Noam Chomsky y Tony Blair

Tony Blair at the 2007 G8 summit in Germany

Noam Chomsky y Tony Blair se cruzan en el aeropuerto

 

El 15 de octubre pasado, Noam Chomsky dio una conferencia en la Universidad de Florida titulada “Policy and Media Prism” (“Las políticas y el prisma mediático”). Durante más de una hora, con su voz pausada y su incansable osadía de desarticular narraciones oficiales, Chomsky analizó el uso del lenguaje en la prensa tradicional, la información mutilada con fines políticos por parte de los medios que repiten y ocultan como estrategia para crear o justificar una realidad. “Si el público estuviese realmente informado no toleraría algunas cosas”, comentó. Al menos parte del público.

Si los estudiantes de lingüística lloran por la complejidad de sus teorías, por lo hermético y abstracto de algunas de sus explicaciones, el público general que asiste a sus conferencias no puede decir lo mismo: nada hay en ellas de abstracto; cada una de sus afirmaciones son concretas y precisas. Se puede estar en completo desacuerdo con las interpretaciones que hace Chomsky de la realidad, pero nadie puede acusarlo de ser elusivo, cobarde, complaciente o diplomático.

Rara vez se puede decir lo mismo de un líder mundial. Si sus acciones son bien concretas, sus justificaciones abundan en la vaguedad y la distracción, cuando no son meras construcciones verbales. Lo cual no deja de ser una trágica paradoja: aquellos profesionales de lo concreto son especialistas en crear mundos virtuales, construidos en su casi totalidad de palabras. Son ellos los más importantes autores de ficción de nuestro mundo.

El 16 de octubre, exactamente 24 horas más tarde y a unos pocos kilómetros de distancia, el ex primer ministro del Reino Unido, Tony Blair, dio su conferencia en una sala del Florida Times Union de Jacksonville. El día anterior recibí en mi oficina a alguien (un prodigio europeo al que estimo mucho y que conocía al líder británico) con una invitación especial para asistir.

En una elegante sala, Tony Blair se extendió por casi dos horas. A diferencia de Chomsky, Blair no bombardeó a los presentes con observaciones incomodas sino con frases prefabricadas, complacientes hasta la indigestión, más una plétora de lugares comunes capaces de provocarle pudor hasta a un estudiante de secundaria. Todo sazonado con una dosis toxica de bromas, algunas muy ingeniosas.

Ni siquiera tuvo un momento de autocrítica cuando alguien le preguntó si no se había sentido humillado por el fiasco de la guerra en Irak. Después de pensar por varios segundos, o fingir que pensaba para la risa de los que estaban allí, repitió el mismo menú de siempre: “hay momentos en que un líder debe tomar decisiones difíciles…” Una y otra vez, con palabras diferentes. En ningún caso consideró que el presidente o el primer ministro de una potencia mundial siempre tienen que tomar decisiones difíciles, que para eso están, pero que el hecho de que la decisión sea difícil no significa que estén escusados de cualquier error.

No obstante, esta fue y ha sido repetidamente la actitud del ex premier británico: ni una sola vez en la noche tuvo una palabra de arrepentimiento, de autocrítica. Por el contrario, la misma soberbia de siempre: nosotros somos los que salvamos y cuidamos al mundo, los que debemos educar a las nuevas masas de jóvenes (los cambios demográficos fue uno de los temas que parecía preocuparlo especialmente) y somos tan buenos que hasta toleramos a los primitivos que no entienden lo que es una democracia. Nunca, jamás, el reconocimiento de toda la brutalidad antidemocrática de la que fueron capaces.

Ni una palabra que aceptara la posibilidad de algún error. El propio George Bush, con todas sus limitaciones intelectuales, llegó a reconocer que la guerra había sido lanzada en base a información errónea. Un error, compadre. El propio José María Azanar, con sus limitaciones intelectuales, llegó a reconocer sus limitaciones intelectuales. “Tengo el problema de no haber sido tan listo de haberlo sabido antes”, dijo en 2007 sobre los argumentos erróneos que se usaron para lanzar al mundo a una guerra de diez años.

El más dotado intelectualmente de la santísima Trinidad que desencadenó el armagedón que costó cientos de miles de vidas y el descalabro económico, Tony Blair, en cambio, nunca tuvo este atisbo de humildad. Por el contrario, más de una vez repitió esa noche que no se arrepentía de nada. Su rostro parecía estar de acuerdo con sus palabras, que nunca alcanzaron el mínimo atisbo de autocritica. Casi me daba la impresión de estar ante el Mesías, de no ser por su vocación de comediante: “Desde que dejé de ser Primer Ministro en 2007 he ido a Jerusalén más de cien veces. Mi esposa me dice que lo que cuenta no es la cantidad de veces que he estado allí sino la cantidad de progreso que haya logrado en el conflicto. A veces ella no me estimula demasiado” (risas).

Ninguna autocrítica. Ninguna palabra de arrepentimiento.  Ninguna muestra de imperfección humana. Sólo una broma tras de otra, como si en realidad de eso se tratase su trabajo: hacer reír al público, como en algunos circos del siglo XIX se hacía reír a los asistentes usando anestesia.

Es interesante que a los intelectuales disidentes se los califique invariablemente de radicales por el mero usos de palabras, mientras que a los líderes que sumergen en la guerra a pueblos enteros se los considere responsables y moderados. Seguramente la respuesta es la del comienzo: la realidad está hecha de palabras, aunque otros la sufren con los hechos. El divorcio y la contradicción entre realidad y palabra no solo es una forma de justificar los hechos pasados sino, sobre todo, la mejor forma de preparar los que vienen.

Esto, que debería llamarse dictadura, se llama democracia. El problema, entiendo, está en la democracia, pero no es la democracia. Hay esperanza: todavía se puede estimular la crítica, ese motor original de la democracia, aunque sea con abono. Tiemblo de solo pensar en el día que nos falte Noam Chomsky, ese gran amigo, ese gladiador de nuestro tiempo. Porque los Tony Blair van a sobrar. Eso es seguro.

No, Chomsky y Blair no se cruzaron en el aeropuerto de Jacksonville. Me reservo las palabras del primero sobre ese hipotético encuentro.

 

Jorge Majfud

 

Noam Chomskt e Tony Blair s’incrociano all’aeroporto

 
Giovedì, 31 ottobre, 2013 

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Di Jorge Majfud 

Lo scorso 15 ottobre, Noam Chomsky ha tenuto una conferenza intitolata “Policy and Media Prism” (La politica e il prisma mediatico) all’Università della Florida. Per più di un’ora, con il suo parlare calmo e con la sua audacia nello smembrare i racconti ufficiali, Chomsky ha analizzato l’uso del linguaggio nella stampa tradizionale, l’informazione mutilata e occultata a fini politici da parte dei media come una strategia avente il fine di creare o giustificare una realtà. “Se il pubblico fosse realmente informato non tollererebbe certe cose”, ha detto. O almeno una parte del pubblico. 

Se gli studiosi di linguistica si lamentano della complessità delle sue teorie, per quanto impenetrabili e vaghe siano alcune delle sue spiegazioni, il pubblico che assiste alle sue conferenze non può dire lo stesso:
niente in queste teorie è vago; ognuna delle sue affermazioni è concreta e precisa. Si può essere in disaccordo con l’interpretazione che Chomsky ha della realtà, però nessuno lo può accusare di essere evasivo, codardo, compiacente o diplomatico. 

Poche volte si può dire lo stesso di un leader mondiale. Le loro azioni sono ben concrete, ma le loro giustificazioni abbondano di ambiguità e leggerezza, quando non sono addirittura dei castelli di parole. 

Questa non smette di essere una tragica contraddizione: i professionisti del “concreto” sono specialisti nel creare un mondo virtuale, quasi del tutto costruito a parole. Loro sono i più importanti autori di fiction del mondo. Il 16 ottobre, esattamente 24 ore dopo e a poca distanza, l’ex Primo Ministro inglese, Tony Blair, ha tenuto la sua conferenza in una sala del Florida Times Union di Jacksonville. Il giorno prima avevo ricevuto nel mio ufficio qualcuno (un portento europeo che stimo molto e che conosce il leader britannico) con un invito speciale per assistervi. 

Era una sala elegante, Tony Blair si è dilungato per quasi due ore. A differenza di Chomsky, Blair non ha bombardato i presenti con osservazioni scomode ma con frasi prefabbricate, ossequioso e attento fino alla nausea, con un abbondanza di luoghi comuni capaci di far arrossire un adolescente. Il tutto condito da una dose tossica di barzellette, alcune molto ingegnose. 

Non ha avuto nemmeno un istante di autocritica quando qualcuno gli ha chiesto se non si sentiva umiliato per il fiasco della guerra in Iraq. Dopo averci pensato per alcuni secondi, o aver finto di pensare per le risa dei presenti, ha sciorinato il solito menù di sempre: “ci sono momenti in cui un leader deve prendere decisioni difficili….” Varie volte con parole differenti. In nessun caso ha considerato il fatto che le decisioni che deve prendere un presidente o primo ministro di una potenza mondiale sono sempre difficili, che per quello sono li, e il solo fatto che le decisioni sono difficili non significa essere scusati per qualsiasi errore. 

In ogni caso, è stato questo l’atteggiamento dell’ex premier britannico: neanche una volta nella serata ha avuto parole di pentimento, di autocritica. Anzi, la solita superbia di sempre: noi siamo quelli che salvano e proteggono il mondo, quelli che devono educare i giovani (il ricambio generazionale è stato uno dei temi che sembra preoccuparlo maggiormente) e siamo talmente umani da tollerare i più “primitivi” che ancora non capiscono cos’è la democrazia. Mai e poi mai un’osservazione su tutta la brutalità antidemocratica di cui sono stati capaci. 
Né una parola per accettare la possibilità di un qualche errore. Persino George Bush, con tutta la sua limitazione intellettuale, arrivò a riconoscere che la guerra era stata lanciata sulla base di un errore di informazione. Un errore, amico. Addirittura Josè Maria Aznar, altro limitato, arrivò a riconoscere le sue limitazioni intellettuali! “Il mio problema è di non essere stato tanto furbo da averlo saputo prima”, disse nel 2007 sugli errori d’informazione che scatenarono dieci anni di guerra. 

Il più intellettualmente dotato di quella triade che scatenò un Armageddon che costò migliaia di vittime e un disastro economico, Tony Blair, in cambio, non ha mai avuto uno scorcio di umiltà. Anzi, più di una volta quella sera ha ripetuto di non pentirsi di niente. La sua faccia sembrava essere d’accordo con le sue parole, che mai sembravano avere il minimo segnale di autocritica. Mi dava quasi l’impressione di essere davanti al Messia, se non per la sua vocazione da commediante: “Da quando nel 2007 ho smesso di essere Primo Ministro sono stato a Gerusalemme oltre cento volte. Mia moglie dice che non conta quante volte sono stato lì, ma contano la quantità di progressi che ho conseguito con la guerra. A volte lei mi stimola troppo” (risate). 

Nessuna autocritica. Nessuna parola di pentimento. Nessun segno d’imperfezione umana. Solo una barzelletta dietro l’altra, come se in realtà il suo lavoro si trattasse di questo: far ridere il pubblico, come nel 1900 quando al circo si faceva ridere la gente usando l’elio. E’ interessante come gli intellettuali dissidenti si qualifichino come radicali per il semplice uso di parole, mentre i leader che sommergono con la guerra popoli interi sono considerati responsabili e moderati. Sicuramente la risposta sta all’inizio: la realtà è fatta di parole, nonostante altri vivano di fatti. La separazione e la contraddizione tra la realtà e le parole non solo è una forma per giustificare il passato ma, soprattutto, il miglior modo per preparare il futuro. 

Questa, che dovrebbe chiamarsi dittatura, si chiama democrazia. Il problema, comunque, è nella democrazia, però non è la democrazia. C’è una speranza: tuttavia si può stimolare la critica, il motore originale della democrazia, dovunque sia. Tremo al solo pensiero di quando verrà a mancare Noam Chomsky, questo grande amico, questo gladiatore dei tempi moderni. Perché di Tony Blair ne abbiamo a sufficienza. Questo è sicuro. 

No, Chomsky e Blair non si sono incrociati all’aeroporto di Jacksonville. Ma di questo ipotetico incontro mi riservo di parlarne per primo. 

Jorge Majfud 

Traduzione per http://www.comedonchisciotte.org a cura di GIANLUCA MARTIN                                     

Practicing life

Practicing life

By Jorge Majfud

Translated by John Catalinotto. John Jay College, New York.

Not a few times I’ve heard that the disadvantage of learning a new language is that if it isn’t used, it is lost. This is technically inaccurate, since losing the ability to use knowledge does not necessarily mean that one has forgotten everything or all that is needed. In fact, the same thing happens with our own mother tongue. In our memory there are tens of thousands of words (you can check by opening a dictionary), but we use just a tiny fraction. This is just one example, since the problem is rooted not in quantity but in quality. According to some studies conducted with students in my home country, new generations of students use only 500 words, which is contradictory considering the new written media in the digital age. Contradictory, but not inexplicable: you cannot emerge unscathed from having mastered the ability to manage emoticons and other forms of intellectual poverty and laziness, so characteristic of the “click” culture.

Sure, you have to respect the changes of the new generations; a generation that doesn’t change is a lost generation. But neither can you cozy up to the younger generation, in a complicit and cowardly manner, while neglecting to point out all they have inadvertently lost because they probably never encountered it. At least until it is shown that the one old habit of reading 300 pages of antiquities (on paper, why not?) by some genius of history is a futile and anachronistic exercise. Then all worldly power will remain concentrated in the hands of those few who come from top universities, redoubts and bastions of the “old” literacy, while the rest will be limited to another traditional role: their function as consumers of novelties.

The old catchphrase of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is far more popular but no less true than its opposite: “a word is worth a thousand pictures,” and not only for abstract thought and the most profound emotions. We also see it every day in the media: images, with the false aura of objectivity, are almost always slaves of the text accompanying them, of the speech that says who is the base and who is noble in that war, in that street brawl, among those children dying of hunger. In these cases, what is bizarre is to hear: “The images speak for themselves.”

Learning is often a pleasure, but any serious learning involves a great effort. If it were not, the world would be almost perfect and no title, no recognition and probably no skill would have any social value, like a medal in an Olympic tournament that is valued for its selective discrimination. Of course not all knowledge and all skills mean a breakthrough for humanity. For example, stupidity is not innate. No one will find a stupid child two years old. That is, stupidity is also a skill that is acquired after a careful training.

Languages, then, are not the only example of something that requires care to grow and maintain itself. In the same way you learn any subject, including those that require physical training, you also can lose many skills and much knowledge when you don’t use them. The muscles of a bodybuilder deflate much more quickly than the exotic words we learn in a sightseeing trip.

I studied mathematics for many years in formal education in my country and for a few semesters I even taught math (at a time when, not without contradiction, my main job was to solve practical problems in construction projects) before leaving all of this for literature. Sure, to leave is also an imprecise verb. Everything is still there. However, my ability to solve differential or integral equations, which at one point in my life was a fascinating exercise, has significantly diminished. One day I started to refresh some of that know-how and I realized, not without difficulty, that the high-walled city had not disappeared, it was somewhere in my memory, but a little bit buried, or maybe more so. Or maybe that this ability that formerly served to solve the equations or structural calculations that computers now do, is dedicated now to influencing my life in some other unsuspected form.

Either way, we know that the same thing happens to an athlete. The brain is, after all, a muscle, a greasy muscle that consumes almost one third of the total body oxygen. We do not know if it’s there that the spirit,  the soul and all emotional activity lie, along with the intellect, but it is surely the central station of all these life experiences.

The game of profit and loss also occurs with the most complex feelings and emotions and with the most basic and elemental ones like love and hate, sadness and happiness.

Once a teacher friend in the United States saw that I was worried and when I told him my vague reasons (the world, my own uncertainties about the future) he warned me about the following: you always have problems and, of course, it’s best to take them seriously and solve them. For a problem there is nothing better than a solution. But then, if you live in a constant state of worry or unhappiness, even when you’ve solved those problems that were troubling you, you will fail to notice what has been done or, worse, you will be unable to be reasonably happy, because you will have lost the training or wisdom needed to reach that state. You learn to be unhappy and then, as with a mother-tongue, it is more difficult to lose that perspective. Still, no learning is irreversible.

If you do not practice certain feelings, you lose them. It is possible to recover them, however. Sure, it is easier to understand this intellectually than to do it. But understanding is almost always the first step.

Keeping memory (and now also intelligence) in hand, is not something that will go unnoticed by the intellectual muscle, just as it would not pass unnoticed if a tennis champion should replace the traditional court and racket with a PlayStation. While universities manage robots that look more and more like human beings, not only for their intelligence but now also for their ability to express and react to emotions, our habits as consumers are making us more and more similar to the robots.

That is, not only are the unused language skills being lost, the basic skills that make us human beings face the same fate. In the first case it is obvious because there’s always a language from which to observe the loss, in the other it’s not so obvious, because once you lose the human condition you can no longer notice it, just as a robot cannot really see that it really is not a human being, no matter what it says, thinks or feels.

Jorge Majfud

majfud.org

Why Culture Matters

Tomb of Ahmad al-Mansur

Image by Sheriff of Nothing via Flickr

 

Why Culture Matters

 

In September of 2006, in Lewisburg, Tennessee, a neighborhood group protested because the public library was investing resources in the purchase of books in Spanish.  Of the sixty thousand volumes, only one thousand were published in a language other than English.  The annual budget, totalling thirteen thousand dollars, dedicates the sum of one hundred and thirty dollars to the purchase of books in Spanish. The buying spree representing one percent of the budget enraged some of the citizens of Tennessee, causing them to take the issue to the authorities, arguing that a public service, sustained through taxes charged to the U.S. populace, should not promote something that might benefit illegal workers.

 

Thus, the new conception of culture surpasses that distant precept of the ancient library of Alexandria.  That now almost completely forgotten library achieved the height of its development in second century Egypt.  Its backward administrators had the custom of periodically sending investigators throughout the world in order to acquire copies of texts from the most distant cultures.  Among its volumes there were copies of Greek, Persian, Indian, Hebrew and African texts.  Almost all of those decades-long efforts were abruptly brought to an end, thanks to a fire caused by the enlightene ships of the emperor Julius Caesar.  Nearly a thousand years later, another deliberately-set fire destroyed the similarly celebrated library of Córdoba, founded by the caliph Al-Hakam (creator of the University and of free education), where the passion for knowledge brought together Jews, Christians and Arabs with texts from the most diverse cultures known in the period.  Also in this period, the Spanish caliphs were in the habit of dispatching seekers throughout the world in order to expand the library’s collection of foreign books.  This library was also destroyed by a fanatic, al-Mansur, in the name of Islam, according to his own interpretation of the common good and superior morality.

 

The Tennessee anecdote represents a minority in a vast and heterogeneous country.  But it remains significant and concerning, like a sneeze on a passenger train.  Also significant is the idea, assumed there, that the Spanish language is a foreign language, when any half-way educated person knows that before English it was Spanish that was spoken in what today is the United States; that Spanish has been there, in many states of the Union for more than four hundred years; that Spanish and Latino culture are neither foreign nor an insignificant minority: more than forty million “Hispanics” live in the United States and the number of Spanish-speakers in the country is roughly equivalent to the number of Spanish speakers living in Spain.  If those who become nervous because of the presence of that “new culture” had the slightest historical awareness, they would neither be nervous nor consider their neighbors to be dangerous foreigners.  The only thing that historically has always been dangerous is ignorance, which is why the promotion of ignorance can hardly be considered synonymous with security and progress – even by association, as with the reigning method of propaganda, which consists of associating cars with women, tomatoes with civil rights, the victory of force with proof of the Truth or a million dollars with Paradise.

 

Translated by Bruce Campbell

 

Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia, October 2006.

 

 

Estudiar idiomas rejuvenece el cerebro (entre otras cosas)

Old stories

Image by Celeste via Flickr

2 languages make your brain buff

If you had any doubts about exposing your child – or yourself – to a foreign language, there’s more evidence than ever that being bilingual has enormous benefits for your brain.

Scientists presented their research supporting this idea Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

As the human body begins its natural decline in old age, bilinguals seem to maintain better cognitive function, said Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto, Ontario. This is the case even for people with dementia. Bialystok and colleagues have studied many Alzheimer’s patients, both monolinguals and bilinguals. They found that bilinguals were on average four to five years older than monolinguals at comparable points of neurological impairment.

Once Alzheimer’s disease begins to compromise the brain, it appears that bilinguals can continue to function even though there’s damaged tissue, she said.

So what’s going on? One theory is that language learning is an example of “cognitive reserve.” It something that keeps the mind active in the same way as puzzles and games do, and works toward compensating for the build-up of dementia-causing pathology in the brain, Bialystok said.

In terms of starting language learning in middle or old age, the likelihood of becoming truly fluent in a new tongue is low, but it seems that every little bit helps in preventing cognitive decline, she said. And proficiency may be more important than age of acquisition, said Judith Kroll, researcher at Pennsylvania State University, before the conference.

Bilinguals are also better than monolinguals at multitasking, Kroll said. Juggling their languages helps bilinguals ignore irrelevant information and prioritize tasks better than those who only can only speak on tongue, she has found in her research. That makes sense considering that when a bilingual person speaks one language, the other language is still potentially active. That means that speakers of two languages are constantly inhibiting one language in favor of another, which perhaps enhances their overall attentional skills.

Why is it so hard for adults to learn a new language, compared with kids? The answer might not lie entirely in the brain. The social, educational, and other circumstantial conditions are different when an adult gets exposure to language, Bialystok said. As a child, learning a language is pretty much all you do. Adults can’t devote as much time or attention to the experience of picking up a new tongue.

“It’s a change we can deal with as adults if there’s sufficient time and opportunity,” she said.

Are there any downsides to being bilingual? Babies exposed to two languages throughout pregnancy, or who hear two languages in their first days of life, don’t confuse their languages, said Janet Weker of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The scientific evidence suggests bilingual and monolingual kids have similar language development milestones; it appears that children learning two languages do not experience delays in this regard generally.

There is, however, some research suggesting that the competition that’s produced by this mental juggling may introduce a delay in processing. But it’s so small that it’s not something that would be noticeable consciously, Kroll said. It appears that the benefits of being bilingual outweigh the costs.

What are you waiting for? Check out these resources for learning a new language online.

CNN.com (Feb. 22, 2011)


The official word: criminalize the victim

De mestizo e india, sale coiote (From a Mestiz...

Image via Wikipedia

The official word: criminalize the victim


By Jorge Majfud

Translated by Tony R. Barret

Few weeks ago, just as in the last few centuries, the land claims of rural workers have been brought back up in several spots of Latin America. If it is really true that our own 21st century cannot base its economies exclusively in small farms, it isn’t less true that economic disenfranchisement is still an urgent popular cause in any social or historical progress. I could very well say that that the old Latin American cause didn’t exist in the United States, the paradigm of economic development, etc. But the answer is quite easy: in the United States there were no farm movements nor “liberation movements” because this country wasn’t founded upon the estates of an aristocratic society, as in Latin America, but rather upon an initial distribution infinitely more equitable of colonists that worked for themselves and not for the King or the landholder.

It’s not by chance that the founders of the original United States considered themselves successful in their anti-imperialist, populist, and radically revolutionary projects, whereas our Latin American leaders died embittered when not in exile. As the caudillos of that day used to say, “the laws are respected but not enforced.” And so we had republican and egalitarian constitutions, almost always copies of the American one but with a different twist: reality contradicted them.

In Latin America, we were the laughingstock of a discussion that wasn’t even applied in the developed centers of the world, but rather catered to the creole oligarchy. So violent was this moralization that when the Bolivian and Peruvian Indians systematically burned out at age 30 because of the animal jobs they had to do, sometimes with another’s pride and almost always with self-reluctance, they were unfailingly called “bums” or “idiots.”

That feudal system (typical of so many Latin American countries that included pawns for free almost, or the “pongueo” system that impeded farming and industrial development) existed in the southern United States. But it was defeated by the progressivist forces of the North. Not in Latin America. This structure of our continent, vertical and aristocratic, served up its own self-exploitation and its own underdevelopment and benefited the world powers taking their turns, who were not foolish enough to sustain moralist discourses about the old aristocracy. Meanwhile, our “heroic” oligarchy squandered the demoralizing debate toward those who claimed more social and economic equity. According to this discourse accepted unanimously by the slaves themselves, those who were opposed to the landholding estate Order were idlers that wanted to live off the State, as if the oligarchy didn’t help itself to the violence of this State to sustain its privileges and interests, almost always supporting dictatorships on call that they meaningfully called “saviors” and then they “combated” in the discourse to present themselves as the eternal “saviors of the country” and to reinstall the same aristocratic status quo, the very reason for the historical setbacks of our societies. Thus, business was twofold but insatisfaction was also twofold: both those at the bottom and those at the top agreed on something: “things in this country don’t work” or “no one can save this country, etc.” But on reforms, nothing.

Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia, March 2007

Translator: Tony R. Barrett

The Original Frustration

A printed circuit board inside a mobile phone

Image via Wikipedia

La frustración original (Spanish)

The Original Frustration

Jorge Majfud

Lincoln University

 

There are at least three dreams that were persistent from my childhood: in the first one I would try desperately to say something, but I would open my mouth and the words would not come out; in the second one I would try to walk and even though I would lean exaggeratedly forward my legs would not respond in a coordinated way; in the third one I could talk and walk, but the central theme was an endless flight, a mixture of fear and pleasure from escaping the aggression of a mob of people, probably representatives of the law, who did not understand my arguments of innocence. Looking back, I see that this last theme of the series is also central to my three novels. In all of them there is some kind of enclosed space and someone imagining exits. But now I am interested in outlining the problem of the first dream.

My son just turned one year old and in this time of close living I have been recognizing those obsessive dreams, my first frustrations, in his. By helping him to walk I have re-lived my own frustrated desire to do so harmoniously. Certain vertigo panics, falls, his body exaggeratedly leaning forward to aid in producing a step that is not produced, hands and feet that don’t respond the way we want. But without doubt the greatest frustration for this little one, like my own and – I suppose – like the frustration of women and men throughout history, is the precariousness of communication. During the entire first year of life, a person only has one sign for expressing what is most important: crying. Even with all it possible variations, for two adults who have forgotten that first metaphysical language, it is always the same or almost the same crying. A cry to say that they are hungry, to ask for water, to say that they are ready to sleep, to say that the stomach hurts, or the head, the teeth, or the hands those teeth have bitten, to say that they are hot or cold, to say they have a fever or don’t know what they have. Only one sign to say they are frustrated because only one sign is not sufficient for so much emotional complexity. Little by little laughter is incorporated, first as an expression of joy and later, likely, as a self-interested sign of complicity. The game with a little baseball that the child throws from his crib and bursts with laughter – one of his first belly laughs – when he discovers that he can share with his father or his mother a couple of basic rules, becomes a fact of communication. The ball (the tool, the dendrites and axones) is like a new word that is integrated to a new language, the rules of the game. Mere ludic pleasure cannot explain that shout of satisfaction. That fullness that he did not encounter playing alone, signifies the phenomenon of having created or discovered another form of communication, of liberation from his own limits. What else is culture but the radicalization of this attempt at liberation of the individual that often ends in the oppression of oneself or others? The little one has discovered a secret that he projects beyond the fundamental frustration, suspending it in the game. But in the most intense moments of his life, crying remains the principal sign, like an indiscriminate and simultaneous mixture of all words and all languages. In his adult life, like all of us, he will be obligated to make much use of laughter and smiling. In almost every photograph he will be obligated to smile, to demonstrate that he is happy even though he is not; he will repress the crying and, as in childhood, he will reserve it only for certain intense moments of his life, which we all hope will be as few as possible.

Somehow the child’s communication is produced, but the frustration is a perhaps indelible experience, and perhaps the first of all frustrations in life and the frustration that unleashes all the rest: language, writing, the building of bridges, houses, automobiles, political speeches, crimes of passion, declarations of love. Now, how is this communication anxiety reproduced in society? Does some relationship exist between the development of an individual and the development of history? We can sustain the hypothesis that communication in our global world expresses a need for survival as ancient as the invention of writing in Sumeria or of the signs and myths in the Paleolithic period. But this functional necessity is also the reflection of a psychological fixation, product of the “original frustration” of communication. Most, if not all, religious texts, aside from the particular ideological interests of the moment, in general structure their narration of human history as the consequence of the lack of communication of the Father. Nevertheless, the theological reading of each group in power will interpret this human condition as simple disobedience, not only because this can be a sensible theological interpretation for a God like the Judeo-Islamo-Christian God but rather, above all, because it is a convenient interpretation for those who narrate from within a space of social power. Thus, “wanting to know” and “sin of disobedience” have been linked recurrently from the cosmogonic myths to the most sophisticated political myths.

What proportion of the hours of cellular telephone use, e-mail or any other public activity is strictly necessary in its production and reproduction function? Perhaps a negligible part. Most of the time we dedicate to communicating for the exercise of communication itself. Communication forms part of our “inter-ego,” the we that is never fully achieved. In some cases, as in the present historical moment, it would appear that the main obsession is not rooted so much in communication as a medium but as an end: the frustration resulting from the unspoken word translates into an interminable monologue. On occasions, when two people speak by telephone, in essence they effect the superimposition of two monologues. In the monologue, the individual expects the satisfaction of being listened to and satisfied. Listening is not as important as being listened to; in a blog, in a forum of discussion, reading is not as important as being read, which is demonstrated by the immediate opinion of the reader who didn’t complete the reading of the article under discussion. In any case the attention paid by the alienated individual to the other is a social requirement in order to be listened to, in order to be on display in a progressively narcissistic culture. As with a domestic argument, where communication is equally frustrated, as with the child’s crying: what is important is not to listen but to be listened to, to make one’s own arguments prevail. But both dialectical contestants attempt the same thing, the only mutually shared thing is frustration, if not the illusion of a frustrated communication.

Perhaps this phenomenon is a logical reaction against the previous culture, where for centuries one listened to and read infinitely more of what was written or asserted as anti-establishment opinion. With the new cultural and technological tendency, the proportion has been altered in such a way that one might say, exaggerating slightly, that today more is written than what is read, more opinion is expressed than what is listened to, researched and analyzed. Looking at this model, it would not be absurd to imagine another swing of the pendulum, product of a maturation of a culture that might cease to view the new technologies as toys and begin to see them as tools of its own liberation.

It is likely that we are in a stage of history where we have already learned to speak but not yet to communicate. And our arguments fall into the nothingness, which obliges us to flee endlessly. It is likely that the slogans on the T-shirts, with which we believe we express our social ideas in three or four words – or those thoughts and emotions pre-fabricated by Microsoft – are nothing more than that mute cry that others hear by don’t know how to interpret correctly. Is it likely that the eternal and feverish political and religious proselytism is the fiercest expression of this cry?

If the desire for justice proceeds from this frustration of communication, what role does power play in this relationship? Perhaps silence is the form that social power has – the blind voice of the father, of the older brother –of resolving the lack of communication by force, radicalizing it, alienating individuals in a nature deceptively balanced and in peace. And this reaction, that of imposed silence, is new fuel on the fire of the original frustration of the failed communication and of desire, frequently violent, for justice on the part of the one held incomunicado.

 

Translated by Bruce Campbell

 

Ο δεκάλογος κατά του ανθρωπισμού

Painting "Humanism and the Technology"

Image via Wikipedia

Diez azotes contra el humanismo (Spanish)

Monthly Review
MR II

Ο δεκάλογος κατά του ανθρωπισμού

Translated by Eleni Alexopoulou

του ΧΟΡΧΕ ΜΑΧΦΟΥΝΤ*
Χόρχε Μαχφούντ
Τεύχος Νο 30
Αρχική Δημοσίευση: MRZine, 6 Μαρτίου 2007

Μετάφραση: Νίκος Παπαπολύζος

Μια δευτερεύουσα παράδοση στη συντηρητική σκέψη είναι ο ορισμός του διαλεκτικού αντιπάλου ως πνευματικά ανεπαρκούς και ηθικά επιλήψιμου. Καθώς αυτό ποτέ δεν συγκροτεί επιχείρημα, το ξέσπασμα συγκαλύπτεται από κάποια ανακόλουθη και ταυτολογική συλλογιστική, ίδιον της μεταμοντέρνας σκέψης στην πολιτική προπαγάνδα. Δεν είναι τυχαίο που στη Λατινική Αμερική άλλοι συγγραφείς αναπαράγουν το παράδειγμα των ΗΠΑ με βιβλία όπως το Manual del perfecto idiota latinoamericano [Εγχειρίδιο για τον τέλειο Λατινοαμερικανό ηλίθιο] (1996) ή καταρτίζοντας λίστες σχετικά με τους «Los diez estúpidos más estúpidos de América Latina» [Οι δέκα πιο βλάκες από τους βλάκες της Λατινικής Αμερικής]. Λίστες που συνήθως έχουν στην κορυφή τον φίλο μας, τον φοίνικα Εντουάρδο Γκαλεάνο, ο οποίος απαντά με αβρή αδιαφορία• τον έχουν σκοτώσει τόσες πολλές φορές που έχει συνηθίσει να ξαναγεννιέται.

Κατά κανόνα, οι λίστες των δέκα βλακωδέστερων ανθρώπων στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες τείνουν να φιλοξενούν στην κορυφή διανοούμενους. Η εξήγηση για αυτή την ιδιοτυπία δόθηκε κάμποσο καιρό πριν από έναν αξιωματικό του στρατού της τελευταίας αργεντινής δικτατορίας (1976–1983), ο οποίος παραπονέθηκε στις τηλεοπτικές κάμερες για τους διαδηλωτές που έκαναν πορεία στους δρόμους του Μπουένος Άιρες: «Δεν υποπτεύομαι τους εργαζόμενους, γιατί είναι πάντα απασχολημένοι με τη δουλειά τους. Υποπτεύομαι τους φοιτητές γιατί, έχοντας τόσο πολύ ελεύθερο χρόνο, τον καταναλώνουν στη σκέψη. Και όπως γνωρίζετε, κε δημοσιογράφε, η υπερβολική σκέψη είναι επικίνδυνη». Κάτι που ήταν συνεπές προς το προηγούμενο εγχείρημα του στρατηγού Ονγκανία[1] (1966–1970): την εκδίωξη όλων των διανοουμένων ώστε να λυθούν τα προβλήματα της Αργεντινής.

Σχετικά πρόσφατα, ο Νταγκ Χάγκιν, στο διάσημο τηλεοπτικό πρόγραμμα Dave’s Top Ten, παρασκεύασε τη δική του λίστα των Δέκα Πιο Βλακωδών Αριστερών Ιδεωδών. Αν προσπαθήσουμε να δούμε το πρόβλημα χωρίς την απλούστευση που προσφέρει η πολιτική ετικέτα, θα αντιληφθούμε ότι κάθε κατηγορία ενάντια στους λεγόμενους αριστερούς των ΗΠΑ στην πραγματικότητα αποτελεί επίθεση σε διάφορες ανθρωπιστικές αρχές.

10. Περιβαλλοντισμός.

Σύμφωνα με τον συγγραφέα, οι αριστεροί δεν σταματούν σε ένα λογικό επίπεδο προστασίας του περιβάλλοντος.

Προφανώς ο ορισμός του τι είναι ή δεν είναι λογικό εξαρτάται από τα οικονομικά συμφέροντα της στιγμής. Όπως κάθε συντηρητικός, ασπάζεται την ιδέα ότι η θεωρία της παγκόσμιας υπερθέρμανσης είναι μόνο μια θεωρία, όπως η θεωρία της εξέλιξης: δεν υπάρχουν αποδείξεις ότι ο Θεός δεν δημιούργησε τους σκελετούς των δεινοσαύρων και των άλλων ειδών και μετά τους σκόρπισε τριγύρω, απλά για να συγχύσει τους επιστήμονες και να δοκιμάσει την πίστη τους. Η συντηρητική νοοτροπία, ηρωικά αμετακίνητη, αδυνατεί να φανταστεί ότι οι ωκεανοί μπορεί να υπόκεινται στην εξέλιξη, πέρα από ένα λογικό επίπεδο.

9. Για να μεγαλώσεις ένα παιδί χρειάζεσαι μια κοινότητα.

Ο συγγραφέας το αρνείται: το πρόβλημα είναι ότι οι αριστεροί πάντοτε σκέφτονταν συλλογικά. Εφόσον δεν πιστεύουν στον ατομικισμό, θεωρούν ότι η εκπαίδευση των παιδιών πρέπει να λαμβάνει χώρα μέσα στην κοινωνία.

Αντιθέτως, η αντιδραστική σκέψη πιστεύει περισσότερο στη μονάδα, στον κοινωνικό αυτισμό, παρά στον ύποπτο ανθρωπισμό. Κατά το σκεπτικό μεσαιωνικού αριστοκράτη, ένας πλούσιος άνθρωπος μπορεί να είναι πλούσιος εν μέσω εξαθλίωσης, ένα παιδί μπορεί να γίνει ηθικός άνθρωπος και να εισέλθει στον παράδεισο χωρίς να μολυνθεί από τις αμαρτίες της κοινωνίας. Η κοινωνία, οι μάζες, χρησιμεύουν μόνο για να επιτρέψουν στον ηθικό άνθρωπο να επιδείξει τη συμπόνια του δωρίζοντας στους έχοντες ανάγκη αυτά που του περίσσεψαν – αφαιρώντας τα από τους φόρους του.

8. Τα παιδιά δεν μπορούν να χειριστούν το στρες. Εξού και δεν πρέπει να τα διορθώνουν οι δάσκαλοι με κόκκινο μελάνι, ή δεν πρέπει να έρχονται αντιμέτωπα με τις ωμότητες της ιστορίας.

Ο συγγραφέας σωστά παρατηρεί ότι το να δουν κάτι δυσάρεστο ως νήπια προετοιμάζει τα παιδιά για ένα κόσμο που δεν είναι ευχάριστος. Παρ’ όλα αυτά, κάποιοι συμπονετικοί συντηρητικοί υπερβάλλουν λίγο όταν ντύνουν τα παιδιά τους με στρατιωτικές στολές και τους δίνουν παιχνίδια που, αν και ρίχνουν μόνο ακτίνες λέιζερ, μοιάζουν πάρα πολύ με όπλα ακτίνων λέιζερ που ρίχνουν άλλου είδους βλήματα σε παρόμοιους στόχους (και σε μαύρους ανθρώπους).
7. Ο ανταγωνισμός είναι κακός.

Για τον συγγραφέα, όχι: το γεγονός ότι κάποιοι κερδίζουν σημαίνει ότι άλλοι χάνουν, όμως αυτή η δυναμική μάς οδηγεί στη μεγαλοσύνη.

Δεν εξηγεί κατά πόσο υφίσταται εδώ το «λογικό όριο» για το οποίο μίλησε πριν, ή κατά πόσο αναφέρεται στη μισητή ιστορία της εξέλιξης, που θέλει τον ισχυρότερο να επιβιώνει στον πρωτόγονο κόσμο. Ούτε και ξεκαθαρίζει σε ποια μεγαλοσύνη αναφέρεται – σε αυτή του σκλάβου στην ευημερούσα βαμβακοφυτεία ή στο μέγεθος της φυτείας; Δεν λαμβάνει υπόψη, φυσικά, κανένα είδος κοινωνίας που να βασίζεται στην αλληλεγγύη, να έχει απελευθερωθεί από τη νεύρωση του ανταγωνισμού.

6. Η υγεία είναι δικαίωμα του πολίτη.

Όχι για τον συγγραφέα: η υγεία αποτελεί προσωπική ευθύνη.

Σε αυτό το επιχείρημα αρέσκονται όσοι αρνούνται την ανάγκη για καθολικό σύστημα υγείας, αλλά την ίδια στιγμή δεν προτείνουν ιδιωτικοποίηση της αστυνομίας και ακόμη περισσότερο του στρατού. Κανείς δεν πληρώνει την αστυνομία μόλις καλέσει το 100, κάτι που είναι λογικό. Αν κάποιος μας επιτεθεί και μας πυροβολήσει στο κεφάλι, δεν θα πληρώσουμε τίποτα για τη σύλληψή του, όμως αν είμαστε φτωχοί, και θέλουμε οι γιατροί να μας σώσουν τη ζωή, θα καταλήξουμε χρεοκοπημένοι. Συμπεραίνει κανείς ότι, σύμφωνα με αυτή τη λογική, ένας κλέφτης που ληστεύει ένα σπίτι αντιπροσωπεύει μια κοινωνική ασθένεια, αλλά μια επιδημία δεν είναι τίποτα περισσότερο από ένα μάτσο ανεύθυνα άτομα που δεν επηρεάζουν την υπόλοιπη κοινωνία. Ποτέ βεβαίως δεν λαμβάνεται υπόψη ότι η συλλογική αλληλεγγύη είναι μια από τις υψηλότερες μορφές ατομικής ευθύνης.

5. Ο πλούτος είναι βδέλυγμα.

Σύμφωνα με τον συγγραφέα, οι αριστεροί θέλουν να ποινικοποιήσουν την επιτυχία των πλουσίων και να τους επιβάλουν φόρους, ούτως ώστε να δώσουν τον πλούτο τους στην ομοσπονδιακή κυβέρνηση για να τον χρησιμοποιήσει ανεύθυνα, βοηθώντας αυτούς που δεν είναι τόσο επιτυχημένοι.

Με άλλα λόγια, οι εργαζόμενοι οφείλουν το καθημερινό ψωμί τους στους πλούσιους. Το να κερδίζεις τα προς το ζην με τον ιδρώτα του προσώπου σου είναι η τιμωρία σου από αυτούς τους επιτυχημένους ανθρώπους που δεν έχουν ανάγκη να εργαστούν. Υπάρχει λόγος που η σωματική ομορφιά έχει ιστορικά συσχετιστεί με τις μεταβαλλόμενες, αλλά πάντοτε νωχελικές, συνήθειες της αριστοκρατίας. Υπάρχει λόγος που στον ευτυχισμένο κόσμο του Ουώλτ Ντίσνεϋ δεν υπάρχουν εργαζόμενοι. Η ευτυχία είναι κρυμμένη σε κάποιο σεντούκι με χρυσά νομίσματα. Για τον ίδιο λόγο, είναι αναγκαίο να μην χαραμίζονται λεφτά από φόρους στην εκπαίδευση και την υγεία. Τα εκατομμύρια που ξοδεύονται σε στρατούς ανά τον κόσμο δεν μας προβληματίζουν επειδή αποτελούν μέρος των επενδύσεων που τα κράτη κάνουν με υπευθυνότητα, για να διατηρήσουν την επιτυχία των πλουσίων και το όνειρο των φτωχών για δόξα.

4. Υπάρχει αχαλίνωτος ρατσισμός που θα διορθωθεί μόνο με την ανεκτικότητα.

Όχι: οι αριστεροί βλέπουν τις φυλετικές σχέσεις μέσα από το πρίσμα του πεσιμισμού. Όμως το θέμα της φυλής δεν απασχολεί τους περισσότερους από εμάς, απασχολεί μόνον εκείνους.

Σαν να λέμε δηλαδή, όπως με το εφεύρημα της παγκόσμιας υπερθέρμανσης, ότι αν ένας συντηρητικός δεν έχει στο μυαλό του κάτι ή κάποιον, αυτό το κάτι ή ο κάποιος δεν υπάρχουν. Οι Δε Λας Κάσας, Λίνκολν και Μάρτιν Λούθερ Κινγκ πολέμησαν ενάντια στο ρατσισμό γιατί ήταν αδαείς. Αν οι ανθρωπιστές σταματούσαν να σκέφτονται τον κόσμο θα ήμασταν ευτυχέστεροι, επειδή ο πόνος των άλλων δεν θα υπήρχε, ούτε θα υπήρχαν άκαρδοι ληστές που κλέβουν από τους συμπονετικούς πλούσιους.

3. Έκτρωση.

Για να αποφύγουν την προσωπική ευθύνη, οι αριστεροί υποστηρίζουν την ιδέα της φόνευσης του αγέννητου.

Ο μαζικός φόνος των ήδη γεννημένων αποτελεί επίσης μέρος της ατομικής ευθύνης, σύμφωνα με την τηλεοπτικά μεταδιδόμενη δεξιά σκέψη, αν και κάποιες φορές αποκαλείται ηρωισμός και πατριωτισμός. Μόνο όταν ωφελεί το σπίτι μας. Αν κάνουμε λάθος που καταπιέζουμε ένα λαό, αποφεύγουμε την ευθύνη μιλώντας για την έκτρωση. Ένα διπλό ηθικό παζάρι, βασισμένο σε ηθική δύο μέτρων και δύο σταθμών.

2. Τα όπλα είναι φαύλα.

Οι αριστεροί μισούν τα όπλα και μισούν όσους θέλουν να αυτοπροστατευθούν. Σε αντίθεση, οι αριστεροί πιστεύουν ότι αυτή την προστασία θα έπρεπε να την παρέχει το κράτος. Και πάλι, δεν θέλουν να αναλάβουν ευθύνη για τον εαυτό τους.

Σαν να λέμε, οι βιαιοπραγούντες, οι ανήλικοι συμμορίτες, οι μαθητές που πυροβολούν στα λύκεια, οι έμποροι ναρκωτικών και οι λοιποί γκάγκστερ ασκούν το δικαίωμά τους να υπερασπίζονται το συμφέρον τους, το ατομικό και επιχειρηματικό. Κανείς άλλωστε δεν αμφισβητεί το κράτος και δεν πιστεύει στη δική του ευθύνη περισσότερο από αυτούς. Εξυπακούεται λοιπόν ότι οι στρατοί, σύμφωνα με το παραπάνω σκεπτικό, αποτελούν το βασικό στοιχείο της υπεύθυνης άμυνας που διεξάγεται από το ανεύθυνο κράτος.

1. Ο κατευνασμός του κακού εξασφαλίζει την ειρήνη.

Οι αριστεροί πάντοτε θέλησαν να κατευνάσουν τους Ναζί, τους δικτάτορες και τους τρομοκράτες.

Η σοφία του συγγραφέα δεν φτάνει στο σημείο να λάβει υπόψη ότι πολλοί αριστεροί ήταν συνειδητά υπέρ της βίας, και ως παράδειγμα θα αρκούσε να θυμηθούμε τον Ερνέστο Τσε Γκεβάρα – μολονότι αντιπροσωπεύει τη βία του σκλάβου μάλλον, παρά του αφέντη. Είναι αλήθεια, οι συντηρητικοί δεν έχουν κατευνάσει δικτάτορες: στη Λατινική Αμερική τουλάχιστον, τους εξέθρεψαν. Στην τελική, οι δικτάτορες υπήρξαν πάντοτε φίλοι των όπλων και μάλιστα έκλειναν πολύ καλές συμφωνίες στο όνομα της ασφάλειας. Οι Ναζί, οι δικτάτορες και οι τρομοκράτες κάθε είδους, έτσι όπως ρέπουν προς την ιδεολογική υπεραπλούστευση, θα συμφωνούσαν επίσης με το τελευταίο κομμάτι στη συλλογιστική της λίστας: «Οι αριστεροί δεν καταλαβαίνουν ότι κάποιες φορές η βία είναι η μόνη λύση. Το Κακό υπάρχει και πρέπει να εξαρθρωθεί». Και, τέλος: «Θα το σκοτώσουμε [το Κακό], ή αυτό θα σκοτώσει εμάς, είναι τόσο απλό. Θα σκοτώσουμε το Κακό, ή το Κακό θα σκοτώσει εμάς. Το μόνο πράγμα που είναι πιο απλουστευτικό από αυτό είναι η αριστερή σκέψη».

Άμπρα κατάμπρα!

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* Ο Χόρχε Μαχφούντ γεννήθηκε στο Τακουαρεμπό της Ουρουγουάης το 1969. Διδάσκει λατινοαμερικανική λογοτεχνία στο Πανεπιστήμιο της Τζώρτζια. Έχει επισκεφτεί περισσότερες από σαράντα χώρες, και οι ταξιδιωτικές του εντυπώσεις περιλήφθηκαν στα μυθιστορήματα και τα δοκίμιά του. Έχει εκδώσει, μεταξύ άλλων, τα μυθιστορήματα Hacia qué patrias del silencio (memorias de un desaparecido) (1996), La reina de América (2002) και Perdona nuestros pecados (2007), καθώς και τα δοκίμια Crítica de la pasión pura (1998). Έργα του έχουν μεταφραστεί στα αγγλικά και τα πορτογαλικά. Ιστορίες και άρθρα του έχουν κυκλοφορήσει σε διάφορες εφημερίδες και περιοδικά όπως οι El País και La República του Μοντεβιδέο, Página/12 του Μπουένος Άιρες, Milenio του Μεξικού καθώς και τα Rebelión και Hispanic Culture Review του Πανεπιστημίου George Mason. Είναι ιδρυτής και εκδότης του περιοδικού SigloXXI – reflexiones sobre nuestro tiempo, και τακτικός συνεργάτης της εβδομαδιαίας έκδοσης της República, Bitácora.

[1] Στις 29 Ιουλίου 1966, κατόπιν διαταγών του δικτάτορα μόλις από την προηγουμένη Juan Carlos Onganía, η αστυνομία εισέβαλε στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Μπουένος Άιρες, ξυλοκόπησε και συνέλαβε τους ενάντιους στη δικτατορία φοιτητές και καθηγητές, και κατέστρεψε εργαστήρια και βιβλιοθήκες. Η πανεπιστημιακή αυτονομία καταλύθηκε και πάρα πολλοί καθηγητές απολύθηκαν ή αυτοεξορίστηκαν. Το περιστατικό είναι γνωστό ως «νύχτα των κλομπ» (La Noche de los Bastones Largos). (Σ.τ.Ε.)