Gustavo Guitérrez, political theology, quote

Gutiérrez on the Political and the Radical

For the contemporary historical consciousness, things political are no only those which one attends to during the free time afforded by one’s private life; nor are they even a well-defined area of human existence. The construction–from its economic bases–of the “polis,” of a society in which people can live in solidarity, is a dimension which encompasses and severely conditions all human activity. It is the sphere for the exercise of a critical freedom which is won down through history. It is the sphere for the exercise of a critical freedom which is won down through history. It is the universal determinant and the collective arena for human fulfillment. Only within this broad meaning of the political sphere can we situate the more precise notion of “politics,” as an orientation to power. … Nothing Lies outside the political sphere understood in this way. Everything has a political color. It is always in the political fabric–and never outside of it–that a person emerges as a free and responsible being, as a person in relationship with other persons, as someone who takes on a historical task. Personal relationships among themselves through political means.

…In addition to this universality of the political sphere, we are faced with an increasing radicalization of social praxis. Contemporary persons have begun to lose their naiveté as they confront economic and socio-cultural determinants; the deep causes of the situation in which they find themselves are becoming clearer. They realize that to attack these deep causes is the indispensable prerequisite for radical change. and so they have gradually abandoned a simple reformist attitude regarding the existing social order, for, by its very shallowness this reformism perpetuates the existing system. …To support the social revolution means to abolish the present status quo and to attempt to replace it with a qualitatively different one; it means to build a just society based on new relationships of production; it means to attempt to put an end to the domination of some countries by others, of some social classes by others, of some persons by others. The liberation of these countries, social classes, and persons undermines the very foundation of the present order; it is the greatest challenge of our time.

This radicality has led us to see quite clearly that the political arena is necessarily conflictual.

Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, 30-31.


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