Dialogue against the conspiracy of silence arrives in Madrid

The full of reflections third edition of Trobades & Premis Mediterranis Albert Camus moves up the agenda at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid
Instituto Cervantes


The Camusian conference "Against the conspiracy of silence" was inaugurated this Monday at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid, where the Trobades & Premis Mediterranis Albert Camus, which will hold its third edition in Sant Lluís, was presented. It will take place between 18 and 20 June because it was in this Menorcan town, in this village of 6,000 residents, where Catalina María Cardona, the grandmother of the French-Algerian author, was born.

The Camusian event, which has gathered thinkers, journalists, and writers such as Sami Naïr, Elena Medel, Marina Garcés, Javier de Lucas, Joumana Haddad or Jesús Maraña, was presented by the director of the Trobades Mediterrànies, Sandra Maunac, who reminded how for five years Menorca has become a "cultural Davos" during these meetings, sponsored by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Ángel Moratinos. 

Instituto Cervantes

The Spanish Minister of Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, also took part in the colloquium. He defended open dialogue against the noise that Albert Camus advocated, considering that it is just as necessary in today's post-pandemic world as it was after the Second World War.

The second debate "Insufflating Oxygen. Disarticulating silence" brought together the French-Algerian philosopher and professor Hocine Rahli, the writer and editor Elena Medel, and the philosopher Marina Garcés. They advocated the need to "mobilise against the silence and lack of response" denounced by the 1957 Nobel Prize winner for Literature. The seminar concluded with a colloquium by the writer and philosopher Javier de Lucas, researcher and founder of the Human Rights Institute of the University of Valencia, and the French political scientist and philosopher of Algerian origin Sami Naïr, who will give an assessment of the seminar.

Instituto Cervantes

"Today no one talks any more, the long dialogue between men has just been cut off, and a man who cannot be persuaded is a dangerous man", said Albert Camus at the height of the Second World War, as Sandra Maunac, director of the Trobades & Premis Mediterranis cycle, repeated this Monday in the Madrid of the pandemic. Maunac pointed out that dialogue will be the central element of the 3rd edition of the Trobades, marked by the pandemic "and the aftermath it will leave" in society as a whole, a year of "necessary rebellion" in the Camusian sense against "the conspiracy of silence", she said.

The mayor of Sant Lluís, Carol Marqués, also took part in the presentation, in which she remembered Catalina María Cardona, who was born in the town in 1857 and was the grandmother of Albert Camus, a person who had a great influence on the thinker. The mayoress explained how the meetings held every two years in Sant Lluís aim to place "culture, thought and philosophy" at the centre of the debate, a "vaccine against the fast-paced, stressed and sometimes disoriented society where we live".

Instituto Cervantes

They all discussed the vicissitudes of journalism, a job that Camus had worked in and which he considered to be "one of the most beautiful", arguing that "everyday historians" should develop a " critical journalism committed to the miseries of the present".

During these two days, a strong emphasis was placed on two problems of dialogue, namely polarisation and hatred and indifference. Regarding this last value defended by Camus, the journalist Joumana Haddad chose to denounce neutrality through her personal testimony during the Lebanese civil war. She points out that "stirring up indifference" is the reason why she writes, why she speaks, and why she insists on living in a country she considers "insufferable". That is why she criticised those who brandish indifference as a "spirit of survival" or as "resistance" to the rigours of the world. She said that indignation is a civic engagement, even if indifference is often considered more civilised. "So that my colossal fury and indignation may shake others", to "transform this world that suffocates and drains us". Therefore, indignation, not as an emotion in which dialogue dies, but as an emotion that revives it. "The most dangerous pandemic we have is indifference", said the poetess and writer. "That infernal power that many human beings possess to think I don't care, to feel neither compassion nor fury".

Instituto Cervantes

In addition, topics such as neutrality and objectivity were addressed, and Jesús Maraña also warned about the dangers of this value considered to be civilised. "Good journalism is confused with so-called objectivity or neutrality, two concepts that have nothing to do with each other," he said. "Journalists have an obligation to separate facts from opinions, but that does not imply neutrality. In the face of an atrocity, a good journalist cannot and should not be neutral. He has to say here are the facts, here are the opinions and here is my commitment".

Hispanic Studies Adviser: José Antonio Sierra.

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