martes, 26 de diciembre de 2006

Sobre definiciones políticas

Este blog se toma unas vacaciones, en las próximas dos semanas añadiré entradas muy ocasionalmente, así que desde ya les deseo un buen año 2007, que sea mejor para todos, para el mundo, el país y cada uno de nosotros.

Pero los dejo con un tema de reflexión. Se dice que a finales de año corresponde hacer balances y reflexiones sobre el sentido de las cosas. Hace algún tiempo quería poner un post sobre cómo pienso mi definición política. Algo adelanté cuando cité el discurso de aceptación del premio nobel de Octavio Paz, "La búsqueda del presente".

Paz habla de que vivimos en la "intemperie espiritual", en el marco del derrumbe de las ideologías, de las utopías, de los metarelatos, cuestión que ha sido una pieza clave de la crítica postmoderna. Esto hace que, en términos políticos, uno pueda construir sus propios principios, tomando partes de elementos que antes eran considerados imcompatibles. Para quienes tuvimos una formación de izquierda, un gran desafío fue incorporar plenamente la importancia de la democracia representativa, por ejemplo. Una figura importante en esto fue Norberto Bobbio, a quien podríamos calificar como un liberal socialista, o un liberal de izquierda. Hace unos años esta síntesis era cosiderada de un eclecticismo intolerable, hoy creo que es percibido con mucha normalidad.

Después de conocer a Bobbio, me llamaron mucho la atención las declaraciones del sociólogo Daniel Bell en alguna entrevista, en la que se definía como "socialista en economía, liberal en la política y conservador en la cultura". Bell avanza, desde posiciones liberales-conservadoras, en la misma dirección de construir una síntesis personal. Esta definión la ha dado Bell en reiteradas ocasiones, por ejemplo:

"I have always thought myself a socialist in economics, in that I have argued the principle that the resources of the community, as a first lien, need to be used to satisfy the "basic needs" of all (and the concept of "basic needs" is not that ambiguous it is that which is below the "discretionary income of the middle-class purse). And because I cherish deeply the cords of continuity that a tradition can provide, as against the syncretism which indiscriminately jumbles all cultures, I am a conservative in culture. And as for politics: if there is any lesson to be learned from this dreadful century, it is that ideological politics, politics a outrance--the politics shouted in the name of the people which, as Groucho Marx once observed, seeks power for those who shout "power to the people"--destroys the people and often those who shout as well. The ethic of responsibility, the politics of civility, the fear of the zealot and the fanatic--and of the moral man willing to sacrifice his morality in the egoistic delusion of total despair--are the maxims that have ruled my intellectual life"


Finalmente, cabe acá citar también a Leszek Kolakowski. Hace tiempo prometí un post sobre este autor y sus definiciones políticas.

Kolakowski, como Bell y muchos otros, empezó en posiciones marxistas, pero su crítica a los totalitarismos lo acercó a posiciones liberales. Al final, Kolakoski se definía como conservador-liberal-socialista (ver más abajo).

No digo que me defina necesariamente, en términos políticos, como Bobbio, Bell o Kolakowski, aunque debo confesar que a todos los leo con simpatía. Seguiré con estas reflexiones más adelante.

"How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist"
By Leszek Kolakowski

Motto: "Please step forward to the rear!" This is an approximate translation of a request I once heard on a tram-car in Warsaw.

I propose it as a slogan for the mighty International that will never exist.

A Conservative Believes:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

2. That we do not know the extent to which various traditional forms of social life--families, rituals, nations, religious communities--are indispensable if life in a society is to be tolerable or even possible. There are no grounds for believing that when we destroy these forms, or brand them as irrational, we increase the chance of happiness, peace, security, or freedom. We have no certain knowledge of what might occur if, for example, the monogamous family was abrogated, or if the time-honored custom of burying the dead were to give way to the rational recycling of corpses for industrial purposes. But we would do well to expect the worst.

3. That the idee fixe of the Enlightenment--that envy, vanity, greed, and aggression are all caused by the deficiencies of social institutions and that they will be swept away once these institutions are reformed-- is not only utterly incredible and contrary to all experience, but is highly dangerous. How on earth did all these institutions arise if they were so contrary to the true nature of man? To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism.

A Liberal Believes:

1. That the ancient idea that the purpose of the State is security still remains valid. It remains valid even if the notion of "security" is expanded to include not only the protection of persons and property by means of the law, but also various provisions of insurance: that people should not starve if they are jobless; that the poor should not be condemned to die through lack of medical help; that children should have free access to education--all these are also part of security. Yet security should never be confused with liberty. The State does not guarantee freedom by action and by regulating various areas of life, but by doing nothing. In fact security can be expanded only at the expense of liberty. In any event, to make people happy is not the function of the State.

2. That human communities are threatened not only by stagnation but also by degradation when they are so organized that there is no longer room for individual initiative and inventiveness. The collective suicide of mankind is conceivable, but a permanent human ant-heap is not, for the simple reason that we are not ants.

3. That it is highly improbable that a society in which all forms of competitiveness have been done away with would continue to have the necessary stimuli for creativity and progress. More equaliity is not an end in itself, but only a means. In other words, there is no point to the struggle for more equality if it results only in the leveling down off those who are better off, and not in the raising up of the underprivileged. Perfect equality is a self-defeating ideal.

A Socialist Believes:

1. That societies in which the pursuit of profit is the sole regulator of the productive system are threatened with as grievous--perhaps more grievous--catastrophes as are societies in which the profit motive has been entirely eliminated from the production-regulating forces. There are good reasons why freedom of economic activity should be limited for the sake of security, and why money should not automatically produce more money. But the limitation of freedom should be called precisely that, and should not be called a higher form of freedom.

2. That it is absurd and hypocritical to conclude that, simply because a perfect, conflictless society is impossible, every existing form of inequality is inevitable and all ways of profit-making justified. The kind of conservative anthropological pessimism which led to the astonishing belief that a progressive income tax was an inhuman abomination is just as suspect as the kind of historical optimism on which the Gulag Archipelago was based.

3. That the tendency to subject the economy to important social controls should be encouraged, even though the price to be paid is an increase in bureaucracy. Such controls, however, must be exercised within representative democracy. Thus it is essential to plan institutions that counteract the menace to freedom which is produced by the growth of these very controls.

So far as I can see, this set of regulative ideas is not self-contradictory. And therefore it is possible to be a conservative-liberal-socialist. This is equivalent to saying that those three particular designations are no longer mutually exclusive options. As for the great and powerful International which I mentioned at the outset--it will never exist, because it cannot promise people that they will be happy.

From Leszek Kolakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial (University of Chicago, 1990).

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