Thursday, August 18, 2005

Remembering Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.




Remembering Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

qouted from http://www.online-literature.com/dickens/olivertwist/

From the 1840s Dickens spent much time traveling and campaigning against many of the social evils of his time. In addition he gave talks and reading, wrote pamphlets, plays, and letters. In the 1850s Dickens was founding editor of Household Words and its successor All the Year Round (1859-70). In 1844-45 he lived in Italy, Switzerland and Paris. He gave lecturing tours in Britain and the United States in 1858-68.

"...Dickens found that after a hundred economic arguments and granting a hundred economic considerations, the fact remained that paupers in modern workhouses were much too afraid of the beadle, just as vassals in ancient castles were much too afraid of the Dedlocks, then he struck suddenly and at once. This is what makes the opening chapters of Oliver Twist so curious and important. The very fact of Dickens's distance from, and independence of, the elaborate financial arguments of his time, makes more definite and dazzling his sudden assertion that he sees the old human tyranny in front of him as plain as the sun at noon-day. Dickens attacks the modern workhouse with a sort of inspired simplicity as a boy in a fairy tale who had wandered about, sword in hand, looking for ogres and who had found an indisputable ogre. All the other people of his time are attacking things because they are bad economics or because they are bad politics, or because they are bad science; he alone is attacking things because they are bad. All the others are Radicals with a large R; he alone is radical with a small one. He encounters evil with that beautiful surprise which, as it is the beginning of all real pleasure, is also the beginning of all righteous indignation. He enters the workhouse just as Oliver Twist enters it, as a little child.

This is the real power and pathos of that celebrated passage in the book which has passed into a proverb; but which has not lost its terrible humour even in being hackneyed. I mean, of course, the everlasting quotation about Oliver Twist asking for more. The real poignancy that there is in this idea is a very good study in that strong school of social criticism which Dickens represented. A modern realist describing the dreary workhouse would have made all the children utterly crushed, not daring to speak at all, not expecting anything, not hoping anything, past all possibility of affording even an ironical contrast or a protest of despair. A modern, in short, would have made all the boys in the workhouse pathetic by making them all pessimists. But Oliver Twist is not pathetic because he is a pessimist. Oliver Twist is pathetic because he is an optimist. The whole tragedy of that incident is in the fact that he does expect the universe to be kind to him, that he does believe that he is living in a just world. He comes before the Guardians as the ragged peasants of the French Revolution came before the Kings and Parliaments of Europe. That is to say, he comes, indeed, with gloomy experiences, but he comes with a happy philosophy. He knows that there are wrongs of man to be reviled; but he believes also that there are rights of man to be demanded. It has often been remarked as a singular fact that the French poor, who stand in historic tradition as typical of all the desperate men who have dragged down tyranny, were, as a matter of fact, by no means worse off than the poor of many other European countries before the Revolution. The truth is that the French were tragic because they were better off. The others had known the sorrowful experiences; but they alone had known the splendid expectation and the original claims. It was just here that Dickens was so true a child of them and of that happy theory so bitterly applied. They were the one oppressed people that simply asked for justice; they were the one Parish Boy who innocently asked for more."

"... It was just here that Dickens was so true a child of them and of that happy theory so bitterly applied. They were the one oppressed people that simply asked for justice; they were the one Parish Boy who innocently asked for more."

excerpt from chap1

"...What an excellent example of the power of dress, young Oliver Twist was! Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once- a parish child- the orphan of a workhouse- the humble, half-starved drudge- to be cuffed and buffeted through the world- despised by all, and pitied by none.

Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder."

What I have to say:

Not a vain effort at all to ponder on the shortcomings of society and how these could be corrected. The story of Oliver Twist is not just a work of plain creation for it reflects a social reality still prevalent and universal. The story can stop there but social history moves ahead and the universal struggle to change the world never stops since the golden tradition of the First International Workingmen's Association or the First International. Workers of the world unite!!! Then certainly, the answer is not BLOWN IN THE WIND.

Replace Arroyo with a Transition Council

People Power and the Transition Council as Alternative

By the Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM)*

In these times of political crisis, turmoil and uncertainty, one thing stands clear: Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) must go. However there is as yet no consensus as to how she will be made to step down and who or what must replace her government.

Indeed, there is some truth to the observation that had there been wide agreement on this, another people power uprising would have erupted and ousted Mrs. Arroyo by now. Putting it another way, the sooner a consensus is reached by the various groups calling and working for her removal, on how and what will replace her regime, the sooner Mrs. Arroyo will be removed from office.

Affirming people power

The government and its apologists and defenders warn the public against resorting to any “unconstitutional” means of unseating and replacing the ruling regime. They equate “unconstitutional” to anarchy, chaos, violence, etc. as though the current turmoil has not been caused both by blatantly unconstitutional anomalies and criminal acts perpetrated by those in power.

They deliberately obscure the fact that People Power 1 and 2 were themselves extra constitutional undertakings. Aquino declared her new government a “revolutionary” one and decreed an interim “Freedom Constitution”. On the other hand, Arroyo insisted that her ascendance to the presidency was due to constitutional succession even as the ouster of Estrada was itself extra constitutional.

But there is a growing number of Filipinos who are open to the idea of a transition government that will do away with the constitutional presidential succession in case Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigns or is ousted from MalacaƱang.

There is as well a growing consensus among many groups calling for the ouster of GMA that the best and most plausible way to override or break away from the “constitutional” process is through the formation of a “transition council” that will pave the way for the creation of a new form of government, and the election of a new administration that would be more representative of and accountable to the people and thus more responsive to the people’s interests.

It is an idea that has gained significant ground over the past weeks. This is because nobody wants to go through all the trouble of deposing Mrs. Arroyo just to install Noli de Castro, the supposed constitutional successor, as president. Neither is the option of a snap election under a transition government presided over by the Senate President acceptable, the people having lost all trust and confidence in the COMELEC; in fact, on the entire electoral process as we know it.

It is also an idea whose time has come. It springs from the widespread realization that more profound changes -- not merely of corrupt and unwanted leaders, not just of the rotten electoral process, but of the entire social, political and economic system – are necessary to lift our nation out of the morass of corruption, debt, spiraling prices, poverty, underdevelopment and violence. This sentiment is often expressed as frustration, disillusionment and even disgust over the governments installed by people power.

The people’s realization of the need for systemic reforms has maliciously been misrepresented by the GMA government and its apologists as “people power fatigue” or the supposed rejection of people power as a way out of the present crisis. On the contrary, it indicates a simple yet profound understanding that people power must aim for more than what it has achieved in the past. It shows that the people’s political consciousness has in fact significantly risen from the levels of Edsa 1 and 2.

We believe that what the people want is a people power that will lead to more substantial reforms. That will impact not only on their daily lives but also on the collective good of the nation and the future of generations to come.

On the People’s Agenda

It is not people power that we are dismayed with or tired of.

The people are tired of paying taxes, whether these be direct income taxes or indirect taxes paid through ever-increasing prices of basic goods and services, only to see that government revenues are spent on ever-increasing debt service, fat commissions and kickbacks from government contracts, vote-buying and rigging elections and the pursuit of bloody yet fruitless counter-insurgency programs. We are revolted by the shameless and brazen graft and corruption up to the highest reaches of the Arroyo government, considering that the people had installed it in power through a people’s uprising against corruption. We want a sound fiscal policy and a clean and honest bureaucracy that will not plunder the national coffers and bleed our people dry.

We are sick and tired of claims that our farmers are benefiting from the land reform program, when all around us we see supposed farmer beneficiaries being evicted from or dispossessed of their plots as these are converted into golf courses, subdivisions, commercial and industrial estates. We want genuine land reform that will free our tillers from serfdom and poverty, thereby vesting them with real democratic rights and liberate the economy from the clutches of feudalism.

We are dismayed by successive administrations’ servility to foreign capital – accelerating the removal of protective tariffs and barriers in the name of “globalization”, thereby stifling the growth and eventually killing off domestic industries and causing widespread joblessness. We are appalled by government’s schemes to amend the Constitution in order to grant foreigners the same rights Filipinos have in exploiting and profiting from our national patrimony. We want a robust industrial economy truly free from foreign domination and control.

We condemn rampant criminality, especially the involvement of officials and law enforcers in criminal activities, and the use of extra-judicial killings and other brutal and illegal coercive measures to suppress civil liberties and democratic rights. We want peace and order to reign over our land, o that each one may enjoy the fruits of his or her labor.

We oppose the Arroyo government’s blind support for the US-led “war on terror”. We shall continue to resist attempts to institute and employ draconian repressive measures to suppress protest and the bill of rights under the guise of countering “international and domestic terrorism”. We shall continue to seek and demand justice for the victims of such measures, including extra-judicial killings and harassments of mass leaders, journalists, and activists. We want peace based on justice.

We want no more of sham elections with rampant violence, vote buying and the wastage of government funds; where consequently only the rich and the powerful can win and the people are left with no real choices. We want an electoral process and political system where the poor and marginalized have a fair chance of being represented and their concerns heard and addressed by government.

We seek a government that would be truly representative of the people, especially the majority of the toiling masses and responsive to their needs in these difficult times—one that could unite and lead us in our arduous quest for freedom, democracy and social justice.

The “transition council” can pave the way to such an alternative government.

On the Transition Council as an alternative

There is as yet no consensus on the concept of an interim or transition group/committee/council as an alternative form of government. This is a matter that must be addressed cognizant of the fact that without the requisite consensus on how to remove Mrs. Arroyo from power, all talk of alternatives is at best premature; at worst, divisive.

Yet there is need and basis for describing the kind of transition council the people will identify with and embrace.

Such a transition council or government must necessarily be composed mainly of representatives of those groups that had worked the hardest for the ouster of the current regime, with due consideration to their size and political significance. Conceivably it will consist of representatives of the opposition, the militant democratic mass movement, the organizations of professionals, patriotic businessmen and other middle forces, and some of the retired military and police officers who enjoy the confidence of the active military and police forces.

It is perforce a civilian authority that is supreme to the armed forces and the police. Consequently any form of military or civilian-military junta is unacceptable and must be ejected.

Representatives of workers, peasants, women, youth and national minorities should be adequately and properly represented but this is something that must be struggled for by these sectors of society and must gain adherents from the middle classes and the political forces they lead.

But we must be realistic and come to terms with the fact that the ouster or resignation of Mrs. Arroyo cannot, by and of itself, dismantle the system of elite rule in this country. Thus it will not be progressives and mass-based leaders of the people who will be dominant in the transition council but traditional politicians and their allies who retain their basic allegiance to the status quo. In effect, the ouster or resignation of Arroyo in favor of a transition council will not resolve everything but it can be a good beginning.

This is especially so if the transition government is able to put up and unify the country on a program that is pro-Filipino, pro-people and biased for the poor, deprived and oppressed. It shall then prepare for and oversee, in a fixed and reasonable length of time, a free, fair, honest and truly democratic election process that will allow the people to choose their new executive and legislative leaders.

It can also call for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) that would in no way be similar to the “chacha” scheme of Mrs. Arroyo, former President Fidel Ramos and Speaker Jose de Venecia to change the Constitution for their vested interests. Such a constitutional convention should draft a patriotic and democratic Charter that shall be ratified by the people.

The ConCon could institute wide-ranging reforms in the electoral and political system including a shift to a parliamentary form of government that would enlarge the chances of poor candidates to win a seat in the Legislature, favor the development of party- and program-based politics and reduce the gridlock between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. It can also strengthen the pro-Filipino and pro-people economic provisions of the Charter as well as its national sovereignty provisions such as the nuclear- and bases-free provisions that have been circumvented by new treaties and executive agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Logistics and Supply Agreement (MLSA).

How will the members of the transition council be chosen? In the first place, the strongest and most effective parties and organizations in the movement to force Mrs. Arroyo to resign, or in effect oust her from power, will come to the fore through the large numbers of people they are able to lead and influence, most especially to mount the mammoth mass actions that will be indispensable, if not decisive, in deposing Mrs. Arroyo.

Negotiations are even now taking place among such parties and organizations. They must constitute a convenors’ group that will then apportion delegates to a people’s congress or consultative assembly. The latter in turn shall select and acclaim the members of the transition council in an open, transparent and democratic manner. This must be done even before the Arroyo regime completely crumbles as we know it eventually will.

Conclusion

Putting an end to the Arroyo regime is something we must all work for in unity, with determination and fortitude. We in the middle forces must take the side of the majority of our people and act now to tip the balance in their favor, for our good as well as for the good of the entire nation.


*Paper presented by Fr. Jose Dizon, GSM spokesperson and convenor at the launching of the White Ribbon Movement, 23 July 2005, La Salle Greenhills.

This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (www.bulatlat.com, www.bulatlat.net, www.bulatlat.org).
Vol. V, No. 24, July 24-30, 2005

Source: http://bulatlat.com/news/5-24/5-24-alternative.htm

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Imagine

Imagine(click to listen the mp3)

by John Lennon


Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try,
No hell below us, above us only sky,
Imagine all the people livin for today,

Imagine there's no countries,it isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too,
Imagine all the people, livin life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us and the world will be as one...

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can,
No need for greed nor hunger, a brotherhood of men,
Imagine all the people, sharing all the wealth...

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one...



My Own Political Statement

I was just a gradeschool kid that time I watched the movie KILLING FIELDS, which was being shown on screen for free in our townplaza. It was meant by the militiary unit assigned in our town as an anti-communist propaganda to sow fear on the townspeople that the communists could not be trusted based on the Kampuchean experience as our hometown then was one of the major towns in the province which became heavily infested by communist guerillas.

Being a kid then I was not able to get the story of the movie in a deeper sense except the war, the bombings, the American journalists covering the war and a personal story of friendship between a local journalist and a journalist from New York. As the film showing went on it was interluded by short lectures by an education officer of the military, saying in sum that the communists are untrusworthy because they don't believe in God and for that he claimed communists don't value human lives.

During the dark years of the Marcos fascist rule, there was never a day in our town that we kids had not gone to the municipal lawn to see at cadavers being found and brought to the central town hall. But those dead bodies didn't belong to those killed by the communists. Most of those were identified later belonging to those residing in the city. Some were students, some were workers and some were women being summarily executed, which according to my uncle by reason of political beliefs those people had and most were being suspected and tagged as communists and communists sympathasizers and political and human right activists.

So, during that film showing I had then the misconception that people who had the communist beliefs were rightfully to be killed because they didn't value human lives. However, later on in the coming days and weeks I would not be able to understand my own misconception.

Months passed after that film showing and I though just a kid had this misinstinctive feeling of fear and disgusts on those fighting the government forces including those called activists. Not until one night, while we were having our dinner we all heard three gunshots in the street. Then there was silence and was broken by a loud cry of a woman whose voice we recognized. We heard that people outside were running and shouting. Someone had been shot in his own house! My father had his fearful suspecion then who was shot because of the voice of the woman who cried so loudly. Father went outside to find out who was it shot. I shouted, "let me go with you" but mother said, "stay!". People were beginning to gather around in one of the houses in the neighborhood and I knew whose was that. I asked my mother, "why people are coming to the house of Mrs___? Mother didn't answer for she too had her own fears who was shot. Later as father went back, I learned that Attorney____ was dead. It was him shot. He was a close acquintance and also a distant relative of my father. He was a human rights activist who offerered free service and legal counselling mostly human rights violation. He was close friend to everybody in the neighborhood, a religious family man but also he was an activist and helped to follow-up cases of abductions done by the military on people suspected by the military as communists. Maybe in my childish thought that time, my uncle helped communists.

His funeral was done in our own hometown and there was huge number of people who attended the funeral. His life was greatly valued because he helped lots of people, valued not only by the ordinary townspeople but also by prominent politicians and also by priests... and would those be "reasons enough" that he be killed?


Years passed that I watched that movie for the second time. It was that second time that I learned that the american journalist (in the movie) as he fled back to america later had the views that it was the US government which was violating human rights because thousands of innocent civilians died of the american bombings.