Reflections on Reflection

Translation of piece by Luis García Montero from today’s Público.

Reflections on reflection.

Nowhere has there been so much meditation these last days as in the Puerta del Sol. Through it, the light of reflection has shone into the electoral campaign. Those addicted to the routine consumption of televisual pigfeed usually repeat the refrain that intellectuals are no longer committed and have lost their place in society. As fodder for cheap audiences, they are not used to receiving new ideas in the world of tele-garbage, be it gossip- or credit card-related. They are more into pigfeed than thought.

But there are other places that are not based on the shouty routine of mediocrity. The perplexed voter has read in recent years many books about the state of western democracy. Economists, philosophers, historians, political scientists, ecologists and writers have sounded the alarm about the winter for a word, democracy, which is being hollowed out. Under the political and media control of big finance, the true semantics of its vocabulary have been torn away from society. Democratic forms are drifting away from civil sovereignty.

Like the palace politician, the official politician, who moves amid the territory of pigfeed and viewing audiences, the perplexed voter also began to think that the perspective of intellectuals and of alternative movements was a lost endeavour.

But one day he went to the Puerta del Sol that had been taken by the people, he read the posters, listened to the proposals of the assemblies, spoke to the young people, and found himself in the street with all the meditations and preoccupations that he had once read about in books. In the name of the day of reflection, the Electoral Board orders the closure of the only spaces in which people truly wish to reflect. It is not a bad metaphor for understanding the state of our democracy. The magistrates are willing to cast to one side the constitutional right to hold meetings.

The perplexed voter recalls today that, at the beginning of the assemblies, he asked one of the organizers if it was possible to contribute to the resistance fund for the camp. They explained to him that they didn’t accept money, they needed blankets, paper, pens and books. He recalls another morning, when a young man with a Colombian accent approached him to tell him off about an article he had written about his country in Público. The perplexed voter had to admit, after a very intricate discussion, that he was wrong and the young man was right.

In the middle of the camp, other young people put out seats and a sofa with a notice that read “reserved for people older than 50 years of age”. A shiver of seniority ran through the bones of the perplexed voter. The young have their culture, their well-thumbed books, their blogs, their newspaper, their historical experience and their need to fight. The perplexed voter is proud of sitting on that sofa. Beyond the elections, there is a civic energy willing to restore democracy to dignity, which is to say, to refound the left.

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1 Response to “Reflections on Reflection”



  1. 1 Updates « The Punishment of Sloth Trackback on May 22, 2011 at 1:38 am

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