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Interview with Agustín Laje, political scientist from the Catholic University of Córdoba (Argentina). Founder and director of the Fundación Centro de Estudios LIBRE, he is a columnist in different media and author of the books “Los Mitos Setentistas” (2011), “Cuando el Relato Es una Farsa” (2013), “El Libro Negro de la Nueva Izquierda” (2016), co-authored with Nicolás Márquez, and “La Batalla Cultural. Reflexiones para una Nueva Derecha” (2022).
“If the right does not fight the culture war it is condemned to lose political power.” You have been repeating this for a long time. Given what is happening throughout America, don’t you have the impression that you have been crying out in the desert?
Today, practically the entire right speaks of a culture war. In that sense, the term functions as a force-idea, almost as an empty signifier around which different particular right-wing identities meet. This is great news for me, as I have been talking about the culture war for at least ten years. In a way, I am no longer in the desert.
However, there are two drawbacks to consider: on the one hand, time: we have been several decades late in realizing that culture mattered, and we are paying dearly for that delay because a totally sealed cultural hegemony has to be dismantled. On the other hand, the meaning of what we mean by “culture war”: there are sectors of the right that confuse culture war with evangelization, and there are others that confuse culture war with the mere technical defense of an economic model.
Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, May ’68, the irruption of political correctness… What the Left is proposing is not new, although it is true that this cultural model was imposed as a result of the failure of the class struggle. However, there are still many on the right who deny or play down the importance of the culture war.
Those who deny the culture war tend to be libertarians that only have eyes for the economy because when it comes to cultural issues, they have no real quarrel with the progressive agenda.
These sectors, which I would not really call “right-wing”, but “extreme center”, do not deny the culture war because they do not recognize the revolutionary components of the Left because they do not recognize that the favorite political conflicts of the Left today pass through the cultural sphere.
As you say, the culturalist turn of the Left is not new, and it takes no great intellectual effort to understand it. However, those sectors of the extreme center suffer from atrocious blindness: while they claim to be defenders of freedom to the hilt, the only freedom they defend is economic freedom. When the attacks on freedom come from the cultural sphere (religious freedom, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of education, etc.), they really don’t care at all.
You recently presented in Madrid your book “La batalla cultural. Reflexiones para una Nueva Derecha” (Culture War. Reflections for a New Right). Does this book contain everything you need to fight the culture war, and is it possible to win that battle?
In reality, the book is not a manual, but a theory on the culture war. That is to say, in my book, there is no recipe for “how to wage the culture war.” What I ask myself in my book, rather, is what the so-called culture war is supposed to be, and what is its link with the political.
To address your question, I don’t think the culture war is something that is definitively won or lost. Unlike a political battle, understood as an electoral contest, in which there are well-defined times and well-defined winners and losers, in the culture war there is neither one nor the other. There are simply moments of hegemony. But hegemony always has gaps, and always presents spaces of weakness.
I believe that the weakness of the current pro-green hegemony is that it is so contrary to common sense, so contrary to human spontaneity, that it will generate enormous social and psychological damage in people. It is not gratuitous to tell someone that they can change their gender by means of self-perception, hormones, and surgeries. Nor is it gratuitous to stimulate struggles between men and women. Abortion, on the other hand, hurts society’s birth rate. Ant speciesism degrades man ontologically. And so on.
We will see the costs of all this very soon. Rather: we are already seeing it. The problem is: how much more do we have to see to undo this cultural model imposed on us? I am hopeful that at some point we will say enough is enough.
What would be for you the best example of this new Right?
The new Right adjusts to the conditions of each place. In Argentina, there is Javier Milei, in Spain, there is Vox, in the United States there is Trump but now also DeSantis, in Brazil, Bolsonaro, in Italy, Meloni, and so on. The new right combines different right-wing people in a renewed project, with new faces, who are not afraid of political incorrectness.
Wokeism creates new oppressions and those who were previously oppressed become de facto oppressors, as we have seen in Spain with the confrontation between feminists and trans people. How long can society put up with such madness and division?
That’s right: Wokeism is the permanent stimulation of political conflict taken into the realm of the personal. Every personal, private, and even intimate feature becomes a political matter for wokeism.
Society will put up with this madness until it realizes that this is social engineering; that none of this is spontaneous; that there are big interests (economic, political, ideological) generating all these conflicts to which you refer.
At the end of this month “Generación idiota: Una crítica al adolescentrismo” will be published. Can you tell me something about your new book?
It is a book against different features of wokeism and the pro-green agenda. I analyze the problem of the relationship between the different generations, the attacks on the nuclear family, the indoctrination in schools and universities, the pressure of fashion and show business, the irruption of the digital world, the loss of meaning, the conflicts around identity, and many other issues. It is a combative book, but with analyses that go back and forth between philosophy, sociology and political science. Thus, it is not only a book of combat, but also of education.
Is the motto of the idiot of our time “I’m out of politics”?
There are two types of idiots, which nevertheless complement each other: the idiot who thinks he can really “avoid” politics, and thus gives politics absolutely everything; and, on the other hand, the idiot who politicizes all the domains of his life, who shouts that “the personal is political”, and ends up demanding that the state should celebrate and subsidize his navel. Both cases are ways of privatizing the political. Let us remember that the word idiot comes from the Greek, and means, precisely, the one who lives self-absorbed, without real contact with what happens in the polis.
This article was originally published in Deliberatio.
Álvaro Peñas es redactor de deliberatio.eu, colaborador de Disidentia, The European Conservative, El American y otros medios europeos. Analista internacional, especializado en Europa del Este, para el canal de televisión 7NN. Autor en SND editores // Writer at deliberatio.eu, contributor at Disidentia, The European Conservative, El American and other European media. International analyst, specialized in Eastern Europe, for the television channel 7NN. Author at SND editores.