“Zurdos”, an expression that refers to a tragic moment in Argentina

“Zurdos”, an expression that refers to a tragic moment in Argentina
“Zurdos”, an expression that refers to a tragic moment in Argentina


“I am a liberal in a country of left-handers,” President Milei defined himself at the presentation of his book in Madrid. I confess that at first the idea made me smile. But immediately the words were loaded with meaning again and therefore meaning. The mixture of comedy and tragedy in which we live, which begins with the promise of democratic restoration and ends in the political failure of polarization, brought out of the public debate the words and attitudes typical of democratic respect and historical sense. As in the game of empty chairs, everything seems to have changed places.

Baffled, we still do not know if those who define themselves as liberal are actually conservative nationalists, and the “lefties” of yesterday are the liberal democrats of today. Since in our tragic past the right and the left literally killed each other, words like “left-handed” and “fachos” They are painfully connoted. They sound like insults, without us having yet cleansed them of their burden of death or reconciled them in a democracy in which, at least in theory, there should be room for everyone, on an equal footing, to exchange arguments and build a democratic conversation. So it is impossible to understand them in their true meaning outside of our turbulent and tragic history of the 20th century.

Why are those in Argentina called “left-handed” who are called “left” everywhere, to designate a political thought that, simplified, puts equality before freedom and is identified with communism? and socialism? Is about a denomination born from the French Revolution, defined by the physical place occupied by the deputies in the National Constituent Assembly. On the right, those who defended the king; on the left, those who promoted change. However, time, which modifies everything, challenges us to understand new situations: change today is advocated by the right. Meanwhile, the political thought of the left failed in its promises of equality and took refuge in the defense of causes of identity, defended rather with arrogance than with persuasion.

Both words, right and left, are nouns, they name antagonistic ideological conceptions.two worldviews of the world and life that find political expression within liberal democracies, the most generous of systems, which offers seats of representation even for those who disbelieve in democracy and use Parliaments to attack the system that gives them political foundation.

However, the expressions, “left-handed” and “fachos” are moral, personal disqualifications, used as an insult. Not arguments or concepts. If the origin of the denominations left and right refer to the French Revolution, in Argentina it is difficult to discover the origin of the expression “left-handed”, unless recognizing the negativity of the “sinister” metaphor, also the name of the left hand .

The truth is that the word “left-handed” as a personal disqualification has been used and abused by both Peronism and the sectors of the military extreme right, for whom doubting is a boast of intellectuals. The 1976 coup replaced it with “subversives,” to justify the “annihilation” ordered by the presidential decree of Perón’s widow, Isabelita. For their part, the armed groups of Peronism never claimed to be leftist, but rather defined themselves as revolutionaries, heirs of popular nationalism. In Europe, the leftist denomination, which was strengthened after the Second World War by the role that the communists played in the resistance to Nazism, was badly wounded under the cement and iron of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which forced the parties and left-wing intellectuals to democratic reconversion. In Argentina, the democratic restoration restored the right to free thought, without persecution of opinion. The red flags were displayed, the left-wing parties entered the electoral game, and Kirchnerist Peronism, which was never left-wing, inaugurated a new euphemism: “Progressives.” A definition that denies itself, since there are no concrete ways to measure progress without falling into statistics. Ours, the only thing that increased was poverty, inflation and unrest.

More difficult to measure are cultural issues, the values ​​we share, the way we speak or remain silent, what we say and how much we respect each other’s differences. It is not a crime to think left or right. Liberal democracy guarantees our right to express ourselves freely. With four decades of electoral continuity, we could have already developed a culture of democratic coexistence. However, the years of ideological patrolling by Kirchnerism have amassed an authoritarian political culture, one of obedience and fear of saying what one thinks so as not to fall under the barrage of insults and personal disqualifications, exacerbated and facilitated by social networks. . Even more so when they come from the highest positions, which have very powerful communication and propaganda systems.

Therefore, words are not innocent. They caress or hurt. The insult should not be taken literally, because it does not convey a concept but its purpose is to hurt, he wrote these days Fernando Aramburuthe author of that immense novel, Homeland, in which the times of terror in the Basque Country can be read in Argentine code. “The insult is a failure of man,” because it reveals the poor management of the resources of human intelligence.

Long before, the emperor Marcus Aurelius he wrote, in his Meditations, that even the most aggressive cannot resist kindness, and advised not to resemble the insult. Personally, in my time on the political platform I strictly followed another piece of advice extracted from the wisdom of the Spanish proverb, forgotten these days on both sides of the Atlantic: “Just say sweet words, lest you have to swallow”.

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