What is the People?

Posted by: | January 18, 2009 | Comments Off on What is the People?

The two articles assigned for this week were intended to answer the somewhat vague question of “what is the people?” After reading both articles, I have some ideas about what “the people” can be described as and how they find their legitimacy in society.

In Eva Peron’s My Message, she continually refers to “the people”, “her people” and “Peron’s people”. I believe she meant to distinguish between them, seeing them in her mind as different types of people, who may have come from various backgrounds, but all believe in a similar future for Argentina. I think she saw “the people” as those people in society oppressed by the powers of imperialism: workers, women, children, the poor, and the sick. However, I believe that the people is more than just those who are suffering due to their place in society and as a result of the powers of imperialism. When I think of the people of a nation, I think of not only those who are marginalized from society, but also those who are included.

While I loved Eva Peron’s ideals, views and the strength of her beliefs in an “ideal Argentine nation”, I found them to be slightly over-optimistic. To bring justice, equality and liberty to all people would be a great accomplishment for the world. However, at times I felt that Evita was overly optimistic in the power of her people, that is, those of the working class. Not that I am undermining the power of the people. However, I find it hard to ignore the power that those in higher positions of government and society in general hold, and can exercise over the rest of society. We have seen it happen in many countries, all over the world.

Eva Peron gave power to the people, by uniting them and igniting them with her passion in the fight for freedom, justice and equality. Her people, united, became a force to be wreckoned with, for the military and those opposed to “Peronism”. However, I believe the second article, A Celebration of the Monster, to be a depiction of how the union and empowerment of people for a cause can quickly take a wrong turn. Peronism became a so-called Monster as those people for whom Peronism resonated with so strongly exercised their own methods of bringing about social change.

I found it difficult to distinguish who the narrator of the story was, and who he was fighting for. At first, I believed he was part of the military. However, I found many clues that caused me to think he was part of the working class, and therefore a follower of Peronism. For example, the man describes himself putting on his “trusty overalls”, a uniform normally associated with the working class. He also mentions that the man who owned the bus “wasn’t no oligarch you had to worry about no more”, and oligarchy was something Eva Peron was strongly opposed to. In any case, the men described in the story show a great display of pride, togetherness and brotherhood, characteristics that Eva Peron and Peronism wanted to spread to the people. However, the men’s feeling of togetherness with one another was taken out on one young man who was not a part of their group, and was not seen as part of “the people”. The men, in beating up the Jewish man, aimed to solidify and claim legitimacy to their “rightful” place in society. They took from him what they did not have, and probably would never have access to: his jeweled Bulova, Fabricant watch and Plumex fountain pen. While these men were fighting for equality and justice, they applied the platforms of Peronism in a way that Eva Peron surely had not intended.


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