Echoes of the VII Interoceanic Congress: Jorge Majfud and critical thinking

The invisible in Latin America

Consulted about the theoretical contributions of his work’The narrative of the invisible / Ideological meanings of Latin America‘, from 2006, Majfud explained that it had been “an elaboration on semantic fields, according to which Societies fight for a meaning of language (from words like ‘ideolexics’ to ‘ideas’) to maintain or challenge power. That is to say, the political component (not necessarily partisan) is fundamental”.

“When I did ‘Science Orientation’ in high school and then in architecture school studying mathematics, theory and art at the same time, I observed with some concern that the world of philosophical and political thought was rarely based on basic scientific methods, such as deduction, etc., but in the construction of meaning through formulas such as A = B”.

“Starting in 2003, I found myself in the United States with a form of thought that struck me as strange and today is a common currency in Latin America: the criminalization of the poor. In Latin America the poor were never well treated, but the Protestant explanation of poverty was not considered to that degree, at least not in Uruguay and Argentina. Another trend that impressed me was the belief of the individual as sufficient proof of a fact”.

And he recounted that “one of the racist posters in Arkansas in 1959 read: ‘Race mixing is Communism‘ (Racial integration is communism), and it was the beginning of that elaboration where non-objective (“invisible”) realities were narrated and thus, objective reality was created and destroyed. To an ideoléxico in dispute (race mixing) is associated with another fossilized ideolexic and with a negative evaluation (communism). If it is possible to win in this dialectical and propaganda struggle, it is possible to dominate the center of ideological, social and political valuation: anti-racism is evil (A = B). This is a very simple but fundamental example.”

“In the case of those who fought to maintain racial segregation, they lost the semantic dispute, although they did not disappear and today they have regrouped in the same semantic struggle (now they call it “cultural war”), partly induced by more material realities, such as economic and geopolitical frustrations”.

The ideological meanings of Latin America

After the development of this theory, Majfud went on to analyze concrete examples, such as the definition of freedom by liberation theologians and the Vatican: “Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Instructions on some aspects of Liberation Theology1984-86), struggled to regain control of the meaning of the word ‘Liberty’for example, defining the borders of the semantic fields (positive and negative fields), something typical in theology: A is Bbut A is not C, without the logical impositions of the scientific method”.

The researcher then went on to analyze more extensive examples, opposing the methods of analysis or rhetoric of ‘The Open Veins of Latin America’ de Galeano (1971) and its antagonist ‘The twisted roots of Latin America’ from Carlos Alberto Montaner (2001): “Now, in that political struggle for meaning, the media play a central role. The commercial lobbies and the secret agencies always knew it. the ideolexic Liberty continues to be an “unstable ideolexic” or in dispute in the field of party politics and is almost always defined by the hegemonic ideology of the market and Anglo-Saxon power, and contested or questioned by critical thinking (not financed), closer to the Enlightenment tradition.

Criticism in contemporary culture

Regarding his personal reflection on the place of criticism in contemporary culture, Majfud explained that “fortunately, I have no chance to guide any reflection. I will participate with some proposal. I will try to provide a short list of points to consider, how to insist on the old need to promote a Latin American thought of its own (this thought has existed for centuries, but has been repressed and discredited for colonial and imperial reasons) to more modest but more probable and effective proposals such as the reform of the functioning and structures of the great narrative media, such as traditional media and networks social. Nothing new, because we have been insisting on the same thing for years, but perhaps summarizing it in a few points can serve for a civilized and productive debate, something that is so absent today. Radical thought must be vindicated as a producer of ideas; not the blind radicalism of fanaticism.

“If it is possible to win in this dialectical and propaganda struggle, it is possible to dominate the center of ideological, social and political valuation”

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