This transcript appears in the January 22, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Schiller and the
Living LaRouche Movement
The following is an edited transcript of the presentation by Carolina Domínguez to Panel 4, “A Human Future for Youth: A Beethoven-Driven Renaissance of Classical Culture,” of the Schiller Institute’s December 12-13 conference, “The World After the U.S. Election: Creating a World Based on Reason.” Ms. Domínguez is an organizer with the Schiller Institute in Mexico.
I’d like to discuss our movement with you. It is a living movement; we have ongoing activities, classes, meetings that you can participate in.
Before the pandemic, we were having an important impact at the universities, visiting youth, working on geometry with them in order to create paradoxes that would help them get out of that comfort zone, and to be able to explain to them what is happening in the world. We would take big banners showing the most important infrastructure projects in the world. We’ve kept doing this remotely.
Before beginning my presentation, I would like you to see a video that we put together with some of the youth who are involved in our movement. The idea of this video is to let you know about some of the responses that we’ve come to realize are held by youth facing the crisis we are living through.
One of them is generalized apathy that doesn’t go beyond the bubble they live in.
The second is a violent reaction against the system.
The third we’ve found are youth who want to get involved in politics in order to get a job and change things “from within.”
The fourth, and most common, where I think the majority of us are at, is: “Okay, I know the system is bankrupt; I know that things are not good; but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to change this situation and what direction to go in.”
So I’d like to show you this very short video, so that you can have a sense of how youth are thinking. [The transcript of the video follows here:]
Antonio Sánchez (Venezuela)
Hi, good afternoon. My name is Antonio Sánchez. I’m Venezuelan and I’m a member of the Schiller Institute.
There is currently a crisis of the international financial system, caused by an unpayable debt which is made up principally of financial derivatives. There is also a crisis of the world physical economy, which translates mainly into hunger striking millions of people. We asked some students in different countries of Ibero-America: “How have the youth of your countries responded to this complicated situation?” Here are some of the views that we got.
Alondra Águila (Mexico)
Well, I do think they are concerned, but they feel they can’t do anything about it. On top of that, when they look for solutions to their problems, they end up deciding things on the spot as best they can, but not dealing with the root problem. They always end up being discouraged or depressed. They can’t even speak or express their negative emotions, nor be honest with themselves, because of the frustration they feel because they want things to be different, and they then think that’s impossible. Those two factors end up confusing young people and it leaves them with no answers other than to continue in their comfort zone and join the system.
Mauricio Aguilera (Chile)
Hi. My name is Mauricio Aguilera. I’m from Chile, and I’m a member of the Schiller Institute.
I’d like to tell you a bit about the situation we are facing in Chile. Over the last year, there have been protests over the bad economic and institutional situation in the country, in which a large part of the country’s youth has gone out to protest. Many did so violently; others—the majority—because they were fed up over the lack of a future and of real solutions. There is also a large part that are apathetic.
However, in these protests there haven’t been and we didn’t see any solutions for a better future, to have some orientation—despite the fact that there is a campaign to change the Constitution and to change the economic model, which is what has brought us all these problems.
In my opinion, Schiller plays an important role in this with a number of his works, such as: Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Solon and Lycurgus, and many others. That’s what I wanted to say. Thanks a lot.
Sebastián Acosta (Colombia)
Hello everyone. I’m Sebastián Acosta from Colombia. My personal view is that the response of youth to the current situation we are going through, is to demonstrate demanding their rights. Some have made the decision to emigrate to the U.S. or Europe, looking for a better future to be able to help their families.
Daniel Dufreine Arevalo Carranco (Mexico)
Hi, how are you? My name is Daniel Dufreine Arevalo Carranco, and I’m happy to greet you from Mexico. This society has hit youth hard; it has abandoned them. It has taken away their dreams and hopes, but not the way the famous Greta Thunberg paints the picture. Rather, it is the factor of time. This society has forced us to deal with certain tasks quickly, so that we can have a little time for ourselves. That’s why I invite young people to join other youth, who have the courage and identity to do so, to change the axioms that have brought this society to this breakdown, to its bankruptcy. And we are here for that: people with dreams and hopes who are going to take charge of changing the world. Thanks a lot.
Sebastián Debernardi (Peru)
Hello. I’m Sebastián Debernardi of the Schiller Institute’s youth movement in Ibero-America; I’m from Lima, Peru. I’d like to tell you a little bit about events which have occurred in my country, and which we are currently facing. In the last five years, we have had four presidents; two of them resigned, one was ousted from office, and one who may last for eight months until the next elections.
We have also had a president of the judicial branch who resigned, as did the Chief Public Prosecutor, a Congress which was closed, and an economic situation that is getting worse day by day, with massive loss of employment and a pandemic which has affected the entire population.
In light of all of this, youth have gone out to protest massively on a number of days, and there have also been protests of farmers, producers, transport workers, and in general. Unfortunately, none of these protests have a vision for the future; they only express the fact that they are fed up.
[End of the video transcript.]
So, What Do We Do?
So, coming back to the question—which is one of the most honest questions I’ve heard, and which I’ve also asked myself—“What do we do?”
I would like to present to you the work of the German poet, historian, and playwright, Friedrich Schiller, specifically his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. For us, Schiller’s work is the fundamental basis for the qualities needed to construct the character required for leadership today, and always.
Paradoxes and Their Solutions
I’ll begin this discussion of his Aesthetic Letters with a paradox that Schiller presents, and that is part of what we saw in the video of the youth. Schiller states:
Man can deviate from his destiny by two opposing roads, roughness and violence, and apathy.
As you can see, this is not only a problem in our age, but it is something that Schiller also saw during his time. So Schiller presents this paradox, stating:
How can he be led back to his destiny from this two-fold aberration?
The second paradox, which I consider the most important one of the ones Schiller poses throughout his book, is the paradox of two contradictions within human beings. He says:
The distance between matter and form is infinite, and can be mediated absolutely through nothing.... There is absolutely no middle between them.
Schiller mentions this paradox and goes about resolving it throughout his book Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man.
The paradox is:
How are we going to overcome the contradiction between feeling and thought, to reestablish human nature?
Schiller says that to achieve that union, we have to separate the two states with maximum precision. In other words, recognize the difference and be able to make the separation with maximum precision. He then spends some time discussing the qualities of feeling and of thought.
The second thing that Schiller presents—in order to be able to achieve this unity of contradictions—is:
That both conditions disappear entirely in a third one, and no trace of separation remains in the whole.
This third one that Schiller refers to is a higher principle that contains both, that doesn’t mix them, that doesn’t suppress one so that the other can exist, or vice versa, but which contains both because, although they are of different species, they are contained within a far higher principle.
I would like you to also keep this paradox in mind to see how Schiller resolves it, because I think that if we are honest, it’s something that we have frequently asked ourselves.
Schiller deals with this paradox with a very non-linear answer. He says:
Every individual man carries within himself, at least in his adaptation and destination, a purely ideal man. The great problem of his existence is to bring all the incessant changes of his outer life into conformity with the unchanging unity of this ideal.... That man bears within himself, in his personality, a predisposition for divinity.
Beauty, the Higher Solution to the Contradiction of Opposites
You might realize that this is another paradox that he presents us with, in order to resolve the earlier paradox. He is saying that within man, beyond these contradictions between thought and feeling, there is also that which is permanent and that which constantly changes, which undergoes transformation. Schiller asks what that is, and answers:
From the antagonism of the two impulsions, and from the association of two opposite principles, we have seen beauty result, of which the highest ideal must therefore be sought.
In the paradoxes we’ve seen, the first paradox involves the opposing contradiction between apathy and violence; the second paradox is found between feeling and thought; and the third paradox is between what is permanent in man and what is constantly transformed. Schiller brings about their union. He resolves them by means of a higher principle, which is greater than all of them, which is beauty.
From the reciprocal action of two counterposed states and principles, arises beauty, whose maximum ideal we seek. For Schiller, beauty represents a solution to the contradiction between opposites. Beauty is a higher principle than what appears as a paradox; and human beings, in searching for beauty, are able to resolve that contradiction that we’ve spoken about.
He does all of this in his Aesthetic Letters—there are 27 of them. The first thing I asked myself was, to think, “OK: beauty. And how do I get to beauty? What is beauty for Schiller? How do I get to it?” One of the principles Schiller develops is a contribution for man to want to intervene in that social process, which becomes a need to do something about what’s going on. Schiller says:
All improvement in the political sphere must proceed from the ennobling of the character. But, subject to the influence of a social constitution still barbarous, how can character become ennobled?
That’s a question that Schiller asks, to then develop how to get to beauty. How can we ennoble human character if we live in a corrupt society and state? It seems that there is no answer; it would appear that we are in a vicious circle. However, Schiller again finds a solution and he guides us toward it. The solution that Schiller finds is very important: it is art, classical art.
Well, the idea of art represents for Schiller the path that takes us to that beauty, and which resolves the earlier paradoxes. The paradox that exists between a violent and an apathetic attitude. The paradox between feeling and thought. The paradox between that which is permanent in man and that which is constantly changing. All of this is contained in beauty, and the path to achieving it, is by developing beautiful art.
Now, what is beautiful art? How do we achieve beautiful art? Schiller devotes a large part of the final sections of his Letters to explain what art is. He not only gives examples, but he also presents a principle of the method with which beautiful art is created.
In a couple of his letters, Letter 8 and Letter 9, he provides an answer to youth in particular. If a young lover of truth were to ask me how to intervene in what is happening in society, Schiller says (I’m paraphrasing a bit):
Live with your age, but be not its creation. Dare to be wise!
Cherish triumphant truth in the modest sanctuary of your heart; give it an incarnate form through beauty.... Direct the world on which you act toward that which is good, and the measured and peaceful course of time will bring about the results.
This is more than advice; it is the education of youth that Schiller is proposing. It represents a change and a solution to the paradoxes that we have seen. He is not simply saying, seek beauty and you will find beauty through art; but he is building something. For us, Schiller is a fundamental basis for the building of a youth movement—of society in general, but mainly of youth.
I would now like to read this last part. Here, Schiller speaks about what beauty represents, which man must seek:
Beauty only makes it possible for us to attain and realize humanity, leaving this to our free will.
This is not an imposition. If you seek beauty, you will find more than a possibility. Man, with his free will, decides how far he will develop that principle of beauty for man.
I will conclude my remarks by returning to the point I mentioned at the beginning: We are creating a great political force; we are creating a force that is capable of transforming history. That force is the ennoblement of the character of the population, which of course includes us. Within that ennoblement of character, this allows us to build true political freedom, which is the highest degree of beauty that you can achieve.
So, I invite you to find the answers to the paradoxes that our mind has come across, and that our heart has come across when we see the situation the world is facing. The LaRouche movement is committed to carrying out this work with youth in particular, for the education of the leadership qualities that are needed, which is that ennoblement of the human soul. Thank you.