The director and founder of elDiario.es, Ignacio Escolar, has been in charge of inaugurating this Wednesday the new cycle of conferences promoted by the Gogoa Forum in the Navarran capital, with a presentation on “Polarization and political tension: the rise of the discourse of the hate”. The event, which took place in the auditorium of the College of Physicians, has completed the maximum capacity foreseen for 300 people with a format without sanitary restrictions, very different from the situation experienced last January, when the journalist Iñaki Gabilondo offered in within the framework of this cycle, an online conference.
“As director of elDiario.es, I will do everything possible so that the phenomenon of tension does not get worse.” This is how Escolar concluded his intervention, in which he took a tour of the antecedents and causes that explain the phenomenon of growing political polarization in Spain, as well as the role played by the internet, the segmentation promoted by social networks and the responsibility of the media in this process.
In this sense, he has defended the work done by the editorial staff of this newspaper: “At elDiario.es we think about what we can do to make the public debate better and the political situation to be more breathable than it is today.” In this process that contributes to weaken the public debate, he has defended the importance of informational independence based, among other things, on the financing of the medium. Something that in the case of elDiario.es, profitable and without debt, is supported by 49% by the contribution of the partners.
“We are probably in the most tense and polarized period of recent Spanish politics,” he considered at the beginning of his speech, just one day after the military parade on October 12, in which the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez , received insults and boos from some attendees. This global phenomenon, Escolar pointed out, has increased in recent times and has been accelerated by the pandemic, while at the same time it has particular causes in Spain. Among them, he highlighted the presence of ministers from United We Can in the Government of Spain, which has the support of the pro-independence or nationalist parties, in the face of the rejection of the conservative voter.
Among other antecedents that he has traveled through, is the independence process experienced in Catalonia in 2017 and the subsequent emergence of Vox. This party, he has opined, would not have emerged with the force with which it did without the incidents of October 1, something that he has considered is, in part, a reaction to what happened in Catalonia. To all this, he added, the judicialization of political life and the blockade for the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) are added. And finally, the irruption of the pandemic and confinement, which accelerated social changes such as teleworking or digitization, as well as access to information through social networks. “Our current society does not have antibodies to understand to what extent manipulation and propaganda processes on social networks are affecting it,” he pointed out.
Thus, the director of elDiario.es has considered how the new ways of accessing information have fragmented the public debate after the arrival of the internet. The algorithms through which social networks filter recommendations and news to users contribute to segmentation and the creation of “parallel worlds” by excluding information based on individual interests. “This, which is very positive for culture, when it comes to information has dangerous effects by creating societies that do not speak to each other and do not share a common minimum on the debate of the facts,” he has abounded. Digital propaganda, he warned, is not innocuous since it affects democratic societies with consequences such as Brexit.
In this sense, as an example of this phenomenon, he has pointed to the escraches experienced by the former Vice President of the Government, Pablo Iglesias, and the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, at the doors of his house for months. “This is one of the responsibilities of politicians, because social networks cannot be blamed for the phenomenon of tension and polarization. This daily harassment was encouraged by political parties ”, he asserted to add that one of the main problems of democratic coexistence is hatred towards those who do not think or vote the same.
This first conference given by Ignacio Escolar is the first of a cycle that will be followed, during this quarter, by the scientist Pedro Miguel Echenique, who on November 15 will offer a presentation on ‘New concepts in the post-pandemic’, and the theologian Javier Vitoria Cormenzana, who on December 14 will speak about ‘The pandemic as a theological place’.