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“Philosophy does not ask questions to find answers, but rather to question established ones”

The phenomenon of philosophical disclosure, Argentine Dario Sztajnszrajber says that “the gender movement is encouraging for those who believe that openness is the way to politics of the imagination”.

Dario Stajnszajber

After a half-life devoted to teaching, a professor of Argentine Philosophy who liked to use heterodox methods so that the material “generated eroticism, desire, willingness to get involved” received an order from one of his graduate students.

She worked on a new television channel and proposed that she develop a philosophy program ( Mentira la Verdad, which already has 52 chapters). “It was there that everything exploded,” says Darío Sztajnszrajber (Buenos Aires, 1968) at the Casa de America in Madrid, where, after taking off his jacket, the journalist discovers that he wore a black shirt with a white collar, like a collar clerical. The man who took philosophy out of the classroom and provoked a philosophical boom in Argentina talks about his bestseller, Philosophy in Eleven Phrases, in which, from Socrates to Marx, he proposes through a Romanesque plot a journey (“or a deconstruction”) by the history of philosophy.

Question. In Spain and Argentina and in Brazil institutions seem to want to bury philosophy. However, do you feel that people are hungry for this matter?

Answer. Yes. The philosophy begins to have greater diffusion and circulation outside the traditional institutional formats, in the margins. This turnaround is interesting.

Q. When you talk about margins, I understand you talk about networks, YouTube, Twitter … Can these channels really be a bulwark of emancipatory thinking? It seems more the realization of a hegemony.

A. Obviously, of course, what happens to me is that I do not want to restrict philosophy to a single language. Your question comes because you constantly ask me about the relationship between philosophy and networks. It is not the only place nor the best. It is part of the process to see how networks can generate their opportunity. If doing philosophy in the nets is to repeat crude philosophical phrases, it is not philosophy. In formats like Twitter, putting an essay on two million tweets is not philosophy. You have to figure out how to provoke from your own language. It is necessary to return to origins. Philosophy does not ask questions to find answers. She makes them question the established answers. It does not solve problems, it creates them where it is said that it is not necessary.

Q. Of the 11 of your book, what would you say is your favorite phrase?

R. Humm … I would say that of Saint Augustine: “Love and do what you want.” It’s very strange; if we do not know the context, we would say that it proposes a post-monogamous society (laughter). And it is the opposite, of course. But this sentence is taken from the context … Actually, it is a little game of the book: we explain the sentence in its context, then we break this context.

“The ‘everything that is solid in the air’, by Marx, installs us in modernity”

Q. And what best defines the world today?

A. The last four. “Everything that is solid breaks into the air,” of Marx, which installs us into modernity. That is, there is nothing to hold on to, it is difficult to understand ourselves in a world that changes frantically. Nietzsche’s, of course: “God is dead.” That more than God points to a foundation that orders reality. And if there is no foundation, we are also adrift. And this drift can be emancipatory. It makes us fight against what others do.

Q. Then there would be Jacques Derrida’s: “There is nothing outside the text.”

A. Of course, it is to understand that our subjective experience always depends on the language. Not only are we what we tell, but we are told by others. And finally Foucault’s: “Where there is power, there is resistance,” which forces us to project resistances that are not functional to power. Because it is often the power that must create resistance to continue to expand. If resistance is in the service of power, it is necessary to rethink how to escape the logic of power.

Q. But do you have any resistance that in this world is not useful to the system?

A. Today gender philosophy is a basis. It defines a vanguard. I think it’s like a synthesis of the last four sentences. There is a lot of Derrida, Foucault, Marx, and Nietzsche.

Q. But in the sense that all power grows, expands, against resistance, do not you think the so-called “gender ideology” can serve power?

A. I think it’s the one that gets the most out of it. And there is an intention to think of its place in the work of Judith Butler or Paul B. Preciado. It seems to me that there is an invocation to leave. But the question is how you define power. Foucault speaks of the power that is everywhere, present in the most micro, most immediate situations. To fight against power is to fight against yourself and against this need to be open to the permanent reinvention of what you are believed to be. In this sense, the philosophy of gender proposes a deconstruction so radical that it throws us into great uncertainty. And then you can escape the power.

Q. It seems inevitable to think that today it is more complicated than ever to escape the system, the tax, the hegemonic. Not only in matters of social control, but in our own habits of thinking.

R.They are fundamental. The formats. In philosophy, the word device is fashionable. In the sense of disposing of, organizing. These devices are older. Foucault fights against the idea of ​​power as repression and proposes the idea of ​​power as normalization. It is! We’ve been thinking that you know what you want and that power lets you do it or not. No, in this “I know what I want” power has already acted! That is why Foucault, when he denatures sexual desire, puts his finger on the wound. It is in this place where you would never believe that a construction device is imposed on you. I believe that these formats are very installed. The momentum of the media in this is very strong. They install formats and are welcome because they somehow organize and reassure. A life where one knows what is right and what is wrong is always calmer.

Q. Returning to the “gender ideology”, how do you think the movement is in Argentina, where women fight for the right to abortion?

R.It is imposing itself, it is spreading not only in the macro but in the micro, which seems to me to be the most important, and at the same time it exceeds the specific proclamation for the struggle for the woman, and has almost become a representation of a new form of doing politics: it exceeds the traditional one and, nevertheless, it has an unprecedented representativeness. It proposes a more depersonalized mode, dehydration. Feminism marks a breakthrough. Look for the horizontality. In Argentina, we say that the woman is a second citizen because she cannot decide on her own body. This generates a reaction in conservatism, which fears feminism, not because of its proposition about women, but because it disorganizes the whole identity. When you begin the deconstruction of the sexual identity ends up deconstructing the ethnic, national identity … The idea of ​​a traditional nation today resists less than that of gender identity! The gender movement is encouraging for those who believe that openness today is the only way to a politics of the imagination.

“Foucault, with his ‘Where there is power, there is resistance’, obliges us to design resistances that are not functional to power”

Q. However, there is no woman among the authors of the 11 sentences in her book.

A. Well, they were thought more like phrases than from the authors. It is also a sample of what is the history of philosophy as a history of subjection or imposition. Yes, there are worked authors like Simone Veil and Hannah Arendt. She had a magnificent sentence about the Holocaust, but I decided not to get involved in such a broad subject …

Q. Then he did not put any women on.

A. Well, God is (laughs), we do not know what kind it is.

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Jason Stanley: “White people in the lower class in the US are being killed by their whiteness”

Professor at the University of Yale, in his book ‘Facha’, dissects the features of fascism that crop up in today’s societies.

The philosopher Jason Stanley

The philosopher Jason Stanley, in New York last May. JOANA TORO

Anti-intellectualism, victimhood and the imposition of patriarchal values ​​are the common elements of the ultra ideology that springs up today in different latitudes. This is what Jason Stanley (the United States, 1969) maintains in his latest work, How Fascism Works, translated by Laura Ibanez and published by Blackie Books as Facha. How fascism works and how it has entered your life. A regular contributor to media, Stanley draws a broad map of fascism spanning several decades and more than half a dozen countries.

This Doctor of Philosophy by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professor at Yale University, before breaking down the fascist ideology and its reincarnations in the current political landscape, analyzed the propaganda mechanisms in his previous book How Propaganda Works (how propaganda works) , which earned him the award of the American Publishers Association in 2016. He has taken the leap to study the pernicious effect of the mythification of a glorious national past. Stanley asserts that the falsification and idealization of history today sustains from the Trumpian motto of “making America great again” to Orban’s Hungary, through the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. At the public library in New York, at the beginning of May, he vigorously defended the urgency of acting before the unstoppable rise of ultra rhetoric that is not innocuous.

QUESTION. He specialized in philosophy of language. How did you decide to study fascism?

ANSWER. In 2009 I was teaching at the Central European University in Budapest. I returned a year later, after the victory of Viktor Orbán, and the atmosphere was rarefied. I perceived the anti-Semitism behind the political discourse as if it were an ultrasound wave, and I remembered what my grandmother had written about how gradual the change in Berlin in the 1930s had been. I saw it clearly: anti-Semitism was not something remote, it had come back.

P. Her grandmother, posing as a social worker, helped hundreds of prisoners escape from the German concentration camp Sachsenhausen. What do you remember about her?

R. He died when I was a year old, I did not get to know her. But in her writings, she spoke of a time when certain rhetoric was used and it seemed that nothing was happening, that words had no consequences. However, the speeches are not inanes, the rhetoric ends up penetrating and today they are already affecting the world.

Q. In Facha writes about the attack on universities as one of the defining features of fascism.

R. It is, it is enough to look at the situation today in Brazil or read what Masha Gessen wrote about the furious attack on political correctness in the US, its caricature. This attack occurs in the international arena; the universities become a war zone.

Q. How do you see the American campuses?

A lot of money is invested in attacking universities because that’s where there is freedom

R. What I see in the universities of the United States is the arrival of many corporations. Look, Yale is not a redoubt of dangerous leftists, there the file of Kissinger is kept and Shakespeare has not been taken out of the school programs. It is incredible that things that are exaggerated and invented and spread. A lot of money is invested in attacking these centers because that is where there is greater freedom of expression and where there are more protests.

Q. That diffusion of exaggerations and falsehoods is in line with Breitbart News and its former director Steve Bannon. Why do not you write about him in Facha?

A. He is not a magician and I do not think he has as much power as he is supposed to. The Republican Newt Gingrich has been much more visionary in political communication. And those who do have power are the oligarchs on the right connected with Vice President Mike Pence, who promote all anti-gay policies. In Hungary, Orbán knows well what he does, he does not need Bannon, nor does he need him in Vienna.

P: How to stop conspiracy theories that feed fear?

R: This is something that political philosophers are debating a lot today. These theories can pass for truths when democracies undertake antidemocratic policies.

P: For example?

R: Look, the phenomenon of false news is not new. In 2003 they took us to the war in Iraq.

P: The novelty are the sounding boards that create social networks?

R: Well, this from the sounding boards I think it basically refers to tribalism that is not new either. Some people are isolated from reality and end up trapped in false myths.

P: Is no society immune to the techniques of fascism?

R: I think some areas of Germany will never be fascist, and this allows some hope in the power of a good education. But well, although in Germany the issue of Aryan supremacy does not resurface, if it is true that they have some nationalist myths, like that image of the Greeks being lazy.

Steve Bannon is not a magician and does not have as much power as he is supposed to

P: In his book, he does not mention populism as one of the features of fascism. Why?

R: It’s a term I tried to avoid, yes. I wanted to make clear that what we are facing is an ethno-nationalism of the extreme right. There is an old debate about the features that are left out if you try to encompass everything and analyze all the extremisms, both on the left and on the right.

P: Thinker Hannah Arendt, whom she cites extensively, was the first to theorize about what she called totalitarianism.

R: Yes, but I do not agree with Arendt. Some things apply to any totalitarian regime, but not all.

P: Which?

R: Arendt places race, an issue that defines fascism, and class struggle at the same level.

P: Has class confrontation not played a role, for example, in the election of President Trump in the US?

R: The white people of the lower class in the US are being killed by their whiteness. The Republican Party has been supporting policies for years that are not only damaging them, but decimating them, with laws on weapons, tax cuts to big fortunes, cuts in public education, or the rejection of Obamacare. They are the ones who are being sacrificed.

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I think, then … ‘Futurama’

A book reviews classical philosophical debates taking advantage of the plots and characters of the Matt Groening series.

Fry never got the books right, but it helped him beat the flying brains

Fry never got the books right, but it helped him beat the flying brains

Philip J. Fry falls into a Cryogenically tube on New Year’s Eve in 1999 and does not wake up until the year 3000. Thus start the seven seasons of Futurama, Matt Groening series that dared with almost all the great science fiction themes.

The followers of the series are still missing six years after their (second) cancellation, so it is not surprising that they have just published in Spain Futurama and philosophy (Blackie Books), a book of 23 essays edited by Courtland Lewis in which his plots and characters take advantage to talk about ethical, existential and political issues. The text follows the wake of The Simpsons and philosophy (and another hundred similar titles of the US publisher Open Court).

We present below an “anthology of interest” with some of the topics included in this volume:

1. Can I eat the Spanish flag?

Dr. Zoidberg celebrates Freedom Day by eating the flag of the Earth, an act with which this alien wants to thank the freedom he enjoys. However, the reaction of many earthlings is anger. Even the head of Nixon (president of the planet) shouts: “Death to the traitor!” Before taking Zoidberg to court.

This episode is inspired by the judgment in Texas vs. Johnson case (1989), in which the Supreme Court considered that Gregory Lee Johnson had exercised his freedom of expression by burning an American flag. That is, the judges were close to the so-called “principle of harm”: according to the philosopher John Stuart Mill, any form of public expression should be allowed as long as it does not cause sufficiently great harm. And that something offends is not. For Mill, the public debate of ideas is indispensable. And that includes burning flags, eating them or, what do I know, pretending that you dream about them?

2. Be yourself (if you can)

According to Plutarch, during his years of service, they replaced all the damaged parts of the ship of Theseus, to the point that there was not even a single plank of the original ship. Was this ship still the same ship?

Something like that (more or less) asks Fry in Lost Parasites. In this episode, some earthworms sneak into your brain and make amazing improvements in your intelligence. Thanks to them are about to conquer, finally, Leela. But Fry realizes that everything is the fault of the parasites and decides to eliminate them: he wants his friend to fall in love with him and not with the person who has molded the worms.

Actually, we all change throughout our lives. In the case of Fry, the difference comes from the fact that he is aware of this process, so he faces “the paradox existing between our idea of ​​being a permanent body and that of being a body that, in reality, is constantly changing”. What if Fry had not heard about the existence of the worms? Would it still be Fry?

The series was canceled (for the second time) in 2013

The series was canceled (for the second time) in 2013

3. Are time trips logically possible?

In Good is what Roswell, the ship of Planet Express travels to the year 1947, what serves to present the paradox of the grandfather: Fry should not do any harm to yours because it could cease to exist.

Would it be logically possible for Fry to kill his grandfather? If he did, Fry would not be born, so he would never travel in time, so he would never have killed his grandfather, but then he would be born because his grandfather would still live … Etcetera. Maybe he could not kill his grandfather no matter how hard he tried: for example, the pistol would jam or he would not hit a single shot. That is, it would be logically impossible and would always fail, just as I could not draw a three-sided square no matter how hard I tried.

But Fry kills his grandfather (unintentionally). And then he goes to bed with his grandmother (wanting). And he realizes that he is really his own grandfather. Is this logically possible? Yes, it is an example of a “causal loop”. Fry is the cause of his father and his father is the cause of Fry. The causal loops are rare, but “they are not logically impossible and, therefore, do not represent a problem to travel to the past,” explains the book.

4. Is it wrong to eat popplers?

Leela discovers on another planet what look like breaded prawns. They are so rich that they are taken to Earth, where they become a gastronomic fad. But in reality, they are offspring of omicronians, some extraterrestrials who, as soon as they hear about the massacre, come to Earth to seek revenge: they want to eat Leela.

The chapter becomes a crazy debate about whether it is okay to eat animals. If it seems right to raise a cow to roast it, why do we think it’s fair for the omicronians to eat Leela? As the book recounts, the series “encourages viewers to consider the perspective of the lower (or at least weaker) species”. Everything changes when you are the menu.

Leela discovers that popplers are actually rational animals

Leela discovers that popplers are actually rational animals

5. Does Bender really feel or is he only programmed to feel?

As it is the year 3000, in Futurama there are intelligent robots. Almost everyone, like Bender, has his own personality. In this case, it is a selfish personality and fond of theft, among other bad (and hilarious) customs.

But Bender is like that just because he’s been programmed? So he is not responsible for his actions? Does not that happen to everyone? Are not our actions ultimately the result of our genetic predisposition and the environment in which we have lived?

Like humans, Futurama robots “can overcome their functions” and “pursue other ends if they wish.” Our impulses and needs do not determine our behavior and, therefore, like Bender, we are moral agents responsible for our actions.

At least, that we know. Maybe all this is just another series by Matt Groening and we are just drawings that follow a script.

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Slavoj Zizek: “People are doped, asleep. We must awaken them “

The Slovenian philosopher says he does not defend the old communism, but rather new globalist communitarianism. The new challenges, he says, are ecology, the renewal of the welfare state and the prevention of “digital cognitive warfare”.

Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek, the great provocateur, paradoxical, contradictory, torrential, mediatic. The reflections on the current situation of this 69-year-old post-Marxist, psychoanalytic, cinephile philosopher to the infinite and passionate about jokes as a concave mirror of life continue to provoke passions. It never leaves anyone indifferent.

The author of the stirring Paradise Problem, among many other titles, has just released two books: The Courage of Despair (Zahar) and a short summary of his work (“I always cannibalize myself). It is called The Effect of the ‘Communist Manifesto’, although he argues that ‘ today communism is not the name of a solution, but the name of a problem’. Descabelado and seductive verb, welcomes us between his books, in his house in Ljubljana (Slovenia).

ANSWER. Because Trump is a blessing, although it carries out a kind of horrible conduct, capable of all ruptures. Precisely for this reason it can awaken, trigger, some reaction. What Trump does is crazy, but it used to be the same. With the environment, with everything. Some leftists make erroneous comparisons. If you do not like Trump or the new authoritarianism and are lazy to analyze it, the analogy is comfortable: ” Ah, it’s Fascism!”. This analogy with the thirties is very simple. It is more appropriate to refer back to the decadence prior to World War I when, like today, everyone was preparing for war, but no one thought it possible.

Q. The Leninist thesis of “the worse, the better ” has never brought anything good.

R. Lenin maintained that the war was good because it would bring the revolution. I doubt that now a war would contribute to anything. My statement was specific to the US, not to other cases. Now crucial things are happening in the Democratic Party, the new leftist Democrats are emerging. That would not have happened without Trump. It was he who broke the centrist liberal consensus. Democracies are homogeneous and work very well; all struggles come about by sharing a background of values ​​and procedures. So when the right came to power for the first time in Sweden, it maintained the social-democratic system. Republicans and Democrats also shared many things. Now, this pact is breaking.

Q. Meanwhile, a lot of people suffer more from Trump than from him. This supposed good news is costing concrete citizens.

A. Yes, but do not idealize the state of affairs before Trump. What brought you to power? The abandonment of the middle and lower classes. This process already existed before. Do not blame Trump for everything. Where did he come from? From the moon?

Q. On the contrary, Obama’s health care reform protected the middle-low class.

A. I agree that the Trump signal can be extremely dangerous. The US is in a state of internal cold civil war. Political currents do not speak the same language. They can not covenant. This will not last. We need to move on to another consensus, which will be more radical, something more left. Already with [former Democratic pre-candidate Bernie] Sanders and his followers. Or with the miracle of Jeremy Corbyn [British labor leader].

” I would defend some openness [from borders to immigration]. But with conditions. “

Q. What a miracle! It is not a herald of the future, but of the past.

A. I understand you, you do not even have great ideas. But it is a miracle in the sense that no one would have predicted it 10 years ago. We live in a strange time. Many social democracies were more radical half a century ago than today’s Sanders and Corbyns.

Q. You maintain that the problems of immigration are not only our fault but also our own immigration.

R. For saying this, do you know how many leftists have already labeled me a neo-fascist? The great mistake of the left is not to think that there are no problems, but rather that the only culprit is our racism, that our colonialism has caused misery throughout the world, and therefore, whatever it may be, we are guilty. That we are not open enough to integrate immigrants. Why do we suppose that they want to integrate? Many do not want to, prefer to maintain their lifestyle. They do not form a single group. In Germany, many young people become more radical than their parents.

Q. So do you have to close borders?

A. No. I would defend a certain openness. But with conditions. First, moralizing the problem of accepting or not immigrants is wrong. We should think in a more strategic way: why do they come? Let’s rethink our policy in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen. They come. They are part of the problem of the current malfunction of capitalism. It is not just a moral problem. And yes, economical. Second, let us assume that there is a conflict between lifestyles. We should admit that there is a growth of fundamentalism throughout the world. That explodes as a reaction to Western progress in the rights of homosexuals, transsexuals …

Q. They also come for political reasons, they are attracted to European freedom.

A. This is already more problematic.

P. They flee from war, then they come for freedom.

A. In principle, yes. I agree … But what do you mean by freedom? Our freedom?

” It is fundamental for Europe to remain united as the European Union, with all its imperfections. “

Q. Yes. Speak freely, publish as you publish …

A. I agree, I just wonder if most … You idealize the situation. Most of the people who come, poor refugees, care about safety and hunger, but I wonder how far they come for freedom in our Western sense.

Q. Many want to benefit from the right to asylum enshrined in international law. Where to put the boundaries between economic and political refugees?

A. My opposite argument is this: why do we only speak of our limits if we live in a global world? What do we need to change in it? The mistake is that we are already accomplices of his creation. See Libya. We are troubled by the way we overthrow Gaddafi. Or with Congo and other African countries. They may be chaos, but they are fully integrated into world capitalism. Where do we set the standard for multicultural coexistence? Multiculturalism is a complicated notion. The first standard is tolerance to other cultures. We should not just tolerate them, they should also tolerate us unconditionally. What about a conflict in your community? I do not worry about the Muslims covering up. But they force a girl to cover herself if she does not want to. You are a victim of a lack of individual freedom. We must protect her.

Q. Because, after all, human rights are a valid ideology all over the world.

A. Here the problems begin. They will tell us: ” You impose your colonialism. ” They will blame us for European human rights giving much preference to the individual, that they have collective rights. Muslims want us to respect their way of life. They may even respect a Christian. But they do not respect people like me, who are atheists.

Q. Liberties and the welfare state continue to have immense power of attraction.

A. Let us accept that people come here because, despite all corruption, we continue to offer the world what may be the great model of relative well-being, a single model that combines well-being and freedom, the best so far in world history. Therefore, we should be proud of our European destiny. The fantasy of our democratic tradition is that imperfection is within the system, it is part of our democracy’s ability to be critical of itself. It is a unique system, which includes self-criticism.

Q. Is there such a thing as global capitalism?

A. Not in the political arena. It exists as a world market.

” Muslims can respect a Christian, but they do not respect people like me, who are atheists. “

Q. The market is not capitalism. There are many forms of capitalism.

R. And coexist. The question is what form of capitalism is becoming prevalent. Social-democrat capitalism, with the welfare state, is threatened. They say that communism did not work. But look at what happened in China in the last half-century. Has there ever been such explosive economic development in human history? It’s impressive. The figure who announced our time was Lee Kuan Yew, the late leader of Singapore. He created the formula of authoritarianism ” with Asian values “. China demonstrates on a massive scale that this works. Chinese capitalism is capitalism under the rule of an authoritarian party. It is a new combination of world capitalism in which the country participates in the global market, but ideologically works in a patriotic, ethnocentric way.

P. Disturbing.

A. What worries me is that Europe is losing. So I support the recent call of Emmanuel Macron and Merkel to create a European Army. It is vital for Europe to remain united as the European Union, with all its imperfections and corruption. Trump and Putin work systematically to break up in Europe. That is your goal. Putin, in a very perverse way, was in favor of the secession of Catalonia. Or Brexit. It was very hypocritical. Whenever European unity shows problems …

Q. Yes, and it has economic problems with China, it reduces its demand because of US protectionist measures.

A. The key is the new development of electric cars. The fear is that China will try to develop such cars. For it is no longer just the assembly line of the world economy, it develops its own economy. Traditional leftists hate two things of the current world order: the free market, mad with its chaos, and authoritarian states. China has both. Now it establishes the fear. The dissidents are Marxists, students who study Marxism and propose to organize the workers, so exploited there. This is the worst thing you can do in China today: protect the rights of workers. [These activists] are “missing” for 15 days.

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