1968, yesterday and today

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By JOÃO CARLOS BRUM TORRES *

Reflections on the events of 1968, during which the mobilizations and struggles for a freer life and a fairer society were accompanied and overcome by the conservative and authoritarian reaction.

1.

The emblematic reference of the 1968 protests was the true urban insurrection of student origin that took place in Paris in May of that year. In those days of transformation of the cobblestones that paved the streets of Latin Quarter on barricades ‒ days when the enthusiasm and mass character of the student movement provoked a general strike and in which the spirit of revolt against the formal, hierarchical, economic and socially unjust, morally and existentially repressive and hypocritical character was expressed with undeniable joy of institutions and traditional values ​​‒, the flags and hopes of another way of life were unfurled, whose meaning lasted a long time and far beyond French borders.

Also there, the idea and the illusion of politics made from the street, by the fused group of individual-citizens, was put into action, the direct expression of the “people”, of the people understood as being, in their direct action, the source of the ultimate legitimacy of all political power - an idea then, as we know, for a moment, victorious.

By the way, a first observation is that the events of May 68 in France, in many ways, erupted like lightning in a blue sky, since there were still seven years to go before the already alluded Thirty Glorious, name given to them by Jean Fourastié, ended. to highlight the years of intense and consistent economic development and consolidation of the welfare state in virtually all OECD countries, the whole of which forms, moreover, what can be considered the model and golden period of societies and contemporary civilization.

It is true, however, that in 1968 no one would have dared to say that the post-war period, dynamic and exciting as it was from an economic point of view, would be a glorious time. In fact, everything happened in those years as if prosperity itself and democratic restoration itself, because they seemed natural and obvious, obliterated their value, an undeniable value, as can be seen more clearly now, as long as they did not eliminate differences in income and well-being and that the many forms of hierarchization of power and status in private and public institutions.

In addition, somewhat paradoxically, it was as if precisely the economic and social advances and broad democratization opened the necessary space for the new generations to develop concerns that were more distant from the most elementally necessary for life and survival, which had ineluctably been dominant for someone who had lived through the Second World War and the turbulent period that immediately preceded it. Concerns in a more superficial sense, in another deeper as are the changes in values ​​and customs that structure current social life. More superficial because the protests against conventionalism, authoritarianism and the hierarchism of traditional ways of life (present either in the asymmetrical relationships that routinely regulate human relations within the family, in the life of institutions, or in the prohibitions, in practice often hypocritical, of traditional morals, especially with regard to sexual behavior), or the critical reservations against the self-righteousness and materialism of the consumer society, or even the deep disgust and revolt against socio-economic inequalities, persistent even in the most affluent societies, were not , as in fact they were not, by themselves, capable of shaking the base institutions of capitalism and contemporary democracy and, even less, of imperialism, macro institutions that not only resisted the turbulences of the time, but that, to a certain extent, ended up strengthened by them.

But deeper, however, because they concerned the way in which we intimately live and experience the world, its content and reflections constituting the background of the likes and dislikes with which we all live in what Husserl called the world of life, that is to say: at the very basis of all human experience.

Certainly, in its most immediate dimension, the normative opening of the 1968 movements was more focused, since, at the time, the dominant aspect of the struggles then waged was of a political nature, even in France and in the United States, and even more clearly, in the other revolts of that year, whether those that occurred in the so-called “Prague Spring”, in the aggressive German student movement in Berlin, in the extraordinarily wide and violent conflicts between students and the government in Mexico, which culminated in the many deaths that occurred in the so-called “ massacre of Tlatelolco”; also in Brazil, in the many protest marches organized and carried out by university students from all over the country against the military government.

Considering only this political dimension of the events of 1968, if we evaluate them from the strict point of view of the results achieved, notwithstanding the breadth and radical nature of the demonstrations, none of these acts of vigorous protest was successful. In France, as early as June, General De Gaulle was restoring order and doing so with renewed legitimacy; in Prague, despite the leadership of Dubček, head of state, the liberalizing reforms were soon repressed by the occupation of the country by Soviet troops; in Berlin, too, the strength of the student movement was not enough to bring about any institutional changes in German society, despite the fact that it gave rise to the long life of armed extremism of the Baader-Meinhof Group, for which the German state was a variant of fascism. . A fight that, moreover, fatally cost the lives or imprisonment of practically all of its leaders.

In the Mexican case, the outcome was also cruel, as the protests ended in a repression that led to hundreds of deaths. In the United States, the end of the great student protests was less disastrous, since, after all, it is undeniable that, to some extent, they contributed to the government's decision to put an end to the stupid war in Vietnam. In Germany, as alluded to, and finally in Brazil, the results were the worst, because they fueled the transition of many of the regime's opponents to armed struggle, which resulted in an even more violent repressive wave that ended in both countries with the incarceration, the deaths of leaders and the dismantling of insurgent organizations.

However, immediate political success cannot be assumed as the exclusive metric unit on the basis of which to assess the historical importance of that 1968 of revolting protests. There is another force in him, or rather, another heritage, a diverse legacy. In the French case, immediately, the recognition that the economic progress of glorious thirty it needed to be associated with a better distribution of its results, as was immediately seen when, to end the general strike that ran parallel to the student revolt, De Gaulle authorized a 35% increase in the national minimum wage.

Measures to democratize and decentralize the university system were also adopted, with debatable results, but which somehow sought to respond to the anti-conventional and anti-authoritarian force of the May movement. On the other hand, in terms of customs and formalities and hierarchical relationships within institutions, notably in Universities, liberalizing advances were undeniable.

On the ideological plane, however, the immediate result of the movement was disastrous and sad. With the continuity of the movement interrupted – contained by State forces and traditional conservatism – a good part of its political leaders encouraged an ultra-left intellectual reaction, at the same time critical of the communist party, committed to a libertarian rejection of the capitalist system and the rule of law, well exemplified by the enthusiastic admiration of the Maoist Red Guards that led to a melancholy and rapid withering away, as paradigmatically illustrated by the end of the Gauche proletarian.

At a deeper level, however, and with more lasting consequences, the movement had an impact on customs, right from the start, of course, on the way of seeing, living and evaluating the sexual dimension of human interactions, but, more generally and diffusely, through the persistence and the intensification of the defense and promotion of anti-authoritarian values ​​and policies today called identity. Political-cultural determinations, which combined with what (from the second half of the 70s onwards, as an effect of the full recognition of the totalitarian character of the socialist experience in Eastern Europe) became known as the movement of “human rights as politics” , came to constitute the unmistakable French figure of left-wing politics in the transition from the twentieth century to the current.

Despite the natural particularities of each country, the general meaning of what happened after 1968 in the other cases mentioned above was not very different. In Czechoslovakia, what followed the Prague Spring was the end of liberal reforms and the re-establishment of the authoritarian socialist government, policely controlling social life under Gustáv Husák. However, in this case it is also possible to see in the events of 68, as well as those of 56 in Hungary, another direction and consequences that, not because they were indirect, ceased to be important, since it is undeniable that the liberalization aspirations of the regime under Dubček and the widespread disillusionment and anger provoked by its forcible interruption contributed heavily to the profound, if for a long time almost invisible, weakening of the belief system that underpinned socialism in Eastern Europe.

The speed with which the debacle of the system and redemocratization occurred in 1989-1990 are unequivocal indicators of the late influence of the events of 68 on the country's history. In Mexico, the long-term results are not easy to identify with precision either, but it can be safely said that the violence of the Tlatelolco repression contributed to the strengthening of democratic consciousness in the country and to the weakening of the hegemony and to the end of the model of State and government of the Institutional Revolutionary Party - PRI. As mentioned above, in the United States, the medium and long-term legacy of the critical events of 1968 and, in general, of the other manifestations of the 60s, were clearer and more profound, even if they did not occur in the political scene itself, but in the complex set of development of what came to be called counterculture, which includes, in addition to pacifist movements, the many faces of rejection of the american standard of life, whose clearest expression was perhaps that of the movement hippie.

In the German case, however, given the criticism of the establishment made by the student movement in the 60s engendered the terrorism of the Red Army Faction and its violent repression by all means, including the execution of imprisoned leaders whose processes were ongoing, the long-term results were, after all, the demoralization of the radical left and the strengthening of right-wing parties. However, as a kind of counterpart, it is true that in Germany the most lucid left, of which the Frankfurt School can be considered as the theoretical and most refined expression, preserved and reshaped the critical spirit and libertarian yearnings of the XNUMXs. sixties by making the ideals of justice, participatory democracy and, more indirectly, respect for the environment the north of opposition policies to the conservative policies of the German state.

Finally, in the case of Brazil, among the consequences of the events of 68, the most important was the understanding that the militarized radicalization of opposition to the authoritarian regime was the path not to be followed. Which is to say that its deepest and most consequential result was also indirect: the strengthening of national democratic awareness, of which the understanding that the fight against the country's profound economic and social inequalities is a national priority has become a core part. a challenge to be confronted within, however, the constitutional framework of the rule of law. A challenge which, however, we cannot fail to record, we are still sadly defeated.

Finally, it should also be noted that if, therefore, in relation to its political ambitions and its programs of profound reforms and even revolutionary changes in the status quo bourgeoisie, the movements of 68 failed, there is no denying, on the other hand, that they – through the cultural and ideological changes that they undeniably provoked – opened a space of contestation to the complacent self-sufficiency of the status civilizing process achieved by conservative forces and even social democrats in the post-war period, a space that would remain open for a long time, although, as will be seen below, from the 70s onwards, it progressively narrowed.

2.

It is now convenient to ask why, when referring to the events of the 1960s, it seems inevitable that we see them as strange, as if, although close on a historical scale, they belonged to another era, separated from us by a chronologically narrow slit, but very profound, despite the political institutions and institutional frameworks within which the reproduction process of today's societies takes place, if considered globally, is now the same as in the 60s of the last century, because the truth is that Market and State, such as shaped throughout modernity, there, as here, fundamental institutions continue to be.

First of all, to reduce the paradoxical character of this record, it is necessary to realize, and admit without reservations, that the variations in the ways in which, internally, if modern capitalism is reorganized, it generates profoundly diverse forms of society and individual life; point on which we should pause for a moment.

The first and most obvious highlight to be made on this point is that for anyone who is aware of the economic and political dynamics of the last 50 years, the impressive mutation undergone by contemporary societies from the 70s onwards is undeniable. Secondly, it is also important to note that these changes occurred in terms and modes that were completely alien to the events of 68, which neither in themselves nor in their developments had a greater influence on the design of what would become the essence of historical time in just ten years. after.

For what happened then was rather a kind of cut, the release of a force that began a new historical series. A series whose structuring derived from a complex change in the modes of operation and articulation of the fundamental institutions of modern societies, since both the way of conceiving and evaluating the functions of the State has changed, as well as radically changing the form of organization and functioning of the Market, whose immediate consequence was a profound change in the regime of interaction between these fundamental institutions.

Recently, when dealing with this point in his preface to the great regression, Heinrich Geiselberger (2019, p. 13-14), very opportunely, suggests that what has happened since then should be taken in terms analogous to those of Polanyi, and it is convenient to recognize in this process a second great transformation of capitalism. Looking at the historical course from this perspective, it can figuratively be said that the last quarter of the 60th century left to the memory of the XNUMXs – and therefore to us – the task of leaving the burial of the dead to the dead.

It certainly exceeds the limits of this communication to reconstitute what was and what has been the process of globalization and the overwhelming neoliberal hegemony. But, in order to clarify the change in the historical landscape of the Western world from the end of the 70s onwards, there is no way of avoiding at least some observations of a general nature. It is only after that that it will be possible to discuss the question of the definitely anachronistic character or not of the events of 1968.

It is customary to have the economic policy of the Chicago as the political landmarks of the turn in question. boys of Pinochet, the inauguration of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of England and the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. However, given the close link between neoliberal politics and culture with the ideal and, above all, with the practice of globalization of economic activities, I believe that, somewhat unexpectedly, Deng Xiaoping's statement should be taken as no less striking ‒ in 1987, in the preparatory acts of the 13th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party – that although “in the past it was said that in a socialist society planning came first”, at that historical moment this “should no longer be affirmed” (Vogel, 2011, p. 469).

And this is so not because the opening of the Chinese economy to the international market was based on typical liberal ideas, but because it gave an extraordinary dynamism to the globalization process, notably because it provoked an unprecedented and accelerated process of delocalization of industrial plants to that country and multiplied foreign trade exponentially.

In the context of this communication, it is not appropriate to detail the sequence of decisions and effects caused by the globalization process. What is possible to do here and what matters here is to draw attention to the general meaning of the new historical series that reconfigured the contemporary world. To do so, however, it is necessary to at least mention decisions, measures and policies that led to the redefinition of the State's role within democratic societies and the practical and objective expansion of neoliberal culture in the world.

The economic policy measures of the neoliberal ideology are well known: inflation control, occasionally by raising interest rates and, permanently, by means of measures to reduce primary expenditures, especially those of a social nature, implemented through more or less depth of pension, education and health systems, but as far as possible not capital expenditures; privatizations; deregulation of labor relations, changes in legislation concerning union organization, with the aim of reducing their influence and political power; measures to reduce tariffs on foreign trade and, above all, regulatory release of activities in the financial sector and openness to free international movement of capital.

Correspondingly, despite the diversity of these fronts, the common thread that ties this set of measures stands out: the reduction of the role of the State in economic life and the corresponding increase, as large as possible, of the participation of the private sector both in determining the public policy guidelines, as well as in the construction of infrastructures and in the provision of social services.

Certainly, as it should be, the pace, the relative importance of each of these lines of public policy, the difficulties of implementing each one, the advances and setbacks on each front and even on the set of them varied significantly. They varied as a function of the degree, consistency and effectiveness with which the institutions and policies of the Social Welfare State had been implemented in the various countries and, correlatively, as a function of the power relations between the social sectors and the political forces that, in each case, represented them. On the other hand, progressively, the new lines of technical progress ‒ of enormous social impact, directly or indirectly associated with the global digital economy ‒ enormously accelerated the process of integration of the international economy and made traditional foreign trade gradually become a smaller part of economic relations, boosted by the enormous movements of financial capital and by the massive policies of relocation from industrial plants to countries with lower labor costs than those practiced in the industrialized world, China having been, as is now evident, both the main destination of these initiatives and their main beneficiary.

The dynamism of global economic development since then has been unquestionably enormous and, internationally assessed, has contributed to a very expressive reduction in absolute poverty levels in the world, a double effect whose social and political consequences cannot be underestimated. A good way to present the depth of the impacts of these macro movements as a whole is to draw attention to the paradoxical nature of three consequences of these economic changes in the fields of politics, social structure and the behaviors and mentalities of all of us, all of us, who were involved in these processes whose set, as already mentioned, constituted a profound break with the terms of the economy, social life and culture of the so-called glorious thirty, the post-war period of consolidation and development of the Welfare State.

The first of these paradoxes is that the political component of the changes in question was extraordinarily important and depended on the rise to the centers of state power in different countries of forces committed to the liberal ideal of reducing the role of the public sector in the economic and social development of societies. . As exemplarily analyzed by Ulrich Beck, this process was highly politicized and demanded, especially in the case of Chile and England, political and ideological struggles of great proportions, in which the forces committed to the neoliberal ideals were victorious. The paradoxical character of this process resides in the kind of self-amputation that the State made of its competences and responsibilities.

Naturally, the natural result of this self-relief of charges and reduction of the spheres of provision of public services was the opening of new spaces for the private initiative and the reduction of society's global contribution to meeting the needs of social strata whose private income limited their access to these services. This minimization of the principle and practice of institutionalized social solidarity, which is the hallmark of the welfare state, added to the reduction of industrial jobs in developed countries, resulted in a rapid and large increase in income and well-being inequalities in these societies. . The second paradox involved in these changes lies in the fact that, despite the fact that they depended, as we have just seen, on political decisions of enormous importance and were implemented through large-scale public policy actions, there was, simultaneously, a second process of exemption, in this case political-ideological exemption from the responsibilities of their authors, the agents of these same changes.

This second exemption was carried out by presenting the institutional and cultural reforms that were the hallmark of the period as the natural consequence of forces and laws of economic dynamics, whose necessity could only be contested by ignorant, sentimentalists, corporatists, politicians in bad faith self -clouded, therefore blind, incapable of seeing what technical and economic progress shows as unquestionable for any sensible person, exempt from particular interests.

The third paradox involved in this process is that ‒ despite such changes being considered as mere effects of objective and ineluctable economic laws, resistance to which would only have the regrettable result of delaying their full functioning ‒ their implementation came to demand the iron will of actors very determined politicians. From leaders willing to face the wear and tear of crises and protests to make their ideals prevail, a project successfully executed through a struggle of a cultural and ideological nature whose strategic goal was to profoundly and massively change individual behaviors and the defining ideals of what is appropriate, good and expected of all who live in society.

The result of this policy was a subjective change of great proportions in individual life plans and expectations. Oliver Nachtwey presents the meaning of these alterations well when he comments: “The Market continues to be the reference measure for all spheres of life (...) the market has been internalized as something natural, agreeing – sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not – with its logic. In neoliberalism, the weight of self-coercion, of permanent sublimation, is great: we must always be happy with the competition, compare ourselves, measure and optimize. In the case of affronts, degradations, humiliations and failures, the fault is ours – and so we must wait happily for another chance”. (In: Geiselberger, 2019, p. 222).

Well then, when we compare this scenario with the configuration of developed societies in the period that goes from the end of the Second World War until the 70s and, especially, with the expectations and struggles for change in the form and in the societal standard then reached, whose pinnacle was in 1968, it is impossible not to see the abysmal difference that separates them, and that despite the State and the Market – the institutional macro-marks of modern society, as already underlined above –, if considered abstractly, remain the same.

Were it not for the dissemination of vulgar views of modern society – which oscillate between not noticing the changes suffered by it over time and taking historical periods as incommensurable – it would not be necessary to insist that variations in the ways in which, internally,, modern capitalism reorganizes generate profoundly diverse forms of society and individual life. In the case we are considering, what sets the two historical situations apart is that the welfare state consolidated in the Glorious Thirty it was corrupted and, as it were, fading away with globalization and the progressive neoliberal hegemony.

The principle of social solidarity – embodied in generous retirement and pension systems, in determining the levels of public spending established with a view not only to the needs of creating adequate infrastructure for contemporary societies, but also to the levels of employment and the needs of support of public systems of education, health and housing, elements all inextricably associated with the progressive nature of the imposition of tax burdens, as well as fiscal policies of a distributive nature – was replaced by the principle of responsibility taken as non-transferable by each individual for the social situation in which they live. and, consequently, for the progressive reduction and, in some cases, for the elimination of these mechanisms of attenuation of the socio-economic differences so ineluctably characteristic of the functioning of market societies.

Thus, if we now try to compare, no longer the institutional configuration of the two periods that we are distinguishing, but the subjective dispositions, the personal expectations of change present in both, the first thing to note is that cultural controls have been loosened and bureaucratic bureaucracies about everyday life. However, these measures to unblock traditional patterns of behavior – of which the so-called identity struggles are at the same time an operator and a symptom, as well as the evident flexibility with which the limits and patterns of life organization are now considered family and sexual – did not lead to a more solidary and egalitarian life, as the political struggles of 1968 aimed for.

Rather, they led to the radicalization of individualism and the conversion of individual economic and social success into a greater value than perhaps it would be fitting to call “neoliberal civilization”, whose correlate was the elevation of the level of risk and uncertainty with which each of us has to unfold the respective life plan.

At this point, however, it is convenient to return to the more general plan and say a word about the changes in the way of conceiving and evaluating the functions of the State and the way in which the Market is organized and functioning. What I want to point out is that the reduction of functions and responsibilities of the public sector and its lack of responsibility for economic and social differences also led to a significant decrease in general expectations regarding what can and should be expected from the action of the public power.

Correspondingly, this produced a disinterest in institutional politics. This change in expectations regarding the strength of public power was further reinforced by a second factor: the undeniable decrease in the degrees of freedom of national states for the implementation of internal public policies as a result of the uncontrolled globalization of economic activities. Which is to say that the belief has spread, partly true, that the main dynamism of economic and social development lies outside and far beyond the powers of control of national States.

Now, it is not difficult to understand, then, that not only have the fights for greater economic and social equality in the world cooled down, but that expectations and strategies of individual self-defense have changed in the context of this new form of organization of societies.

In this new global context, this is what we want to emphasize now, it is natural and inevitable that non-compliance with the status quo and even the interests and claims of the aggrieved and discontented took on forms quite different from those which animated the protest movements of the previous period. In this new context, the relationships between social frustrations and utopian expectations were annulled and individual self-protection reactions were reinforced. In general terms, this has generated a society in which individualism is the dominant feature of life projects, the disconnection from traditional life contexts, including territorial ones, becoming increasingly frequent and radicalized, an increase in the willingness to migrate and emigrations being a clear symptom of this same process.

By themselves, these elements make it possible to see more clearly the depth of the rift that, as we said before, separates us from the 60s. However, there is another order of factors that differentiate the two situations, there is another force that anachronizes the third quarter of the XNUMXth century and that has to do, without a doubt, surprisingly, with what was most positive in the years that followed, notwithstanding these same advances are at the origin of the anxieties of the present times and, in part also, of several of the regressive aspects of the time in which we are now living. I am referring to the large-scale technical progress and immense impact on contemporary life brought about by the emergence of the so-called digital world.

Indeed, it is clear that the accelerated development of possibilities for using the Internet, led by companies operating at hyperscale, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, had cataclysmic and at the same time ambiguous impacts on social life, producing – with disruptive force – – both positive and negative effects on traditional behavior patterns and the psychological states that were typically associated with them.

The most evident positive social effect of the development of the economy and the digital world was the very rapid expansion of the possibilities of inter-individual communication, possibilities that constitute an extraordinary expansion of the space in which private life lives, since the exchange of opinions between individuals assumed an incomparable extent with which until very recently was possible to do based on face-to-face relationships, or with the use of messages transmitted by old and conventional technological means, such as telephone calls, or the use of mail and telegraph. In a certain sense, there is no doubt that the new instruments of interpersonal contact made available by the said applications represented an enormous and rich expansion of private life and gave private sociability a global societal dimension.

However, as attention has been drawn with increasing evidence and with increasingly intense alerts, it is no less clear that this phenomenon has profoundly and negatively altered the processes of public opinion formation, which have come to depend much more on the so-called social communication networks. , than traditional instruments such as television and radio. And this is because, although, in general, the traditional instruments for forming public opinion were institutionalized as private companies, they fulfilled functions of a recognizably public character, they functioned as open channels and, as a press, they acted, at least ideally, with the idea of commitment to the truthful presentation of facts.

Now, the exponential growth of communication in the space of the so-called social networks has not only reduced the importance of the institutions that until now supported social communication, but also freed itself from the constraints of this commitment to factual evidence. What is seen in network communication is the legitimation of subjective, idiosyncratic, partisan, ideological, religious preferences, which result in the cacophony of opinions that we see everywhere today. As has been insistently hammered out these days, the most aggressive and crude manifestation of this new situation has been the industrial scale production of the so-called fake news.

However, the greatest effect of this phenomenon is the weakening of the notion of truth, the increase of “opinionism” and the closing of judgments and positions based on subjective preferences, vulnerable to the inconstant impressionist influences, careless with regard to justifications and, therefore, subject to to manipulation on a historically unprecedented scale and strength. The impact of this new form of social communication becomes even more dangerous and destructive as it weakens political institutions and demoralizes the very concept of political representation, as well as the role of parties in the constitution of democratic societies.

For the purpose of comparing the events of 1968, the motto of the present considerations, it is important to observe that this new conformation of social life entirely changes the way of structuring critical reactions, whatever their scale, because what matters now ‒ much more than point out the social problems, be indignant with the sacrifices brought by them, claim for justice and seek the credibility of these protests in the veracity of the statements and in the justification of what they claim ‒ it is either to flee, to escape, physically or psychologically, or to insult, produce a substitutive and subjectively preferable version of the events, opinions, decisions and to find, as quickly and arbitrarily as possible, actors, individualizable subjects, who can be blamed for the frustrations and losses suffered.

Finally, I believe it is still worth pointing out that in the anguish and dilemmas of contemporary social life there is still a factor, of a very general and less visible nature, which is the obscure perception of the structural dispensability of ever-increasing contingents of human beings, taking into account considering that the north of technical progress – to which many of the best minds of the time are dedicated, with ever greater boldness and efficiency – is to substitute, to use Marx's terms, dead work for living work.

The systemic and extremely perverse message that people are a nuisance, that we are too much, although only surreptitiously present in current socioeconomic dynamics, does not fail to be learned by whoever lives in contemporary society and is certainly a greater part of the generation of regressive movements that recent political and sociological criticism has been pointing out.

It can be seen, therefore, that this is one more element that left the critical spirit and social and political protests of the 60s as belonging to a time that was not only past, but emotionally and existentially inaccessible, as if it were some kind of world alternative.

*Joao Carlos Brum Torres is a retired professor of philosophy at UFRGS. Author, among other books, of Transcendentalism and Dialectics (L&PM).

Selected excerpt if article originally published in the journal Criterion, Belo Horizonte, Special Edition, January 2021.

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