Postscript to On the Recommendation of Social Death

I left out of the longer Beverley quotation in the blog note below the lines: “He never leaves the field of European philosophy, or as he likes to say now ‘critical reason.'”  Further down that section he clarifies the reference: “Gramsci was also a European, of course, but as a Sardinian somewhat at a postcolonial slant to European philosophy.”  How to read these thoroughly overdetermined references?  I think this is going to hurt more than the previous text, but what the hell. He should have worded things differently.

Beverley has criticized me in the past for not owning my Galicianness, ridiculous as the critique was.  He must mean Gramsci owned his Sardinianness, so he was not so much of a European, and his full endorsement of historical materialism in his “philosophy of praxis,” presented by Gramsci himself as a total system with no appropriate exits (yes, I have read Gramsci from beginning to end, every page he ever wrote), was somehow prompted by some postcolonial ghost.  Hence Gramsci’s credentials are proper and acceptable, whereas mine are not just dubious but deserving of considerate exclusion and consignment to hell, I mean, social death.  It is, “naturally,” for that kind of mentality still gaining ascendancy, or perhaps now more than ever, to be taken for granted that no European philosophy framework is acceptable for thinking about Latin America.  That is probably one of the reasons why the Spanish peninsular area of the Pittsburgh department was dismantled, after making the life of those in it not particularly pleasant, as I have heard from them.  Of course this reminds me of the long-standing stupidities one has forever had to listen to coming to us from the field, like the one time in which a friend of mine was rejected out of hand as a job candidate because she had written a dissertation on Borges and Benjamin, whereas, the department chair told her, “had you written on Borges and Ortega, you would have had the offer.”  Or the other comment by a notorious decolonialist: “We already have Mariátegui, what do we need Gramsci for?”  Or the rejection of the candidacy for a position in Spanish of an important Chilean philosopher because “we already have French thinkers in the French department.” One would have imagined that Beverley would be beyond those things, but sometimes one wonders.  Like when reading this piece.  The brand of clumsy woke political correctness that has made Beverley’s career–and his own sense of empowerment–sometimes betrays the carrier.  Because the implications of his paper are that, as a Spaniard, I was not qualified to be a proper Latin Americanist, or only under a cloud of immense suspicion people like Moraña and him would have to watch over.  In fact, I cannot tell you how many times I have had it reported to me by well-intentioned friends that someone or other referred to me as a “gallego de mierda.”  And this was done repeatedly by one of those people, among others, whispering in Beverley’s ear, as he himself knows.  Anti-Spanish prejudice is extensive in Latin America, as everybody knows, and of course it translates to the Latin Americanist field–sometimes with a vengeance.  Is it racism?  It is a version of racism because, in the United States at least, in the professional field, it does not matter what political or intellectual or class or regional features qualify your Spanishness: the Spanishness is in itself reason enough to put you under a cloud, if not to be rejected.  And I am cutting the story short.  For instance, I could tell you that my indignation in the face of some egregious malice done to me at a previous university I prefer not to think about was dismissed by some Latin American so-called friends who had taken the other side as “typical Spanish pride; he thinks he is a caballero.”  Would you call it racism?  I would. It was intended that way.

Those who know me know I am very dark-skinned.  Never in my life have I been considered a white man in the United States.  Never in their lives have my children, whose mother is also a Spaniard, been considered white.  In fact, not many months ago I had to hear from a colleague of mine that I was involved in a “mixed marriage,” meaning that my wife might be white, but certainly not I.  For me, in spite of the obvious and for the most part hidden and secret inconvenience it has caused me (but these things always end up revealing themselves), my dark skin has always been a matter of pride and certainly also of solidarity with other dark-skinned people.  So it is paradoxical that I have had to put up with stupid prejudiced if not racist rejection from my field of endeavor–no longer, but for many years–on the basis of being a Spaniard, when dominant culture in the US considered me a classic Latino, certainly not white, certainly not one of them.   And yet Beverley takes it as almost offensive that I would qualify myself as a marrano, that is, someone whose life has been subjected to an at least double exclusion.  But that is the problem with the theory of hegemony.  Hegemony wants sameness, and non-sameness must be excluded or eliminated.  Which is another reason why the future of reflection on Hispanic culture should keep well away from the failed wokeness hegemony, in the Gramscian version, cannot but represent.  Just read Frank Wilderson’s Afropessimism. 

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