Slaughter and state racism

Dora Longo Bahia. 13. Escalpo Paulista, 2005 Acrylic on fiber cement 210 x 240 cm


Brazil is a country that devours its children. This is a brand that updates every second, endless repetition

"Slaughter. Feminine noun. Human food. Foods). 1. Pork or beef cut into slices, salted and cured. 2. Slaughter and cutting up of pigs or cattle”.

Brazil is the country that naturalized slaughter. A finding that does not need further evidence, since the materiality of the fact is stamped everywhere and anyone can see it. The slaughter is becoming the most successful political project among the rulers of the most populous states of the federation, such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, as well as the one that was elected in the last election for the federal government.

Rio de Janeiro, May 24, 2022, more than 20 dead: the most recent episode of killings, this time in the community of Vila Cruzeiro, in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro, was described by the governor of the state as a great “demonstration of force” ”. Days earlier, in São Paulo, the current mayor guided police practice through a “protocol” that has the air of exemplary punishment: “if you raise your gun, you will be shot by the police”. At the federal level, those responsible for the massacre in Rio were congratulated by the president in yet another gesture that builds his electoral agenda.

Brazil is a country that devours its children. This is a brand that updates every second, endless repetition. State-sponsored murder has become the essence and being of a nation project whose greatest and indisputable originality is the activity of extraction. The extraction of pau brasil carried out by the first settlers inaugurated this practice that defines us until today. We extract every day, in addition to what constitutes the riches of the soil, subsoil and forests, the bodies of part of the population, a portion of blood destined to supply the machinery of the Brazilian sovereign power. Extraction of souls.

The brutality that affects life in the country consists of the radical transformation of bodies into productive and disposable raw material. However, this time, what is at stake is not only the food that supplies the gears of the productive forces of big capital, bodies that supply the energy of machines in factories, computers and virtual networks; the body extracted in this new economy of power is the one that exposes itself completely naked and unprotected in front of the barrels of the rifle. Its material, reduced to pieces of meat, stains red the clothes of a power that consists of making marginalized sectors of the population die.

This is the most outstanding national project: a project of biopolitical sovereignty consolidated through a pact sealed between members of political groups deeply rooted in criminal practices. As a result, politics has become an infamous game set on an obscure plane, where the passive complicity of the frightened and tamed masses is also observed. In this deadly arrangement, the life that must be lived and that totally disposable, legion of outcasts, made up of the poor, blacks and slum dwellers, mostly excluded from the statistics considered relevant in the world economic context, is decided.

Michel Foucault identified the operation of this power of sovereignty through the combination of racism with state power. A political device whose essence is an old practice, well known to all of us. Thus, embedded in every micro piece of our history, racism becomes “State racism”.

In the course delivered in 1975-76 at France secondary school, entitled in defense of society, says Foucault: “In effect, what is racism? It is, first, the means of finally introducing, in this domain of life that power has taken over, a cut: the cut between what must live and what must die. In the biological continuum of the human species, the appearance of races, the distinction of races, the hierarchy of races, the qualification of certain races as good and others, on the contrary, as inferior, all this will be a way of fragmenting this field of biological process that power has undertaken. […] This is the first function of racism: to fragment, to make caesuras within that biological continuum to which biopower is directed”.

It turns out that, within the device of power consolidated by the political form of “State racism”, something else comes into play. A Brazilian touch, so to speak, which ends up resulting in a frightening scenario: angry policemen, armed and thirsty for flesh and blood; explicit military protocols that guide the killing gesture. An unbridled force that feeds the evil circuit on which political agents invest in the dispute for power. State racism has become an electoral dividend in Brazil.

Any dream of the future could not work as we are sunk in quicksand soaked in blood. We have always been marked, by force of arms, by the blood shed. Unfortunately, Brazil cannot deny its outstanding originality with regard to the production of raw material of blood and meat destined to promote the daily combustion inside the machine of power. This is the result of the impact of this destructive force present on a large scale in every corner on the outskirts of cities. We must recognize that slaughter has become a practice that capitalizes on electoral projects and underpins the image of national sovereignty.

There is nothing capable of flourishing under the soil of this land irrigated by the blood of a few. And let it be well established, this is not a matter of disorderly killing. The target is precise: the catalog of inferiorized groups has been produced with care since the founding of the country. The result is the construction of a State in which the promotion of death, paradoxically, should strengthen the living body of the nation. In the words of Foucault, when exposing the logic underlying state racism: “the more inferior species tend to disappear, the more abnormal individuals are eliminated, the less degenerate there will be in relation to the species, the more I – not as an individual, but as a species – I will live, the stronger I will be, the more vigorous I will be, the more I will be able to proliferate”.

For a large part of the population, everything takes place in the closed sphere of a large media spectacle. The operation to eliminate social “ills” is surgical: a methodology that borrowed the model of combating the plagues that invade the consecrated homes of good citizens. We have, then, the portrait of a curious perversion: like those who admire and account for the effect of poison on dead pests and spread across the ground, the images of bodies that gradually fill the Legal Medical Institute of large cities serve the delight of those who they bet on political projects based on “State racism”.

Anyway, here we are in a country whose name, derived from the extraction of pau brasil, can be reaffirmed in a repeated brutal gesture of eliminating life. Brazil, a country whose essence is extraction, extracts from the bodies of murdered subjects the fuel that sustains the permanent construction of a sick nation project. We all pay the price for those who make the practice of slaughter, the fundamental operator of State racism, the sovereign policy of the nation.

*Joao Paulo Ayub Fonseca, psychoanalyst, he holds a doctorate in social sciences from Unicamp. author of Introduction to Michel Foucault's analytics of power (intermediate).


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