In the very correct Spanish that the president of one of the think thanks of the most influential conservative in the United States sneak words in Catalan. Without wanting to say menyspreo instead of contempt. By instead of fear. Collons instead of vehemence (be kind to the translation). These three words serve, however, to concentrate the central theme of his last book, Love your enemies, that this week presented in Madrid. Arthur C. Brooks (Washington, 1964), president of the American Enterprise Institute, columnist The Washington Post, "Catholic and Apostolic", as defined, maintains that the United States (and the world) lives immersed in a culture of contempt towards those who do not think like us. However, Brooks, who came to Spain for the first time almost three decades ago to play in an orchestra in Barcelona and ended up marrying a Catalan, is optimistic. Very optimist.
Question. Has polarization grown in the world?
"Polarization grows with populisms because, basically, it is their product"
Answer. You are right. It is something that normally happens after a financial crisis, which is different from a normal recession. After this there is populism. It is important, because during those years economic growth is not shared among people. But it is not a plot. It is a phenomenon that we do not know, that we can not solve; basically, it is something that must be endured. In this period, 80% of the people who see that the growth rate is going up, that the stock market is going well but they have not raised their salary, that their son earns 800 euros a month … they see that it is not fair. That is why they adhere to populist parties. With them there is always more polarization, of course, because it is their product. It is the culture of contempt[escapeshim[seleescapamenyspreo, contempt, in Catalan], the contempt. They have to make enemies among the people so that they have power, they want you and me to be enemies. It's what gives them fame, power, money. There is more polarization, but it will not last forever.
P. Let's hope.
R. It is not impossible. There is no energy to maintain this polarization. The truth is that there are always enemies and problems, but we want to love each other. We are humans. The Spaniards, or the Americans, do not want to hate each other forever.
P. We must recognize that polarization, as a product, is good. At least, that people buy it.
R. But it is a fashion. It's like a fashionable song. At age two, if you listen to it one more time, you want to shoot yourself.
P. In today's social context, a message like your love your enemies It sounds revolutionary.
R. Being conventional is very boring. And to hate your enemies is the most conventional thing there is. And it does not work, eh: if you want to convince others, the worst thing is to insult them. No one in the history of the world has been convinced by insults. To convince them you have to have a bit of magnetism, it has to be through love. The leader who goes with hate wants to have followers of his own tribe. But he who wants to expand his philosophy, help society, raise others, is the one who talks about love. Jesus Christ, Buddha, Aristotle, they talked about loving the one you do not agree with. The secret is that, the Dalai Lama explained it to me this way: when you love your enemy, you realize that he is not your enemy.
P. Focusing on your country, is there a hate speech in your President, Donald Trump?
R. There is the same as here. There is a period of polarization. Y Trump He is a follower, he is not a leader. He goes behind the impulse of culture. When people are envious, when they are afraid[escapeshim[seleescapaby in Catalan], he wants populism. And they arise. They say they are leaders, but they are not leaders. A true leader has moral courage and Trump has no moral courage. It says what people think, with more collons, with less shame, but it can not last, it will fail.
"Do not disagree less, what you have to do is disagree better"
P. If Trump is not a leader, who considers that he is?
R. There are leaders, yes. There is a generation that is emerging now. These types of periods are an ecosystem to cultivate new leaders, but they are very young and have not come out yet. In the Senate, for example, two-thirds of senators under 50 are Republicans. And many are very humanistic, not populist, and have courage, moral leadership to think otherwise, be subversive. For example, a friend of mine, Ben Sasse, senator from Nebraska. He talks that if a system does not serve the poor it is not worth it. A new system that I perceive in the leaders that come out now is to talk about people in the periphery of society, using new ways of serving them. That makes me very optimistic.
P. Is the health of the American intellectual debate good?
R. Yes. Because the competition is good.
P. Here comes the less kind face of those discrepancies.
R. When there is hatred, people believe that what you have to have is more agreement. That is false. You do not have to have less competition of ideas. You have to disagree better, not less. It is normal after these economic phenomena that we have suffered, but it will happen. And when it happens, what I do not want to happen is that we agree.