What happened so that freedom became a slogan of the right and obedience seems to be among the values of the left? Writer Daniel Enrarity This question is asked in his last book – “Democratic Freedom” (Galaxia Gutenberg) – and the answer he finds points to changes in the ideological landscape, which, unlike short-term political polemics, presage tectonic movements of a cultural nature. In the community.
Freddie Mercury sang “I want to break free”, Garcha sang “Libertad sin ira” and Ayusu declared: “Socialism or freedom”. Are they talking about the same freedom?
Freedom is a highly controversial concept that cannot be taken as a legacy easily. In political philosophy, and in society itself, very different concepts coexist and they are all valid. I am against the moral superiority of one ideology over another, despite my preferences. I think the republican sense of liberty, which is more committed to society, is better for all, but the liberal version, which you understand as liberation from constraints, is perfectly legitimate.
Are these two concepts immutable?
Recently, a remarkable thing has happened: the right, which was more associated with ideas of obedience and preservation, has seized the banner of freedom. And the left, which was most associated with people’s liberation, now appeals to responsibility and commitment. This is not bad in itself, but it raises strange paradoxes.
The main factor is that freedom is understood as the absence of restrictions that can end up assuming an act to control the freedom of others and even those who exercise it. For example, no one has the right to infect his neighbor, but in the event of an epidemic, many said that the mask was a “health dictatorship.” If I want to exercise my freedom to enjoy a healthy environment, I will have to limit my behavior and not pollute it. Living in community involves constantly balancing shared joys and limitations, but often this vision of total freedom is evident through its absence.
Not many seem to miss it.
We cannot ignore the context. We just lived through a pandemic that forced governments to restrict and ban it. Some citizens and politicians sank into exhaustion before these necessary measures. In Spain, this fatigue was expressed against the left telling the citizen what to do, eat, say and even how to behave in bed.
Specifically, in his book, he analyzes the relationship of the left to pleasure and defines it as a relationship of conflict. Why is it?
In terms of discussions such as meat consumption, the use of air conditioning or language health, the left has been portrayed as bossy and preachy while the right seems amused and relaxed. It seems as though one is concerned with the good life and the other is dedicated to the good life. This is because the left has not been able to make emotionally attractive the values it advocates, which are more positive for society than those suggested by extreme individualism.
The left is portrayed as bossy and preachy while the right is playful and carefree. It seems as though one is concerned with the good life and the other is dedicated to the good life
The fun is the same for everyone.
But it can be presented in very different ways. For example, the issue of consent and romantic relationships can be brought up as a form of oppression or the assertion that shared pleasure is preferable to one based on dominance. The same thing happens with environmental and health issues. Eating less meat and sugar can be seen as curbing pleasure or as a way to enjoy a more balanced diet that allows us to live longer and in better conditions.
This idea is more complex and more difficult to sell.
There is a kind of short-term leadership that flatters the ears and tells people what they want to hear, and that is: eat a lot of meat, drink a lot of sugar, and drive a lot, even if it means bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. But society is no longer so simple and is ready for other types of politicians who send more subtle and complex messages. I am convinced that they will succeed.
Has the ideological landscape changed?
In today’s society, there is more ideological mixing than we think. People no longer accept ideological packages from the past, but instead make their own combinations to suit them, taking ideas here and there, even if some of them are contradictory. Today there are Basque nationalists crazy about Seville and right-wingers with an anarchist idea of freedom. Let’s say left or right is not as clear as before.
How are they distinguished?
I tell you a trick to find out if a person is right-handed or left-handed: ask him what bothers him the most, exclusion or interference. The person on the left will tell you that they are angry at being left out of the decision-making process and the person on the right that they hate being told what to do. It does not fail, it is valid for politicians and their sons-in-law. But the classic dilemma of pro-market vs. pro-state no longer works.
People no longer accept the ideological packages of the past, but instead make their own combinations to suit them, picking up ideas here and there.
What do you respond to these changes to?
Because the world is getting more and more complex. Our grandparents were born with all the answers given and being from a family determined their political affiliation, religion and even their football club. Today this does not exist. The political fight is still considered a war of labels, but it is no longer valid because the reality has become more ambiguous. Especially since the outbreak of identity politics, causing unprecedented ideological groups to emerge.
We are entering a long election period. Is this waiting?
Campaigns are streamlining the political playing field and many are joining in on populism by telling the public only what they want to hear for fear of losing votes. I think this is wrong and that today there is room for another type of leadership that bets on accuracy, friendliness and cooperation. Politics is a daily shootout. Suggesting friendliness there may seem silly, but voters will reward it. Today’s society is different, it has matured.
Are there new leaders?
I miss the leaders who don’t sugarcoat the population, the politicians who dare to express their doubts and sometimes tell voters they don’t know what’s going to happen, who admit mistakes when they make them. As to whether they should be new or before, I think the policy has accelerated too much to provide much scope for leadership consolidation. Spanish public life has become a holocaust relentlessly sacrificing those who do not give returns in the short term. We have little historical patience, both from the parties and from the electorate.
Did it work better before?
Rajoy lost twice in the elections to reach Moncloa. Today it would not be reasonable to grant such a margin to a candidate. Some are hit before they fail. But I do not subscribe to the rhetoric of longing for the old leadership that some have expressed. Political action today is more complex than it was during the transitional period. Then there were other very serious problems which I will not take lightly, but it was easier to persuade, manage and transform this society than it is today. She is now more aware of her rights, more demanding of the political system and more reluctant to change.
Spanish public life has become a holocaust relentlessly sacrificing those who do not give returns in the short term. We have little historical patience, both from the parties and from the electorate
He also digests things faster than before. We no longer remember the issue that monopolized public debate two weeks ago, but immediately buried it with a new issue.
We live in a permanent election campaign and this causes a lot of contradictions. So much so that sometimes there is no distinction between campaign work and government work. It is governed as if it were on a campaign. Even electoral advisers also advise the government, which I find very wrong and terribly wrong, unless there are advisers who are so great they can play two cards at the same time.
Some see democracy as threatened. Do you share this diagnosis?
no. I am completely skeptical of this call for attention about the danger that extremism, especially from the right, can pose to our democracy and those dystopian scenarios that some are heralding. Democracy is more resistant than the rhetoric generated by the attack on the Capitol or the Brasilia convention and is not about to disappear. My pessimism has to do with the fact that democracy has become a stagnant system.
What are you referring to?
Because it is not able to implement the changes it needs. In societies as divided and polarized as ours, which are subject to so many intersecting vetoes, it is impossible to activate mechanisms of cooperation and transformation. We’ve seen that in the United States. When Trump came to the White House, the US administration worked like clockwork at all levels to neutralize his follies. Both chambers, universities, economic agents, and the military got involved in the process…but it was the same apparatus that prevented Obama from implementing Universal Social Security. In the end, the tools that provide us with stability prevent the necessary social shifts, which is why we all lose.