Liminar Manifesto

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Liminar Manifesto  (1918) 
by Deodoro Roca
Written by Deodoro Roca and published in Córdoba (Argentina) June 15th, 1918. The subscribing signatures belong to the members of the Directive Commision of Córdoba's Students Federation.

Translated from Wikisource's Spanish Library

From The Argentinian Youth of Córdoba to The Free Men of South America

Men of a Free Republic, we've just broken the last chain that, in middle of the XX century, tied us to the old monastic and monarchic domination. We've decided to call all things by their own name. Cordoba redeems itself. From today, we have in this country one less shame and one more freedom. The pains that remain are the freedoms we still lack. We think we don't err, our beating hearts warn us: we're stepping on a revolution, we're living an american hour.

Rebellion erupts in Cordoba, and is violent, because here the tyrants had become arrogant, and it was necessary to erase forever the memory of May's counterrevolutionaries. Universities had been so far the secular refuge of the mediocre, the ignorant's tenure, a safe hospital for the handicapped and -what's even worst- the place were all ways to tyranize and numb found a Chair to teach them. Universities have then become a true reflection of this decadent societies that insist in the sad spectacle of a senile immobility. That's why science passes silently through this mute and closed houses or, maimed and grotesque, enters bureaucratic service. When, in a rare flash, opens its doors to high spirits, it's to regret it later and make life immposible for them inside their walls. That's why, in such regime, natural forces lead to the mediocrization of teaching and the vital widening of academic organisms is not brought by organic developments, but by the breath of revolutionary periodicity.

Our university system -even the most recent- is anachronistic. It is founded on a sort of divine right, the divine right of tenured professors. It creates itself. It is born and dies in itself. Maintains an olympic distance. The University of Córdoba Federation stands to fight against this regime and understands that in doing so, it bets its life. It demands a strictly democratic government and argues that the university demos, sovereignty, the right to be self-government is mainly on the students. The concept of authority that belongs to and comes with being a director or teacher in a home for college students can not rely on the strength of an authority foreign to the substance of the studies. Authority, in a home for students, is not exercised by ordering, but by suggesting and loving: teaching.

If there is no spiritual connection between teacher and student, all teaching is hostile and therefore sterile. All education is a long labor of love for learning. To search for guarantees of a fruitful peace in threatening articles of a regulation or a statute is in any case, upholding military discipline, but not the work of science. To keep the current relation between those who govern and the governed is to stir the ferment for future disruptions. The souls of young people should be driven by spiritual forces. The worn springs of authority emanating from force do not agree with what our feelings and the modern concept of universities demand. The crack of the whip can only sign the silence of the unconscious or the coward. The only silent attitude which befits an institute of science is that of who hears truth or that experienced in creating and verifying it.

That's why we intend to uproot from the university body the archaic and barbaric concept of authority that in these houses of study is a bastion of absurd tyranny and only serves to criminally protect false dignities and false competence. Now we understand that the recent reform, honestly liberal and given to the University of Cordoba by Dr. Jose Nicolas Matienzo, has only come to prove that our ills were more distressing than we imagined and ancient privileges disguised a state of advanced decomposition. Matienzo's reform has not opened a university democracy; it sanctioned the dominance of a caste of teachers. The vested interests of the mediocre have found in it an unexpected support. We are accused of being insurgents on behalf of an order that we do not argue, but that has nothing to do with us. If so, if in the name of order we are to continue being mocked and brutalized, we loudly proclaim the sacred right of insurrection. So the only door that is open to hope is the heroic destiny of youth. Sacrifice is our best encouragement, spiritual redemption of American youth our only reward, for we know that our truths are real -and painful- for the whole continent. That in our country one law - they say -, the Avellaneda's Act is opposed to our desires?. Then on to reform the law; our moral health requires it.

Youth always lives in the process of heroism. It is selfless, pure. It has not yet had time to become contaminated. It's never wrong in choosing its own teachers. Young people are not swayed by flattering or riches. They have to be allowed to choose their teachers and principals themselves, confident that the success will crown its determinations. Henceforth, only the true builders of souls, creators of truth, beauty and goodness will be allowed to be teachers in the future universitary republic..

Córdoba's university students believe that it is time to raise this serious problem to the attention of the country and its representative men.

The recent events at the University of Cordoba, on the occasion of the election of University President, make singularly clear our reasoning in appreciating the university conflict. Cordoba's Student Federation believes that it must inform the country and America the circumstances of moral and legal order which invalidate the electoral process verified on June 15. By confessing the ideals and principles that motivate young people in this hour of his life, it only wants to describe the local aspects of the conflict and raise high the flame that is burning the old stronghold of clerical oppression. The National University of Cordoba and in this city have not seen disorder; what was and is being seen is the birth of a revolution that will soon reunite under its banner all free men of the continent. We'll refer to events that show how reason assisted us and how much shame brought to our face the cowardice and perfidy of the reactionaries. The violence of which we claim full responsibility was brought by the exercise of pure ideas. We deposed what represented an anachronistic coup and did it to be able to, at least, keep our hearts above the ruins. Those violent acts are also the measure of our indignation in the presence of moral misery, simulation and cunning deception that meant to filter through with the appearance of legality. The moral sense was obscured in a ruling class by traditional hypocrisy and an appalling poverty of ideals.

The spectacle of the university assembly was disgusting. Amoral groups eager to capture the goodwill of the future president explored the contours on the first ballot, to lean towoards the side for which victory seemed sure, not remembering publicly pledged supports, the honor-bound commitments made for the interest of the University. Others -the most- in name of religious feeling and under the patronage of the Society of Jesus, exhorted to treachery and subordination (curious religion that which teaches to despise honor and depress the personality! Religion for the defeated or the slave!). A liberal reform had been obtained through the heroic sacrifice of youth. A guarantee was thought to be won and the enemies of reform were seizing that same guarantee. In the shadows, the Jesuits had prepared the triumph of a deep immorality. Consenting to it would have meant another betrayal. To mockery we responded with revolution. The majority vote expressed the full burden of repression, ignorance and vice. So we gave the only proper lesson and scared away forever the threat of clerical rule.

The moral judgement is on our side. The legal right also. They tried to obtain legal sanction, barricade behind the law. We did not let them. Before iniquity was a legal fact, irrevocable and complete, we took the hall and threw such mob, only then frightened, by the side of the cloisters. That this is true, is made obvious the fact that then the Student's Federation sessioned in the university hall and a thousand students signed, on the President's desk, the call for indefinite strike.

In fact, the reformed statutes provide that the election of the President will be done in one session, proclaiming the result immediately after reading each ballot and the approval of the respective transcriptions of proceedings. We affirm, without fear of being rectified, that ballots were not read, that the transcriptions did not pass, that the President was not proclaimed and that, therefore, by law, there is still no President of this university.

The university students of Cordoba declare that they never questioned names or employments. They stood up against an administrative procedure, against a teaching method, against a concept of authority. Public functions were exercised in the interest of certain cliques. Plans or regulations were not reformed for fear that someone could lose their jobs amidst the changes. The watchword "tit for tat" ran from mouth to mouth and assumed the preeminence of university charter. The teaching methods were flawed by narrow dogmatism, helping to keep the university out of science and modern disciplines. Lessons, locked in the endless repetition of old texts, kept the spirit of routine and submission. University bodies, jealous guardians of dogma, tried to keep youth behind closed doors, believing that the conspiracy of silence can be exercised against science. That's when the dark midland university closed its doors to Ferri, Ferrero, Palacios and others, fearing it would be disturbed in its placid ignorance. We then did a holy revolution and the regime fell before our strikes.

We honestly believed that our efforts had created something new, that at least the elevation of our ideals deserved some respect. Then we look amazed as the crudest reactionaries allied themselves to snatch our conquests.

We can not leave our fate in the hands of the tyranny of a religious sect, or the games of selfish interests. To them we are to be sacrificed. He who calls himself the President of the University of San Carlos has said his first words: I'd rather have a pile of the dead bodies of students than resign. Words full of pity and love, reverential respect to discipline, words worthy of the head of a house of higher learning. He does not invoke ideals or purposes of cultural action. He feels protected by force and stands proud and threatening. Harmonious lesson given to youth by the first citizens of an academic democracy! Let us collect that lesson, peers from across America, perhaps it has the sense of a glorious omen, the virtue of being an appeal to the supreme struggle for freedom; it shows us the true character of academic authority, tyrannical and obstinate, that sees in each request a grievance and in every thought a seed of rebellion.

Youth no longer requires. It demands to be granted the right to externalize its own thought in university bodies through their representatives. It's tired of supporting tyrants. If it has been able to make a revolution in consciousness, it can not be denied the capacity to intervene in the governance of their own home.

The university students of Cordoba, through their Federation, salutes all fellow americans and encourages them to cooperate in the work of freedom that starts.

Signed: Enrique F. Barros, Ismael C. Bordabehére, Horacio Valdés,presidentes. Gumersindo Sayago, Alfredo Castellanos, Luis M. Méndez, Jorge L. Bazante, Ceferino Garzón Maceda, Julio Molina, Carlos Suárez Pinto, Emilio R. Biagosch, Angel J. Nigro, Natalio J. Saibene, Antonio Medina Allende y Ernesto Garzón.