Bajo la mirada del Gran Hermano


En 1948 el británico George Orwell, novelista, periodista, ensayista, ejemplo de intelectual íntegro e incorruptible, publicó su novela “1984”, que se convertiría en un clásico y que mantiene una inquietante vigencia más allá de cuestiones específicas de la anécdota. Afortunadamente, a diferencia de otros textos imperecederos y necesarios, “1984” se reedita permanentemente y es fácil acceder a él. El título es un guiño, Orwell (1903-1950), cuyo verdadero nombre era Arthur Blair, invirtió los dos últimos número del año de publicación (de 48 a 84) para sugerir que, lo que se parecía una distopía (relato que transcurre en un futuro decadente y sombrío) era en verdad una visión aguda de aquel presente.

“1984” transcurre en Londres, que en ese momento pertenece a Oceanía, uno de los tres grandes estados del planeta, junto a Eurasia y Asia Oriental. Oceanía es un estado brutalmente autoritario dirigido por el Gran Hermano (que no es un invento de la televisión actual, cuyo patético remedo fue imaginado por alguien que no conocía o no comprendió a Orwell). Ese gobernante, al que nunca nadie ve, es venerado ciegamente y vigila todo a través de cámaras ubicadas en cada espacio de la ciudad, incluido el interior de los hogares. Oceanía está en una supuesta guerra contra Eurasia (relato oficial sin pruebas) y la sociedad vive en estado de carencia, mientras la televisión y los medios del gobierno, únicos existentes, le cuentan día y noche que está en el mejor de los mundos, lejos de un oscuro pasado que nadie recuerda.

En ese contexto Winston Smith, un hombre común, protagonista de la historia, empieza a soñar con otra vida posible, a escribir un diario con sus ideas más íntimas, a recorrer los barrios “proles” (donde viven los más marginados) y a conocer a miembros de una Hermandad, que sería un movimiento de oposición que se gesta en la clandestinidad. Conocerá también a una mujer, Julia, de la que se enamorará (algo casi prohibido) y creerá de veras que otra vida y otra sociedad son posibles. Mientras Smith avanza en su aspiración, el gobierno del Gran Hermano continúa emitiendo relatos falsos, creando enemigos imaginarios y manteniendo a la sociedad apresada en un puño de hierro, bajo control absoluto (incluso existe el delito de pensamiento). En esa Oceanía el Ministerio de la Verdad elabora las mentiras y gestiona la educación, el de la Paz conduce la guerra, el del Amor mantiene el orden valiéndose de todos los medios (tortura incluida) y el de la Abundancia administra la extendida pobreza negándola.

Entonces es hoy

La novela tuvo millones de lectores desde su publicación y sigue inquietando a quienes se suman hoy. Pasaron 68 años y algunas facetas de su argumento, menores y poco significativas, pueden parecer alejadas en la historia. Pero otras, las más, asombran aún por la fina intuición de Orwell, su desencantado poder de anticipación y la lucidez para hurgar en los mecanismos más oscuros del poder.

Más allá de eso, o a partir de ahí, lo que más alarma es comprobar cuántas de las advertencias de Orwell se cumplieron y extendieron, y el modo en que lo hicieron. El autor alertaba sobre los regímenes totalitarios (con el soviético a la cabeza) que emergían tras la Segunda Guerra y que se plasmarían en la Guerra Fría. Pero la cosa iría más allá, para peor y sin parecerlo.

Aquella sociedad de control absoluto que describía Orwell necesitaba de la coerción, la amenaza y el castigo para mantener su orden. Que hoy el Gran Hermano sea un alegre, bizarro y obsceno espectáculo televisivo en el que miles de personas gastan horas de su vida en espiar a otras que, sin pudor, se encierran en una casa durante semanas sin nada más que hacer en la vida, confirma el anticipo orwelliano. Sólo que lo invierte. El filósofo alemán de origen coreano Byung-Chul Han (uno de los pensadores más originales y agudos de hoy) señala en su ensayo “Psicopolítica” que el Gran Hermano amedrentador y autoritario de Orwell ha mutado en una versión amable. Ya no es necesario que nos vigile, dice. Ahora nos vigilamos solos. De hecho es lo que ocurre en las redes sociales, en donde millones de personas pasan largas horas curioseando lo que hacen otras, mientras a su vez son observadas por otras tantas. Este pensador habla de un moderno panóptico (modelo de cárcel imaginado por el filósofo Jeremy Bentham en 1791, en la que un carcelero podía observar a todos los prisioneros sin que estos supieran si los miraban o no). En este panóptico digital para Byung-Chul Han ya no es necesaria la coerción ni la extracción de información contra la propia voluntad. “Nos revelamos, nos confesamos, dice, nos ponemos al desnudo por iniciativa propia”.

Al contrario del mundo orwelliano, continúa Han, ya no se restringe el consumo, ni se prohíbe el deseo de más. Se nos incita a consumir, se disciplina a la sociedad por ese medio (quien está ocupado en consumir no anda pensando en cuestionar nada), cada uno se convierte en su propio panóptico, lleva encima un smartphone a través del cual, sin que lo sepa ni le preocupe, se sabe en dónde está, con quién se comunica, qué fotos toma, qué cosas dice en sus mensajes y en su correo, cómo se desplaza, dónde y qué compra, cómo paga. Un proceso llamado trazabilidad permite conocer la actividad de cada tarjeta de crédito o débito, el circuito seguido por cada billete (si se elige pagar en efectivo), ligar a cada producto con el nombre de quién lo adquirió, saber a dónde viajamos, por cuánto tiempo, con quién, dónde nos alojamos, en qué estación de servicio cargamos combustible, etcétera. No es ciencia ficción, no es una pintura imaginaria del futuro. Es el presente de una sociedad controlada por un silencioso Gran Hermano del cual el programa televisivo es una caricatura rudimentaria.

Pocas palabras

Como advierte Byung Chul-Han (su ensayo es breve y no tiene desperdicio), en este escenario se produce un fenómeno emparentado al de la novela de Orwell. En ella existía la “neolingua”, lenguaje oficial en el cual las palabras se reducían al mínimo, para de ese modo comprimir también el pensamiento. El mundo digital (desde el que opera el Gran Hermano amable y en donde se encuentra el panóptico moderno) también genera una “neolingua” de palabras específicas, abundancia de abreviaturas, reducción del sentido, simplificación del pensamiento. Así hay menos riesgos de ideas novedosas, reflexiones profundas, preguntas inoportunas acerca de cómo y para qué vivimos.

Ante este panorama llama la atención en estos días un afiche que inunda las carteleras del subte en la ciudad de Buenos Aires. Allí el gobierno ciudadano invita a “jugar menos en las computadoras y más en las plazas”. Propuesta casi revolucionaria (consciente o no, voluntaria o no) y subversiva que, en su sencillez, permitiría que, al menos los chicos (y con ellos las generaciones futuras) puedan evadir las engañosas llamadas del Gran Hermano al que los adultos se han sometido dócil y peligrosamente. Como en la novela de Orwell, hay un mundo real afuera del panóptico digital, y hay mucho por vivir en él. Regresar a ese mundo es una responsabilidad personal e intransferible.


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