Lunes, 26 de diciembre de 2016

El estado natural de la humanidad y de los animales, según el filósofo Thomas Hobbes, es el de la guerra. Es la guerra la que decide nuestras vidas y nuestros destinos. Probablemente, debido a las terribles realidades de la guerra, los seres humanos buscamos constantemente soluciones que traigan paz. Sin embargo, eso también es una ilusión, porque la perversidad humana es tal que distorsiona la realidad de los acontecimientos y continúa engañándonos con fantasías sobre la noción de paz. Los políticos y los gobiernos fingen ofrecernos la paz, cuando lo que realmente están ofreciendo es cada vez más guerra. Incluso en medio de las guerras más terribles, causadas brutal y deliberadamente por los seres humanos, nos alimentamos de delirios sobre el concepto de paz.…  Seguir leyendo »

La última vez que vi a Gil, en su casa, hace un par de semanas, y tras pasarnos un rato hablando, como siempre, de películas y goles, en su acogedor salón lleno de libros y de premios –dos Oscar y cuatro Goyas, entre otros muchos, muchos trofeos–, me dijo que escuchaba muy mal por el oído derecho, y que, como apenas veía era Gabi, su mujer, quien le ponía al día leyéndole «su» ABC después de desayunar. Gil empezó a leer el ABC cuando era un adolescente, primero, en su casa madrileña de los alrededores del Cerrillo de San Blas, frente a la estación de Atocha, y luego, durante la guerra, en el chalecito de la Ciudad Lineal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Solo he coincidido una vez en mucho tiempo con Vladímir Putin, pero con una vez me basta. Durante una visita a París, la Embajada de Rusia había invitado a una decena de «intelectuales», entre los que yo me encontraba, a cenar con el gran hombre. Como buenos franceses, nos imaginábamos que podríamos hablar, en particular de las violaciones de los Derechos Humanos en Chechenia y del aplastamiento de la oposición en toda Rusia. Craso error por nuestra parte, evidentemente.

Putin llegó con una hora larga de retraso, pero la entrada a paso ligero de este tipo de corta estatura, musculoso y lleno de bótox, acompañado de unos escoltas vestidos totalmente de negro y de un enjambre de jóvenes rubias, que sin duda tenían una función decorativa, fue espectacular.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde hace demasiados años, sufre España una radicalización en la vida política que ha provocado un creciente rechazo entre los ciudadanos. Un proceso que, en sus variantes extremas, ha llevado a la descalificación sistemática del adversario político e incluso a intentar su muerte civil. Algunas cadenas de televisión, rescatadas de la ruina por el Gobierno del Partido Popular, no han vacilado durante años en atacar con saña a muchos miembros de dicho Gobierno.

Ha proliferado la judicialización de la Política, que no es otra cosa que externalizar en el Poder Judicial la labor de oposición, por la que se cobra del erario público.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Japanese prime minster, Shinzo Abe, is set to visit Pearl Harbour just after the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack that brought the US into the World War II. Abe is only the second Japanese premier to visit Pearl Harbour, and will be the first to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.

But while everyone is familiar with the most obvious consequence of the Pearl Harbour attack, the assault kicked off a number of events in the US itself that still resonate today – none more so than the policy of internment, which involved the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans.

As soon as the US declared war on Japan (and thereafter Germany and Italy), citizens of Axis nations living in America became enemy aliens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como si fuéramos niños que jugamos a seguir creyendo en los Reyes Magos, la hábil pluma de Borges nos sumerge en su divertimento de Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote. Aun avisados de que forma parte de una colección de Ficciones, nos dejamos maravillar con lo que simula ser un docto ensayo sobre un escritor contemporáneo, cuya “empresa complejísima y de antemano fútil” es que “no quería componer otro Quijote –lo cual es fácil– sino el Quijote”.

“Inútil agregar que no encaró nunca una transcripción mecánica del original; no se proponía copiarlo. Su admirable ambición era producir unas páginas que coincidieran -palabra por palabra y línea por línea- con las de Miguel de Cervantes”, explica Borges como fiel relator del ambicioso propósito del novelista francés.…  Seguir leyendo »

2016 has been a watershed year for technology. There has been some spectacular fails that have brought a more realistic perspective to the fundamental belief that technology improves with time. In part, this is because we have now pushed hardware and software to its limits, and certainly beyond our ability to guarantee that it will work as promised, or even secretly hoped. 2016 was the year that technology hit a wall, with significant challenges that will need to be overcome before it can pick up again and start to bring any of its promised future benefits.

When batteries fail

This was certainly the case with batteries, as Samsung was forced to abandon an entire product, the Galaxy Note 7 because of faulty batteries that spontaneously caught fire.…  Seguir leyendo »

In today’s post-truth environment, university educators face new challenges. Their students are surrounded by a broader spectrum of ideologies and beliefs than ever. Some are fuelled by the US alt-right movement and the growth of similar identitarian movements across Europe.

With Brexit and Trump as its mascots, 2016 has ushered in what David Simas calls a whole new “permission structure” enabled by social media. This new structure enables individuals to bypass traditional authorities who once served as the standard bearers of acceptable political discourse, including spiritual leaders, political party elders and influential journalists.

The US elections demonstrated a turning point, in terms of emboldening behind-the-scenes supporters of totalitarian thinking.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian economy is in trouble — “in tatters,” President Obama has said — so why aren’t Russians more upset with their leaders? The country underwent a major recession recently. The ruble lost half of its value. And yet, according to a leading independent pollster in Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin’s approval ratings have consistently exceeded 80 percent during the past couple of years.

One reason is that while the Russian economy is struggling, it is not falling apart, and many Russians remember times when it was in a much worse state. Another, perhaps more important, explanation is that Mr. Putin has convinced them that it’s not the economy, stupid, anymore.…  Seguir leyendo »

Throughout Eastern Europe, Moscow has been implicated in cyberattacks and election interference from Estonia to Bulgaria. Germany, which will hold elections in September, is experiencing cyberattacks and fake news.

Even more surprising than Russia’s aggressive behavior has been the timid response of the West, which has let Moscow engage in cyberwarfare with impunity. President Obama said this month that during their meeting last September, he told Mr. Putin “to cut it out.” That hardly sounds like a president concerned with a grave threat to American democracy. His warning to Mr. Putin may have forestalled even more brazen Russian attacks, but enough damage had already been done.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last December, my family gathered at my grandmother’s house for the one-year anniversary of her death. Her house in Akim Oda, a small town in southern Ghana, was filled with well-wishers. I walked into the kitchen to fetch drinks for the guests, and as I opened the fridge, the lights flickered out.

“Oooh, light off!” my aunt called out from the living room. Electricity in the entire town had gone out; it did not return until midday the next day, right before I returned to Accra, the capital. “Surely, we can’t take much more of this,” I thought on the drive back.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seamos honestos: nadie sabe qué está sucediendo en la economía mundial hoy. La recuperación del colapso de 2008 ha sido inesperadamente lenta. ¿Estamos en el sendero hacia una salud plena, o atrapados en un «estancamiento secular»? ¿La globalización está llegando o se está yendo?

Los responsables de las políticas no saben qué hacer. Accionan las palancas habituales (y no tan habituales) y no pasa nada. Se suponía que el alivio cuantitativo iba a llevar la inflación «nuevamente al objetivo». No fue así. Se suponía que la contracción fiscal iba a restablecer la confianza. No fue así. A comienzos de este mes, Mark Carney, gobernador del Banco de Inglaterra, ofreció un discurso titulado «El espectro del monetarismo».…  Seguir leyendo »

President-elect Donald Trump has set the foreign policymaking world on edge with his and his team’s repeated insistence that as president he will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The goal: support Israel’s claim to the city as its “undivided, eternal capital.” By nominating David Friedman — who agrees with that position — to be ambassador to Israel, Trump apparently emphasizes this commitment.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resisted resolution for decades. But Trump has insisted that “a deal is a deal” and that because he is “a negotiator,” he will be successful where others were not. In this case, presumably Trump plans to offer the Palestinians compensation to accept Israel’s claims to Jerusalem.…  Seguir leyendo »

When young men loiter on street corners or in shopping malls throwing out insults or physically intimidating passers-by, we condemn their behavior as antisocial. When Australia’s top athletes do the same, we celebrate their “wit” and “spirit.”

Sporting prowess is the highest form of status for young men and boys in Australia, as it is in many other places. And in Australian sport there is no pinnacle higher than the national cricket team, which has won four of the last five world cups.

For a cricketing superpower, Australians have a poor on-field reputation. Mutually respectful competition has been replaced by ugly belligerence.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’attentat de Berlin était annoncé depuis longtemps. On ne savait évidemment pas à quel endroit le ou les auteurs de l’attentat allaient frapper, ni de quelle façon cela se déroulerait. Mais en principe, tout le monde savait en Allemagne qu’il y aurait tôt ou tard un attentat. En dépit de tous les efforts que l’on peut déployer, il est impossible d’assurer une sécurité absolue dans une société ouverte. C’est ce qu’ont montré les attentats en France et en Belgique, et le gouvernement fédéral allemand, ministre de l’intérieur en tête, n’a pas cessé de le répéter.

Pourtant, quels furent les manquements, les erreurs, et à quel niveau ?…  Seguir leyendo »

Much about Theresa May’s Brexit “strategy” concerns me. Why, for example, has there been no big speech in Prague, Amsterdam or Rome declaring her love for European civilisation in sweeping historical terms and setting out the strong cultural, economic and security ties she wants with the nations of Europe after Britain has broken free from Brussels? And where’s our ambitious economic growth plan that the EU, because of its dysfunctionality, could not emulate but which would encourage European states to want to remain plugged into our markets? And, sotto voce, where’s the illicitly encouraged think tank paper detailing our hard cop options if certain dogmatists in Brussels play silly beggars in negotiations?…  Seguir leyendo »

The terrorist who hijacked a truck in Berlin, then ran over and killed 12 people, maiming and wounding 48 more, in that massacre in the Christmas market, has done more damage than he could imagine.

If the perpetrator is the jihadist from Tunisia who had no right to be in Germany, and had been under surveillance, the bell could begin to toll not only for Angela Merkel but for the European Union.

That German lassitude, and the naivete behind it, allowed this outrage validates the grim verdict of geostrategist James Burnham in ”Suicide of the West”: ”Liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.”

Both the transnational elite and populist right sense the stakes involved here.…  Seguir leyendo »