13 November 2006
Zalma Jalluf, translation by Peggy Jones and Martin Schmoller
Zalma Jalluf, translation by Peggy Jones and Martin Schmoller

Culture is an act of design, of preservation of our heritage and of the development of collective memory, a dynamic event of identity. In recent years a surprising social demand for cultural rights has developed to fulfil the need for a varied and individual subsistence, rights as strong as the right to health and food. However, what chronic lacks are these demands expressing? What are we demanding when we demand culture? Who is equipped to perceive culture as a right?

As opposed to other activities that must be anticipated by the State and supported by society in a structured manner, culture is an open possibility, one that reflects the intrinsic existence of the individual. Culture is part of the individual identity of a person over and above the identity of the community. Hence, the community should provide access, permanence and free transit to the individual throughout all the expressions of culture. It is not possible to pre-establish the limits nor the form of this great operating arena. It is simply a matter of participating in its construction. It is not just a question of encouraging the best writers, but that books find their best interpreters and critical readers in each society. Education has always been one of the means to culture; and culture, one of the mechanisms to contain excesses of power and systems.

Argentina has for some time back forsaken the educational tradition that for many years defined her as a society capable of generating culture, of possessing the tools to model her heritage. First, dictatorships constrained this institution by imposing other cultures; later, autocratic market policies simply substituted cultural needs for a commitment to first world consumerism. To reduce its responsibility, the State impressed on the people the relationship between the abandonment of educational excellence and the lack of economic resources to administrate it. But there is abundant proof that it is a false relationship. It is a matter of decisions, of plans, of the ideology of the leaders and the led.

Economies are subject to too many swings of fortune to entrust them with the planning of education. The country's culture needs a return to an educational quality capable of controlling the ferocity of a market that continues to claim victims among the excluded. Education is the only thing that can promote development in democracy since, with democracy, it is now necessary to achieve greater representation.

About this article
In tipoGrafica magazine 64, year: XVIII, December, January, February and March, 2004-05