If Latin America Had Been a British Enterprise

His family was originally from Serantes, Ferro...

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Si América Latina hubiese sido una empresa inglesa (Spanish)

If Latin America Had Been a British Enterprise

Jorge Majfud

In the process of conducting a recent study at the University of Georgia, a female student interviewed a young Colombian woman and tape recorded the interview.  The young woman commented on her experience in England and how  the British were interested in knowing the reality of Colombia.  After she detailed the problems that her country had, one Englishman observed the paradox that England, despite being smaller and possessing fewer natural resources, was much wealthier than Colombia.  His conclusion was cutting:  “If England had managed Colombia like a business, Colombians today would be much richer.”

The Colombian youth admitted her irritation, because the comment was intended to point out  just how incapable we are in Latin America.  The lucid maturity of the young Colombian woman was evident in the course of the interview, but in that moment she could not find the words to respond to the son of the old empire.  The heat of the moment, the audacity of those British kept her from remembering that in many respects Latin America had indeed been managed like a British enterprise and that, therefore, the idea was not only far from original but, also, was part of the reason that Latin America was so poor – with the caveat that poverty is a scarcity of capital and not of historical consciousness.

Agreed: three hundred years of monopolistic, retrograde and frequently cruel colonization has weighed heavily upon the Latin American continent, and consolidated in the spirit of our nations an oppositional psychology with respect to social and political legitimation (Alberto Montaner called that cultural trait “the suspicious original legitimacy of power”).  Following the Semi-independences of the 19th century, the “progress” of the British railroad system was not only a kind of gilded cage – in the words of Eduardo Galeano -, a strait-jacket for native Latin American development, but we can see something similar in Africa: in Mozambique, for example, a country that extends North-to-South, the roads cut across it from East-to-West.  The British Empire was thus able to extract the wealth of its central colonies by passing through the Portuguese colony.  In Latin America we can still see the networks of asphalt and steel flowing together toward the ports – old bastions of the Spanish colonies that native rebels contemplated with infinite rancor from the heights of the savage sierras, and which the large land owners saw as the maximum progress possible for countries that were backward by “nature.”

Obviously, these observations do not exempt us, the Latin Americans, from assuming our own responsibilities.  We are conditioned by an economic infrastructure, but not determined by it, just as an adult is not tied irremediably to the traumas of childhood.  Certainly we must confront these days other kinds of strait-jackets, conditioning imposed on us from outside and from within, by the inevitable thirst for dominance of world powers who refuse strategic change, on the one hand, and frequently by our own culture of immobility, on the other.  For the former it is necessary to lose our innocence; for the latter we need the courage to criticize ourselves, to change ourselves and to change the world.

Translated by Bruce Campbell

* Jorge Majfud is a Uruguayan writer and professor of Latin American literature at the University of Georgia.

The Fall of an Empire

Bartolome de las casas

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Cómo se derrumba un imperio (Spanish)

The Fall of an Empire

Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia

The same day that Christopher Columbus left the port of Palos, the third of August of 1492, was the deadline for the Jews of Spain to leave their country, Spain.  In the admiral’s mind there were at least two powerful goals, two irrefutable truths: the material riches of Asia and the perfect religion of Europe.  With the former he intended to finance the reconquest of Jerusalem; with the latter he would legitimate the looting.  The word “oro,” Spanish for “gold,” spilled from his pen in the same way the divine and bloody metal spilled from the ships of the conquistadors who followed him.  That same year, the second of January of 1492, Granada had fallen, the last Arab bastion on the Iberian Peninsula.  1492 was also the year of the publication of the first Castilian grammar (the first European grammar in a “vulgar” language).  According to its author, Antonio de Nebrija, language was the “companion to empire.”  Immediately, the new power continued the Reconquest with the Conquest, on the other side of the Atlantic, using the same methods and the same convictions, confirming the globalizing vocation of all empires.

At the center of power there had to be a language, a religion and a race.  Future Spanish nationalism would be built on the foundation of a cleansing of memory.  It is true that eight centuries before Jews and Aryan Visigoths had called for and later helped Muslims replace Roderick and the rest of the Visigoth kings who had fought for the same purification.  But this was not the principal reason for despising the Jews, because it was not memory that was important but forgetting.  The Catholic monarchs and successive divine royalty finished off (or wanted to) the other Spain, multicultural and mestizo Spain, the Spain where several languages were spoken and several religions were practiced and several races mixed.  The Spain that had been the center of culture, the arts and the sciences, in a Europe submerged in backwardness, in the violent superstitions and provincialism of the Middle Ages.  More and more, the Iberian Peninsula began closing its borders to difference.  Moors and Jews had to abandon their country and emigrate to Barbaria (Africa) or to the rest of Europe, where they integrated to peripheral nations that emerged with new economic, social and intellectual restlessness.1 Within the borders were left some illegitimate children, African slaves who go almost unmentioned in the better known version of history but who were necessary for undignified domestic tasks.  The new and successful Spain enclosed itself in a conservative movement (if one will permit me the oxymoron).  The state and religion were strategically united for better control of Spain’s people during a schizophrenic process of purification.  Some dissidents like Bartolomé de las Casas had to face, in public court, those who, like Ginés de Supúlveda, argued that the empire had the right to invade and dominate the new continent because it was written in the Bible (Proverbs 11:29) that “the foolish shall be servant to the wise of heart.”  The others, the subjugated, are such because of their “inferior intellect and inhumane and barbarous customs.”  The speech of the famous and influential theologian, sensible like all official discourse, proclaimed: “[the natives] are barbarous and inhumane peoples, are foreign to civil life and peaceful customs, and it will be just and in keeping with natural law that such peoples submit to the empire of more cultured and humane nations and princes, so that due to their virtues and the prudence of their laws such peoples might throw off their barbarism and reduce themselves to a more humane life and worship of virtue.”  And in another moment: “one must subjugate by force of arms, if by other means is not possible, those who by their natural condition must obey others but refuse to submit.”  At the time one did not recur to words like “democracy” and “freedom” because until the 19th century these remained in Spain attributes of humanist chaos, anarchy and the devil.  But each imperial power in each moment of history plays the same game with different cards.  Some, as one can see, not so different.

Despite an initially favorable reaction from King Carlos V and the New Laws that prohibited enslavement of native Americans (Africans were not considered subject to rights), the empire, through its propertied class, continued enslaving and exterminating those peoples considered “foreign to civil life and peaceful customs” in the name of salvation and humanization.  In order to put an end to the horrible Aztec rituals that periodically sacrificed an innocent victim to their pagan gods, the empire tortured, raped and murdered en masse, in the name of the law and of the one, true God.  According to Bartolomé de las Casas, one of the methods of persuasion was to stretch the savages over a grill and roast them alive.  But it was not only torture – physical and moral – and forced labor that depopulated lands that at one time had been inhabited by thousands of people; weapons of mass destruction were also employed, biological weapons to be more specific.  Smallpox and the flu decimated entire populations unintentionally at times, and according to precise calculation on other occasions.  As the English had discovered to the north, sometimes the delivery of contaminated gifts, like the clothing of infected people, or the dumping of pestilent cadavers, had more devastating effects than heavy artillery.

Now, who defeated one of the greatest empires in history, the Spanish Empire?  Spain.  As a conservative mentality, cutting across all social classes, clung to a belief in its divine destiny, as the “armed hand of God” (according to Menéndez Pelayo), the empire sank into its own past.  The society of empire fractured and the gap separating the rich from the poor grew at the same time that the empire guaranteed the mineral resources (precious metals in this case) allowing it to function.  The poor increased in number and the rich increased the wealth they accumulated in the name of God and country.  The empire had to finance the wars that it maintained beyond its borders and the fiscal deficit grew until it became a monster out of control.  Tax cuts mainly benefited the upper classes, to such an extent that they often were not even required to pay them or were exempted from going to prison for debt or embezzlement.  The state went bankrupt several times.  Nor was the endless flow of mineral resources coming from its colonies, beneficiaries of the enlightenment of the Gospel, sufficient: the government spent more than what it received from these invaded lands, requiring it to turn to the Italian banks.

This is how, when many countries of America (what is now called Latin America) became independent, there was no longer anything left of the empire but its terrible reputation.  Fray Servando Teresa de Mier wrote in 1820 that if Mexico had not yet become independent it was because of the ignorance of the people, who did not yet understand that the Spanish Empire was no longer an empire, but the poorest corner of Europe.  A new empire was consolidating power, the British Empire.  Like previous empires, and like those that would follow, the extension of its language and the dominance of its culture would be common factors.  Another would be publicity: England did not delay in using the chronicles of Bartolomé de las Casas to defame the old empire in the name of a superior morality.  A morality that nonetheless did not preclude the same kind of rape and criminality.  But clearly, what matters most are the good intentions: well-being, peace, freedom, progress – and God, whose omnipresence is demonstrated by His presence in all official discourse.

Racism, discrimination, the closing of borders, messianic religious belief, wars for peace, huge fiscal deficits to finance these wars, and radical conservatism lost the empire.  But all of these sins are summed up in one: arrogance, because this is the one that keeps a world power from seeing all the other ones.  Or it allows them to be seen, but in distorted fashion, as if they were grand virtues.

Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia

February 2006.

Translated by Bruce Campbell

(1) It is commonly said that the Renaissance began with the fall of Constantinople and the emigration of Greek intellectuals to Italy, but little or nothing is said of the emigration of knowledge and capital that were forced to abandon Spain.

The Privatization of God

Blaise Pascal first explained his wager in Pen...

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The Privatization of God

by Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia

Custom-made for the consumer

In the 17th century, the mathematics genius Blaise Pascal wrote that men never do evil with greater pleasure than when they do it with religious conviction. This idea – from a deeply religious man – has taken a variety of different forms since. During the last century, the greatest crimes against humanity were promoted, with pride and passion, in the name of Progress, of Justice and of Freedom. In the name of Love, Puritans and moralists organized hatred, oppression and humiliation; in the name of Life, leaders and prophets spilled death over vast regions of the planet. Presently, God has come to be the main excuse for excercises in hate and death, hiding political ambitions, earthly and infernal interests behind sacred invocations. In this way, by reducing each tragedy on the planet to the millenarian and simplified tradition of the struggle between Good and Evil, of God against the Devil, hatred, violence and death are legitimated. There is no other way to explain how men and women are inclined to pray with fanatical pride and hypocritical humility, as if they were pure angels, models of morality, all the while hiding gunpowder in their clothing, or a check made out to death. And if the leaders are aware of the fraud, their subjects are no less responsible for being stupid, no less culpable for their criminal metaphysical convictions, in the name of God and Morality – when not in the name of a race, of a culture – and from a long tradition, recently on exhibit, custom-fit to the latest in hatred and ambition.

Empire of the simplifications

Yes, we can believe in the people. We can believe that they are capable of the most astounding creations – as will be one day their own liberation – and also of incommensurable stupidities, these latter always concealed by a complacent and self-interested discourse that manages to nullify criticism and any challenge to bad conscience. But, how did we come to such criminal negligence? Where does so much pride come from in a world where violence grows daily and more and more people claim to have heard the voice of God?

Political history demonstrates that a simplification is more powerful and better received by the vast majority of a society than is a problematization. For a politician or for a spiritual leader, for example, it is a show of weakness to admit that reality is complex. If one’s adversary expunges from a problem all of its contradictions and presents it to the public as a struggle between Good and Evil, the adversary undoubtedly is more likely to triumph. In the final analysis, the primary lesson of our time is grounded in commercial advertising or in permissive submission: we elect and we buy that which solves our problems for us, quickly and cheaply, even though the problem might be created by the solution, and even though the problem might continue to be real while the solution is never more than virtual. Nonetheless, a simplification does not eliminate the complexity of the problem in question, but rather, on the contrary, produces greater problems, and sometimes tragic consequences. Denying a disease does not cure it; it makes it worse.

Why don’t we talk about why?

Let’s try now to problematize some social phenomenon. Undoubtedly, we will not plumb the full depths of its complexity, but we can get an idea of the degree of simplification with which it is treated on a daily basis, and not always innocently.

Let’s start with a brief example. Consider the case of a man who rapes and kills a young girl. I take this example not only because it is, along with torture, one of the most abhorrent crimes imaginable, but because it represents a common criminal practice in all societies, even those that boast of their special moral virtues.

First of all, we have a crime. Beyond the semantics of “crime” and “punishment,” we can evaluate the act on its own merits, without, that is, needing to recur to a genealogy of the criminal and of his victim, or needing to research the origins of the criminal’s conduct. Both the rape and the murder should be punished by the law, and by the rest of society. And period. On this view, there is no room for discussion.

Very well. Now let’s imagine that in a given country the number of rapes and murders doubles in a particular year and then doubles again the year after that. A simplification would be to reduce the new phenomenon to the criminal deed described above. That is to say, a simplification would be to understand that the solution to the problem would be to not let a single one of these crimes go unpunished. Stated in a third way, a simplification would be to not recognize the social realities behind the individual criminal act. A more in-depth analysis of the first case could reveal to us a painful childhood, marked by the sexual abuse of the future abuser, of the future criminal. This observation would not in any way overturn the criminality of the deed itself, just as evaluated above, but it would allow us to begin to see the complexity of a problem that a simplification threatens to perpetuate. Starting from this psychological analysis of the individual, we could certainly continue on to observe other kinds of implications arising from the same criminal’s circumstances, such as, for example, the economic conditions of a specific social underclass, its exploitation and moral stigmatization by the rest of society, the moral violence and humiliation of its misery, its scales of moral value constructed in accordance with an apparatus of production, reproduction and contradictory consumption, by social institutions like a public education system that helps the poor less than it humiliates them, certain religious organizations that have created sin for the poor while using the latter to earn Paradise for themselves, the mass media, advertising, labor contradictions… and so on.

We can understand terrorism in our time in the same way. The criminality of an act of terrorism is not open to discussion (or it shouldn’t be). Killing is always a disgrace, a historical curse. But killing innocents and on a grand scale can have no justification or pardon of any kind. Therefore, to renounce punishment for those who promote terrorism is an act of cowardice and a flagrant concession to impunity.

Nevertheless, we should also remember here our initial caveat. Understanding a social and historical phenomenon as a consequence of the existence of “bad guys” on Earth is an extremely naive simplification or, to the contrary, an ideologically astute simplification that, by avoiding integrated analysis – historical, economic, political – exempts the administrators of the meaning of “bad”: the good guys.

We will not even begin to analyze, in these brief reflections, how one comes to identify one particular group and not others with the qualifier “terrorist.” For that let it suffice to recommend a reading of Roland Barthes – to mention just one classic source. We will assume the restricted meaning of the term, which is the one assumed by the press and the mainstream political narratives.

Even so, if we resort to the idea that terrorism exists because criminals exist in the world, we would have to think that in recent times there has been an especially abundant harvest of wicked people. (An idea explicitly present in the official discourse of all the governments of countries affected by the phenomenon.) But if it were true that in our world today there are more bad people than before, surely it isn’t by the grace of God but via historical developments that such a phenomenon has come to be. No historical circumstance is produced by chance, and therefore, to believe that killing terrorists will eliminate terrorism from the world is not only a foolish simplification but, by denying a historical origin for the problem, by presenting it as ahistorical, as purely a product of Evil, even as a struggle between two theological “essences” removed from any social, economic and political context, provokes a tragic worsening of the situation. It is a way of not confronting the problem, of not attacking its deep roots.

On many occasions violence is unavoidable. For example, if someone attacks us it would seem legitimate to defend ourselves with an equal degree of violence. Certainly a true Christian would offer the other cheek before instigating a violent reaction; however, if he were to respond violently to an act of aggression no one could deny him the right, even though he might be contradicting one of the commandments of Christ. But if a person or a government tells us that violence will be diminished by unleashing violence against the bad guys – affecting the innocent in the process – not only does this deny the search for a cause for the violence, it also will serve to strengthen it, or at least legitimate it, in the eyes of those who suffer the consequences.

Punishing those responsible for the violence is an act of justice. Claiming that violence exists only because violent people exist is an act of ignorance or of ideological manipulation.

If one continues to simplify the problem, insisting that it consists of a conflict produced by the “incompatibility” of two religious views – as if one of them had not been present for centuries – as if it were a matter of a simple kind of war where victory is achieved only with the total defeat of the enemy, one will drag the entire world into an intercontinental war. If one genuinely seeks the social origin and motivation of the problem – the “why” – and acts to eliminate and attenuate it, we will most assuredly witness a relaxing of the tension that is currently escalating. We will not see the end of violence and injustice in the world, but at least misfortune of unimaginable proportions will be avoided.

The analysis of the “origin of violence” would be useless if it were produced and consumed only within a university. It should be a problem for the headlines, a problem to be discussed dispassionately in the bars and in the streets. At the same time, we will have to recognize, once again, that we need a genuine dialogue. Not a return to the diplomatic farce, but a dialogue between peoples who have begun dangerously to see one another as enemies, as threats – a disagreement, really, based on a profound and crushing ignorance of the other and of oneself. What is urgent is a painful but courageous dialogue, where each one of us might recognize our prejudice and our self-centeredness. A dialogue that dispenses with the religious fanaticism – both Muslim and Christian – so in vogue these days, with its messianic and moralizing pretensions. A dialogue, in short, to spite the deaf who refuse to hear.

The True God

According to the true believers and the true religion, there can be only one true God, God. Some claim that the true God is One and he is Three at the same time, but judging by the evidence, God is One and Many more. The true God is unique but with different politics according to the interests of the true believers. Each one is the true God, each one moves the faithful against the faithful of other gods, which are always false gods even though each one is someone’s true God. Each true God organizes the virtue of each virtuous people on the basis of true customs and the true Morality. There is only one Morality based on the true God, but since there is more than one true God there is also more than one true Morality, only one of which is truly true.

But, how do we know which one is the true truth? The proper methods for proof are disputable; what is not disputed is the current practice: scorn, threats, oppression and, when in doubt, death. True death is always the final and inevitable recourse of the true truth, which comes from the true God, in order to save the true Morality and, above all, the true believers.

Yes, at times I have my doubts about what is true, and I know that doubt has been condemned by all religions, by all theologies, and by all political discourses. At times I have my doubts, but it is likely that God does not hold my doubt in contempt. He must be very busy concerning himself with so much certainty, so much pride, so much morality, behind so many ministers who have taken control of his word, holding Him hostage in a building somewhere so as to be able to conduct their business in public without obstacles.

Jorge Majfud

Translated by Bruce Campbell.

Monthly Review (New York)

Propaganda and the Myth of Reconquest

Diego Rivera

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Propaganda and the Myth of Reconquest

By Jorge Majfud

A few days ago a well-known syndicated talk radio personality repeatedly asserted an opinion that is becoming common these days:  illegal immigrants should be denounced as dishonest and criminal, not only because they have entered the U.S. illegally but, mainly, because their objective is the Reconquest.

Let’s analyze the syllogism posited here. Even assuming that illegal workers are Reconquistadors – that’s what they were called – which is to say that they lay claim to vast territories lost by Mexico to Anglo Saxon settlers in the 19th century, one would have to conclude, according to the argument of the angry sophists, that the U.S. is founded on illegitimacy and the actions of alleged criminals.  (Texas was conquered in 1836 and thereby re-established slavery in a Mexican territory where it was illegal; other Western states met the same fate, following a war with Mexico and a payment to the vanquished in the manner of a purchase, because by then money was already a powerful legitimating agent.)

Now, if a reconquest is a crime, then what is a conquest?  In any case it would be understandable to assert that this immigration phenomenon is not politically convenient (although economically it appears to be so). But, dishonest? Criminal?  Would they dare to qualify as criminal the Spanish Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula?  No, of course not, and not because it wasn1t carried out in a bloody and racist fashion, but because in that case it was a matter of Christians against Muslims – and Jews.

Any conquest, like any reconquest, is a simple political deed that aims to hide behind morality. The legitimacy of the deed always originates from force; propaganda then takes on the task of confusing force with morality, or with exposing the contradictions to analysis. In general, the former is abused by the victors, and the latter is a meager resource of the vanquished.  Much like today, in the Middle Ages propaganda, religious and political, was indispensable.  The nobility, the upper classes, were the ones who produced the greatest quantity of nationalist propaganda, aimed at morally orienting the people. Nevertheless, both in the early years of the Muslim conquest in Spain, and later in the Spanish conquest in the Americas, the upper classes were the first to come to an agreement with the invaders in order to maintain their class and gender privileges.

Propaganda is the hook in the jaw of history.  The idea of a reconquest is a fiction for millions of expatriated workers, the forever disinherited who simply look to survive and feed their economically marginal families by recourse to a hundred-years-old, unjust, anachronistic social tradition.  But it is a strategic fiction for the propagandists who are able to use it to hide the dramatic political rationale – i.e., the rationale of power – that exists behind the moralizing discourse.

Every time I hear someone sermonizing, I lose faith. That faith to which the haranguers of the U.S. extreme right and the caudillos of Latin American liberation lay claim. The more I hear, the less I believe.  But this surely is the fault of my personal inability to enjoy what other people enjoy, like the safety of trenches dug with propaganda and self-indulgence.
Jorge Majfud, The University of Georgia. July 2006.
Translated by Bruce Campbell

The History of Immigration

Cesar Chavez Estrada

Image by Troy Holden via Flickr

The History of Immigration

by Jorge Majfud


One of the typical – correction: stereotypical – images of a Mexican has been, for more than a century, a short, drunk, trouble-maker of a man who, when not appearing with guitar in hand singing a corrido, was portrayed seated in the street taking a siesta under an enormous sombrero. This image of the perfect idler, of the irrational embodiment of vice, can be traced from old 19th century illustrations to the souvenirs that Mexicans themselves produce to satisfy the tourist industry, passing through, along the way, the comic books and cartoons of Walt Disney and Warner Bros. in the 20th century. We know that nothing is accidental; even the defenders of “innocence” in the arts, of the harmless entertainment value of film, of music and of literature, cannot keep us from pointing out the ethical significance and ideological function of the most infantile characters and the most “neutral” storylines. Of course, art is much more than a mere ideological instrument; but that does not save it from manipulation by one human group for its own benefit and to the detriment of others. Let’s at least not refer to as “art” that kind of garbage.

Ironies of history: few human groups, like the Mexicans who today live in the U.S. – and, by extension, all the other Hispanic groups, – can say that they best represent the spirit of work and sacrifice of this country. Few (North) Americans could compete with those millions of self-abnegating workers who we can see everywhere, sweating beneath the sun on the most suffocating summer days, in the cities and in the fields, pouring hot asphalt or shoveling snow off the roads, risking their lives on towering buildings under construction or while washing the windows of important offices that decide the fate of the millions of people who, in the language of postmodernity, are known as “consumers.” Not to mention their female counterparts who do the rest of the hard work – since all the work is equally “dirty” – occupying positions in which we rarely see citizens with full rights. None of which justifies the racist speech that Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, gave recently, declaring that Mexicans in the U.S. do work that “not even black Americans want to do.” The Fox administration never retracted the statement, never recognized this “error” but rather, on the contrary, accused the rest of humanity of having “misinterpreted” his words. He then proceeded to invite a couple of “African-American” leaders (some day someone will explain to me in what sense these Americans are African), employing an old tactic: the rebel, the dissident, is neutralized with flowers, the savage beast with music, and the wage slaves with movie theaters and brothels. Certainly, it would have sufficed to avoid the adjective “black” and used “poor” instead. In truth, this semantic cosmetics would have been more intelligent but not completely free of suspicion. Capitalist ethics condemns racism, since its productive logic is indifferent to the races and, as the 19th century shows, slave trafficking was always against the interests of industrial production. Hence, anti-racist humanism has a well-established place in the hearts of nations and it is no longer so easy to eradicate it except through practices that hide behind elaborate and persuasive social discourses. Nevertheless, the same capitalist ethics approves the existence of the “poor,” and thus nobody would have been scandalized if instead of “blacks,” the Mexican president had said “poor Americans.” All of this demonstrates, meanwhile, that not only those in the economic North live off of the unhappy immigrants who risk their lives crossing the border, but also the politicians and ruling class of the economic South, who obtain, through millions of remittances, the second most important source of revenue after petroleum, by way of Western Union to the “madre pobre,” from the blood and sweat of those expelled by a system that then takes pride in them, and rewards them with such brilliant discourses that serve only to add yet another problem to their desperate lives of fugitive production.

Violence is not only physical; it is also moral. After contributing an invaluable part of the economy of this country and of the countries from which they come – and of those countries from which they were expelled by hunger, unemployment and the disfavor of corruption – the nameless men, the unidentified, must return to their overcrowded rooms for fear of being discovered as illegals. When they become sick, they simply work on, until they are at death’s door and go to a hospital where they receive aid and understanding from one morally conscious part of the population while another tries to deny it to them. This latter part includes the various anti-immigrant organizations that, with the pretext of protecting the national borders or defending the rule of law, have promoted hostile laws and attitudes which increasingly deny the human right to health or tranquility to those workers who have fallen into illegality by force of necessity, through the empire of logic of the same system that will not recognize them, a system which translates its contradictions into the dead and destroyed. Of course we can not and should not be in favor of any kind of illegality. A democracy is that system where the rules are changed, not broken. But laws are a product of a reality and of a people, they are changed or maintained according to the interests of those who have power to do so, and at times these interests can by-pass the most fundamental Human Rights. Undocumented workers will never have even the most minimal right to participate in any electoral simulacrum, neither here nor on the other side of the border: they have been born out of time and out of place, with the sole function of leaving their blood in the production process, in the maintenance of an order of privilege that repeatedly excludes them and at the same time makes use of them. Everyone knows they exist, everyone knows where they are, everyone knows where they come from and where they’re going; but nobody wants to see them. Perhaps their children will cease to be ill-born wage slaves, but by then the slaves will have died. And if there is no heaven, they will have been screwed once and forever. And if there is one and they didn’t have time to repeat one hundred times the correct words, they will be worse off still, because they will go to Hell, posthumous recognition instead of attaining the peace and oblivion so desired.

As long as the citizens, those with “true human” status, can enjoy the benefits of having servants in exchange for a minimum wage and practically no rights, threatened day and night by all kinds of haunts, they will see no need to change the laws in order to recognize a reality installed a posteriori. This seems almost logical. Nonetheless, what ceases to be “logical” – if we discard the racist ideology – are the arguments of those who accuse immigrant workers of damaging the country’s economy by making use of services like hospitalization. Naturally, these anti-immigrant groups ignore the fact that Social Security takes in the not insignificant sum of seven billion dollars a year from contributions made by illegal immigrants who, if they die before attaining legal status, will never receive a penny of the benefit. Which means fewer guests at the banquet. Nor, apparently, are they able to understand that if a businessman has a fleet of trucks he must set aside a percentage of his profits to repair the wear and tear, malfunctions and accidents arising from their use. It would be strange reasoning, above all for a capitalist businessman, to not send those trucks in for servicing in order to save on maintenance costs; or to send them in and then blame the mechanic for taking advantage of his business. Nevertheless, this is the kind and character of arguments that one reads in the newspapers and hears on television, almost daily, made by these groups of inflamed “patriots” who, despite their claims, don’t represent a public that is much more heterogeneous than it appears from the outside – millions of men and women, overlooked by simplistic anti-American rhetoric, feel and act differently, in a more humane way.

Of course, it’s not just logical thinking that fails them. They also suffer from memory loss. They have forgotten, all of a sudden, where their grandparents came from. Except, that is, for that extremely reduced ethnic group of American-Americans – I refer to the indigenous peoples who came prior to Columbus and the Mayflower, and who are the only ones never seen in the anti-immigrant groups, since among the xenophobes there is an abundance of Hispanics, not coincidentally recently “naturalized” citizens. The rest of the residents of this country have come from some part of the world other than where they now stand with their dogs, their flags, their jaws outthrust and their hunter’s binoculars, safeguarding the borders from the malodorous poor who would do them harm by attacking the purity of their national identity. Suddenly, they forget where a large part of their food and raw materials come from and under what conditions they are produced. Suddenly they forget that they are not alone in this world and that this world does not owe them more than what they owe the world.

Elsewhere I have mentioned the unknown slaves of Africa, who if indeed are poor on their own are no less unhappy for fault of others; the slaves who provide the world with the finest of chocolates and the most expensive wood without the minimal recompense that the proud market claims as Sacred Law, strategic fantasy this, that merely serves to mask the one true Law that rules the world: the law of power and interests hidden beneath the robes of morality, liberty and right. I have in my memory, etched with fire, those village youths, broken and sickly, from a remote corner of Mozambique who carried tons of tree trunks for nothing more than a pack of cigarettes. Cargo worth millions that would later appear in the ports to enrich a few white businessmen who came from abroad, while in the forests a few dead were left behind, unimportant, crushed by the trunks and ignored by the law of their own country.

Suddenly they forget or refuse to remember. Let’s not ask of them more than what they are capable of. Let’s recall briefly, for ourselves, the effect of immigration on history. From pre-history, at each step we will find movements of human beings, not from one valley to another but crossing oceans and entire continents. The “pure race” proclaimed by Hitler had not emerged through spontaneous generation or from some seed planted in the mud of the Black Forest but instead had crossed half of Asia and was surely the result of innumerable crossbreedings and of an inconvenient and denied evolution (uniting blonds with blacks) that lightened originally dark faces and put gold in their hair and emerald in their eyes. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, in 1453, the wave of Greeks moving into Italy initiated a great part of that economic and spiritual movement we would later know as the Rennaissance. Although generally forgotten, the immigration of Arabs and Jews would also provoke, in the sleepy Europe of the Middle Ages, different social, economic and cultural movements that the immobility of “purity” had prevented for centuries. In fact, the vocation of “purity” – racial, religious and cultural – that sunk the Spanish Empire and led it to bankrupcy several times, despite all of the gold of the Americas, was responsible for the persecution and expulsion of the (Spanish) Jews in 1492 and of the (Spanish) Arabs a century later. An expulsion which, paradoxically, benefited the Netherlands and England in a progressive process that would culminate in the Industrial Revolution. And we can say the same for our Latin American countries. If I were to limit myself to just my own country, Uruguay, I could recall the “golden years” – if there were ever years of such color – of its economic and cultural development, coinciding, not by accident, with a boom in immigration that took effect from the end of the 19th until the middle of the 20th century. Our country not only developed one of the most advanced and democratic educational systems of the period, but also, comparatively, had no cause to envy the progress of the most developed countries of the world, even though its population lacked, due to its scale, the geopolitical weight enjoyed by other countries at the time. At present, cultural immobility has precipitated an inverted migration, from the country of the children and grandchildren of immigrants to the country of the grandparents. The difference is rooted in the fact that the Europeans who fled from hunger and violence found in the Río de la Plata (and in so many other ports of Latin America) the doors wide open; their descendants, or the children and grandchildren of those who opened the doors to them, now enter Europe through the back door, although they appear to fall from the sky. And if indeed it is necessary to remember that a large part of the European population receives them happily, at a personal level, neither the laws nor general practice correspond to this good will. They aren’t even third class citizens; they are nothing and the management reserves the right to deny admission, which may mean a kick in the pants and deportation as criminals.

In order to obscure the old and irreplaceable Law of interests, it is argued – as Orian Fallaci has done so unjustly – that these are not the times of the First or Second World War and, therefore, one immigration cannot be compared to another. In fact, we know that one period can never be reduced to another, but they can indeed be compared. Or else history and memory serve no purpose. If tomorrow in Europe the same conditions of economic necessity that caused its citizens to emigrate before were to be repeated, they would quickly forget the argument that our times are not comparable to other historical periods and, hence, it’s reasonable to forget.

I understand that in a society, unlike a controlled laboratory experiment, every cause is an effect and viceversa – a cause cannot modify a social order without becoming the effect of itself or of something else. For the same reason, I understand that culture (the world of customs and ideas) influences a given economic and material order as much as the other way around. The idea of the determining infrastructure is the base of the Marxist analytical code, while the inverse (culture as a determinant of socio-economic reality) is basic for those who reacted to the fame of materialism. For the reasons mentioned above, I understand that the problem here lies in the idea of “determinism,” in either of the two senses. For its part, every culture promotes an interpretive code according to its own Interests and, in fact, does so to the measure of its own Power. A synthesis of the two approaches is also necessary for our problem. If the poverty of Mexico, for example, were only the result of a cultural “deformity” – as currently proposed by the theorists and specialists of Latin American Idiocy – the new economic necessities of Mexican immigrants to the United States would not produce workers who are more stoic and long-suffering than any others in the host country: the result would simply be “immigrant idlers.” And reality seems to show us otherwise. Certainly, as Jesus said, “there is none more blind than he who will not see.”


Translated by Bruce Campbell


Why Culture Matters


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.

The Culture of Hate

The Culture of Hate

On the silent revolution and reaction of our time. The reasons for ultramodern chaos. On the colonization of language and how traditional authority reacts to historical progress using the anachronistic tools of repetition.

Universal Pedagogy of Obedience

The old pedagogical model was synthesized in the phrase “the letters enter with blood.” This was the ideological support that allowed the teacher to strike with a ruler the buttocks or hands of the bad students. When the bad student was able to memorize and repeat what the teacher wanted, the punishment would end and the reward would begin. Then the bad student, having now been turned into “a good man,” could take over teaching by repeating the same methods. It is not by accident that the celebrated Argentine statist and pedagogue, F. Sarmiento, would declare that “a child is nothing more than an animal that must be tamed and educated.” In fact, this is the very method one uses to domesticate any old animal. “Teaching” a dog means nothing more than “making it obedient” to the will of its master, humanizing it. Which is a form of canine degeneration, just like the frequent dehumanization of a man into a dog – I refer to Osvaldo Dragún’s theatrical work.

The social logic of it is not much different. Whoever has power is the one who defines what a particular word means. Social obedience is implicit. In this sense, there are key words that have been colonized in our culture, words like democracy, freedom, justice, patriot, development, civilization, barbarism, etc. If we observe the definition of each one of these words derived from the same power – the same master – we will see that it is only by dint of a violent, colonizing and monopolistic “learning” that the term is applied to a particular case and not to another one, to one appearance and not to another, to one flag and not another – and almost always with the compelling force of the obvious. It is this logic alone that dominates the discourse and headlines of daily newspapers the world over. Even the loser, who receives the semiotic stigma, must use this language, these ideological tools to defend (timidly) any position that differs from the official, established one.

Revolution and Reaction

What we are experiencing at present is a profound crisis which naturally derives from a radical change in system – structural and mental: from a system of representative obedience to a system of progressive democracy.

It is not by accident that this current reaction against the disobedience of nations would take the form of a rennaissance of religious authoritarianism, in the East as much as in the West. Here we might say, like Pi i Margall in 1853, that “revolution is peace and reaction is war.”  The difference in our time is rooted in the fact that both revolution and reaction are invisible; they are camouflaged by the chaos of events, by the messianic and apocalyptic discourses, disguised in the old reading codes inherited from the Modern Era.

The Grand Reactionary Strategy

Now, how does one sustain this reaction against radical democratization, which is the invisible and perhaps inevitable revolution? We might continue observing that one form of attack against this democratization is for the reaction itself to kidnap the very idea of “democracy.” But now let’s mention just a few of the least abstract symptoms.

At the center of the “developed world,” the most important television and radio networks repeat tiresomely the idea that “we are at war” and that “we must confront an enemy that wants to destroy us.” The evil desire of minority groups – minority but growing – is unquestionable. The objective, our destruction, is infinitely improbable; except, that is, for the assistance offered by self-betrayal, which consists in copying all of the defects of the enemy one pretends to combat. Not coincidentally, the same discourse is repeated among muslim peoples – without even beginning to consider anyone outside this simple dichotomy, product of another typical creation of the powers in conflict: the creation of false dilemmas.

In the most recent war, irrigated as always with copious innocent blood, we witnessed the repetition of the old model that is repeated every day and ceaselessly in so many corners of the world. A colonel, speaking from we know not which front, declared to a television channel of the Civilized World, dramatically: “It is on this road where the future of humanity will be decided; it is here where the ‘clash of civilizations’ is unfolding.” Throughout that day, as with all the previous days and all the days after, the words and ideas repeated over and over again were: enemy, war, danger, imminent, civilization and barbarism, etc. To raise doubts about this would be like denying the Holy Trinity before the Holy Inquisition or, even worse, questioning the virtues of money before Calvin, God’s chosen one. Because it is enough for one fanatic to call another fanatic “barbaric” or “infidel” to get others to agree that he needs to be killed. The final result is that it is rare for one of these barbaric people not to die by their own choice; most of those eliminated by the virtue of holy wars are innocents who would never choose to die. As in the time of Herod, the threat of the individual is eliminated by assassinating his entire generation – without ever achieving the objective, of course.

There is no choice: “it is necessary to win this war.” But it turns out that this war will produce no victors, only losers: peoples who do not trade in human flesh. The strangest thing is that “on this side” the ones who favor every possible war are the most radical Christians, when it was none other than Christ who opposed, in word and deed, all forms of violence, even when he could have crushed with the mere wave of his hand the entire Roman Empire – the center of civilization at the time – and his torturers as well. If the “religious leaders” of today had a miniscule portion of the infinite power of Jesus, they would invest it in winning their unfinished wars. Obviously if huge Christian sects, in an historic act of benediction and justification for the insatiable accumulation of wealth, have been able to pass an army of camels through the eye of that particular needle, how could the difficult precept of turning the other cheek present a problem? Not only is the other cheek not offered – which is only human, even though it’s not very Christian – but instead the most advanced forms of violence are brought to bear on distant nations in the name of Right, Justice, Peace and Freedom – and of Christian values. And even though among them there is no recourse to the private relief of Catholic confession, they often practice it anyway after a bombardment of scores of innocents: “we are so sorry…”

On another television program, a report showed Muslim fanatics sermonizing the masses, calling upon them to combat the Western enemy. The journalists asked professors and analysts “how is a Muslim fanatic created?” To which each specialist attempted to give a response by referring to the wickedness of these terrible people and other metaphysical arguments that, despite being useless for explaining something rationally, are quite useful for feeding the fear and desire for combat of their faithful viewers. It never occurs to them to consider the obvious: a Muslim fanatic is created in exactly the same way that a Christian fanatic is created, or a Jewish fanatic: believing themselves to be in possession of the absolute truth, the best morality and law and, above all, to be executors of the will of God – violence willing. To prove this one has only to take a look at the various holocausts that humanity has promoted in its brief history: none of them has lacked for Noble Purposes; almost all were committed with pride by the privileged sons of God.

If one is a true believer one should start by not doubting the sacred text which serves as the foundation of the doctrine or religion. This, which seems logical, becomes tragic when a minority demands from the rest of the nation the same attitude of blind obedience, usurping God’s role in representing God. What operates here is a transference of faith in the sacred texts to faith in the political texts. The King’s minister becomes the Prime Minister and the King ceases to govern. In most of the mass media we are not asked to think; we are asked to believe. It is the advertizing dynamic that shapes consumers with discourses based on simplification and obviousness. Everything is organized in order to convince us of something or to ratify our faith in a group, in a system, in a party. All in the guise of tolerance and diversity, of discussion and debate, where typically a grey representative of the contrarian position is invited to the table in order to humiliate or mock him. The committed journalist, like the politician, is a pastor who directs himself to an audience accustomed to hearing unquestionable sermons and theological opinions as if they were the word of God himself.

These observations are merely a beginning, because we would have to be very naïve indeed if we were to ignore the calculus of material interests on the part of the powerful, who – at least so far – have always decided, thumb up or thumb down, the fate of the innocent masses. Which is demonstrated by simply observing that the hundreds and thousands of innocent victims, aside from the occasional apology for mistakes made, are never the focus of the analysis about the wars and the permanent state of psychological, ideological and spiritual tension. (As an aside, I think it would be necessary to develop a scientific investigation regarding the heart rate of the viewers before and after witnessing an hour of these “informational” programs – or whatever you want to call them, since, in reality, the most informative part of these programs is the advertisements; the informational programming itself is propaganda, from the very moment in which they reproduce the colonized language.)

Dialogue has been cut off and the positions have polarized, poisoned by the hatred distilled by the big media, instruments of traditional power. “They are the incarnation of Evil”; “Our values are superior and therefore we have the right to exterminate them.” “The fate of humanity depends upon our success.” Etcetera.. In order for success to be possible we must first guarantee the obedience of our fellow citizens. But it remains to be asked whether “success in the war” is really the main objective or instead a mere means, ever deferrable, for maintaining the obedience of one’s own people, a people that was threatening to become independent and develop new forms of mutal understanding with other peoples. For all of this, propaganda, which is the propagation of hate, is indispensable. The beneficiaries are a minority; the majority simply obeys with passion and fanaticism: it is the culture of hate that sickens us day after day. But the culture of hate is not the metaphysical origin of Evil, but little more than an instrument of other interests. Because if hatred is a sentiment that can be democratized, in contrast private interests to date have been the property of an elite. Until Humanity understands that the well-being of the other does me no harm but quite the opposite: if the other does not hate, if the other is not oppressed by me, then I will also benefit from the other’s society. But one will have a heck of a time explaining this to the oppressor or to the oppressed; they will quickly come to an agreement to feed off of that perverse circle that keeps us from evolving together as Humanity.

Humanity will resist, as it has always resisted the most important changes in history. Resistance will not come from millions of innocents, for whom the benefits of historical progress will never arrive. For them is reserved the same old story: pain, torture and anonymous death that could have been avoided, at least in part, if the culture of hate had been replaced by the mutual comprehension that one day will be inevitable: the other is not necessarily an enemy that I must exterminate by poisoning my own brothers; what is to the benefit of the other will be to my benefit also.

This principle was Jesus’s conscience, a conscience that was later corrupted by centuries of religious fanaticism, the most anti-Christian Gospel imaginable. And the same could be said of other religions.

In 1866 Juan Montalvo testified to his own bitterness: “The most civilized peoples, those whose intelligence has taken flight to the heavens and whose practices are guided by morality, do not renounce war: their breasts are ever burning, their zealous heart leaps with the impulse for extermination.” And later: “The peace of Europe is not the peace of Jesus Christ, no: the peace of Europe is the peace of France and England, lack of confidence, mutual fear, threat; the one has armies sufficient to dominate the world, and only for that believes in peace; the other extends itself over the seas, controls every strait, rules the most important fortresses on earth, and only for that believes in peace.”

Exits from the Labyrinth

If knowledge – or ignorance – is demonstrated by speaking, wisdom is the superior state in which a man or a woman learns to listen. As Eduardo Galeano rightly recommended to the powerful of the world, the ruler’s job should be to listen more and speak less. Although only a rhetorical recommendation – in the sense that it is useless to give advice to those who will not listen – this remains an irrefutable principle for any democrat. But the discourses of the mass media and of the states, designed for creating soldiers, are only concerned with disciplining according to their own rules. Their struggle is the consolidation of ideological meaning in a colonized language divorced from the everyday reality of the speaker: their language is terribly creative of a terrible reality, almost always through abuse of the paradox and the oxymoron – as one might view the very notion of “communication media.” It is the autistic symptom of our societies that day after day they sink further into the culture of hate. It is information and it is deformation.

In many previous essays, I have departed from and arrived at two presuppositions that seem contradictory. The first: it is not true that history never repeats itself; it always repeats itself; it is only appearances that are not repeated. The second precept, at least four hundred years old: history progresses. That is to say, humanity learns from past experience and in the process overcomes itself. Both human realities have always battled each other. If the human race rememberd better and were less hypocritical, if it had greater awareness of its importance and were more rebellious against its false impotence, if instead of accepting the artificial fatalism of Clash of Civilizations it were to recognize the urgency of a Dialogue of Cultures, this battle would not sow the fields with corpses and nations with hate. The process of history, from its economic roots, is determined by and cannot be contradictory to the interests of humanity. What remains to be known is only how and when. If we accompany it with the new awareness demanded by posterity, we will not only advance a perhaps inevitable process; above all we will avoid more pain and the spilling of blood and death that has tinged the world hate-red in this greatest crisis of history.

© Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia, November 2006.

Translated by Bruce Campbell


Le discours de Mme Le Pen menace juifs et musulmans

Marine Le Pen - "Convention présidentiell...

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Le discours de Mme Le Pen menace juifs et musulmans

Elle a la gouaille et croit en son avenir, les sondages sont pour elle. Marine Le Pen ne se satisfait pas de l’imprécation hargneuse, de l’allusion méprisante et de la plaisanterie blessante qui étaient la marque de fabrique de son père. Elle sait que ces saillies à moteur antisémite l’ont cantonné dans un rôle de trublion provocateur dont la capacité de nuisance ne recouvrait aucune perspective politique réelle.

Marine Le Pen, elle, cherche le pouvoir. Elle ne s’en cache pas et c’est son droit. Pour l’obtenir, elle a, entre autres, besoin de respectabilité pour diversifier sa clientèle électorale et rendre possibles des alliances futures. L’entreprise est délicate car, pour effacer l’image sulfureuse qui s’attache à son nom aux yeux de la majorité des Français, elle ne doit pas pour autant décevoir le noyau dur des militants du Front national, ceux qui s’amusaient aux déclarations choquantes de Jean-Marie Le Pen, ceux qui ont soutenu Bruno Gollnisch justement parce que ses positions le rendaient infréquentable.

La présidente du FN compose avec eux au sein du nouveau comité central du parti dont le patriarche Le Pen demeure président d’honneur. Marine Le Pen sait que l’efficacité électorale de son discours tient en grande partie à sa capacité de rencontrer, voire de susciter, les craintes et les fantasmes d’une société où l’inquiétude du déclassement nourrit la recherche du bouc émissaire.

Ainsi le musulman a pris la place tenue hier par le juif, l’Arabe ou l’immigré dans la dialectique frontiste. Ne nous y trompons pas : ceux qui parlent de l’islamisation de la France sont guidés par la même obsession xénophobe que ceux qui dénonçaient la judaïsation de notre pays dans les années 1930. L’étranger, quel que soit son visage, reste responsable pour l’extrême droite des maux de notre société.


Richard Prasquier, président du CRIF, et Alain Jakubowicz, président de la Licra.

[lire la suite >>]

Carta del Marqués de Santillana y Teoría literaria del S. XV

Retrato de Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marqués de ...

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Santillana, Marqués del. El Prohemio e Carta del Marqués de Santillana y Teoría Literaria del S. XV [1441]. Edición, crítica, estudio y notas de Ángel Gómez Moreno. Barcelona: PPU, 1990.

Carta del Marqués de Santillana y Teoría Literaria del S. XV

Marqués del Santillana

El poeta Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marqués de Santillana, vivió en la primera mitad del siglo XV y fue figura de la corte del rey Juan II de Castilla. Como muchos miembros de la clase noble castellana, era aficionado a la guerra; como algunos otros, combinaba esta pasión con la literatura. Fue uno de los pocos humanistas de su época que tomó en serio la cultura, no como simple ornamento cortesano. En esta época, mucho antes de la caída de Constantinopla y del invento de la imprenta de letras móviles, se profundiza el interés por las humanidades y se acelera la copia y producción de textos. Lo que sugiere la idea que los inventos provocan revoluciones sociales e históricas tanto o casi tanto como las revoluciones sociales e históricas provocan inventos.  Aprovecho para insistir que ni el Renacimiento nació sólo en Italia ni el humanismo procedió únicamente de la fuga de profesores griegos de Turquía. En la península Ibérica encontramos fuertes trazos de humanismo, aunque un humanismo más conectado con Dios y las tres grandes tradiciones monoteístas.

Por otra parte, el “conocimiento” se había vuelto un símbolo de estatus de una clase ociosa, aunque aún entre los artesanos había cundido esta moda (13).

Aunque el gallego-portugués era la lengua poética de Castilla años antes (15), los poetas portugueses comienzan a usar la lengua castellana en la segunda mitad del siglo XV (14).

Don Iñigo compone su prólogo no para publicar sino para presentar a su destinatario (Pedro, condestable de Portugal) pero luego la suma como parte del libro (19).

De la misma forma que el gran Leonardo da Vinci pobremente argumenta sobre la superioridad de la pintura sobre la escultura más de un siglo después, el Marqués de Santillana se interroga sobre la naturaleza de la poesía y concluye que es superior a la prosa.

Al igual que en el siglo XVI español, el autor abusará del estilo cuatrocentista, lleno cultismos (35), lo que conocía como fingimiento, como palabras infrecuentes y novedosas y también en la estructura de la oración: el verbo al final de la frase, más propio del latín, como “…que de memorable registro dignas parescan” (37). Se repetirá el uso del infinitivo, de retoricismos como “asý commo…” y “commo… asý” y de “interrogatio retorica” (preguntas retóricas).

En “…este pequeño uolumen uos envío […]… que uos, señor, demarnades” (52) donde, según el analista de la edición crítica, “uos” está en lugar de con “os” y no “vos”.

Como Horacio, afirma preguntando: “¿E qué cosa es la poesía —que en el n(uest)ro uulgar gaya ciencia llamamos— syno un fingimiento de cosas útiles, cubiertas o ueladas con muy fermosa cobertura?” (52).

El autor menciona que en su tiempo habían quienes pensaban que la poesía era cosa vana, pero se defiende mencionando un huerto que da frutas según las distintas épocas del año, como el conocimiento da fruto en distintas edades. Inevitablemente, recurre a citas bíblicas (Moisés, Josué, David, Salomón, Job, etc. quienes cantaron en metro) como otra forma de defensa. Luego repasa ejemplos de la antigua Gracia y Roma (Siro, Homero, Dante, Virgilio). Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz usará la misma estratégica dialéctica y retórica en su célebre y a la larga trágica Carta Atenagórica, a fines del siglo XVII.

A nuestros ojos, aparece como una reiterada confusión conceptual de “ciencia”, teología y poesía, además de una pretensión de universalidad en la forma de escritura en metro y rima. “E así concluyo ca esta ciencia, por tal, es açepta p(r)inçipalme(n)te a Dios, e después a todo linaje e espeçie de gentes” (55).

Pretende justificar la rima y el metro por lo común que es en el uso para varios propósitos (religiosos, paganos, bodas, etc.), que es una forma de “demostrar” su inferioridad, como las cuentas del almacenero del barrio ante el binomio de Newton.

Muestra su preferencia por los ytálicos a los franceses (58) y mezcla otras alusiones personales (lo cual para un noble ya era mucho), como la referencia a su infancia y a un gran libro de “cantigas” portuguesas y gallegas de su abuela que podían ser del bisabuelo del destinatario (60).

Hay una referencia directa a “vn iudío” (Rabí Santó [o Santob]) que “escriuió muy buenas cosas” (61). Este judío había escrito Prouebios morales y eran elogiados por el autor por este tipo de moralización:

No uale el açor menos

por nacer en vil nío [nido],

ni los ejemplos buenos

por los decir iudío [judío]. (62)

Lo que parece una defensa explícita de un grupo o individuo al mismo tiempo que se confirma, de forma implícita, su estereotipo negativo (“vil nío”).

Para justificarse, igual que sor Juana como mujer intelectual, el marqués menciona otros nobles de su época que se dedicaron a lo mismo. “Al muy magnífico Duq(ue) don Fadriq(ue), mi señor e mi hermano, plugo mucho esta ciencia, e fizo asaz gentiles canciones e delires e tenía en su casa grandes trobadores ” (63).

Según el análisis crítico de esta edición, el cierre de la carta es el más retórico, tal como era la fórmula clásica. Lo más novedoso y significativo, quizás, es que no invoca más allá de la muerte sino un porvenir colado de parabienes. “Como vemos el marqués de Santillana es más Moderno en su deseo de que don Pedro alcance la vida de la fama; además la misma alusión a la muerte se ha desdramatizado por medio de la mitología” (148).

Esta Carta presenta todas las características de las prerrogativas medievales, como las de artes dictaminis para una carta (ya anacrónicas en el Quatrocento humanista).

En todo el texto casi no se usa la argumentación o el silogismo o lógica alguna. Se prefiere y se abusa de la autoridad: cuanto más ejemplos se nombran mejor, aún sin importar qué efectos o qué virtudes éstos debían tener más allá de la nobleza (generalmente de clase) de sus propios autores.

Con todo, según el comentario crítico, y a pesar de tantas referencias “eruditas” a autores clásicos, el Marqués tenía poca instrucción. “El léxico artificioso del señor Iñigo que tampoco habría gustado a los grandes humanistas italianos” (150). Los humanistas separaban claramente el italiano del latín y desechaban las mezclas. Se debe agregar que, aunque (o por eso mismo) los primeros y subsiguientes humanistas bebieron de las fuentes antiguas como primera inspiración (harto recurridas para los pedantes de todos los siglos), rechazaron la superficialidad del ornamento de la cita sin motivo estricto. Es más, una de las características del humanismo será la atención y, en casos, el rescate de las culturas populares como fuentes válidas de conocimiento profundo.

Jorge Majfud

Litterae (Chile)

Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (II)

First page of a 1555 version of the Siete Part...

Primera página de una edición de 1555

Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (I)

Alfonso X El Sabio. Las siete partidas [1256-1265]. Selección, prólogos y notas de Francisco López Estrada y María López García-Berdoy. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1992.

Libros, el regreso a las fuentes

Alfonso X El Sabio. Las siete partidas (II)



En estas leyes del siglo XIII ya se reconocen las primeras formas de investigaciones judiciales: “Pesquisa en romance tanto quiere decir como inquisitio en latín” (T. 17, ley 1, p. 255). En una partida posterior, sin embargo, las leyes hacían la acostumbrada salvedad que protegía a los nobles y poderosos. Para corregir el error de leyes que se aplicaran a seres diferentes, las Partidas definían la lid, que es lidiar o hacer duelo. “Manera de prueba es, según costumbre de España, la lid que manda hacer el rey por razón de reto que es hecho ante él […] Y la razón por la que fue hallada la lid es esta, pues tuvieron los hijosdalgo de España que mejor les era defender su derecho o su lealtad por las armas que meterlo en peligro de pesquisa o de falsos testigos”. Se lidiaba a caballo si era noble o a pie si eran hombre de villa (T. 4, Ley 1, p. 373).

La vida doméstica tampoco estaba a salvo del Estado medieval. Las Leyes entendían que matrimonio significa matris y monium: del latín “oficio de madre” y explicaban que se llama matrimonio y no patrimonio porque el nuevo estado afecta más a la madre. Prohibía los afrodisíacos y prescribía el sexo sólo para hacer hijos. (T2, ley 9, p. 282). Razón por la cual se puede anular el casamiento ante la Santa Iglesia si uno de ellos era impotente o la mujer era estrecha y no podía consumar el sexo (T 5, ley 2, p 285). La salida elegante para el divorcio se definía así: separándolos por fuerza o contra derecho, haría contra lo que dijo nuestro señor Jesucristo en el Evangelio: lo que dios juntó, no los separe el hombre (Mateo, 19, 6). Mas siendo separado por derecho, no se entiende que los separe entonces el hombre” (T 10, ley 1, p. 286).

A los ilustres personæ [persona ilustre] no se les permitía casar con sierva, tabernera o hija de tabernera, o “mujeres en putería”. Si un caballero tenía hijos con una de estas malas mujeres no estaba obligado a criarlo y el hijo no podía heredar (T 14, ley 3, 291).

En otra partida se define adulterio (alteristorus: lecho de otro). El hombre que yacía con otra mujer casada no es deshonrado, pero si su mujer lo hacía sí, porque “del adulterio que hace el varón con otra mujer no hace daño ni deshonra a la suya; la otra porque del adulterio que hiciese su mujer con otro, queda el marido deshonrado, recibiendo la mujer a otro en su lecho. Y por eso que los daños y las deshonras no son iguales, conveniente cosa es que pueda acusar a su mujer de adulterio si lo hiciere, y ella no a él”. En este punto, la iglesia opinaba diferente a las leyes antiguas: “según juicio de la santa Iglesia no sería así” (T. 17, Ley 2, p. 402).

El hombre ofendido que matase a otro que estuvo con su mujer (aunque sea por sospecha y luego de prohibirle hablar con él) no recibe pena alguna (T 17, Ley 12, p. 403). Excepto si el ofensor era señor del ofendido. En ese caso no podía matarlo sino acusarlo ante el juez (T 17, ley 13, p. 404).

Algo similar a las leyes incas referidas por Huamán Poma de Ayala a principios del siglo XVII y a algunos países teocráticos de hoy, este código medieval establecía que el adúltero debía morir y la adúltera debía ser azotada públicamente y recluida en monasterio para servir a Dios, al menos que el marido la perdone después de dos años (ley 15, p. 404.). El amo podría tener derecho a matar a un ciervo si lo encontraba con su mujer o con una hija (T 21, ley 6, p 300), mientras que ningún cristiano podía ser ciervo de judío o moro. (T 21, ley 8, p 301). Menos discutible resultan hoy otros castigos terribles como la pena de muerte para los violadores, según la ley 3 del Título 20 (407).

El Título 24 definía qué era un judío y hasta dónde se los debía tolerar debido a costumbres como las de raptar niños los viernes santos para actos de brujería, para lo cual se establecía pena de muerte. Se les prohibía salir ese día a la vista de cristianos a pena de ser castigados directamente (T 24, Ley 2, p. 413).

Las leyes asumían la responsabilidad de los judíos en la muerte de Jesucristo, razón por lo cual perdieron la honra de ser “pueblo de Dios” (T 24, ley 3, p. 414). No podían hacer sinagogas nuevas sino reparar las antiguas. Sin embargo se protegía su derecho de orar en sus templos (ley 4, p. 414). Se prohibía el apremio físico para convertirlos al cristianismo (ley 6, p. 416) pero “tan malamente siendo algún cristiano que se tornase judío, mandamos que lo maten por ello, bien así como si se tornase hereje” (T 24, ley 7, p. 417). Se prohibía a los cristianos o cristianas que sirviesen en casa de un judío, que compartiese su mesa o que recibiese medicina alguna de éstos (ley 8, p. 417). Un judío que yacía con una cristiana debía morir por ello (ley 9, p. 417) y también si tomaba a un cristiano por siervo (ley 10). Para que todas estas prescripciones fueran posibles, se exigía a los judíos llevar cierta señal en la cabeza para distinguirlos de los cristianos (Ley 11).

Los moros eran tratados legalmente igual que los judíos, pero se les prohibía tener mezquitas, ya que por entonces eran enemigos combatientes. Eran definidos como sarracenos (de Sara) y se los confundía con la secta judía de los Samaritanos (Título 25, ley 1, p. 420). Los únicos moros protegidos eran los mensajeros que llegaban de tierras enemigas (T. 25, ley 9, p. 423). Si un moro yacía con una cristiana (hecho que era más frecuente de lo que reconocían las leyes) ella debía perder la mitad de sus bienes la primera vez, todo la segunda y luego debía ser ejecutada o quemada viva por su esposo (ley 10, p. 424).

La herejía (apartamiento) era tratada con la conversión forzosa (Título 26). Si un hereje persistía en su error, debía ser quemado vivo. Todo aquel que no creía recibir “galardón ni pena en el otro siglo” (es decir, todo el que no crea en el Paraíso y el Infierno) debía ser quemado vivo (ley 2, p. 425). Esto en el caso de ser herejes pobres. Los “ricohombres”, en cambio, que denigran a Jesús y a la Virgen María deben ser desposeídos de sus tierras por un año la primera vez y por dos años la segunda y para siempre la tercera. Lo mismo los caballeros, escuderos, y demás nobles. (T. 28, ley 2, p. 228).

El Título 30 justifica la tortura según las mismas circunstancias y razones más modernas: “Tormento es manera de pena que hallaron los que fueron amadores de la justicia para escudriñar y saber la verdad por él de los malos hechos que se hacen encubiertamente, que no pueden ser sabidos ni probados por otra manera” (T. 30, ley 1, p. 430). Hay muchas formas, pero se mencionan los azotes o colgar al indagado de los brazos. Con todo, había algunos límites éticos y judiciales. Las declaraciones producto del tormento sólo eran tomadas como válidas un día después de las torturas, ante el juez; no inmediatamente. Si el hereje negaba lo declarado ante el juez, podía ser atormentado dos veces más; si resistía, en algunos casos era puesto en libertad. (T. 30, ley 4, p. 432).

En algo el rey Alfonso estaba más adelantado que el presidente George Bush. Igual que Pedro Abelardo, las duras leyes de Alfonso entendían que se debía castigar la acción, no el mal pensamiento (T 31, ley 2, p. 433.).

Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (I)

Jorge Majfud

Milenio (Mexico)


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Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (I)

Miniatura de Las Siete Partidas (Alfonso X el ...

Miniatura de Las Siete Partidas

Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (II)

Alfonso X El Sabio. Las siete partidas [1256-1265]. Selección, prólogos y notas de Francisco López Estrada y María López García-Berdoy. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1992.

Libros, el regreso a las fuentes

Alfonso X El Sabio. Las siete partidas (I)

Este es, sin duda, el proyecto literario más famoso de Alfonso el Sabio y probablemente el más conocido del siglo XIII español. Su redacción abarcó desde 1256 a 1265 y refleja la realidad pluricultural de la época, no obstante la perspectiva del derecho y el deber pertenece claramente al sector cristiano de la península.

Es interesante confirmar la sobrevivencia de la idea, aunque más no sea la idea, del “Ius naturale” (derecho natural) que “tienen los hombres naturalmente y aun los otros animales que tienen sentido” (70). La primera Partida establece que las leyes deben estar escritas de forma “llanas y paladinas; de manera que todo hombre las pueda entender bien y retener de memoria” (ley 8, 74). Pero sólo el emperador o el rey tenían facultades para hacerlas; las otras no eran válidas (ley 12, p. 76).

Por entonces, como en algunos casos hoy, las leyes regulaban la vida privada definiendo, aunque como pecados menores, la práctica en la que un hombre yace con su mujer sin intención de hacer hijos (ley 34, p. 94) o la costumbre del “mucho comer”, porque contradecía la pobreza de Jesucristo y por razones médicas, ya que de este exceso luego surgen males y enfermedades (ley 37, p. 97).

Para no andar derrochando recursos, se establece que las limosnas deben ser dadas preferentemente a los cristianos (Titulo 23, ley 7, p. 121).

Como era conocido entre emperadores, incas y coloridos dictadores del mundo moderno, la Ley 5 (Título 1) reconoce el hecho de que el rey “es puesto en lugar de Dios”, como su vicario, representante porque así lo dicen los profetas y los sabios que entienden en las cosas naturales (133). El rey es la cabeza del pueblo y éste los miembros del cuerpo (Título 10, ley 2, p. 174).

Con una mentalidad claramente medieval, se resuelve que “pensamiento es cuidado con que aprecian los hombres las cosas pasadas, y las de luego y las que han de ser” (Título 3, Ley 1. p. 139) y “nace el pensamiento del corazón del hombre” (Título 3, Ley 2. p. 139). Según una versión de un texto de Aristóteles (traducido del árabe y del hebreo), el filósofo griego le habría aconsejado a Alejandro hablar poco porque “el uso de las muchas palabras envilece a quien las dice” (Título 3, Ley 2. p. 142).

Estas leyes también regulan la mejor forma de vestir, de comer y de beber, no sólo de los sacerdotes sino de los reyes. Pone especial cuidado en advertir sobre los abusos del vino y la conveniencia de no hablar mientras se come, para ponerse a salvo de algunas asfixias, lo que da cierta idea del estilo del buen comer de la época.

En una época en que la diversidad no era una virtud, Alfonso sabía que los enemigos “de la tierra” son peores que los enemigos de afuera, porque no se distinguen con la misma facilidad (Título 19, ley 1, p. 189).

Las formas de adquirir propiedades eran menos sutiles. Se reconocía la legitimidad de apoderarse de las tierras ajenas para cumplir con los mandamientos de Dios de poblar la tierra “y este apoderamiento viene de dos maneras: la una, es por arte, y la otra por fuerza” (T. 20, ley 6, p. 194). Ambas subsisten hoy en día, aunque la primera es más común. Para la segunda opción había que recurrir a las milicias. En la militia (del latin, hombres de campaña para la guerra contados de a mil) se distinguen los caballeros, que son más honrados por ir a caballo. Como hoy, cada mil había un caballero.

Una de las virtudes de “honra” de los caballeros es que debían ser crueles: “que fuesen crueles para no tener piedad de robar lo de los enemigos, ni de herir ni de matar” (T. 21, ley 2, p. 195). Por esta razón, “antiguamente”, dice la ley, se elegían los caballeros de entre los mil, a carniceros, carpinteros y herreros, porque eran fuertes de manos y estaban acostumbrados a herir y ensartar. También se prefería los “hijosdalgo”, es decir los Fulano de Tal, porque debían tener más vergüenza de huir de la batalla. Para estimular a estos distinguidos combatientes era recomendable la lectura de hazañas o que los más viejos contasen historias de favorables o que los juglares sólo canten canciones de batallas (T. 21, ley 20, p. 204). Por sobre todo, se debe crear la figura del caudillo: es la primera cosa que los hombres deben hacer en tiempo de guerra” gracias a lo cual es posible que “por el buen acaudillamiento vencen muchas veces los pocos a los muchos” (T. 23, ley 11, p. 209).

En tiempos en que no existían los apellidos y todavía no llegaba el renacimiento capitalista que demandará señas de herencia, aquí las leyes de Alfonso definen que “apellido” significa aquel sonido (“voz de llamamiento”) que identifica a un grupo de hombres en guerra. Una vez oído, los que lo reconocen deben salir a la defensa de aquellos que están en peligro. (T 26, Ley 24, pág. 222).

Antes que Santa Teresa y otros piadosos maldijeran la libertad, en la Edad Media significaba otra cosa: “es la más cara cosa que hombre puede haber en este mundo” (T 29, Ley 1, p. 226).

En el Título 31 se reconoce las conveniencias de la vida estudiantil y se percibe, quizás, la insistencia de algún miembro del cuerpo redactor: se establecen “estudios” como lugares de reunión de maestros y discípulos, higiénicos, donde no falte el pan y el vino. Se insiste en la necesaria seguridad que se les debe garantizar a los maestros y escolares (ley 2, p. 230). También se establece la forma de pago de los maestros y ciertos derechos modernos: si “leyesen” una parte del año pero enfermasen por largo tiempo deben recibir el salario del resto del año. Establece que los “estudios generales” tengan tienda de libros (ley 11, p. 236). La “estación” era la librería donde se vendía, alquilaban y copiaban los libros. En una partida posterior se proscribe el castigo del maestro al alumno que deje lisiado a éste. (T9, ley 1. p 328).

Por supuesto, no hay que esperar al Siglo de Oro para encontrar misoginismo explícito. Según las leyes del rey sabio, “una de las cosas que más envilece la honestidad de los clérigos es tener trato frecuente con las mujeres” (ley 36, p. 107). Tal vez por eso, a diferencia de los clérigos de Occidente, los del bárbaro Oriente se podían casar (107-108). En la partida siguiente establece que “ninguna mujer, aunque sea sabedora [del derecho] no puede ser abogada en juicio por otro; y esto por dos razones: la primera, porque no es conveniente ni honesta cosa que la mujer tome oficio de varón estando públicamente envuelta con los hombres para razonar por otro; la segunda, porque antiguamente lo prohibieron los sabios por una mujer que decían Calfurnia[1], que era sabedora, pero tan desvergonzada y enojaba de tal manera a los jueces, que no podían con ella” (Título 6. Ley 3, pp. 247-248). Por la misma razón, los ciegos tampoco podían ser abogados porque no podían ver a los jueces y rendirles honores.

Por supuesto, la ley no era la misma para cada persona, característica estamental que se conservará en la ley española por muchos siglos más y en la práctica internacional hasta nuestros días.

continúa: Lecturas: Alfonso el Sabio. Las siete partidas (II)

Jorge Majfud

[1] Se puede referir a alguna mujer de la gran familia romana de los Calpurnios. También San Pablo en la Epístola a los Corintios manda que las mujeres deben callar en una asamblea (I, 14, 33-35). Lo cual es usado en el siglo XVII, especialmente contra Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, la cual responde con altura.

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

Image for Exhibit

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

Exhibition runs December 13, 2010 through March 13, 2011
Main Library, Fourth Floor

«Nazism is applied biology.»
— Rudolf Hess, Deputy to Adolf Hitler

The Jacksonville Public Library, in partnership with United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative, is honored to present Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. Through compelling images, Deadly Medicine examines the Nazi regime’s collaboration with medical professionals to develop a racist ideology intended to cleanse German society of those viewed as threats to the health of the nation. A powerful visual testament to the atrocities of the Holocaust, this traveling exhibition illustrates how German doctors, scientists and public health officials legitimized persecution and genocide through pseudo-scientific eugenics programs.

Deadly Medicine is based on an acclaimed 2004 exhibition of the same name that opened at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Since then, versions of the exhibition have traveled to Canada, Germany and across the United States. Deadly Medicine has been made possible by The Lerner Foundation and Eric F. and Lore Ross.

Visit the online companion to Deadly Medicine at www.ushmm.org/deadlymedicine

The local exhibition is sponsored by the Jacksonville Public Library, Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, Fanny Landwirth Foundation,
Mr. Jay Stein/Stein Mart Inc. and Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative.

Location and Hours

Time: Daily, during regular library operating hours. Closed for major holidays.
Location: Jacksonville Main Library, 303 N. Laura Street, Jacksonville, Florida
Lecture Series, Presented by Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative

Deadly Medicine’s companion lecture series extends the exhibition’s dialog into our community, bringing together experts and thinkers to explore issues that are still as relevant as ever. The lecture series includes presentations at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Florida State College at Jacksonville, the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership and Florida Coastal School of Law.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Panel: Complicity & Resistance in a Controlled Society—This discussion explores the decision to comply with and the decision to resist the established order from the perspectives of business, sociology, literature, philosophy, the military, and the sciences.
Moderator: Douglas M. Hazzard, Ph.D., Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Jacksonville University
Time: Program at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Terry Concert Hall, Jacksonville University
Business: Joe Buck, Ph.D.
It’s Only Business: Cooperation & Denial in International ConflictSociology: Nathan Rousseau, Ph.D.
The Intrinsic Dangers of BureaucracyLiterature: Jorge Majfud, Ph.D.
The Technology of BarbarismPhilosopy: Scott Kimbrough, Ph.D.
The Capacity for EvilThe Military: Captain Lee Steele, USN
Abu Ghraib – What Went WrongHistory: Lois Becker, Ph.D.
Everyday Complicity & Resistance in Stalinist russiaThe Sciences: Andy Ouellette, Ph.D.
DNA Profiling and a Universal DNA database
Monday, February 28, 2011
Stand Up/Speak Out: Dismantling Structural and Institutional Racism in Healthcare
Time: Reception at 5:30 p.m., Program at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Florida State College at Jacksonville, Downtown Campus, Advanced Technology Center, T-140
Reservations required due to limited seating.
To RSVP, contact Brenda Sapp at (904) 899-6300 X4113 or bsapp@rrhs.org
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Panel: Neo-Nazis and Others: the Hate Continues—Hatred and persecution did not disappear with the defeat of Hitler and the end of World War II. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 932 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others. And their numbers are growing. Panelists will discuss Jacksonville’s need for a campaign of awareness and action that will unite our community to confront prejudice, hate speech and violence, promote democratic ideals and strengthen pluralism.
Time: Reception at 6:00 p.m.; Program at 7:00 p.m.
Location:Atrium, Florida Coastal School of Law
Moderator: Joanmarie Ilaria Davoli, Associate Professor of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law
Robert Tanen
Associate Regional Director, Florida
Anti-Defamation LeagueMark Brutnell
Special Agent Supervisor
Jacksonville Regional Operations Center
Florida Department of Law EnforcementAlex Silverstein
Special Agent
Federal Bureau of InvestigationBobby Lyle
Intelligence/Special Investigations Unit
Jacksonville Sheriff’s OfficeNareissa L. Smith
Assistant Professor of Law
Florida Coastal School of Law
Informed Consent in Research and Mental Health Medicine

Details TBA

About Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative

Remembering for the Future is a collaborative partnership of community organizations and individuals that has promoted Holocaust education and remembrance in Northeast Florida since 2004. For more information, call (904) 246-0457.

The Holocaust Collection
Jacksonville Public Library
“Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” Exhibit
Bibliography With Links to the Jacksonville Public Library Online Catalog


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Complicity and Resistance in a Controlled Society

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Pictures: Yoana Kochneva,  Assistant Designer.

JU Hosted Panel Discussion on Lessons and Topics surrounding the Holocaust on Feb. 17

Jacksonville University and Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative presented “Complicity & Resistance in a Controlled Society” on Thursday, February 17 at 7 p.m. in Terry Concert Hall on campus.

The event, which was moderated by Dr. Douglas Hazzard, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was part of the Future’s 2011 lecture series which engages experts and the public in a discussion of some of the most important questions we face today on medical ethics, eugenics, perceptions of disability and diversity.

The following JU faculty and administrators presented at the event:

Dr. Andy Quellette, “DNA Profiling and a Universal DNA Database;” Dr. Nathan Rousseau, “The Intrinsic Dangers of Bureaucracy;” Dr. John Buck, “It’s Only Business: Cooperation & Denial in International Conflict;” Dr. Lois Becker, “Everyday Complicity & Resistance in Stalinist Russia;” Captain Lee Steele, USN, “Abu Ghraib—What Went Wrong;” Dr. Jorge Majfud, “The Technology of Barbarism;” and Dr. Scott Kimbrough, “The Capacity for Evil.”

There was also a photographic works on display, which were created by JU photography program students Jesse Brantman, Elise Gates, Ross Howard, Taylor Middleton, Dustin Mollohan, Suvarna Shah and Lauren Tidwell, under the direction of Ginger Sheridan, assistant professor of photography. Each student interviewed a Complicity and Resistance program panelist, and then created a small series of Modernist, B&W photographs expressing the photographer’s internal response to their speaker’s theme using abstract expressionist vocabulary.

Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative uses the lessons of the Holocaust to confront hatred and discrimination and build understanding and acceptance throughout our community. Working together since 2004, we are a collaborative partnership of Jacksonville’s leading education, humanitarian, non-profit and government organizations, businesses and community leaders.

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Pemba, Mozambique

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Saudades de África a finales del siglo XX (Pemba, Mozambique), mi estudio en la planta alta del astillero (Astillero Naval de Pemba), frente al mar, los barcos que diseñábamos o aprendíamos a hacer, las umbilas que se extraían del profundo matto (con Reinhard Klingler, etc.), los ladrillos inventados, el Land Rover (con Ing. Pedro Cruz, Nevy Castro, Nicai Cruz, Twara Cruz) que nos llevó tan lejos, las historias infinitas (con Teresa and Joseph Hanlon), los olores, el sabor irrepetible de la África profunda (el cocinero mágico, Ibrahimo). Era cierto lo que decían, te puedes ir de África, muy lejos, pero una vez que África entra en uno no se va jamás.

Pemba, Mozambique, 1997

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