Juan Carlos Monedero - El gobierno de las palabras / The Government of Words

Uploaded by attactv on 01.06.2011

Juan Carlos Monedero
Professor of Political Science and Administration
Author of: "The Government of Words for Times of Confusion"
How easy it is to find people who
are approaching the idea that things are not working out
there is a generalized suspicion
that we are not getting explanations to all that is happening
and I specially like the example of Matrix, and also the reason of the success
the film achieved
The character Neo, who suspects that somethint that doesn't fit
in the reconstruction of what goes on and what one feels
of course, as you continue to question things
you'll find someone telling you that
do you really want to know the truth? well, here is a red pill and a blue pill
the blue pill will make you forget all your doubts
and be happy. Whilst, if you take the red pill
the answer you are going to obtain is: Welcome to Desert Reality
because reality is not pretty.
I think that is the reason a lot of people guess that we are living a period of
when we have to play the role of tragic optimists
or hopeful pesimists
an optimist is a charming idiot
and a pesimist is a nasty idiot
the thing is to try not being idiots
we solve it by realizing that
there are too many disruptions in our society
and the need to have some hope
because without hope we fall into immobility,
we fall into dismay, and so, we are in constant struggle
to oppose, as Gramsci use to say, to the pessimism of the Intellect
the optimism of Will.
that forces us to ask ourselves, what to do?
If I was a musician, I would have composed a symphony
or if a lawyer I would have filed a complaint against this mess
but since I 'm a humble professor,
I have written a book, trying to provide tools
to be able to, at least, learn what is happening
We have to reconstruct ideologies
You just cannot say I am leftwing
although you abuse your wife when you're at home, or say you are leftwing
and in favour of a fair redistribution of incomes, but abuse migrants
or you have no commitment to the environment
Ideologies have to be rebuilt. Or the work environment
the world of work, used to give us our subjectivity, it helped us to
know who we were. You looked at yourself in the mirror and
your employment status, told you who you were
suddenly, the average working period in Europe doesn't exceed two years
when suddenly you don't have a stable job
we're as in that film "the full monty" where those
long-term unemployed workers have to do a striptease
to make some money. The metaphor is very good
because when you don't have a job, well, you're naked.
there's a scene that always moved me, where they are viewing music videos
trying to arrange the final dance number
they're watching MTV and suddenly a super-woman appears on screen
using a lathe and one of the characters, short and strong
says: "she's never used a lathe in her life, you don't hold it like that.
it's a lie. Evidently it's not true,
but what he really needs is to claim he's able for that job
because that's his dignity. Well, today with unemployment being what it is
because of rotation of unemployment
that horrible word that comes to us from the E.U. "flexi-security".
you have to work six months as a professor, six months serving pizzas
and six months driving a bus
how do you articulate you identity?
Spain... we have people who's mouth seems to fill when they say "Spain"
it it certainly it's not due to respect shown to spaniards of either sex
since much of what we consume culturally, comes from elsewhere
where is the identity built on or through
the oral, through our traditions, that disappears
with all mercantilization which has taken us to a McDonalized, globalized world
the final conclusion is that there are no clues, and if we have no clues
we're clueless so, what do people hold on to? Self-help books
since there are no collective answers
people try to find individual solutions.
"Who ate my cheese?, "Your erroneous zones"
"The monk who sold his Ferrari",
The knight in tarnished armour
individual solutions to collective problems.
And so, I wrote this books as a collective selfp help book
understanding that true solutions are those we give ourselves among us.
And to do this, first thing is to, I insist
remove veils, clear the undergrowth to see that really happens
and later recover a traditional principle of critical thinking
and that is, if things don't hurt you, you will not want to change them
there's an equation that to me is magical because it manages to change societies
that proposes that pain, knowledge, will, power and action
when you identify pain and translated into knowledge
and you know what the origin of that pain is
you're going to seek changing that pain
so you have pain, knowledge, will. Your have three phases, only because
you have made an effort of trying to identify what's the origin of that pain
once you know what ails you and want to end it, you look for the "how", and
There comes the political moment, you have pain, knowledge, will and power
and when you have the strength to change, then transformation comes
and therefore that equation glides on
towards more emancipated societies
but, if you are stuck in the first phase, if you don't convert pain into knowledge
then your pain is worthless, it will
never change into pain with political transformation
it's like those people who are hooked on anorexia or bulimia, or hooked on
to unhappiness because they cannot reach a certain level of buying power
T.V. has said that if not reached
he or she are failures.
What I seek with this book is
to build a mirror
where, beginning with each person's dignity
because we're finite and thus irreplaceable, and subject to dignity
so each one of us can, through that mirror
find the roots of what
stops us from growing. And that requires thought
it requires tools for the reasons I mentioned before
because reality is not evident and, because there are too many
people interested in anesthezising our pain
we live in societies audiovisually saturated
where the message is: if you're bored: buy, if you feel alone: buy
as if all buildings had fallen except shopping malls
as if great institutions have fallen but
you go to the nearest Mall and buy some article amd momentarily
you've found a palliative for your sadness
and it's a lie, a lie
The mass media which will try to hide there is many
like you, with the same doubts you have
who have the same ailments you have, that it's not true you are anachronistic,
inferior or obsolete
or crazy or an outcast. It's not true.
What happens is that media don't tell you
In the end there is a big model
In the USA there are no poor people and you say: "what, who says
there is no poverty? There are 40 million people who are
practically roofless. And the'll say: No, no,
not paupers, what they are is losers
and the difference between a loser and a pauper is that the loser
is responsible for his failure whilst the pauper
might have some type of social reason.
If we internalize that what happens to us is our responsibility
because we haven't studied mandarin chinese at night
through the internet at 3.00 a.m. Or because we don't work 16 hours
or because we've sinned terribly by going to the movies
or read literature, and for that reason you haven't found a job
then, of course if we have internalized that... pain is going to
become an individual pain and so it will not be a pain
capable of improving our societies.
I say all these elements are hard to understand
words have to be detonated. They are killing us with adjectives.
Its spectacular that
in Bolivia, people living in the street are called "disposable"
And if a person is disposable, he or she is useless
Romans called slaves "strumenti vocali" that is they were instruments
like oxen, which were instruments but didn't talk.
these were instruments that talked
But then, when you call someone a vocal instrument,
he is not a human being. Nazis called the Jews und menschen
before exterminating them.
if woman is referred to as submissive, witch, whore, you're forcing her
to a situation of submissiveness
If, instead of talking about unemployment
or layoffs, you say personnel readjustment
the United States never mention corruption or the IMF
they speak of unilateral adjustment of non-assigned accounts
I don't get it, right? John Paul II never had the courage to
admit pedophile cases that badly weighted the Catholic Church, instead
he said that the "misterium iniquitatis" had fallen
upon the bossom of the Church
The United States never speaks of the dead, they speak of collateral damages
we do not say that there is stagnation, we speak of zero growth
its all a structure of words that steal the possibiliy of our thinking ourselves.
I believe that one of the elements we must achieve
is recovering the control of Words. Language speaks to us
and we must realize that we must be the ones who speak
we have to be owners of the Dictionary, owners of our metaphore
how can we respect
people from other countries if we continue managing racist metaphores
racially ofensive to africans, gipsies,
how can we respect those people if we have interiorized
metaphores that subordinate them, its impossible, right?
and of course other metaphores like
falling into temptation. Wouldn't be nice if you could rise to temptation
instead of falling into it.
All this forces us to deeply meditate
to transform our suspicions into knowledge, our pain
into knowledge
our confussion into some type of certainty
because, in the middle of all this noise, there are still people who
present their priviledge as if it was of collective interest and, in the middle
of all this noise where unemployment numbers grow, where there are
a thousand million who lack food, where access to drinking water
education, a health service become unreachable achievements
there are minorities who are keeping half the wealth of our planet.
Even in Spain we have to witness that at the same time they implement
very hard adjustment plans, lowering salaries, increasing requirements
to have a dignified pension, extending retirement age
arguing that we are living above our possibilites
while we see Stock Market Indexes again reach historical records
and one has the feeling we are treated as idiots
or perhaps we are idiots.
When and where did they hook us?
Another essential element is realising
we are living in some sort of imposture,
a kind of embezzlements typical in undeveloped societies
where the gambler who wants to deceive you
his priority, his first bid is your need to overcome poverty
and so he juggles around asking you to find the marble or the cards
or under the thimble
And so, they activate your survival instinct
they activate your need to get away from the hole you're in
they take away your dignity because they're making you become
some sort of scoundrel like them and, once they've done it
they deceive you and say: "no, now we are ALL scoundrels
I am a scoundrel but, if you work on it, you can become a scoundrel
just like me. And that generates degradation
where we all participate in this great deceit
why does a Vatican nun vote for someone like Berlusconi
Or, what do people who feel as morality hostages do, voting
blackguards such as the Presidents of some of our Autonomous Communities
up to their necks in court investigations for corruption
the message launched is: "o.k. I'm corrupt, but YOU can be corrupt too"
and so, essential ingredients such as solidarity are blown to pieces.
such as, for instance solidarity.
A last relevant subject is that
we all, as human beings, have two big answers
to our need as animals who want to survive, but also have consciousness
one is Fear and the other is Hope
fear is governed by the amygdala of the brain more reptile-like
which we share with all animals
and which generates immediate response, fear tells you, watch out
there's a lion, a predator. Defend yourself. Fear
generates individual physical responses
they're elements of animal survival, but human beings also think
also knows that he or she is going to die and needs to give meaning to life
and there fear doesn't help. What helps is hope,
an idea of trascendence that tells you,
"all right, you are passing through for a while but you'll stay in the memory of others
You have transformed the world and so,
even if you die, all the goodness, all the kindness you have built
all the beuty, all the truth you have built stays
and that gives sense to your life.
Hope versus fear is a process, it takes place slowly
and it takes place through the construction of an identity of
seeking truth, of seeking goodness, fighting for beauty
and that is an identity that is built on a discourse
and so, you need others.
Those great two columns: Fear and Hope are just like
the red pill and the blue pill in Matrix
the more conservative thought is always going to appeal to fear
whilst the more critical, more constructive thought,
will appeal to hope
Fear is immediate, hope is a process. For that reason we need
to recover words because only with words and dialogue
we'll be able to assemble that hope.
Hamlet maddened because he monologized
Don Quijote didn't go mad because he talked with good old Sancho
And to build Hope we need countries who dialogue, not who monologize
We need countries to be more like Quijote-like and less Hamlet-like
The government of words
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