Myths vs. machines to problematise life
Photo: Rodrigo Nunes, CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
I don’t know if the problem was that I was ‘wrong’ as such. I believe it is more the case that I hadn’t made a discovery yet: the revelation of the (common) potency of thought. French philosopher Jacques Ranciére calls it ‘the good news’, and it is certainly an event that presents a break, a cut, a before and after. We truly think when we truly confront our true problems.
Before this encounter, what I was interested in above all were forms of ‘soft propaganda’. The creation of myths – mythopoeisis – was a sort of white magic to oppose to the black magic of the system, its web of images and discourses. In the end, however, it was magic nonetheless, aspiring to cast a spell and enchant; that is, it played on the edge of social engineering. It is no coincidence that the problem then was above all to ‘create movement’. Propaganda assembles, proposes models and solutions, synthesises and simplifies, assigns identities.
Today, I only see strength in a thought that is not a machine of counter-histories, but a machine to problematise life. Propaganda is like a voiceover: it comes from nowhere (however much it may talk about subjectivity). It is a word of pure exteriority. This is exactly why it can’t move, it can’t affect. Only the word of someone who thinks from their own life is believable – a life that always moves on many planes (rather than the cut-up self of activism). This is the word one can truly answer, be responsible for.
Propaganda desires hegemony, it competes. This is why its word generates refusal. Behind it there is always a position accumulating representative power. The critical word, if it wishes to circulate, must constitute itself as a common place, an empty space that can be infinitely reappropriated, resignified… Ten years later, the question haunts me: what if struggling didn’t have to pass through de-problematising or convincing? What then?
Amador Fernández-Savater was an active participant in some initiatives of the ‘global wave’, such as Indymedia Madrid. Today he investigates new forms of politicisation from different spaces. One place where his current production can be followed is in the Público newspaper: blogs.publico.es/fueradelugar