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In the final part of his life, he gradually fell into a deeply Catholic political conservatism. Before the Second World War, he began writing sympathetically about Franco, and he retracted some of his earlier liberal positions. Vasconcelos is often referred to as the father of the " indigenismo " philosophy. In recent times, this philosophy has come under criticism from Native Americans because of its negative implications concerning indigenous peoples. To an extent, his philosophy argued for a new, "modern" mestizo people, but at the cost of cultural assimilation of all ethnic groups.

His research on the nature of Mexican modern identity had a direct influence on the young writers, poets, anthropologists and philosophers who wrote on this subject.

He also influenced the point of view of Carlos Pellicer with respect to several aesthetic assumptions reflected in his books. Together, Pellicer and Vasconcelos made a trip through the Middle East —29 , looking for the "spiritual basis" of Byzantine architecture. Paz wrote that Vasconcelos was "the teacher" who had educated hundreds of young Latin American intellectuals during his many trips to Central and South America. Vasconcelos was guest lecturer at Columbia University and Princeton University , but his influence on new generations in the United States became gradually less significant.

In an instant of historical crisis, they formulated the transcendental mission assigned to that region of the Globe: the mission of fusing the peoples ethnically and spiritually. The Hebrews founded the belief in their superiority on oracles and divine promises. The English found theirs on observations relative to domestic animals. From the observation of cross-breeding and hereditary varieties in such animals, Darwinism emerged. First, as a modest zoological theory, then as social biology that confers definitive preponderance to the English above all races.

Every imperialism needs a justifying philosophy". Power does not come to Hitler from the military base, but from the book that inspires the troops from the top. Hitler's power is not owed to the troops, nor the battalions, but to his own discussions Hitler represents, ultimately, an idea, the German idea, so often humiliated previously by French militarism and English perfidy.

Truthfully, we find civilian governed 'democracies' fighting against Hitler. But they are democracies in name only". Vasconcelos was a prolific author, writing in a variety of genres, especially philosophy, but also autobiography. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Historia y Tragedia 'The Flame. Those of Above in the Revolution. See Fell , p. The state, corporatist politics, and educational policy making in Mexico. Stanford University Press.

Josè Vasconcelos : the Prophet of Race.

Retrieved December 6, Ulises; Criollo. Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica. Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America. Translated by Heifetz, Hank. New York: Harper Collins. Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. Texas Archival Resources Online. University of Texas Library. Encyclopaedia Britannica online ed. Yesterday in Mexico: A Chronicle of the Revolution, Austin: University of Texas Press. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

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Taracena, Alfonso ed. Obras completas.

Mexico City: Libreros Mexicanos Unidos. World Cultural Council. Archived from the original on June 7, Bar Lewaw, Itzhak. Madrid: Ediciones Latinoamericanas, Carballo, Emmanuel. Diecinueve protagonistas de la literatura mexicana del siglo XX. Yet these gestures establishing relations with the subjects of his poetry depend upon an initial refusal of given relations.

The entire collection revolves around the emphatic "No" that lies at the heart of "To Roosevelt. Spanish America lives!

The refusal of dependency and the affirmation of autonomy go hand in hand. Latin American modernism would not usually be regarded as an exercise in affirmation. Hence modernism, when it is not condemned simply as a retreat from politics, is claimed by a variety of political interests. Indeed, the web of his political allegiances is as tangled and contradictory as was his notoriously complicated private life. Yet this profligate and dissolute intervention into many different social spheres is itself a form of commitment and affirmation.

Here art can only be either trivial entertainment or mummified cultural capital. The bourgeois king, "a great aficionado of the arts" manifests undoubted "good taste" and "refinement" , but this is in the service of a grim, and eventually murderous, hierarchy that is anxiously patrolled. He was staunch defender of academic correction when it came to letters, and of the affected style in the arts; his was the sublime soul of a lover of affectation and orthography" In "To Roosevelt," Latin America is envisaged as a multitudinous, wild nature defiantly opposed to the great "Huntsman" that is the United States Cantos de vida y esperanza 49 : this is.

Take care. A thousand cubs of the Spanish lion roam. North America also contains multitudes. Immersing himself in the experience of the real, and inhabiting or claiming subjectivity absolutely, demands an obstinate denial of the state and the market that, in concert, fix and freeze nature, reduce movement to triviality, and establish petty categorizations of taste.

Reclaiming the subjectivity that precedes the state requires a strategic exodus from the mundane reality that it conditions. Affirmation does not preclude pessimism or realism. There is no suggestion that autonomy can be easily, or even completely, achieved. His affirmation is dissolute, less a social project than an outpouring of empathy, and his notion of culture remains rarefied, too quickly metaphorized. But as other groups of intellectuals such as sociologists and anthropologists follow in the tracks of modernista poets, to gain their own measure of autonomy, the produce other ways of envisaging that autonomy--and the transculturation that is its terrain.

Vasconcelos identifies the state with a logic of necessity cloaked in reason; by contrast, the coming age of universal mestizaje which his book announces ushers in the possibility that unfettered taste and love may guide choices that are no longer forced by the dichotomies of rational identity.

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Mestizaje , in other words, functions or will function for Vasconcelos as a version of transculturation, based on racial admixture and integration, whose emphasis is on the power of human, affective and hence far from natural selection to supersede the divisive negativity of all borders and all imperialisms. Mestizaje may be promoted by the state, but it ushers in a realm of freedom in which the state becomes increasingly irrelevant.

The Cosmic Race is not, then, a book about race. Or rather, it is a book primarily about the end of race. The cosmic race is not a race distinct in itself, but involves the subsumption of all races; it is "cosmic" in that racial distinctions are no longer relevant. Whereas for Vasconcelos all previous races have been natural, biological classifications, the coming of the cosmic race signifies the definitive triumph of civilization and sentiment over nature, and therefore over biology.

The cosmic race is not a biological construct but a product of human choices, and as such is the ultimate symptom of the transition that Vasconcelos heralds from necessity to freedom. The Cosmic Race is, then, about this transition, sketching the possibility of a liberation from the necessity of nature, on the one hand, and the necessity of the state, on the other, toward "the conquest of freedom" 25 , and the liberation of taste and of love.

Vasconcelos sees the contemporary world system as structured by these two laws of necessity, by nature and the state. But these laws are themselves historically produced; they follow on from and are superior to an earlier law of territoriality. Historically, each race, by which Vasconcelos means a social organization founded upon biological premises, fulfilled its particular cultural and political destiny within a set geographical confine.

Cultures were bound to continental divisions, to territorial units marked by the sign of race. Africa, Asia and indigenous America have had their ages of prosperity, but proved unable to break out of their geographical isolation. Yet limits remain. European culture as it expanded divided into two streams, the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic, which uneasily share America between them. Each strain of European culture comes up against and reproduces a specific limit--the one external, the other internal.

Vasconcelos suggests that although European culture in its expansion has broken the principle of territoriality and hence dissociated the principles of nature and of the state, these principles continue to function, but now separately, in the histories of Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic colonization.

Nature and the state function as continuing limits to the expansion of culture, continuing obstacles to the construction of a universal culture, in that they are historical divisions that are taken to be absolute and so unbridgeable by each strain of European expansion. Though European culture has been the most successful instantiation of civilization yet known, it contains fundamental weaknesses. Moreover, it is the Anglo-Saxon and North American strain of European culture that, although currently dominant, exemplifies and reproduces the most significant and most debilitating weakness.

Anglo-Saxon colonists continued to believe that culture was racially bound and racially exclusive--that the torch of civilization passed linearly from one biological race to another--and so acted with "the confessed or tacit intention of cleaning the earth of Indians, Mongolians or Blacks" North American imperialists " committed the sin of destroying those races " 17; emphasis in original. Theirs is also a historical error: "the Anglo-Saxons are gradually becoming more a part of yesterday. The Yankees will end up building the last great empire of a single race, the final empire of White supremacy" The colonization of North America retained an outmoded conception that culture should be tied to race, and therefore maintained nature as necessity, setting up an absolute racial barrier as the outer limit to its construction of civilization.

This is "the Anglo-Saxon limitation" North American colonization is tied to the historical past--the "Anglo-Saxon mission. Fundamentally, Anglo-Saxon culture limits transculturation, preserving cultural purity premised upon racial categories.

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North American imperialism follows an anachronistic compulsion to destroy the cultures it meets. Vasconcelos argues that Latin civilization, by contrast, the result of Hispanic colonization in the Americas, constitutes a genuinely new historical force. The defining feature of Latin American culture is that it has broken the restrictions of race in its openness to the form of racial transculturation that is mestizaje. Mestizaje results from the fact that "the so-called Latins insist on not taking the ethnic factor too much into account for their sexual relations" Therefore Latin American culture dissolves the absolute exterior limit that characterizes Anglo-Saxon expansion, replacing it with the shifting, porous exterior defined by transculturation.

The advantage of our tradition is that it has greater facility of sympathy towards strangers. This implies that our civilization, with all its defects, may be the chosen one to assimilate and to transform mankind into a new type; that within our civilization, the warp, the multiple and rich plasma of future humanity is thus being prepared.

This mandate from History is first noticed in that abundance of love that allowed the Spaniard to create a new race with the Indian and the Black. This is the key assertion of The Cosmic Race. Latin American culture is here defined as a culture of immanence and affect: a culture of "sympathy" that feels its way around obstacles rather than interpreting difference as absolute non-identity. Love is the affect that corresponds to the new world-historical principle of freedom.

But if Latin American culture has overcome the necessity of an exterior limit, through its embrace of mestizaje as racial or supra-racial transculturation, it maintains an interior limit. Vasconcelos argues that the continuing power of the nation-state hinders the emergence of the cosmic race.

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Hispanic civilization remains fragmented, and therefore weak, because it remains under the sway of a series of petty nationalisms. Hispanic civilization has turned in upon itself, limited by "the puerile satisfaction of creating little nations and sovereign principalities, encouraged by mentalities that saw a wall and not a summit in each mountain range" By making political divisions absolute--naturalizing national borders by projecting them upon mountain ranges--Latin American culture constructs its own form of necessity that ties it down as surely as an insistence upon racial difference limits Anglo-Saxon culture.

These are the two laws of necessity that structure the contemporary world system: North American civilization remains limited by its construal of race as nature and as absolute limit; Latin American culture takes the state to be a historical necessity that blocks any tendency towards unity or universalization. But if Hispanic civilization could only break its attachment to the nation-state, then it would be in a position to fulfil its historic liberatory mission. The problem with the state, according to Vasconcelos, is that it imposes limits upon taste, and hence upon the exercise of free choice.


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These are limits imposed in the name of reason--and the transition from the "law of violence" 28 to the "dictates of reason" 29 is an advance in the "process that is gradually liberating us from the domination of necessity" Yet taste remains imprisoned, subservient to "rule, norm and tyranny" as the state mandates "norms to intelligence, limits to actions, boundaries to the nation, and reins to the emotions" The state regulates and maintains a market system, with customs "organized according to laws derived from reciprocal convenience and logical thinking" 28 , but this mercantilism is inimical to the truly free exercise of taste in that it systematically eliminates affect and love from its calculations.

For Vasconcelos, true freedom is characterized by taste conditioned only by affect: "instead of rules, constant inspiration" As we have seen, Latin America here leads the way in that Vasconcelos sees mestizaje as characterized above all by the dominance of sympathy: Latin Americans are "free of spirit and with intense longings" Transculturation, at least in its ideal form, is a free play of differences that is neither coerced by the threat of violence, nor measured in line with state accountancy.

Transculturation now becomes a principle of autonomy as, at the end of this mystic vision, life is envisaged as the practice of uncontained joy, in which we will be empowered: "to do our whim, not our duty; to follow the path of taste, not of appetite or syllogism; to live joy grounded on love" The state is a transitional formation, between violence and love, and temporary home to the intellectual prophet who speaks out from its parapets with the authority to "assign [his ideas] symbols in the new Palace of Public Education" [39] , and who will one day cross to the other side and see the promised land.

Ortiz is also concerned with the weakness and in the end irrelevance of the state, but he argues his thesis not by suggesting that the state belongs to history but, quite the contrary, by arguing that the state has never belonged to history. Transculturation is his way of describing the logic of history as it takes place behind the back of the state.

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As a result, moreover, the intellectual is also submerged into this microhistory of non-human actants: at best, perhaps, the intellectual may painstakingly describe and reproduce this microhistory. If Vasconcelos takes the position of the prophet, who precedes and points the way towards a coming series of transformations, Ortiz adopts the role of the chronicler, always belatedly recording the forces he describes.

Thus it is that "the real history of Cuba is the history of its intermeshed transculturations" 98 , the process by which the agencies of colonists and colonized, slaves and free, are dissolved and reconfigured in diverse patterns according to their entanglements with these two figures. These non-human actants continually disrupt human narratives of teleology and purpose, especially those that emanate from the state. Tobacco and sugar are here seen issuing a series of demands to their apparent masters, not the least of which being the demand for a global modernization from below.

On almost every point the state strongly resists, but is eventually forced to accede. The "counterpoint" he describes is that of a "perpetual disharmony" between material conditions and the current structure of society, even as preceding transculturations may in fact determine that structure. Colonizers may arrive drawing for themselves a "parabolic curve" for their planned "bold, swift and temporary" trajectory through the colony , a project of imperial geometry inspired by the dream of a perfect alliance with the forces of transculturation; yet it is impossible to read the course of Cuban history from such projections, let alone their retrospective equivalents.

People here gain agency through a series of alliances made with non-human agencies, to take on discursive processes such as those produced by the state. In the case of sugar, for example, state discourse emerges from these processes of transculturation as a series of admissions of defeat: "The royal concessions followed one after the other" Planters early on gave into the demands that sugar made upon them for capitalization and technical development. Ortiz argues that the history of Cuba, subject to the power of transculturation, is a history marked by refusals of or escapes from state discourse: the "Magna Charta of the plantation owners.

It is upon the breakdown of state discourse--whose fissures are not accidental, but are forced upon it--that a "juridical and social structure" is established. The state is never a positive project, but is constituted in reaction to the constitutive power of non-human actants.

For Ortiz, tobacco constituted "the first relation between America and Europe, the very day of the discovery" , and subsequently tends towards a universalizing force, enabling transculturations between black and indigenous peoples in "curious forms" of South-South encounter , while in Europe it ambivalently serves as if "sent by the devil" [] "to help sick reason" and to "prolong the Renaissance" Indeed, tobacco works to bring down the colonial state, provoking "the beginnings of national consciousness" after "trade, political, ecclesiastical, and social monopolies" raise barriers to its eventual "triumph, its universal transculturation" Realizating of the weakness of an always belated state discourse, intellectuals seek the measure of autonomy that allows them to ally themselves with this process of transculturation from below.

As Ortiz notes, for example, even the most revolutionary of intellectuals used such an alliance of forces to strengthen the effort to liberate the land from the state:. From Key West, rolled in a cigar made by Fernando Figueredo, a great citizen, general, and cigar worker, the order for the revolution for national independence reached Havana in We have seen how modernist intellectuals, anxiously or otherwise, continually point to the fact that the state is not enough.

Though their various attempts to gain some autonomy from the state may be presented as an abnegation of privilege, they also indicate an acknowledgement of the multitudinous power upon which the state itself also depends, and to which the state is forced to react.

Ortiz pushes this analysis close to its limit. Ortiz offers the possibility of a material history from below. This history is essentially value-neutral--transculturation is here neither to be celebrated nor condemned, just as the moral and political dichotomy that Ortiz initially establishes between sugar and tobacco soon breaks down. Thus although capital generally allies itself with sugar, and labor with tobacco, they do so only contingently and ambivalently. It is not a critique in that it does not concentrate upon unveiling the gaps or fissures within hegemony for these are at best symptoms of a clash of forces whose arena is elsewhere ; but then nor does it accede to hegemonic claims to fullness, for this is an open social universe that claims neither outside nor limit.

In these terms, intellectuals are less the agents of transculturation than they are its effects. Intellectuals explain hegemony, but are finally explained by transculturation. It is in this sense that intellectuals may record transculturation, in so far as they are the product of a whole history of the interactions between non-human actants, and their work may therefore provide a site of inscription or a recording surface for what has come before.

If and when the state speaks, it speaks in large part through intellectuals. And perhaps all intellectuals are to an extent state intellectuals, produced, certified, and championed by a state that they, like it or not, support and legitimate in turn. There is an army of intellectual technicians of the state apparatus, who formulate policy, teach in the universities, or represent the nation, directly through the diplomatic corps or indirectly as "national" writers and thinkers.

Yet intellectual positions can seldom be collapsed directly into the state: intellectuals generally maintain an uneasy and ambivalent relation to the state. Moreover, intellectuals do also mark and resist state discourse, as states have always ceded some discursive legitimacy to the intellectual field. Intellectuals, then, occupy key roles at the intersection of culture and state, that is in the production of politics as such: both in the translation and transmission of cultural demands and desires, and in the conditioning, striation, and regulation of these desires.