Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

These are unli times. Categories of the infinite pervade our everyday activities: bottomless, all-in, 24/7, unli, eat and drink all you can. Suddenly, a vision of limitless reality has appeared to be the new normal for people living in our small yet disordered society.

The High Priests of Big Business are assuring us that an unli lifestyle benefits all, especially the small income earners. Indeed, unlitexting has revolutionized how people communicate today. Unlimited web surfing and skyping gave tremendous advantage to OFW households. Food, and rice in particular, miraculously became abundant at an affordable price. Night work boosted opportunities for young people, allowing them to stay in the country with their families instead of practicing their skills in foreign lands.

The dark Manila of the past is now a bright city in the evening because of 24/7 work operations in outsourcing hubs. These glorified locales, however, are peopled by caffeine-addicted workers with robot-like efficiency who are also, unfortunately, the willing victims and purveyors of consumerism. They are the ‘walking wounded’ of urban decay who are easily seduced by the alluring visual and virtual netherworld of the new mediascape.

The rise of BPO centers redefined the space-time of workplace in the country and it led to the re-imagining of the graveyard shift. It effectively demonstrated the global-local continuum of capitalism; and more symbolically, the capability of the latter to obtain monetary value from seemingly lifeless spaces, processes, objects, and subjects.

For the poor, unli deals are useful product innovations not simply because of the price but also because of the necessary illusion they create about the less than ideal situation of the present. Through the unli offers, the minimum wage appears capable of buying more goods, experience, and class. In short, embracing the potential of unli becomes part of the poor man’s survival mechanism as economic difficulties continue to linger and worsen.

For the capitalist, the unli approach is a clever way of dumping the excesses of the anarchic production system into the market. The bundling of products at a cheaper price is nothing more but a business tactic to extract more profit.

Through the concept of unli, Real Existing Poverty is obfuscated by conditioning the minds of the public that they can continuously access and enjoy the perks of middle-class lifestyle for a very reasonable cost. Hypnotizing the poor to spend their precious cash on the non-essential unli goods is important for the stability of the system since it redirects the righteous and even revolutionary rage of the exploited into a mere consumer frenzy. At the same time, it allows the capitalist to sell his surplus goods.

Today, unli and other popular categories of the infinite are interpreted through corporate lens. But building a world of limitless possibilities has always been the unfinished project of man. However, it is the capitalist class which succeeded in turning this cosmopolitan ideal into a profitable and sustainable venture. Eat, drink, play, and indulge. Without limit, without risks, without controls.

It has distracted us from pursuing our other natural passion: politics. The dominance of the capitalist version of unli has depoliticized man’s political activities like eating, drinking, playing, and communicating.

Today it’s easy to imagine a daily routine of unlitxting, unlirice, bottomless drinks, and all-in gaming. We make plans based on the 24/7 operations of companies. But these unli categories are essentially political terms. Politics is the real limitless domain of man. Politics actually determines the particular reality of our 24/7 worlds. It’s unfortunate that the power of unli is used to serve the narrow objectives of Capital. It must be rescued from the iron grip of Capital to realize its full radical potential.

An unli commitment to develop new politics. Bottomless passion to make politics useful and positive for everybody. All-in political struggles. We are after all 24/7 political animals. Unli goodness, goodwill, solidarity – and not unli profit. Unli love is all we need.

It’s quite depressing that we find it convenient to pay for an unlirice yet we think that it’s impossible for us to support a campaign to end hunger or to struggle for the improvement of the living conditions of peasants. We can ‘ride and eat all you can’ but we can’t pledge to devote a brief time for a specific cause or advocacy?

When volunteering for a very negligible period of time is the preferred form of political engagement, the use of unli for hedonistic pleasures offered by capitalism becomes scandalous.

Behold the rise of unli-influenced human beings who believe that unli is a personal privilege that someone must buy in order to maximize its power. What is forgotten is the earth-shattering impact of unli if its power is unleashed by radical politics.

Unli and other categories of the inifinite represent the noble dream of mankind to build a better world. We should not allow their political value to be diminished and distorted by the beastly capitalist machine. Unli politics is an assertion of humanity. Unlimited Unli politics is the other name of revolution. To borrow a line from GMA-7, hindi natutulog ang balita, hindi natutulog ang pulitika. Gising araw at gabi.

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One Response to “Politics in the Time of Unli”

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