Business World - - Opinion - LUIS V. TEODORO

In­doc­tri­na­tion, oth­er­wise more widely known by the Cold War era term “brain­wash­ing,” is in­deed one kind of “ed­u­ca­tion,” al­though not in the sense that the learned gen­tle­men of this coun­try’s sol­diery and po­lice — whose mind­sets are still frozen in the 1950s — un­der­stand it.

The spokesper­son of the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP), in elab­o­ra­tion of the AFP chief-of-staff’s tale of a “Red Oc­to­ber” left­istright­ist con­spir­acy to oust Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte from power, said last week that the coun­try’s univer­sity and col­lege stu­dents are be­ing “brain­washed” into ac­tivism and rad­i­cal­ism.

He claimed that this is be­ing done through, among other means, film show­ings on Fer­di­nand Mar­cos’s mar­tial law regime, “reen­act­ments,” of that dark pe­riod of Philip­pine his­tory, video con­fer­ences, and fo­rums.

Fur­ther­more, he con­tin­ued, these aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing used for “com­mu­nist re­cruit­ment” of stu­dents, by which he means as mem­bers of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines (CPP) and/or the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA).

For his part, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) threat­ened to file charges “for con­tempt” against univer­sity and col­lege pro­fes­sors who prop­a­gate “false in­for­ma­tion.”

He did not say whom these pro­fes­sors would be in con­tempt of, un­less he meant the po­lice, much of which is truly con­temptible. While ap­par­ently clue­less about the fact that there is no law un­der the pro­vi­sions of which crit­i­cal pro­fes­sors can be charged with any crime, he had the au­dac­ity — the un­mit­i­gated gall — to vol­un­teer to “ed­u­cate” stu­dents on what they should know about the coun­try so as to de­velop among them a “sense of na­tion­al­ism.”

What’s ob­vi­ous from these state­ments is the AFP’s hos­til­ity to any­thing, like film show­ings and “reen­act­ments,” that would only re­it­er­ate what vol­umes of re­search, eye­wit­ness ac­counts and the tes­ti­monies of sur­vivors have al­ready es­tab­lished about the cor­rup­tion, bru­tal­ity, law­less­ness, vi­o­lence and sheer mad­ness of Fer­di­nand Mar­cos’s mar­tial law regime.

Ap­par­ently as well, nei­ther the AFP nor the PNP lead­er­ship has even the faintest idea about what a univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion is, let alone what it con­sists of. What is even worse is the PNP of­fer of “ed­u­cat­ing” stu­dents, which ar­ro­gantly and wrongly pre­sumes that the po­lice are more ca­pa­ble than any univer­sity of teach­ing stu­dents about any­thing.

Both the AFP’s and the PNP’s claims aren’t sur­pris­ing, how­ever. First, be­cause their vast pre­ten­sions at knowl­edge and in­tel­li­gence are so char­ac­ter­is­tic of the in­com­pe­tent despo­tism they serve; and se­cond, be­cause the po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties that have trans­formed this coun­try into the eco­nomic and so­cial lag­gard of South­east Asia have done it be­fore — at­tacked the main in­tel­lec­tual re­source of the coun­try that any re­motely sane regime would value.

Of the 18 uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges the AFP has named as al­leged re­cruit­ment cen­ters for the CPP and/or the NPA, it is the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines (UP) that at least twice in fairly re­cent his­tory has been sim­i­larly tar­geted by gov­ern­ment.

Dur­ing Mar­cos’s mar­tial rule, hun­dreds of UP pro­fes­sors, stu­dents and alumni were ar­rested and de­tained. Many were tor­tured and some even killed — the exquisitely ironic term was “sal­vaged” — by their mil­i­tary cap­tors.

The rea­sons for this out­rage ranged from their hav­ing known such per­son­al­i­ties as Jose Maria Si­son, who is a UP alum­nus; writ­ing crit­i­cally about the Mar­cos regime; ad­her­ence to Marx­ist phi­los­o­phy; be­ing mem­bers of the CPP and/or the NPA; or hav­ing com­mit­ted re­bel­lion and in­cit­ing to sedi­tion “wit­tingly or un­wit­tingly,” as the one-size-fit­sall ar­rest or­ders signed by then De­fense Sec­re­tary Juan Ponce En­rile put it.

Bizarre as these were, they were merely the stated rea­sons. The real, hid­den rea­son was that some UP con­stituents were per­ceived to be part of the bur­geon­ing de­mand for the de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of po­lit­i­cal power and the eco­nomic and so­cial changes that could res­cue Philip­pine so­ci­ety from the poverty that has been the lot of the ma­jor­ity for cen­turies.

The regime’s mil­i­tary goons never un­der­stood that one can love a coun­try while be­ing crit­i­cal of its self-anointed lead­ers, and as­sumed that these pro­fes­sors and stu­dents were the in­dis­pens­able brains that was driv­ing the move­ment for the changes which, more than the prospect of his los­ing the pres­i­dency by 1973, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos and his ac­com­plices could not abide. Im­plicit in that as­sump­tion was the sus­pi­cion that knowl­edge is some­how — their lim­ited vo­cab­u­lar­ies could not co­her­ently ar­tic­u­late it — the in­dis­pens­able hand­maid of change.

The same con­tempt for both knowl­edge and change in­formed the Philip­pine Congress’ Com­mit­tee on Anti-Filipino Ac­tiv­i­ties’ (CAFA) ear­lier as­sault on UP. In the early-1960s, CAFA launched a widely-pub­li­cized se­ries of hear­ings on some UP pro­fes­sors’ sup­posed “God­less­ness” and, there­fore, their be­ing “com­mu­nists,” on the sim­ple-minded, im­be­cilic as­sump­tion that one can­not be an athe­ist or ag­nos­tic with­out be­ing the lat­ter.

CAFA fo­cused its at­ten­tion on the UP’s then Col­lege of Lib­eral Arts’ Depart­ment of Phi­los­o­phy, where what was in vogue was Log­i­cal Pos­i­tivism, not Marx­ism. The dif­fer­ences be­tween these philoso­phies were ap­par­ently be­yond the com­pre­hen­sion of the clue­less mem­bers of the CAFA, and they pro­ceeded to present as proof of the ex­is­tence of a “com­mu­nist con­spir­acy” in UP the pub­li­ca­tion of cer­tain doc­u­ments in its learned jour­nals, among them one on the his­tory of the peas­ant strug­gle for land, as well as some of its pro­fes­sors’ quite pub­lic ag­nos­ti­cism.

It didn’t quite end there. Some pro­fes­sors were ac­tu­ally charged in court with vi­o­lat­ing Repub­lic Act 1700, the anti-sub­ver­sion law that was then still in force. (It was re­pealed in 1992, dur­ing the first year of the Fidel Ramos pres­i­dency.)

UP stood by its fac­ulty by af­firm­ing its com­mit­ment to aca­demic free­dom, which in­cludes its pro­fes­sors’ right to be­lieve and pro­fess what they think to be true, as a Con­sti­tu­tional right and as in­dis­pens­able to the man­date of an in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing. It nat­u­rally led to ex­po­si­tions on the role and value of a univer­sity in a so­ci­ety that would be free, as well as to the full de­vel­op­ment of the hu­man po­ten­tial.

Cru­cial to the achieve­ment of that func­tion are free­dom of in­quiry, the nur­tur­ing of the crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties, and the train­ing of free men and women for the life­time of learn­ing that is the fun­da­men­tal aim of ed­u­ca­tion rather than that of in­doc­tri­na­tion.

In­doc­tri­na­tion, oth­er­wise more widely known by the Cold War era term “brain­wash­ing,” is in­deed one kind of “ed­u­ca­tion,” al­though not in the sense that the learned gen­tle­men of this coun­try’s sol­diery and po­lice — whose mind­sets are still frozen in the 1950s — un­der­stand it.

Far from fur­ther­ing rad­i­cal­ism, ac­tivism and re­bel­lion, in­doc­tri­na­tion in the guise of ed­u­ca­tion makes obe­di­ence, con­form­ity, si­lence even be­fore the worst in­jus­tice, and a fo­cus on self-ad­vance­ment rather than the so­cial good supreme virtues. It is this kind of “ed­u­ca­tion” that has pro­duced the cor­rupt, self­ag­gran­diz­ing politi­cians and civil­ian and mil­i­tary bu­reau­crats that in­fest gov­ern­ment.

In­doc­tri­nated in the vice they mis­take for virtue of kow­tow­ing to what passes for au­thor­ity; un­crit­i­cal of, and un­car­ing about, the worst in­jus­tice; and mind­lessly driven solely by self­in­ter­est and the de­fense of their do­mes­tic and for­eign bosses, they are the truly brain­washed, but don’t know it.

In con­trast, the re­ally ed­u­cated value and en­cour­age free in­quiry, in­de­pen­dent thought, and open­ness to ideas. These ca­pac­i­ties are in­dis­pens­able to the trans­for­ma­tion of young men and women of prom­ise into the com­mit­ted writ­ers, artists, doc­tors and sci­en­tists the world needs.

Far from be­ing merely about gain­ful em­ploy­ment and sur­vival, ed­u­ca­tion de­mands that everyone be re­spon­si­ble for the ad­vance­ment and lib­er­a­tion of one’s com­mu­nity and the rest of mankind. The au­then­tic univer­sity’s ca­pac­ity to im­part to its stu­dents the love of learn­ing, and to de­velop the knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of so­ci­ety and the world for the sake of their coun­try and peo­ple is what the brain­washed flunkies of despo­tism and un­rea­son are against; it is what they hate the most.

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