Maradona, an Argentine archetype

Image: Cyrus Saurius


The Man Facing the Patrol

In his essay “Our poor individualism”, Borges alludes to a night that would highlight the Hispanic roots of Argentine literature; and that would also allow us to understand a typical element of our culture. Borges speaks of that “desperate night when a sergeant of the rural police shouted that he was not going to consent to the crime of killing a brave man, leaving him to fight against his soldiers, alongside the deserter Martin Fierro”. Entering into conflict with authority, facing what is instituted, and knowing how to despise the fallacious coverage of the law, and of 'morals', in order to stay on the right side, which is always the side of the oppressed: these are the attitudes that good Argentine women and good Argentines consider it as an expression of fundamental virtues. These virtues are courage and dislike for those who lead to winning before starting the fight. It is clear, however, that the vast majority of Argentine men and women are not up to these virtues: not all of us are, by far, the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. Even so, however, the greatest of us recognize and admire these virtues, although we almost never honor them; and only a few cynics would explicitly deny them.

This cult of the 'man who stands up to the patrol' not only found its expression in Martín Fierro and in Sergeant Tadeo Cruz, who sided with him. Borges also refers to the Gauchos Hormiga Negra and Juan Moreira, who, in addition to being literary characters, were also popular legends. They were also clear examples of this cult: both even die facing the patrol after always fighting with it. But Borges also alludes to the gaucho Dom Segundo Sombra, whose attributes only make sense if we come to think that “potentially or in the past”, he could, or could, have faced this circumstance without which the worth of an Argentine, and from an Argentinian, is never fully proven. It is clear, however, that it is possible to mention many more examples of this type of hero. 'A certain captain Rodrigo' would also make the list, confirming the Rio Grande do Sul culture's Rio Platense roots. And there would still be mention of non-literary characters who entered the world of Argentine mythology for having embodied the spirit of Martin Fierro. 'Gauchito Gil' would be a paradigmatic case; and also Che Guevara: who lived and died serving this archetype.

However, although otherwise, this was also the case for Maradona. In addition to his humiliating talent and his stunning effectiveness as a football player, Maradona has always lived facing the patrol. This patrol could be Argentine and international football entrepreneurs, the hypocritical and classist journalism of Buenos Aires; but also all the values ​​and institutions of a social order that Maradona never believed in. Clever as he was, he always knew what his place in the world would have been had it not been for the excellence of his legs and the speed of his calculations on the field of play. He never forgot that he was a 'pibe from Villa Fiorito'; and he never failed to express his contempt for those whose only merit was in 'owning the ball'. Between the fans and the officials, he was always on the side of the fans. Between managers and players, he always sided with the players. And so it always was: between the 'pibes of Villa Fiorito' and the powerful, he always opted for the 'pibes'. This happened on all planes and in all circumstances: without taking risks; and he always did it happily, just as he played ball. That's why we admire him so much.

But of course: living always facing patrol is not easy; this has costs. Always opting to detach yourself from what has been established is dangerous; because it forces you to walk along poorly signposted and insufficiently lit shortcuts: trails that border precipices, without any guardrail indicating it. Then, moreover, on these shores, we can end up very poorly accompanied, and still facing unnecessary fights. Fights accepted for the simple pleasure of ratifying their own courage, showing themselves to be indomitable. This, however, is an unavoidable risk. all heroes to Martin Fierro ran him; this is part of his essence. In fact, most of them succumbed precisely because of this. So it was with Juan Moreira, with Hormiga Negra, with 'Gauchito Gil', and with Che. And so it was with Maradona. It was, in those bad fights, always happening 'on any corner', where he received those wounds that, in the end, ended up killing him. But you have to accept it: that was his destiny; and that is why he is now in that privileged place that he will always occupy in the pantheon of great Argentine myths: close to Mono Gatica, and not that far from Che.

*Gustavo Caponi He is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).


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