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The Living Testament of Azcárate

The centenary of the death of one of the key figures of the modernization of the Spain of the change of century drives the recovery of its legacy

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The Living Testament of Azcárate

Banished in Cáceres, jurist Gumersindo de Azcárate (León, 1840-Madrid, 1917) undertook writing of a peculiar testament four decades before his death. It had not complied with government guideline of 1875 requiring university professors to defend monarchy and Catholic religion and appeal to freedom of Chair. It was not first time that "university question" was heated, but this time, in midst of battle to erase liberal legacy of Democratic six and reinstate Bourbon monarchy, government of Cánovas imposed banishment of three professors: Nicolás Salmerón , Francisco Giner of rivers and own Azcárate, followers of progressive principles of German Karl Krause.

The heat of summer of Extremadura of 1875 — explained Azcárate in a letter to his colleague Giner — made him yearn for León and consider wher y should "endure" or march into foreign exile. No need. The government's punishment soon ended and following year, along with or professors, would drive birth of one of pillars of modern Spain: institution free of teaching.

In four decades elapsed since writing of fictitious testament until his death, of which Friday is fulfilled 100 years, Azcárate and his companions were employed in advance and progress of a country convulsed and backward. Qualified of Saint Gumersindo in a satirical weekly, or of a "Don Quixote returned to sanity", as it was defined by José Ortega y Gasset, social and political idealism, indispensable faith in a possible change, were signs of indefatigable Azcárate.

This month tributes to his legacy in Madrid and León are started with holding of a seminar at Fundación Sierra-Pambley (from 12 to 15 December Gumersindo de Azcárate, a universal Leonese); The reedition of his work minutes of a testament by Gonzalo chaplain of Michael; And celebration of debates at Francisco Giner Foundation of rivers, of Madrid, around one of basic principles of Azcárate: tolerance. "In legacy of institution is to speak of tolerance and also of intolerance." The new edition of Book of Azcárate situates this work in its European context, "said José García-Velasco, president of Board of Trustees of this Foundation, in presentation of a minutes of a testament. He was accompanied by Gonzalo Aguilera, Dean of College of Registrars, who recalled that Azcárate was a lawyer in Directorate General of records before turning to teaching and explained that school has allied with institution free of teaching in homage. "This book is testimony of a way of thinking, of constant concern for social reform of Spain," Aguilera said.

The criticisms he received at time are included in this fifth edition of minutes of a testament, halfway between a political essay, a fictional work and a treatise on social reforms that Azcárate presented disguised as a found manuscript in which a Anonymous doctor tries to put order in his ideas, goods and looks, while offering a recap of his life and political context. He raises a personal and reasoned view of creed he defended. The jurist was a staunch defender of separation between church and state; Promoter of laws to curb usury ( Azcárate law, which is still in force and to which courts have been referred in recent years on ground clauses); Agent of Institute for Social Reforms, which sought to improve conditions of poor classes; Angular piece in organization and development of study abroad programs coordinated from Board for expansion of studies. As pointed to obituary that dedicated newspaper El Sol in 1917 (and that legend attributed to Ortega) "Follow Azcárate — How to follow Giner — is to continue forward."

The gymnastics of tolerating


Tolerating is an extremely demanding gymnastics of spirit, because it also obliges not to tolerate intolerable. This time in which we live has allowed to enter, in concept of tolerance, idea that everything is permissible. And what is emerging is lack of respect for true concept of tolerance. Tolerance is "patience to understand what or says," allowing dialogue to prevent "degeneration, human disgender".

Emilio Lledó, philosopher, 90 years, who has made study of ethics gymnastics of his life, said all that last night, Monday, from figure of Gumersindo of Azcárate and its main realization in twentieth century: Teaching as a starting point for education and for Coexistence. Only education, said Lledó at headquarters of Free Institution of Education (ILE), can defend us from a society that has made insult and embezzlement of freedom of expression an element that makes human being a threat of or.

Departed philosopher of book Minutes of a testament, of Azcárate. I had read it already, in edition that 50 years ago made same work Professor Elías Díaz, re present, as painter Eduardo Arroyo, who has made cover of this new edition published by ILE and Francisco Giner Foundation of rivers. The academic was summoned for a debate with professors Fernando Vallespín and Maribel Fierro. The first underlined, as Lledó, that tolerance is not a door that allows all polluted air that society has to filter. and Professor Fierro referred to times past that three cultures that lived in peninsula also accepted coexistences now impossible. For Lledó, misunderstandings about tolerance have turned into "a terrible problem" social drift in which now nothing defines this concept. Both Vallespín and he referred to freedom of expression as one of those misunderstandings that allows laxity with which intolerable is tolerated. "Freedom of speech is of no use," said Lledó, "if it is only useful to say imbecilities."


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