The popular submission to the leader (VIII) – El Sol de México

Since the post-war period, the West has entered into a feverish reflective activity on the leader-masses relationship within the framework of the totalitarian regimes suffered during the first half of the 20th century. By the 50s and 60s, multiple voices made their concern felt, as with Marcel Mauss, Hanna Arendt and the Banality of Evil, and Theodor Adorno, among many others. The latter, a conspicuous representative of the Frankfurt School, who will introduce the theory “of the Authoritarian Personality”, according to which it is born in childhood and is exacerbated by certain psychological, social and cultural factors, being characterized by the rigidity of thought, dogmatic adherence to authority, hostility towards difference, need for control and domination.

However, from this polyphonic choir, one voice will stand out with special brilliance, that of the philosopher and playwright Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), the same one who, while in the United States the work of “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer, his work “Men against the human” begins to circulate in Europe. An anthology made up of a dozen of his articles with a prologue by Paul Ricoeur, who will mention: although his tone “oscillates between alarmed lucidity and the repudiation of hopelessness,” anyone would be mistaken if they neglected the author’s anticipatory warnings about a catastrophe that is about to happen. happen (that of the Second World War by the time he wrote his first articles), as Marcel – in his opinion – is a prophet, an “unusual visionary” who is inspired by the “untimely Nietzschian force of the present” and in whose thought contains, among others, the seed of the idea of ​​“debasement” that, years later, would take shape in Arendt herself.

Now, despite the fact that two themes in particular stand out in the anthology: on the one hand, that of the meaning of history that politicians, ideologues and demagogues take advantage of and, on the other, that of the philosophy of values, which is based on the critique of resentment that Nietzsche and Scheler themselves spoke about, if something today needs to be recovered from their work in the context of what I have called “popular submission to the leader,” it is their postulates about the “universal against the masses.” ” and “the fanaticized conscience.” This concept will be taken up by Paulo Freire, as we will see.

What does Marcel mean by “universal against the masses”? In itself, a very shocking notion. He identifies the universal with the spirit and this with love from the elevated meaning that Plato gave it. The masses, in turn, are conceived lapidaryly as “the degraded human,” since in essence the masses are “fanatizable.” And they are largely because of the propaganda that exerts “an electrifying action” on them, which instead of maintaining life in their being, maintains “the appearance of life.” Yes, Marcel knows “Rebellion of the masses” by José Ortega y Gasset well, so much so that he quotes him in the passage when he alludes to the individual (the “mass-man”) who, being part of the mass and “feeling like the entire world”, ends up not feeling any anguish when knowing that he is equal to the rest, since “now everyone is just the mass.”

How then does the concept of “fanatical consciousness” arise? Initially, from the fact that man, in order to be part of the mass, must divest himself of his substantive reality, of his own essence and uniqueness. Individuality that the same media contributes to pulverize, at the same time that a new nature, artificial in itself, awakens in each of the mass-men, which supposedly comes to life when a new “passion” begins to bubble in their internal – a product of fear and insecurity initiated from the outside world – which, when manifested as aggression, becomes the genesis of fanaticism. An (aggressive) fanaticism characterized by its perennial refusal to question.

But fanaticism, which is nothing more than a faith taken to a paroxysm, is not the same as “fanaticized conscience.” A fanatic, for example, never sees himself as such, in the same way that not all ideas are “fanaticizing.” Therefore, fanatical consciousness is a pathological state of consciousness that surrenders to the leading individual who embodies an idea, that is, not to the idea itself. And there is no one better than Freire to delve into this statement based on what we are experiencing today.

According to him, in the consciousness of the mass man, dialogue is disfigured and distorted by the fanaticism triggered by “sectarian irrationalism.” Process by which the critical formation that the educational process promotes ends up aborted when “massification” prevents the “massified” man from developing not only a logical sense but also a social commitment, from the moment he falls prey to the “fanaticized conscience.” ”Marceliana who is involved in “mystical” thinking, inherently antidemocratic, in which irrationality and dehumanization, typical of massification, predominate. (To be continue)

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