lunes, 11 de octubre de 2010
"DECONSTRUCTING AND RECONSTRUCTING THE WEST: LATIN AMERICA AND WASHINGTON" por MOH FAD (LÍBANO)
He aquí un artículo del periodista y Ph. D. Moh Fad (1980) de la Universidad del Líbano con una interesantísima propuesta y una mirada más que sorprendente sobre Occidente y el papel de Latinoamérica. Vale la pena leerlo.
In an article titled “The Anaximander Fragment”, Martin Heidegger puts forward the question of translating what he describes as “the oldest fragment of Western thinking”, which belongs to the dawn of early times in the land of evening, Heidegger’s terms.
The reason for this preoccupation in translating Anaximander’s fragment, and other ancient (not modern) Greek texts, is mentioned inside Heidegger’s article. “We first of all think the essence of the West in terms of what the early saying (the Greek sayings) says”.
How it happened that a German philosopher from the 20th century feels this ancestral lineage with the ancient Greeks? Behind this feeling lies a narrative effort beginning 16 centuries ago, creating in the end a story of a XXV centuries of “Western Civilization”.
Deconstructing and Reconstructing the West: Latin America and Washington
We often speak of a western civilization, a XV centuries of Western civilization. Some consider themselves enemies of this civilization; others pursue becoming part of it. What all these people are unaware of is that a Western civilization does not exist; there is instead a Germanic civilization. That is to say that the term “Western Civilization” is a mere political constitution, a narrative written through a long historical process beginning in the fifth century A.D.
What is meant by Western civilization is a kind of continuum between Germanic, Roman and Greek civilizations. These three, combined, are called the Western civilization. What I want to say is that speaking of continuity between these 3 cultures is something that the Germanic tribes tried to impose since they sacked Rome 410 A.D. For the basic idea that makes the term “Western Civilization” possible is that the Germanics were not affected by the Roman civilization but they are the Roman civilization, they are the current embodiment of Rome. So theorizing an “Emigrating Rome” will be crucial for the Germanic political imagination and will.
The Germanic tribes are a group that originated in Northern Europe: Denmark, Northern Germany, Norway, and Sweden. They gradually expanded and eventually clashed with the Romans invading their most symbolic city, Rome. From the same time of their invasion of Rome the Germanic tribes (beginning with the Goths) were obsessed with being Romans, with possessing the title “Romans”. They were fascinated by Rome and its civilization. But to possess the title “Romans” was too difficult; it is illogical that the invaders of Rome name themselves Romans. For the Romans the Germanics were barbaric tribes; they disdained them and their way of life. Julius Caesar said once that the Gauls are barbarians who may be civilized, while the Germanics are barbarians who are impossible to become civilized.
There was also another obstacle making the possession of the title “Romans” difficult. When Rome fell under the Germanic tribes, not all the Roman Empire fell under their power. The eastern part of the Roman Empire and its capital Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, didn’t fell under their power. And this eastern part sustained as a true Roman empire hundreds of years later. Later this Roman Empire in Constantinople was called by a German historian “Hieronymus Wolf”, in the 16th century, a “Byzantine Empire”, although the Germanics named it the “Greek Empire” for centuries. They wanted to deprive the contemporary Greeks from the name of the Romans on one hand, and also from the name of the Greeks on the other hand, because, beginning with the 16th century, the Germanics began to think about inheriting the ancient Greeks in addition to the ancient Romans. So, the name “Greek Empire” is now incompatible with the developments of the Germanic imagination, thus the new name “Byzantine Empire”. In Arabic regions, the Greeks were called the “Romans”, while the northern peoples were called “Goths” and “Franks”. And also the so called “Byzantines” named the northern peoples Franks too. In the fourth crusade, when the crusaders invaded the Constantinople before arriving to the Levant, the “Byzantines” called this period the “Frangocratia”, “the governance of the Franks”.
Now, the insistent Germanic attempt to name themselves Romans culminated with Charlemagne who, by a way or another, forced the Pope of Rome to name him “Augustus”, name of the Roman Emperors (even though Charlemagne wanted initially to get the title from Constantinople). By that began what is called the “Holy Roman Empire”, and its completion is really interesting, “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”. From that instant Charlemagne was called the 69th Roman Emperor, to say that he is a normal continuity with the Roman emperors. Although these titles may seem ironic and self contradicting but they reflect the thorough Germanic obsession by Rome. All the political legitimacies of the Medievals were constructed upon proving that they are the real inheritors of the “Glory of Rome”, from Charlemagne to the Normans and the other Germanics. Tying yourself to ancient Rome was the suitable recite to grab power. And reading the Medieval French English royal debate over the Roman title will be very important. King Arthur, according to the famous myth, invaded Rome, and so the English don’t need to pass through the French “Holy Roman Empire” to acquire the Roman proof of their legitimacy. Also it is important to review the “inkhorn terms”, which are Latin and Greek words injected to the English language purposely in the 16th and 17th centuries, although these words had their normal counterparts in the English language. This obsession in Rome will enable the Germanics later of talking about 25 centuries of Western civilization.
Well, even Martin Luther’s later Reformation movement must be understood as a section of a long complicated historical relation between the Germanics and Rome; for what is the relation between refusing the Church’s transgressions and translating the Bible to the German language? Luther often spoke in the form “Our German people …”.
Back to the sequences of Charlemagne’s seizing of the title “Augustus”. In the 12th century, a German philosopher and priest, called Otto von Freising, a relative of the “Holy Roman Emperor”, invented a very important theory that, till now, lies in the core of all philosophical discourse. It was named later as “Translatio Studii et Imperii”. The language of intellectuals in Northern Europe in that period was the Latin. It means the transfer of knowledge and power. It means that knowledge and power travel westwards with the motion of the sun. So knowledge and power were in Assyria, they emigrated with the movement of the sun to Greece, then to Rome, and by the law of nature, it emigrated to the Germanics via the “Holy Roman Empire”.
Correlated to this theory, Transltio Studii et Imperii, was a sub theory, an implicit one, stated later in literature, “Translatio Stultitia”. It means the transfer of darkness. So when the torch of knowledge and power emigrates from Greece to Rome, not Greece and Rome will be blessed simultaneously with its rays. For Greece will sink again in darkness. This is a very important technique in the political imagination of the Germanic tribes. For later, when Samuel Huntington talks in “Clash of Civilizations” about the 7 civilizations, he says that the Western civilization goes back to Rome and Greece. This is not a new idea, for the Germanics were working for imposing this idea as a natural given law for 1600 years. But the most important overlooked aspect of Huntington’s theory, was that when he speaks of Western civilization countries, Greece is not within these countries; he puts Greece within what he calls the Orthodox civilization. Huntington’s play revolves around “WE are ancient Greece” (Americans) and the current Greeks are detached from their history. The Germanics later put also theories about a racial rupture making the modern Greeks unrelated to the ancient Greeks, who were according to the theory of Germanic phenotypes. This is a key point in the history of the Germanics. So according to the Translatio Studii et Imperii, the relationship between today Germanics and ancient Greeks is not a matter of acculturation but it is a continuity, whereas the relationship between the Arabs and the ancient Greeks is an acculturation. Well we must say here, that the Germanic obsession to possess the name of the Romans didn’t discover the ancient Greeks as a matter of inheriting until the Italian Renaissance, and we may come back later to assure that the Renaissance was Italian in its essence and not European as it is now imagined thanks to the Germanic effort. For Vasari insists that the Renaissance is Italy purifying its self from the Germanic and Gothic barbarian arts.
We must ask now, who are the marginalized by von Freising’s equation “Translatio Studii et Imperii”? When a British, lets say Shakespeare, says he is the inheritor of Virgil the Roman and Homer the Greek, where are the contemporary Romans and Greeks? Where is his own Germanic inheritance? For this reason, when we today talk about Western literature the “Prose Edda” and the “Poetic Edda” (books of the ancient Germanic and Norse mythology) are not inscribed, and the modern Greek literature, such as Cavafis, is also not inscribed; there only an oblique line of narration: Shakespeare, Virgil, Homer. Of course, we must remember that today Greeks are not related to Homer; who archives and interprets and take care of Homer and Socrates are the current West, which is now centered around Washington, according to Huntington.
So, the marginalized by the Germanic political imagination are the contemporary Romans and Greeks who are deprived from their historical heritage, and the real fathers of the Germanic tribes who’s literature is excluded from the term “Western Literature”. Germanic mythologies were read only by the irrational counter-Enlightenment movements, Romanticism and Fascism.
That is a much summarized story of the first chapter of Translatio Studii et Imperii. But this is not all the story.
For the United States of America had opened a new chapter in the Translatio Studii et Imperii, a new emigration of Rome. The U.S. is enacting towards Northern Europe the same techniques that Northern Europe enacted once towards Rome and Greece. So in same way that Northern Europeans spoke in the 19th century of an ancient glorious Greece, which is their own forefather, different and separated from contemporary Greece, the U.S. today speaks, via a package of techniques that we will talk about later, about an ancient glorious Northern Europe, the forefather of the US, different and separated from contemporary Northern Europe which returned to the darkness again. The US imagination is thoroughly immersed in the Translatio theory of emigrating Rome. We are the final inheritors of the Western tradition, says Harold Bloom.
Now we can understand Rumsfeld’s saying during the war on Iraq, “old Europe opposes the American invasion for Iraq”. In reality, the American will to recreate Northern Europe according to their political imagination began earlier on in the American history and culminating in Marshal plan. They invented an ancient Northern Europe that they can deal with whilst marginalizing contemporary Northern Europe. In this context, the Americans coined two crucial and strategic terms: the “Continental Philosophy”, and the “Western Canon”. The American academy is the first to invent a new philosophical department called “Continental Philosophy”. By it, they mean the philosophies of Germany and France, although the French and the Germans never imagined themselves as lying in one category versus the Anglo-sphere, but the Metropolitan Library of Washington wanted that. “Continental Philosophy” is defined as the philosophy written in mainland Northern and Western Europe after Kant; why determining Kant as marking a new category? That is because Washington imagined the American Revolution as a philosophical threshold. The American declaration of independence was in 1776, while Kant’s “Critique of pure reason” was published in 1781; and so the Americans don’t need Kant or the French Revolution to develop their democratic values and individualism. For this reason, “Continental Philosophy” is a mere American invention, a category, a title, that hides much more complicated policies than a simple attempt to name something which is “new”, or “marking the beginning of something new”. “Continental Philosophy” is a strategic term to exclude mainland Europe from the center of the Western Civilization.
Continental philosophy is depicted as fascistic, counter Enlightenment, irrational, and productive of the totalitarian despotic regimes and ideologies, Fascism and Stalinism. Indeed, the Americans accused all Northern Europe of fascism and not only the Germans. And the American literature greatly emphasized the idea of “French Fascists” instead of “French far right”, and their collaboration with the Nazis. While the French emphasize their resistance to the Nazis, Americans undervalue it. Even French postmodern philosophy is highly connected with fascism in American academic researches. Fascism which is a continental trait, has 3 main characteristics that make it suitable for the American cultural political investment: it is irrational (and so non-western), it adopts Spengler’s say “the decline of the West” (and he who abandons the West is no more Western), it is reactionary (and the West is advanced by nature, and any reactionary step is a sign of the occurrence of Translatio).
The will to combine France and Germany into one term “The Continent” is an important step towards ridding themselves of the entire contemporary Continent” whilst rearranging its history and portraying it as a part of their cultural heritage.
And here the second term “Western Canon” becomes vital. The Western Canon debate is an exclusive American debate and we do not find it in any part of the world. It is the result of the American will to reorganize the Western history to fit her political and cultural consciousness. The Western Canon lists include texts from the ancient Greeks (of course not today Greeks), ancient Romans, to the Italian renaissance, and Northern European contributions stopped by the end of the 19th century. Now, the Western heritage is embodied in a countable number of texts that can be handled according to the new Metropolis’s Library and imagination. This American attempt, while activated in the 20th century, seeded back to the American revolutionary war. They not only wanted to put an end to the European colonialism in the American continent, Monroe Doctrine, but they also began to imagine themselves as the heirs of Northern Europe and its values. When the founding fathers of the US wrote the “Federalist Papers” they highly felt themselves as the Romans of the new ages, so they signed the name Publius in the end of every article of the “Federalist Papers” and till now the Americans insist on using Latin words as mottos of every city and university. When Alexander Hamilton speaks of “the unique adventurous spirits of our American tradesmen and sailors” then Hamilton’s new nation is now composed of the courageous and adventurous Northern Europeans who dared to face the dangers, while the lazy Northern Europeans lay back in their continent. The advanced elites of the city seek the new Western land for civilization, leaving behind an uncivilized abandoned country of lazy citizens in the darkness of barbarity; the core of the Translatio theory. General Marshal’s paper obviously portrays an overwhelming sense of ability to reorganize Europe according to the American criterion, he wants like the American paradigm, no obstacles to the trade as a condition it provides support in various means, even within Western European countries, which behave immaturely while the U.S.A. plays the role of the mother of Western Europe, resolving their problems. The U.S.A. doesn’t forget that she rescued Europe from two World Wars initiated by the Europeans themselves. It is not a coincidence that Marshal was one of the two founders of the Truman doctrine which considers the U.S.A. leader of the free world, of the Western world.
“If the west was to unite politically and economically, depends on whether the U.S. stresses its Western identity, and specifies its goals and role as a leader in the Western culture” says Huntington and adds “the preservance and protection and renewal of the unique characteristics, falls on the responsibility of the US because it is the strongest country”. Huntington ensures the fact that if Europe backs it doesn’t mean that the West will be set back, and by this begins the separation between Europe and the concept of the West, gradually. In fact, the US protection allowed Europe to engage wholly in the leisure production after Second World War. Washington welcomes giving this support with no burdens as it is an old American dream, the Continent being dependent on America. Decades ago, and the Continent is becoming more incapable, and it is weaker than to preserve its security or go through wars independent of the U.S.
Before ending this section, I would like to stress that the exposing of the politicization embedded in the philosophy does not mean lessening or demeaning its creativity and uniqueness. I think that this direction is one of the most important outcomes of the Michel Foucault and Edward Said and postmodern philosophy in general on the concept of power and its institutionalizing. Their work wasn’t a condemning of the authority as much as it is celebrating its genius.
Through this summarized presentation I wanted to address the opening of horizons of a new chapter in the Translatio Studii et Imperii. The regression to the modern dogmas after having abandoned, implicitly or explicitly, post-modern’s ideals, instead of overcoming them, and the stagnancy of intellectual academic production since the mid eighties, are the signs of a Vacancy, that Rome is ready now for another emigration, for according to the Germanic political imagination, the “Vacancy occurrence” is highly related to the “Emigrating Rome”; “Rome is no more in Rome”, Corneille’s statement reflecting the essence of this Germanic theory.
I wanted here to point out a narrative gap that makes an impossible quest now feasible, metropolitan plans now are feasible. Since the mid 80’s the task of thinking seems as if it is passing in stagnation but is a crossover stagnation pointing out to end of an era and the beginning of a new one. A new chapter on the Translatio towards a more Western city ready to archive and control on reinterpreting and classifying former texts, libraries, and world metropolitan libraries over the former ones. The West won’t be reactionary, it always will progress; if the representatives of the West showed signs of weakness that means that a Translatio is occurring, and these representatives are no more the suitable representatives of the Western Civilization.
What I am trying to say is that the situation of Iberian America, and especially Mexico, with respect to Washington, is too similar to the situation of the Germanic barbarians with respect to Rome in the first centuries AD. So Iberian America must not beg the name of the West form Huntington or any other (we know how some influential Mexicans try to say they are North America and not Latin America). Iberian America must do what the Germanic tribes did once, they invaded Rome and said “We Are Rome”. Exactly Iberian America must today invade Rome, invade Washington, the most glorious metropolitan in the history, and say “We Are Rome, We Are Washington, We Are the Western Civilization”. For Washington is not a new Rome, it is Rome itself.
The current West is declining rapidly in terms of power; this West must not be destroyed but inherited. If you are fascinated by the U.S.A., then possess the U.S.A.; if you are fascinated by the West, then possess the West. This is what the Germanic barbarians did once. For the physical possession of Rome is necessary for claiming the inheritance of Rome. The real struggle is not a matter of “are we part of the West or not?”, the real struggle is “are we dominating the circulation of the term West or not?”, “do we have the power and authority to define the West and determine who is Western and who is not?”; this the question. The West, as any other term, is not a physical entity that we can determine whether an object “a” belongs to it or not through experiment; rather, it is a construction, a construction that we can only describe the political channels of its circulation, and where and under which conditions it is circulated, within which “Metropolitan Library”.
Now with the re-construction of Rome we will found an Americo-centrism, much like Euro-centrism, that considers accomplishments of the U.S.A. proof of the genius of the American continent, as the Germanics once considered the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks a proof of the genius of the European continent.
This is fully unexpected from these backward Iberians, but it holds potential more than what the Germanic tribes had before invading Rome. Now it is the turn of Latin America to be the centre of the West, to construct the new Metropolitan Library, and recreate the West, reinterpret the “Western Line” from Homer to Virgil to Shakespeare to the new figures of Western Culture. In fact, the United States can be seen as a stage, an important stage, in the transformation “Translatio”, from Northern Europe to America.
Most likely, this will be a general national cultural project, implemented by the leftists and rightists in Iberian America, the right can consider it a Germanic invasion of Rome, the left can consider it a Reconquista. In Iberian America there is no left and right politics; these terms are misleading in the Iberian American context. There is only the USA occupying the whole imagination of Iberian America, and so the population is divided upon one topic: pro or counter the U.S.A.
Latin America should rise to the philosophical standards in order to found a new World Metropolis, inheritor of the West, protector of the Abrahamic sects, and a Library to reestablish what had been accomplished in the old world through overcoming the latest era of the “Germanic” cultures (Paris, London, and Berlin) becoming Washington. That is to initiate a new thousand years of Western Civilization with America as a representative. The literary concept of “Antropofago” developed in Brazil in the twenties of the previous century should be projected as a philosophical-political view. More than eight decades after Oswald de Andrade’s “Antropofago”, Latin America will liberate philosophy from its recession, and recreate the West.
A “barbaric invasion” of Washington is not dogmatically what I call for; what I’m interested in is the spread of this spirit. By reviving and developing the postmodern philosophy, we will achieve the “Fourth Resurrection of the Ancient Greeks” (the first being Roman, then Arabic, Germanic, and now American). How? Here begins another article.