lunes, octubre 30, 2006

La civilización y sus enemigos

Hace poco leí Civilization and its Enemies, de Lee Harris. Lectura muy recomendadada.

Ya desde el prefacio dice Harris

"Civilized people forget that in order to produce a civilization there must be what the German sociologist Norbert Elias has called "the civilizing process," and that this process, if it is to be successful, must begin virtually at our birth, and hence many long years before the child can have any say about the training he would have preferred. They forget that the civilizing process we undergo must duplicate that of our neighbors, if we are to understand each other in our day-to-day intercourse."

Esto refiere apunta dos cosas que, como dice Harris, la gente olvida fácilmente en civilización. El señorito satisfecho, por usar la expresión de Ortega y Gasset, piensa que la civilización es algo natural que surge espontáneamente. El "All men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights", requiere que primero haya una civilización para que eso sea cierto. En estado natural es una gran ilusión el que cualquier persona tenga tal cosa como derechos. Los derechos sólo pueden existir en el marco de una civilización que los dé como hechos, y que esté dispuesta a hacer valer y defender esos derechos por la fuerza si ello es necesario.

Esto es algo que muchos olvidan.

"Civilized people forget how much work it is not to kill one's neighbors, simply because this work was all done by our ancestors so that it could be willed to us as an heirloom. They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish. They forget that to fight an enemy it is necessary to have a leader whom you trust, and how, at such times, this trust is a civic duty and not evidence of one's credulity. They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the enemy.

That, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part - something that we could correct.

[...] The enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the enemy always hates us for a reason, it is his reason and not ours. He does not hate us for our faults any more than for our virtues. He sees a different world from ours, and in the world he sees, we are his enemy.


That is why those who uphold the values of the Enlightenment so often refuse to recognize that those who are trying to kill them are their enemy. They hope that by pretending that the enemy is simply misguided, or misunderstood, or politically immature, he will cease to be an enemy. This is an illusion. To see the enemy as someone who is merely an awkward negotiator or sadly lacking in savoir faire and diplomatic aplomb is perverse. It shows contempt for the depth and sincerity of his convictions, a terrible mistake to make when you are dealing with someone who wants you dead.

We are the enemy of those who murdered us on 9/11. And if you are the enemy, then you have an enemy [....]

Once someone else sees you as the enemy, then you must yourself deal with this category of human experience, which is why societies that have enemies are radically different from societies that do not. A society that lacks an enemy does not need to worry about how to defend itself against him. It does not need to teach any of its children how to fight and how not to run when they are being attacked by men who want to kill them. It does not need to appoint a single man to make instant decisions that affect the well-being of the entire community, and it does not need to train the community to respond to his commands with unthinking obedience.

But societies with enemies must do all of these things. and do them very well, or else they perish.


The first duty of all civilization is to create pockets of peacebleness in which violence is not used as a means of obtaining one's objective; the second duty is to defend these pockets against those who try to disrupt their peace, either from within or from without. Yet the values that bring peace are the opposite values from those that promote military prowess, and this poses a riddle that very few societies have been able to solve and then only fitfully. If you have managed to create your own pocket of peace -and its inseparable companion, prosperity- how will you keep those who envy you your prosperity from destroying your peace?

There is only one way: you must fight back; if your enemy insists on a war to the finish, then you have no choice but to fight such a war. It is your enemy, and not you, who decides what is a matter of life and death."

Realmente este libro está bueno.



At 15:06, Blogger Francisco J. Ibero said...

Las grandes civilizaciones han desaparecido o decaído por diferentes razones,entre ellas que la gente se ha vuelto demasiado cómoda para luchar.Lo distintivo de la nustra es el odio de las élites hacia ella.

At 20:15, Blogger Jaime Raúl Molina said...

Harris trata ese punto en su libro. Del cómo y por qué los intelectuales tienden al pacifismo, llegando eventualmente al extremo de demeritar la defensa de la civilización frente a amenazas externas.


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