Argentina and the World at the Dawn of 2017
Report of an OPUS Listening Post® held in Buenos Aires on 16 February 2017
PART 1: THE SHARING OF PREOCCUPATIONS & EXPERIENCES
In this part, the Listening Post participants were invited to identify, contribute, and explore their experiences in their various social roles, be they: in work, unemployed or retired; as members of religious, political, neighbourhood, voluntary or leisure organisations; or as members of families and communities. This part was largely concerned with what might be called, ‘the stuff of people’s everyday lives’: the ‘socio’ or ‘external’ world of participants.
This part was also of usefulness in ‘breaking the ice’ between the members of the whole group, as the event was an unknown experience for all members involved. A dynamic atmosphere soon developed and most members shared several of their everyday social thoughts and concerns. The difference this year from 2016 was that two participants were from Venezuela who were seeking for a safe place to live after their national issues.
PART 2: IDENTIFICATION OF MAJOR THEMES
In Part 2, the aim collectively was to identify the major themes emerging from Part 1.
Theme 1: polarisation and fragmentation
The first cluster of themes was dominated by the topics of polarization and fragmentation. In the first instance, the former was mostly associated with the presence of childish citizenship seeking for a dependable guidance of an adult parent as Argentina has a new government. Also the polarization was perceived in the increased of social decomposition (the richest and the poorest) The members reflected on the major political changes which took place in Argentina in the last months after 50 years pursuing the “Peronist” doctrine. (Where a 12-year rule of the Peronist party ended with the election of a centre-right coalition. On further reflection the members reported their preoccupation on the chronic-presence of violence in Argentine society – associating violence to terrorism and gender issues – wondering, “where is all this violence coming from?” Another representation of the perceived fragmentation in the society is the Citizen bipolarity: Euphoria-depression, two states of mind that the citizenship experiences without finding yet a considerable stability. Another reflexion present under this topic was the polarization between how we the Argentinians see ourselves as beautiful but we permanently criticize our society Individual beauty vs collective ugliness.
Theme 2: cultural void
The second category of themes was about existential cultural void and, following from the first cluster, it was mostly within the context of been witnessing a society in transition where the citizenship feels the attraction to be seduced by a political and media seduction which is manifested towards ‘colourful mirrors’, TV showmen with power and fame where to have a good appearance is enough to succeed. The group reflected on how society has also split in terms of generations, with usually young people being much seduced creating this sense of existential cultural void and older generations who tended to be more stick to the values of past generations.
Another important topic present in this category is technology as one of the members brought the Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’. The themes discussed were: banal and frivolous use of technology and a high exposure – as in the series – the other defines the ‘other’ (the protagonist) with how many likes she has. Speed and instantaneity were two main conditions which technology was identified; those tech values have been transferred to the way of life and their behaviours of those who use them. (The change of language, the abbreviations, the emoticons)
The concept of emptiness that the group have discussed was represented as the absence of presence and the void of laws, recalling after two years without resolution what happened with the prosecutor’ death Alberto Nisman who were found in his home the day before presenting to the world all the evidences to send the former government to jail.
Theme 3: Individualism
The third category of emergent themes was concerned with the sense that the Argentine society has immersed itself in a deepest individualism.
The group reported increasing concern about the impact of such prevalent, social attitudes (as described previously) on social institutions as the increased lack of Legislative power to take the lead of the society as a whole. It was reported that widespread attitudes and mentalities, like informality, a very local expression that is to solve situations in a very precarious way ‘tied with wire’, archaic educational system where the behaviour rewards is the individual and not the collective (“I had an A”) and a bad distribution of wealth.
PART 3: ANALYSIS AND HYPOTHESIS FORMATION
In Part 3, the participants were working with the information resulting from Parts 1 & 2, with a view to collectively identifying the underlying dynamics both conscious and unconscious that may be predominant at the time; and developing hypotheses as to why they might be occurring at that moment. Here, participants were working more with what might be called their ‘psycho’ or ‘internal’ world: their collective ideas and ways of thinking that both determine how they perceive the external realities and shape their actions towards them.
Analysis and Hypothesis 1
Argentina is a country with a long history of dependency on presidents who were governing in couples (pairing) Peron – Evita, Peron – Isabelita, Kirchner – Cristina Kirchner and now Macri and his wife as a high important figure for the political campaign.
While politically, the country appeared to have moved on from oppressive, totalitarian regimes which caused this sort of dependency on the government decisions, emotionally society seems to be still struggling to appreciate the value of the citizenship rights to express and fight for their own rights.
This mainly serves as to perpetuate the state of mind of a childishcitizenship seeking for a dependable guidance of an adult parentwhich in turn facilitate the repetition of society’s traumatic silenced and submissive past.
Hypothesis 1: The members of the society perceive the presidents governing in couples as the parents’ figures behaving in a childish way seeking for a dependable guidance polarizing and fragmenting a state of the mind: euphoria – depression; social decomposition (the poorest and the richest) annihilating the middle class and reserving the self-love for oneself instead of turning it into society.
Analysis and Hypothesis 2
With this last presidential election Argentina is leaving behind 50 years of populist governments which generated “La grieta” (the crack: us versus them) as the last opportunity before the disintegration of an Argentina pushed to fall into an existential void while building a more independent and adult’s identity.
The participants were totally new comparing with other pasts LP’s and first time receiving Latin-American immigrants. Argentina has been metaphored – while talking about the role of technology – as the series Black Mirror where in one of the episodes, the more “likes” you have, the more popular you are.
La grieta it is also showing the polarisation in between genders in the format of “jokes” that next to the subject of the emptiness that the group have discussed was represented as the absence of presence and the void of laws, sending the citizenship to protect themselves in a profound individualism in the absence of the support that the state should provide.
Hypothesis 1:The overwhelming anxiety of the Argentinean society regarding a big part of its citizens living in the absence of the support that the state should provide, extreme poverty and in a transitional period of growing up to a next state, has resulted in the widespread support of a citizenship which feels the attraction to be seduced by the politicians and the media which is manifested towards ‘colourful mirrors’, promoting an extreme need of protecting themselves in a profound individualism where the only possible way out is to see each other into a ‘Black Mirror’ recognising the child self to start growing up.
Note: We do not have racial issues in Argentina in terms of black and white.