Manifesting the Communist Manifesto Today

In an article in About.com, it’s said that there are only five countries left that practice communism in their central governments now: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam.  And though there may still be other countries where communist political parties exist, the ideology itself looks to be more of a textbook concept rather than a social reality. This is especially true with the highly capitalist and democratic free trade global policies happening right now, along with the virtual reality of the online global community, where information is key and king. There is then that concern if the Communist Manifesto can still be called relevant in today’s times.

True to its name, the Communist Manifesto is the go-to document to practice an ideology where the production of goods are distributed equally to the population, and thus, removing the idea of class. The manifesto is divided into five main parts: the introduction, the differentiation between the bourgeois and proletarians, the similarities between the proletarians and the communists in their goals for the working class, the presentation of major socialist literature, and the comparison of the practice among selected countries during the time of the manifesto’s first publication. From here, we see the foundations of what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the manifesto’s authors, would like to see in an effective communist society.

What is remarkable here is the passionate language used in presenting the communist ideals. Marx and Engels have placed the socio-political ills straight into the bourgeois’ lap, the financial and political elite of the society. In their eyes, it is the bourgeois that controls the capitalist movement that has made the working class suffer with their greed and manipulation. In turn, the whole society suffers as well as the working class constitute the majority of the population. They use the manifesto as a call to action; the working class are to take up arms and overthrow the ruling class with violence. The manifesto then mostly presents its arguments of equality and a class-less society over an emotional base. It is seemingly logical, with the presentation of historical facts in Part II, but it is seen to incite feelings of resentment and anger, which would be needed if you would need to have a violent revolution.

This same manner of argument is also seen in how Marx and Engels compare communists to proletarians and the different countries that have gone through similar ideologies. It’s curious to see how they laud Germany as the only country to have practiced the “true Socialism,” which is ironic today as Germany has one of the biggest capitalist markets in Europe.

Perhaps the danger here is that since the manifesto is a “foundational” document, it can be seen as a “dated” one. True, there is still the divide between classes, but the manifesto has failed to take into account technological advances that have begun to make the world even smaller in terms of political, social and cultural aspects. Moreover, the advent of the internet and social networking sites has given the illusion of equality: events in Egypt are seen all over the world, a good deed seen in a backwater county in Thailand is shared in thousands of social networking accounts. The call of action for change now looks to be no longer through violence (though it is still pretty much part of today’s climate), but through the Matrix and the combined voices of the public. All may not be lost for the manifesto, though.

Most of the world today have more or less shed the cloak of communism (particularly in Europe, where it all began, oddly enough), but the ideology may still be held true in smaller, more intimate societies like communes. Rather than undergo the “violent overthrow of the bourgeois,” though, there is a complete or near-complete shunning of the current society and the formation of isolated communities that will practice a more equalized sharing of labour and production. To bring it up to a national (or even international) level, though, will face quite a more daunting challenge. Unless there is an individual who has the balls and enough military chutzpah to do it, communism will continue to be seen as a historical curiosity or a niggling, disturbing thought at the back of the majorly capitalist world.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would have their hair torn out if they realize just how “far” their ideology has reached. 

The Nobodies

We are The Nobodies.

And yeah, it’s a lame band name, but we like it. It gives an exact picture of who and what we are – nobodies. We’re just average people trying to make a living through music. We’re a progressive metal band, by the way. We’re perhaps the only one in the Philippines, not counting the local rock gods like Wolfgang and Razorback. It’s been a hard climb, and we’re still climbing, but we’re thankful that at least we have a toehold in the industry. Our manager, Pats Lativa, is such a dear to be able to deal with us on a regular basis. 

Oh, I have to change something from above. We’re not really just “average people,” so sorry about that. Despite our love for loud, hard music, we do something else. Something much more important to us.

You see, we’re demon hunters. The catch? We’re the children of demons, too.

I will not acknowledge you

I will not acknowledge you 
Let the world crash back into darkness 
Let the sun burn our eyes into blindness 
Let the moon break into pieces 

I will not regard you 
Let the seas overflow 
Let the herds stampede 
Let the mindless wail in fear 

I will not concede to you 
Let the shadows embrace me 
Let the coldness entomb me 
Let my eyes freeze over 

If only to not let one tear escape 
I am my sarcophagus 

An Introspection into Ink

This is non-writing related, but it has a connection with my blog’s name.

The term “neck plugged” is a tribute for my favourite anime: Ghost in the Shell. The philosophical implications of what being human is, the technology that has potential to be reached by our current innovations in the next few decades, and the sheer kick-ass action of Major Makoto Kusanagi are what drew me to this series. My current thesis project is also a direct inspiration from this.

I am thinking of a further tribute for my love of GiTS. For years now, I have been pondering on getting a tattoo. I’ve always wanted to get one, but I know that I should not be getting one just for the sheer heck of it. Having something permanent in your skin is not an easy thing to consider. I’m not sure my pain threshold includes having a needle slightly stabbing into your skin in rapid frequency, as well as the concerns on just really how long I can stave off not donating blood in case of emergencies are some of my other hesitations.

But now, I’m seriously thinking of getting one: the neck plugs in GiTS. These are the two designs I’m considering:

I like the shading in this design, giving it a 3D effect. Thing is, this is definitely more complicated and would take a longer time to finish.

This is a simpler design, but I find it TOO simple. These are the two best neck data ports I can find in the net.

What if I choose something that is a crossover between the two? Is it even possible? I need some thoughts out there, please! I’m thinking of doing this as a birthday gift to myself. 🙂

Speculations Reprise

This piece is inspired by another friend’s wordpress.com post. It was utterly strange to find a pair of shoes on the sidewalk, seemingly forgotten despite it’s apparent sturdiness and lack of wear and tear. But then again, I like the strange and weird. This is a flash fiction based from that one picture. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

****

He wasn’t running fast enough.

He rushed past people along Alabang-Zapote Road, past the jeeps stalled with the forever traffic from the Toyota area until Molito mini-mall, past the motors and bikes ka-zooming in and out of the jeeps, trying to get ahead.

They’re still after you!” Jenny’s voice buzzed in his ear. He slammed the earphone further into the ear canal to keep it from falling off.

“No shit,” he panted. They’d been chasing after him for at least 15 minutes now, and while he could still hold out, he wasn’t sure how much longer. He had already thrown several spells at them in an attempt to distract them, to no avail. He could feel the chill that emanated from the Beasts, creatures that forever hunted his kind. He could feel the deathly cold even when they were a kilometre away. And still they were coming after him.

“How can they find me?” he demanded. He heard clacking noises in the background –  Jenny’s fingers flying over three keyboards, with two extra at her feet where her toes were just as frantic in typing. “Wait up! Calculating!

“Calculate faster!” he screamed. He had now turned into Investment Drive, where the traffic was lighter. He got stares from the traffic enforcer who sat at the corner of the street, resting from the heat under the tree. He didn’t care; humans would never be able to understand as they wouldn’t see nor hear the Beasts anyway. He could already hear his breathing getting heavier. This was bad.

Got it!” Jenny said. “Get rid of the shoes!

“What!” He was about to turn left into Trade Avenue.

Just get the shoes off! Trust me!

He swore with a gasp. “And these were just bought last month!” he muttered as he wriggled off from them. With that, he ran off once more.

Go to Page One! NOW!

He turned into Acacia and skidded to a stop in front of the building. Wheezes clambered out of his lungs as he willed his breath to calm down. He glanced up and saw the Beasts just reaching where he stopped and removed his shoes. Their huge maws nearly touched the ground as they sniffed the shoes, but then he could hear their growls of frustration before running off again.

The Beasts turned right into Acacia and he readied himself. He didn’t want to fight them here with civilians still around, but he’ll have to if need be. The Beasts passed him with nary a glance. He stared at the retreating figures before they disappeared left into Commerce.

Wow. It actually worked.” Jenny’s voice was wistful, almost amazed. His eyes went wide as the moon.

“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”

 

Protection

Hours later, Joshun came down from the second floor of their sleeping quarters. Immediately, Aishinn stepped in front of him and bounced on the balls of her feet, looking at him in anticipation. He nodded his head in the direction of Anya’s room, and she quickly scrambled upstairs with a wide smile. Later, he would find her curled up with Anya, fast asleep. Their fingers will be intertwined as they held hands in slumber.

Terra smiled a bit. “Aishinn has always adored Anya,” she murmured. “It’s like having another baby sister.” Joshun sighed. “Good lord, not another one,” he muttered. He allowed the twins and Drugar to leave and report back tomorrow, but Slynn and Terra stayed with him. Joshun busied himself with putting the lanterns up and getting dinner ready. 

“So, you’re really doing this?” Slynn asked Joshun as they ate in the quiet of the incoming evening. “You’re really going to block Pleoz from seeing her?”

“He should be thankful that’s all I’m doing,” Joshun said. He tore off a piece of bread with his teeth. “You’re taking this all too personally, Joshun,” Terra cautioned. 

Joshun stopped chewing and slowly turned his head to regard his second. He swallowed as he bore his eyes into her. “My little sister almost DIED just a few hours ago, Terra,” he said in a low voice. “You tell me if I won’t be taking what he caused in her personally, because it’s fuck like I will NOT.”

Terra put her hands up in mock surrender. “I’m merely saying that Daron is influential, even with the Emperor himself. And EVEN without his father’s help. He could very well ask the Emperor to place us in some kind of restriction.”

“He won’t do that, not if he’ll bring up what he’s just done as well,” Joshun replied. “He’s too damn arrogant and proud. He’ll try to work it out on his own. I know his style.” Slynn lifted his mug to them. “Hear, hear. I concur. He thinks he can do everything by himself.”

“What bothers me is how he’s so set on seeing her, now that there is talk of him getting engaged. Won’t that jeopardize what he has with that noblewoman?”

“Anya is now seen as a challenge, and Daron HATES to walk away from challenges,” Joshun growled. “Especially now that he knows of her feelings for him. He doesn’t let women get away from him easily.” Slynn nodded again. 

Terra coughed a laugh while she sneered. “That’s so chauvinistic,” she chuckled. “Well, he’ll have to deal with the ever-protective older brother then. As well as us.”

“Thank you,” Joshun said. He looked at Terra and Slynn. “Aishinn will have to stay with her for a while. She presents the least amount of threat, at least visually. I’ll allow her to go back to the royal laboratories. The rest of you will go back to the usual posts to make sure that Daron thinks he has a chance.”

“Are you sure she can handle it? Anya?” Slynn asked. Joshun nodded. “She may be heartbroken, but she’s strong. She’s stronger than me.” With that, he took a long draught from his ale. The rest of the dinner continued in silence.

Homecoming

The crowd looked on, curious with Commander Joshun as he carried his sister Anya in his arms through the town streets. No one could see her face, as it was buried in his shoulder and the Commander’s grim expression prevented anyone from looking straight at them. Terra and Slynn followed closely behind, their own faces tense. As soon as they passed, though, the murmurs flew. 

In the Commander’s house, Joshun laid his sleeping sister in her room. She had cried herself to sleep as they were hauled up from the cliff and transferred onto solid ground by the rest of his men. Daron had long disappeared by that time, and it was a good thing too. If Joshun saw him still waiting there, a sword would have stuck through him by now, politician’s son or not. 

Outside, Terra and Slynn lounged by the door. There were also a handful of his other trusted men along: Kep, Drugar, Aishinn and Tolt. They all made sure that their Commander had utmost privacy to take care of his sister. No one was to be granted entry, not even the Emperor himself. 

Galloping could be heard in the distance, and the knights looked up to see Daron rushing across the hills to the house. Even as the horse still cantered, Daron leapt down a few yards away and ran towards them. “Anya!” he cried. “Is she alright? Is she–” He stopped as two very sharp swords met just a hair’s breadth from his throat.

“You don’t need to see her,” Terra said, her voice low and soft. Her face was calm, but there was steel in her eyes. Slynn’s expression was the same. “In fact, it’s better that you don’t ever see her again.”

“What?” Daron hissed. He looked at the two soldiers. “Release your blades. You’re threatening a High Noble!”

“You’re just a man like anyone else,” Slynn grated. “And like any man, easy to kill.”

“Anya’s my friend, you idiot!” Daron cried. “I want to see her!”

“Really? Didn’t look like you were a friend to her a few hours ago,” Terra growled. “And I doubt that even if you get past us, you’ll get past the Commander as well. You’re now branded, Daron of the Pleoz clan. I suggest you heed our warnings if you want to remain alive.”

Daron was about to say something else, but he noticed that the others were circling around him. He may have had military training, but these were the BEST. And six against one was not fair game. He frowned. “This isn’t over,” he said. “I do care for Anya.” With a final defiant look at the group, he turned for his horse. The group watched stoically as he rode away.

Tolt looked up to see a shadow disappear from a window and he pointed. “Yes, we know,” Terra replied. “The Commander is aware as well. At least Anya’s safe now.”

“We’re really going to keep that noble from seeing Anwu* Anya?” Aishinn piped up, her eyes huge with curiosity. Drugar nodded. “We keep her safe from that womanizer,” his soft voice rumbled from his huge frame. “It’s our duty.”

“Yay!” Aishinn hopped. “She won’t see that bad man any more! She won’t cry again!” 

“Doesn’t mean—” Kep began.

“That Daron will stop trying,” his twin Drugar finished. 

“Then we’ll block him at each chance,” Terra said. She smiled. “We’re the Imperial Paladins, after all.”

*Anwu = older sister, like “ate” in Filipino

Safety

The fog swallowed Anya up, and she welcomed the chill that embraced her. She actually had a sense of satisfaction in seeing Daron’s shocked face as she stepped off the cliff. At least it will be over soon. She closed her eyes as she fell to her death. She was ready for it. She deserved it. She…

She fell on a net of steel that made her bounce slightly as soon as she landed. She gasped in shock. How? Who?

“Got her!” a voice cried out. Then, she felt movement on the net, as though someone else was on it and moved towards her. From the fog, she could see a man’s silhouette that slowly cleared. She gasped as she saw who it was. “Joshun!”

His eyes blazed with fury. She could only lie on her back and stare at her older brother as he loomed over her. “What were you thinking?” he demanded. “What do you think you were trying to do?”

“Joshun, I–“

“What am I to gain with your death, huh? TELL ME!” he roared. “What would I gain in losing you? Where’s the equivalent exchange there?” Her eyes widened as she saw for the first time: tears that rolled down her brother’s cheeks. 

Her own eyes shimmered. “I’m sorry!” she cried. Her hands covered her face as she sobbed. “I’m sorry!” Joshun’s arms went around her and pulled her to him. “You’re my only family left,” his voice cracked through his tears. “I cannot allow you to die like this. Never!”

At the cliff trees where the nets were hooked, Slynn and Terra looked at each other in relief. “We got to her in time,” Slynn remarked. “It was a good idea to trail her.”

Terra sighed and rubbed her shoulders wearily. “I’ve never seen the Commander like that,” she said. “Goes to show that he’s human, after all.”

“Only with his sister around,” Slynn said. He looked at her and grinned. “That’s a nice bargaining chip, don’t you think?”

Terra chuckled. “Not unless you want your balls chopped off,” she retorted. She looked at how brother and sister clung to each other, suspended over more than 50 feet from the jagged rocks below. She smiled. “Let’s give them a few more minutes, then let’s haul ’em up. I want to go home.”

Falling

She looked at him with a gentle smile on her lips. The sun was settling down for the night, and its rays warmed one half of her face while the other half remained in shadow. That would be the last time he’d see that expression. It was the gentlest, loveliest sight he ever saw.

“When you find that someone who will make your heart open again, that’s when I disappear.” His expression changed from anticipation to dread as he stared at her. “What… What are you talking about?” he demanded.

Her smile widened. “It’s equivalent exchange. You will always lose something in order to gain something. An alchemist like me will always follow that rule. You’ve found someone to love, Daron. Someone who isn’t me.” 

She took a step back. “NO!” he shouted.

“I’m sorry, Daron,” Anya said, “but I must be the one to break your word. You’ve already lost me the moment you said you’ve fallen in love. When I was just right here, waiting.

“Goodbye, Daron. I’ve always loved you. Be happy.”

With one final step backwards, she fell from the cliff.

The Ogarra Project (Primera San)

It has been 25 years of hell. 25 years of suffering. 25 years of waiting.

I have been taken into the Zopellon training and given the title Princess General. I have been taught of their ways, their culture, their methods of killing. They are an empire which travels the stars to find new worlds to subjugate and destroy, to control and manipulate to their inky, oily wishes. If they cannot conquer a world, they will blast it to a heathen wasteland – that is how highly advanced their weaponry has become. They only exist to take and to drain. From these teachings and insights, I have learned them all and learned them well.

Some of the higher Zopellon council members have raised concern—no, protest regarding me. “Why are you taking her in, an outsider? She will raise a rebellion! She will betray us!” They did not know about the deal the emperor made with me.

My younger sister, Ara, has been made Imperial Princess, a flower of the empire. She has been raised away from the eyes of the conquered populace, and most of the Zopellon forces. She has been given all the comforts of life, and treated as the princess she is. Her smiles, her laughter, her innocence and gentle personality would lighten anyone’s day.

In short, she was a hostage. A beautiful bird singing in her golden cage.

And so I become one of them, a Zopellon lackey. Any move to indicate treachery or betrayal, and they will kill her. The only last member of my family will be gone, and that I cannot bear. Each day, after I go and scrape the Zopellon’s boots with my tongue, I go to her side. Even for a few minutes, she is the light into the shadows that have become my life. She is the breeze that wafts into my hell. Her smile is all it takes to relieve my soul. Even for only a few minutes.

But 25 years is a long time. Like any creature of habit, things become routine. Tension will always be there, but attention can be redirected. 25 years is a long time to study their habits, their ways, their lives. I have learned them all and learned them well.

I have protected my baby sister just as my mother commanded. Soon, I will break the golden cage and that will be the start in the song of freedom for my people. And I am ready to pay the price.