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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Interesados

More sketch art from Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi


From the dictionary of the Real Academia Española:

interesado, da.

2. adj. Que se deja llevar demasiado por el interés, o solo se mueve por él.

From the Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary:

interesado, -a nm-nf

1. Person concerned

From Merriam-Webster:

opportunist

Function: noun

One who does things only for his own benefit and with little regard for right and wrong


Interesado,in its noun form, is a great word in Spanish. But it has always confused me that it’s defined in English as “interested person”. When you call someone an interesado, like “Este tio es un interesado”, you are saying they’re not the kind of person you want to hang out with. The word means someone who is superficial and calculating. Slimy. Slick. All rolled in one. That’s why I think the word opportunist, which in English has negative connotations and basically means the same thing, is the best one word translation we have for interesado.

Interesados are everywhere. People masquerade as do-gooders or fighters for social justice, when in reality they are pushing a very different agenda, often times ridiculously individualistic, often times completely contrary to the general concept of “good” they are supposedly espousing. Paz, or peace, is a noble word that nobody can disagree with. Most people want to live in peace. Granted, through the ages their have been people who genuinely wanted the contrary, but on the whole, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who wanted war for war’s sake, as much as that irritates anybody who finds themselves in disagreement with the aims of a certain war. Because, going to war, for most people, is a last resort (or at least it should be). It is supposed to, according to those who find themselves aligned with its cause, bring about a greater good in the world. The frustration arises because those who oppose the war can’t see why anyone could support a war, because war is almost unanimously considered a bad thing. How could anyone be in favor of say, cancer? Or senile dementia? Or flies and mosquitoes? Long lines in the super market? People shouldn’t get their concepts mixed up. There are universal evils and irritants for mankind, those that harm us all. War on the other hand is often the result of one side’s idealism. The vanquished aren’t expected to reap the rewards of the war. They may take part, but they have to submit. But an idea of good comes out of it for the conquerors. Good being a better way of life for los interesados. Can there be exceptions? I really don’t think so. Even Nazis were fighting for an ideal, for a national socialist utopia. They weren’t monsters, they certainly didn’t see themselves as monsters, and they were fighting for what they perceived as a common good.

And these peace marches against ETA. They are marching for peace. If you don’t march, according to confused logic, therefore you must be against peace. Perhaps people have different ideas on how to arrive at that peace? But that aside you have to look at the Popular Party’s stance on this as political posturing. For me, they’re acting like petulant schoolchildren who simply quieren llevar lo contrario, or do the opposite. They obviously have valid points when talking about ETA, but for one moment of solidarity they could have worked with the socialists, because, really it was nothing other than symbolism, and they are supposed to govern together. They’ve demonstrated exactly the kind of partisanship, selfishness, and immaturity that they like to criticize the left with (take ERC for example, which openly states its refusal to ever negotiate with a “conservative” party). For some more on this, check out my favorite paranoid commie, the bad rash, who’s generally insightful, but occasionally a little too righteous for my taste.

Mariano Rajoy – a contemptible man who proclaimed that his newspaper of choice is La Marca, a sports rag, who said he has no books on his nightstand – is an interesado, and one stupid and boring politician. Rajoy is the same interesado who, oddly enough, said it was “understandable” that the Spanish government sent a doctor to treat Fidel Castro. Very odd indeed, coming from a right wing politician. Despite some initial criticism from other members of his party, and what could easily have been blown up by the PP, mysteriously fizzled into nothing. Well, not so mysterious, when you realize that the doctor who went to Cuba is also Rajoy’s personal doctor. His lofty ideals of justice obviously have a barrier. Himself.

An interesado is Madrid’s mayor, Ruiz-Gallardon, who instead of joining a march which should have been about solidarity, went for a photo op with a bewildered and visibly irritated Tim Robbins. He of course had every right to meet him, being the mayor, but his timing couldn’t have been less tactful. Not to mention doing it with someone who is a vociferous critic of anything “right wing” (which, by the way, I think is a stupid stance to take). Robbins said he felt “used”, and went into a diatribe on Bush’s politics. And you know what, he has a legitimate right to be angry with Bush’s mangled politics. Many Americans, including myself, are disillusioned. For another view on this, check out my favorite right wing whack job, Iberian Notes, who’s generally insightful but occasionally gets carried away with bloodlust.

Curiously enough, while most of last Tuesday’s papers were suffused with news relating to the PP-PSOE standoff, this small item in la Vanguardia went by relatively unnoticed. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Popular Party’s representative in the European parliament, had this to say about the alarming re-emergence of extreme right wing parties in Europe:

A la extrema derecha hay que vencerla con ideas y debates, y no intentando crear cordones sanitarios.

Es un error político que le permitirá presentarse como víctima del sistema".

[…]

Intentar taparlos, como pretende la izquierda, es un error político de una ceguera monumental. Aislándolos, al final lo único que haces es crear víctimas.

You have to beat the extreme right with ideas and debates, and not try to quarantine them.

It’s a political error that allows them to act like victims of the system.

[…]

Trying to cover them up, like the left wants to do, is a political error of monumental blindness. By isolating them, ultimately you will only create victims.

Sounds like a sensible idea. Now why doesn’t his party apply the same strategy to the extreme left? Even if they are repellent communists? If they really backed up their words, meant what they said, wouldn’t that apply to everyone else, granted we are working within the margins of the law? It’s so easy to talk about dialogue without actually doing it.