2: What is “the people?”

Posted by: | January 19, 2009 | Comments Off on 2: What is “the people?”

The two readings for this week represent two very differing views. The first one, by Eva Peron, Juan Peron’s extremely devoted wife, supports Peronism to the point of almost deifying Peron himself. The other, by this guy Borges, is very critical of Peron and his regime, referring to him as ‘the Monster.’ Both touch on the question of ‘who/what is the people?’ but, again, in different ways.

Mrs. Peron’s manifesto ‘My Message’ talks a lot about ‘the people.’ She differentiates ‘the people’ with the elite ruling class (corrupt politicians, selfish clergymen, etc.), but also referrs to them as ‘all the world’s exploited people,’ and as ‘women…workers, and the descamisados’. ‘The people,’ in her eyes, I suppose, are everyone that is not in a position of power enough to effectively exploit everyone else. It is obvious that her intended audience is exactly who she defines as ‘the people.’ Her writing is deeply rhetorical. It is structured not unlike the Bible and she works hard at establishing a reputation with the reader as a Jesus-like figure, even mentioning and drawing comparisons with him. She also plays heavily on what must have the been the general feeling of discontent of (who she calls) the people in Argentina in the 1950s. “I can now say how much they lie, all that they deceive, everything they pretend.” The entire piece comes off as propaganda, especially in her blatant contributions to what can be called nothing less than a personality cult of Mr. Peron. Her over-generalizing definition of ‘the people’ is a good way to mobilize a large group of distressed people and nothing more. It reminds me of Mussolini.

Borges little story is in disagreement with the Peron regime, and with Evita’s quasi-fascist definition of ‘the people.’ Maybe it’s just my head after a long day of classes, but (tonight at least) Borges writing style seems a tad foggy–almost reminds me of Thomas Pynchon. He doesn’t so much give us a certain definition of ‘the people’ as he shows us that ‘the people’ can’t simply be taken as a singular entity. Eva Peron speaks of freeing ‘the people’– the Jew who is killed in the story is a representation of a part of society under Peron’s regime that very much less than free. Is he not part of this singular group of ‘the people?’ And, for that matter, is Eva, isn’t Juan himself? It seems to me that ‘the people’ can be taken for nothing other than exactly that; the people.


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