Giorgio Agamben sobre el estado de excepción

Giorgio Agamben es uno de los autores cuya lectura considero imprescindible en estos momentos en que el paradigma de la globalización neoliberal parece no tener opción


A Brief History of the State of Exception
by Giorgio Agamben
An excerpt from State of Exception

We have already seen how the state of siege had its origin in France during the Revolution. After being established with the Constituent Assembly’s decree of July 8, 1791, it acquired its proper physiognomy as état de siège fictif or état de siège politique with the Directorial law of August 27, 1797, and, finally, with Napoleon’s decree of December 24, 1811. The idea of a suspension of the constitution (of the “rule of the constitution”) had instead been introduced, as we have also seen, by the Constitution of 22 Frimaire Year 8. Article 14 of the Charte of 1814 granted the sovereign the power to “make the regulations and ordinances necessary for the execution of the laws and the security of the State”; because of the vagueness of the formula, Chateaubriand observed “that it is possible that one fine morning the whole Charte will be forfeited for the benefit of Article 14.” The state of siege was expressly mentioned in the Acte additionel to the Constitution of April 22, 1815, which stated that it could only be declared with a law. Since then, moments of constitutional crisis in France over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been marked by legislation on the state of siege. After the fall of the July Monarchy, a decree by the Constituent Assembly on June 24, 1848, put Paris in a state of siege and assigned General Cavaignac the task of restoring order in the city. Consequently, an article was included in the new constitution of November 4, 1848, establishing that the occasions, forms, and effects of the state of siege would be firmly set by a law. From this moment on, the dominant principle in the French tradition (though, as we will see, not without exceptions) has been that the power to suspend the laws can belong only to the same power that produces them, that is, parliament (in contrast to the German tradition, which entrusted this power to the head of state). The law of August 9, 1849 (which was partially restricted later by the law of April 4, 1878), consequently established that a political state of siege could be declared by parliament (or, additionally, by the head of state) in the case of imminent danger to external or internal security. Napoleon III had recourse several times to this law and, once installed in power, he transferred, in the constitution of January 1852, the exclusive power to proclaim a state of siege to the head of state. The Franco-Prussian War and the insurrection of the Commune coincided with an unprecedented generalization of the state of exception, which was proclaimed in forty departments and lasted in some of them until 1876. On the basis of these experiences, and after MacMahon’s failed coup d’état in May 1877, the law of 1849 was modified to establish that a state of siege could be declared only with a law (or, if the Chamber of Deputies was not in session, by the head of state, who was then obligated to convene parliament within two days) in the event of “imminent danger resulting from foreign war or armed insurrection” (law of April 3, 1878, Art. 1).
World War One coincided with a permanent state of exception in the majority of the warring countries. On August 2, 1914, President Poincaré issued a decree that put the entire country in a state of siege, and this decree was converted into law by parliament two days later. The state of siege remained in force until October 12, 1919. Although the activity of parliament, which was suspended during the first six months of the war, recommenced in January 1915, many of the laws passed were, in truth, pure and simple delegations of legislative power to the executive, such as the law of February 10, 1918, which granted the government an all but absolute power to regulate by decree the production and trade of foodstuffs. As Tingsten has observed, in this way the executive power was transformed into a legislative organ in the material sense of the term. In any case, it was during this period that exceptional legislation by executive [governativo] decree (which is now perfectly familiar to us) became a regular practice in the European democracies.
Predictably, the expansion of the executive’s powers into the legislative sphere continued after the end of hostilities, and it is significant that military emergency now ceded its place to economic emergency (with an implicit assimilation between war and economics). In January 1924, at a time of serious crisis that threatened the stability of the franc, the Poincaré government asked for full powers over financial matters. After a bitter debate, in which the opposition pointed out that this was tantamount to parliament renouncing its own constitutional powers, the law was passed on March 22, with a four-month limit on the government’s special powers. Analogous measures were brought to a vote in 1935 by the Laval government, which issued more than five hundred decrees “having force of law” in order to avoid the devaluation of the franc. The opposition from the left, led by Léon Blum, strongly opposed this “fascist” practice, but it is significant that once the Left took power with the Popular Front, it asked parliament in June 1937 for full powers in order to devalue the franc, establish exchange control, and impose new taxes. As has been observed, this meant that the new practice of legislation by executive [governativo] decree, which had been inaugurated during the war, was by now a practice accepted by all political sides. On June 30, 1937, the powers that had been denied Blum were granted to the Chautemps government, in which several key ministries were entrusted to nonsocialists. And on April 10, 1938, Édouard Daladier requested and obtained from parliament exceptional powers to legislate by decree in order to cope with both the threat of Nazi Germany and the economic crisis. It can therefore be said that until the end of the Third Republic “the normal procedures of parliamentary democracy were in a state of suspension.” When we study the birth of the so-called dictatorial regimes in Italy and Germany, it is important not to forget this concurrent process that transformed the democratic constitutions between the two world wars. Under the pressure of the paradigm of the state of exception, the entire politico-constitutional life of Western societies began gradually to assume a new form, which has perhaps only today reached its full development. In December 1939, after the outbreak of the war, the Daladier government obtained the power to take by decree all measures necessary to ensure the defense of the nation. Parliament remained in session (except when it was suspended for a month in order to deprive the communist parliamentarians of their immunity), but all legislative activity lay firmly in the hands of the executive. By the time Marshal Pétain assumed power, the French parliament was a shadow of itself. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Act of July 11, 1940, granted the head of state the power to proclaim a state of siege throughout the entire national territory (which by then was partially occupied by the German army).
In the present constitution, the state of exception is regulated by Article 16, which De Gaulle had proposed. The article establishes that the president of the Republic may take all necessary measures “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of its territory, or the execution of its international commitments are seriously and immediately threatened and the regular functioning of the constitutional public powers is interrupted.” In April 1961, during the Algerian crisis, De Gaulle had recourse to Article 16 even though the functioning of the public powers had not been interrupted. Since that time, Article 16 has never again been invoked, but, in conformity with a continuing tendency in all of the Western democracies, the declaration of the state of exception has gradually been replaced by an unprecedented generalization of the paradigm of security as the normal technique of government.
The history of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution is so tightly woven into the history of Germany between the wars that it is impossible to understand Hitler’s rise to power without first analyzing the uses and abuses of this article in the years between 1919 and 1933. Its immediate precedent was Article 68 of the Bismarckian Constitution, which, in cases where “public security was threatened in the territory of the Reich,” granted the emperor the power to declare a part of the Reich to be in a state of war (Kriegszustand), whose conditions and limitations followed those set forth in the Prussian law of June 4, 1851, concerning the state of siege. Amid the disorder and rioting that followed the end of the war, the deputies of the National Assembly that was to vote on the new constitution (assisted by jurists among whom the name of Hugo Preuss stands out) included an article that granted the president of the Reich extremely broad emergency [eccezionali] powers. The text of Article 48 reads, “If security and public order are seriously [erheblich] disturbed or threatened in the German Reich, the president of the Reich may take the measures necessary to reestablish security and public order, with the help of the armed forces if required. To this end he may wholly or partially suspend the fundamental rights [Grundrechte] established in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153.” The article added that a law would specify in detail the conditions and limitations under which this presidential power was to be exercised. Since that law was never passed, the president’s emergency [eccezionali] powers remained so indeterminate that not only did theorists regularly use the phrase “presidential dictatorship” in reference to Article 48, but in 1925 Schmitt could write that “no constitution on earth had so easily legalized a coup d’état as did the Weimar Constitution.”
Save for a relative pause between 1925 and 1929, the governments of the Republic, beginning with Brüning’s, made continual use of Article 48, proclaiming a state of exception and issuing emergency decrees on more than two hundred and fifty occasions; among other things, they employed it to imprison thousands of communist militants and to set up special tribunals authorized to pronounce capital sentences. On several occasions, particularly in October 1923, the government had recourse to Article 4 to cope with the fall of the mark, thus confirming the modern tendency to conflate politico-military and economic crises.
It is well known that the last years of the Weimar Republic passed entirely under a regime of the state of exception; it is less obvious to note that Hitler could probably not have taken power had the country not been under a regime of presidential dictatorship for nearly three years and had parliament been functioning. In July 1930, the Brüning government was put in the minority, but Brüning did not resign. Instead, President Hindenburg granted him recourse to Article 48 and dissolved the Reichstag. From that moment on, Germany in fact ceased to be a parliamentary republic. Parliament met only seven times for no longer than twelve months in all, while a fluctuating coalition of Social Democrats and centrists stood by and watched a government that by then answered only to the president of the Reich. In 1932, Hindenburg—reelected president over Hitler and Thälmann—forced Brüning to resign and named the centrist von Papen to his post. On June 4, the Reichstag was dissolved and never reconvened until the advent of Nazism. On July 20, a state of exception was proclaimed in the Prussian territory, and von Papen was named Reich Commissioner for Prussia—ousting Otto Braun’s Social Democratic government.
The state of exception in which Germany found itself during the Hindenburg presidency was justified by Schmitt on a constitutional level by the idea that the president acted as the “guardian of the constitution;” but the end of the Weimar Republic clearly demonstrates that, on the contrary, a “protected democracy” is not a democracy at all, and that the paradigm of constitutional dictatorship functions instead as a transitional phase that leads inevitably to the establishment of a totalitarian regime.
Given these precedents, it is understandable that the constitution of the Federal Republic did not mention the state of exception. Nevertheless, on June 24, 1968, the “great coalition” of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats passed a law for the amendment of the constitution (Gesetz zur Ergänzung des Grundgesetzes) that reintroduced the state of exception (defined as the “state of internal necessity,” innere Notstand). However, with an unintended irony, for the first time in the history of the institution, the proclamation of the state of exception was provided for not simply to safeguard public order and security, but to defend the “liberal-democratic constitution.” By this point, protected democracy had become the rule.
On August 3, 1914, the Swiss Federal Assembly granted the Federal Council “the unlimited power to take all measures necessary to guarantee the security, integrity, and neutrality of Switzerland.” This unusual act—by virtue of which a non-warring state granted powers to the executive that were even vaster and vaguer than those received by the governments of countries directly involved in the war—is of interest because of the debates it provoked both in the assembly itself and in the Swiss Federal Court when the citizens objected that the act was unconstitutional. The tenacity with which on this occasion the Swiss jurists (nearly thirty years ahead of the theorists of constitutional dictatorship) sought (like Waldkirch and Burckhardt) to derive the legitimacy of the state of exception from the text of the constitution itself (specifically, Article 2, which read, “the aim of the Confederation is to ensure the independence of the fatherland against the foreigner [and] to maintain internal tranquility and order”), or (like Hoerni and Fleiner) to ground the state of exception in a law of necessity “inherent in the very existence of the State,” or (like His) in a juridical lacuna that the exceptional provisions must fill, shows that the theory of the state of exception is by no means the exclusive legacy of the antidemocratic tradition.
In Italy the history and legal situation of the state of exception are of particular interest with regard to legislation by emergency executive [governativi] decrees (the so-called law-decrees). Indeed, from this viewpoint one could say that Italy functioned as a true and proper juridico-political laboratory for organizing the process (which was also occurring to differing degrees in other European states) by which the law-decree “changed from a derogatory and exceptional instrument for normative production to an ordinary source for the production of law”. But this also means that one of the essential paradigms through which democracy is transformed from parliamentary to executive [governamentale] was elaborated precisely by a state whose governments were often unstable. In any case, it is in this context that the emergency decree’s pertinence to the problematic sphere of the state of exception comes clearly into view. The Albertine Statute (like the current Republican Constitution) made no mention of the state of exception. Nevertheless, the governments of the kingdom resorted to proclaiming a state of siege many times: in Palermo and the Sicilian provinces in 1862 and 1866, in Naples in 1862, in Sicily and Lunigiana in 1894, and in Naples and Milan in 1898, where the repression of the disturbances was particularly bloody and provoked bitter debates in parliament. The declaration of a state of siege on the occasion of the earthquake of Messina and Reggio Calabria on December 28, 1908 is only apparently a different situation. Not only was the state of siege ultimately proclaimed for reasons of public order—that is, to suppress the robberies and looting provoked by the disaster—but from a theoretical standpoint, it is also significant that these acts furnished the occasion that allowed Santi Romano and other Italian jurists to elaborate the thesis (which we examine in some detail later) that necessity is the primary source of law.
In each of these cases, the state of siege was proclaimed by a royal decree that, while not requiring parliamentary ratification, was nevertheless always approved by parliament, as were other emergency decrees not related to the state of siege (in 1923 and 1924 several thousand outstanding law-decrees issued in the preceding years were thus converted into law). In 1926 the Fascist regime had a law issued that expressly regulated the matter of the law-decrees. Article 3 of this law established that, upon deliberation of the council of ministers, “norms having force of law” could be issued by royal decree “(1) when the government is delegated to do so by a law within the limits of the delegation, and (2) in extraordinary situations, in which it is required for reasons of urgent and absolute necessity. The judgment concerning necessity and urgency is not subject to any oversight other than parliament’s political oversight.” The decrees provided for in the second clause had to be presented to parliament for conversion into law; but parliament’s total loss of autonomy during the Fascist regime rendered this condition superfluous.
Although the Fascist governments’ abuse of emergency decrees was so great that in 1939 the regime itself felt it necessary to limit their reach, Article 77 of the Republican Constitution established with singular continuity that “in extraordinary situations of necessity and emergency” the government could adopt “provisional measures having force of law,” which had to be presented the same day to parliament and which went out of effect if not converted into law within sixty days of their issuance.
It is well known that since then the practice of executive [governamentale] legislation by law-decrees has become the rule in Italy. Not only have emergency decrees been issued in moments of political crisis, thus circumventing the constitutional principle that the rights of the citizens can be limited only by law (see, for example, the decrees issued for the repression of terrorism: the law-decree of March 28, 1978, n. 59, converted into the law of May 21 1978, n. 191 [the so-called Moro Law], and the law-decree of December 15, 1979, n. 625, converted into the law of February 6, 1980, n. 15), but law-decrees now constitute the normal form of legislation to such a degree that they have been described as “bills strengthened by guaranteed emergency.” This means that the democratic principle of the separation of powers has today collapsed and that the executive power has in fact, at least partially, absorbed the legislative power. Parliament is no longer the sovereign legislative body that holds the exclusive power to bind the citizens by means of the law: it is limited to ratifying the decrees issued by the executive power. In a technical sense, the Italian Republic is no longer parliamentary, but executive [governamentale]. And it is significant that though this transformation of the constitutional order (which is today underway to varying degrees in all the Western democracies) is perfectly well known to jurists and politicians, it has remained entirely unnoticed by the citizens. At the very moment when it would like to give lessons in democracy to different traditions and cultures, the political culture of the West does not realize that it has entirely lost its canon.
The only legal apparatus in England that is comparable to the Frenchétat de siège goes by the term martial law; but this concept is so vague that it has been rightly described as an “unlucky name for the justification by the common law of acts done by necessity for the defence of the Commonwealth when there is war within the realm.” This, however, does not mean that something like a state of exception could not exist. In the Mutiny Acts, the Crown’s power to declare martial law was generally confined to times of war; nevertheless, it necessarily entailed sometimes serious consequences for the civilians who found themselves factually involved in the armed repression. Thus Schmitt sought to distinguish martial law from the military tribunals and summary proceedings that at first applied only to soldiers, in order to conceive of it as a purely factual proceeding and draw it closer to the state of exception: “Despite the name it bears, martial law is neither a right nor a law in this sense, but rather a proceeding guided essentially by the necessity of achieving a certain end.”
World War One played a decisive role in the generalization of exceptional executive [governamentali] apparatuses in England as well. Indeed, immediately after war was declared, the government asked parliament to approve a series of emergency measures that had been prepared by the relevant ministers, and they were passed virtually without discussion. The most important of these acts was the Defence of the Realm Act of August 4, 1914, known as DORA, which not only granted the government quite vast powers to regulate the wartime economy, but also provided for serious limitations on the fundamental rights of the citizens (in particular, granting military tribunals jurisdiction over civilians). The activity of parliament saw a significant eclipse for the entire duration of the war, just as in France. And in England too this process went beyond the emergency of the war, as is shown by the approval—on October 29, 1920, in a time of strikes and social tensions—of the Emergency Powers Act. Indeed, Article 1 of the act stated that
if at any time it appears to His Majesty that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any persons or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be calculated, by interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, or light, or with the means of locomotion, to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of the essentials of life, His Majesty may, by proclamation (hereinafter referred to as a proclamation of emergency), declare that a state of emergency exists.
Article 2 of the law gave His Majesty in Council the power to issue regulations and to grant the executive the “powers and duties…necessary for the preservation of the peace,” and it introduced special courts (“courts of summary jurisdiction”) for offenders. Even though the penalties imposed by these courts could not exceed three months in jail (“with or without hard labor”), the principle of the state of exception had been firmly introduced into English law.
The place—both logical and pragmatic—of a theory of the state of exception in the American constitution is in the dialectic between the powers of the president and those of Congress. This dialectic has taken shape historically (and in an exemplary way already beginning with the Civil War) as a conflict over supreme authority in an emergency situation; or, in Schmittian terms (and this is surely significant in a country considered to be the cradle of democracy), as a conflict over sovereign decision.
The textual basis of the conflict lies first of all in Article 1 of the constitution, which establishes that “the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” but does not specify which authority has the jurisdiction to decide on the suspension (even though prevailing opinion and the context of the passage itself lead one to assume that the clause is directed at Congress and not the president). The second point of conflict lies in the relation between another passage of Article 1 (which declares that the power to declare war and to raise and support the army and navy rests with Congress) and Article 2, which states that “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”
Both of these problems reach their critical threshold with the Civil War (1861–1865). Acting counter to the text of Article 1, on April 15, 1861, Lincoln decreed that an army of seventy-five thousand men was to be raised and convened a special session of Congress for July 4. In the ten weeks that passed between April 15 and July 4, Lincoln in fact acted as an absolute dictator (for this reason, in his bookDictatorship, Schmitt can refer to it as a perfect example of commissarial dictatorship. On April 27, with a technically even more significant decision, he authorized the General in Chief of the Army to suspend the writ of habeas corpus whenever he deemed it necessary along the military line between Washington and Philadelphia, where there had been disturbances. Furthermore, the president’s autonomy in deciding on extraordinary measures continued even after Congress was convened (thus, on February 14, 1862, Lincoln imposed censorship of the mail and authorized the arrest and detention in military prisons of persons suspected of “disloyal and treasonable practices”).
In the speech he delivered to Congress when it was finally convened on July 4, the president openly justified his actions as the holder of a supreme power to violate the constitution in a situation of necessity. “Whether strictly legal or not,” he declared, the measures he had adopted had been taken “under what appeared to be a popular demand and a public necessity” in the certainty that Congress would ratify them. They were based on the conviction that even fundamental law could be violated if the very existence of the union and the juridical order were at stake (“Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the Government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated?”
It is obvious that in a wartime situation the conflict between the president and Congress is essentially theoretical. The fact is that although Congress was perfectly aware that the constitutional jurisdictions had been transgressed, it could do nothing but ratify the actions of the president, as it did on August 6, 1861. Strengthened by this approval, on September 22, 1862, the president proclaimed the emancipation of the slaves on his authority alone and, two days later, generalized the state of exception throughout the entire territory of the United States, authorizing the arrest and trial before courts martial of “all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of the United States.” By this point, the president of the United States was the holder of the sovereign decision on the state of exception.
According to American historians, during World War One President Woodrow Wilson personally assumed even broader powers than those Abraham Lincoln had claimed. It is, however, necessary to specify that instead of ignoring Congress, as Lincoln had done, Wilson preferred each time to have the powers in question delegated to him by Congress. In this regard, his practice of government is closer to the one that would prevail in Europe in the same years, or to the current one, which instead of declaring the state of exception prefers to have exceptional laws issued. In any case, from 1917 to 1918, Congress approved a series of acts (from the Espionage Act of June 1917 to the Overman Act of May 1918) that granted the president complete control over the administration of the country and not only prohibited disloyal activities (such as collaboration with the enemy and the diffusion of false reports), but even made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States.”
Because the sovereign power of the president is essentially grounded in the emergency linked to a state of war, over the course of the twentieth century the metaphor of war becomes an integral part of the presidential political vocabulary whenever decisions considered to be of vital importance are being imposed. Thus, in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to assume extraordinary powers to cope with the Great Depression by presenting his actions as those of a commander during a military campaign:
I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.…I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken Nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.…But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take [the necessary measures] and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
It is well not to forget that, from the constitutional standpoint, the New Deal was realized by delegating to the president (through a series of statutes culminating in the National Recovery Act of June 16, 1933) an unlimited power to regulate and control every aspect of the economic life of the country—a fact that is in perfect conformity with the already mentioned parallelism between military and economic emergencies that characterizes the politics of the twentieth century.
The outbreak of World War Two extended these powers with the proclamation of a “limited” national emergency on September 8, 1939, which became unlimited on May 27, 1941. On September 7, 1942, while requesting that Congress repeal a law concerning economic matters, the president renewed his claim to sovereign powers during the emergency: “In the event that the Congress should fail to act, and act adequately, I shall accept the responsibility, and I will act.…The American people can…be sure that I shall not hesitate to use every power vested in me to accomplish the defeat of our enemies in any part of the world where our own safety demands such defeat.” The most spectacular violation of civil rights (all the more serious because of its solely racial motivation) occurred on February 19, 1942, with the internment of seventy thousand American citizens of Japanese descent who resided on the West Coast (along with forty thousand Japanese citizens who lived and worked there).
President Bush’s decision to refer to himself constantly as the “Commander in Chief of the Army” after September 11, 2001, must be considered in the context of this presidential claim to sovereign powers in emergency situations. If, as we have seen, the assumption of this title entails a direct reference to the state of exception, then Bush is attempting to produce a situation in which the emergency becomes the rule, and the very distinction between peace and war (and between foreign and civil war) becomes impossible.

Copyright notice: Excerpt from pages 11-22 of State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben, translated by Kevin Attell, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2004 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.

Copyright notice: Excerpt from pages 11-22 of State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben, translated by Kevin Attell, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2004 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.

Himno a la alegría y raíces idealistas de la Unión Europea

Sigue leyendo



Video sobre Nietzsche ( en inglés ), donde se habla acerca del erotismo en la obra del filósofo alemán. Bueno, vamos a ver de qué trata esta conferencia que forma parte de un libro de varios autores publicado por la Universidad de Chicago y podemos ver referencias al mismo en este enlace

the Erotikon Symposium

the inspiration for Erotikon: Essays on Eros, Ancient and Modern
edited by Shadi Bartsch and Thomas Bartscherer

Miedo a la libertad: Erich Fromm en los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

Uno de los autores más radicales del grupo de filósofos materialistas en torno a la Escuela de freud y en una deriva promarxista , Erich Fromm, es entrevistado en los Estados Unidos acerca de diversos temas sociopolíticos

Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst and social critic, talks to Wallace about society, materialism, relationships, government, religion, and happiness

teoría de Chomsky sobre la información y medios de comunicación:materiales sobre manufacturing consent, necessary illusions
En el artículo publicado hace unos seis años en el diario mexicano El Financiero, la periodista María Elena Rivera hace referencia a planteamientos hechos por Stephen Hasam en los que vemos el modo de funcionamiento que caracteriza a los medios de comunicación dentro de lo que Noam Chomsky define como la corriente principal que tiene como función fabricar el consenso. Es un tema al que la filosofía crítica, materialista, ha prestado atención pero que no debe ser dejado a un lado siempre que haya que analizar o discutir acerca de los modos en que nos llega la información sobre temas cruciales en el terreno de la Economía, la Política, y demás asuntos que atañen a nuestra vida social en tiempos de globalización

Un trabajo de utilidad, en este sentido de fabricación del consenso sobre el caso del grupo español PRISA en este enlace,%20n.%202,%202008/10-%20NuriaAlmiron_P_.pdf

Trabajo útil para ver el modo de ejercitar el modelo de propaganda o manufacturación de consenso en el diario norteamericano The New York Times en este enlace (en inglés)

Acerca de varios casos empíricos sobre el manufacturing consent el enlace siguiente nos permite acceso a contenido sobre información y censura, disponible en español

El control de la información en el caso de la BBC británica
en el siguiente enlace

Casos varios sobre la relación entre propaganda comercial y noticias en la televisión norteamericana, estudios de caso enel enlace que sigue

Lo que parece una paradoja, acaso no lo sea. Me refiero al hecho de que enlas universidades, se encuentran trabajos acerca de los modelos ideales de prácticas del periodismo, como es el caso de este texto Es decir: da la impresión de que se permite trabajar sobre los ideales de un periodismo veraz, siempre y cuando se haga tan sólo en las facultades de periodismo, no en la vida real, fuera de esos recintos de formación escolástica donde las haya, de los informadores en el seno de las democracias formales del presente. Los periodistas preparados ad hoc para fabricar las ilusiones necesarias

Sobre lo esencial de la teoría de Chomsky y Herman acerca de la fabricación del consenso pongo un párrafo del artículo cuyo enlace sigue–.pdf
Those with power will try to keep it, and those with power in capitalist
societies are primarily political elites and corporate conglomerates. Existing
institutions – including the universities and governments as well as the media –
function mainly to protect the interests of society’s elite. This does not require
conspiratorial coordination, simply rational pursuit of perceived self-interest. In
protecting those interests, many millions of people are killed through repressive
violence and denial of the means necessary for survival despite the fact that the
world has more than enough resources to meet the basic needs of all. Through the
social sciences and humanities and related careers such as journalism
, people often
learn to be obedient and then to produce obedience in others. This is rewarded with
inclusion and advancement deeper into the elite. The greater the internalisation of
the elite perspective, the more that obedience will feel like freedom and lack of

On the whole, social science research gravitates towards innocuous
work or directly anti-democratic work
, that is, research which assists elite control of

Modelos de información adecuados por y para el Departamento de Defensa de los Estados Unidos. Un ejército imperial debe tener sus propios fabricadores de consenso y de ilusiones, como parece bastante lógico,sin duda

Un estudio de caso FUENTE ( disponible en español por cortesía de la edición mexicana de Le Monde Diplomatique ) Multimedia, más “rendimiento” y menos información
Los periodistas “multiusos”
del Chicago Tribune

Eric Klinenberg. Verlo en el siguiente enlace

Entrevista a EdHerman sobre las tesis de Manufacturing conset,The political Economy of Mass Media en el enlace a la revista Monthly Review–.htm

La influencia de los medios de comunicación sobre los individuos en el seno de las democracias del presente,
recomendado por ASINCRO

María Elena Rivera
Jueves 4 de noviembre de 2004 El Financiero México DF

La tele, poder incuestionable de control social

¿Cuál es hoy el poder real de los medios de comunicación?, ¿cuál es la influencia que tienen sobre los individuos?, ¿hasta dónde contribuyen a construir la realidad social y personal? EL FINANCIERO platica con diferentes especialistas sobre estos temas frecuentes de la comunicación, quienes sentencian que los tiempos del neoliberalismo reclaman enfoques poco ortodoxos de análisis.
-De acuerdo con Noam Chomsky y otros teóricos, hoy, los medios de comunicación son megaconsorcios; por lo tanto, lo que se dice en ellos (aunque evidentemente hay excepciones) refleja los intereses corporativos de la empresa. Todo lo que vaya en contra de sus intereses y de sus publicistas es incompatible con el medio -afirma Stephan Hasam, profesor investigador del Departamento de Educación y Comunicación de la UAM-Xochimilco.
Para Enrique Guinsberg, psicólogo, comunicador e investigador del Departamento de Psicología de la misma casa de estudios, la relación de los medios con el poder económico y político en México es “absoluta”.
-Los medios siempre han sido fuente de poder, han estado vinculados a él -dice Guinsberg-. Es sabido que mantener un periódico, una emisora de radio o televisión es privilegio de unos cuantos. Hoy, medios y poder son prácticamente lo mismo. El modelo neoliberal concentra la riqueza en cada vez menos empresas y los medios no son una excepción. En México existen algunas estaciones de radio alternativas y publicaciones distintas a las grandes empresas; pero, ¿qué poder tienen frente a la penetración de los universos mediáticos absolutamente dominantes? Su peso real hay que verlo en diferentes niveles. Uno: el económico; pero más allá de los grandes negocios, el poder es otro: formar a la opinión pública.
Pero al otro lado de la propiedad de los medios, ¿cuál es la incidencia real del poder mediático en la opinión pública?
Luis Razgado, coordinador del Departamento de Comunicación de la UAM-Xochimilco, define: “Los medios tienen una influencia innegable, pueden influir en la generación de una opinión. Su impacto es importante, pero más bien desde un punto de vista económico y político que desde hacer prevalecer cierta ideología.”
En este sentido, Marisela Soto, investigadora y docente de esa universidad, asegura que “los medios no son ya medios”, intermediarios, sino “agentes directos que se adjudican la autoridad de educar y moralizar de acuerdo con el discurso del grupo en el poder”. Por dar un ejemplo, cita: “Hay cierta censura en las publicaciones pornográficas, que se venden en bolsas oscuras; pero mientras esto ocurre, en los medios hemos visto las imágenes de los cuerpos destrozados por la guerra en Irak. Si eso no es pornografía, entonces, ¿qué cosa es? No lo sé, pero no se censura. Hay aquí una veta interesante de discusión de cómo se va significando y resignificando el cuerpo, ahora, en la sociedad. Es escandaloso que los cuerpos violentados y mutilados sean exhibidos. ¿Quién dice qué cuerpo es el que se tiene que ver y cuál no?”
La moral social
Para Razgado, los medios tienen un impacto económico y político importante, pero no como mecanismo para erigir una moral social. “Existen otros factores que influyen en la moral: la familia, la experiencia, la educación, etcétera. Todo esto construye una especie de filtro que rechaza o deja pasar ciertos mensajes mediáticos, que aquí no tienen un papel predominante. Más que moldear una moral social, pueden influir en la generación de una opinión”, asegura.
En cambio, Enrique Guinsberg asevera que los medios son instrumentos que marcan pautas de moral y también son reflejo de lo social: “El poder reside en formar a la opinión pública. La gente sigue al poder e, incluso, llega a adquirir posturas que van contra sus propios intereses, aunque tengan que enfrentar una serie de obstáculos.”
-¿Contribuyen los medios a erigir la moral de las sociedades?
-Los medios no son omnipotentes, sino expresión de un universo cultural en todo sentido -responde Guinsberg-. La revolución sexual fue producto de un conjunto de circunstancias que no crearon los medios, pero que sí potenciaron. ¿Por qué hace unos años era imposible ver algo sexual, como las infidelidades en las telenovelas, y hoy es lo más común? Porque los medios se adaptaron a un cambio social, lo mostraron y hoy se ve como una situación normal.
-¿A qué se refiere cuando dice que los medios de difusión masiva contribuyen a moldear al sujeto funcional?
-Primero, a los medios los llamo de difusión porque su uso dominante es precisamente eso: difundir. Por otro lado, toda sociedad tiene un objetivo básico, absolutamente primario: formar al modelo de individuo que permita el mantenimiento de esa sociedad. Si el capitalismo no crea un sujeto acorde con él, desaparece. Hoy, el poder no sojuzga a sangre y fuego. El control social es que la gente piense como el poder desea, con todas sus variantes. Siempre ha habido instituciones que cumplen ese papel, como las iglesias, o la escuela, con una ideología determinada. Hoy son los medios, de una forma incuestionable.
Guinsberg calibra la situación así: “Cerca de 97 por ciento de la población mexicana tiene televisión; la prensa casi no se lee. Sabemos que en los dibujos animados y en las telenovelas hay todo un código ético, moral, ideológico, que responde claramente al poder en general.”
-Pero usted habla de procesos psicosociales en la recepción de contenidos y mensajes cargados de sentidos culturales, ¿puede explicar esto?
-El problema de la recepción es muy complejo. No obstante, hace unos diez o 15 años comenzó una moda en los estudios comunicológicos en torno a este proceso. Antes, con gran influencia estadounidense, las teorías hablaban de que los sujetos recibían mensajes y automáticamente los asimilaban. Después se empezó a ver, con toda razón, que el sujeto no es pasivo, sino activo. Lo que yo aporto es que a pesar de que vivimos una época que aún privilegia las disciplinas de forma aislada, hoy se tiene que hablar de una interdisciplinariedad o transdisciplinariedad. Los comunicólogos no saben psicología y lo reconocen; y, al revés, los psicólogos no saben comunicación. Una psicóloga de niños admitió una vez que no podía trabajar si no conocía los programas infantiles de televisión. ¿Por qué? Porque la terapia se hace con juegos y los niños juegan a ser los personajes de la televisión.
Lo psicopatológico,
sin embargo, se mueve
-Mi contribución -continúa Guinsberg- es aclarar qué elementos psíquicos existen en el ser humano que permiten la recepción de los mensajes. Para dar un ejemplo muy claro: todos sabemos que la mayor parte de los programas de televisión tiene que ver con dos ejes básicos: sexualidad y violencia, que no casualmente son lo que Freud llama pulsiones. El ser humano es inevitablemente reprimido. La mayor parte de sus deseos están cancelados porque la cultura los prohíbe. El no matarás es una prohibición universal, salvo en las guerras. Pero el deseo de la gente de matar o de agredir, existe. Y lo mismo pasa con la sexualidad, donde la mayor parte de la gente está frustrada.
“El aspecto sexual se puede proyectar en los medios en la medida en que cada vez hay una sociedad más libre, o mal liberada, a mi juicio. La mayor parte de la gente no vive una vida sexual liberada; es más una apariencia. ¿Por qué existe el Viagra? Porque soluciona problemas de impotencia. Por otro lado, la carencia de un auto último modelo y cosas así hacen que la frustración sea mayor. ¿Por qué hay depresión? Porque la gente está profundamente insatisfecha. Y no hablo de la gente con profundas carencias económicas, me refiero fundamentalmente a los sectores medios y altos. La depresión es producto de un narcisismo desenfrenado. Hoy, la gente está enajenada, convertida en un ajeno.”
Un ejemplo está en la cesión de la verdad a los medios, enfatiza. “Jacobo Zabludowsky era el padre bueno, conocedor. Se decía: «Lo dijo Jacobo» o «lo dijeron en la tele», como si ésta fuera una instancia absoluta de conocimiento. La gente se entrega a otros precisamente por sus propias carencias. Los procesos de recepción se apoyan y lo hacen muy bien, sin duda, en esas necesidades, en carencias, esencialmente psíquicas.”
-¿Cómo encajan los medios en los conceptos freudianos de principio de la realidad y principio del placer?
-El psicoanálisis plantea que hay un proceso de conversión en el ser humano -dice Guinsberg-. Y aunque parezca abrupto lo que digo, el niño no es un ser humano sino un animalito que tiene las condiciones para lograrlo; pero debe pasar por un proceso de socialización. Esta premisa se resume en esa frase famosa de Freud: el paso del principio del placer al principio de la realidad. Al niño, la escuela le empieza a dar elementos fundamentales de realidad y la familia también. Pero antes que otra cosa se los da la televisión.
-¿Hasta dónde llega esta influencia?
-Los países y sus gentes son cada vez más ricos o más pobres. Según la ONU, una de cada tres personas vive con menos de uno o dos dólares diarios; la gente sabe esto y, sin embargo, no reacciona. Los medios han logrado que asimile el modelo neoliberal.
Una reflexión ética
Entonces, ¿cuál es el papel de los medios o los periodistas independientes ante esta realidad?
Stephan Hasam responde: “El problema en México es que la gente no lee. El tiraje de los medios impresos de información es mínimo, no así el de las historietas. La pregunta sería cómo enfrentar ese problema, cómo tratar de adecuar la producción de prensa escrita de alta calidad a la realidad social. Si uno piensa que el tiraje de un libro que no sea un best-seller no es mayor que en la época de Gutenberg, deja mucho que pensar sobre el país. Y si el presidente de la República le dice a la población que no lea el periódico, es una tragedia.”
En varios países, incluso en el corazón de Estados Unidos, existen medios independientes que se sostienen por la garantía de sus suscriptores. También hay ejemplos contundentes de trabajo individual periodístico, responsables éticamente, que han roto con los parámetros del poder, sostiene Hasam.
-En Alemania, apenas terminada la Primera Guerra Mundial -afirma-, Ret Marut, que en México fue conocido como B. Traven, publicaba El ladrillero, que se contraponía al periodismo de dominación. En Estados Unidos, I. F. Stone, al ver censurado su trabajo en las empresas para las que trabajaba, decidió fundar su propio semanario, IF Stone, el cual producía absolutamente solo, y generaba algunos cuantos terremotos políticos durante la guerra de Vietnam. El periodismo de Stone era muy parecido al que hacía Gregorio Selser, de quien conocemos su honradez y trayectoria. No hay pretextos para quien quiera ser un periodista íntegro.

Y para terminar este tema, creemos importante ver lo que respondía Noam Chomsky a The Guardian, en la revista Z Magazine FUENTE

Chomsky Answers Guardian
By Noam Chomsky

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Noam Chomsky’s ZSpace Page

This is an open letter to a few of the people with whom I had discussed the Guardian interview of 31 October, on the basis of the electronic version, which is all that I had seen. Someone has just sent me a copy of the printed version, and I now understand why friends in England who wrote me were so outraged.

It is a nuisance, and a bit of a bore, to dwell on the topic, and I always keep away from personal attacks on me, unless asked, but in this case the matter has some more general interest, so perhaps it’s worth reviewing what most readers could not know. The general interest is that the print version reveals a very impressive effort, which obviously took careful planning and work, to construct an exercise in defamation that is a model of the genre. It’s of general interest for that reason alone.

A secondary matter is that it may serve as a word of warning to anyone who is asked by the Guardian for an interview, and happens to fall slightly to the critical end of the approved range of opinion of the editors. The warning is: if you accept the invitation, be cautious, and make sure to have a tape recorder that is very visibly placed in front of you. That may inhibit the dedication to deceit, and if not, at least you will have a record. I should add that in probably thousands of interviews from every corner of the world and every part of the spectrum for decades, that thought has never occurred to me before. It does now.

It was evident from the electronic version that t was a scurrilous piece of journalism. That’s clear even from internal evidence. The reporter obviously had a definite agenda: to focus the defamation exercise on my denial of the Srebrenica massacre. From the character of what appeared, it is not easy to doubt that she was assigned this task. When I wouldn’t go along, she simply invented the denial, repeatedly, along with others. The centerpiece of the interview was this, describing my alleged views, in particular, that:

….during the Bosnian war the “massacre” at Srebrenica was probably overstated. (Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)

Transparently, neither I nor anyone speaks with quotation marks, so the reference to my claim that “Srebrenica was so not a massacre,” shown by my using the term “massacre” in quotes, must be in print – hence “witheringly teenage,” as well as disgraceful. That raises the obvious question: where is it in print, or anywhere? I know from letters that were sent to me that a great many journalists and others asked the author of the interview and the relevant editors to provide the source, and were met by stony silence – for a simple reason: it does not exist, and they know it. Furthermore, as Media Lens pointed out, with five minutes research on the internet, any journalist could find many places where I described the massacre as a massacre, never with quotes. That alone ends the story. I will skip the rest, which also collapses quickly.

More interesting, however, is the editorial contribution. One illustration actually is in the e-edition. I did write a very brief letter in response, which for some reason went to the ombudsman, who informed me that the word “fabrication” had to be removed. My truncated letter stating that I take no responsibility for anything attributed to me in the article did appear, paired with a moving letter from a victim, expressing justified outrage that I or anyone could take the positions invented in the Guardian article. Pairing aside, the heading given by the editors was: “Fall out over Srebrenica.” The editors are well aware that there was no debate or disagreement about Srebrenica, once the fabrications in their article are removed.

The printed version reveals how careful and well-planned the exercise was, and why it might serve as a model for the genre. The front-page announcement of the interview reads: “Noam Chomsky The Greatest Intellectual?” The question is answered by the following highlighted Q&A, above the interview:

Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?

A: My only regret is that I didn’t do it strongly enough

It is set apart in large print so that it can’t be missed, and will be quoted separately (as it already has been). It also captures the essence of the agenda. The only defect is that it didn’t happen. The truthful part is that I said, and explained at length, that I regret not having strongly enough opposed the Swedish publisher’s decision to withdraw a book by Diana (not “Diane,” as the Guardian would have it) Johnstone after it was bitterly attacked in the Swedish press. As Brockes presumably knew, though I carefully explained anyway, there is one source for my involvement in this affair: an open letter that I wrote to the publisher, after editors there who objected to the decision, and journalist friends, sent me the Swedish press charges that were the basis for the rejection. In the open letter, readily available on the internet (and the only source), I went through the charges one by one, checked them against the book, and found that they all ranged from serious misrepresentation to outright fabrication. I then took – and take – the position that it is completely wrong to withdraw a book because the press charges (falsely) that it does not conform to approved doctrine. And I do regret that “I didn’t do it strongly enough,” the words Brockes managed to quote correctly. In the interview, whatever Johnstone may have said about Srebrenica never came up, and is entirely irrelevant in any event, at least to anyone with a minimal appreciation of freedom of speech.

The article is then framed by a series of photographs. Let’s put aside childhood photos and an honorary degree — included for no apparent reason other than, perhaps, to reinforce the image the reporter sought to convey of a rich elitist hypocrite who tells people how to live (citing a comment of her own, presumably supposed to be clever, which will not be found on the tape, I am reasonably confident). Those apart, there are three photos depicting my actual life. It’s an interesting choice, and the captions are even more interesting.

One is a picture of me “talking to journalist John Pilger” (who isn’t shown, but let’s give the journal the benefit of the doubt of assuming he is actually in the original). The second is of me “meeting Fidel Castro.” The third, and most interesting, is a picture of me “in Laos en route to Hanoi to give a speech to the North Vietnamese.”

That’s my life: honoring commie-rats and the renegade who is the source of the word “pilgerize” invented by journalists furious about his incisive and courageous reporting, and knowing that the only response they are capable of is ridicule.

Since I’ll avoid speculation, you can judge for yourselves the role Pilger plays in the fantasy life of the editorial offices of the Guardian. And the choice is interesting in other ways. It’s true that I have met John a few times, much fewer than I would like because we both have busy lives. And possibly a picture was taken. It must have taken some effort to locate this particular picture, assuming it to be genuine, among the innumerable pictures of me talking to endless other people. And the intended message is very clear.

Turn to the Castro picture. In this case the picture, though clipped, is real. As the editors surely know, at least if those who located the picture did 2 minutes of research, the others in the picture (apart from my wife) were, like me, participants in the annual meeting of an international society of Latin American scholars, with a few others from abroad. This annual meeting happened to be in Havana. Like all others, I was in a group that met with Castro. End of second story.

Turn now to the third picture, from 1970. The element of truth is that I was indeed in Laos, and on my way to Hanoi. The facts about these trips are very easy to discover. I wrote about both in some detail right away, in two articles in the New York Review, reprinted in my book At War with Asia in 1970. It is easily available to Guardian editors, because it was recently reprinted. If they want to be the first to question the account (unlike reviewers in such radical rags as the journal of the Royal Institute, International Affairs), it would be very easy for a journalist to verify it: contact the two people who accompanied me on the entire trip, one then a professor of economics at Cornell, the other a minister of the United Church of Christ. Both are readily accessible. From the sole account that exists, the editor would know that in Laos I was engaged in such subversive activities as spending many hours in refugee camps interviewing miserable people who had just been driven by the CIA “clandestine army” from the Plain of Jars, having endured probably the most intense bombing in history for over two years, almost entirely unrelated to the Vietnam war. And in North Vietnam, I did spend most of my time doing what I had been invited to do: many hours of lectures and discussion, on any topic I knew anything about, in the bombed ruins of the Hanoi Polytechnic, to faculty who were able to return to Hanoi from the countryside during a lull in the bombing, and were very eager to learn about recent work in their own fields, to which they had had no access for years.

The rest of the trip “to Hanoi to give a speech to the North Vietnamese” is a Guardian invention. Those who frequent ultra-right defamation sites can locate the probable source of this ingenious invention, but even that ridiculous tale goes nowhere near as far as what the Guardian editors concocted, which is a new addition to the vast literature of vilification of those who stray beyond the approved bounds.

So that’s my life: worshipping commie-rats and such terrible figures as John Pilger. Quite apart from the deceit in the captions, simply note how much effort and care it must have taken to contrive these images to frame the answer to the question on the front page.

It is an impressive piece of work, and, as I said, provides a useful model for studies of defamation exercises, or for those who practice the craft. And also, perhaps, provides a useful lesson for those who may be approached for interviews by this journal.

This is incidentally only a fragment. The rest is mostly what one might expect to find in the scandal sheets about movie stars, familiar from such sources, and of no further interest.

Noam Chomsky