By Víctor Manuel Sánchez
Interview with Luis Milani about the current reality in Latin America*.
VMS: Do social phenomena such as those that occurred recently in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, a little further away like what happened in Venezuela a few months ago or more than a year ago in Mexico with the now new government, have a relationship with what Silo, thinker and founder of Universalist Humanism and of an entire system of thought called Siloism, called phenomena of inspired consciousness, in which people rise from lethargy and rebel against social injustice, in a nonviolent way?
LM: We are experiencing a unique historical moment: the birth of the first planetary civilization, the birth of a psychic people. The completion and fullness of this new world will not happen tomorrow, but neither will we have to wait centuries. The swift arrow that carries with it a cultural background full of humanization is already launched and its direction is irreversible.
In the current process of increasing globalization, which will finally succeed in multi-connecting and providing feedback for the first time to all peoples and cultures, the acceleration of historical time produced by the technological revolution is clashing with landscapes and looks built in a time that is no longer here, involving all areas of human endeavour.
Product of the fast and incredible changes, the doubts make us turn our head vertiginously, as if we were sitting in a “digital carousel”, being the bewilderment the one that takes us to snatch the ring from the “forever and ever”…
We live with the beautiful hope generated by the arrival of this new and renewed world, while at the same time violence grows in every corner. The time for peace has not yet arrived, far from it. Localist, ethnic and religious explosions; migrations and warlike conflicts in restricted areas threaten stability. On the other hand, convulsions and social outbursts are growing and occupying new scenarios while the phenomenon of terrorism is seen as a danger of great proportions given the firepower that individuals and relatively specialized groups can count on today.
VMS: You, who have militated and socially transmitted Siloism for more than 40 years, who have spread it, carried out processes of awareness and participation of the social base in countries of Latin America, Europe and Africa, what can you say about the era we are living in, marked by an accelerated growth of violence in all its aspects?
LM: Destructuring is growing in all fields, colouring our way of thinking, feeling and acting. And dragged by it, phenomena dazzle us by their most external forms and not by their contents, while we diminish our abstractive capacity replacing it with an analytical functioning that does not notice the process or the sequence implied by any phenomenon.
It is a paradoxical world in which possibilities seem to amplify as never before, while simultaneously deepening inequalities in the exercise of rights and opportunities; peoples and cultures manage to connect globally and yet terrible ethnic conflicts emerge; people concentrate in large population settlements and yet in many of them loneliness and individualism increase; consciousness perceives incredible future possibilities and yet seeks refuge in old beliefs and dogmas.
And as if this were not enough, those who believe that the only reality to take into account is the concrete one, trying to extinguish the aspirations that started from the hominid, reappear on the menu, sprouting under a wet tile and aged by the elapsed time. These are some ideologues-soothsayer-thinkers to whom the unstructured epoch imposes its conditions. It does not seem important to examine the current image of the human being in such a way as to find a certain coherence between what is affirmed and the behaviour of the populations. The best thing is to continue exposing an indecent eclecticism crammed with elementary contradictions and predictions for the future that are never fulfilled. With the crisis came an old concoction known as: “Premium Pragmatism, with 200 ml. extra, a new and controversial packaging and at the same price as conventional size”.
Let’s look at some examples. All the corruption that comes to light; the fermentation of the majority of political, ecclesiastical, military and economic elites; the double standard that is expressed in various fields; the privileges or successes achieved at the expense of others, whether by usurpation, exploitation or discrimination, are not of today; however, it is now that they are beginning to be objected to with energetic emphasis and it is thanks to this location, to this renewed look, that this is possible.
In our path there were negative tendencies that have been accentuated in time and that only today we are able to see, to make transparent and to place before the eyes and the gaze of all. The fact that the consciousness puts before itself these facts, which until now it preferred to hide, not only implies a new and transforming look that finally manages to overcome (for example) hypocrisy, but it also speaks, without a doubt, of a growth of human consciousness. And it is in this sense that we can affirm that the greater consciousness is the one that allows to make visible what formerly seemed impossible.
And in this radiant path human beings are not only modifying the tangible world, but also, disillusioned in their interiority, are looking for and developing new forms of spirituality that give answers to their deepest questions. A new civilization will be born and in it the most important value of the human being will be another human being.
VMS: How do you see the future ahead? Do you think there are nonviolent ways out and what is your proposal?
LM: Our hearts still can’t sense where we’re coming from or where we’re going, nor can they sense the transformations that are coming. But we have begun to build a fresh universe that carries with it an exclusive and particular sensibility whose most important ingredients can be summarized as follows:
* The value of justice, taking into account subjectivity, intangibles. To consider as fair every act that allows the human being to realise integrally their capacities and to form their own personality, without prejudice of the others. To consider unjust any action that nullifies or restricts freedom of choice and other essential human rights. To consider unjust any act that one would like to do with others, but that one would not do with oneself.
* Charity, understood as the capacity to understand the pain of the other as one’s own pain and the intention to give the corresponding help and cooperation. Feeling others as if I were myself is the attitude that allows us to overcome tribal hostilities and intolerances and that demands overcoming the habit of dividing human beings between close ones and others.
* Love as a psychological force in action. Fraternal love as a tendency that allows us to unite in solidarity with others on the basis of sharing the same human dignity. From this attitude, for example, arises the participation in innumerable protests of men and women who participate in them without being affected by the theme of the claims.
* Cooperation. Complementation. New relationships that are built in the process of a joint activity and where the results of common actions are stimulated and multiplied. There also arises the rejection of extreme individualism with greater awareness of the consequences of one’s own actions and personal commitment in that direction. Less dialectic content. There are no heavens or hells.
* Voluntary work. Enthusiasm ahead, without worrying about what you earn, or whether you earn something. Selfless action. We are not looking for remuneration and we are far from the culture of consumption, in the sense of the culture that promotes the exchange of goods and actions. Personal detachment. The attitude of service, altruism.
* A renewed type of generational dialectic that includes the progressive elements of previous generations.
* The growth of gender parity, as a relevant particularity of an increase in the recognition and practice of human parity.
* The force that arises from forging and battling together with others for a different future. It is not the same to believe that the human being develops their life passively, as response reflecting the conditions and events that surround them, than to believe that the human being intentionally modifies and creates such conditions and events. It is the coherent and transforming action in the world that produces force, rather than wear and tear. For example, non-conformism, which allows us to overcome moral defeat.
* The search for new forms in decision making where horizontality, fraternity and non-discrimination are privileged. These searches are manifested together with the eagerness to reach mutual understanding and the conciliation of interests and divergent opinions by means of persuasion and negotiations. A renewed tolerance.
* Greater clarity in identifying those responsible for the crisis. A growing identification and unification of conflicts is observed, leaving the system unveiled as a total structure and not as differentiated parts that are not related.
* At the individual level, and particularly in the younger generations, it is evident the deep search for new references, which has no precedent.
* In the perception of reality there is an opposition between traditional media and digital networks and media. A new attitude towards information. Search for new sources, critical attitude and content generation.
* Rejection of manipulation. Increasing distance between people and institutions. Awareness of the crisis of representativeness and the influence of economic power on political power.
* Young people and the new sensibility. The new generations are not interested in the economic or social model that opinion formers discuss every day as a central theme, but rather hope that institutions and leaders will not be just another burden to be added to this complicated world. On the one hand, they expect a new alternative because the existing models seem exhausted and, on the other hand, they are not willing to follow approaches and leaderships that do not coincide with their sensitivity. For many, this is considered irresponsible for the youngest, but it is not a question of responsibilities. It is a type of sensitivity that must be taken seriously. And this is not a problem that can be solved with opinion polls or surveys to find out in what new way society can be manipulated. This is a problem of global appreciation of the meaning of the concrete human being, which until now has been summoned in theory and betrayed in practice.
Finally, it seems appropriate to mention that a disputed image of the human being, which was intended to immerse them in nature, is being reconsidered and examined. In this sense there are thinkers who affirm that it is a being whose consciousness is active, where the subject does not expect to be affected by the objects of the world but, on the contrary, the subject constitutes those objects and gives meaning to the world.
It is an active individual who constitutes the world, who has a responsibility to that world and a historical commitment to humanity. And this implies that the consciousness ceases to be that kind of receptacle that waits to be affected by objects and, in this sense, acquires a dynamism that leads it to build the world itself. On the contrary, the point of view of the natural attitude is a dogmatic and alienated point of view that conceives the world in an isolated and absolute way. This last point of view starts from an unjustified a priori, since it does not explain the origin of reality, but assumes it in fact.
Will nihilism and violence advance temporarily and quickly, descending from the past through a narrow funnel that directs us towards nothingness, or will the strength of the human being grow by launching themselves without prejudice towards its intentional destiny?
Will the confusion between known models and new models last long?
Will the apology of stupidity, incoherence and weak intelligence triumph, or will the creativity, talent, inspiration and legitimate aspirations of peoples triumph?
Will the new generations be the bearers of tracer images that penetrate the future?
Will humanism win this new battle?
Will this historical stage be overcome?
Today we still do not know. Who could know?
But we do know that this moment is not the end of history.
*Luis Milani has been an activist of the Humanist Movement for more than 40 years, aware of social processes in the world and especially of the Latin American reality. He is an aesthetic voice of Silo’s doctrine in his social approach. He has to his credit an infinite number of writings on the organization of the social base with the methodology of nonviolence, among them “The inspired consciousness in moments of social convergence”.