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La fuerte polarización y la desinformación son un elemento transversal en las elecciones presidenciales colombianas. En este especial recogemos las voces de los analistas, los académicos, y los grupos de activismo que hacen contrapeso a estas dinámicas como una forma de aportar a la formación de opinión ciudadana independiente.

Colombia ante la posibilidad de modernizar su democracia

FRANCESC BADIA I DALMASES Y JONATAN RODRIGUEZ
 

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Al consolidar el eje derecha-izquierda, estas elecciones pueden suponer un paso hacia la normalización de la democracia colombiana, marcada por la violencia, los déficits estructurales y la falta de alternancia verdadera.  Leer más...

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Populismos y polarizaciones ante la segunda vuelta de las presidenciales colombianas

ALEJANDRO JIMENEZ OSPINA
 

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La construcción de un enemigo común y la proposición de soluciones fáciles y rápidas para derrotarlo parece ser bastante atractiva para un gran sector de la población. Leer más...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Presidenciales en Colombia: ¿polarización o deterioro de la conversación política?

SANDRA BORDA
 

La polarización política consiste en la ampliación de la divergencia y el consecuente desplazamiento hacia los extremos ideológicos. Pero cuando se intensifica, el centro tiende a reducirse, y eso no ocurre en Colombia, al menos hasta 2016.  Leer más...

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¿Se polarizó Colombia? Humberto de la Calle responde

DEMOCRACIAABIERTA Y HUMBERTO DE LA CALLE

La polarización política consiste en la ampliación de la divergencia y el consecuente desplazamiento hacia los extremos ideológicos. Pero cuando se intensifica, el centro tiende a reducirse, y eso no ocurre en Colombia, al menos hasta 2016.

Desprecio a la verdad para ganar elecciones

JONATHAN BOCK RUÍZ

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En Colombia, como en otras partes, las audiencias activas, que ahora reproducen mensajes a través del fenómeno denominado 'autocomunicación', se suman a la estrategia de desinformar para ganar, y buscan ser el poder que determine una elección.

Las voces del activismo

Simpatía por el diablo, en Colombia

JULIANA HERNÁNDEZ

     

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En medio de la polarización electoral colombiana, ignoramos que quien sea presidencte tendrá que generar alianzas con alguno de los lados.

No todo está perdido en la guerra contra las fake news

ANDREA MORA

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El 77% de los colombianos cree que la información que recibe por redes sociales sobre las elecciones de este año es falsa.

La democracia digital le toma el pulso al próximo presidente colombiano

JONATAN RODRÍGUEZ

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En materia de democracia digital, pareciera que, a la hora de la verdad, todos los candidatos se rajaron. ¿Será por miedo a perder el control, o el monopolio?.

Las voces de la despolarización

ENTREVISTA: ¿Polarización en Colombia?

JUANITA LEÓN
La Silla Vacia

En una campaña es normal que haya polarización, en esta en particular hay unos modelos de sociedad que se están planteando muy diferentes. En Colombia hemos tenido una patria boba por la cual nos da susto la confrontación ideológica.

Las redes sociales son el medio de comunicación, los medios de nicho debemos fortalecer nuestra relación con la comunidad de usuarios y fortalecer nuestra credibilidad para combatir las fake news. Ver video

ENTREVISTA: Elecciones trascendentales

SANDRA BORDA

Antes de estas elecciones presidenciales, el eje político en Colombia siempre se había situado entre el centro y la derecha, pero por primera vez, la izquierda se incorpora al espectro político con fuerza suficiente para constituirse en alternativa.

Muchos medios colombianos consideran que esta inclusión de la izquierda ha llevado a una situación de polarización política en el país, sin embargo, la analista política Sandra Borda desafía esta idea. Ver video

ENTREVISTA: La polarización excluye y estigmatiza

ANTANAS MOCKUS

«En Colombia la polarización ha sido oscilante, a veces nos da todo igual unos camaleones totales, y a veces vemos las cosas en blanco y negro, tremendamente excluyente».

Antanas Mockus nos comparte su visión sobre la polarización en las #EleccionesColombia Ver video

 
 
 
 

El contrapeso de la polarización

Jóvenes Colombianos: Indignados y decepcionados de la democracia, emocionados con el yo

OMAR RINCÓN
CeroSetenta

La noticia de que un 73 % de los estudiantes de Colombia estarían de acuerdo con una dictadura sorprendió a Omar Rincón. Entre perplejo e irritado, escribió este agudo análisis de una juventud egoísta y antidemocrática.

ELECCIONES COLOMBIA 2018: DESPOLARIZACIÓN Y DESINFORMACIÓN. Entre los muchos factores que inciden en la contienda electoral en Colombia hay un elemento transversal que configura la dinámica democrática: la fuerte polarización del debate y de las opciones políticas. En el país, esa polarización viene acompañada de un alto personalismo y del colapso del espacio central (middle-ground), lo que supone un problema central del ejercicio político y democrático y de su desarrollo.

Los analistas, los académicos, los grupos de activismo y los influenciadores son voces que hacen contrapeso a estas dinámicas y que, por tanto, es fundamental escuchar en tiempos de elecciones presidenciales. En este especial de "elecciones abiertas" recogemos esas voces como una forma de aportar a la formación de opinión ciudadana que definirá el rumbo del país durante los próximos cuatro años.

En alianza con la Revista Nueva Sociedad y La Fundación Friedrich Ebert:

Brexit, nostalgia and the Great British fantasy

We need to question the Brexiteers’ view of history – their understanding of the past tells us how they view British democracy in the present, and what they want for the future.

Theresa May's visit to India. Picture by Stefan Rousseau PA Wire/PA Images. Press Association Images. All rights reserved. So Trump has affirmed the ‘special relationship’ between the US and Britain. Michael Gove assures us that this is an important step in securing a strong future for Brexit-Britain. Yet, the fact that Theresa May courted the new US president with a 1941 speech from Winston Churchill shows how much Brexiteer politics also draws heavily from a particular view of the past. From this perspective, an alliance between the US and Brexit-Britain seems obvious, even in the face of Trump’s openly nationalist and protectionist rhetoric; it marks a return to the correct order of things as Britain becomes, once-again, part of a unique super-power alliance, not just one of many in a community of European nation-states.

Yet this view of Britain’s past is fantasy, not history. Brexiteers are nostalgic for something that never existed: a time when Britain was both a wartime hero and a powerful global force. The reality, however, is that Britain’s contribution to the allied war effort came at the price of its empire.

In the wake of the EU referendum, there has been a lot of talk about the prejudice and xenophobia of the Leave campaign. Little has been said, however, about its view of history.

From the phrase ‘take back control’ to UKIP’s adoption of the Trump-esque ‘make Britain great again’, the call for Britain to leave the EU has been saturated with nostalgia.  These slogans invoke a sense of our past so familiar that it seems to need no dates or references: they bring to mind the late-Victorian/Edwardian period, when most of the atlas was pink; they celebrate Britain’s courage and fortitude in the Second World War and its alliance with the US and USSR – the ‘other’ superpowers at the time. In this story, membership of the EU emasculates Britain by rendering it equal to the European nations it liberated and defeated, affronting its hard-won status as a global power.

Inspiring perhaps, but as history, this story is deeply flawed. It misunderstands two important things: how the empire related to British power in the early twentieth century on the one hand, and the nature of the British imperial state on the other.

Far from being a sign of Britain's global strength, the expansion of Britain’s imperial responsibility after World War I was in fact a significant catalyst of its decline. The priority of earlier empire-builders was to trade and make money. Establishing a government in foreign territory was hugely expensive and was pursued only if it was the best way to secure favourable trading rights.  The Paris peace treaties after the First World War followed a different logic.  Through the League of Nations mandate system, Britain gained responsibility for territories, including Palestine and Iraq, in which it had no previous economic interest. Though prestigious, in reality these acquisitions represented little but increased costs to the British economy.

Yet this view of Britain’s past is fantasy, not history.

What about the established parts of the British Empire, particularly the jewel in its crown, India? The interwar years saw massive expansion of state infrastructure in India, including new schools, hospitals, universities and legislatures. Thousands of Britons sailed to the subcontinent to serve as civil servants, doctors, academics and engineers. The major driver of these changes was the 1917 promise by Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, that, in return for its significant military and financial contributions to World War I, the British Government would help India move towards self-government, albeit slowly and with no definite timetable. In an ironic parallel, Theresa May's government estimates that it will need up to 30,000 additional civil servants to manage Brexit, though few of us celebrate this fact as an indication of British power.

The economic imperatives of empire required that India, rather than the British taxpayer, was to pay for these reforms. However, fears that this could trigger revolt ensured that, in practice, these post-war developments were poorly funded. This point was not lost on Indian leaders, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, who protested that an Indian government that would channel Indian funds back into India would do far more to improve and modernise Indian society than an imperial state that was effectively a parasite. In 1939, when Viceroy Linlithgow declared war on Germany on India’s behalf without consulting elected Indian representatives, he made it impossible to claim that Britain was ruling India for anything other than Britain’s own interests.  

During World War II, British officials ruled India in a direct and authoritarian manner.  Indian soldiers were deployed across the globe and factories and resources were requisitioned, with the result that in Bengal in 1943 three million people starved to death. Such brutal rule made a mockery of Britain's role as a liberator on the larger stage. It was also more than Britain could afford: by the end of the war it owed India about £1.25 billion. Ruling India had become a liability.

To put this another way: harnessing global resources to fight World War II brought about the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

To put this another way: harnessing global resources to fight World War II brought about the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

The second major flaw in the Leavers’ account of history is their understanding of the imperial state at home. Brexiteers fail to recognise, or perhaps choose to ignore, that the social divisions on which imperial government was based didn't exist only in India or the Middle East. Hierarchy, prejudice and elitism also structured government in the UK.

Before the First World War, women and working-class men had no say in who would govern them. Healthcare and education, beyond the basic primary level, were available only to the wealthy. ‘The people’, far from being the embodiment of 'British sovereignty', were the object of fear and derision by the ruling classes. 

The basic tenets of what we consider today to be British democracy – universal franchise and the welfare state – are relatively recent developments, won from the ruling classes through the efforts and sacrifices of ordinary people and by the Labour government after World War II.

Far from a story of exceptionalism, the history of modern British democracy can only be understood as one part of a global story, about the wider breakdown of elitism and prejudice and the development of a new idea, that of human equality.

Far from a story of exceptionalism, the history of modern British democracy can only be understood as one part of a global story.

The deaths of millions of soldiers, of all races and classes in two global conflicts, alongside the hardships and sacrifices endured by civilians across the world to support the Allied war effort, blew a hole in the myth that a select few were entitled to govern the lives of the many. For the first time, it became possible to think of a global citizenry, of the shared rights and responsibilities of all those who had shouldered the burdens of war.

In Britain, this new vision of human equality underpinned the founding of the NHS – a health service free at the point of delivery for everyone living in Britain, regardless of wealth, religion, gender or race. The institution that many now see as the cornerstone of the British welfare state could not have been conceived within the imperial mind-set that had governed British politics before the Second World War. In fact, it's unlikely that the NHS would have been born at all were it not for the winding down of British imperialism overseas: a major incentive for the British Government to accept Indian independence in 1947, rather than face its war debt and maintain power, came from the new Labour Government’s desire to use its finances to look after the health of British citizens rather than keep colonial subjects in the Empire.

Why does all this matter?  We need to question the Brexiteers’ view of history because their understanding of the past tells us how they view British democracy in the present, and what they want for the future. That the UKIP leader and candidate in the Stoke by-election, Paul Nuttall, defends the ‘glories’ of the British Empire while calling for the NHS to be privatised shows how the dream of imperialism abroad countenances an indifference to inequality at home.

A proper, historically accurate understanding of our past is vital if we are to be clearer about the kind of society we want to become –and about what Brexit is likely to mean for the future of our democracy.

About the author

Eleanor Newbigin is a senior lecturer in modern South Asian history at SOAS, University of London. Her research looks at ideas and practices of citizenship in India and she is the author of The Hindu Family.


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