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Gustavo Gac-Artigas

Reinventing Logic in the Time of Fear

We live in times when a package bomb, or a series of package bombs sent by an individual, managed to unleash a collective fear that, in a second, changed the focus of a nation making us retreat to the dark and protective cave of the early days, those days in which the thought was a pale shadow on the wall of a society mired in fear; fear of the other, fear of the unknown, fear of reason, fear of logic in these irrational times when I fear the dreadful possibility of one day getting up mirroring our rulers.

Logic indicates that a prepotent, egocentric, erratic, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, isolationist, uncultured president, to name just a few of his traits, should go down in popularity and receive, at least, the moral repudiation of his people.

Logic indicates that those politicians who manipulate their political parties to tilt the balance in favor of their own candidacies to block, in turn, the way to their opponents should be denounced. They undermine the basic principles of democracy and distort the electoral process causing people to lose confidence and, in the end, reject both political parties and institutions becoming an easy prey of demagogues and embarking on populist adventures to support a candidate no matter how mediocre he may be.

Logic indicates that stressing division, playing the game of opposing one against the other, the “one” representing the power, has dangerous consequences and the division develops and go from playing with fear to leading towards irreconcilable positions and to violence.

Logic indicates that people want to live in peace, yet we live in times when an individual wielding a weapon that should never have come into the hands of civilians, unleashes a massacre in a synagogue, in a church in the south of the United States, in a school, in a concert. And again and again you hear heartbreaking laments and a “never again” repeated until tiredness accompanied by, as logic suggests,  a “hatred has no place in our society,” while hatred continues to germinate crouching in another sick mind that hopes to avenge his failure and frustrations in another massacre whose motivation is so far, but so far from that poor individual in our sick society.

Logic indicates that human beings tend to settle down and live in their place of birth. However, today, violence, extreme poverty, the feeling of guilt of a mother in front of a hungry child who, without words, asks her for something to eat, death lurking in every corner throws them to unknown paths in a desperate adventure. Long lines advancing in the shadows along walls of shame reminding us of the long lines of Americans during the Great Depression begging for a bowl of soup to soothe the unbearable burning that hunger produces in your mind and your stomach.

Logic indicates that those who had suffered the unbearable pain of hunger in their bones should convey this sentiment to their offspring so that he will never remain indifferent to the needy and hungry.

Logic indicates that false news should be discarded in a communicational world like ours where what is unsubstantial is accepted and disseminated as true news, without the slightest analysis.

Logic indicates that, with the advances of science and the unlimited access to knowledge, when poets’ verses can feed on the humblest dish and bear the voice of the people, the humanitarian side of individuals would prevail over the craving for power and wealth.

Logic indicates that rulers govern for the welfare of their people and not to become rich or to remain in power so to feel every morning, or at midnight, that “I am the Supreme,” that “I am the State.”

Logic indicates that the norm would be the rejection of corruption in all its forms, and above all the corruption and foolishness of our rulers.

Logic indicates that no circumstance should push us to elect a nostalgic of a past dictatorship, a neo-fascist, homophobic, anti-feminist, arrogant, racist candidate, a politician who approves torture and who, making the gesture of pulling a trigger with his finger, calls to fight violence with weapons. A candidate who received the support of Steve Bannon who called him a patriot, the savior of the ninth largest economy in the world. A far-right candidate who, along with Paulo Guedes, his chief economic adviser, a Chicago Boy, the hard wing of modern economic liberalism or neoliberalism, intends to apply the neoliberal economic theories of Milton Friedman, the same ones that Pinochet applied in Chile.

Logic indicates that in a globalized world an election brings consequences beyond the borders of the country where it took place. Bolsonaro’s election in Brazil represents a triumph that gives wings to the movements of far-right in the world.

Logic indicates that no one should even look to the darkest part of our history if it is not to study it so that it never repeats itself, and even less, to defend it or present it as an alternative to neoliberalism.

and yet…

Logic indicates that none of this happens and that against all logic, we are walking towards the destruction of democracy. It indicates that logic is not a trait of rulers. That the world is within reach of our hands, but the hands are just a handful; that decency abandoned us a long time ago. It abandoned us at the time of slavery; it abandoned us in the war; it abandoned us in the business world; it abandoned us in the dark times of dictatorships; it abandoned us when wealth and power concentrated on an elite; and more dangerous yet, it abandons us in today’s times of autocracy, times when they managed to know all about us, to penetrate our thoughts, to store our impulses to be able to model our desires in their image and likeness.

We live in times when logic is subjugated by indecency, ignorance, craving for power, cruelty disguised as kindness or as a safeguard of interests, and what is worse, that indecency is fed by our own silence.

Gustavo Gac-Artigas, Chilean Award-Wining Author and playwright, corresponding member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language-ANLE (Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española)

Translated from Spanish by Priscilla Gac-Artigas, PhD, Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Latin American Literature, Monmouth University, NJ

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