On 13 March, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised the dialogue "What has happened to the language of politics?" on the occasion of the presentation of Mark Thompson's book "Without words", in which Mark Thompson and Pedro García Cuartango took part.
In his recent book "Without Words", Mark Thompson recounts how in recent decades political, social and technological changes have dramatically altered the way we approach and discuss issues that affect us all. "Political rhetoric has become dubious and stale and has only contributed to the populist vote that promises authenticity, honesty and trust in contrast to the manipulation and lies that dominate the current landscape.
Mark Thompson has held top executive responsibilities at The New York Times Company since 2012. Under his leadership, The New York Times has become the first newspaper to surpass one million digital subscribers, thanks to its commitment to the introduction of new technologies and other formats that succeed in the digital world, from photography to the introduction of robotics or artificial intelligence as part of a broader "news visualisation" strategy, in which social networks play an increasingly important role. Between 2004 and 2012 he was Director General of the BBC, a period in which he opened up the British public broadcaster's content to the Internet, initiating the on-demand television model. Prior to that, he was CEO of Channel 4 Television Company. In 2012 he was Visiting Professor of Rhetoric and the Art of Public Persuasion at Oxford University.
Pedro García Cuartango is the editor of the newspaper El Mundo. A graduate in Information Sciences from the Complutense University, García Cuartango began his career in 1977, as an editor at Radio Nacional in Cáceres. In 1979, he joined Actualidad Electrónica, a pioneering weekly newspaper in Spanish on electronics and computing. Two years later, he was already director of this publication. As an expert in this field, he advised on the work of the first National Electronic Plan and appeared before the Congress of Deputies. García Cuartango joined the editorial staff of the economic newspaper Cinco Días in 1986. A year later, he was part of the founding team of the weekly El Globo. In 1988, he joined the editorial staff of Diario 16, where he was editor-in-chief of the economics section. He was also among the founders of the daily El Sol, where he became deputy editor in 1990. Since 1992, he has worked at EL MUNDO, where he joined as editor-in-chief. Since 1993, he has left his mark as editorialist. In 2000, he was appointed deputy editor and head of the Opinion section. He has also headed the EM2 /Culture section. His columns, under the epigraph Tiempo recobrado, are a point of reference for the newspaper's readers. From 2015, G. Cuartango held the position of deputy editor of the newspaper, in charge of the Opinion section, until May 2016, when he was appointed editor of El Mundo.
On 13 March 2017, a dialogue on "What has happened to the language of politics?" took place at the Rafael del Pino Foundation on the occasion of the presentation of the book Sin palabras: ¿qué ha pasado con el lenguaje de la política, by Mark Thompson, who has held the highest executive responsibilities at The New York Times Company since 2012, in which Pedro G. Cuartango, director of El Mundo, also participated. For Thompson, the causes of the deterioration of political language can already be detected in classical antiquity. Specifically, in Plato's Dialogues, in one of which the Greek philosopher narrates a conversation between Socrates and Gorgias in which the latter refers to how to manipulate people through the use of words. Plato, Thompson points out, is imagining in this text a future in which leaders calculate how to manipulate people. Now we do the same, with more advanced and sophisticated tools such as behavioural economics. And language goes from being rational to instrumental and becomes cynical. In relation to populism and its policy of saying what people want to hear, Thompson recalled how the Nazis came to power using very cynical language in relation to politics, and how they made use of mass propaganda, discovering that people believe the words without questioning things. It reminded him of Donald Trump. In this regard, Thompson pointed out that Americans enjoy a very prosperous life, unlike the Germany that experienced the triumph of the Nazis. However, Trump manipulated the facts and appealed to Americans' fears of the economy, globalisation, minorities, etc. And those fears would justify more extreme government actions. Trump was voted in by the majority of whites, including the majority of white women, because of the sense of alienation that many of them experience, whether they are blue collar or white collar workers. And Trump made a very particular use of the strategy of saying "I am your voice" in the face of fears about globalisation or racial minorities. Moreover, many people feel that they have lost their voice to the establishment, that they feel they are not being listened to, that the elite are turning a deaf ear to them, thus creating the breeding ground for Trump's victory, or for the Brexit victory in the UK. Trump, as a businessman, created a sense among his voters that he is not a politician and people identified with him despite his empty words. The problem in the West is that politicians have made promises they cannot keep, demonstrating their lack of respect for the public. For example, in the Brexit debate, no one talked about the positive aspects of the EU, in the same way that politicians today do not explain why international trade is good. What they need to do is explain these things. Education is also important, teaching language, literature, rhetoric, because when someone is confronted with how to understand the world and how to explain it to someone else, they are forced to open up to other perspectives. In America now there is concern about fake news, but the solution to this starts with education that develops a critical spirit and teaches people to debate with reason and argument.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.