May 14, 2022 10:51 pm

Sarmiento’s “y”

Sometimes, Sarmiento formulates problems and reasons in words identical to the current ones, but that, today, have other meanings and go beyond “his reason” and the horizon of his time. An example is the title Facundo. Civilization and barbarism. What does the copulative conjunction “and” mean between these two antonyms? By the way, it serves to link the concepts mentioned; but, due to the content of the text, the two terms and the realities they designate rather than oppose are mutually exclusive.

Some readers and specialists, when they cite this work by Sarmiento, commit a failed act? and refer to it as “Civilization or barbarism.” The “and” became “or” exclusive due to the thesis in which the European tradition confronts the “barbarism” of gauchos and caudillos. Now, the “o” can also mean equivalence: “the protagonist or main character”. In this case, would “civilization” be synonymous with “barbarism”? Walter Benjamin said: “There is no document of culture that is not, at the same time, of barbarism. The pyramids of Egypt required thousands of dead slaves. From this point of view, Sarmiento’s “y” would unite two indissoluble aspects of the human condition.ß

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