The continuing occupation of the oligarchs

NerisZTE_diagram anti-pinoy dot com

Neri’s ZTE diagram, 2008 [Source]

by josephivo

(1) Wayang kulit and the Philippine political reality

A wayang kulit (= Indonesian shadow theater play) is the political reality we are looking at in the Philippines. Wayang kulit is special because of its double abstraction. First you only see shadows not the live actors. Second, the shadows come from leather puppets instead of those actors.

What we see in Philippine politics is double abstract, too. We have politicians in a play who don’t really matter as the important decisions are taken in corporate board rooms, by international financial groups, or by our American stepmother. The players are fronting for someone else, Paquiao on behalf of a group of Gensan lawyers, journalists often voicing opinions of someone else, a judiciary made flexible with procedural high-tech to enable them to judge as dictated by someone else, and also the rare devotees observing this political spectacle.

Another analogy is that we are fascinated by the myriad characters that captivate our attention in dramatic, comic or Veda like situations, applauding when the good guy wins, booing when the bad ones reappear, and explaining to our children the deeper meanings of the play. But we all know that there is a puppeteer behind the curtain pulling the strings, even if we ignore him for the moment as we are fascinated by the play.

(2) Who are these puppeteers in the Philippines?

We have to understand history to plan for the future. People did and do migrate. People migrating have their motivations and people confronted with immigrants have their reactions, too. As immigrants, Filipinos are front-runners. Today 20% of the adult population is gone, especially the dynamic, the initiative-takers looking for family survival or a decent life abroad. The US is the archetype immigrant destination, first for mainly English settlers displacing the Native Americans, then cheap African slaves, peoples from Europe, catholic hungry Irish, adventurous or poor Germans, Scandinavians, Italians, tidal waves from Latin America, Chinese, a few million Filipinos . . . As a nation of immigrants, the US values the diverse contributions of new arrivals. What you contribute counts, not where you came from. “We are all equal”. “You are responsible for your destiny”. “Hard work will succeed”. . .

(PS: during the last decennia, Europe counts more immigrants then the US. The integration, not so much the legal/illegal status, is the problem there.)

The Philippines has been at the receiving side of immigration, too. Indian lords, Muslim datus, Spanish conquistadors, American bosses, Japanese military . . . all of them came forcefully and they only aimed for the top positions in society. These “artificial” ruling classes had different values: get rich fast by exploiting the lesser little brown people; we invaders know it all; all property is naturally ours (equals all poverty is naturally yours) ; we are above the common law; convert to our gods because religion is the reason why things are the way they are. Even small groups of new invaders took over flawlessly from the old ones; every time they could rely on soldiers with superior military skills. The Filipino learned to live a servient life, just do as told, but cheat whenever it is safe and it makes life easier. Some tried to convert to the ruler’s side even if they had to sell their souls in the process.

(The Chinese are a different story all over the world: hard work with a little shoe-smuggling and greasing of the right hands could bring them to the top by skipping the usual arm-wrestling with the mighty.)

Internal migration happened, too, and is still ongoing. Mindanao was invaded by Cebuanos, Illocanos . . . the Cebuanos creating a dominant culture there. And the massive migration to greater Manila, a magnet and equalizer for internal immigrants, as is the US for those heading out.

In 1934, and more so in 1946, a small group of Filipinos that had been able to mimic the rulers’ behavior took over, preserving the same values as all rulers before. They orchestrated a political play manned by a lot of want-to-be-politicians, including celebrities and local warlords. But real politics is still in the hands of a very small number of upper-class clans, rich by themselves or greased by some very wealthy Chinese.

The Filipino people did not change overnight either. Little changed as the undercurrent of values remained the same.

(3) Some of the common Filipino values.

All values are interconnected and difficult to dissect sharply because of reinforcing loops and cocktail effects. Just a few in a random order:

(3.1) Self-perception

Here it is “I am what the others think of me”. Not as Americans do, looking at their achievements. A Filipino defines himself by looking how others react to his behavior. This is why the “social thermostat” is so strong in the Philippines: others do not want to see you far above or far below themselves; they want to confirm you as one of them. That’s also why echo-chambers can be very strong in the Philippines. Also oligarchs need to reinforce themselves.

Binay sees himself through a mirror of lackeys who tell him how strong he is. In return they expect some spillovers. And he sees himself through people thankful that they can share in a boodle fight. But also through his fellow oligarchs as they need his endorsement to keep the old values of the occupying invaders alive.

(3.2) Supremacy of supernatural causality

There has always been a strong survival advantage to making correct associations, therefore we all are pre-programmed with a need to see cause/effect relationships. The benefit of our tendency to generate many weak associations outweighs the negatives of making some incorrect, “superstitious” associations. Understanding causality gives peace of mind, even if – or especially if – it is supernatural or religious.

Traditional feedback loops are slow. Seeing that a typhoon is not necessary the wrath of a God requires several typhoons and concurring approval of immoral laws. A breakthrough came in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment in Europe. The socialist secular movement to “uplift the people” in the 19th century boosted lower class self-confidence.  But the Catholic Church felt threatened twice and rejected both advances. Therefore many more Filipinos are still stuck in magic and superstitious thinking than in the US or Europe.

e.g. The rational cause-effect of corruption is not sought as in “this form of stealing has negative effect on my well-being”. Instead, corruption is seen as magic: “some have stronger spirits to care for them than others”.

(3.3)  Distrust

Filipinos distrust the occupier, occupiers distrust the Filipino. Distrusting people is the norm, as if justified distrust of an exception is sufficient to distrust all.  e.g. My first names have 20 characters. The new European passport allows only 16, so in my new passport my fourth first name was abbreviated from Maria to M. This was totally unacceptable in the Philippines. Not a single official could believe that this person with the same photos, the same bio-data as finger prints and iris photos – all taken by a trained city official according EU procedures with EU certified equipment – the same address, birth date and birth place . . . all confirmed on a latest, foolproof document of the European Union . . . was the same person. So I had to write an affidavit that I was me and I had to have it notarized by a shabby notary on a second floor in Tondo. Now they could trust me again and my visa could be transferred to my new passport. (True story)  Distrust to the extreme.

In Belgium I go to the supermarket, do all my purchases, weigh my veggies myself, use a self-scanner at the exit, insert my ATM card to be debited and leave without any control, without any automatic gate. Trust to the extreme. (Are the 20 cashiers replaced by 3 shoplift detectives?)  Here the sales lady has to accompany me to the check-out counter, the cashier checks things surrounded by 3 OJTs, her supervisor double checks and signs the ticket, the bagger triple checks and writes something on the ticket, too, and at the exit the security guard has to check the purchases and the ticket again (and at home my wife checks ones more to see that I forgot the milk). Do I really look like a crook?

(3.4) Don’t think, do what I say

Some examples:

Repeat the prayers, apply the sacramental signs as a mere external performance to a level that people almost lapse into superstition as understanding is not required. e.g. “Hallowed be your name”, debts and debtors . . . a sign of the cross for every church one passes, touching the Black Nazarene.

Focus on doing precisely what is required. Forget the spirit, concentrate on the letter of the law. Procedure always comes before substance, even if the substance deals with 57 gruesome murders, plenty of physical evidence and no affidavits required to judge.

Skip the exercises in math, they are a waste of time, you’ll never use them later anyhow. Don’t bother to give examples, just make sure kids can repeat the science principles exactly as written in the book.

Repeat figures always including the centavos even if the precision does not exist. In the same article on corruption cases mix thousand-peso and a billion-peso cases as to indicate that you have no clue what is important, as if stealing a few leftover grains of rice is the same as stealing full bags of rice. Repeat precisely, but don’t try to grasp what you are talking about.

Use English phrases without bothering if listeners understand the words. e.g. the use of “storm surge” leading 6,000 unnecessary fatalities. I need a dictionary several times for every page of the PDI, seldom for JoeAm’s blog.

Never think about the purpose of a passport, just check the 17 characters in the first name field, that’s where you detect the real crooks. Not when you see only a one page document with a simple signature for the purchase of a 150 hectare hacienda.

 (4) Conclusion

We would be in a new Philippines if we just could eliminate two/three clan leaders in Ilocos, two/three in Iloilo, three/four in Cebu and a dozen in the Manila area. The replacement of 20 oligarchs with 20 high achieving commoners would transform politics at once. We would have to safeguard this new world with parents and teachers imprinting some new values for the coming generation, such as measuring people on what they achieve for the common good, scientific causal thinking instead of supernatural causal thinking, thinking “why” instead of only “what”, and taking initiative instead of only correctly doing what is instructed.


227 Responses to “The continuing occupation of the oligarchs”
  1. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Democracy is not meant for Filipinos. It never worked. Philippines is Afghanistan of Asia. Conquered never subjugated. LIterate never educated. Educated never learned. Like Afghanistan, Filipinos are fanatically religious. They are Catholic talibans in Asia. Like Afghanistan, they turn against their liberators. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan …. religious fanatics, ungovernable …. Philippines should rename their country to TADJAKAN.

    Tadjakan is the only way Filipnos can know the right from wrong. Lee Kuan Yew Style.

    • josephivo says:

      Not a single power occupied Afghanistan for more than 20 years since Alexander the Great.

      Lets hope that Pope Francis can give back a religious face to Catholicism. And not all friars were child molesters, some good thing were done too.

      A leader with an iron fist? Yes for a good one, but power corrupts, hence little chance it will last.

      Culture changes slow. In organizations a rule of thumb is at least 6 month per layer in the organization, for nations I have no idea. But lullabies stay hundreds of years in a family, so we will have to be patient a little bit. Luckily (?) we live in a world with ever faster changes.

      • Attila says:

        “Lets hope that Pope Francis can give back a religious face to Catholicism.” Your comment make me laugh. The Vatican and Pope Francis betrayed Christan Europe!
        The Muslim immigrants are not interested in Christian Europe, but a Muslim Europe. There are already 8 million Muslim immigrants in France alone. Rapidly erasing the Christian character of the country and most of Western Europe. Eastern Europe is still holding on thanks to defiant countries like Hungary. This Pope should leave the Europeans alone and maybe send his Muslim immigrants to Argentina or rich Muslim countries like Malaysia.
        Pope John Paul II believed in a Christian Europe. He was fighting and protecting Europe from the anti Christian communist. Today the Vatican with Pope Francis is endorsing the immigration of the millions of anti Christian Muslims and betraying the memory and sacrifice of the millions of European Christians who died and shed blood defending it from the Muslim invaders.
        “Suleiman the Magnificent” the Ottoman Sultan who attempted to conquer Europe and convert it to Islam must be smiling from his grave now. Without force, his wish may just come true!

        • josephivo says:

          What is a Muslim? Similar to what is a Catholic? In Belgium according official statistics 75% are Catholics but only 6% attend catholic services, in a census less than 50% call themselves Catholics, only 25% still marry as Catholics, 6700 priests but 6000 at retirement age… Similar declines might be expected in the Muslim community.

          In Europe the current 6% Muslims (traditionally over 10% in Russia and the Balkan) are expected to grow to 8% in 2030. Belgium and France (highest non-traditional) from 7% to 10% in 2030. The pull of “laïcité” (principle of strict separation of religion and state) in Europe and especially in France is very high. It tends to steer European Islam in a more moderate direction. Present extremism has more to do with economics – youth unemployment -, the ease of recruiting via social media and the situation in the Middle East
          Today the vocal nationalistic leading party in Hungary fosters anti-Muslim propaganda. But only 0.06% Hungarians are Muslims (plus a few illegal immigrants), so very, very few Hungarians ever talked to a Muslim since the Ottomans left 300 years ago. But still they see themselves as experts.

          Good that the Pope thinks differently.

          • Attila says:

            The Hungarian people are not ready to trust Muslims again any time soon. I don’t think we ever will. The problems that Denmark and France and other countries are facing with Muslims look familiar to us. We are not naive like West Europe and you are. We know that the Muslims are not ready to be part of Europe. Our sad history teaches us to be extra careful when it comes to Muslims. How can we Hungarian get justice for enslaving 3 million of us for over 150 years? The Ottomans called us infidel dogs for being Christians. They brutalized us and turned the country in to a wasteland. An estimated 3 million Hungarians were enslaved and dispersed into the Ottoman Empire. Hungarian slaves were taken as far as Nubia, Africa. We are small in numbers and if you put that in to perspective than you can imagine the devastation it cased us. We never received any apology or some remorse from Muslims. The Ottomans did the same what the ISIS thugs are doing now. In order to bring back the “glory” and recapture all the “lost Muslim land” now they issued a map of all the countries they want to retake in a 5 year plan and Hungary is included. My friend I take pride in the fact the Hungarians were able to prevent the Muslims overtake Europe and protected western civilization. We paid a very high price for it and we remember why we did it. Today we are defiant for the same reason as we were 300 years ago: To protect the country and the religion. How can Pope Francis embrace these butchers and haters and paying respect to them? Wake up world they are anti Christian, they hate us. I don’t like Nazis and Communist for what they did to my people either but let’s not forget our Muslim slave masters starting with Suleiman the Magnificent. He can burn and rot in hell with his buddies Hitler and Stalin. Communism, Nazism and Islam are the same evil. We know it, we lived and experienced all of them! Never again!

            • josephivo says:

              300 years… Maybe a few variables changed in the meantime. Economic powers? Relevance of religion and the becoming irrelevant of extremist Christians? Means of communication? Migration from “conservative” country sides to “progressive” cities? Globalization and the interdependency of people and peoples? Introduction of the values of the French revolution, the abolition of slavery and charter of human rights? Lessons learned from excluding others such as Jews, Armenians, Holodomor in Ukraine, Ruanda…

              Together with Malaysia and Indonesia in ASEAN? The Bangsamoro peace initiative? Peace is always with an enemy, is peace with a Muslim impossible?

              Talk to your Muslim neighbor first (if you can find one in Hungary) before making generalizations.

              • Attila says:

                Hungary just wants to be left alone by the EU. Let West Europe have all the Muslims and the Immigrants if they want them. I wonder what would the Koreans would say if they would be pressured to take in Muslims and other Immigrant. Try Japan and Taiwan or China and Malaysia, They would say don’t be silly, China is for the Chinese and Korea is for the Koreans and Taiwan is for the Taiwanese. When it comes to white countries the anti white hypocrites are all over screaming racism for not opening our arms for the Muslims and other immigrants. There is no such thing is a moderate Muslim. We are very aware of the verses of the Koran that were used to slave us and justified our 2nd class status. We are also aware of what the Communist and the Nazis are believed and give them the justification to terrorize us. Try to explain to a Jew that there are good and bad Nazis and he should be open mined about it. Nice try!

            • sonny says:

              @ Joseph & Attila

              From what I’ve read about the Qur’an and the life of Mohammed (the ultimate model of any Muslim) and the bloody history of Islam it is difficult to see how the followers of Mohammed can be anything but non-peaceful in the short & long run.


              • josephivo says:

                600 years ago the Christians weren’t as peaceful or tolerant as the majority is today. 100 and 75 years ago Christian nations initiated the two bloodiest wars in the history of mankind with blessed canons at both sides. Shouldn’t we be more modest in making statements on the violence of other religions?

                Today most Christians learned to interpret the bible more flexible so it fits better the current realities. Slavery, the position of women, religious battles, scientific statements… all should be seen in the culture of long forgotten times. (Although for most Americans the world still is created 7000 years ago in 6 days time.)

                Islam is 600 year younger, give them some time to get equally flexible. Changes are happening much faster those days, so let’s hope they might catch up much sooner. (Will Artificial Intelligence, expected to take over from us humans in 2045, still tolerate extremism?)

              • Attila says:

                Thanks for the article. It’s refreshing to get a reply form someone who is not brainwashed half educated naive liberal. At least you’ve got it. Eastern Europeans have no problem to be labeled as racist it’s just totally meaningless to us since we have no white quilt. We are also have no problem to be labeled as a Islamophobiac, Nazism phobiac and Communism phobiac. For us Christianity is superior to Communism and Nazism and Islam. (I’m not talking about the Filipino version of Catholic fate) There will be a clash of cultures in Western Europe. We believe It is a ticking time bomb. Eastern Europe is now the only future of Western Christian civilization. I would like to make some videos asking Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysians and Filipinos on the street and in their own homes here in New York or elsewhere asking them to open their arms to Muslim Immigration and other type of Immigration just like Western Europe do. I would ask them to share your blessings. I want to see their reaction and what kind of faces they would make. Especially the Chinese. Post it on YouTube and let those half educated liberal anti whites see it.

    • atong says:

      Funny but sickeningly plausible.

      • DelPi says:

        Hey Atong it is Very funny really, and I am jumping up and down while Ruby is whipping the TADJAKANs. But you you know what? Your newly discovered word is genius and not only plausible, but it applies perfectly.

        • DelPi says:

          Opsie, my apologies mariano. It is your new Vocabs not Atong’s. Please forgive me. You are the genius, but atong has some interesting ideas.

          • atong says:

            Hey.. Delpi. .no apologies to me? I’m hurt.. 🙂
            Mariano was like my teacher in agriculture in my elementary days.. Full of idea, mostly clever often funny but still make sense all of the time.

            Mariano’s TADJAKAN (formerly R.P.) is like the proverbial neighborhood naughty boy. Whose father is the strictest in the whole village. Not knowing that strict his style produces the naughtyness in the kids. The more punishment (typhoons like hagupit) the father dishes out to the kids the harder the kid get – i.e. harder at being naughty.

            TADJAKAN get twenty of this hagupits on the average every year so the native TADJAKANIs get harder and harder, naughtier and naughtier … hehehe

            I could go on but I just discovered the reason why the TADJAKAINs are like what they are now! hehehe

            • DelPi says:

              Okdoke, I take it back just to unhurt you. Is that acceptable?

              Mariano is a cool guy and glad you learned a few tricks. Strictness is a good value, kids find a way in their self rebellious way to innovate.

  2. sonny says:

    Joseph’s medley of Philippine ills is sad indeed. Too bad it’s all about the tragic spiral of this land rather than a song of conquest of odds. One can even sing only one song and get the feel of the same tragedy. By paying attention to the lyrics of BAYAN KO one can feel the pain of a people toiling under the incessant assault of many forces that visit the land. Now that the islands are again under the threat of Hagupit, it just occurred to me that we have already taken for granted the repeated devastations that nature visits on these islands. And those visits can even be anticipated like clockwork. And when these calamities visit, the work and toil of the Filipinos who work the land are wiped out. Hurricanes visit big land masses like the eastern and Gulf seaboard and coasts of the US. Main difference from the Philippine typhoon is that the same land mass offers many havens where one can regroup and built from what one has left remaining. Havens are not to be had in an archipelago the size of the Philippines. To think that we casually say 20 some typhoons are sure to come year in and year out is to forget that lives are lost, crops are swept away even as we pray that the harvest will be had maybe next time around. But toil Filipinos must only for the rock to roll back again, Sisyphus-like. But unlike the latter’s punishment, Filipinos push back the rock in order to survive – else perish.

    • josephivo says:

      Don’t worry too much, the Masseratis of the happy few are in typhoon safe garages…so safe survival is possible. The happy few that will bring prosperity to this land will stay happy, their wealth will trickle down to provide inclusive growth (???????)

      If it sounds negative it was not the intention, it was to explore ways forwards. K12, RH bill, the ladies with balls… a lot of positive things are going on, a lot more to be done. I believe that we are close to a critical mass that can overrule the oligarchs. Bye-bye first gentlemen Arroyo, bye-bye Enrile, bye-bye Corona and Gutierrez, bye-bye Binay…? 15 more to go to make a real difference. And each new generation gets a better view of what is really happening, of what is really possible.

  3. atong says:

    It is not enough to eliminate 2/3 clan leaders in Ilocos for example. They will just get replaced by new ones. There are many waiting in the wings. This is the paramount reason why clans hve their private armies.

    The system that support them should also be dismantled. Easy to say but hard to do. When I was a lot younger than today, I pegged my hope that this will be accomplished by the NPA. But 25 years since and nothing has changed.

    • josephivo says:

      Eliminate and REPLACE with capable Robredo type people. Look what happened in Naga. It will not solve everything but it would make a dramatic difference I guess.

      Yes!!! Culture will have to change too. Culture of the rulers and especially the culture of the ruled.

    • DelPi says:

      Hey atong, I think your wavelength and mine is parallel. Did you say eliminate? Well, I tell you what, If I am younger, I will buy a sniper rifle and the sniper will do all the job in the process of elimination. Clean and simple.

      • atong says:

        I have a compadre in you DelPi!!

        I used to have a iskupita back in the days. That I used to snipe the birds that we fry for pulutan.. Sometimes even the neighbor’s stray chicken.. But it was all in stead – no harm meant and no harm done we hoped.

        Perhaps I should upgrade my iskupeta …

        • DelPi says:

          Likewise, me atong, me compadre mia!

          I dislike patronizing wannabe, but I too, had a 12-gauge iskupita. My neighbor give me that dirty look when I come around with my iskupita, but dont be fooled with the name 12-gauge, its a metaphor to pump it 12 times before I can get a chicken stew.

          Go upgrade it; perhaps you could loan it to me. Watch out Oligarchs.

  4. Cornball says:

    Wow, a borderline conspiracy theory topic, awesome!. Now that we had a glimpse of the rabbit hole, how far are we willing to go down? Are we just going to crane our necks trying to see what’s inside, poke it with a stick to feel if there’s something there or are we brave and stupid enough to jump right in?

    The Powers That Be (TPTB), who are they in the local setting and how did they become what they are today? It is said that history is written by the victors, so even if we read all the history books we can find, we may not find much in them. They don’t need to get the credits in history books because they know who truly are the bosses.

    Control is the key, it is not much about land grabbing, hoarding riches nor guarding connections; it is about controlling information. As the late Ernie Baron said “Kung walang knowledge, walang power.” TPTB knows a lot that we don’t.

    To paraphrase Nietzsche, “What doesn’t makes you insane, makes you saner.” Welcome to the other side.

    • Cornball says:

      Any volunteers for the tinfoil hat brigade?

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      “The Powers That Be (TPTB), who are they in the local setting and how did they become what they are today?”

      No need to read history books. Just look at the surnames that appear again and again during election time on the COMELEC candidates’ roster or surf the internet. Here are some great leads:

      They become that way because Filipinos love their families. Once a family member get elected, nepotism and cronyism goes on overdrive. The rest is oligarchic and dynastic history.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        My reply went to moderation. Too many links?
        Here a version with just one link:
        “The Powers That Be (TPTB), who are they in the local setting and how did they become what they are today?”

        No need to read history books. Just look at the surnames that appear again and again during election time on the COMELEC candidates’ roster or surf the internet. Here are some great leads:

        Wikipedia also have a long list of Filipino political families and dynasties.

        They become that way because Filipinos love their families. Once a family member get elected, nepotism and cronyism goes on overdrive. The rest is oligarchic and dynastic history.

        • Cornball says:

          Thanks again Juana, do you mind posting the other links one at a time, if it’s not asking too much? We’re looking for the old money, the Rothschilds of the Philippines if not much older, as far back that we can find.

          I’ll use my google-fu if I can dig something to supplement yours.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            You can look at the yearly list of Philippines billionaires on Forbes, too:


            • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

              They are Chinese and current colonists none of them are Filipinos. They are only Filipinos in paper only but their gene pools definitely are not.

              I am still waiting for Cayetano and Trillanes to subpoena AYALA as alleged by Mercado was approached by Binay. Ayalas, like all former colonists, are camera shy. Let us see if subpoena works for these oligarchs.

              I want to hear from Ayala. Because they never were “tainted” by corruption JUST LIKE PHILIPPINE PRESS “never heard they are corruptibles.”

              • Cornball says:

                Don’t hold your breath Mariano, chances are it might not happen. As alleged by Mercado, don’t you think that the fact the Ayalas didn’t give grease money to Binay only confirms or at least points as an evidence that the Ayalas are the ones whose responsible for putting Binay in office?

              • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

                I can’t believe U.P. Ateneo and la Salle businesspeople in Makati elected the Binays over and over and over again for decades and decades. Ayala should be subpoena. But Tisoys and Tisays are powerful people. They can spit on Trillanes and Cayetano subpoena. Becuase subpoenas are only for nog-nog browned-skin pig-snout Filipinos not for the Tisoys. Not for the Tisays.

                The Binay hang-over is only for Filipinos.

              • Cornball says:

                Correction, not grease money but SOP free condo to Binay.

              • manuel buencamino says:

                Mariano Renato,

                The villages and the Makati business district were never Binay’s bailiwicks. Binay has always relied on the poor sector of Makati. His political strategy has always been to keep them poor and totally dependent on his largesse, the classic model of patronage politics. Over the decades the resistance of the villages and business eroded because they reached a modus vivendi – Binay kept crime rates low, collected their garbage, kept the unwashed from their malls and even included their seniors in the cake and freebies programs of Makati. And they realized they did not have the numbers to vote him out of office, So Binay mastered the game of local politics in a city with a low population and a very high tax base. He believes and many others also believe that he can transplant that skill nationally despite the fact that he has no idea how to govern patron-style a huge population with a low tax base.

              • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:


                Looks like Binay learned from the pages of the Bible called lovingly “Holy Book”

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              “This article will address two primary questions: 1) How and why have oligarchy and patrimonialism become institutionalized in the Philippines’s political process? and 2) What are the implications of this type of governance on the economic growth of the country and for the rural poor?”


            • Cornball says:

              Thanks a heap Juana. What I found is a bit of a let down, almost everything’s on Wiki. Zobel de Ayala family (circa mid 1800s) related to Duchess of Alba de Bourbon? (linky, Related to Roxas, as in Mar?

              Here’s a couple of Marianoesque question, isn’t it almost insulting what the history books say that Magellan discovered the Philippines? As in hello, there were people already living here before you came to our place… dumbass. Like in America, there were already native Americans, Celts, Vikings, etc., some even say Egyptians before Columbus came.

              Are historians essentially the equivalent of bloggers today?

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                Historians are biased, like bloggers. 🙂 There’s always two sides to a coin.

                As you said, history is most often the view of the victor. History is often written based on the colonizer’s perspective. They came, they saw, they conquer and they documented their side of the coin.

              • josephivo says:

                Good old times, before the coins we had shells and bead to pay with many faces, not only two. Live is complex, the environment is always changing and complex, our brain is always changing and complex (and our experience, hormones, fatigue levels….)

                Luckily we have statistics, averages, probabilities and outliers. But when it gets too complex we always can toss a coin.

              • atong says:

                Is that the reason why coins were invented? 🙂
                Kara y Kruz anyone?

              • Cornball says:

                Maybe most of the time it’s multi-faceted depending on the major players that can be identified… more like grand lotto?

              • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

                Why news like you posted, Juana, do not make it to mainstream Philippine Media ? ANSWER: Because it lacks drama. They prefer iyak-iyakan takot-takotan witnesses to give it added human character. News in Philippines is not news unless it involves cry-their-hearts-out video and tweedle-dee-tweedle-dum finger tapping witnesses.

              • Cornball says:

                Thank you for sharing the link Juana. Interesting figures assuming everything was above board. Do we have any reason to doubt that the figures could be much larger? The oligarchs in action rather than democracy in action. It is the only political exercise where theoretically everyone is equal, one man one vote; again, assuming that every vote is counted accurately.

                I never thought that I will be saying this but I’m much in favor now of going back to manual counting of votes during elections rather the automated system. If someone wants to cheat in the manual voting, they have to hire goons for ballot snatching, personnel to fill up fake ballots, watchers for ballot switching etc., since everyone has a cellphone with cameras it’ll be much more difficult to do and it will be easier to collect evidences of cheating as oppose to the automated one, where only a relatively small group of people handles the data not to mention the services that are used to relay the results are owned by people who have vested interests in the eventual results of the election. Tampering with the election results will be as easy as typing up random figures in a keyboard in the hands of a small group of IT experts.

                Don’t you think it is also possible that before elections the incumbent parties has the edge in accumulating funds for the upcoming election where a percentage of the pocketed funds by the corrupt officials in government goes to their party or allies campaign fund? More like an in-house campaign fund raising.

                To some local candidates it is a sure money-making venture. They will run for office and all they have to do is budget the expenses. The less money they spend the bigger they can pocket.

        • josephivo says:

          Change is not what oligarchs want and political dynasties are a way to guarantee stability as long they remain on the second platform. Political dynasties have two dimensions, one is time, and the other is spread. Some you can trace to Spanish times (see Alfred W. McCoy for ample examples, Guzman, Buencamino, Durano….) But look at the Ampatuans, a newer dynasty, they had an overlord supporting or at least tolerating them. The overlords decide when their time is up and when a new dynasty has to be launched.

          But what some enlightened oligarchs are realizing today is that getting more with a stable share of a growing pie is easier than the constant fight for a larger share of an unchanged and limited cake. Change and creating more wealth nationwide gets their approval. Let us hope they will pull the right strings to elect a Pnoy clone in 2016.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            The article below actually validates your pronouncements about oligarchs protecting the status quo:


          • manuel buencamino says:


            Just a historical note on Alfred McCoy.

            Buencamino was a relatively big name around the time of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 and the early Commonwealth period.

            Felipe Buencamino was the best friend of Rizal’s older brother, Paciano. As students in UST they formed the first student militant organization called La Juventud Filipina. Rizal’s poem of the same title was written with them in mind.

            After law school, Buencamino lawyered for the Rizal family. Later on he became one of the top advisers of Aguinaldo.

            After Aguinaldo was defeated, he became an advocate of the Philippines becoming a state of America. His reasons were: the Philippines would be swallowed up by the European colonial powers and Japan who were just waiting for the US to leave because the country totally devastated by the Fil-American War was easy pickings. Secondly, Filipinos were unschooled. Our population did not have enough educated people who could run a country and move it forward into the modern age: no technology, no scientific know-how, no modern business or finance know-how etc. Nothing. Filipinos were farmers and fisherfolk purposely left uneducated by the Spaniards.

            So from a practical point of view he thought better to get in bed with the Americans whose constitution he read and thought was good enough.

            Later on he went to America and saw for himself the difference between rhetoric and reality. He resigned from the Federalist party and wrote a letter to the American Anti-Imperialist League explaining why he he had adopted their perspective. He retired from active political life soon after.

            Meanwhile his two sons Felipe and Victor who were taken as children by the Americans, along with the children of other prominent Filipinos, to be educated by the Americans came into their own.

            Felipe became a prominent lawyer and politician and was in the inner circle of President Quezon. His younger Victor, who finished veterinary medicine in Cornell, became the first Filipino veterinarian in the American bureaucracy. He was in the team that came up with the vaccine against the hoof and mouth disease that was wiping out Philippines livestock. He has a small statue in the UP College of Veterinary Medicine.

            Victor’s oldest son Felipe married the youngest daughter of President Quezon. Felipe III was killed in an ambush by Hukbalahaps in 1949, along with the widow of Pres. Quezon and her elder daughter.

            The Buencamino family have not what one would consider an oligarchic family since the end of WWII. Not one has been prominent in politics. The only ones who became quite well-known in business was Narcisa De Leon who owned LVN pictures and the Guevarras who for a time were quite big business names. Other than that I know of no Buencamino who would still fit into McCoy’s book.

            • josephivo says:

              Very interesting.

              In the McCoy book a Brian Fegan wrote an article on Central Luzon: “Entrepeneurs in votes and violence”. He concentrates on the Guzmans family, the Leon family and the Buencamino family. Filipe had also a brother, Justo, his daughter Narcissa Buencamino de Leon, (= Doña Sisang) has been quite influencial and her offspring too. Also a cousin of Filipe,Tescon Buencamino had children in politics.

              • josephivo says:

                Strange where the replies end up. this is a reply to Manuel Buencamino

              • Cornball says:

                Joseph, maybe the oligarchs are already monitoring us?

              • edgar lores says:

                Cornball, hehe, This is in reply to your 6:03 pm post. Let’s see where it goes. If it nestles correctly, chaos has been averted. If it doesn’t nestle… chaos is upon us.

                And the Lord of Chaos looked around and saw the tangled mess that he had planned and caused. He smiled in self-satisfaction and said softly to himself, “So far, so good.” And it was near the end of that dreadful day after the storm, the first of many dreadful days to follow, the one called Ruby Tuesday…

              • Cornball says:

                Don’t question why she needs to be so free
                She’ll tell you it’s the only way to be
                She just can’t be chained
                To a life where nothings gained
                And nothings lost, at such a cost

                Better reinstall Tor and use protonmail exclusively from now on.

              • manuel buencamino says:

                Felipe was married to an Arnedo from Pampanga. She died and he remarried. This time to a Salazar-Abreu from Binondo. He had children from both wives. I am not familiar with his children from his first family. I know Felipe and Victor from his second wife. Doña Sisang was very influential during her lifetime and her children and grandchildren are doing very well but I wouldn’t put them in the category of oligarchs who run the country’s economy or politics.

              • sonny says:

                Dona Sisang dominated the Philippine entertainment world through her star-making company LVN (Leon-Villongco-Navoa), she created the fair-skinned/tangos-ilong(tisoy-tisay) Filipino subconscious definition of beauty (cue: MRP); grand-son de Leon Ateneo-educated (cue: MRP again).

                Felipe Buencamino, the elder, was one of the signatories to the Treaty of Paris and $20 million to the Spanish coffers. I think. (MB, is this a pseudonym? Just curious.)

              • manuel buencamino says:

                Felipe Buencamino was not a member of the delegation that went to Paris. In fact, the only parties to that treaty were the Americans and the Spaniards. The Filipinos watched helplessly from the sidelines.

              • sonny says:

                I did recall a Felipe associated with the Treaty of Pars. Felipe Agoncillo it was and yes, he was ignored by the Spanish and American parties. Thank you, I stand corrected.

              • sonny says:

                @ MB

                my apologies for the faux pas.

            • sonny says:

              @ Manuel Buencamino

              Great journal-footnote and jigsaw puzzle entry. Like a rainy afternoon in a rec-room. This is what I miss about the Philippine scene. Yet there is this internet to collect other pieces of the country jigsaw.

              Growing up I was friends with the son of Dna Sisang’s accountant and also got acquainted with her grandson and spent many a Saturday afternoon star-gazing (LVN skies) at the huge de Leon manse. A fly could easily enter my mouth agape watching … Delia Razon and Emma Alegre pass at arm’s length.

              (Just lost my socio-political recollection. they’re at hacienda de Leon somewhere in Central Luzon) 🙂 Later, maybe.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Native Filipinos are like American Indians relegated to reservations, following reservations:
    1. Payatas
    2. Tondo
    3. Pasil in Cebu
    4. Bankerohan in Davao

    White only community are:
    1. Forbes
    2. Ayala Alabang
    3. All haughty-snooty elitist gated community. Invitation only.

    How to become accepted in the new Master Race
    1. Make an appointment with Vicky Belo, master in skin whitening and plastic surgery
    2. If Vicky Belo is expensive, try slathering industrial-strength Eskinol Skin Whitening Lotion with Papaya Extract at any Ayala and SM grocery store.

    The Native Filipinos are leaving their countries towards their former colonial masters and apply for re-colonization. The immigrant Asian-Indians, Koreans, Japanese, Europeans, North Americans are changing the face of Filipinos. They CANNOT RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE but absolutely can run FOR MISS UNIVERSE, MISS INTERNATIONAL, MISS EARTH Native Filipinos not accepted, too ugly for Native Filipino government administrators. They do not discriminate. They just discriminate their own to create a Master Race in the looks of tisoys and tisays, half-breed and half-white. The more they leave in droves the better for Master Race creators.

    • Cornball says:

      Now that’s a CT in itself, that’s very informative. Immigrant’s can’t run for public office yet they are allowed to represent us in beauty pageants, in basketball, football etc… now we have to dig deeper as to why, whose behind it and what’s their agenda.

      • Article 7, Section 2, Constitution of the Philippines, Qualifications to be President:

        1. at least 40 years old and above;
        2. a registered voter, single or married;
        3. able to read and write;
        4. a male or female Filipino citizen by birth; and
        5. a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding election.

        I do not think there is an agenda or conspiracy involved, Cornball. Most immigrants do not meet #4. They are not natural born Filipinos.

      • DelPi says:

        Ding Dong, why am I getting sick? Mr. Mariano damn good point and I am not proud about it.

    • Attila says:

      The only people outside of the Philippines you welcome and give a pass to is the Chinese. They are your new master race. Chinese Filipinos comprise 1 percent of the population but control 60 percent of the economy. Their reach goes well beyond controlling th the economy: They control the media and the politics. Most Filipinos are already working for Chinese own business, giving them a pass to rule and exploit them. No surprise the Chinese New Year had become an official holiday. Again, despite the fact that only 1 percent of the population is Chinese. This is an astonishing achievement! Chinese own businesses get away with stealing electricity, fixing the books, exploiting workers etc. They are very good at being corrupt. The Filipino culture and the Chinese culture are compellable in that regards. The fresh Chinese immigrants often hire corrupt experienced wise guy Filipinos who will do their dirty work for them. Interestingly there is a huge double standard when it comes to whites. The Filipino workers will not be as tolerant and they will complain and report the Kano culprit if he exploits them. They will not let a white men to take advantage of them. There is one standard for Kano and one for the Chinese. Just like with everything else. If a Chinese is cheap then it is accepted to be part of the culture they will not make a big deal out of it but if a Kano is “cheap” then it will be considered rude and unacceptable. Filipinos volunteered to be ruled by Chinese and they have no problem with that. Chinese people are considered to be street wise and good with money. Whites are not considered to have good qualities. They think of us smart academically but stupid common sense wise. The Chinese do inspire Filipinos but whites don’t do the trick for them. Being “wise” street smart and being corrupt is a strong value in Filipino culture. That’s the way to be successful and wealthy.
      Just my 2 cents worth.

      • josephivo says:

        There are roughly 1.6% Filipinos with pure Chinese ancestry and 20+% with at least some Chinese ancestry.

        Chinese immigrants were mainly from the poor or impoverished families with the same profile as the OFWs today, artisans, traders, workers, often with 2 families one in China, one here. Elite Chinese like the Yuchenco’s were a great exception. Kano immigrants always were occupiers, friars, soldiers, civil servants, managers. Hence different popular reactions.

        Chinese immigration and integration has a long history in Asia and later the world. Chinese value of wealth is high, the need to have a wealthy son to improve your afterlife is absolute. Upwards promotion in Philippine society a possibility, even a necessity, greasing the rulers an art.

        Kano’s are “missionaries” explaining what other have to different to succeed. Power, being the strongest is the highest value. Seeing themselves at the top of society, upward promotion was non-existing. Integration with little brown people?

        Occupiers often favor minorities to help control the majority. A successful local Chinese trader less threatening than a successful Filipino trader for Spaniards and Americans. Chinese trading in a “trustworthy” Chinese network as many Jews in Jewish networks Europe, Lebanese and Greeks in Lebanese and Greek networks in Africa.

        But indeed amazing that there is not a single pure Filipino business in the top 10 (20?)

          • Attila says:

            Good explanation thanks. What’s the solution to the anti white bias? FilAm Ilonggo man told me that the reason why Kanos are treated differently is because kanos look different as oppose to the Chinese who look like one of us. He also said that the whites have all the “blessings”: rich, tall, better looking and white! Yes, being white is a huge blessing to them. But the list goes on, It is jealousy, plain and simple. There you have it. We are treated differently because of who we are. There is not much we can do about it as I will certainly not apologize for being taller and white and have the “blessings” that they think I unfairly possess. I don’t have any solution. All we can do is just to be aware of the reality of Filipino anti white bias. As a Hungarian I find it fascinating. We don’t have white guilt because Eastern European whites didn’t slave and colonized other nations therefore we will not apologize for the crimes of the former colonial powers like France, Spain and England. We have nothing to do with those nations. Many Eastern European Nations were colonized and slaved by the Muslim Ottomans and before them the Mongols who murdered half of the population of Eastern Europe. They had a fair share of tragedies including Nazi occupation then the Soviet occupation and two world wars in between. They are hardened people by the endless conflicts and wars. They are proud of their identity and also very proud to be white. I meet Filipinos and experience this anti white sentiment and I tell them to go to hell with the racist anti white agenda and stop complaining to me.

            • josephivo says:

              My experience is that people have a sixth sense, they can feel what is inside. In Africa I had a colleague that was very cordial with his students, but between us he could utter extreme racist comments. His house was broken-in, his car vandalized and eventually he needed the schoolmaster’s protection. The most liked white teachers kept their distance but had sincere intensions. Working with Koreans I made terrible etiquette mistakes, but they could accept because they felt that it was not intentional, some remained friends years after.

              Many Kanos are very individual and arrogant inside and that is felt more than their behavior. Chinese can hide their arrogance better and recognize better the status of their opponent.

              • Cornball says:

                Hi Joseph, can’t help noticing your experience about people having a sixth sense. Another can of worms? Thought I’d offer a can opener. Forgive me, most of the time I find myself wearing my tinfoil hat when on line.

                Back to the topic, found this, very similar to our local setting.

                What is the role of a skittish middle class in this scheme of things? Are they giving themselves to much credit as a contributor to social change?

              • josephivo says:

                In the Philippines today I have the impression that the power of oligarchs is not as absolute and direct as in the neo-patrimonialism of African states (and Marcos style of government?) Today it seems more a continuum from very influential in state affairs to little involved. Is the newer generation, Ivy League educated, less interested in mastering the political skills of trapos?

              • Attila says:

                “Chinese can hide their arrogance better and recognize better the status of their opponent”
                Chinese keep a low profile just like the Japanese and Koreans. Kanos are much more visible and that is why it is easy to pick on them and blame them. Kanos make a convenient target. My Filipino wife likes to explain to me how Chinese and Filipinos cover up their crimes how hypocritical and sneaky they are. Once you get to know a Filipino and Chinese and find out what they really think then you will realize how truly racist they are. I mean shockingly racist. I wish someone would make a documentary about raw racism and discrimination and sexism in the Filipino culture and in the Chinese culture.

              • Cornball says:

                Attila, maybe that’s just the innate habit of most human beings to feel superior to others and feel good about themselves?

            • Cornball says:

              Yes, I agree the oligarchs power is diluted in our setting, but in the provinces, specially Mindanao, the setting seems almost the same. I wouldn’t hedge my bet to the newer generation, Ivy League educated would be politicians particularly if they are coming from a a family of established politicians for obvious reasons. Education is only a part of it, don’t you think character is much more important?

              Does your scenario that the oligarchs want to keep status quo also means to try to keep the middle class happy because a skittish middle class is the oligarchs’ barometer to change the regime?

              Let me just share this OT link and be done with it, it’s called The 100th Monkey Effect or Theory I think this is more in the domain of specialty of Edgar.

    • manuel buencamino says:

      You forget that the real money is now living in the Ortigas developments.

  6. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Dynasty haters are Dynasty Makers, examples:

    1. Aquino Family.
    1a. Benigno Aquino Sr. A Communist. Violent. Armed the rebels. Example: Karagatan.
    1b. Cory Aquino
    1c. Benigno Aquino iii
    1d. Maraming salamat hindi naka-asawa. If Pnoy married, there will be a long line of Dynasty

    2. Binay Family.
    1a. Jejomar. Former communist. Human Rights Activist/Lawyer. Epitome of Gandhi’s non-violins. Stealing is good. Non-violent form of changing the face of the Philippines
    1b. Elenita.
    1c. Nancy
    1d. Abigail

    3. Filipino people
    1a. Filipinos hate dynasties but they elect all of the above because they love Dynasty after all

    4. Biazon Family
    4a. Gen Biazon against Marcos Dynasty
    4b. Son of Gen Biazon in Customs

    5. Marcos Family
    5a. Ferdinand. Wanted to reconfigure, reconstitute the Philipines. Eventually gave in to temptation of money. Truly a Filipino
    5b. Bongbong wanted Dynasty out

    6. Santiago Family
    6a. Meriam, wanted Dynasty out. Hate Dynasty
    6b. Husband at customs (?)


  7. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Supra Extra-terrestrial causality of corruption: Religion
    1. Filipinos give gift to their God so God respond back in kind. This happens every month called Fiesta
    2. Filipinos understand the meaning of TITHE, a legalized form of ecclesiastical bribery and protection money. Give tithe for god to answer prayers. The bigger the tithe the more the prayers are answered. Tithe also is a protection money. The church is flush in tithe money before Ruby hits Samar so the tithers can be protected
    3. Those who have not sinned cast the first stone. That is why Trillanes and Cayetano threw the first stone so they’d appear clean and tidy and free of corruption. Mrs. Cayetano is corrupt. Never hailed to Senate investigation because the investigator is her husband. Trillanes is quiet right now. He is being investigated for corruption, influence peddling and being name-dropped all over power circles.
    4. Excuses. Filipinos abound in mountain of excuses. Where did they get that? Of course from religion. Religion got plenty of excuses. There was a time when all things in the world were made and happen because of God. With plenty of calamities around the world, the church has blamed Global Warming and Calamities are not God-made. It is now being blamed and excused to NATURE.

    Filipinos learn from Religious excuses better than anywhere in the world. Excuses works!

  8. edgar lores says:

    1. Good insights. Not too sure about the Duterte solution in the conclusion.


    2.1. The oligarchy is not a monolithic force. (Thank God for small mercies!) They are not united in direction and purpose. What we have are elite factions competing for gains in a turf war. The turf covers different yet overlapping domains: political, geographical, economic, social, religious and sportive.

    o In the political (national level), we have the Aquinos versus the Marcoses.
    o In the geographical (local level), the Binays versus the Cayetanos, and the Ampatuans versus the Mangudadatus.
    o In the economic, the Ayalas versus the Sys (in retail).
    o In the social, the Vilmanians versus Noranians. (This is a bit dated.)
    o In the religious, the Church versus INC.
    o In the sportive, the Beermen versus the Aces.

    2.2. I agree there are shadows upon shadows. Each elite faction employs front men, surrogates, dummies.

    2.3. Question: Are any of the economic or colonial puppeteers able to conclusively enthrone a president? I don’t think so. I think they would hedge their bets and ostensibly show exclusive support to each major candidate. And later they would lie in the bed — thorny or comfortable — of whoever wins.

    2.4. Oligarchy proposes but democracy disposes.


    3.1. The insight on self-perception is profound. Filipinos do not act from an integral center, from a core of moral values. For most, expediency will win the day, every day.
    3.1.2. However, on reflection, the insight is true for all nationalities.

    3.2. I think the gradations in types of reasoning are more nuanced than simply supernatural causality versus scientific reasoning.

    3.2.1. I’m not sure that a taxonomy of types of reasoning has been developed, but I would suggest something along the lines of:

    o Magical – superstition, supernatural causality
    o Informal Logic
    o Formal Logic
    —- Aristotelian logic (pure logic)
    —- Scientific logic (experimental/statistical logic)
    —- Systems logic (process logic)
    —- Symbolic logic (mathematical/computational logic)
    o Intuitional Logic
    —- Insights that require affirmation through Formal Logic

    3.2.3. I would agree that Filipinos rely heavily on magical and informal logic.

    3.3. Distrust is more a re-action rather than an original action. What I would say is that Filipinos act in bad faith towards each other, and as a result distrust arises.

    3.3.1. Bad faith is acting with impure motives, with ulterior motives. I remember one of David’s (?) comments of how he catches people looking at him with certain speculation, gauging what gain they can get from an association with him.

    3.4. Entirely agree that Filipinos do not tend to think for themselves and tend to bow to authority. This goes hand in hand with the insight on self-perception. I hold hope that this is changing.


    4.1. Eliminate?! Totally agree!

    • pinoyputi says:

      Trying to fight the dark forces, lets stay on the bright side. My wife is a Vilmanian and I am Noranian, yet we came together. We can’t agree on this except for the fact Vilma is all face and Nora all voice. You see it is possible to get together when there is respect.
      I have to fully agree with Mariano on his comments on th Miss elections. When i see the clones from the Philippines, and some even win, i am confused. I want petite size, beautiful eyes and hear. I love the cute flat noses. Nothing beates the beauty of the every day filipina. Put me outside of the Landmark for an hour and I’ll come with a hundred winners.
      When i see all creams and makup to lighten the skin and sharpen the nose, i can’t help but wondering, don’t you respect the race you were born in?

      • pinoyputi says:

        Or maybe, it is just a feminine thing! 😁

      • edgar lores says:

        I would not be so foolish as to hazard a preference between V and N. Between form and substance, I must admit I would go for the latter option, as most thinking people would.

        However, preferences sometimes depend on mood and time of day (or night). Mood can be affected by accelerants such as mind-altering substances (as I am sure Cornball will concur). Who I would embrace is very much dependent on those factors.

        And in the appropriate mood and time and given permission, I would embrace either V or N, or any Landmark beauty, with respect — great respect. Yes, indeedie.

        • Cornball says:

          Are we talking about the legal stuffs here or the ones that could get us arrested? As to the profound question between V & N, hands down N. My Mom is a big fan. She even had a fight with the opposing fan long ago. No kidding.

          • edgar lores says:

            Shhhh. You inherited good taste — but hopefully not those aggressive instincts. Or perhaps you sublimate much, as I can infer from your reading. (Trying to understand chaos is a sublimation of aggression, which can be — not a butterfly effect, no, no — but a Yolanda cause of chaos.)

            • Cornball says:

              Maybe it runs in the family… but not those you know what. I thought that Chaos book was about anarchism when I found it in a book sale. I must’ve been drunk as a sailor when I bought it. Imagine my surprise when I started reading it sober.

        • sonny says:

          OMG, I didn’t realize how backward-thinking i was until the V vs N question took center stage. I already considered the topic “bakya” and didn’t even listen to Nora at all. I just then recently outgrew the ingenue of my youth, Charito Solis (“Nina Bonita”). Yet my two elderly aunts were deeply in the middle of the V & N struggle. Either one gave no quarters for disagreement. They were super-extreme fans of one or the other. Only now in my golden years and after both aunts passing on decades ago, I can truly say I am in the N camp and thanking Youtube that I can listen to Nora on demand!! Thanks Pinoyputi for laying that succinct distinction: all face vs all voice. And every time I hear Nora sing, I remember my two sainted aunts. 🙂

    • josephivo says:

      1. Duterte solution? Do you mean your point 4 ?

      2. Yes the oligarchs are not a monolithic block.

      The main aim of oligarchs is to maximize income. The way of oligarchs is to maximize rent through cheap access to limited resources, through creating monopolies, to tap into advance information… Politicians are prime agents in giving this cheap access, set-up huge entry barriers that favor monopolies, provide advance information…

      As I said below, some are more progressive than others. Some are more political engaged than others. Some are individualist, some are family men.

      They too have to live with uncertainties. Changes in the environment due to global trends or due to national shifts. Sometimes you put all your eggs in one bag, sometimes you have to hedge your funds. Indeed their strings are not flawless, they break, they get entangled, sometimes they have too much elasticity. But for sure their political influence is more than that of an that of an average Filipino, more than double, more than 100 times, more than ….?

      3.1. 2 Of course, but it is a matter of graduation. In the West children have their own bed, their being ends at their skin, they have to feel for themselves where their “world” ends, individual. In the Philippines children sleep entangled with many other, others determine where their “world” ends, group.

      3.2.1 Yap, and Cartesian thinking or associative thinking.

      3.3 Isn’t trust something from the heart, a feeling? “I dare to give you my car keys”. Faith something from the mind? “I believe you are a good driver, a honest man”

      • edgar lores says:

        1. Yes.

        3.1.2. Beautiful analogy/imagery.

        3.3. Not to belabor the point, you are right: trust (or faith) is our starting point. We grant the world our trust as an initial condition. However, we learn to distrust as expectations are not fulfilled.

  9. gerverg1885 says:


    We are thinking and dreaming of the same thing so I created a public group on Facebook which I called UNITY and had attracted a few members so far. It’s still early to say how it will eventually be accepted by many but I’m hoping something positive will happen.

    I wrote there that my goal is to make the B, C, D and E classes a strong force particularly during elections so that those oligarchs and the present crop of politicians would take notice about what it can eventually do to change the prevailing atmosphere of corruption and greed which would be a lasting legacy to the next generations who will know nothing better if nobody is going to teach them of a better way of life than what they will grow up with..

    The 2016 elections is still a long way to go so I know there’s still much time to tell people about my other plans to make this country totally free from the culture brought by those oligarchs and other foreign influences that made us second class citizens in our own country. This is no longer easy to accept but I want the changes to come through peaceful means in the manner that Gandhi and Mandela did the same during their lifetimes.

  10. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Filipinos hate dynasties … yet, love Dynasties … they elect them every election
    Filipinos hate oligarchies … yet, love Oligarchies … they patronize them
    Filipinos hate colonial mentality … yet, love Religion … they adore one of the thousands vestiges of colonial mentality
    Filipinos hate colonists … yet, love ex-colonists, former colonists and current colonist looks … they want to look like them

    Filipinos are smart … yet, cannot rid themselves of the above …
    Filipinos knows what is ailing the country … yet, they do all of the above because according to THEM IT IS THEIR FATE.

    Let us stand. Let us join our hands together in prayer to the almighty, all powerful … repeat after me …. ” Our Father …. “

    • Micha says:

      “Filipinos hate dynasties … yet, love Dynasties … they elect them every election.”

      You see Mang Mariano, there’s a fair number of Filipinos who do not fit that description at all. Maybe you too, as I do, have Filipino friends and neighbors and family members who are loath to voting politicians who belong to dynastic clans.

      So instead of just saying the phrase above, maybe you could say something like:

      “Low-information voters from the districts of Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andrés, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo – too poor to know what’s really going on – have elected as their mayor the convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada whose wife and sons were/are also public officials.”

      But then that’s too long a sentence to type, right? Broad swathing the word “Filipinos” is much easier. Because Filipinos are lazy too – an obvious fallacy of generalization for your own medicine.

      The emergence of political dynasties is not confined in the Philippines. The grandson of Bush Sr., George P. Bush, is currently the elected commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. And Jeb Bush is being groomed as another contender for president come 2016.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Yeah, you are right. That is why no right thinking self-professed non-discriminatory well-educated Americans not leave in Newark, Compton, Detroit because not all of them are bad, right? They do not say it. They just say it with their feet.

        • Attila says:

          Mariano should have said that “in general”?
          Filipinos in general hate dynasties … yet, love Dynasties …
          It is just being “but-hurt” we all ow what he meant.

      • Cornball says:

        Hi Micha, George Bush Sr.’s grandfather Prescott Bush was said to have financed Hitler’s rise to power. Linky

        • Micha says:

          A most useful and interesting link. Thanks.

          Pappy Prescott’s dealings with Hitler should have been highlighted to gain traction in the 2000 campaign and America could have been spared the reign of error by W, that son of a goon.

  11. edgar lores says:


    1. It seems to me that there is confusion, a potpourri of truth, half-truths and untruths.

    2. I appreciate the points forwarded:

    o By Attila and Sonny – that Islam is a dangerous extremist religion
    o By Joseph – that Islam is young and can become a moderate religion

    3. If we extend the vision of the world based on these two perspectives, there will come a time when:

    o Islam seeks to impose its vision of a worldwide caliphate. (This is happening now.) This will trigger the Clash of Civilizations.

    o Islam will moderate and accept religious pluralism. There will still be occasional clashes between fanatics of different religions but these will be parochial in nature.

    4. What are the truths about Islam? Let me hazard a few:

    o Islam recognizes no national borders.
    o Radical Islam seeks to conquer by the force of the sword.
    o Moderate Islam is spreading by migration and birthing.
    —- Muslims do not assimilate.
    o Islam does not recognize separation of mosque and state.
    o Islam looks down on women and infidels
    o Islam does not tolerate criticism.
    o Islamic justice is barbaric and has no qualms about beheading, kidnapping for ransom, and the slaughter of innocents.
    —- It considers death as a just penalty for apostasy.
    —- Basically, the value of the belief is higher than the value of life.

    5. All of the above leads me to believe that the basic premise of Islam is that its particular recipe for social order is to be valued above individual freedom. The corollary is that the individual is basically irrational in his native impulses and must be “controlled” by Islam’s religious tenets.

    5.1. The basic premise is parallel to Christianity’s concept of Original Sin. And the corollary is parallel to Christian proselytization and conditioning.

    6. I find this negative view of human nature reprehensible.
    6.1. You would counter and say, “Look around you.” And I would say exactly the same to you. (Again: the observer is the observed.)

    7. The solution to me is to do away with religion. Not spirituality but religion.
    7.1. I am aware that religion has been a civilizing influence. But it has become an albatross tied around the neck of humanity.
    7.2. The solution that time will moderate the extremes of religions is unfounded. There must be a paradigm shift.

    8. The question arises: Is it possible to live life without religion?
    8.1. Dostoyevsky famously said, “If God did not exist, then everything is permitted.” By this he meant that without religion, there would be no basis for morality.

    8.2. This supposition is untrue. Rationality of the heart and the mind can form the basis of secular ethics.

    8.3. It is not only possible to live ethically without religion but essential to arrive at this cognition – and to live it.
    8.3.1. The 100th Monkey Effect, Gladwell’s tipping point, will create this reality.

    8.4. What we need to develop are secular ceremonies to celebrate life’s major milestones – birth, passage to adulthood, marriage, retirement, death.
    8.4.1. There are already venues for civil marriages.
    8.4.2. We need to establish similar non-priest-officiated rituals for the other milestones. I imagine – no, not Las Vegas-type rituals, although that should be possible and would be a blast — but simple ceremonies led by a family member or friend, and marked by gratitude, solemnity, humor (my preference), and respect.

    • josephivo says:

      2. Not young, younger. Or the history of Christianity has less appetizing moments too
      4. Most of the characteristics you mention apply to some Christian sects or once applied to Christianity as a whole.

      7. Religion is a basket concept. It stands for formalized beliefs about natural and supernatural phenomena. It stands for cultural systems. It project world views, where we should go.

      7.a. It is irrelevant in its believes of natural phenomena, Jerusalem or Mecca as center of the universe, the age of the universe, the powers of honey…. (with a possible exception for some hygienic prescriptions). Supranatural has no natural, observable, verifiable components, so everything goes. It has a value as it explains, a need deeply engrained in our brains and so it creates peace of mind.

      7b. All religions have valuable cultural components, bringing people together, celebrating main events in life, creating common heroes, heroic events…. But all have despicable components too, life offerings, celibacy and it consequences, RH rules….

      7c. The destination in all religions is supernatural. The roadmap to get there is very vertical, directed to supernatural beings or horizontal, directed to living beings, most often your neighbor or most often a mix of both. Ethical laws or guidelines are the core of these roadmaps.

      What is its value? What is its necessity? How to judge objectively what is the better religion? I don’t know, and if I did my opinion would be irrelevant for someone else. But I now that evolution has built in our brain a lot of social reflexes, we are not programed to be lone predators. What I know is that there is considerable variation between individuals and in natural environments, the existence of a single best system is unlikely. And lastly a smile is the strongest medicine freely available to us.

      • edgar lores says:


        2. Young or younger – what’s the difference? The latter is comparative and points to a specific referent. The former tacitly implies comparative — although not specified — referents.

        4. The difference between the founding of Islam and Christianity is a mere 600 years. Both are Abrahamic religions, and Islam (Muhammad’s promise and covenant) previously accepted Christianity as a fellow religion, just as Francis is attempting to do now. Islam has been exposed to Judeo-Christian values from the start and over so many centuries. The world has become a village.

        There is absolutely no excuse for radical/moderate Islam to persist in noncivilized and barbaric practices.

        4.1. I am not aware that Christianity has sought to impose worldwide dominion like Islam’s idea of a caliphate governed by sharia. Christianity does not have a legal system equivalent to sharia. Christian canon law largely governs the internal administration of churches and does not extend to state law.

        7. Agree with all that has been said in 7a, 7b and 7c.

        7.3. I am not questioning the value of religion as a cohesive social force and as providing a ready-made matrix for defining a meaning of life. I have recognized this when I said religion is “a civilizing influence.”

        7.4. I am saying Islam is comparatively not the best religion in terms of humanistic values using the UDHR as the standard. (Indeed Islam rejects the UDHR.)

        7.5. I have also said that Islam and Christianity are alike in their basic (mis)apprehension of human nature. (I have a personal opinion as to which is the best religion, and my opinion coincides with Sontag’s, and it is neither of these two. But that is neither here nor there.)

        7.6. More importantly, what I am also saying is that we have reached a point where religion is no longer necessary, that it is possible to live without the crutches that it provides. And as many people realize this, a tipping point will be created and a paradigm shift should occur. This shift would be equivalent to the shift from polytheism to monotheism.

        7.7. Important: This future paradigm shift will be more cohesive in that social divisions created by religions should disappear.



        I not only invited a Muslim for lunch, I dated one. (And talking of peak experiences… not only yeah but wow!)

        5. You da man when it comes to chaos.

        8.4.2. Not New Age, more Secular Humanism (see Wiki page).

        • josephivo says:

          2. Islam 1400 years old, I can’t call young, but that’s maybe because of my young age.

          4. Wasn’t Magellan carrying a sword too when he came to Christen the Philippines? There had been 200 years of bloody fights between Catholics and Protestants for religious reasons with more than 10 million casualties before the German rulers decided in the Peace of Westphalia to accept the religion of the ruler as the religion of the state but to separate state and religious affairs. The concept of a “just war” with blessed soldiers and cannons is not very different from a “holy war”.

          Religion is most often a handy label used to achieve worldly objectives.

          There was absolutely no excuse for radical/moderate Christians to persist in non-civilized and barbaric practices then, nor in the two World Wars or more recent wars.

          7.4.1 The Crusades and the Reconquista? “The Holly Roman Empire” came very close. Our missionaries’ zeal was not always peaceful neither. Cristian suppression of serves and slaves? Cristian suppression of woman?

          7.4.a People and situations are different. Some like some guiding principles, some like clear and detailed instructions. Some prefer a model with supernatural actors and allowing miracles, some suffice with simpler models based on only observable facts. Some seek the warmth of others, some prefer a very individual belief.

          7.4.b The word religion does not exist in most languages, the comprehensive concept is Abrahamic indeed.

          7.4.c Most step in a religion for cultural reasons, very few step in, stay in because of insights. More and more gets natural explanations, thunder, conception, functioning of the brain… the need for religion as explainer is declining fast. Consumption is driving culture now, consumption create divisions now. Religion as a cultural driver will lose it relevance because of the weakening, dilution of religious cultures.

          9. I follow Stephen Hawkins in his believe that Artificial Intelligence will take over soon. The first signs are there, as Google thinking for us, knowledge coming from Wikipedia no more from our books or brain, this communication with you via internet, social media… 2045, the singularity, the Web as our creator. Religion as an intellectual dinosaur in 30 years time!

          • edgar lores says:


            Your attempt to equate the shortcomings of Islam with those of Christianity does not wash.

            Re item 4:

            1. True, Magellan carried the Cross with the Sword. But Spanish colonization cannot be characterized as being religious in essence. It was primarily economic in nature, a search for spices and gold, and religion was a handmaiden, a tool to subjugate the indigenous peoples.

            2. As well, by no stretch of the imagination can World Wars I and II be characterized as religious wars in general and Christian wars in particular. If anything, these were wars for racial and economic supremacy, and not religious supremacy.

            Re item 7:

            1. I will concede that Christianity has a checkered history but in no way does it equal, much less approach, the atrocities of Islam.

            2. I will also concede that religion has cultural aspects and that there are degrees of attachment to it, from a simple claim of religious identity to murderous fanatical insanity. That is not the issue here.

            3. But I will maintain that Islam is a form of religiosity that gives rise to destructive strains of violence of Ebolean virulence and intensity.

            3.1. I have mentioned beheadings, kidnappings for ransom, and the slaughter of innocents.

            3.2. I have also mentioned the drive towards a worldwide caliphate with the imposition of a retrogressive legal and penal system.

            3.3. Apart from the above, Islam has unique elements that are not present in Christianity, or if present, not as extremist. Have you seen Christian women conventionally dressed and covered from head to toe? Have you heard of the Pope issuing a pronouncement of death to a heretic via a fatwa? Have you lived in an Islamic country where the practice of other religions is forbidden, where women are not allowed to vote, where women are not allowed to ride a bicycle much less drive a car? I have. (Note: Admittedly, Saudi Arabia has lately given women the vote and is reluctantly allowing women to drive.)

            3.4. If one googles “suicide bombings by country”, one will find that the 20-odd list is dominated by countries that have an Islamic majority, with the exception of India, Israel, Russia, Sri Lanka and the US. The majority of the sectarian bombings, which constitute one-half of all bombings, stem from Islamic fundamentalism. (In contrast, drone attacks are secular in nature although directed at religious terrorists.)

            3.5. The list of terrorist organizations are either Islamic or Communist. Some are nationalistic movements, but some cross national borders. Al Queda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf.

            3.6. If one concedes that individual freedom is an innate human right and a value to be cherished, then one simply cannot hold that Islamic shortcomings and values can be equated to those of the Judeo-Christian world.

            Re item 9:

            1. 2045?! That is just one generation away. Much as I admire Hawking, I do not think that religion will go the way of the dinosaurs so soon. I hope that it does, but will that singularity happen? As with the disappearance of the dinosaurs, it would take an event of cataclysmic proportions for that to happen.

          • josephivo says:

            7- Funny you mentioned bicycles. A famous family story is that ones my mom as a girl visited her uncle parish-priest by bicycle in the next village. The same morning he had preached from the cancel about the indecency for women of riding a bike, as can show parts of their legs and the movements rouse lust. She had to walk back and her father had to collect the bicycle. Less than 100 years ago. I remember too how scary some nuns were dressed, forehead covered, part of their chin covered.

            I remember too how I felt proud seeing a picture in our class of a bishop blessing a regiment of soldiers on the way to fight the infidels, the communists in Korea. We didn’t know anything about communism, but communist were atheist, meaning infidels. They had killed Spanish priests!!! and less important Orthodox priests. Eastern Europe and Russia were infidels, boo them whenever possible, simple. We were not told that some of them, as in Hungary might be even more anti-communist than we until 1956. (I had two aunties in Berlin, so I knew that not all Germans could be Nazis, but I was an exceptions)

            Same in the world wars, priest blessing German soldiers fighting the godless French soldiers, priest blessing the French soldiers fighting the majority of protestant Germans soldiers. Most wars became “just wars”, fighting evil and with God on your side. It is the nature of man to use violence for profit, it is the nature of religions to justify it. Soldiers for spice trade, friars on the same boat for justification. Saudi royal oil wealth, Mecca to justify it.

            The relationship between worldly and religious motivation could be scaled from one to hundred. Today many Muslims score high at the religious side, indeed. But my point is to be careful with absolute statements and with generalizations. Secondary, I plead for diversity, for people with different cultures, different believes, different foods…even if they are not my choice. American driven consumerism will create dangerous monocultures in all aspects of life.

            9- Double the chip current capacity 15 more times (More’s law every 2 years), double the speed of communication 15 more times, double the interconnections, the memory, software efficiency… 15 more times and digital brainpower will well exceed human brainpower. Who will in 2045 know if he chats with an Edgar or a computer? Who will explain him, excite him, comfort him, advise him?… Cruise missiles, drones, self-driving cars… who will find the best way, who will decide destinations? Designer babies, first selecting the best embryo out of a large set of a couple’s fertilized eggs, then with optimum gen modifications, who will design them, who will advise, who will decide formally/informally? Might computers have unintended or hidden motivations?

            Look what is going on, accelerate change and dream where we might end up, a singularity – a point of infinity – were a cataclysm is possible.

        • sonny says:

          I made Pascal’s wager 100%. Threw away chance, probabilities, statistics, etc. Turned to Divine Providence instead and threw my lot with the lilies of the field. Whenever I can, I avoid ISIS and also align with the US Marines, I hope my car starts when the temperatures turn below zero Fahrenheit. I hope my numbers turn up in $100+ million Lottery (odds at least 14 million to one). I think Hawking does not know Chemistry, he’s good in theoretical Physics though, super stinks in basic theology and intuition. I guess that’s why he is Hawking and I am me. I still wonder whatever happened to bubble memory computing and how the internals of the Internet come together, I wish I’ll get to hang out with the angels who take care of the galaxies, specially the one managing NGC4571 in the Virgo supercluster … (sigh) and my stents hold up indefinitely!

        • sonny says:

          “… There is absolutely no excuse for radical/moderate Islam to persist in noncivilized and barbaric practices.”

          The alternating justification of Islamic radicalization and moderation can be traced to the principle of absolute non-interpretability of the Qur’an. The suras contained in the Qur’an can be categorized into two: the suras that were formulated by Mohammed at the time before the Hajj (the Meccan suras) and those at the time after, the Medinan suras. The latter are violent, the former are peaceful. Since each sura must be literally understood ONLY, the Moslem is justified being conciliatory and equally justified being violent! And both are commanded by Allah!!!

          • edgar lores says:

            🙂 😦 ಠ_ಠ

          • josephivo says:

            Not too much “theology” and Holly Books, that’s not how/why people experience religion.

            Is “Filioque” a catholic or orthodox concept or was the Holly Spirit created by the Father “and the Son” or “with the Son”? Interesting, but Black Nazareen devotees don’t care. Immaculate Conception, very few know exactly what it means, even less are concerned. In Lourdes and Antipolo, the Rosaries on sale, smelling the incense, the friends and food afterwards, that’s what motivates people The cultural content of religion recruits.

            Once adherent, clever preachers can lead them in any direction. During WWII thousands of Belgian boys were recruited by priests to fight the unholy communists at the East front on the side of the German (our enemy) Waffen-SS, they had their own SS legion. Same for Muslims, not the Koran, but clever U-tube videos by clever preachers and their mates also looking to contribute to society recruit. Violence is for most is a last resort.

    • Cornball says:

      Edgar, maybe we should invite a Muslim for lunch? There are Jews living in Iran today, Christians too, coexisting peacefully with the Muslim majority

      What is the origin of extermism in Muslim nations? Does the source came from within or from outside influence or both?

      5. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics- simply put, closed systems tend to be more chaotic.
      7. Reminds me of Lennon’s song “Imagine” which some considers as Anarchism 101.
      8.1 D’s Notes from Underground taught me to be brutally honest to myself.
      8.4.2 Is that New Age?

  12. Joe America says:

    Just a note here as I cannot yet access Word Press. 12 hour hellion of a storm. We are fine. Neighbors are good. Services are back faster but no globe yet. Electricity out a few weeks probably (poles down). Little storm surge damage to Naval. Economy functioning at 40%. Stay well.


  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:


    How can PDI not know Binay when Binay is happening within booger-fleck away !!! Something is not right! PDI should be investigated.

    • atong says:

      Were the celebrations held on a condo given to Binay?
      Did anyone get an invite?

      Show us some pictures please.

    • Cornball says:

      Not to be outdone by Binay, Manila Mayor Estrada was audited by COA for 2013 and found that there were P3B worth of questionable transaction in his first 6 months alone in office. Why was this not reported by the major news networks, broadsheets and their on-line counterparts?

      Mass media is also an instrument of the oligarchs.

  14. manuel buencamino says:

    1. “The Filipino learned to live a servient life, just do as told, but cheat whenever it is safe and it makes life easier. Some tried to convert to the ruler’s side even if they had to sell their souls in the process.”

    That quality is not uniquely Filipino. It is universal among those who have been forced into subservience. There are not many doors out of subservience and servitude. I think there are only two ways out of it: One is survival and the other is rebellion.

    2. “(3.1) Self-perception Here it is “I am what the others think of me”.

    Someone once observed that Filipinos live a cinematic life. Meaning: They are simultaneously the audience and the star of their life movie. That’s why it’s easy to spot Filipinos abroad. They are always the ones who are most self-conscious. People from India also exhibit the same trait.

    3. (3.3)  Distrust. In Belgium I go to the supermarket, do all my purchases, weigh my veggies myself, use a self-scanner at the exit, insert my ATM card to be debited and leave without any control, without any automatic gate. Trust to the extreme. (Are the 20 cashiers replaced by 3 shoplift detectives?)

    Maybe this has to do more with business decisions than with trust. First, less human labor is always looked at favorably by businesses. Second, the security issues supposed to have been addressed by human labor could very well have been made obsolete by technology.

    4. (4) Conclusion
    “We would be in a new Philippines if we just could eliminate two/three clan leaders in Ilocos, two/three in Iloilo, three/four in Cebu and a dozen in the Manila area. The replacement of 20 oligarchs with 20 high achieving commoners would transform politics at once. We would have to safeguard this new world with parents and teachers imprinting some new values for the coming generation, such as measuring people on what they achieve for the common good, scientific causal thinking instead of supernatural causal thinking, thinking “why” instead of only “what”, and taking initiative instead of only correctly doing what is instructed.”

    That’s true. There will be changes, However, the changes may not be permanent and not always for the better. The datus were replaced by Spaniards who were replaced by Americans who were replaced by Filipinos who were replaced by Japanese who were replaced by Americans who were replaced by Filipinos.

    The oligarchy is a location. It is a place. It is found at the top of all heirarchic societies. Thus, oligarchs are those who made it to the top and who manage to remain at the top. You want to rid a society of oligarchy, you have to destroy its heirarchic set-up and replace it with the “for, of, and by the people” ideal society. But that society does not exist and maybe it will never come to pass because in the materialistic world we live in greed and power are its own rewards.

    In politics, the solution insofar as preventing a permanent oligarchy is to hold regular free and fair elections. Regular elections can be legislated but free and fair seems to elude any form of legisation. Look at America, the model for free and fair elections, and see how the powers that be in that country have turned their elections laws inside out to favor the ruling class.

    In business, the solution is for regulations to keep a level playing field. But regulations run counter to the basic tenet of capitalism which is markets are the most efficient regulators. So those who want more regulations are usually those who do not benefit from the uneven playing field – naturally, the ones with less money and less power and less political influence.

    Putting new faces on top of the political pyrammid is good, replacing the pyrammid with something else like a horizontal society, if at all possible, is probably better.

    Fresh faces in politics would probably be more open to improvements in the playability of the economic arena. Polticial changes could, in turn, bring in new faces at the top of the business pyramid.

    If one looks at the Forbes list of the richest families in the Philippines one will see that the “old” rich is for the most part gone. There has been an infusion, better yet, a changing of the guards. Imagine the Ayalas partnering with the Sy family to buy out the Ortigas clan. Forty years ago, Gokonwei already had the money to buy majority shares in SMC but his bid was blocked because the old rich could still afford to lock out new money. Not anymore.

    The “new” rich probably owe their success and dominance to the return of democracy to the Philippines. Time will tell whether this new oligarchy is better than the old. Whether they will become permanent or not is difficult to predict. One can probably make a guess by analyzing the direction of economic policies and regulations and see which businesses will thrive best. And those in turn will depend on whom we elect.

    • josephivo says:

      1. Fully agree, I mentioned it to oppose to the values of conquering immigrants.

      3. Still trust in you customers is required. What I did not mention is that 60% of the shoplifting is done by or in cooperation of the employees, so getting rid of employees gives you a few percent less leakage. So the inspection on inspection on inspection might have to do more with employees than customers. Still every time I feel uncomfortable with all these controls, except for beautiful lady security guards checking if I have hidden weapons under my belt.

      4. In the US the 1% has the power, that means 350,000 people, in the Philippines it is not 1% but 1 in a million, 100 people. 350,000 create an askew democracy, the 100 are oligarchs.

      A free market need a referee to keep the playing field level so the invisible hand can work. But eventually monopolies will reign resulting in the opposite of free. Rent seeking is a trick of the very rich use, not the innovators, not the real entrepreneurs, not the working class, not the consumers and certainly not the poor. Rules should prevent rent seeking, rules and justice should keep greed under control. Currently the 100 in the Philippines have total free hand in creating regulations favoring rent seeking, the 350,000 in the US have almost free hand to do the same.

      You did not mention the pro-Chinese (less anti-) laws under Marcos and his drastic redistribution of wealth to cronies.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        On #3. Yes I too appreciate a full body search from attractive female guards.

        On #4. There are really no statistic to support the 1 in a million proposition because of the grey economy which includes corrupt officials, smugglers, and tax evaders. There are more millionaires, big-time millionaires here than you can imagine. But just look at Makati, a municipal licencsing officer is a multi-millionaire.

        But the fact remains that in any heirarchic system, the top of the pyrammid is always pointed.

        On the last paragraph. There were less anti-laws indeed. But that was not necessarily bad. What was bad was the application and enforcement of those less anti-laws. The redistribution or better yet the transfer of wealth to cronies did not alter the pyramid, it simply changed the faces at the top.

  15. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    This is getting weirder and weirder. No more news from Trillanes and Cayetano on Binay. They must have followed my advise not to make public their investigation so Binay cannot know what Trillanes and Cayetano are up to so as not to jeopardize prosecution.

    What about Mrs. Cayetano the husband of Senator Cayetano. Why the sudden silence? Must be taking heed of my advice.

    And Drilon? Napoles? What about commercialization of Pope Frances visit? Why there are no follow-ups on the Maserati incident? What about that policeman who tied a string on suspects ball and tug it until he screamed? And the Chinese Massacre?

    Has anyone seen the map of Philippines before Ruby hit Samar? Ruby was running after scrawny malnourished big-head Philippines in cane running towards the mouth of China.

  16. sonny says:

    my trivia is for MB.

  17. Cornball says:

    Is there an elephant in the room?

  18. edgar lores says:

    1. One of the remarkable things about the posts here is that the word “evil” is mentioned only twice.

    1.1. Once by Joseph who uses the word in an ironic sense, He says that men fight “just wars” claiming that God is on their side and that the enemy is “evil”.

    1.2. And once by Attila who claims that he and his people have suffered the evils of Communism, Nazism and Islam. Never again, he says, never again.

    2. To be honest, I have tiptoed and avoided using the word, substituting “shortcomings”, “extremist” and “radical”.

    3. Joseph’s view, which Attila labels as “naive liberalism”, seems to be that the “defects” of Islam are a result of its relatively young existence compared to that of Christianity, and that these defects will disappear with the passage of time. Islam will — eventually and inevitably — become moderated. I will add to Attila’s label, and characterize Joseph’s stance on “evil” as relativistic. That is, that evil does not really exist, and wrongdoing is either (a) a result of ignorance or (b) an attribute that one side uses to demonize the other.

    4. On the other hand, Attila’s stance, which I will characterize as absolutist, is that evil is real.

    5. I do not know about you… but I think evil is real. Palpably real. I find this ironic because I also see myself as a liberal. Furthermore, Joseph’s view is identical with that of Buddhism, a philosophy I cherish.

    5.1. I can see that Joseph’s viewpoint stems from his engineering background. He views every problem as a mix of elements and processes, and that a solution can be devised by improving and remodeling those elements and processes by the use of accepted scientific principles.

    5.2. I can appreciate his viewpoint. But for me the objective viewpoint easily turns into the subjective. With just a modicum of imagination, I can put myself in the situation of a foreigner kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group, subject to untold mental and physical abuse and to the loss of freedom. I can project myself to my last minutes on earth as I am tied and stripped of dignity, made to kneel, made to condemn all that I loved. and finally to expose my tender nape to the sword of an ISIS executioner.

    Who, in Allah’s name, gives any man or group the power of life and death over another for mere belief?

    • i7sharp says:


      The following is not meant to address any particular point.
      It comes from someone (me) who admits he knows still very little.
      Nonetheless, he strongly believes these (to name three) are the things that PNoy
      can do for the country (or for himself) with – barring unforeseen circumstances – less than a thousand days in office.

      As the leader of probably the most “Christian” nation (per capita) in the world, PNoy should very seriously consider what Christ has said:
      “Search the scriptures … they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39
      2. …

      Let me stop at 1 …for now.

      Let us first establish where (or which) “the scriptures are.
      Couldn’t it be the world is reeling, spinning more out of control than ever because it does not know (or care) up to now) where the scriptures are – despite the huge number of bibles, holy books, etc. available?

      How many days will it take us to find out for ourselves? For PNoy, in case he has no time?
      I dare say, less than one thousand days.
      I think I now know already. But I am very fallible … and still know very little.

      Perhaps you (dear reader) know more?


    • josephivo says:

      Societies are complex organisms. Extremism has many forms, many reasons, fluctuating successes, classifications depend on why the term is used.

      a- Were Stalinists or Nazis extremists or were Russians and Germans extremists? Are Isis and Al Qaida extremists or are Muslims extremists? Are Romany or Gypsies thieves? Are Catholics obsessed with sex? Generalizations can be used but with caution (Mariano is a master in it), but generalizations are often misused.

      b- Extremism is the opposite of balanced. In a balance society there is little room for any extremism be it economic, political or religious Unbalance has its origins in inequalities, economic, racial, religious. When these inequalities reinforce each other, extremism is guaranteed, as in poor and unemployed, brown skin and adolescent, Muslim. As for fire fuel and oxygen is not enough you also need a spark to ignite. A crazy frustrated mullah, Israel’s and Palestine’s actions in the Middle East, Sunni/Shia frictions… Looking for solutions it is imprudent to concentrate on only one element, Islam.

      c- Addressing all your fears to an easy identifiable group is common in history. We need enemies to justify our own correct thinking. With the Iron Curtain it was easy, the reds were the enemy. Other religions are also easy targets, the non-believers. The uglier they are the more correct is our religion!
      The Muslims in the UK are still only 4% of the population, does anyone really believe they will take over soon? Look at the 12% black population in the US, similar problems with violent adolescents, does this explain the (half-) black president?

      d- Reading of anti-Jewish Nazi literature might be very enlightening. Are there any lessons to be learned from victimizing others groups as a whole such as Jews in the holocaust, Armenians in Turkey, Ukrainians in the Holodomor, Tutsi in Ruanda…?

      Do I like Islam? Not at all. 6 year in Saudi Arabia made me experience how medieval this religion can be. But it also taught me that it is dangerous to generalize. In the beginning a Saudi was a Saudi, all in their white dresses. After some time you learn to see the huge differences in their society: uneducated operators not able to multiply by 10 versus Harvard educated engineers or deeply religious but quiet Muslims versus very belligerent but hypocritical ones. Visiting chop-chop square were the Friday beheadings took place was scary, listening to the religious programs on the radio was hilarious, the amount of detail on how to wash.

      Where do I want to live? Certainly no more in a Muslim state. Boots on the ground in Syria? Definitely. Close extremist mosques in Belgium? Yes, the sooner the better. But let us be careful with facts based on policies and with repeating the lethal mistakes of fear mongering.

      And back to the main article, is religion the chicken or the egg of societal problems? Are oligarchs the result or the cause of societal problems?

      • edgar lores says:


        You totally misread my position. I am against all extremes of immoral behavior in whatever form they take (violence, corruption, etc.) and by whomever performed (nationalists, religionists, oligarchs, etc).

        In this instance, I am — we are — talking about Islam. What I am criticizing are certain elements of the religion. I am being very specific and not generalizing at all. Am I condemning all of Islam? No. Am I demonizing all Muslims? No. Am I saying that Islam is the cause of all our problems? No.

        You maintain that all these elements are common to Christianity and were present in Christianity at one time. I disagree: some were but some were not. Past tense. But in the present, these elements continue to persist in Islam despite the general advance of humanity. I understand that the world is divided into time zones, and that certain zones are benighted. Economically, some Islamic states are among the most powerful of the world, and technologically the world has become a village. That is why I say there should be no excuse for the present-day atrocities that radical Islam commits.

        Evil is real and should not be tolerated.

        So your cautionary advice about prejudicial generalizations is misplaced. If we do not analyze, identify, recognize and, more importantly, criticize the presence of evil — let’s use the proper term instead of the ever-so-polite “extremism” — then there is no reason for us to uphold moral values, to blog about these values, to spread these values to our readers, and to practice these values. We might just as well lie down and die.

        But I refuse to lie down in a position of apathy. I have taken a stand. I have made myself clear. And I will not compromise. 🙂

        • josephivo says:

          Evil (the d-evil?) has many faces, terrorism is only one of them. For me terrorism is more specific, thus the better word in this discussion.

          Religion in its acceptance/relation with the “Supernatural” cannot be rational and thus is will be very “emotional”. Soak something in a religious sauce and you will get ample reactions. But religion had strong ramifications on culture, culture has a lot of real tangible aspects, it can be discussed in a rational way.

          My point is to take out the “holy scriptures” and all theological opinions. Let us avoid umbrella concepts (generalizations) as religion and concentrate on the evil-terrorist events and their rational causes, cultural, economic or political. How can we defend ourselves? Did similar situations in the past exist to copy or to avoid?

          The relationships between the different tribes, dynasties, religious communities in Iraq and Syria are extremely complex, they are the cross roads of Shiite, Sunni, Christians of dozens different nominations, Jews from different origins, different people as Kurds, Alawites up to pre-historic swamp dwellers, different languages, city dwellers and rural farmers… A few idiots with rich Saudi, Iran, Israeli, American sponsors can easily light these tinderboxes.

          Muslims in North-Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Waziristan, Sulu…? All medieval societies, with medieval values as in Mohamed’s time. Bin Laden? Comes from another medieval society, the Wahhabis. For all of them my hundreds years historic delay applies. The interpretation of the Koran will change as the interpretation of the Old Testament and later the Bible changed. (Yes the interpretation of the Bible has been, is much more flexible)

          (Maghreb) Muslims in the slums of European cities, Birmingham, Marseille, Brussels..? Similar story as the previous immigration waves from Italy, Poland, Turkey, but with low value on formal education and with YouTube and Twitter as replacements.

          So, the “evil” in Muslim societies? Yes, by all means. But let’s discuss here frightening but actionable cultural aspects and stay away from the populist approach to attack the Koran and the religion “Islam”.

          But I hope I can lie down in a position of apathy now. I have taken a stand. I have made myself clear. And I will compromise when new facts arrive 🙂

          • Cornball says:

            The common mythology of most if not all of the world’s religions throughout the millennium was someone or a group of beings came down from heaven to teach mankind and through thousands of years religions evolved to mere instruments of control. Nietzsche equates Christianity to a slave morality, and the communists twisted it as an opiate of the people. Is it applicable to all religions without undermining the supernatural or if you prefer, their divine origins?

            Morality is not a chiaroscuro of good and evil, there are infinite shades of gray between them. To find order, a simplistic view of if you’re not with us, you’re against us mentality won’t cut it. To have order there has to be a semblance of control and to have control there will be a semblance of order.

            • edgar lores says:

              I think Joseph and I are at odds because we have a different concept of religion. My fault, I suppose, for not defining my usage of the term. Joseph takes the narrow view that religion is about the supernatural. As a starting point, I suppose that is fair enough. Now you have just hinted at another interpretation by invoking the communist view. I would turn the tables on Marx and extend religion to include communism. Indeed, communism is referred to as the God that failed.

              In my view, religion encompasses the spiritual nature of man. This nature is innate whether we practice a religion or not, whether we believe in a god or not. Whatever culture we belong to, religion is the fundamental matrix of our collective understanding of the world and, as such, it is the basis of our actions. This is true even if we do not, as an individual, adhere to the cultural paradigm and have formed our own personal paradigm. Religion is at the core of culture because it bookends our entry and exit. The paradox is that men will disregard the moral teachings of their religion but will return to its security when they are in extremis.

              Indeed, morality is not black and white, but shades of grey. And there are shades of grey that are close and closer to black. It is these shades that I would whiten, that I would enlighten.

              One can improve man’s lot externally; this is the tacit purpose of this blog. But if this is not accompanied by an inner transformation, then the change is superficial. The behavior of the oligarchs whom we criticize, whose lot in life cannot be faulted, is proof of this.

              • Cornball says:

                Please excuse my Nietzsche soliloquy and as I have said to Joseph, you all have to forgive me because I almost always find myself wearing my tinfoil hat when on line… maybe a side effect of alcohol withdrawal?

                So, where do we go from here? How can we dig deeper in hopes of finding some answers or at least a broader perspective?

          • edgar lores says:

            If one does not define the problem clearly, how can one arrive at an actionable solution?

            Are you treating the symptoms or the disease?

            • Cornball says:

              The disease, aren’t we taking about those who are in control? The more we understand it the more we can find temporary remedies, maybe ultimately a cure.

              • edgar lores says:

                Sorry, cornball. We have gone beyond the topic of oligarchy and was focused on the topic of Islam. My view is that whether we are talking of the former or the latter, the root cause of the problems that we face is an issue of morality. The disease is immorality. The symptoms are the abuses from oligarchs, religionists, or what have you.

                My questions were in response to Joseph’s statement: ‘So, the “evil” in Muslim societies? Yes, by all means. But let’s discuss here frightening but actionable cultural aspects and stay away from the populist approach to attack the Koran and the religion “Islam”.’

                As you suggest, we can indeed find temporary remedies. My view is that we should dig deeper to suss out the root causes and cure the maladies for more than just a temporary period. i am not advocating a permanent and perfect solution — perhaps there is no such thing… except the Duterte solution? — but to my mind just to arrive at acceptable solutions, one must face the problem squarely and not flinch from calling a spade a spade.

              • Cornball says:

                I’ve been following your discussions and in my perspective you’re on the right path but in a roundabout way that’s why I ask if there’s an elephant in the room. I’m not in anyway trying to impose my perspective, I’m just here to try to make sense of this mess were in with all of your help.

                If you think morality is the disease, what do think are the values that the oligarchs hold so dear to them? Are those values similar to what we value? Are we on the same page on value and morality or do we need a definition of terms to guide us?

              • edgar lores says:


                You have a knack for going to the heart of the matter. I have not really touched on the values of the oligarchy. I was discussing the values of Islam. My metric is the UDHR which establishes the individual and collective values we should subscribe to and try to attain.

                With respect to the oligarcny, I have not thought that much about it but in very general terms the main value that it holds is the preservation of its hold on political power to maintain the status quo. The status quo being its social and economic ascendancy at the expense of the many.

                The result is social and economic inequality

                In a way, democracy allows the barriers of the oligarchy to be porous. The power structure is not rigid and is unregulated. Mobility is in both directions. The Buencaminos can step down from their perch, and the Sys, the Binays and the Pacquiaos can step up to higher perches.

                The absence of regulation is positive in the sense of mobility. It is negative in the sense that elitist groups, such as cartels, cronies and dynasties, can gain, maintain and hold power not only for many years but for several generations.

                As to values, an oligarchy is anti-democratic if we define democracy in the Lincolnesque sense. At the same time, we share the values of the oligarchy as we scrabble to take our rightful place beside them if not on top of them.

                My take: we emphasize social and economic values too much. We live our lives in modes of desperate acquisition, exhibition and consumption. Yes, we should strive to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, but we should know when we have enough. And if we have more than enough, we should share. (One can define “enough” in economic or other terms such as skills and talents.)

                I am not necessarily advocating a turn to spiritual values and a monkish life. We know there is spiritual (or religious) fanaticism. There can also be such a thing as spiritual materialism (where we go in pursuit and collect spiritual experiences). Joseph said something about “balance”. I think that’s as good as an objective as anyone can think of. We should pursue the family and community life, and whatever hobbyist, amateur or professional interests we have. Today beer; tomorrow champagne; overmorrow vodka. Cheers!

              • Cornball says:

                Maybe I didn’t made my point clear, morality through religions is used by the oligarchs as an instrument of control.

              • edgar lores says:


                Sorry for the misunderstanding. I mentioned that Spanish colonization used religion as a tool. I don’t think the oligarchs use it, but states(theocracies), religions (as self-perpetuating institutions) and families do.

              • Cornball says:

                I’ve been trying to put off reading Nietzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil and Will To Power. Nietzsche is not an easy read for me, he’s like the Robin Williams of Philosophy. Nietzsche will bombard you with endless aphorisms that will take a very long time for an average person to digest and make sense of or it will give you a major aneurism trying to keep up.

                Maybe it’s time to risk it.

              • sonny says:

                @ Edgar and Cornball (I’m dropping my reply under Cornball post 10 Dec, 7:37 pm)

                Can we get this interlocution in monograph form, a book will be too formidable for me (we are many, i.e. mr joe average) 🙂 Else, Joe Am’s blog it will have to make do.

              • Cornball says:

                Sonny, here we are discussing oligarchs as if I really know what I’m talking about, but the funny thing is in our home my wife if the oligarch and I can’t do anything about it… and I mean nothing, not-a-thing, nada. Does this put everything in perspective?… now, about that monogram…

              • edgar lores says:

                That, er, domestic oligarchy stems from the power of the pussy… and I must make that observation in my new-found passion not to mince words. And if the observer is the observed, that is why you — and I — are pussies.

                P.S. I just found out from the Urban Dictionary (where else?) that the last use of the term derives from pusillanimous.

              • sonny says:

                We are all pusillanimous! And loving it. This made my day. Ironically I fell in love with that word the first time I came across it. The Psalms, (I think) no less. ROTFL!

              • sonny says:

                I have not thought much of oligarchy prior to this blog installment. Cornball’s and Edgar’s exchange made me take pause not only about oligarchy but also about the Greek-like categories of monarchy, democracy and aristocracy. The same exchange also hit as a mini tour de force that makes one to reflect gingerly on these ideas of government and the body politic that it serves (or should). As to the monograph, Cornball, you and Edgar should first decide who is Butch and who is Sundance … carry on, men. 🙂 🙂

            • josephivo says:

              Concurrent engineering. You can start solving parts of the problem when the whole problem is not completely defined. Analyze to dead, shoot then aim or combine both?

              The problem are evil terrorist cultures. Some parts of the problem so people could already try to analyze them and come up with improvements. Others could better define the problem in parallel.

              a – The “Fuel” –
              Part of the problem is economic, no opportunities to contribute to society, to be someone via economic activities, unemployment. Part is social: paternalistic, macho values versus the absence of a (feared?) father. Part is religious: selective or non-historical readings of scriptures, misuse of the supernatural for pure natural issues Part is political: lack of secularization of politics, lack of proper democratic structures, failed and/or confusing integration efforts. Part is nature: some are predestined for violence. These problems are layered and interacting.

              b – The Oxygen –
              Fanning the problem by communication: misuse of freedom of expression, religious freedoms. Fanning is the poor schooling of Islam teachers, too much influence from Wahhabis. Fanning is the current lack of recruiting life missions, except for consuming, entertainment and sports. Fanning is the easy access to weapons in many nations.Fanning is more open racism and increasing populism.

              c – The Sparks –
              A spark is the endless Palestine suffering. A spark is the war in Irak and Syria. A spark is Bin Laden and its clones. A spark is American arrogance.

              • edgar lores says:


                Thanks for the perspective.

                On the whole, concurrent engineering will work with some symptoms and diseases. In medicine, there is a similar approach wherein specialists coordinate to diagnose and administer a therapeutic protocol.

                But the approach and analogy does not work here. Proof: we have not gotten rid of the extremes of religious behavior much less of errant cultural behavior as a whole.

                How does one deny the patient oxygen without killing the patient?

                There must be a paradigm shift.

              • Cornball says:

                To give us a glimpse as to why radicalism or extremism is a perennial problem, look at it the point of view of arms dealers. Do you think they will only be too happy to close their large factories world wide in the name of world peace? It’s business as usual for them, the more conflicts, the better it is for their businesses. Do they even care to whom they sell their arms to as long as a customer has money to pay or something to barter?

                G.B. Shaw’s play Major Barbara is an eye opener.

          • i7sharp says:


            “And I will compromise when new facts arrive.”


            In a discussion group, where, btw, Sen. Rene Saguisag regularly posts,
            I posted today the following:
            Re: The Bible … and Playboy Stories – Joan of Arc
            In Norman Mailer’s story, Trial of the Warlock, one can read of
            1. Joan of Arc

            2. Gilles de Rais

            3. Gruenwald’s painting

            To me, this is the most significant part:
            “That,” cries Carhaix, is because the great majority no longer believe Satan exists. That is what is frightening.”

            I decided to share the info (above) because just now I came across many instances of “evil” and a “d(evil).”
            I believe that Satan is the Devil.

            But the “new fact” that I would like to bring up is this:
            For over 400 years now, every new English bible that have come out was corrupted – corrupted mainly due to the “adding to” and “taking away from” to the word of God.
            You can read about the dire warnings (from God to the world) in the last few verses in the Bible.

            That’s a personal belief.
            The reader can test or try to refute it – by naming the bible/s he/she relies on.

            In corrupted bibles or scriptures, *the* truth (as personified by Christ) is compromised.
            And people go astray or are misled … and unwittingly get governed by “evil.”


    • Cornball says:

      Coincidence or an example of 100th Monkey phenomena?

    • sonny says:

      The 100th Monkey phenomenon is a good first approximation of what’s happening in the Philippine countryside. If my own 4-municipality situation is typical of collar-towns then we definitely can analyze problems and propose relatively clear solutions and really work on the education and strengthening of the political will of up and coming youth specially at the provincial level. From Region to provincial to municipal political analyses, the studies that we easily do in this blog gives me much hope that much are doable and can be done. I have Region I in mind.

  19. i7sharp says:

    @edgar lores

    Am not sure if it was Edgar who wrote this:
    “There must be a paradigm shift.”

    In any case, …
    How is this for PARADIGM SHIFT
    – or “SEA CHANGE” from the nation of 7,107 islands
    — and is probably the biblical Ophir?

    This is imagined, of course, but, nonetheless, prayerfully and fervently hoped for:
    “As the leader of what is arguably the most Christian nation in the world, I took it upon myself to personally ‘search the scriptures’ as exhorted by Jesus Christ whose name we use when we profess to be Christian.
    “The result of my personal search is this:
    God preserved the scriptures in the English language in 1611.”


    • i7sharp says:

      This just in!:

      Let us prayerfully, fervently hope that the leader, PNoy,
      will be better … waaaay …. radically … better than the current leader
      of the most powerful (still?) nation in the world.

      While there are plenty of Bible verses to mention while discussing immigration, President Obama on Tuesday quoted one which isn’t so great, mainly because it’s not real. “The good book says don’t throw stones at glass houses, or make sure we’re looking at the log in our eye before we are pointing out the moat in other folks eyes,” Obama said during a speech in Nashville. One problem, though: The Bible never mentions glass houses.



  20. josephivo says:

    I got totally lost in the anarchy of the blog, I hope Joe comes back soon to create some order.

    On oligarchs and religion

    Based on an old saying, (according to a history teacher in high school when he cited a socialist leader and I still don’t know if it was to show us how perfidy socialists were or to wake us up, it did for me):
    “You keep them poor, the bishop asked the oligarch, than we can keep them religious.” and
    “You keep them stupid, the oligarch asked the bishop, than we can keep stealing from them.”

    These questions were not been asked explicitly I guess, but certainly implicitly. “Keep them” is the opposite from “change them”. Status quo is the favorite state for a dominant class and the favorite state for a dominant religion. The Catholic Church does not promote thinking, the expert priest has to do it for you, your knowledge is insufficient to interpret the bible, educated priests under the guidance of a bishop can. Thinking workers, a growing middle class will see the obscene inequalities and will no longer accept them. Teach in your schools obedience, skills to repeat what is said, keep their mind occupied with religion. Priests and bishops must have felt the correlation between religiosity and poverty, how much easier it was to “educate” (or scare) the poor.

    Actions and decisions are more than the action and decision themselves, they have spin-offs, side effects, they are interpret in many ways by many others. When I decide to write this with a certain intension, others can read much more in what I said or much less. A lot of what the oligarchs or bishops do might have different intentions, but the side effects perpetuate poverty. Very few will promote poverty as a way to keep the poor’s soul clean, to maximize their chance of salvation. Most believe in the tricking down of wealth and more wealth is more trickling down, so my wealth today, your trickling down tomorrow.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, I’m back, and thanks for stirring up the anarchy in the meantime. It’s like intellectual calisthenics. You know, the opposite of which by-rote schools and subjugating priests desire.

      That would be a fine day, you know? If the churches decided that self enrichment of the individual is as important as following rules. Or more important, because it would mean the commitment to the faith would be true and deep.

  21. josephivo says:

    To Edgar on religion, change

    Language defines thinking. I Dutch we have two words “Service to God” (worship?) and religion. In the “Service to God” course we learned about the bible, prayers, liturgy, the organization of the Church… For me theology covers the knowledge of the divine, who/how He is, what He said/says. Philosophy searches for the answers on the big questions in life. Spirituality are human thoughts escaping philosophy, more feelings than thoughts. Faith is everything one holds for correct without proof. Religion is a term that covers all the above, most often in relation to a God, Gods.

    I realize that in a Venn diagram of the above there would be huge overlaps. Where does religion ends and philosophy start? And other sets are still missing such as morality, ethics, culture, instincts….

    But maybe we differ more on the way how to get to a better world than we differ over the above. Is there one best world or can there be many alternative best worlds in parallel? Small incremental improvements or breakthrough improvements? Change events, change the processes or change the underlying drivers?

    • edgar lores says:

      Thanks, Joseph.

      I think you begin to sense my usage of the word religion. For me it does encompass all that you have mentioned.

      I agree that language “defines” thinking. Language reduces constructs to abstract objects that can be manipulated by thought. Language is a tool made to represent reality… and by which reality can be transformed.

      But language is limited. Sometimes we have feelings for which there are no words. And intuitions of truths can spring forth wordlessly — such as, I imagine, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity — and it may take time to transcribe these intuitions into symbols that can be communicated using words, musical notes, a palette of colors or mathematical notations.

      I have posited that we exist in many more dimensions than what we can see. That our religious realities are supported in equal measure by the universe. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” It just so happens that Earth is the intersection of these many dimensions. We have to co-exist. And that behooves us to act in ways that are respectful of each other. That is all I ask.

      • Micha says:


        Your last paragraph appeals to the seduction of multiplicity or, at least, tolerance of multiplicity. The question is, “Is it sustainable?” Can segments of humanity continue to hold childish notions of, say, religious falsehoods in the name of tolerance based on the general premise that everything is valid anyway?

        • edgar lores says:


          The word I zero in on your question is “falsehoods”.

          I want to be careful here as I am familiar and have a high respect for the spring traps of your mind.

          People come to their religious beliefs and where they are largely by cultural inheritance. If they think at all about religious matters and consciously choose their beliefs, I will grant that there may be errors in their reasoning and logic.

          Having arrived, they will experience the “reality” and validity of their truths. That reality, in this life, is not the final destination established by their religion (that is, for example, heaven or hell), but their belief in this reality is confirmed and validated, externally by their fellow travellers and internally by the intuitions of the heart.

          In sum, the falsehoods may lie in the process of selection, but I cannot deny the validity of people’s religious experiences. Falsehoods may also lie in the final destinations — that is, these destinations may not exist — but neither you nor I nor anyone can confirm or deny the certainty or the falsehood of these matters.

          I know that for you — and sometimes for me — the obviousness of the falsehoods is staggering. And the falsehoods, in spite of the central message of love at the core of all religions, are the cause of untold enmity and misery.

          But get this: have you experienced the beauty of a religion in a particular rite or object of worship? I have in Diwali. So for me the ethical question is: Which particular aspects of religions (or a religion) can one criticize without impugning the whole?

          At the same time, the enormous diversity and wonder of the universe compel me to believe things are not as they seem. (Have you ever explored the diversity of life in the sea?) So things are not linear, and paradox lies at the heart of existence.

          Many years ago, I sought refuge in the phenomenon of quantum superposition to explain religious pluralism. Is it possible that all religions are true simultaneously in the same manner that a quantum object persists in all possible states at a given time? And that it is only when we open Schrodinger’s box that we find a dead cat?

          I have also used the analogy of the color spectrum. We resonate to different wave lengths, but each wave is true. And perhaps religions are convergences of particular wavelengths that exist in their own dimensional reality. These dimensions occupy separate but contiguous layers that, when seen from the correct angle, form a rainbow.

          We only have to respect diversity to see and ensure that the rainbow does not vanish from the sky.

          Is it sustainable? It is a matter of choice and of practice, isn’t it? Collectively, we must move towards secularism. Religions must come together to produce a secular code of ethics. The UDHR is a good start. Individually, we must go beyond seeing the surface attributes of our neighbors and recognize that the face of the other is our face. Namaste.

          • josephivo says:

            That is very deep Edgar, my (largely overlapping?) standpoint on this:

            Thinking of the big questions we feel that we cannot explain everything. Some answers transcend our current knowledge. So it is natural to come up with some assumptions or “supernatural” answers. Before we do this three things:

            a- Do you have a good understanding of the current boundaries of our knowledge? Or have you been lazy and overlooked some trivial natural explanations? That is OK too, but don’t be too loud then about your solutions.

            Many religions originated long time ago, they keep contradicting or having difficulties in incorporating new “scientific” discoveries. Some adapt better than others, some are at the forefront of science and the consequent ethical discussions.

            b- The supernatural answers we choose should not contradict what we see. They should fit the “model” of reality we choose. Every model to explain the currently unknown is correct as it is based on assumptions, copied from others or constructed individually. For me the best models are those that can better predict, that are coherent and do not need miracles (explanations not coherent with what I can explain naturally), and that are “elegant” (simpler).

            A lot of predictions made based on religious believes cannot be verified as they are supernatural too, some are proven false. Many religions are based on miracles. What is verifiable variability in science is by “Gods hand” in religions. Most religions make no distinction in “what belongs to Cesar” and “what belongs to the Father”.

            c- Whatever answers we develop, our consequent actions should be in the benefit of the universe (and a priory sustainable). We always should try to select actions that are beneficial for the largest group of beings, I accept weighing factors such as children 100, me and women 99, men 98 (I am selfish), primates 80… mollusks 10, a grain of sand 0.000,…1.

            Killing in the name of God is certainly not optimal for the universe, but helping your neighbor might be.

          • bauwow says:

            @edgar lores: WOW! what a discourse!
            and thank you for introducing a new word to my vocabulary-pusillanimous.

          • Micha says:

            At least you’re amenable to recognizing that there are very obvious easily refutable silliness in almost all forms of religion. And if only to maintain momentary accord on the matter, I should just be satisfied with it. But no, where we diverge is in our reaction to those silliness.

            You’re saying : let them be, all truths are relative.

            I say : if humanity must grow up, discard those silliness. Truth is universal.

            I’d emphasize the word “must” because there is no choice on the matter. That is, we “must” evolve and progress or get stuck and go extinct. It was not a long time ago that our homo ancestors believed in different forms of silliness too. They worshiped trees and birds and mountains and volcanoes. The Egyptians had their sun-god. Our species discarded those beliefs. We now know how silly those beliefs were. In other words, we evolved.

            And God retreated to the heavens.

            The evolutionary pattern with regards to human religious beliefs will be uniform. God will be chased out of the heavenly firmament. Case in point : I’ve recently met a Catholic who claimed that God is actually outside of our space-time continuum.


            On quantum parallel…

            Victor Stenger, a University of Colorado physicist, demonstrated in his book “The Unconscious Quantum”, that for a system to be described quantum-mechanically, its typical mass (m), speed (v) and distance (d) must be on the order of Planck’s constant (h). “If mvd is much greater than h, then the system can be treated classically.”

            In other words, there is no micro-macro connection. Even if Deepak Chopra insists.

            • sonny says:

              Micha, in reality there is the one and the many. As to which is which, the truth is in the lens, always the lens. When one recognizes the truth, then one should also recognize the lens. For example: the world is flat is the truth. This is forever true if the lens one uses is the only lens available and in fact for example the radius of your walk or your drive that’s all the truth one needs.

              • Micha says:


                That viewpoint would be harmless if we won’t be bothering to venture out of our immediate neck of the woods. But if we’re going to plot a navigation for a transcontinental flight, we’d better make sure that we know the objective truth of a spherical earth.

                For no matter what lens you’re using, if you go high enough in our stratosphere you won’t find a flat shaped planet.

            • josephivo says:

              Truth is model dependent. If you belief that all your surroundings disappear when you close your eyes, that’s OK for me, I will not discuss. But I will never accept your model because it will become so complex to explain how you bumped your head in the wall with your eyes closed when the wall was supposed to be gone. When you get close the wall reappears? You will have so many exceptions that your model becomes an enumeration of all that happens, no longer a model. But your choice. If your model is that everything is through God’s hand. Ok for me, but that model cannot predict anything, thus useless, not my model.

              Hawking and the M-theory, a model explaining everything is still too complex for me. Quantum-mechanics, I still can grasp that at the infinitesimal small strange things happen and at infinite large too, that the “large things we see are just averages but with distributions so steep that classic mechanics are more than enough to explain. For the 10 dimensions my brain is too small. I envision that in the 10 dimensions and the curved timeline, the question of what is before the big bang is like the question of what is north of the North Pool. And to explain many things Darwin is equally important. The unknown that’s left becomes irrelevant.

              But who am I to tell someone else what his model should be as long as he is thoughtful and no hindrance in optimizing happiness in the universe (starting with our planet).

            • sonny says:

              “… Case in point : I’ve recently met a Catholic who claimed that God is actually outside of our space-time continuum.”

              And I would say: God is transcendent. This word means for me: … including but not confined to … (Merriam-Webster agrees, I think)

              • Micha says:

                Transcendent and immutable…safe sanctuary of an un-provable God.

              • edgar lores says:

                Can confirm that in Christianity the concept of God is that He stands outside of time and space.

              • sonny says:

                @ Mischa
                all humans make skips, hops and leaps of faith/trust all the time. Diff proofs appeal to diff people. As Edgar said:

                “We only have to respect diversity to see and ensure that the rainbow does not vanish from the sky.”

                I will also add, each individual does not share the same rainbow. And more, very few places will allow an individual to see the two halves of the rainbow. Thus I see the absolute and the relative in a rainbow. I understand some proofs of God but some others I don’t, just like I understand and don’t understand classical and quantum mechanics. Isn’t it awesome that one is just a special case of the other. This might be the continuity that Deepak Chopra is talking about.

                @ Edgar
                God’s transcendence makes me understand, albeit through an imperfect lens, the Incarnation in Christianity, the Man-God.

  22. edgar lores says:

    Some food for thought.

    1. Joseph: “Do you have a good understanding of the current boundaries of our knowledge?”

    Me: I have some understanding but not a deep or even a good understanding. The current state of scientific theory allows for the existence of many dimensions and quantum states, and of alternate universes or multiverses. These are the bases of my hypotheses.

    But even if these were not so, the universe may have no boundaries. The universe is stranger than we think. Just 2 centuries ago, the world of quantum physics, black holes and dark matter were beyond thought. (I will grant that ancient Greece and India conceived of the atom.)

    2. Joseph: “…don’t be too loud then about your solutions.”

    Me: Why not? Is this an advice of caution or fear? If I may say so, this negates the premise of this society, the society of honor. If we speak at all it should be in candor. Will I be burned at the stake? In another time and place, certainly. Now? No… I will simply be ignored.

    3. Joseph: “The supernatural answers we choose should not contradict what we see. They should fit the “model” of reality we choose.”

    Me: But… but we see differently. The answers I choose do not contradict what I see. They may contradict what you see. My answers fit the model of “reality” I choose; they may not fit your model.

    4. Joseph: “For me the best models are those that can better predict, that are coherent and do not need miracles (explanations not coherent with what I can explain naturally), and that are “elegant” (simpler).”

    Me: Anything that science cannot explain is a miracle – that is, we have not yet discovered the physical laws behind the phenomena. At the same time for me, everything is a miracle. My existence is a miracle. Science can explain how I was born (sperm and egg), but it can never explain why I was born. Well, it was partly because of love, but you know what I mean.

    If we take Galileo to be the father of the scientific method, just prior to the age of the Enlightenment, then Science compared to Religion is in its infancy. Nonetheless, Science has been a prodigy.

    Both Religion and Science have limitations. One intuits knowledge of ends but has no proof, the other has proof of knowledge of means but none of ends.

    That was just the segue…

    If one grants that all of Creation is purposive — meaning, among other things, that a moral order underlies our existence in the universe — then the hypotheses I presented exhibit supreme coherency and prediction.

    The “coherency” is that each religious tradition is integral and yet, at the same time, that the diversity of beliefs can be accommodated in a multi-dimensional universe. In this respect, Pascal’s Wager is one-dimensional.

    The “prediction” is that the predictions of all traditions will come true for each true believer according to their respective cosmologies. If you are a Christian, you will go to Heaven (or Hell). If a Muslim, to Jannah (or Jahannam). If a Buddhist, ultimately to Nirvana after a cycle of rebirths. If an atheist — poof! — sorry, mate, where have you gone?

    My thesis is a possible explanation of the moral order and the divine justice of the universe. Justice because it is inclusive: no one is rejected, denied for their truth. It says that we — whether Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Scientist, etc. — are all children of the universe. As the Bible says, the very hairs of our heads are numbered.

    In the greater scheme of things, what can be more elegant than that?

    5. Joseph: “Whatever answers we develop, our consequent actions should be in the benefit of the universe (and a priory sustainable).”

    Me: My model is not a scientific model but a cosmological one. It may be as useless as all religions as Micha would want. But pure rationality will embrace kindness only out of enlightened self-interest; there is no heart in it. The use of my model, if any, is that its wide acceptance would bring us to a kinder world.

    • josephivo says:

      From the hip,

      1. Joseph: “Do you have a good understanding of the current boundaries of our knowledge?”

      Depends on the definition of good understanding. I know some fields have scientific attention and sometimes I have the feeling that there is consensus or a scientific consensus is growing. If I try to teed articles or Wikipedia I soon feel that I don’t have enough knowledge/interest to fully understand. But if you see the authors or the institutions behind the research then often I dare to take the conclusions as scientific sound without having the proof myself.

      2. Joseph: “…don’t be too loud then about your solutions.”

      Get involved in a discussion according the level of your knowledge. I will not open my mouth in a forum of brain surgeons, after reading a book about the brain, I might dare to utter my opinion here. On a late evening, after some wine when the frontal pre-cortex does function less well, I often trespass my own rules.

      3. Joseph: “The supernatural answers we choose should not contradict what we see. They should fit the “model” of reality we choose.”

      When in your model all explanation is in the bible and creation happened 7000 years, you have such a complex model that you can explain all we scientifically know (=see) but that’s ok. But if you have to call all you scientifically see exceptions (=miracles) that is not ok. Personally I like the simple more elegant models.

      4. Joseph: “For me the best models are those that can better predict, that are coherent and do not need miracles (explanations not coherent with what I can explain naturally), and that are “elegant” (simpler).”

      What science cannot explain I call coincidence. For me miracles have to contradict my scientific knowledge, Joshua stopping the sun, your prayer bending the path of a typhoon.

      And does it matter why you are born? Does creation needs a purpose? Isn’t survival of the fittest enough as axiom? Moral order makes our species in the current environment survive. Understanding cause/effect might be another requirement, why religions help in the short term.

      A model with supernatural elements is a good and easy alternative to a pure “scientific” model. No problem at all, as long as the believers are consequent and do not harm the total wellbeing as seen from the universe.

      And many models including the supernatural are possible. Survival of the fittest might bring these models more together in creating more happiness for more creatures. Elegant too?

      What happens on a sub-atomic scale in a quantum mechanical way is not relevant for an ordinary civil or mechanical engineer. What happens on the 6 dimension we don’t know too well neither. In the same way are the deeper philosophical questions not so relevant for someone enjoying paradise or something that is very similar to paradise.

      5. Joseph: “Whatever answers we develop, our consequent actions should be in the benefit of the universe (and a priory sustainable).”

      For me self-interest is the strongest individual driver. Giving the most effective and efficient way to my happiness.


      • sonny says:

        Can I safely say Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle finds application in the Lores-JosephIvo duality? Or is this a 3-body Lagrangian solution?

        • josephivo says:

          Why always oversimplify? 🙂

        • sonny says:

          @ JosephIvo
          It’s my Tourette syndrome acting up when I perceive certain resonances: Nature, some abstract insights, short to medium depth paradigms. Reality is so abundant with analogs. One favorite is the mystery of the Trinitarian God that is mimicked by H2O molecules in the three states of ice, water and steam – same substance, three manifestations and three sets of properties; or an iceberg as a metaphor of the mystery of life: 10% visible, 90% invisible. (sorry, I feel the Tourette trigger welling up).

          • josephivo says:

            Oversimplifying again.

            What dihydrogen monoxide molecules you are referring too? There are so many. Deuterium, tritium…, with ordinary oxygen or one of its isotopes. And what about the less stable supercritical states?

            Same for the Trinity, what Trinity are you referring to? Three equal eternal Persons? Or One as the Creator of the Two others? Or Two creating the Spirit? (filioque?) And with Jesus with a double nature as man since the beginning or only since birth, for ever or until dead, or until Ascension or until Last Judgment Day?

            Iceberg % visibility in volume or surface? Visible from one individual view point, individual being the emphasis of this discussion or 360 degree visibility? Visibility should indicate visible surface and the % could then theoretically vary from almost 100% (a ball with a thin ice sail sticking out) to less than 10%. Volume depends merely on sweet or in salty water, and the temperature of the surrounding water. 10% is an unacceptable rounding up in the Philippines, 3 figures behind the decimal point is an absolute minimum. With this inaccuracy it is so obvious that you are not an expert.

            • Joe America says:

              I don’t know why, but this conversation has me rolling in gales of laughter. He has Tourette and you are OC.

            • sonny says:

              Joseph, what have I done to deserve this? 🙂

              a) H2O not D2O; Anything other than H2O is not iceberg and will sink. That’s why mining Deuterium can only be done close to bottom of the Philippine Trench and other trenches. Oxygen-16 is 99.76% of all naturally occurring Oxygen. (Google said). I will take the word of the scientists and technicians who say pure H2O (ice/iceberg) has a density of 1000 Kg/ 1000 cubic meters and seawater density up to a depth of 500 meters is on the average 1027 Kg / 1000 cubic meters.

              b) My every-day Trinity is Three Divine Persons in One Divine Nature. The Father SPEAKS ONLY ONE WORD and this is the Second Person. The Third Person PROCEEDS from the Father and the Son. I will prescind FOREVER, from describing the Human nature of the Second Person because the hypostatic Union can ONLY be understood by the three Divine Persons. I can’t even solve the problem of how many angels can dance on the head of pin.

              c) If I were an expert, I won’t have time to discuss this because I will be on a helicopter measuring the visible volume (360 degrees) of an iceberg somewhere a little below the Tropic of Capricorn and devise some method to give the minimum accuracy better than 3 figures after the decimal point.

              d) This is the extent of my earth science non-expertise. So there. 🙂

              @ Joe
              Yes, I will seek therapy for my Tourette Syndrome 🙂

              • josephivo says:

                I admit I’m convulsive. Why? A density of 1000 Kg/ 1000 cubic meters for ice is such a hypercritical state that the universe is too small to accommodate all the zeros to express the probability. A density around 1000 Kg/ 1 cubic meters of ice is more common. By my knowledge there are very few icebergs at 500 meter depth too, and if there where, even the Titanic wouldn’t care.

                Just assuming there are pins in heaven and that they all have a standardized head shape and size, the question on how many angels can dance on the head of pin in not so interesting on itself. I would like to know if the number will be a simple integer, a rational, transcendent or a complex number. My intuition tells me it will be irrational and transcendent. And even more interesting would be the discussion if it would be the same for male, female and neutral angels.

                I used to be reluctant for electroshocks as treatment for my OCD because of it side effects on memory. But today with the ease of finding information on Wikipedia this fear becomes unjustified. So there is hope that one day I will let you off the hook.

              • Joe America says:

                Ahahahahahaha, oh, my . . . an intellectual slaying . . . . I’m dying here . . . side aches and brain freeze . . . sonny, ahahahahahaha you’re up . . .

              • sonny says:

                As always, Joe, it is fun as it lasts. 🙂 The fat lady must close even this small aside. It is both intriguing and satisfying to drop a line from the Scholastic philosophers and detect a nibble. My serendipity is that I find a milieu long gone and still find some consolation.

              • Joe America says:

                May your serendipity continue to find such riches, and your fat ladies dance, prance . . . and sing . . . to your complete satisfaction. I have enjoyed the discussion as no other . . .

  23. josephivo says:

    I forgot to say thank you for having different opinions. It makes one think and develop thinking. Development will stop the day we all think the same.

    And isn’t the strength of Joeam that he overpowers all of us into civil conversations.

    • sonny says:

      My sentiments too, Joe!! Glad you and yours are safe and sound. L’chaim!

    • Joe America says:

      Why that is a very nice thing to say, josephivo. That’s the goal, civilized thinking, and the brainpower of a benevolent community . . . sometimes unified, sometimes not . . .

      Thank you.

    • edgar lores says:

      I would have to agree with you there, Joseph.

      Until we write it down, we really don’t know where we are at.

      Blogging is a means of describing the world and also a means self-definition. We write our observations and what we say about what we are observing may be true or not. Or it may be a part, an aspect of the truth.

      Wittingly or unwittingly, we reveal ourselves. Often what we say says more about us than the thing observed. Paradoxically, this is especially true if what we say has little semblance to the thing observed.

      in that last instance — and all together now — “THE OBSERVER IS THE OBSERVED.”

      On the other hand, if what we observe and what we write has the ring of truth, then this will resonate with others. This, too, reveals our self: our honesty, our civility as you say, and our acuity.

  24. Micha says:

    @edgar lores

    “My existence is a miracle. Science can explain how I was born (sperm and egg), but it can never explain why I was born.”

    To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, some questions are just silly questions. Just because you were able to formulate them does not mean they deserve an answer. Why do mountains exist? Why do planet Uranus exist?

    There is a phase in a toddler’s life (around 3 or 4 years old) where incessant whys are being asked. Then she grows up and realize how silly those questions were.

    And so it is with humanity. Relative to its origin and development, mankind is still in its infancy. Neolithic age started in as little as 15,000 years ago. That is a micro blip in evolutionary time.

    Humanity now is a toddler asking silly why questions.

    • edgar lores says:

      Sorry, Micha, to me it’s not a silly question.

      No one can alter or cancel the fact that I experience life as a miracle. True, it is a pain sometimes, but in many moments I am possessed of wonder. Delusion? Perhaps, but it does not matter to me.

      If we start with the premise that this is a purposive universe, then everything is significant. A stone, a snowflake, a blade of grass.

      If one rejects the premise, then, of course, nothing matters. There is no need for values (honesty, respect, kindness), no need for knowledge, no need to explore the stars.

      No need, in fact, for this discussion.

      If, like Joseph, one questions the significance of a man, adopts the premise that life is survival of the fittest and that the highest value is self-interest, then why speak of actions benefiting the universe? To what purpose? Why rail against corrupt officials? After all, they are just looking after their self-interest and following the rule of the jungle.

      There is a difference in the rule of survival between a lion who kills and eats a wildebeest, and a senator who directs pork into his bank accounts. One is natural and the other is not. One is amoral and the other is not. And the senator is not doing it for mere survival.

      To me, there is a disjoint in your premises and your conclusions.

      Science can improve the quality of our lives but it cannot provide the meaning.

      It is for each of us to provide that meaning, either by adopting a ready-made, hand-me-down answer or by arriving at one’s own.

      • josephivo says:

        you used my name, some answers:

        “No one can alter or cancel the fact that I experience life as a miracle.”
        Me too, even without asking why.

        “If one rejects the premise, then, of course, nothing matters.”
        Equally true is “If one rejects the premise, then, of course, everything matters.” And no need, in fact, for this discussion.

        “If, the highest value is self-interest, then why speak of actions benefiting the universe?” Because I’m the part of the universe I know best and I assume that I am an average human being. Human beings I gave the highest weighing factor.

        “Why rail against corrupt officials?” Especially they too can improve their deepest happiness by giving instead of stealing. They falsely think they look after their self-interest by following the rule of the jungle. Over the ages our brain is wired for mutual beneficial interactions, social behavior. I agree that our brains differ and that some are wired wrongly, they should be “jailed” so that the happiness sum can be optimized.

        “There is a difference in the rule of survival between a lion who kills and eats a wildebeest, and a senator who directs pork into his bank accounts. One is natural and the other is not. One is amoral and the other is not. And the senator is not doing it for mere survival.” Correct. But I do not talk about survival, but survival of the fittest, (deeply) enjoying more. For a lion happiness might be a full stomach and a large harem, for most of us it is sharing.

        “Science can improve the quality of our lives but it cannot provide the meaning.” Correct but meaning is not an option, it is a hardwired given, survival of the fittest.

        “It is for each of us to provide that meaning, either by adopting a ready-made, hand-me-down answer or by arriving at one’s own.” Not to provide, to discover.

  25. Micha says:

    1.If we start with the premise that this is a purposive universe…

    Have you already uncovered that purpose?

    2.If one questions the significance of a man, adopts the premise that life is survival of the fittest and that the highest value is self-interest, then why speak of actions benefiting the universe?

    Whoa, hold on a minute right there. Actions of man do not benefit the universe. The universe does not expect to be benefited by man. You’re getting it upside down. It is mankind who benefits from the universe..

    Mankind could, right this very moment, disappear from the face of the planet…heck, the planet itself could be vaporized by our exploding sun and the universe wouldn’t even notice.

    Or care.

    To say otherwise is a delusion of grandeur.

    3.Why rail against corrupt officials? After all, they are just looking after their self-interest and following the rule of the jungle.

    Humankind had been having this drama for quite some time now. Primitive societies have it. Medieval societies have it. Modern societies have it. Only the degree of unfairness changes. We advance one progress at a time. That is called evolving. Evolving to maximize our chances for collective survival. We rail against corrupt officials because, as a country, corruption diminishes our chances of survival.

    4.Science can improve the quality of our lives but it cannot provide the meaning.

    Again, the hunger for meaning. Maybe there is no meaning? Maybe the meaning is in the improving?

    5. It is for each of us to provide that meaning, either by adopting a ready-made, hand-me-down answer or by arriving at one’s own.

    If the acquisition of meaning is up for grabs by anyone…how then were you so sure that science will be unable to provide one?

    • edgar lores says:

      Hah! Expect 3 different answers from 3 people on a single premise.

      My premise was that if the universe is purposive, then everything is significant. The corollary was if the universe is non-purposive, then nothing matters.

      Micha agrees with the corollary. More, he/she (?) – sorry, Micha, I don’t know whether you are the power on the throne or behind the throne — extends it by saying that the universe does not care. He/She is comfortable with the dreaded idea of an indifferent universe.

      Joseph agrees with Micha that the universe is non-purposive, but goes in the opposite direction. He says despite the inherent absurdity of the universe, everything matters.

      OK, guys, which is which?

      I love Micha’s logic and am enamored of Joseph’s paradox. It reminds me of my argument when I say if God does not exist, the more we should we should be upright in the here and now. The argument is similar but different.

      The difference lies in the assumption and perception that for me the absence of God does not equate to a purposeless universe.

      I will not gainsay Joseph’s logic by saying that significance cannot arise from insignificance, that something cannot come out of nothing. If I did — and I just did, didn’t I? — we will be here forever and a day (arguing about the First Law of Thermodynamics and whether the universe is open, closed or flat.)

      When I talk about a purposive universe, Micha assumes that I am talking of a goal post that, like religious cosmologies, is set at the end of time and towards which we are moving — willy-nilly and inexorably.

      No. I have hinted at what it means for me when I speak of the underlying moral order of the universe and of divine justice. I am not talking of a Judgment Day but, yes, I am talking about things being set aright. I do not know what form that will take. (I like the Eastern idea of karma and rebirth until perfection is reached.) More importantly, the purpose is not pre-set because we participate in and contribute to the process. We are co-creators of the purpose of the universe.

      Let me put it this way. The universe has invested in me – and you and you – by bringing us (accidentally or purposefully) into being. We invest back to the universe by fulfilling part or all of our potential. That potential could be the solidity of rock, the ephemerality of a snowflake, or the beauty of a flower.

      Now. Despite disagreeing on the interpretation of the corollary premise, Joseph and Micha seem to agree on a common purpose, and that is survival. For Micha, the purpose is collective survival. For Joseph, it’s survival of the fittest.

      Both Micha and Joseph conflate survival with value. Survival is mere existence. Value is essence. And in Sartre’s unforgettable dictum, “Existence precedes essence.”

      I will concede that survival has value, is a value, particularly if you have just stepped out of Auschwitz… or a debate with Micha and Joseph. 😉 It is the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. But survival in itself is devoid of essence. One needs to step up to the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy to arrive at true meaning. Existence is in the physical realm. Meaning is in the spiritual realm.

      Again, let me repeat, both Micha and Joseph deny innate universal purpose… and yet their responses are steeped in assumed purpose. To me, this is reflective of innate purpose. This is why I say their premises of absurdity and conclusions of significance are disjointed or incoherent.

      To be accurate, Joseph’s position is between the extremes that Micha and I represent. For him, purpose is primarily hard-wired at the biological level – for survival of the fittest. He recognizes a secondary purpose in the handing out of benefits according to a sliding scale of values. As to the primary purpose, he gives a new meaning to the phrase by extending the biological purpose to include the secondary (spiritual) purpose.

      I have always assumed that the meaning of the phrase “survival of the fittest” means adaptability to the environment, or the ability to propagate the species, or that the stronger of the species will outlast the weak. In consonance with the secondary purpose, Joseph reinterprets this when he says that the fittest are the ones who share most or who are the happiest because they lead moral lives. Thus the fittest are the most loving of people.

      As for Micha, he/she mentions “progress” and “evolving”. Progress, evolution towards what? These terms imply the development of something, and that something, whether you like it or not, is purpose or purposive.

      Finally, some loose ends:

      We can either provide or discover meaning. The first is intentional, the second accidental.

      Science cannot provide meaning to life in teleological terms. It can describe phenomena but not the purpose of phenomena.

      Thank you.

      • Joe America says:

        Thank you. Excellent.

      • josephivo says:

        Some spontaneous reactions:

        1- “Joseph’s logic by saying that significance cannot arise from insignificance”

        (I guess you refer to the purpose argument. If not could you enlighten me on this?)
        I assumed you meant purposive as purposeful, toward an end destination and not on purpose by someone

        “If the universe is not purposive then everything matters”. Because the whole has no purpose, all elements are on their own. Each element optimize individually. A zillion destinations here and now that matter for a zillion elements. If two destinations conflict let us, egoistically for our own kind, find out the greater good – with my scale in mind. The individual element significant for the individual, the abstract universe insignificant for the individual. I spoke as individual, not as universe.


        2- The universe

        Some functions are too complex, for practical reasons one can only study the optimum of these functions between a set of borderlines. Or for more simple functions too, what happens outside the borderlines might be irrelevant for the problem at hand.

        The universe is used as such a borderline, a viewpoint and for all practical reasons it can be reduced to Mother Earth.

        3- The basic Questions asked

        What is smaller than the smallest? What is north of the North Pole? Some questions don’t make sense. What’s before the big bang, what after the end of time are similar questions.

        Being a natural person, all that is supernatural is irrelevant. Supernatural being all things (events, relationships) that cannot be observed. The question what happens on parallel universes sound interesting, but we still have not a single natural event that could indicate their existence yet, therefor the question is still irrelevant.

        Practicality. Some questions only value is that they develop thinking (is a number natural transcendent or not), or entertain, (e.g. chess problems). Other questions stimulate tangible improvement. Is question for the purpose of the universe practical?

        4- Some loose ends:

        “We can either provide or discover meaning. The first is intentional, the second accidental.”

        Newton under the apple tree. He could not guide the apple by providing it direction, he only could discover its logic.

        “Science cannot provide meaning to life in teleological terms. It can describe phenomena but not the purpose of phenomena.”

        I would refer to . For me a purpose a posterior for evolution is thought orienting, a purpose a priory belongs to the domain of Faith.

        • josephivo says:

          A final thought

          Is there more than rationality or “science”? Definitely so, there are all these deeper areas in the brain stimulated by dopamine and the like, the physical pains and pleasures, the hopes and fears, instincts, for some compulsive reactions and on a higher level there is Faith. Can there be overlap? Within reasonable limits (=model dependent)

          • edgar lores says:


            Just 5 points…

            1. Another way to define “purposive” is to state its antithesis, and that would be nihilism, both existential and moral nihilism.

            From Wikipedia: “Existential nihilism is the belief that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence.”

            I don’t know whether you or Micha would call yourselves nihilists but that is how I would characterize your stance.

            2. With respect to relevance, the demarcation between natural and supernatural is blurred. You accept the sixth sense and your final thought admits there is something more than rationality.

            I have had psychic experiences in at least three forms: prophetic dreams, prescience of death, and telepathic notice of death. On the last one, I distinctly remember when I was in San Francisco the thought passing my mind out of the blue that my maternal grandfather had just died. This was confirmed when I returned home. We were not close and I had not seen him for many years. The other death event was that of my sister-in-law who I was close to. I was in Sydney in my rented flat, and the surge of knowledge of her passing away was so strong that my knees buckled and I was forced into a kneeling position… where I stayed and prayed.

            3. With respect to practicality, I cannot exaggerate the importance of how our view of whether there is intrinsic value in the universe affects the way we treat others and Mother Earth. Belief underpins behavior and action. In the view that I have adopted, I approach people with fundamental respect and things of the earth with fundamental reverence. In the alternative view, one may — or may not depending on nurture — treat people with disrespect because there is no fundamental reason not to.

            4. A surgeon or a teacher who practices his skills to the utmost provides meaning to his life with intentionality. You are right in that he may have discovered his vocation when he was young. But sometimes the realization of our vocation may happen after many years of practice.

            5. I characterized my theses as cosmological and not scientific. You are right, it is a priori and a matter of faith. But we take on Science, which produced the atom bomb, on faith as well. Evolution is empirical, and we hope that incremental changes are always for the better.

  26. Micha says:


    “I have hinted at what it (purpose) means for me when I speak of the underlying moral order of the universe and of divine justice. I am not talking of a Judgment Day but, yes, I am talking about things being set aright. I do not know what form that will take. (I like the Eastern idea of karma and rebirth until perfection is reached.) More importantly, the purpose is not pre-set because we participate in and contribute to the process. We are co-creators of the purpose of the universe.”

    Why do I have the gut feeling that this quoted paragraph reeks with postmodern obscurantism? Maybe because it does.

    Let us see what’s the narrative thus far by restating it in a numbered format as is your wont.

    1. You’re vaguely saying (because there’s a lot of hesitation) that the purpose of the universe is to have moral order and divine justice and things being set aright.

    2. You don’t really know how will that be achieved although you like the idea of karma.

    3. The purpose is not pre-set. Maybe you meant it is arbitrary because we are participants and co-creators of this purpose.

    Everybody now understands what edgar is saying here? Neither do I.

    First, a question has to be asked : Who will determine moral order, who will impose divine justice, and who will set things aright? Are you imputing higher entity outside of man?

    #3 will tie you in a knot because if we (humankind) are incapable of knowing objective truth (based on your earlier assertion) how will we be able to “set things aright” if there will be plurality of views (relativism) with regards to what is right or wrong, good or evil?

    • edgar lores says:

      Everybody now understands what edgar is saying here? Neither do I.

      Hah! You are not alone, Micha. Neither do I, neither do I. I wonder about the guy myself.

      I must confess I have never thought out the implications of my thesis, and have been satisfied with its scope. But now that you raise very good questions, let me have a stab at answers.

      Re the first question:

      An assumption of the concept of moral order is that inasmuch as there are physical laws in the universe, which are immutable, there are also moral laws.

      I do not need to impute a higher entity outside of man. I know there is a higher entity. That is the universe itself — of which we are a part.

      The universe does not “impose” divine justice in the same manner that it does not impose that water boils at 99.97 °C. It is just the way the universe operates. Naturally.

      Re the second question:

      Number 3 does not tie you into knots. Au contraire.

      If you go back and read what I wrote, there is the strong recognition of religious pluralism (which is subjective truth), and my thesis is that the universe accommodates this by multidimensional spacing or layering.

      The beauty of my scheme, if I may say so, is that the universe does NOT decide what is right or wrong, good or evil. You do… by your choice of religion and beliefs.

      Ultimately, you determine what color you are and where you are positioned in the rainbow.

      I do maintain, however, that there is a common set of ethical codes that all religions can agree on for the sake of peace on earth

      • edgar lores says:

        I forgot to add: I would not use the adjective “arbitrary” because I recognize causality. I would say the purpose is not “pre-determined”.

      • Joe America says:

        Your scheme is beautiful, and I wonder as to why Micha behaves in an orderly fashion if there is no reason for doing so.

  27. josephivo says:

    We might have very different and sometimes opposite beliefs and still none of us likes oligarchs
    In my world there are basically 3 levels, an event level for all to see, a process level that creates these events, and a deeper “moving principle” level that creates these processes. The facts of corruption, the process of fighting oligarchs as a cause of corruption and the justification, beliefs or drive to do so.

    On the outer peel of the onion, or what we see of corruption, we have little difference of opinion. On the next layer of what causes it we easily agree, but the deepest core of the onion is very different. Strange. I always taught in improvement classes that beliefs were most often the result of experience and that changing beliefs by confronting with new processes was most effective. Now I realize that observing the same things can lead to different beliefs and that different beliefs can generate the same processes.

    Help, I’m lost. From atheist over utilitarist (or is he a nihilist?), a cosmologicalist (or is he a postmodern obscurantist?)… up to devote Christians, all supporting the same cause?

    • Joe America says:

      Level 3, the value system of each individual is shaped by physical (brainpower; effectiveness of neural transmitters), learned (education, experience), and mysterious (connectivities we do not wholly understand; ESP; spiritual) forces. Our various communities of individuals operate in an environment that is not wholly predictable or controllable (scaled behavior from rational to lunatic, animal need for sex or physical dominance, natural phenomena like solar flares or storms, luck). So that’s a lot of variables. The dependent are sometimes the independent and vice versa.

      We struggle to understand, and one of the outcomes of the struggle is a recognition of a need for certain rules of order, lest we all eat each other or stand impotent before God as He washes us in storm surges, crazy winds, ice, boulders, or hot lava. We learn to cope.

      The corrupt develop a different set of rules than those who have a Christian-type moral law book. One group has to educate the other on the official way forward. . .

      Lest we eat each other or become impotent before manly gods who tell us what to do.

      Truth is a variable when examined through the eyes of well developed animals who have limitations.

      There is no need to be ashamed of our limitations. Only to seek to overcome them.

      The collective of odd fellows (atheists, nihilists, cosmologicalists, and Christians) is unified in that aspiration.

      Your confusion is nothing more than an articulated desire for clarity. It is good.

      Now go have a beer.

    • edgar lores says:


      To echo Sonny, we seem to have tripartite models everywhere!

      There is nothing wrong with your three-tiered model.

      It is completely true what you say that “beliefs are the result of experience and that changing beliefs by confronting with new processes was most effective.”

      What you may have missed are two things. Firstly, that we come into the world equipped with certain templates (such as the potential for language) and certain archetypes. There is the collective unconscious which may contain racial memory. (To those who believe in rebirth, the unconscious may also contain the individual unconscious that is the memory of past lives.)

      Then, secondly, in our first years, we absorb at a tremendous rate the beliefs of our parents and our culture. This is what I call conditioning; I believe the technical term is imprinting.

      How we see the world depends on our imprinting, racially (?), culturally and parentally. Our parents and culture ensure that the universe mirrors our imprinting.

      Sometimes, before we are more or less fully imprinted, we see the world clearly without the grid of our conditioning. That is why it takes a child to see the truth, the naked truth as in the case of the emperor without clothes.

      ,i>So, first and foremost, how we experience the world is the result of imprinting from racial memory (?) and the inherited beliefs of our parents and culture.

      But, unlike animals, human beings do not get to be fully imprinted. Because we are possessed with a higher degree of consciousness, there are random variables (refer to JoeAm’s list and the Rashomon Effect) in the environment and the human make-up that allows each person to see and react differently to outside stimuli.

      As we grow and develop individual consciousness, our subjective experience, with all the random internal and external variables, may cause us to doubt and alter our inherited beliefs. This is where you come in with the truth that “beliefs are the result of experience.”

      In sum, beliefs form experience but experience (and the internal “digestion” of experience) also reforms beliefs.

      As JoeAm suggests, let’s have a drink.

      • josephivo says:


        The way a cat imprints her kitten or a bitch her puppies is not very different. As we have a lot more capacity/prewired circuits for language, we have a lot more capacity for social skills too. But all this I would call instincts and instinctive learning. Children instinctively see the truth. And these instincts, not our mighty rationale did bring us quite far, I never realized how far. Different genes, different imprinting, growing up in different continents with different experiences, yes, all this resulted in fundamental differences in fundamental beliefs between us and still where it matters we cry in unison “dead to the oligarchs”.

        Thinking back, “At heart we are human” (a refrain of a popular song I wrote on the wall of my dorm during the sixties in one foot red letters). In Dutch it sounds as “in the ground you are a human”, with the double meaning of “once buried we are all equal”. Now I start to comprehend what it meant.

        For Joe’s always wise advise, I pledged to myself not to start drinking before 6 pm. But the bottles are in the ref already, Belgian beer for the occasion.

  28. Micha says:


    “An assumption of the concept of moral order is that inasmuch as there are physical laws in the universe, which are immutable, there are also moral laws.”

    Now that, I believe, is the source of your confusion my friend. I think you’ve just performed a 180 degree turn from your earlier assertion. So, before I respond to the rest of your post containing this quoted line, please state clearly what are those immutable moral laws of the universe.

    Thank you.

    • josephivo says:

      Immutable is maybe a bridge to far, but as are brains are wired for language, different from all other species, they are also wired for social behavior. A lot of what we see as ethical good is done “instinctively”. As you can refuse to speak, so you can refuse to behave. As you can develop your language skills, you can develop your social behavior. But always in language you will keep balancing sounds and meanings, add meaning via structured grammar and intonation… All languages develop in similar ways, even in new communities using developing sign language. Same for social behavior, these mechanism could be called “immutable”.

      • i7sharp says:


        About 50 comments ago, you will find this:

        About truth.

        What do you think about this?:
        “I am the truth.”

        Is Jesus Christ …
        a liar?
        a mythical figure?
        a deranged personality?
        an impostor?
        God Himself, the Creator of the world?


        • edgar lores says:


          I am not a believer, but here is my take on Jesus for what is its worth…

          1. I think Jesus is one of the greatest moral teachers that the world has ever had. Elsewhere in this blog, in “A Secular Moral Code to Take the Place of the Philippine Golden Rule”, JoeAm and I have reinterpreted his two greatest commandments within a secular setting.

          2. From my assumption that the Divine is not external to us but permeates the universe and can be found within us, I would interpret John 14:6 this way:

          2.1. Jesus, like each one of is, is a child of the universe (or God).

          2.2. When he says “I”, he is referring not only to himself but to each of us. “I” is equal to “you” and to “thou”.

          2.3. When he says “the way”, he is referring to the path that we take.

          2.4. When he says “the truth”, he is referring to individual conscience.

          2.5. And when he says “the life”, he is referring to living a genuine life that follows from treading the path that conscience dictates.

          2.6. Putting it all together, “I am the way, the truth and the life” becomes “If we follow the path (or Way) of conscience (or Truth), we live integrally.” And in doing so, we “come to the Father” which to me, because the Divine is not external, can mean:

          o Full realization of our potential (or divinity)
          o Full individuation
          o Full maturity
          o Full union with the universe
          o We have come full circle, and become Father to the Child that we once were.

          2.7. There is a paradox here in that Jesus also says we must become “like little children”. In my interpretation, and within the context of the foregoing discussions, this means that we must lose (or unlearn) our conditioning to be able to see clearly and into the heart of the things. Rationality does, or rather rationalizations do, overcome the inner voice.

          2.8. A Christian should not merely follow in Jesus’ footsteps. He should become — be — Jesus. But whether we are Christians or not, we can take Jesus’ teachings to heart.

          • josephivo says:

            “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Our CL teacher in high school called this a central phrase in the bible. But the word truth has a different, deeper meaning than in my texts above. It stands as a qualifier for his message. In this sentence Jesus makes the needed link between the Divine and the natural. As a grain of sand cannot grasp our thinking, we cannot grasp the thinking of God. But in this sentence where the natural man Jesus tells us that he is the channel, the link, that he is more than the most trustful messenger because his message is divine and that he is our source of divine energy. He is of double nature, bilingual, his message is guaranteed correct.

            My 5 cents if my memory is still OK after two Duvels (Belgian beer of 10% alcohol, named “devil”)

        • sonny says:

          It’s the miracles. (The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the game-changer) They cannot be ignored. They give credence to everything that he has said and done. The first Christians found this out. We in the 21st century have only deniability as an option. (We were not there). Else we should believe.

          To answer your questions: no, He is not a liar; no He is not a mythical figure; no He is not a deranged personality; no, He is not an impostor and yes, He is God himself.

    • edgar lores says:


      I cannot state with definiteness what the immutable moral laws of the universe are because they have not yet been discovered. Is this palusot? No. Science — psychology, the behavioral and cognitive sciences, and neuroscience in particular — has not progressed to that stage. Science is more focused on the discovery of physical laws. But there are books out there that are beginning to spread the gospel of the intrinsicalness of morality in the biology of humanity. There is, for example, “The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris, which I have not yet read.

      The difficulty is that science does not know precisely where to look. Is the locus of morality in the DNA? Or is it in the right temporo-parietal junction?

      The attempts of science to unravel the spiritual aspect of man is pathetic, mostly done by brain imaging. It may be that science does not have the full capability to investigate this area.

      In the meantime, we can only guess at what these universal moral laws are by doing a comparative study of religion and cultures. I will leave this task to someone else.

      You may refer to my post in this blog, the “Seven Commandments of Secular Ethics”, to what I think should be the moral laws of humanity. I believe that the basis of these commandments are encoded in our being. The parameters of the encoding would be variable by culture.

      Since I cannot provide a definite answer, you are left with the choice, among others, of (a) believing in me — yeah, right; (b) validating my thinking by intuition and logic; or (c) providing your own.

      • sonny says:

        See what you made me do. I Googled NATURAL LAW only to find that Hobbes had something to say, St Thomas Aquinas was there too and many others from ancient Greece to John Locke and Anglo-American jurisprudence. And I’m not the someone Edgar is referring to. either. 🙂

        • i7sharp says:

          This is why I believe Jesus Christ is God and the Creator of the world:

          “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
          Genesis 1:1

          “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

          All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

          And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, …”
          John 1:1, 3. 14

          All quotations from the King James Bible.
          I believe the KJB is *the* word of God.
          If you, the reader, find anything you think is wrong or inconsistent in it,
          let us discuss it here or in another open forum of your choice.
          I still know very little and am willing to learn.



  29. Micha says:


    Been busy the last couple of days. Apologies for not responding as soon.

    “I cannot state with definiteness what the immutable moral laws of the universe are because they have not yet been discovered.”

    I’d like to avoid twisting the knife here but the odds are that there won’t be any discoveries of the sort. Morals, values, ethics, justice are conceptions that are entirely specific to the affairs of man. The universe does not care about these things one way or the other. You can behold the stoic nature of the universe in every instances of violence, injustice, and tragedy – natural or man-made.

    “Science is more focused on the discovery of physical laws.”

    No, science is entirely focused on physical laws. You’d be thoroughly disappointed if you keep on insisting that it should also venture its inquiry into religious and/or supernatural bullshit.

    “But there are books out there that are beginning to spread the gospel of the intrinsicalness of morality in the biology of humanity. There is, for example, “The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris, which I have not yet read.”

    SH loosely defined morality as that which will maximize the general well-being of everyone – a definition that will not hazard a guess beyond that which is not physically measurable. For this he recently courted controversy by taking a stand that, in some instances, torture might be justified to preserve a greater good. And what do you know, Dick Cheney found justification for their neo-con cruelty.

    “The difficulty is that science does not know precisely where to look. Is the locus of morality in the DNA? Or is it in the right temporo-parietal junction?”

    Experts in the academe are working on it. But beyond this, you seem to be implying that post-modern proponents or whoever outside of the scientific community have special knowledge on precisely where to look? If so, where? What? How?

    “The attempts of science to unravel the spiritual aspect of man is pathetic..”

    In case you haven’t read the memo yet, there is no such thing as scientific mission to unravel the spiritual aspect of man. Please be clear on that so you can cure your confusion.

    “It may be that science does not have the full capability to investigate this area.”

    That, or maybe it’s just not interested.

    “In the meantime, we can only guess at what these universal moral laws are by doing a comparative study of religion and cultures.”

    Good luck on that.

    “Since I cannot provide a definite answer…”

    Thank you for being candid.

    • edgar lores says:

      There’s a contradiction in your answers.

      Experts in the academe are working on it.

      In case you haven’t read the memo yet, there is no such thing as scientific mission to unravel the spiritual aspect of man.

      There are a lot of ongoing experiments trying to unravel the spiritual/moral aspects of man. Google it.

      • edgar lores says:

        Google query: “scientific research on morality” and one might find “The New Science of Morality”.

      • Micha says:

        I wouldn’t call the work of, for example, Steven Pinker and his wife Rebecca Goldstein as unraveling the spiritual aspect of man.

    • josephivo says:

      The definition of science could start a new discussion. What about economy, psychology, Darwin, mathematics, cosmology… no physical laws, not science? So let us talk about scientific methods.

      Survival of the fittest, again. Morality, a property of our species could be linked to survival of the fittest. With the axiom that the surviving morality is the best morality (brings us the farthest into the future). Even if it just works as a cocktail ingredient, together with scientific knowledge, spiritual believes (or absence of-), emotional intelligence… and the environment. Some moral principles from 1000 year ago still survive, others are lost, the lost ones are the bad once. The same criteria could be used for our moral principles, from what we believe today in 1000 years a lot will be lost some will survive.

      Some moral principles are more instinctive. As some of a chimpanzee’s behavior could be called good, species enhancing, other behavior as bad. Some of our current moral principles are still on an “experimental” level and might be engrained later. An analysis of all this is going on, and that is I guess what Edgar is referring to.

      Supernatural by definition is all what cannot stand scientific methods. Spiritual is supernatural. The value of supernatural thinking is a different discussion too.

      • josephivo says:

        The universe, reduced to mother earth, reduced to survival of our species. Maybe less violent behavior is the better survival strategy. An eye for an eye versus turning the other cheek? The first adding to wasteful tension, the second reducing tension and freeing energy for value adding activities. The environment changed from the hunter-gathering society to a very interdepend one. Compare a stone age tool and a computer mouse, same size, similar shape but the first made with the knowledge of one, the second with the knowledge of thousands (plastics – need chemicals, pumps, energy…. – , steel, electronics….). Today we need each other more and more, the torture experts might not have the future, the universe might have changed mind.

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