This material was presented in the Talk-debate developed in the Villa Hipódromo Command of the Frente de Tod@s, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina.
It was on September 10, 2019 by invitation within the framework of the Andrea Blandini Mayoral 2019-2023 Campaign.
by Hugo Novotny
Researcher of the Carcarañá Study and Reflection Park and of the Humanist Pedagogical Current (CoPeHu). Teacher and translator of Russian language. Writer.
Politics, Spirituality and Post-Truth in Argentina and in the “world”.
What is the direction of this chaos in which not only our country is immersed today, but also Our America, the “world”? The “world” in this case, in inverted commas, is referred to by the neoliberal right, the also called western world, which has the United States as its axis and centre of maximum concentration of power, fundamentally economic and military.
In order to attempt an analysis and, as far as possible, a proposal, we will begin with the significant year 2001, but with a fact that took place, not in Argentina but in the very head of the neoliberal empire.
That catastrophic September 11, 2001, the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York with the thousands of victims that it dragged, was a before and after for the world in several ways. On the one hand, a series of invasions and wars began that continue even today, carrying hundreds of thousands of fallen people and millions of displaced people.
Just a month after the attack, the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Libya, Yemen, and Syria… and the series does not seem to have ended. The arguments of the war on terrorism, of freeing countries from dictators, with or without weapons of mass destruction, of bringing democracy, etc. were used as the case may be to attack and appropriate power and resources in these countries; with or without UN agreement, and even ignoring the massive opposition in the streets of millions of people all over the world. Let us remember for example the massive world demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2003…
The tragedies that began there, in each of these places, only continued to grow over the years; killing, destroying, devastating everything with no end in sight. And these tragedies began to turn into a kind of unstoppable, uncontrolled boomerang on the same countries that accompanied the U.S. in those invasions, either as attacks, or as massive migrations of refugees who no longer find comfort in their countries and end up many times as prisoners in refugee camps, when not dying on the way.
All this happened even when it was proved that the arguments used to justify each invasion were all false! The supposed weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq, terrorism only grew and continues to grow in all those points, as well as the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics, “democracy” never arrived … But nothing, they moved on.
Using blatant lies to provoke such disasters did not provoke any remorse. They went on, using the same “armed with falsehoods” to invade, ravage other countries and appropriate their resources. The latter, yes, in all cases, is what infallibly came to fruition.
Moreover, today it is widely accepted by many international analysts that that Twin Towers catastrophe was in fact a self-attack; or at least a plot between the Bush and Bin Laden families to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a documentary film, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, by American director Michael Moore, which clearly shows this story. It shows, for example, that the Bush and Bin Laden clans are partners in large multinational arms and oil companies; that these companies, as well as those of the then vice-president of the USA, Dick Cheney, made hundreds of billions of dollars in a few years, only with the war in Iraq… And so on.
In other words, the truth was known, but that didn’t change anything. Here is the origin of that monstrous feeling of omnipotence and impunity that the powerful still hold today. Here, in my view, is the beginning of the post-truth era.
From then on, they didn’t stop. In the case of Argentina, the examples multiply. The media stigmatization and the fraudulent handling of the legal cases against Cristina Kirchner and other members of her government, which brought to power and kept the macrism in power; the smoke screens and the media armour in the face of the scandals of the “Panama Papers”, Odebrecht, Correo, and everything that could compromise the current government; the endless circus to cover up economic disasters and generalized discontent, manipulating such sensitive causes as the AMIA or Nisman; the demonization of “Kirchnerism”, of Milagro Sala, of the Mapuches, etc. etc
In other words, it is a matter of permanently inventing “truths” that stir up people’s lower and visceral emotions in order to stigmatize the adversary, concoct, or mount media “shows” that entertain with banalities, in order to hide the growing daily problems.
And in the meantime, of course, keep everything: scrap the State, get into debt abroad, mortgage the country to unimaginable limits and finally, of course, end up handing over the resources to the multinationals. The same can be seen in Brazil, Ecuador, etc…
Whether through these political-media-judicial networks, or military force as we mentioned earlier, the objective is always the same: to concentrate the power and resources of the countries in the hands of multinational corporations, especially energy corporations, banks and international financial capital.
In the era of “post-truth”, this elegant and philosophical neologism puts under the well-known mechanism of manipulation of collective consciousness by the powerful who appeal to the passions of the people, especially the lowest, to justify or camouflage their immoral actions and to arm “realities” convenient to their interests.
By this way the system has been achieving and extending by great part of the planet, an unusual concentration of the economic, political, media, judicial and military power, in the hands of the big capitals. One more monstrosity of this critical historical moment, of this end of stage in the history of humanity. At this point, it is advisable to see the documentary “Nothing is private”, which shows an important aspect of all this: the Machiavellian use of social networks by neoliberalism to manipulate consciences and achieve to twist the electoral results in their benefit.
And what kind of emotions do they appeal to? Basically fear and hatred. Why? Because fear and hatred block compassion. Fear and compassion are conflicting emotions, they cancel each other out.
Here is the key to the immoral manipulation of the system on collective consciousness: blocking compassion. Fear does. So does hate. And the concentrated media, of course, does it by stigmatizing, demonizing everything that gets in their way. As we know, they also act by stupidizing their audiences with superficialities, and this serves to block critical thinking.
But here we are talking about a deeper weapon on which the psychological warfare of the current system is based: blocking compassion, empathy, to build the other that does not suit you, an enemy. An enemy that can be destroyed, disappeared, or at least silenced. How else do you get a soldier to kill, a policeman or gendarme to repress savagely? And in the same direction, how do they discipline an entire society? Anesthetizing their sensibility.
Because there is a human capacity, proper to our psyche, that comes to us in our backpack from the moment we are born: the capacity to feel the pain and suffering of the other as one’s own.
When neuroscientists talk about mirror neurons and limbic resonance they are referring to this internal connection between human beings. For example, when someone is hit or injured, and you see it, it also hurts. When someone suffers, you feel it too. And of course, if it’s someone you love, even more so.
In this basic mechanism, inherent in human consciousness, is based the ability to put oneself in the place of the other; making it possible, for example, to put into practice the golden rule of morality that says: “treat others as you want them to treat you”. All this is in us, in everyone; in some more, in some less, but it is in everyone. Unless you are anesthetized.
We said: fear and compassion are two opposing feelings, one cancels out the other.
In other words, the reverse is also true: compassion overcomes fear.
One can easily verify this in one’s own experience. For example, it is one thing when you are in a difficult situation and fear invades you, and another when you are with your youngest child. Your whole being concentrates on taking care of them, that nothing happens to them; and of you don’t even remember your fears.
On a broader scale, of people, we have clear examples; there was the case of the Catalans: “I am not afraid!” went out to say half a million people after the terrorist attack on the Rambla Catalunya… Uniting among themselves, but not against anyone, but in a positive way, standing alongside, in solidarity, with Muslims and immigrants in general. Showing the highest integrity and moral health as a people. Admirable, and very hopeful.
In Argentina, the case of the great popular demonstrations: “Not one less”, the national meetings of women, the mobilizations for legal, safe and free abortion; against 2 x 1; for the reappearance with life of Santiago Maldonado… Great non-violent social mobilizations, where there is union, solidarity, an outstanding harmony among the people.
And what has the government been doing? Repressing, infiltrating violent agents to break things and justify repression, filling their media with garbage and the hearts of the people with fear; so that they return home, lock themselves up and never leave again. Now they have lowered a change for the electoral campaign, and above all, for the beating of August 11?
But what is clear in these cases is that, from the experience of solidarity and non-violence of popular demonstrations, on the one hand; and from the violent, repressive, provocative intervention of the government, on the other, totally different worlds result, cardinally opposed.
It is also important to highlight cases such as the militancy inspired by the idea of “The Fatherland is the Other” and the work cooperatives of Milagro Sala’s Tupac Amaru with its housing, factories, schools, health, sports and cultural centres. Clear examples of grassroots social construction, solidarity, which have been demonized and persecuted by the dominant political-media-judicial system, with fury, with the obvious intention not only to impede their progress and disarticulate them, but to discourage any attempt similar to the future.
And what about the consequences of one action or another? The action of this neoliberal, anti-humanist system causes the worst to be expressed in the people who believe in it, through conviction or deceit. That is why those who believe the story of the system live with fear, with hatred; or at least, with indifference for the other, selfishness, every man for himself. All attitudes bear contradiction, which inevitably lead to internal disintegration. And there, in that existential void, is where consumerism sinks the tooth, violence sinks the tooth, drugs sinks the tooth.
Do you know which country is the biggest consumer of illegal and legal drugs on the planet? Yes, the United States. And where is one of the highest per capita drug consumption? No, not in the slums of Buenos Aires or the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, but in Wall Street, in the very dome of the system that governs the “world”. Evidently, only in this way, with a lot of alcohol and drugs, can they cover up not only the stress, but also the absurdity and the contradiction for so much damage they do on a world scale, for the total lack of a true meaning in their lives.
Because this social weapon, this vision of the world, this myth, is not in the interests of the believers in this neoliberal system either. It is not good for the people, nor for the powerful and their servants. That they apparently do well, economically, in no way means that this works for them. A system based on the monstrosity of putting money above human beings is doomed to disintegration. And that’s precisely what’s happening, accelerated, fortunately.
So how is all this going to end?
It’s not the human being that falls. It is the system, the neoliberal empire. The prison we are living in is falling apart. And that makes a lot of noise. But at the same time, a deep cry, a new consciousness with a clear rebellious background, grows silently in the hearts of many common people in all latitudes… especially women and the youngest ones.
Silo said, in 2004, in Punta de Vacas: “We are at the end of a dark period in history and nothing will ever be the same as before. Little by little, the dawning of a new day will come. Cultures will begin to understand one another; the peoples will experience a growing yearning for progress for all, understanding that progress for the few ends up being progress for no one. Yes, there will be peace, and out of necessity it will be understood that the outline of a universal human nation is taking shape.“.
But how will this change take place? What can we intend to do to make this wished for future landscape possible? How can we orient ourselves, to give our lives, those of our loved ones and our peoples an interesting direction in the midst of the prevailing crisis? And so that this direction may serve the social, political and spiritual construction of a new, more human and non-violent world.
Yes, it’s time to talk about spirituality. Not religion. Everyone has complete freedom to choose what to believe and hopefully exercise it. It is not about religion, but about spirituality. Of the truly constructive and inspiring experiences and registers of our inner world.
In Silo’s words: “Love and compassion are necessary for evolution. Thanks to them it is possible the internal cohesion and the cohesion between the beings that make possible the transmission of the spirit from one to the other. The entire human species evolves towards love and compassion. He who works for himself in love and compassion does so for other beings as well.” In Cristina [Kirschner]’s words: “love overcomes hatred”, “love always overcomes hatred and lies”.
Because love and compassion for others, as far as your heart can reach, leads to breaking the bubble of selfishness, overcoming fear, overcoming violence and suffering in one’s life and helping others to overcome them. In other words, it leads to coherent action. And this has an indubitable register in one’s own consciousness: it is called internal unity. The certainty of internal unity arises when one acts in the same direction as one thinks and feels, when one acts in the direction of overcoming suffering in oneself and in others. And this is experienced as truth, as inner truth, as meaning. And that inner unity, that sense, that inner truth, nothing can overshadow it, nothing can stop it.
This is the key to coming out of the darkness, the fear and the hopelessness that the system tries to breathe into us day by day; this is the light that dissolves the ghosts of post-truth: to connect with the pain of the other, with the heart of the other, with the human of the other, to act with compassion, to act with unity; to learn to recognize the taste of inner truth that this leaves behind and to take pleasure in it.
And to do this with others. To learn to construct, socially, politically, existentially with others, in such a way that what grows is coherence, meaning, inner truth in our lives.
One knows very well when one is speaking with inner truth, when one is acting with inner truth. And as one knows it in oneself, one can recognize it in the other. This is a real, lasting, unquestionable reference for all construction. Inner truth opens the future, builds the future, beyond the immediate results of any action. And this is intuited by the new generations, who seem to come increasingly with this sensibility. They don’t care what you say, they care what you do; they care about the coherence between what you say and what you do. This coherence is not achieved from one day to the next. It is a direction in life, it is a learning.
In this sense, Silo in his Message proposes:
“Learn to resist the violence that is within you and outside of you. Learn to treat others in the way that you want to be treated. Learn to surpass pain and suffering in yourself, in those close to you, and in human society. Learn to recognize the signs of the sacred within you and around you.”
These are not easy learnings, but the attempt itself, day by day, fills the soul with meaning. I gives faith.
Godoy Cruz, Mendoza – September 2019
Translation Pressenza London