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The de-educating effects of bullfighting | Culture

by News Room
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The discussion about whether bullfighting is culture or not is, today, irrelevant. Bullfighting is, without a doubt, a cultural phenomenon. Therefore, the debate in this regard ends here, giving way to another much more interesting question and, starting from which, we must ask ourselves if it is convenient for Spanish society to continue maintaining certain cultural expressions that, such as bullfighting, promote a series of values ​​openly confronted with what authors like Jovellanos called “public happiness.”

Indeed, a country is defined, among many other things, by its rituals, customs, traditions, cultural references and, also, by its entertainment. And the general interest of a nation—its “public happiness”—depends largely on the effects they generate in society. In this line, and continuing with Jovellanos, the progress of a country, the “general good,” is closely related to public entertainment that, the Asturian thinker wrote, cannot be “abandoned to chance or the whim of individuals.” “, nor “to a blind and unbridled license.” In other words: it is necessary for any society to have moments of cultural leisure, with fun and entertainment, but not at any price. Therefore, the question lies in what type of cultural recreation is best for the country.

Francisco Silvela, for example, the conservative politician of the 19th century who became president of the Spanish Government, considered that bullfighting should be cornered due to its de-educating effects. For this reason, he fought bravely to carry out his Sunday Rest Law, through which he proposed the prohibition of bullfights being held on Sundays and which, unfortunately, had very little success.

But Silvela was not the only one to proclaim that bullfighting promotes values ​​contrary to education, the necessary regeneration of the country or its no less necessary progress. In reality, from the most humanist Renaissance, from Gabriel Alonso de Herrera—beginning of the 16th century—onwards, there are many authors who defended this same position. From Quevedo to Larra, from Pardo Bazán to Joaquín Costa, from Unamuno to Baroja or from Arsenio Martínez Campos to Pi i Margall, the latter who was the short-lived president of the First Spanish Republic and who came to wonder if perhaps there will never be our country a government that “puts an end to such wild celebrations, and moralizes and civilizes us in more worthy spectacles.”

Therefore, the debate should focus not so much on the cultural or traditional phenomena themselves, but on the effects they produce on societies. From that point of view, both historically and currently, there are very numerous voices that argue that bullfighting should disappear from our customs.

Because the fact that something in itself is considered culture – the same as if it is considered an artistic expression, a tradition or a business model – does not mean much, especially on the basis that culture can be everything. . For example, sexist violence or racism have a strong cultural basis. They are negative cultural phenomena, just as we talk about living in a culture of alcohol, gambling or a culture dominated by social networks.

Not every culture suits the country. We must try to discriminate between those that provide values ​​compatible with progress, education, peace, humanism and, closely linked to all this, the defense of the most vulnerable beings in our societies – among which are animals. , and among others that, like bullfighting and as Silvela said, only miseducate citizens based on the normalization of violence.

Public powers must pursue public happiness, social education and the general interest. And, in this case, ours, as a country and as a society, must try to ensure that bullfighting becomes extinct. The decision of the Minister of Culture to eliminate the National Bullfighting Award is a great step. Hopefully it will be the first of many, those that will lead us to that comprehensive regeneration that we have pending and that, without a doubt, involves the disappearance of the diseducating bullfighting.

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