(The following four articles have been contributed for the Budapest Family Summit of 25–27 May. Courtesy of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources. – The Editors)
Today, the prevalence of falsehood over truth has increased. It is the most worrying sign that is detected in the public domain. Lies, their prevalence, dehumanise us, because the consequence forms part of their own nature. This predominance of lies is the deepest cause of the discrediting of public affairs, which nowadays has reached unbearable levels in Western societies.
Over the last few decades, especially in the most recent one, we have augmented the rate of evolution towards increasingly liquid societies, distant and quickly moving away from permanent and solid values, far removed from the truth even as an aspiration. We have been destroying pre-political principles and have left absolutely everything to the fate of developing states of opinion.
The problem of liquid societies is that they are becoming more and more liquid; they resemble a gaseous society that leans more towards suicide rather than towards revolution.
The liquid society, like fluids, is undermining its own foundations, principles and values. Weak thinking overtakes everything, and that which is politically correct requires thought police – in the correct and literal expression of the Spanish historian Fernando García de Cortazar – in order to de-legitimise and marginalise the heterodox. It relativises everything or almost everything, and we prefer to abandon the truth to embrace the lie. We stopped believing.
Therefore, I am going to present to you today some of the lies, a set of commonplaces that have been imposed in the last decades. Because, in my modest personal experience, there is a moment when the lie is accelerated and therefore is gradually but inexorably imposed. It is not that there are periods characterised only by truth and other stages characterised only by lies. But there are times when the disproportion is enlarged and the intensity of the lie becomes such that it seems to invade everything. Today, the crisis is moral and not economic. Just a few days ago I participated in a conference on “The Necessary Strengthening of Spain” and I talked about “The Necessary Strengthening of the Truth”. In this conference I listed some big lies about our recent past and about our present times.
FIRST LIE: THE CRISIS WAS AND IS ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL
It is not the first lie; in essence, it is the big lie, the mother of all lies. The crisis that we have been dragging along is not strictly economic, financial or political, it is moral; it is within ourselves, it is in the consciousness of people, and ultimately it is in the person.
Consequently, not only has the crisis not ended, but on the contrary, it is getting worse every day. This crisis, based on the person, places us in a new scenario. It is what has been, and is, yesterday and today a dominant style: relativism, the current status quo. And, additionally, in opposition to this: reaction, extremism and populism.
We have not reached the end. Using sports as an analogy, we are at halftime, in the break between a first part dominated exclusively by relativism and a second part determined by the political and cultural confrontation that I have just described.
In the year 2016, populism won in the United States and in Britain through Brexit. In 2017, the scenario of confrontation between these two actors that I have described will be essentially European.
So it happened in the recent Dutch elections, and in the French elections, in the British elections, in the German elections and possibly in the Italian elections. In addition, it is not just an electoral confrontation.
I do not dare predict, much less prophesy, the outcome of this confrontation, unprecedented for our generation, which is taking place in Western society. I do not do so because it is unpredictable, because the crisis is out of control today, because we still do not understand it, and therefore we are unable to diagnose its authentic nature.
SECOND LIE: THERE IS NOT A NEW WORLD ORDER, A NEW
Throughout this decade the development of a New World Order has accelerated, a fruit of the socialisation of nothingness, the result of a liquid society without solid and permanent values. When I speak of the New World Order I do not refer to a kind of conspirators’ lobby assembled privately to give form to their caprice for new world relations. I refer to the cultural and social order; to political preferences and consumption; to tastes and hobbies, the media and social networks. Moreover, I referr to prevailing values, which are the result of a long process of secular decantation that has shaped the world of the twenty-first century. That is to say, it has been generating a new and practically global order in all of these aspects of public and private life. It is almost like an evolution of the moral language in which most of humanity communicates today; but a language where saying some things becomes obligatory, and saying other things is practically prohibited.
Its main reference, our main reference, almost the only value we have made absolute, is money, which is the highest expression of the liquid state to which I referred, flowing from hand to hand without solid anchors. But it has, of course, been shaping a new world order! It does not have an executive committee or a permanent address, but it is a living reality that is becoming increasingly present. Yesterday it was singularly ephemeral, opaque; today it is emerging with more and more clarity in the face of the thunderous presence of the reaction, the opposite extreme. In the Netherlands, the status quo has become a coalition once having resisted the populist challenge; in France, the figure of Macron has replaced the two traditional political parties to counter the extremism of Marine le Pen.
THIRD LIE: THE NEW WORLD ORDER IS INNOCUOUS FOR CHRISTIAN VALUES
Contrary to the above assertion, the new times, the New World Order has a sick, pathological obsession to destroy Christian values in terms of civilisation, and replace them with nothing. Among these values, I cite as an example the value of life, the nature of marriage and the family, as well as the deep and noble meaning of obligation and sacrifice. For a long time we have preferred to avoid, to hide, to conceal the phenomenon of relativism, which has become a dominant style; which has taken possession of most of the mass media. We have preferred to hide the fact that this type of society is the cause of what is happening to us. That is because the consequences are extremism and populism on the one hand, and the radicalisation of Islamism on the other.
Paradoxically, the tree of nothingness produces the fruit of extremism. The excess of comfort and what is politically correct always result in the excess of what is politically incorrect. It is not enough to condemn, with reason and with reasons, the risks contained in extremism and populism. It is necessary to rectify; to be able to look closely at the socialisation of nothingness that we suffer. It is not enough for us to become scandalised by Le Pen, Mélanchon, Podemos, Trump, Wilder – that is the reactions to relativism – without dealing with the in-depth cause of what is happening today. We have to be able to get away from nothingness; from obsessive secularism; and above all, we must be able to abandon the attitude based on the cultural absence of our convictions.
FOURTH LIE: THE POLITICAL DEBATE IS THE SAME AS ALWAYS, NOTHING HAS CHANGED
Asserting this lie is what is most convenient; it is probably what most people would like to believe, but it is not true. It is one more lie. It is preferable to think and say that everything remains the same; that there is a debate between the left and the right, between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, between Liberals and Socialists. However, today the only debate that occurs is the one led by the relativist status quo, on the one hand, and extremism or populism, on the other.
Today there is no other debate in any European country, starting with Spain. This is the debate we have today.
FIFTH LIE: IN THIS NEW AND UNIQUE DEBATE, WHAT IS MOST URGENT IS OUR ALIGNMENT, EITHER WITH THE WORLD ORDER OR WITH POPULISM
I do not conceal my total distrust of one or the other, because in my opinion neither is capable of diagnosing the true nature of the crisis we suffer. There are many like me who feel orphaned in the political and social arena because we do not want to be carried away by the New World Order or reactive extremism. However, we cannot – and should not – remain equidistant, in the middle or between the two contenders. What we are obliged to do more than ever is to offer a different view of the total crisis that we suffer. We have the obligation to get to the root of what is happening to us and make it known. When it comes to facing a problem, we need to know how to differentiate and know that embracing the extreme is not the same as looking for its root. The most urgent thing is to seek the truth, to speak the truth, to suffer for telling the truth, if necessary, probably from the strength of solitude.
In a society as liquid as the one in which we live, the unthinkable, the unexpected, the unimaginable has begun to be part of the everyday natural landscape. Throughout the world, in Europe and Spain, every month – almost every week – something unexpected happens that scandalises us. It is not a coincidence. They are not chance events. They are characteristic of decadence, of a terminal stage, so much so that uncertainty presides over our present. That is because the crisis is moral, and it resides in the hearts and in the consciences of the people. Uncertainty is of such magnitude that trying to come up with a new answer to the question of what is going to happen tomorrow leads – at the most – to a prudent “we’ll see!”
The severity of the ruin suffered by liquid societies resides in the fact that lies flow rapidly through them, more and more easily, with less resistance. We know that a lie in our personal, family or professional environment constitutes a leap into an abyss; it constitutes a further step towards the evaporation of our family and our society. We also know that one lie requires another lie, so one leap into the abyss requires another leap into the abyss, and then another. A lie does not exhaust itself; it demands a successive series of lies. Remember, from the list of lies, how one is coupled to the next. A liquid society, without permanent values, multiplies the leaps into the abyss.
At the end of this talk you may ask yourselves, and ask me, why and for what reason – if what I have said is true and if lies are so ingrained – I am proposing such an uncomfortable and undesirable analysis like the one I have just presented. Some may think it is an inappropriate presentation. I assure you that I also asked myself the same thing. Nevertheless, I think it is an obligation; a matter of conscience. I think that by simply reviewing the list of lies that I have just denounced we can realise the ease with which lies circulate in today’s Spanish society. Lies are used and propagated; they are normally comfortable and they come cheap, except for the conscience. The truth is unpleasant; uncomfortable. It is better not to listen to the truth. It is almost always dismissed with indifference; it goes in one ear and out the other. It does not even generate controversy. It is not even provocative.
However, despite everything, we have the obligation to understand that the necessary strengthening of Spain requires working and suffering during the search and strengthening of the truth. And then once we understand it, we have to put it to work. For this reason the event that we are going to celebrate in Budapest from the 25th to the 27th is very important, and signifies defending a great truth: the deep meaning of life and family.