Interview: Agustín Laje: “Wokism is the permanent stimulation of political conflict taken into the realm of the personal”
Interview with Agustín Laje, graduate in Political Science 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).
Álvaro Peñas: "If the right does not fight the cultural battle 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?
Agustín Laje: Today practically the entire right wing speaks of a cultural battle. 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 cultural battle for at least ten years. In a way, I am no longer totally in the desert. However, there are two drawbacks to consider: on the one hand, time: we have been several decades late in realising that culture mattered, and that delay is paying dearly, because a totally sealed cultural hegemony has to be dismantled. On the other hand, the meaning of what we mean by "cultural battle": there are sectors of the right that confuse cultural battle with evangelisation, and there are others that confuse cultural battle with the mere technical defence 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 cultural battle.
Those who deny the cultural battle tend to be certain libertarian sectors 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 centre", do not deny the cultural battle because they do not recognise revolutionary components in the Left, but rather because they do not recognise that the favourite 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 centre suffer from an 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". Does this book contain everything you need to fight the cultural battle, and is it possible to win that battle?
In reality, the book is not a manual, but a theory on the cultural battle. That is to say, in my book there is no recipe book, there is no recipe for "how to wage the cultural battle". What I ask myself in my book, rather, is what the so-called cultural battle is supposed to be, and what is its link with the political.
To address your question, I don't think the cultural battle 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 cultural battle there is neither one nor the other. There are simply moments of hegemony. But hegemony always has gaps, 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 sex 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. Antispeciesism 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 rightists in a renewed project, with new faces, who are not afraid of political incorrectness.
Wokism 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 a society put up with such madness and division?
That's right: Wokism is the permanent stimulation of political conflict taken into the realm of the personal. Every personal, private, even intimate feature becomes political matter for wokism.
Society will put up with this madness until it realises 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 Wokism and the pro-green agenda. I analyse 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 "pass" politics, and thus gives politics absolutely everything; and, on the other hand, the idiot who politicises all the domains of his life, who shouts that "the personal is political", and ends up demanding that the state should celebrate and subsidise his navel. Both cases are ways of privatising 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.
Interview with Rubén Herrero de Castro, PhD in Political Science and Sociology from the Complutense University of Madrid and Professor of International Relations at the Faculty of Political Science at the same university. He is a researcher at the Franklin Institute of the University of Alcalá de Henares and the Research Unit on Security and International Cooperation. Author of several books, including The Invented Reality.