By Adalberto Carvajal
“Why don’t we have on this continent, instead of the OAS, an emancipatory UNESCO?” lamented the Mexican academic and documentary filmmaker Fernando Buen Abad, who spoke with (Rafael Barajas) the nosy(Rafael Pineda) Snuff and (José) Hernández in the broadcast of the February 27 from The TV by Channel 22.
At the ‘Sean MacBride’ Institute of Information and Communication of the University of Lanús, which Buen Abad directs in Argentina, the semiotician and philosopher of Communication took up as a line of theoretical work the proposal of having a multiplicity of voices in a globalized communication, conclusions which he extracted from the famous MacBride report.
The research Sean MacBride coordinated was originally published in 1980 and was sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). The Spanish edition is from the Economic Culture Fund: One world, multiple voices. Communication and information in our time. And, in short, the report revealed the enormous concentration of media in the world, in addition to evidencing the political control that this allows.
“I have just participated in a meeting with the Secretary of Culture of Mexico, Alejandra Frausto, who launched a call to discuss the problem of culture and communication in Latin America, after 40 years without a forum on this subject on a continental scale. Our region is a splendor of cultural diversity and we do not have an agreement on cultural policies, which include the media.”
The delay is serious, but in the urgency to face the problem we run two risks: repeating vices due to inertia and the speed of the march; and, above all, lacking a corrective method despite being obliged to consider corrections along the way.
To defend ourselves from blows “there is the culture of debate that has been lost in terms of what a debate is, not a lawsuit. A debate with arguments, recognition of differences and discussion with the hair of the donkey in hand. Now everything ends in insults and we can’t make the debate a teaching tool”.
For the nosy, the open parliament on the electrical reform organized by the Mexican congress was an interesting exercise in debate. Personnel from the Federal Electricity Commission provided arguments that we had not contemplated and managed to knock down many of the assumptions that the right wing had raised.
For example, supporters of privatization claim that foreign investment will be lost with the reform. But it turns out that of the 60,000 million pesos that these companies have invested, a small part is their own money. The rest came from banks, including public development institutions such as Banobras and Nafinsa.
“It was a good debate, but that is not enough, to the extent that we have silenced peoples on this continent who have never had the slightest participation, not even before themselves.
“Many original peoples have been attacked so systematically that they have already lost their identities, and it is difficult for them to recognize themselves as subjects of a community. It’s a deep symbolic problem because if you don’t build a sense of community identity, you don’t have a community. You have summation at best.
“It has happened to us on many fronts. We see our Mapuche comrades fighting in the south of the continent without anyone taking care to see if they have been given the opportunity to raise their voices, not only in their country but on the Latin American scene. Many are unaware that the lands of the Mapuches were sold to the Englishman Joseph Lewis, an unfortunate man who owns almost all of Patagonia: he was left with some extremely beautiful and immense lakes, under which there is lithium.
“There is no other way than the fight. And the conception of the fight is not in terms of lawsuit, but of symbolic construction. The word ‘struggle’ has worn us out so much that we must give it back its semantic power. The dictionary must be remade so that the concept of struggle says that it is always a collective and simultaneous action. There is no way to conceive the struggle other than in a social sense. Not as a confrontation or as a thief lawsuit to see how I screw the neighbor, but as a strategy to build a project together.
“This work is not taking place in primary schools where it was previously achieved with group games, but neither is it in universities. And more and more this brutally toxic cancer of individualism grows. It is an ideological battle in the background, understanding ‘ideology’ in the sense of Marx: as false consciousness.
“For this fight we need voices, opinion leaders who, on radio and television, reconvert what the concepts mean. It is a nuclear work, because it opens the semantic field that has been usurped”, says Buen Abad.
Freedom for Assange
And, in effect –the participants agree–, the semantic field has been usurped:
“Now it turns out that the democratic leaders are the most anti-democratic,” says Buen Abad. They stole the word ‘democracy’ and now the right wing is fighting for ownership of the word ‘freedom’. They have taken it over when that word does not belong to them more than the peoples in struggle, to no one else.
“We have to do permanent and systematic semantic work. If we remain silent, we will no longer be able to handle the vocabulary that they have usurped. A closed, planned and well thought out contest is required. It is an ideological chessboard and we must win the game. However, we have not yet been able to create a minimum current of thought to support this semantic revolution.”
We have to fight for the word democracy because, now, it turns out that democracy belongs to the oligarchies, say the Moneros. The same goes for the term ‘journalism’.
“Freedom of expression was usurped by these crooks.” They even stole common sense: imagine the United States speaking in favor of press freedom when all of its intelligence agencies are chasing the creator of WikiLeaksJulian Assange; now it turns out that the CIA promotes the rights of women or the rights of indigenous people.
“And what forces do we have to fight that battle? We need to generate our own press to tell the right wing that the concept of libertarian journalism does not belong to them, that it belongs to the peoples on the march,” says Buen Abad.
“We already suffered from Octavio Paz who, desirous of his Nobel Prize for Literature, went to do the crap he did in the colloquium ‘The 20th century: the experience of freedom’, with Enrique Krauze and all those bandits who carried out a symbolic usurpation to remain as the great champions of freedom”, comments the guest.
For his great congress sponsored by the Salinista government, Paz brought “all the market economy coryphaeus”, beginning with Mario Vargas Llosa (who, despite the role of comparsa to which he had been invited, coined the phrase of the perfect dictatorship to describe the PRI regime, which greatly annoyed the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari).
Later, Paz “wanted to sell us the encyclopedia of all the texts that had been read there.” But he did not count on the intelligence of Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez, who destroyed the stage with three or four sentences like that: Capitalism is capitalism, even if it hires poets to beautify itself. The Marxist philosopher shook the neoliberal intellectuals because Don Adolfo perfectly understood “what was the necessary semantic instrument to blow up the field of meaning” that Paz and Vargas Llosa sought to sow.
Now we have Octavio Paz’s “little children” and those of Vargas Llosa, who is still alive. There is a lot of money invested in the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, and in the think tanks who advise him and where they write the articles with which the Peruvian is showing off around the world, exposes Buen Abad.
Revocation of the Mandate
“My dearest friend Atilio A. Borón has published several books about it –commented the guest–. I reproach him for doing such unhealthy work as exploring the sewers of Vargas Llosa, but Borón insists that it is necessary because the continental right found in Mario the flagship of a meticulous ideological work.
“For example, now they have the idea that democracy is imperfect, that we need a democracy of the enlightened, of those who know what they are doing when they go to the polls, because the populace does not understand it.
“In the symbolic battle for Mexico, the second stage of the six-year term will be difficult years. Are we finally going to discuss bourgeois democracy or not? Because if we continue to fall in love with the models of bourgeois democracy that we have repeated, and do not create a debate, at least a current of opinion in favor of a broader democracy, we will end up playing the game of an absolutely tricky concept of democracy.
“What democracy are we going to talk about? A new democratic exercise has to be built, for example, on the great premise of the Revocation of the Mandate. This is an unprecedented symbolic conquest: direct democracy is participatory democracy.
“This symbolic reconstruction has to take place in an open space, families have to discuss it in their homes and in society, because if not, this discussion is part of the after-dinner discussion, it does not embody, and they will be ideas that do not become flesh in the social life.
“For the rest, that symbolic fight must be given in a very short time. And how many cadres do we have right now on the left, willing to give up their game of vanities and egos to decide to think collectively from now on? asks Buen Abad.
And he concludes, this qualitative leap in consciousness is fundamental and, right now, it is an urgent challenge to be able to build a proposal for the future of this country.
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