Cover of Puerto Rico en el mundo

Cover of Puerto Rico en el mundo

Twentieth century history dem­onstrates, over and over, that the exacerbation of the con­tentious spirit between left and right wings result end in polar­ized atmospheres that make negotiation and the articulation of functional agreements dif­ficult. The aceptance cof the anti-liberal notion that it is not possible to reach agreements with the enemy, and that only the use of force is worthwhich has led civil wars, invasions, revolutions, coups d”etat, repressive policies and fundamentalist regimes.

To recognize polarities, howev­er, does not necessarily exac­erbate polarization. Experience tells us that if we keep in mind the real antagonisms of the current world, we can overcome the temptation of adopting po­larization strategies. Ridding the political field of violence, which is crucial for democratic ethics, becomes more impera­tive if we are to maintain hope of negotiating with opponents, and do not excluding the possi­bility of identifying common ground. It has cost a great deal of misery to learn that in polarized atmospheres the most dark and violent forces of the authoritar­ian reactionary mentality usu­ally prevail. Augusto Pinochet ”s recent death reminds us of one of those terrible episodes of the 20th century which was later overcome in Chile thanks to the determination to abandon dis­cursive extremes and to trust democratic institutions.

Ignoring real antagonisms in the political field does not contribute to moderation; on the contrary, it tends to po­larize the field by inserting radical postures: xenophobia, nationalism and paranoid mentalities. The concept of “clash of civilizations” that Samuel Huntington recently introduced is an example of a binary interpretation with a clearly aggressive xenophobic content, where the “other”, the immigrant from Asia and Latin America (including Puerto Rico), is identified as an enemy that threatens the national Anglo ­protestant cultural integrity. As spokesman of a right-wing not declared as such, Huntington rejects the cultural pluralism of cosmopolitan and trans-national identities, pleading for “a revitalized United States that reaffirms its particular histori­cal Anglo-protestant culture, its religious convictions, and its values.”

The polarization that Hunting­ton proposes has found echo in the so-called “war against terrorism;” another “holy war” that identifies a new enemy that must be destroyed by means of force, contravening the cosmo­politan ethics of modern demo­cratic politics.

Roberto Gándara Sánchez
Centro de Investigación y Política Pública

Author: Proyectos FPH
Published: January 22, 2008.

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