Rhizomes everywhere


Just a while ago, my 7 year old nephew woke up crying. I can’t comprehend what he was trying to say to me. He probably woke up from a nightmare. Then he started talking clearly, and pointed out something below the couch where he was sleeping. I asked him again to talk clearly. He said something about an 11, then a 21. I still couldn’t grasp his words. At first, I figured that he’s talking about a money which he probably left at school. Then, he cried mumbling words I can’t comprehend. Then started drawing in air a rectangle. He said: “magulo yung ginawa ko” (what I did was messy). I asked again if it’s about money, he said, “alam ko twenty-one saka labing-isa yon. Akala ko dalawa yung gagawin.” I now got it then that it was about the quiz results.

The younger generation has been blamed for their fragility. Oftentimes I make fun of their older counter parts (fuck me, but millennials really do suck with their safe spaces and all) but only those who do not really have any sense of struggle in life. But for someone like my nephew, who barely know anything outside of his home, who barely know what a good work is because no one has said it to him, he probably have a lot in mind about being a disappointment. He later on cried about being upset to himself, but never really articulated it as such, only adding up to his pain.

If anything is to be blamed for the fragility of the younger ones, it isn’t much of the parents’ mistakes, but they do partake in it. This society of control, as Deleuze and Guattari once called it, has broken down its formerly hierarchical power to redistribute surveillance and disciplinary authority towards to what we call the basic unit of society: the family. Church-goers lessen in numbers by the year, not because there are lesser believers now, but because the church (as an embodiment of religious guilt) now has a strong presence inside the home. Which also explains the high approval of the law enforcement and the military from the common households.

But these never really started at home. Rather, this redistribution of control breed upon a new culture of consent towards state violence. Deleuze and Guattari’s dream of a rhizomic society came true in the appropriation of it by the state. The state, even with its multiple crises, survived by having its disciplinary authority distributed among its population. But the society of control is still arborial only as much as each social unit is concerned. Neoliberalism enabled the distribution of bureaucracy to a larger number of populace which in effect, gave out an illusion of freedom.

The irony of the society of control being rhizomic is its fullest form.

It is understandable that this kind of environment breeds anxiety. The fast-paced lifestyle requires one to be in control of almost anything, which includes other people’s behaviors. Now that the competition for the control of one another, is not just against each other human being, but also against machines. While it is indeed troubling, the situation of higher rate of anxiety and depression among the youth is not at all surprising if we are to consider the historical progressions of technology along-side with the growth of the society of control. The young ones were left to devices as a form of entertainment while both of their parents are at work make their thinking process accelerated. They could have been thinking faster than you are that you can no longer catch up with them. But being the control freak adults that we are, we intervene. And these multiple interventions are what breeds this wide-spread anxiety.

We received the note: democracy is control.

Let’s boast about diversity while the Department of Education, on their school curriculum, highlights mostly the ruling class and their interest on their arts, literature and humanities subjects. The platform is freer for the instructor, more democratic, but still within the limits of class control.

Would a child be lesser without them knowing who the national artists are? How about the newly passed House bill about the national anthem? Why should this obsession over music formalism any of our basic concern?

Let’s wait for new forms of anxiety to emerge.


Corruption fundamentally does not, and cannot afford to live in tree-like hierarchy/oligarchy anymore. Historical development on the flows of capital moved machine assemblage towards creating a body without organs. Such as most “organizations” no longer involve decreasing power distributions down the line, but of connecting functionalities. These functionalities are settled via contracts. Its limits are only the limit needed of a certain machine assemblage, but it does not mean it gets stuck. Rhizomes, unlike a tree’s trunk, expands horizontally. Its nutrients are made to multiply the organism, not to make it larger. It functions by decentralization, in a sense, democratic. It is in such that corruption function. It could be said that it’s even an “advanced” or a “true” mode of democracy. Organized crime groups, by the virtue of the first two words, follows suit through codes accepted and agreed upon by its members. Like bulbs, for a group’s code not to expand would cost its life-line to deplete.

Bilibid and its 13 gangs, function as a rhizome.

The power relations between the Bureau of Corrections, its affiliate offices, and the gangs cannot be understood hierarchically but only through looking at it solely as a roots-based structure. Like grassfields, insects and wind needing each other to spread the grass lands and live.

Offices and organizations obviously have their own little hierarchy in place but it is only to support a wider relations beyond their own. It is not without irony when Sigue-Sigue Commando chairman, Jaybee Sebastian claimed that he’s more or less a king and a servant at the same time. An argument also raised by most business and NGO leaders. They function in the same way. But this isn’t because it is “the nature” of things, but this is enabled by the system which encapsulates them. Late Capitalism only require a certain authoritarianism to function and sustain itself, more or less, a managerial one. It is in such reality (or realism) that the Bilibid Gangs live. I can argue that they are actually function in a more ideal mode of capitalism.

And why not? Jaybee himself run a foundation to help the families of his constituent-co-inmates. Herbert Colangco also argues the same way that he wants to retain his recording studio to “appease the feelings of his fellow inmates.” The idea of philanthropy from excess capital sustains the system, also itself, a rhizomatic process. It deterritorializes the capital from the inside and reterritorializes it out to the families. In return, the families became part of it and supports whatever system they made out to be.

The Bureau of Corrections chief interviewed by Discovery Channel rationalizes the manner they run things inside the Bilibid as a maintenance of “peace and order”. To say, a maintenance of their status quo. So, if anyone gets replaced within the structure, it is not due to some antagonism, but for the maintenance of this peace and order. We can trust Sebastian when he mentioned that he was elected “democratically” as a chairman just 2 years after he entered prison. Every movement is decided not because of a grand evil scheme, but actually to sustain and broaden the system. In business terms, for expansion.

The same could be said on the incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima. It is not to defend that de Lima may have nothing to do with it, but, like any system of corruption, it is a rhizomatic move. She is to be replaced since the structure requires her to be. The function, then, of the President Rodrigo Duterte, is not much to give justice or expose injustices (surely, most government officials from the higher positions know the structure of corruption they are in), but to replace de Lima by another piece of machine assemblage. The president’s campaign to uphold the “rule of law” and “peace and order” echoes the rationale of the BuCor chief. The mandate itself, is not for justice, but for maintenance of the existing order.

A theory: the council of chair persons in the Bilibid were told after President Duterte was inaugurated that a change must be done if they want to retain whatever they have inside. Due to the 2014 raids, the chairpersons decided to drop de Lima from the structure and let the President appoint anyone he likes so that the links of capital flows will run smooth for the new administration. The president, then, exposed in a privilege speech about de Lima knowing about the drug trade in the prisons. Senate investigation followed suit.

The seemingly scripted scenario of the happenings is not without its structure. Something is surely being protected. And this is not to cause any ruptures or discontinuity on the capital flows in the prison market.

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