIPINO MIND blog contains 532 published postings you can view, as of December 12, 2012. 
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Anonymous said...

Can you send me also a link from ang bayan. Keep the good work


Anonymous said...

pare, i was at one time back in the days went hiking up the hill and went underground after the death of my brother together with lean alejandro if you remember the name, id been away since 86 went here in us of a.

i read the news in manila like its my breakfast in the morning and most of times breaks my heart. maybe one day the changes we wanted then is still elusive and gone, people change, the people that are sitting now were the same people who walk the streets with raise fist into the air longing for change, and now they are the first to stand against everything we fight for to the same thing we long, change.

maybe someday, my hope aint gone maybe someday..

Who Said 'Can't? someone always doin something...
someone else said was impossible.. Try Trying -Vozman Blues

Bert M. Drona said...


Thanks for the encouragement.
Here it is:


Bert M. Drona said...

Hello Vozman,

Thanks for your feddback.

I understand your point. I tend to attribute the change for then activists to coopt or sellout due to the so-called realities of life, especially when one gets into a relationship and have a family. Priorities change and in our society, we lack role models in statesmanship, good governance, etc. to name a couple.

To be a real revolutionary requires conviction and devotion, i.e. bordering on having a missionary mentality; thus it is truly difficult demanding lots of sacrifices, including possibly one's life. But it better to live than die so one can act on his ideals.

Real change is still possible however discouraging and seemingly insurmountable. And knowledge, nationalistic ideals and understanding of socio-economic realities in our homeland is the starting point. It is irresponsible to have to march and fight without understanding deeply the "why of fighting and struggling".

- Bert

Bert M. Drona said...

Update: Barack Obama was supposedly promising but turned out to be an intelligent, smart, and glib opportunist. He got me fooled as I voted for him the first time. He's now a multimillionaire public speaker sought by Wall Street and his ilk. _ Bert, 4/16/2024