I write from Brazil, but I could do it from China. Today the world has shrunk and problems and language, especially through social networks, are unifying.
Limiting ourselves to politics, today we would need, for example, a new Lacan capable of eviscerating the old words of left and right, of conservative and progressive, of modern and ancient. The words have been so petrified that we end up getting entangled in them as in a labyrinth with no way out.
And the danger is that words until yesterday seen as sacred or demonic today end up losing their meaning. Language is changing in step with the evolution of the world. And no one can doubt that we are in a time of radical change, where not even the best prophets are able to make a diagnosis of what is going to happen not tomorrow but this very afternoon. And that's all over the planet.
And as since the creation of the world, everything begins with language, with the words to which the Church, for example, conferred even a sacramental force. What does "artificial intelligence" mean today, for example, to stay in the latest buzzword that not even scientists quite understand?
If this force of language is so creative, so indispensable and at the same time so dangerous in our relationships, it is also so in politics. For example, words like democracy, freedom, right and left, conservatives and progressives, fascists and akin to Nazism.
And if it was words that created the world, it will also be they who enrich or impoverish it, who sanctify or demonize it. Politics is action, but it is also a verb and words create or destroy.
Nothing so banal and hackneyed in politics as conservative and progressive, right or left, democracy or obscurantism, freedom or slavery. Language is rich in words and meanings but it is also petrified, while reality is creative.
Being left or right today is not, for example, in many parts of the world, synonymous with progress or obscurantism, let alone good or bad, modern or outdated.
The power of words is such that they can engender peace or war. A very politicized father explained to his son that the heart is always "on the left," which is where life would be. And yet, over the centuries and even in the Bible, the left was intertwined with negative aspects. When we wake up in a bad mood, we usually say that we have woken up "on the left foot".
In the Bible, whether Jewish or Christian, the righteous are always on God's right hand and the wicked on his left. How to explain, for example, to the evangelical churches today so involved in politics that for God we are all equal?
And we are not just talking about linguistics, since words end up taking the place of facts, of reality. Today when the extreme right, especially the fascist and Nazi, begins to raise its head again everywhere to the astonishment of the democrats, there is at the same time a lurking danger: that of attributing the concept of conservative to that disintegrating right and progressive to simple modernity.
In truth, things are not so simple. As Nicolau da Rocha Cavalcanti has written here in Brazil, in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, to confuse conservative or liberal with Bolsonarist would be to make a great gift to the extreme right. According to him, if being conservative or liberal in some aspect of life, from customs to ideas, were synonymous with the right, here in Brazil, Bolsonarism would have already won the battle, given that more than half of Brazilians, especially the poorest and least educated, "reveal sympathy for some conservative flag", especially in terms of customs and morality.
If Bolsonarism roots with strong Nazi edges end up being seen as the mirror of the simple right or conservatives, the immediate danger would be to sacralize extremism.
It is not the same to confess, as Bolsonaro did, that before having a gay son he would rather end up dead under the wheels of a truck, which identifies him as a barbarian, than simply prefer, without having to be homophobic, to have a "normal" child, another word capable of poisoning language.
I have friends whom I appreciate for their human qualities, their altruism, their respect for differences who consider themselves conservative or liberal in politics. Conversely, we all know people who cackle about being left-wing and end up entangled in networks of corruption and tinged with intransigence, unable to understand the richness of diversity.
Trapped, as a young man, in the nets of cruel and anti-democratic Francoism, and being abroad, it took me many years to be able to vote. And my votes were always left-wing because when I entered the booth of the ballot boxes I was haunted by the ghost of fascism, Francoism and Nazism.
My flag was not that of left or right, but that of freedom of thought. And in that freedom also entered my appreciation for certain conservative and libertarian values at the same time that I had received from my parents. Both were poor rural school teachers. It was a time in Spain of bloody Civil and ideological war and my parents were punished to several months without pay because, apparently, the students who left their schools, when they reached high school "asked too many questions to the teachers". And, of course, in the root Francoism, questions and interrogations, doubts and novelties, were synonymous with degeneration.
Therefore, today with many years and experiences behind me if you ask me if I am progressive or conservative, I would answer, as an Andalusian who spent his childhood in Galicia, "it depends". I am, however, very careful with the strength of the words that ultimately strip and identify us.
There is something that can have universal value and that defines us today in the midst of the whirlwind that surrounds us of change of era where not even the greatest gurus of the new languages are able to tell us where we will land.
And in the middle of all this, I remain, when it comes to judging someone politically, with the old language of my ancestors, those who still cultivated the land, when they said of someone "that is a good person". Progressive or conservative? "By the fruits you will know them", said the young and wise Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, who ended up revolutionizing history.
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