Toward new ways of making Ideology from Nicaraguan youth

By: Luis Campos Pérez*
As an integral part of that collectivity that we call Nicaragua, in its social face, with its contrasts and attributes unnamed by western political science, we can appreciate an intrinsic dynamic within its political culture which consist on the persistent social demand for "ideological definition". Such demand is manifested as a requirement to acknowledge people as part of "us" or as part of the "others", politically speaking -even though in the bottom is actually a necessity for identifying the political party affinities among within the political & social universe, more than the ideological identity per se-. All tough the most common “generic tags", such as: sandinista, non-sandinista, anti-sandinista -these last two includes also those who in a "declamatory" manner consider themselves liberals or conservators- might sound as vague terms, reality classifies them in this way to facilitate in practical terms the whole of the political community.

These forms of classifying "the players" & "the teams" "... allow the diverse political actors [to] orient within the amplitude & complexity of the political universe, complying with cognitive & affective functions in the comprehension & evaluation of the actors & the policies" (Sani y Sartori, 1992: 418-424, in Capo Giol, 2005, emphasis added). Thus, it comes to aid the identification of the "others" and the "us".

However, this way of identification tends to classify the domestic political reality as a struggle between "good" & "evil", while underestimates the relevancy of projects of thought & ideas in the construction of solid and well structured political identities.

The construction of those political identities requires the assertive scrutiny, challenge & revision from the young Nicaraguan of those categories that are deeply rooted in the national political culture, such as: sandinismo, anti-sandinismo, liberalism, conservadourism, left, right; that serves to establish “non-institutionalized” affective schemes of ideological-partisan identities.
How Ideology is defined in Nicaragua

In its wider sense, the Nicaraguan political culture lays on a series of positions derived from resentment &/or sympathy, as outcomes of life experiences, such is the case of the generations who experienced the harshness of the insurrectional period & the proxy war in the 1980's, and that nominally I call "the generations of the cold war" or "the generations of the ideologies". Thus, these considerations are the ones that constitute what can be identified as political ideology, instead of a hierarchy of values (political, social, ethical, cultural, religious, etc.). This means, that people that are forty years, or older that determine their ideological-partisan sympathy, not by the ideology per se, but through affective orientations derived from personal life experiences.

This way of producing political identities brings an outcome which I postulate under the dynamic of "intergenerational political socialization", in which people that went through the historical period that we previously have mentioned reproduce this way of thinking and perceiving politics on the new generations.
This process tends to intensify the fixation of politics in general as a persistent struggle between "good & evil". This dynamic is a natural condition of socialization -and it happens primarily in the family environment-. It is also, an expression of the tendency of political systems and structures to preserve stability. This means, that from the political socialization perspective, individuals and social groups tend to reproduce and spread their beliefs and values over the new individuals. This doesn't mean that young people are “empty receptacles” waiting to obtain information and reproduce it afterwards, but in early years these values & beliefs are important to build, in older faces, mixed visions of reality in which the values that were earlier received get dissolved in the life experiences of the receiver of the socialization himself or herself, to give origin and build new values & beliefs.

Regarding the stabilizing tendency of the political system, the members of the political community, individually and collectively, have preference on maintaining the status quo of the social relations and the political order.

Thus, the really complex question to answer -for its values implications, also for the responsibility of constructing an answer supported by ethics & a notion, more or less clear, of long term political ideals & justice, & that with stunning simplicity some answer is: Which is your Ideology?

And in some manner the answer to that question, here exhibited, will be attached to a sort of “solution” to the phenomena that in previous publications I have called “the invisible connection” that is shared by most of the Nicaraguan youth, which in its natural condition consist of three characteristics: Pragmatism (viewed as a preference of thought in function of its practical results); Evasion of determinist & intricate ideologies; & the trend to maximize individual benefit.
In consequence, this text will also try to take the reality of that “invisible connection”, which is an important part the juvenile political culture in Nicaragua, toward the field of the politically and socially “desirable”, proposing for it, a hierarchy of political values which I expect will stimulate the construction of structured ideologies founded on the perceptions of the collective reality from the contemporary youth.
Toward new ways of making Ideology from the Nicaraguan youth
The core of the hierarchy of values, here proposed, stands on humanist and christian ethics, which not necessarily has to be understood as a exclusively confessional christianism to satisfy the necessity of inserting humanistic values through the whole social structure, but that indeed is deeply rooted in the Nicaraguan political culture since within it, the ideas about politics & religion get frequently mixed one in the other in the national reality.
From this initial definition it derives, in a medium level, two aspects that live together in the political values structure that I define as the most desirable given the Nicaraguan reality. The first one is the acknowledgement of the reality of human nature, & the second one is, the ethical imperative of transforming social development and human plenitude, individually and collectively, in the ultimate task of political labor.
Thus, from the two aspects that I have mentioned we see the conjunction of the following values:
·  Liberties & individual rights: This derives of what I define as recognition of the reality of human nature that consists on the tendency to preserve and promote individual benefit and act as a “maximizer of self interest”. This is why it is imperative the protection of the individual from the activities of the State and the collectivity; also, the consideration & respect of the diverse perceptions of individual reality among society; and, the freedom to be and do what the particular way of seeing the world dictates to each individual. This mean, that the individualistic trend is a part of the inexorable reality of human nature, and this trend shall not be judged as a morally questionable impulse. And this is one of the top challenges that the youth in Nicaragua has to face, while confronting the hegemonic moral of the “generations of the ideologies”.
·  Social Justice: This comprehends the self acknowledgement as a social subject who shares accountability with all the members of the Nicaraguan collectivity for transforming the social and political reality into something improved, which is social development in its wider sense. At the same time, this has to appreciate participative democracy, not as an “ideal” form of ruling that absorbs social demands while includes the population in the decision making processes, but as an absolutely necessary condition for political stability, progress, human development, consensus and the resolution of social conflict in Nicaragua.
In the same fashion, it includes the proactive participation of the State in the reduction of the material limitations of the most vulnerable. On the other hand, it estimates the promotion of the Latin-American integration process as a strategic objective to protect and promote our regional & civilizational interests in front of a progressively multipolar & unstable world order. And for the last but not least, the protection of the environment and the natural resources as a way not just guarantee the sustainability of future generations but also as a maximizer of the national power.
This way, the conglomerate of “Social Justice” has the role of transforming the existing trend in the juvenile contemporary political culture (of maximizing self interest). And here lays the most important mission of political institutions, which is inducting constructive political values through the whole social structure, for modulating the inevitable change in the political order of Nicaragua from a group of generations towards another.
· Reformist Pragmatism: This derives from the evasion of intricate and infallibles interpretations of Nicaraguan reality –and the fallacy that represents the belief that all “solutions” lay on faction of the political community, without the cooperation & coordination with the diverse actor of the same community (social, political, economic, academic, etc.)- while it appreciates the observation of material & circumstantial reality in function of enhancing society & the multiple challenges it faces. Also, the proposition I make rejects the classification of the world and its political interactions as a struggle between “good guys and bad guys”, instead of a one between actor who pursue the achievement of their goals & interests.

Thus, the category “reformist pragmatism” concentrates “liberties & individual rights” and “Social Justice, while it considers the “reality of human nature” and “humanist ethics”.
As a recap, Reformist Pragmatism is the effort for understanding individual & collective Nicaraguan reality, & the acknowledgement of the possibility of transforming it into something “better”, with a base of what I call “Ideological Contingencies” in which political values & beliefs depart from everyday reality and in which flexibility to change these values are able to change with reality itself. Meaning that, we reject ideological determinism.

In conclusion, these new ways of making Ideology from Nicaraguan youth, here presented, propose a break up with the affective values & beliefs that composes in great manner the current political order in Nicaragua, in which the “generations of the ideologies” try to reproduce on the new generations, to embrace the acknowledgement of the interests of the young, in search for the identification and induction of political values that reveals the “latent consensus” that lays on the juvenile contemporary political culture, and that offers at the same time the overcoming of the persistent political polarization of the Nicaraguan society.

*The author is a Political Scientist, Professor of International Politics & Political Methodology. He is also the author of many articles on International Affairs and Political Theory. Currently He is completing his first book “The Latent Consensus: Juvenile Contemporary Political Culture & Change of the Political Order in Nicaragua”.

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