By Dario Ergas
We have been astonished by the manifestation of a new generation that warned of its existence these last few months in Chile. They expressed, subverting the economic and public order, that they do not like the social system in which they live. They manifested and grew among themselves a feeling of affection, solidarity, mutual recognition, which attuned to all their generation and also dragged the rest of their older siblings, parents and grandparents. Suddenly, as in a Saramago story, we all realized that the political, economic and financial system was absurd, that the formal democracy of politicians was hypocrisy, that the government protected an elite.
A world that until the previous day was a total truth collapsed. We no longer want to compete, we are no longer interested in consumerism, nor in the school year, we do not want to outdo our neighbour, we do not believe in TV, the president or the parliament. The god of money began his agony and thus can no longer dictate the rules of coexistence. On the contrary, it stains everything it touches.
The cry that united the multitudinous marches sings: Chile woke up, woke up, woke up.
But what exactly does this awakening mean?
The most common opinion is that the abuses of the neoliberal financial system were the cause. It follows that the economic anguish of the middle classes and the most dispossessed are the trigger of a revolutionary phenomenon. Revolution on this occasion without parties or chieftains to lead it. The system had reached a level of impunity that exhausted society, which now will not cease pressure until a constituent assembly redefines the relationship between capital and labour, democratic rules, ownership of natural resources, the standard of the common good of health and education, the federal and plurinational state.
This is a more or less accepted hypothesis, typical of 20th century economic philosophies. Some even read in this the beginning of the end of neoliberalism since in the same country where their theories were tested they will now be swept away by the people who once had illusions about them.
It’s interesting, but I think there are other areas I’d like to explore.
It is probable that the generational phenomenon is not exclusive to this country, but that it has planetary characteristics; the case of Hong Kong is striking because of its similarity.
A generation could be awakening worldwide and opening its eyes to the horizon of the future. It is by “waking up” that they no longer want this system of anti-values, drowned by financial capital that seeks to discipline freedom by means of economic and stock exchange levers. It doesn’t matter if it is about fighting against the Chinese Communist Party or against the King of Spain or against the financial corporate power or the national state: something changed in the sensibility of the new generations that woke up and discovered that it is about them, about their world, and that they have the duty and the right to transform it. No matter what symbol synthesises that individualistic and deceitful system they want to divest themselves of, no matter what symbol restricts freedom and diversity, no matter what methods exacerbate our useless and meaningless desires to want more, the young generation is rising in different latitudes, and seems to be moving in an interesting direction. Suddenly they discovered that the symptoms of depression, panic, suicide, even the gambling they suffered, were due to the asphyxiation of individualistic, discriminatory and competitive values and not to mental illness as they were led to believe. In this way they initiate a revolution that transgresses the customs of the uniform economic and financial system and understand that they are the protagonists.
These generations were born without the typical references of the system, which were already in decay: the church, democracy, politicians; a system capable of killing and destroying the entire planet for money. At least that is the representation of an institutionality incapable of avoiding nuclear, environmental, economic and moral collapse.
The peoples are tuning into this global landscape with a generation without the traditional referents of the system. They are no longer just the new generations, but all of them are synchronised in a hitherto unknown spirit. I suspect that it will surpass any mold with which they are intended to be contained, molds that will fall one after the other before the flow of the young energy of a critical generation that inaugurates a new historical moment and probably heralds a new era.
The traditional analysis of class struggle and considering that the human being is an economic being, and that this is the factor of change (i.e. we all move by money, i.e. our soul is essentially corrupt), might not be valid. When we allow ourselves to be carried away by this type of thinking, we do not have all the elements to know how to act in this revolution that we want to promote.
Reducing the human engine to the productive factors and considering that mass violence is a revolutionary violence and can be “used” for a “greater cause” may not be enough to analyse the complexity of what is to come.
I try then to find an existential and humanist angle to understand the moment we live in, and evaluate the action to accompany this change in the best direction.
Among the causes of the loss of social, moral and religious references is the erosion of cultural beliefs that clashed with a new technological and globalised landscape. It could be that this destabilisation of identity references and of the “I” itself was impacting the consciousness from its deepest spiritual needs. A kind of mental emptiness caused by the fall of the beliefs and models that until recently guided us is allowing personal and social consciousness to access the experience of its deepest and most essential motivation. The mind liberated from the old molds that contained it (religious, ideological, legal and economic beliefs) revitalises an essential search in which it is not isolated, but together with others in which it recognises itself as humanity.
If this were the case, the spirit of being, the sense, that which transcends one’s own self, is awakening in these generations and touching the human being on Earth. The system is shaking, its last god, money, is dying, and it is adjusting its methods to stop a new psychosocial phenomenon that erupted just when it felt victorious.
Although we rejoice because the spirit is being reborn in the heart of each and every one of us, it must be recognised that this revolution belongs to the young. In the existential landscape of youth there are neither churches, nor ideologies, nor politicians, nor hierarchs, nor governments. There is technology and instant communication. They are the spark that ignites the new times.
They are the protagonists of this historic moment. So if history once “counted with the poor of the world,” today it opens the way to a youth for whom the schemes of modernity and postmodernity no longer exist.
It seems that we are witnessing the end of a world and that makes the foundations of our psyche tremble.
But we could also be witnessing the birth of the human being of the future, the creation of a type of universal society unprecedented until now. We are perhaps the lucky observers of the historical and intentional creation of the human being.
Whether history and our own life is driven by factors of the production or market economy, whether we are faced with a system of beliefs and values that died and produces a mental void that allows contact with a new spiritual meaning and a transcendent meaning of life, will be important considerations in defining our action in this moment in which we live.
If it is an evolutionary spiral, the global crisis will probably end up tearing down the last pillars of modern civilisations to give way to an unpredictable planetary civilisation. Whatever the context in which we find ourselves, we have to reflect on how we are going to collaborate as individuals and as communities in the construction of future humanity. We are the original condition of the new times and we can make an effort to understand what is happening to us and to do our best for the common human construction.
We have been witnesses in the streets of the poetry expressed in cardboard signs that each one makes, all of them translating a dignity that is in tune with the marching companions: “We do not leave the street until it is worth living”; “It was not depression, it was capitalism”; “A rape is not erased, a graffiti yes; a lost life is not recovered, the material yes”; among many others that show something very big that bubbles in each poster. It would seem that a very important force has awakened from the depth of the soul, a vital force that is experienced with others and tints life with meaning, a force that communicates to us one to another.
the others, that makes us love our differences and recognise ourselves as equals, a beautiful feeling of wanting the best not only for me but also for you, a feeling of humanity that is caressing reason to find new meanings. Injustice, abuse, violence and discrimination are no longer bearable. A society that tolerates economic violence by concentrating wealth is no longer bearable. Crowds are no longer allowed to be dominated by force or by psychological or chemical manipulation. No one accepts development by destroying the ecological system any more. Sexual violence, religious or ideological fanaticism are also intolerable.
It seems that a new spirit is manifesting itself in the midst of the collapse of current models and schemes.
What is the vital action for this moment that we have to live? How do we place ourselves personally and together with our community to contribute to the construction of what is to come? What personal virtue do I place at the service of the whole in order to advance towards progress from all and for all? The critical generation, that of the inflection between a world that dies and another world that is finally born has dawned. How do we push in our personal and community situation, in our vital situation, so that the force that is animating us continues to grow, contagious and inspiring the planetary society, of the common good, of personal liberation, without walls or physical or mental frontiers?
Translation Pressenza London