Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

The global economic crash continues to terrorize the world everyday. Banks fail, jobs disappear, wealth becomes fictitious. The pillars of the global economic system are now exposed as lacking in firm foundation. The new world order is now heralded as a global disorder. This sudden unraveling of the inconvenient truths about the capitalist economic system has startled many people. Free market doctrinaires are still in the state of denial. Not surprisingly, there are those who want to believe that the recession will soon end. The breakdown of a system is something not easy to integrate with our individual and collective consciousness. Even with its unmajestic defects, really existing capitalism is seen by many as the only viable political-economic structure which can sustain the world forever.

The global crisis is too painful to accept; a taboo. Its symbolic meaning should be filtered. A sense of normalcy should prevail. It’s our defensive mechanism. It’s part of the survival manual.

Then there is swine flu, the first pandemic of the 21st century. Through the swine flu scare, we are able to express our real emotions about the global economic crisis. The spread of the deadly virus has allowed us to vent our fears, frustration, anger about the capitalist virus which is also wreaking havoc in the world.

We may be unconsciously associating the swine flu virus with the global financial crisis.

Both the swine flu and economic crisis are rapidly and uncontrollably spreading in the world. They are both hurting and killing rich and poor individuals alike. The swine flu virus was created in a U.S. laboratory; the global economic crisis was jumpstarted by the Wall Street crash last year. The swine flu virus was produced by combining different lethal strain from animals; the economic bubble is blamed on the speculative financial instruments created by banking institutions. There is no available vaccine for swine flu; there is no solution yet to end the global recession. Thermal scanners were installed in airports and preventive measures were imposed to minimize the spread of the swine flu virus; trade protectionist measures and stimulus plans were implemented to revive and protect the interest of struggling economies. We bailout money-losing banks and companies which are too big to fail; we close down schools and buildings with swine flu cases. We lay-off workers; we quarantine individuals afflicted with swine flu virus.

Governments initially insist that their countries are swine flu-free; governments initially boast that their countries are not under recession. When swine flu cases are reported in their countries, governments downplay the extent of the threat; when economic indicators point to a looming recession, governments assure the public that the recession will not last long.

The global economic crisis is the worst economic crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s; the swine flu pandemic is the worst global health disaster in recent decades.


As a safety measure against the spread of swine flu, the Philippine Roman Catholic Church has discouraged the holding of hands everytime the Lord’s Prayer is sang during mass. The joining of hands during mass is a basic show of solidarity in a community. It’s an affirmation of belongingness in a congregation united by faith. Because of the swine flu panic, this symbolic ritual is no longer required during mass.

Swine flu threatens the formation of radical politics based on solidarity, collectivity and mass actions. Swine flu strengthens the ideology which puts primacy on the empowered but anti-social individual.

Swine flu is affecting the behavior of people around the world. Everyone is suspected of carrying the dreaded swine flu virus. Sick persons are advised to impose a self-quarantine prescription. Touching of hands, embracing, and kissing in public are now discouraged. Talking in public places is made more difficult because almost everyone is now wearing facemasks. The swine flu scare reinforces inidividualistic attitudes in a society gripped by paranoia and cynicism.

Swine flu seems to be the appropriate global health disaster of the 21st century. In the past, community involvement is needed to cure individual and social health problems. Today the sick individual is required to isolate himself/herself from the community. Swine flu discourages social involvement of individuals. It complements the emerging dominant behavior among young people. Because of the rising popularity of mobile technologies, nobody is talking anymore. Individuals are too engrossed with their virtual selves and ako mismo world that they are no longer too concerned with what is happening around them. They are afraid to talk and meet strangers in the real world. They are hesitant to touch and feel the fleshy, spongy, rough and textured surface of the world. They prefer virtual interaction; not social interaction.

Could this be the reason why there is no massive unrest in poor societies? Individuals are too afraid to act, to socialize, to organize because the dominant ethic is to rely on individual initiative. Sick? Quarantine yourself. Unemployed? Find a job yourself. Feeling sick? Wear a facemask and avoid crowded places. Employed but threatened with retrenchment? Work harder and avoid the union. Isolation, not socialization.

Behold the 21st century: Global warming. Global financial crisis. Global swine flu pandemic. They terrorize the world everyday affecting the health, environment and livelihood of everyone. The appropriate response should be to wage a global collective fight against this triple global menace. But global radical politics is shunned by many as we continue to associate it with the western definition of terrorism. We embrace the preferred, accepted, and mainstream solutions to global disasters.   And so many seemed content that they lead politically-correct lifestyles (I buy green, I do not discriminate against the minorities, I oppose the Junta and Ayatollah); their salaried jobs insulate them from the most brutal impact of the economic crash; and their best defense against the virus is to wear facemasks everyday. They change the world by adding advocacies in their facebook pages.

Related articles:

Swine flu and sex
Capitalism without capitalism
Green politics?

2 Responses to “Swine flu, economics, decollectivization”

  1. My brother got infected with H1N1 or Swine Flu in Mexico. He got a mild fever and luckily he did not die.

    JunLee Arandia

  2. […] let the figures on the screen act out all the outrage for us. And some, as Kabataan Partylist Rep. Palatino points out, “change the world by adding advocacies in their facebook pages.”[4] […]

    A Case of Interpassive Reading – Bombard the Headquarters!

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