Spontaneous cynism, justice and injustice


Constantly, Bolívar Echeverría reported that the philosophical attitude of the 21st century was peculiar cynicism. Far from the personal and, consequently, social destructuring of the old dogs – since to live cynically was, according to etymology, to live like a dog – now this attitude would be radically different. Exposed to all the vicissitudes of the dog domesticated life, because not only tames the home but especially the polis, the city, the city, the old cynic, however, tried to lead a frugal life, wild as far as possible, happy and even grateful. The central attitude of cynicism was not irresponsibility but irony. Live in this “culebrero” and want to live. Thus, the cynical, already stripped of much of their natural ways, as the domestic dog has been stripped, does not hesitate to make life jump from time to time.


The ragged-but sagacious and powerful-irony is practised daily against everyone – part of the premise that we must never stop thinking and acting systematically against ourselves. However, it can also be achieved by violent and dirty rudeness; or by self-harm and self-mockery. Finally, the old cynical figure is not only the consciousness of being an animal domesticated by civilization but, even worse, of being aware that this animal wants to domesticate everything. This ironic cynicism boldly conceals a positive belief: human life is false and fleeting. There would be no reason why not show it from time to time. Only as an uncomfortable reminder of the vanity of vanities that encloses and constitutes the human.

Shakespeare would say many centuries after the first cynics: “Life is a story told by an idiot, full of noise and fury, but without any sense.” Not far from him, Hume said something similar, something that Borges used to repeat: “The world is perhaps the rudimentary sketch of some childish god, who left him half-done, ashamed of his poor execution; it is the work of a subaltern god, of whom the higher gods mock; it is the confused production of a decrepit and retired deity, who has already died. “ But it was centuries after Marx described where that lost sense was: “Money itself is the community, and can not tolerate another community superior to it.” The European modernity is full of these references that, in the end, indicate a radical presumption: the human, although false, is not transient. His constitution of life supposes the governing and final constitution in this world.

The consequences of this belief, practised day after day, are many; for the issue of justice, they are immense. They form, according to Echeverría, a new cynicism, a “spontaneous cynicism”. Such a practice is not rational and ironic, nor social-natural, achieved by empathy and theatrical representation of the animal form. Central to this attitude is a fact, as Echeverría states: “Good action in the midst of an unjust world can no longer be reaffirmed.”

If this is correct, then the “state of justice”, a space of equal opportunities and rights, reminds us the author of The Illusions of Modernity, was already banished from the future. Why? Why is it no longer possible to affirm good action in an essentially unjust world and why justice will not happen in any possible future? The argument is as follows: the type of being that has configured capitalist modernity does not have a planetary space capable of sustaining its existence. Echeverría writes: “The planet only seems to admit as sustainable the existence of a world for few; injustice, that is, the marginalization or even the extermination of ‘others’ seems a ‘technical condition’ of the reproduction of the modern world. “ Echeverría goes further: spontaneous cynicism implies not only having the inexhaustible existence of the unjust but, even, desiring that injustice, being part of a ‘will of injustice’ inscribed in the world of life itself. “

His black and pessimistic diagnosis of life also seems a portrait of the present: “repressed, closed around the monopoly of technological innovation and non-renewable resources, the globalized economy of a planet of overdeveloped productive forces, have a paradoxical effect on the life that human beings can take to thank her: the ‘realdeaniza’, makes again the races, religions, nations, regions must fear for their ‘identities’ and face each other to safeguard them. ” Primitive and villagers as a result of technological overdevelopment, and not by the relationship of reciprocity with the land, animal life and nature as it was the primitive fact and embodied by the spatial idea of ​​village life, the human being of the 21st century emerges, the current president of the United States of America will not let me lie, like the neobarbarian who possesses all imaginable technologies. On the other hand, reflective and enlightened spirits cannot escape the “glocal” apocalypse. Echeverría continues: “The gigantic ‘tribe’ of us, the moderns, must be affirmed in front of the others, the dispensable ones: the premodern, the postmodern and the modern half. The injustice that they are victims in their relationship with us is an injustice that we if we want to live as we live, must, cynically, desire and defend.”

This cynicism is not rational; That is why nobody will recognize that he is part of that modern tribe that defends and desires injustice to maintain their way of life. There lies its spontaneity, it occurs in the daily dealings with the merchandise, with the flow that we inject into capital, with our configurations of private life, property, racial and class membership; In short, with our world map : the market and the ways of valuing and relating practically everything from money and credit. It is a cynical behaviour that does not denounce or ironize but, in a sudden and spontaneous way, reaffirms the course of life in the capital.



The context of all these ideas is a brief review of Echeverría on a work by Luis Villoro, “El poder y el valor”. The Ecuadorian philosopher considers it “one of the most important books from the Mexican press in the last decade of the 20th century. Essentially, Echeverría agrees with an idea of ​​Villoro: the only possibility of understanding and getting out of the situation described is from a “disruptive ethic”. He points out that he shares “fully the idea of ​​Luis Villoro that, in the history that we have had to live, the ‘disruptive’ moment is the axis of all morally valid behaviour.” Thus, remember that for the Zapatista the only valid ethics is that which promotes a policy of disruptions. I think: of ruptures, fractures, confrontation, but deployed as a policy. For this reason, Echeverría emphasizes that what is important in this work of Villoro is to insist and pose “a theory of ethical values, a theory of politics and a theory of the relationship between ethics and politics”. However, Echeverría indicates in a subtle way, adjusted “to the most tolerant tradition about Marx within the scope of Anglo-Saxon political philosophy […]”, Luis Villoro falls short. It builds a “schizoid” Marx and loses sight of the critical discourse, one that “narrates” the modern reality as essentially constituted by a surmountable contradiction and conflict, and practices its narration as a moment of “overcoming”.

On the contrary, Bolívar Echeverría sees in Marx’s Capital, “a base of support difficult to refute” of the disruptive ethics, precisely because it acts as a policy of rupture of the contradictory discursivity of capitalism itself. In the multiple forms of the narrative, narrative, discourse or critical orality and, above all, in the critical practice itself, very similar to the first cynicism, the slave, his handler in capitalism, could deactivate the contradictory device of capital, says Echeverría, “by dint of trying to beat him”. We intuit the following: Capitalism will not be defeated, but confronting it permanently supposes a necessary condition to deactivate it.

In another small review, now about a book by Federico Álvarez, Echeverría returns to the same idea: “The modernity coming down is capitalist modernity that, to update its possibilities of affirmation and development, must, contradictorily, deny itself as a promise of abundance and emancipation “. And he continues his reflection on the complexity of thinking with tools and technologies not penetrated by capital’s own grammar and ideography: “[…] the first attempt to think outdoors, a masterful attempt that we have just begun to learn, is that of the ‘critique of political economy’ that Marx laid out in Capital as the first step of the implacable criticism of everything that has been established.” In this context, the idea of ​​justice should be rethought in its entirety, but – besides – it can be thought of only in its deployment of confrontation and disruption against capitalism. It is no longer an idea that has a metaphysical foundation or a possible simply rational elaboration. On the contrary, the just is already a report idea that is built only from the irruption and political rupture that, in turn, traces a deep and long way, sometimes, or short and superficial, in others, towards a form ethics that, also, is in relation and conflict with other ethical-political forms of the just.

This text was originally published in Spanish on January 13 2019, in the 268th edition of the magazine Memoria by Carlos Oliva Mendoza.

Reference: Cinismo espontáneo, justicia e injusticia.


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