Knowledge and power | Article

Mario Luis Fuentes

lKnowledge generation is a feature of our species. From the time that mankind lived in caves until today, the knowledge of reality and the development of explanatory and comprehensive assumptions about our environment and about ourselves has been a constant of all civilizations that have existed on earth. In modern times, predominantly the vast majority of knowledge that has been created in universities is without a doubt one of the greatest inventions of the West.

One of the main characteristics of universities is plurality; and in fact, this is what allowed knowledge to develop faster and faster, until they reached impressive modern creations, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence in the field of exact sciences; or building new and exciting theories about history, our past and its present meaning, based on the discoveries of archeology and paleontology.

In the fields of the humanities and the arts, enormous creative processes of power have been born in the universities, which are sometimes not suspected; but also deep eyes and always vigilant against the abuses, excesses, deviations and delirium of the powerful. Since its inception, another of the main characteristics of university campuses has been the study and critical reflection of political power. This happened, if we take as symbolic examples Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris, or Guillermo de Occam at Oxford, and up to the present day.

For Mexico, reflection on these questions is now more necessary than ever, because we are facing a scenario in which there is open hostility to free thinking. The most recent case is the aggressive and unjustified mention of the President of the Republic against Rector Graue in connection with the dissertation of Minister Esquivel. The statement was as follows: “The abbot washed his hands like Pontius Pilate, but, of course, he is not involved, speaking in silver, because pretense and hypocrisy are enough, right?”

The accusation of the UNAM rector of involvement in the “campaign against him” is nonsense on the part of the federal executive branch. This implies unprecedented authoritarian aggression by the President of the Republic against ENAM, at least since the 1960s of the last century.

It is clear that the president has an idea of ​​the university as a “hotbed of activists” devoted to the cause, and first of all to his own. But sectarianism or unbridled ideological commitment is contrary to the very nature of a public university, and even more so in the case of UNAM, where, fortunately, very different positions and visions of reality still coexist, and where they should continue to exist. so in the times to come.

Universities are places where politics is thought about and where politics is done daily; and that, on campus, requires courtesy, tolerance and openness of ideas, listening skills and a commitment to dialogue that respects differences.

By pretending that the university has a certain ideology, it would turn not into an open space for the generation of knowledge, but rather into a school of personnel in the service of a certain political group. And there is nothing more dangerous to society than the logic of one thought, clothed in addition to the supposed moral superiority associated with the supposed exclusive concern – and also exclusive – for the national society.

A variety of creative figures of the country passed through the classes of UNAM, who were also associated with the most diverse and contradictory ideological positions, many of which are even irreconcilable. But this has never been an obstacle to civilized coexistence and to the ever-predominant strict university attitude.

From this point of view, anyone who believes that universities can have any debt or obligation in the face of power would be completely wrong. On the contrary, one should always expect a critical attitude and daily reporting of omissions or errors made in management; but never applause and, moreover, militancy, because this is contrary to the duty of state universities and UNAM in particular.

From this point of view, a truly transformative project for the country would mean a university model that performs at least four substantive functions: a) training specialists and researchers at the highest level in all branches of knowledge; b) to promote a large-scale editorial project that allows the creation, publication and distribution of texts as widely as possible; c) have a powerful platform for the dissemination of scientific, artistic and cultural information; and d) expand continuing education offerings and platforms that provide access to updates of the highest quality and at the lowest possible cost to society.

In this logic, university work can be transformed into one of the most important mechanisms for social mobility and creating opportunities for social and economic equality in our country; and also in the element of cohesion and identification, in diversity, in the way of being divided and committed to the development of the country.

For this reason, it is important to insist on the fact that Mexico owes a debt to a young population and that one of the major challenges we face as a country is to guarantee universal coverage at both the upper secondary and tertiary levels. . That is why it is appropriate to think of institutions such as UNAM, which over the past seven years, during Dr. Graue’s tenure as a priest, has made extraordinary efforts, even with limited resources, to increase not only its physical infrastructure, but above all, the number of students accepted into their classes.

Knowledge will always have to act, devoted to itself. And in this regard, you should always criticize unflinchingly. Because at the moment when he bows to any political proposal, he becomes the legitimator of the decisions of the authorities and in this respect contradicts his original nature.

Source: Aristegui Noticias