Monday, January 19, 2009

LAST 201- What is the People?

What is The People?

Eva Peron and Jose Luis Borges’ pieces characterize the Argentine people during the Peronist regime. Both authors attempt to define who the people are, a task more daunting than I originally perceived. Evita wrote In My Own Words while she was dying to reaffirm her allegiance to her husband and to whom she refers to as “the people.” Evita repeatedly describes “the people” as Argentina’s working class, and specifies subgroups including women, the exploited, and descamisados (shirtless men, or workers). Her narrative style utilizes various binaries (“we” versus “them”, “light” versus “darkness”) to portray the polarization within her society, and to depict the upper-class as antagonistic and oppressive. She states “Nation is not a plot of land with moveable borders; rather, it is the people. The Nation suffers or is happy in the people that form it,” which emphasizes the importance of the working class to all of society. Although I’m not very familiar with Argentine history, I found her passionate tone extremely moving. She praises fanaticism, claiming it is “the only way life can defeat death,” and denounces the indifferent as the most deplorable enemy. Her critique of imperialism kind of confused me. She claimed that capitalism exploits the people, and condemns the upper-class for profiting from this system. Again, I’m unfamiliar with this article’s historical context, but didn’t Eva climb from the working to upper class? She speaks of her own jewelery, possessions and wealth, yet claims to be one with society’s poorest people. She also expresses extreme contempt for the wealthy, although she was included in that class. Maybe she aimed to inspire the working classes with her enormous success, but I thought this discrepancy cheapened her purpose. I did, however, really like what she said about religion. She states it “should never be an instrument of oppression for the people,” and criticizes Christian institutions that have abandoned the poor. I think this heavily relates to our society, as people sometimes use religion to justify hatred and discrimination. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this article. I would like to know more about Eva and the article’s general historical background to understand some of the ambiguities within her argument.
I was very confused after reading Borges’ “A Celebration of the Monster.” I think I lacked the necessary historical and contextual background to understand the story. Borges also characterizes the Argentine people during the Peronist time period, but takes a radically different stance from Eva. Whereas Eva repeatedly declares her allegiance and belief in her husband’s policy, Borges depicts Peron as a tyrant or monster. I don’t really know what more to say about this article. . . Hopefully discussing it in class will give me more insight. Bye!

1 comment:

  1. Taylor,
    Even though you repeatedly mention that your understanding could be supplemented by knowing the historical context, I think you aren't giving yourself enough credit for your interpretation of Evita's text, especially highlighting the contradictions between Evita's words and her actions. Despite the glaring discrepancies, Evita's legacy is engraved in the conscience of Argentines today as many people remember her more for what she accomplished in a time where women were expected to integrate themselves into passive roles.
    Her views on religion, specifically that it should never be an instrument of oppression for the people” may have enhanced her moral certitude the minds of many. I think that maybe if she had not allied herself with religion, that her continous self-contradicting manner may have been more apparent.
    Not knowing the historical context is just as helpful as knowing, since the questions you ask are genuine and not just rhetoric.
    - irem