The other of the other – the refutation of today’s people’s widely kept sense of cynicism. When the symbolic efficiency has died down and the people started casting doubt on these institutions, they sort of revert to a subtle, internal contradiction; silently holding on to these institutions which they also doubt. There are muted doubts for the government, the church of the mass media but nevertheless, the people still cling onto them, still pin hopes on them, even only the slightest of hopes.
What is frightening about Sloterdijk’s and Zizek’s modification of the idea of ideology as “they know very well that they are holding onto an illusion but still they continue to do so” is that it introduces a large gap between what one knows and what one does. If I know something and what I do does not attune with what I know, we have a serious problem. If I know very well that money at an inherent level does not have a real value yet I regard it as the simple signification of wealth, then we have a problem.
In more religious Marxist terminologies, does not this introduce the gap between theory and practice – what one knows and what one does? It gets more frightening when we encounter the very manifestations of this gap. I know very well that Starbucks is a multi-national capitalist company, propagators of this system, yet I still go there for my cup of coffee. I know very well that excessive drinking and doing drugs are part of the “liberal, bourgeois and decadent” lifestyle promoted in this social set-up yet I still indulge in these activities. But this is just one part of the vaster horror. On the ranks of what we call the masses, the cynicism is also wearying.
As the Chair of the Baguio-Benguet chapter of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, I usually encounter distressed testimonies of campus press freedom violations from several editors and publication members not only in my area but from different parts of the country. in one instance, a publication editor-in-chief told me about how the release of their funds were tactically delayed by the administration so to keep them from participating in a CEGP activity. While discussing the case with her, I was quite adamant in goading her to fight for their rights as campus journalists and at the maximum launch a campaign against these tactics of the administration. However, her reply was not a shy refusal. In her text message, the gist of her reply was to let it pass, “hayaan na lang natin,” as she herself quoted. Reading this, I was momentarily reduced to helplessness. How can we act on the situation if this is the attitude of the people who are supposed to be primarily involved in the action? Is this not an excellent evidence of the people’s cynicism nowadays? We know very well that our rights as campus journalists are being deprived from us but we won’t do anything about it? Apparently, there is no consistency, no harmony between our knowledge and our actions.
In that textbook procedure of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people, this problem of cynicism resulting to the theory-practice gap poses a dead-end that needs to be efficiently dealt with and resolved if the movement for change shall continue. During hoppings on publications and casual chats with publication members, they would all resemble the sense of helplessness, the simultaneously bashful and subconscious application of cynicism in their remarks. “Ah ganyan pala, napakahaba ng proseso ng paperworks bago kayo makapaglabas ng pera?” “Oo kuya eh, ganun talaga eh.” Can massive propaganda and hard or softcore educational discussion still work to save them out of the pit of helplessness, of refusing to do something big to halt the existing currencies? I am in doubt of an answer. This now seems to be less a matter of stances and perspectives than a matter of stepping into practice and doing accordingly what the situation entails. Perhaps new methods of discourses and engagements should be applied for us to act again as if the world is truly changeable and we can do it. Because of all the horrors this period suggests, that thing I happened to read somewhere which eloquently puts this present temper seems to be the most haunting and chilling: people are more likely to believe that the world is going to end that it is going to be saved.