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January 20, 2019

10:52 PM

The government shutdown is, sadly, a reflection of the closing of our minds

Francisco Miraval

Everybody in the United States is talking about the government shutdown, that is, the partial closing of the government for the last month. Few, if any, however, talk about the full closing of the American mind for the last three decades, as described by American philosopher Allan Bloom. 

Even if we are not in agreement with everything Bloom said in The Closing of the American Mind in 1987 (and, by the way, we are not in agreement), we do agree, based on our own experience of several decades teaching at college level, that many people lack “points of reference” to develop critical thinking skills or to understand current events.

Or, to paraphrase what it is said Goethe once said, if you don’t know 3000 years of history, you are just walking around the world with no knowledge or understanding of what is really happening. 

For Bloom, that lack of knowledge, that “traveling the world without critical thinking”, leads to an “American-style nihilism”, that is, people living with “strong, fanatical opinions”, and, for that same reason, without thinking. 

In Paulo Coelho’s novel Adultery (published in 2012), the leading character, a female journalist, says 15 pages into the book that, “I fell asleep thinking. Perhaps I really do have a serious problem.” 

I want to be clear I am not talking here about politics. This is just a superficial and ephemeral attempt to talk about philosophy. From that perspective, the government shutdown should lead us to move beyond the shutdown itself to think what is/was already closed, hidden, and forgotten before this shutdown took place. 

For the government to be closed, something is had to close before. And whatever it is will remain closed, hidden, and forgotten, even after the federal government reopens. As vapor emanating from the Lethe river, an invisible and permanent cloud of forgetfulness and oblivion is already preparing the next shutdown, and the one after that, and the next one, until everything we know will be closed, hidden, and forgotten. 

At that moment, nobody will talk about anything being closed or forgotten, because forgetting somethings implies you remember you forgot. And hidden something reveals that something is hidden. And closing something means it can be opened. Yet, if we forget who we are and who we were, and if nobody remembers us, our shutdown (closing) will be permanent. 

Ancient Egyptians, in the context of their believe in eternal life, found a way to ruin the eternal life of already-deceased people. They simply erased from monuments and walls the names and faces of those whose afterlife they wanted to damage. With nobody left to remember those persons, the dead themselves will soon forget their own identities. 

Today we are facing a similar situation, but, as philosopher Byung-Chul Han, we are imposing to ourselves our own loss of memory and identity. We look at the mirror and we don’t recognize ourselves or even remember our real names. Something important was completed shut down decades ago and we already forgot it. 

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January 20, 2019

10:52 PM

El cierre del gobierno refleja (lamentablemente) el cierre de las mentes

Francisco Miraval

En Estados Unidos, todos hablan del cierre parcial del gobierno federal, que comenzó hace casi un mes. Pero pocos, muy pocos, hablan del cierre total de la mente estadounidense, que comenzó hace décadas, como bien lo anticipó en su momento el filósofo Allan Bloom. 

Aunque sin estar de acuerdo en todo (o incluso en gran parte) de lo que Bloom dijo en 1987 en su conocido libro El Cierre de la Mente Estadounidense, estamos de acuerdo (por nuestra propia experiencia en docencia universitaria) que muchos carecen de “puntos de referencia” para desarrollar un pensamiento crítico o incluso para entender los eventos actuales. 

O, como ya lo había dicho Goethe (que aquí parafraseamos), quien no conoce 3000 años de historia sólo deambula por el mundo sin saber exactamente lo que sucede. 

Para Bloom, ese “no saber”, ese “viajar por el mundo sin pensar críticamente”, lleva a una vida de “nihilismo al estilo estadounidense”, es decir, vivir “con opiniones fuertes y fanáticas”, y, por eso mismo, sin pensar. 

En su novela Adulterio (de 2012), Paulo Coelho le hace decir a la protagonista casi al principio del libro: “Me duermo pensando. Quizá tengo realmente un serio problema”. Cuando el pensar, tal cual magistralmente lo retrata Coelho, se percibe como “un serio problema”, entonces no quedan dudas que vivimos en nihilismo, al que Bloom califica de “deshumanizante”.

En definitiva (y sin hacer política, sino un superficial y efímero intento de filosofía), analizar qué se cierra (el gobierno, por ejemplo) debería llevarnos más allá de la coyuntura a pensar qué se cerró, qué se ocultó, qué se olvidó antes para que el cierre actual haya tenido lugar. 

Porque aquello que se cerró, se ocultó y se olvidó antes permanecerá cerrado, oculto y olvidado, aunque el gobierno se reabra, como especie permanente e invisible nube de olvido, como vapor subiendo del Leteo, preparando el próximo cierre, y el siguiente, y el otro después de ese, hasta que ya todo quede cerrado, oculto y olvidado. 

Entonces, ya no podrá hablarse de cierre o de ocultamiento o de olvido alguno, porque olvidarse significa recordar que nos olvidamos de algo, ocultar implica la posibilidad de descubrir, y cerrar quiere decir que existe la opción de abrir. Pero si no sabemos ni recordamos quienes somos o quienes alguna vez fuimos, y ya nadie nos recuerda, el cierre puede ser permanente. 

En la antigüedad, los egipcios, cuando querían arruinarle la vida eterna a alguna persona (ellos creían en la vida después de la muerte), los egipcios borraban los nombres y los rostros de los fallecidos de los monumentos erigidos a esas personas, para que nadie los recordase y, en definitiva, para que ellos mismos perdiesen la memoria de su propia identidad. 

En nuestra época sucede algo similar, pero esa pérdida de la memoria y de la identidad es autoimpuesta, como lo explica el filósofo Byung-Chul Han. Nos vemos en el espejo, pero no sabemos quiénes somos ni como nos llamamos. Algo importante se cerró hace décadas y ya lo hemos olvidado. 

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January 13, 2019

8:59 PM

What do we see when we can only see ourselves?

Anais Nin once said that we don’t see things as they are, but as we are. And in his book The Burnout Society, philosopher Byung-Chul Han said that we, postmodern humans, have lost the ability of “taking time” in front of objects, including, for example, works of art, which we simply ignore.

To that combination of not seeing things, but only seeing ourselves (according to the color of the glasses we wear) and not taking time with things, I would like to add a third element: hedonistic narcissism, that is, not only no recognizing things as such, but assuming reality is there to give us pleasure, even ephemeral one. 

A few weeks ago, during a visit to a well-known museum, I witnessed all those three elements in action. I arrived early enough to the museum to be among the first ones to enter. And, as soon as the doors were open, I unexpectedly found myself among a stampede of people chaotically running to see a certain work of art.

I didn’t run. Running is not one of my attributes and I will never run inside a museum. But I walked as fast as I could. Then, when I arrived at the masterpiece, I saw exactly what Han described: people were not taking time to see it.

Instead of looking at the art, most, if not all, of those in the stampede were spending just a couple of seconds to take a selfie, always making a “V” sign with their hands, in front of the work of art, even covering the art with their faces.

It was clearly an unspoken statement saying to the museum something like, “There nothing beautiful or important here except me, and I am the only one worthy of a picture”. Or, in other words, “If I am not in the picture, there is no reason to take the picture”. 

Only seconds after taking the selfie, many of those postmodern humans were already somewhere else, finding a different place – a bridge, painting, sculpture, church, monument, or something else – to repeat the ritual of inserting their images in front of the unseen thing, imposing their narcissism upon their reality. 

Perhaps they were all making the “V” sign, usually associated with victory, to show they were victorious over history, cultural, art, creativity, beauty, and spirituality. 

Or perhaps the “V” sign should be understood as an indication of peace, perhaps an internal peace achieved only for a few seconds when we pretend to cover reality with a selfie, that is, when we don’t see things (Nin) and we don’t take time with things (Han). Then, looking for more peace, we run to another place for a new selfie.  

That’s what people were doing: running from one place to another looking for “selfie spots”, never stopping and collecting images faster than a bee collecting pollen. But at least the bee is working for the benefit of the hive, without posting images in social media to calm and appease a fragile ego. 

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January 13, 2019

8:58 PM

¿Qué vemos, cuando sólo nos vemos a nosotros mismos?

Decía Anais Nin que “no vemos las cosas como son, sino como somos”. Y, más recientemente, Byung-Chul Han afirmó en La Sociedad del Cansancio que los humanos de nuestra época hemos perdido la capacidad de “demorarnos” frente a objetos a los que ya no les prestamos la debida atención, como las obras de arte.

A esa combinación de ver las cosas como somos (todo es según el color de los lentes con los que uno mira) y de ya no “demorarse” con las cosas, se le debe agregar un tercer e innegable elemento, el narcisismo hedonista, que no solamente ya no reconoce a los objetos como tales, sino que sólo busca que la realidad provea placer, aunque sea efímero.

Hace algunas semanas, al visitar un conocido museo, tuve la oportunidad de ver todos esos elementos en acción. Llegué temprano para estar entre los primeros en entrar y, cuando finalmente se abrieron las puertas, me encontré con una inesperada y caótica estampida de “personas” que alocadamente corrieron a ver una famosa obra de arte. 

No corrí (no es una de mis especialidades y mucho menos dentro de un museo), pero caminé lo más rápido que pude para llegar al lugar. Y allí presencié exactamente lo que advirtió Han: ya nadie se demora. 

En vez de mirar o admirar la obra de arte, la gran mayoría que aquellos que en tropel habían llegado al lugar le dedicaban unos pocos segundos a tomarse una “selfie”, haciendo inevitablemente el símbolo de la “V” con sus manos y, en muchos casos, incluso tapando con su rostro la obra de arte.

Claramente, se trataba de una expresión de desdén hacia las creaciones exhibidas en el museo, como diciendo: “Aquí no existe nada bello ni importante y lo único que vale la pena ser retratado soy yo”. 

Por eso, sólo segundos después de haber capturado su “selfie”, estos humanos posmodernos ya habían abandonado el lugar, posiblemente para dirigirse a otro sitio (pintura, escultura, iglesia, puente, monumento, o lo que sea) al que pudiesen cubrir con su propia imagen, imponiendo así su narcisismo a la realidad. 

Quizá por eso esas personas hacían el símbolo de la “V”, que generalmente se asocia con la victoria, para marcar su victoria personal sobre la historia, sobre la cultura, sobre la creatividad, sobre la belleza, sobre la espiritualidad. 

O quizá el símbolo de la “V”, también asociado con la paz, indicaba que el anteponerse uno mismo a la realidad causa cierta paz interior, aunque esa paz sea momentánea, porque para no ver las cosas, sino sólo vernos (Nin) y para no demorarnos con las cosas (Han) necesitamos correr inmediatamente a algo más frente a lo cual retratarnos. 

Y eso es exactamente lo que estas personas hacían: correr de un lugar a otro para tomarse sus selfies, sin nunca detenerse y moviéndose más rápido que una abeja recolectando polen. Pero al menos la abeja contribuye abnegadamente a la colmena y no publica imágenes en las redes sociales sólo para ventilar su frágil ego. 

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December 16, 2018

9:42 PM

It is not just reading: it is meeting other minds

Several years ago, a good friend of mine, also an avid reading like myself, asked me, “How many books are you reading?” “Books”, in plural, because he shared and still shares that passion for reading several books at the same time.

Times are different now and books are no longer as popular as they used to be. Yet, they are an excellent tool to meet other minds. Reading is not just “skating over the page” (as Ortega y Gasset once warned). At its core, it is meeting other minds. 

Obviously, if you want to meet other minds, first you need to meet your own mind. And that’s one of the fascinating (and frequently forgotten) aspects of reading: it is an internal dialogue, a reflection about oneself, a moment of meditation oscillating between the conscious and the unconscious mind when, for just a moment, we become aware of ourselves. 

My passion for reading began before college, where I was reading several books per week and later, at the end of the studies, a book per day or so. 

In fact, my passion for reading began when I was a little boy and every weekend my father took me to a secondhand bookstore and bought me took books. I selected one and he selected the other one. I had to read both of them before getting two more used books the following week. (I still had many of those books.)

Later, when I was a teenager, I discovered the benefits of public libraries and I went every week to the library, borrowed two books for seven days, read them, returned them, and borrowed two new books for the next seven days. Before returning the books, I wrote a summary of each book. (I still have many of those handwritten notes.)

But, what’s the point of talking about my reading habits, as if they were of any importance? In fact, it is irrelevant to know how many books I read. What is relevant is to know that today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders, as it has been said many times. The reason, according to numerous studies, is that reading causes the brain to prepare the person for the reality presented in the books. 

For example, just a few days ago, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder published a scientific report confirming what many people (Einstein included) already knew: imagination changes reality. In fact, according to those researchers, the brain doesn’t separate imagination from reality and needs to learn how to do it. 

So, how do we learn to distinguish imagination from reality, without canceling either of them and learning from both of them? It seems one of the answers is reading, because digital media doesn’t generate the internal dialogue books create. Again, when we read, we prepare ourselves for a new reality. 

I am not proposing going back to the past I am proposing meeting ourselves again for the first time in the context of a new future we can seldom imagine. 

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December 16, 2018

9:40 PM

No se trata de leer, sino de encontrarse con otras mentes

Ya pasaron varios años desde que un buen amigo mío, ávido lector como yo, me preguntó “¿Qué libros estás leyendo?”. “Libros”, en plural, porque él compartía y aún comparte esa pasión de leer varios libros a la vez. 

Las épocas han cambiado y los libros ya no son tan populares como alguna vez lo fueron, aun así, son una excelente herramienta para encontrarse con otras mentes. Y de eso se trata, no de “patinar sobre la página” (como decía Ortega y Gasset), sino de encontrarse con otras mentes.

Obviamente, para encontrarse con otras mentes uno debe primero encontrarse con la mente propia. Y ese es uno de los aspectos fascinantes (y quizá un poco olvidados) de la lectura: es diálogo interno, esa autorreflexión, ese momento de meditación que oscila entre lo consciente y lo inconsciente en el que, aunque sea por un momento, nos sentimos nosotros mismos y así lo sabemos.

Mi pasión por la lectura surgió mucho antes de llegar a la universidad, donde había que leer varios libros por semana y luego, al final de la carrera, un libro al día. 

De hecho, mi pasión por la lectura comenzó cuando, siendo niño pequeño, cada fin de semana mi padre me llevaba a una tienda de libros usados, me dejaba elegir uno y él elegía el otro, y entonces yo tenía una semana para leerlos antes de recibir los dos libros usados de la semana siguiente. (Todavía tengo muchos de esos libros.)

Luego, ya en la adolescencia, descubrí los beneficios de las bibliotecas públicas y entonces cada semana iba a la biblioteca, pedía prestados dos libros y, como sólo los prestaban por siete días, yo tenía que leerlos en ese tiempo y luego devolverlos antes de pedir prestados otros libros. Pero antes de devolver los libros, yo los resumía. (Todavía tengo muchas de esas notas.)

Pero ¿por qué estamos hablando de mis hábitos de lectura, como si a alguien le importasen? En realidad, no se trata de cuántos libros yo leo (eso es irrelevante), sino del hecho de que, como se ha dicho muchas veces, el lector de hoy es el líder del mañana. Y la razón, según numerosos estudios, es que el cerebro y la mente preparan al cuerpo para la realidad presentada en los libros.

Por ejemplo, hace solamente pocos días, expertos de la Universidad de Colorado en Boulder publicaron un estudio científico en el que confirman algo que muchos (incluyendo Einstein) ya sabían: la imaginación cambia la realidad. De hecho, el cerebro parece no distinguir entre imaginación y realidad y debe aprender a hacerlo, según los investigadores de esa universidad.

¿Cómo aprendemos a distinguir entre imaginación y realidad sin anular ni la una ni la otra y aprendiendo tanto de una como de la otra? Según parece, los medios digitales (videos, películas) no ofrecen esa posibilidad, porque no generan el mismo diálogo interno que genera la lectura de libros. 

No se trata de volver al pasado, sino de reencontrarnos con nosotros mismos en un nuevo futuro. 

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December 9, 2018

8:40 PM

How come “Captain America” always knows when I will be at a certain street?

Because of my work, several times a week I travel from east to west through the city where I live, always following the same direction and the same street, but seldom at the same time. Yet, regardless of the time of my trip, “Captain America” is always there. I have no idea how he knows my schedule. 

I call him “Captain America” because he is a young man who, while walking to his job, carries a backpack similar to Captain America’s shield. Nothing odd about that. What is odd is that I see that man walking west on the same block at 8 am or 11 am, or at any other time I happen to drive by that block. 

How this “Captain America” knows at what time he needs to leave his home to be at the place and time where I will see it? Who shares my schedule with him? 

There is, of course, an easy explanation: there is more than one “Captain America’ walking the streets of my city, all of them leaving the same place a few minutes after one another to follow the same street to go a certain place, like buses or trains leaving their stations. However, because I only see on “Captain America” at a time, I think there is only one, even if there are many.

Some people will say that it is just a trivial coincidence. However, I must say I see “Captain America” on different days and at different times, always at the same place and always walking west. And that happens so frequently that it looks like more than just a “coincidence”. How many coincidences should happen to stop being just a coincidence? 

Some people may say it is just an illusion. It could well be. But were “Captain America” a mere illusion, he wouldn’t surely stop at the traffic light waiting for the light to turn green before crossing the street. 

There are many other explanations. I like to think that perhaps this “Captain America” is really an otherworldly android, brought here by intelligent aliens to study human behavior. I assume the android keeps a record of how many humans notice his presence while driving in heavy traffic. 

But perhaps the most attractive alternative is to realize that I am the one creating my own “Captain America” reality. Let me share this story. 

Many years ago, when my children were still young, we were watching a soccer match and every time I left the room to do something else my team scored. The situation happened a few times, so my children were sure that it was me, not the players, the real reasons for the goals. 

Obviously, I am not that naïve as to think that my actions cause a soccer team to score several goals or that a worker with a Captain American backpack changes his schedule, so I can see it during my commute. However, there should a mysterious force at play beyond just “illusion” and “coincidence”.  

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December 9, 2018

8:39 PM

¿Cómo sabe el “Capitán América” a qué hora voy a pasar por cierta calle?

Por cuestiones de trabajo, varias veces por semana debo recorrer de mañana la ciudad de este a oeste, y, aunque siempre por la misma calle, no siempre en el mismo horario. Sin embargo, sin importar a qué hora paso por esa calle, el “Capitán América” siempre está allí. Y yo no sé cómo el conoce mis horarios. 

Lo llamo “Capitán América” porque es un muchacho que, caminando claramente camino a su trabajo, lleva en su espalda una mochila con el conocido escudo del conocido superhéroe. Eso no es lo extraño. Lo extraño es que siempre veo a ese muchacho caminando por el mismo lugar y en la misma dirección, aunque yo recorra esa calle a las 8 de la mañana o tres horas después.

¿Cómo sabe este Capitán América a qué hora él debe salir de su casa para que cuando yo pase él esté precisamente allí, caminado a un costado de la calle? ¿Quién le pasa la información de mi horario de salida? ¿Cómo adquiere esa información?

Otra alternativa es que no es un solo y único “Capitán América” caminando junto a la calle, sino varios, que salen continuamente del mismo lugar cada cierta cantidad de minutos para dirigirse al mismo lugar en una cierta dirección, como autobuses o trenes saliendo de las estaciones. Pero como yo veo uno a la vez, creo que es uno solo, cuando en realidad son varios. 

Quizá se trata, dirán algunos, de una mera coincidencia sin importancia. Pero en ese caso debo decir que el avistamiento del “Capitán América” en distintos días y a distintas horas, pero siempre en la misma calle y caminando en la misma dirección, ocurre con tanta frecuencia y precisión como para dejar de llamarlo “coincidencia”. 

O quizá, dirán otros, sea sólo una ilusión. Pero si el “Capitán América” fuese una ilusión, no esperaría a que cambie la luz del semáforo para cruzar la calle. 

Existen otras varias explicaciones. Una de las que más me atrae es que este “Capitán América” es en realidad un androide usado por seres inteligentes de otro planeta para estudiar la conducta de los humanos, llevando un registro de cuántos humanos notan la presencia del “Capitán América” al conducir por una transitada calle. 

Pero quizá haya que tener en cuenta otra alternativa, la de asumir que yo mismo estoy creando esa realidad. Permítaseme explicarlo con un ejemplo. 

Hace ya muchos años, cuando mis hijos eran pequeños, sucedió que, al mirar un partido de fútbol por televisión, cada vez que yo dejaba de mirar para hacer otras cosas, mi equipo favorito marcaba un gol. Tanto fue así, que mis hijos llegaron a creer que era yo, no los jugadores, el causante de los goles.

Obviamente, no soy tan ingenuo como para creer que mis acciones tienen efectos como lograr anotaciones para un equipo de futbol y modificar el horario de un trabajador para que yo pueda verlo portando su mochila de Capitán América. Pero alguna misteriosa conexión debe existir, porque “que las hay, las hay”. 

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December 2, 2018

9:33 PM

Orwell’s dystopian world is now painfully obsolete


I recently found in the latest issue of a well-known academic journal a interesting argument: the best way to end the discrimination and exploitation of certain groups is to expand discrimination and exploitation to every group, without exclusions or distinctions. 

Given the fact that the article was published by a serious and highly respected journal, and that the author of the article holds a high position in a national organization, there are no doubts the article is not meant to be a joke. Perhaps that’s why it is son interesting and even dangerous. 

Let me put it this way: the author of the argument acknowledges that discrimination and abuse have happened throughout history and are happening even today. Yet, the solution to end with both discrimination and abuse is thought to be to extend discrimination and abuse to include those groups that are not yet impacted but those two social ills. 

Perhaps I am too naïve or too poorly informed. And I certainly lack the academic sophistication needed to understand the argument presented above. I thought the best way to end discrimination was to end it, not to expand it. But perhaps, when faced with the reality of a Utopian goal, the best strategy is to adopt the attitude of “If you can beat them, join them.”

In other words, the argument seems to suggest that if we expand an unacceptable social behavior to impact not just one group but the whole community (perhaps even the global community), then that behavior becomes “normal” and “acceptable” because every could potentially be impacted by that behavior. 

But, is that a valid argument? For example, could we end slavery by turning not just a group, but everybody into slaves? Or, perhaps closer to the intention of the argument mentioned above, should we eliminate slavery making it possible for any person, regardless of who he/she is, could become a slave? 

And, if so, why should we stop there? Perhaps we can create a society where not only everybody is a slave, but were people unknowingly slave themselves, and, assuming they are still free, they exploit themselves and call that “personal development”. 

The bad news is that it is already happening. During a speech in Barcelona last February, philosopher Byung-Chul Han argued that we live in a society where each person exploits himself/herself, is afraid of the “other” (whoever that “other” may be), and lives in the “hell” of trying to be different so they can be like everybody else. 

According to Han, “Today a person exploits themselves believing they are fulfilling themselves”. We are so narcissistic that we can’t even accept ourselves. 

Perhaps, then, the absurd argument of ending discrimination expanding discrimination may not be that absurd at all, not because it is valid, but because we have internalized discrimination and abuse to the point that we discriminate and abuse ourselves to a level never anticipated by Orwell in his 1984.

What a strange world is a world where even grotesque Utopias are obsolete!

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December 2, 2018

9:33 PM

La utopía de Orwell ya quedó grotescamente obsoleta

Recientemente leí en una revista académica especializada un interesante argumento: la solución para terminar con la discriminación y la explotación de ciertos grupos de personas sería discriminar y explotar a todos por igual, sin hacer distinción entre grupo alguno.

Dado que la persona que publicó ese argumento lo hizo en una revista de sólido prestigio y se desempeña en un alto cargo que una organización nacional, no caben dudas de que el argumento fue presentado con toda seriedad. Y eso mismo lo hace más interesante y hasta peligroso.

A ver si nos entendemos: a la vez que se reconoce la existencia de discriminación y de abuso de ciertos grupos, tanto a la largo de la historia como en el presente, el autor de este argumento sostiene que para eliminar ese flagelo social habría que expandir esa discriminación y abuso a todos los otros grupos aún no abusado ni explotados. 

Sinceramente, quizá por mi ingenuidad y mi carencia de sofisticación académica, yo pensaba que la mejor manera de terminar con la discriminación era terminar con ella, no expandirla. Pero quizá ante la utopía de lograr esa meta, aparentemente la alternativa es adoptar la postura de “si no puedes con ellos, únete a ellos”. 

En otras palabras, si “normalizamos” y expandimos una conducta inaceptable para que afecte no sólo a un grupo sino a toda la comunidad (quizá incluso a nivel global), entonces esa conducta se vuelve aceptable porque ahora todos somos o podemos ser igualmente afectados por tal conducta.

Pero ¿es ese un argumento válido? Por ejemplo, ¿podemos eliminar la esclavitud esclavizando no sólo a un grupo de personas, sino a todas? O, quizá más cercano al argumento académico antes mencionado, ¿podemos eliminar la esclavitud si cualquier persona, sin importar de qué grupo sea, puede convertirse en esclavo? 

¿Y por qué detenerse solamente en eso? Podríamos, por ejemplo, pensar en una sociedad en la que no solamente cualquier persona puede ser esclavizada, sino también en la que las personas, sin saberlo, se esclavizan a sí mismas (aunque creyéndose libres) y se explotan a sí mismas (aunque a eso lo llaman “realización personal”).

Tengo malas noticias: eso es exactamente lo que ya está sucediendo. En un discurso en Barcelona en febrero de 2018, el filósofo Byung-Chul Han argumentó que vivimos precisamente en una sociedad en la que cada uno se explota a sí mismo, tiene miedo del otro (cualquiera que el otro sea) y vive en el “infierno” en el que todos quieren ser lo que no son para poder ser “iguales” a los otros. 

Según Han, “las personas hoy se explotan a sí mismas creyendo que así se están realizando”. 

Quizá entonces el ridículo argumento de terminar con la discriminación expandiéndola y haciéndola universal no sea tan ridículo porque, lamentablemente, tanto ya hemos internalizado esa discriminación y abuso que nos discriminamos y explotamos a nosotros mismos a un nivel que ni siquiera Orwell pudo imaginar en su 1984.

¡Qué mundo raro aquel en el que las grotescas utopías se vuelven obsoletas!

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