Sunday, October 1

Religion, nation and the old new right

The recent visit of Yolanda Díaz –Vice President of the Government and member of the Communist Party of Spain– to Pope Francis surely deserved a debate of greater depth than the one that took place in our homeland, if the dust of insults and vilifications that the event came, at least among some right, to raise.

The left and Christianity have always shared certain values, a certain understanding of the human being that radically separates them from the approach that embraces the moral conception that underlies the purely economistic view of the so-called “neoliberalism” (I have my precautions against that label, which makes freedom the patrimony of only some, but I will not go into that here). The evangelical mandate that reads that of “he who has two robes, share with the one who does not have; and he who has what to eat, do the same” and the concept, typical of the tradition of the left, called “fiscal progressiveness” share the same ethical substrate, an understanding of society as a set of intertwined obligations and not as a mere aggregate of isolated atoms.

Something similar happens with the beautiful command of Matthew 25 – “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you hosted me, I was naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in jail and you came to see me “- and concern for immigrants, which has always been more on the left side than on the right. There are, of course, differences between both approaches. The left has always understood that Christian charity was profoundly insufficient, and that it had to be transferred to the heart of the public, institutionalized. But, beyond that, the root, the impulse, the heartbeat that beats so much in a It is identical in the sphere as in the other. And it is that root, that impulse or that heartbeat that the so-called “neoliberalism” rejects. For that view, the fate of others is not something publicly relevant, but so alien to the responsibility of each individual. which is like atmospheric phenomena. If the other person is hungry or lacks a tunic or has been expelled to the Mediterranean in a boat, it is not our problem. Or, better still, it is not a political problem: it will depend on the personal morality of each one.

Here it crosses another dividing line, the nation. The great merit of the new gurus of the international radical right movement has consisted above all in succeeding in imbricating –in a way that I would almost say against nature– entities that in their very essence repel individualism, methodological atomism and the conception of the human being as mere A machine for calculating benefits, as religion and the nation are essentially, with an economic doctrine that conceives the other as a mere competitor against which the only shared space is precisely that of competition, that is, the market.

To achieve this imbrication they have to proceed to a prior emptying, to a determined understanding of the nation and of religion (and of many other categories, of course). The nation is defined as an identity against outsiders, as a mere border. Not as a common site where everyone can deliberate on how to articulate public life – an eminently politician, in which the first thing to be addressed are the differences between one and the other, those of birth, opportunities and wealth, in the first place, and all the others (sexuality, belonging, memory, etc.), in the second – but as mere belonging, in a focus merely identity of the insiders against the outsiders that annuls every other dimension and that condemns to the category of traitor – or of bad “bad Spanish”, to put it precisely – whoever does not submit to it.

They do the same with religion. Here one of the ideologues of this new but ancient right extirpates (on a whim, everything must be said: often an example of cherry picking) to Christianity of all moral implications: being a Christian is not doing well, it is not being a good person, it is not following the commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. Being a Christian consists of believing that Jesus rose to save you, period. A conception of religion completely detached from any ethical substratum and therefore perfectly functional for the identity game.

Thus, it is not surprising that Yolanda Díaz’s visit to the pope – and the pope himself, of course – drives them crazy. Faced with the gaze of the old new radical right, in Francis’s religious conception there is a moral reading of the world. And that reading is transferred to the nation of Catholics, which is the world, because not in vain “Catholic” means “universal.” And the same happens, already in the field of the specifically political and national, with the notion of “homeland.” Only when it has been emptied of all moral sense to transform it into a mere group identification can it fit, whole! On a pin, a bracelet, a flag or in the claim of a medieval helmet. In that conception, you are either with us or with the enemy. When, on the contrary, it is conceived as a place for dialogue and political discussion, conflicts arise and politics appear. The real politics, not the tacky one of identity.