One of the jeeps of the Ninth Company of the Leclerc Division, made up almost exclusively of Spanish Republicans, was baptized with the name Mort aux cons, which I resign myself to translating as “Death to fools.” It is not improbable that said motto was a response to the most infamous “Death to intelligence” that Millán Astray vociferated in 1936. And it is that, underneath greed, cruelty, banality and other sources of barbarism, is found the water table of foolishness. Hence the religious wars were heralded by Erasmus of Rotterdam’s In Praise of Folly; the triumph of Nazism, by Robert Musil’s On Stupidity; and the neoliberal revolution of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, for The Fundamental Laws of Human Stupidity, by Carlo M. Cipolla. Should we be concerned about the reissues of these books and the recent publication of Imbecility Is Serious Matter, by Maurizio Ferraris?
Undoubtedly, the underfunding of education, the contempt for the humanities, the conjuring of life, populist anti-intellectualism and the substitution of truth for “stories” financed by different interest groups are not good signs. But nothing very different from obscurantism and the tales of witches, traitors and immigrants, which cast a spell on us from generation to generation. Of course, the struggle between intelligence and foolishness occurs not only in all times, but also in all places, and especially in our own mind, so prone to the simple and false. For this reason, the fight cannot consist of “killing fools”, because each one of us should kill himself first. Not to mention that, as Donald Trump’s voters taught us, laughing at other people’s stupidity is not a good strategy.
It is better to learn to submit personal opinion to the common search for the truth, to fearlessly denounce lies and defend our educational system, renouncing, to begin with, that kind of digital pacifier that is mobile phones, with the aim of including children in our conversations (sorry, but I’m writing these lines in a cafeteria, and the show is pitiful). It is said that, seeing the motto Morts aux cons on the front of that jeep from La Nueve, General de Gaulle happily declared: “Vast program”. Let’s not wait until September to start carrying it out.
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