The ideology of monstrosity

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By EUGENIO BUCCI*

Well, 'human nature' is in the culture

We learn to think that if it's nature, it's not culture – and conversely, if it's culture, it can't be nature. The force that impels animals to mate and reproduce springs from natural impulses, called instinctive; the institution of marriage between people of flesh and blood, known as natural persons, stems from symbolic constructions, that is, cultural ones. Wild fury would correspond to brute nature; peaceful and harmonious dialogue, capable of generating understanding, would be an achievement of culture. In short, we are in the habit of opposing nature to culture much as we oppose barbarism to civilization.

Whimsically, this opposition installs itself inside each subjectivity, each and every one of us here. It's like an internal tension, an inevitable polarity that structures the essence of who we are. When someone raises their hand to talk about “human nature”, this is what happens: we are nature (therefore, animals) and, at the same time, we are humans (therefore, beings of language and culture). A walking contradiction.

Passers-by in public places, subway stations and fruit and vegetable markets carry an indomitable nature within their moving bodies. Flora of countless bacteria inhabit their intestines, stupid glands inject strange substances into their bloodstream, ardent thrills awaken their passions. The imperious nature acts on them – which, however, are also human, conscious, sensitive, intelligent and, this is a disconcerting thing, they are ethical subjects. Moral values ​​– some truly virtuous, others abhorrent – ​​influence everyone's conduct. Looking at it that way, it's clear that the Homo sapiens it could never work out, but it's what we have for today.

More often than not, the so-called “human nature” is invoked by someone who wants to justify an atrocity or vice. Among politicians, it became a craze. If they didn't talk so much about the indefectible and repetitive "human nature", we wouldn't have to deal with this matter in newspaper articles. The devil – and the devil belongs to another nature – is that weird types appear all the time blaming this and that on her, always on her, herself, “human nature”. “Human nature”, my lord, my lady, is to blame for this silly tragedy that has befallen our poor country – and countries, it is good to warn you, are an invention of culture.

A couple of years ago, a parliamentarian who became Princess Isabel's great-great-grandson declared, in the middle of the Chamber of Deputies, that “slavery is an aspect of human nature”. Last year, one of these Brazilian health ministers went to New York and, as he passed demonstrators who were protesting against him and his President of the Republic, he clenched his fist in a foul gesture, with the middle finger pointed upwards. Later, when asked about obscenity, he shrugged: "It's human nature to have flaws." In December, a leader of Bolsonarism said that former minister Sergio Moro “represents the worst in human nature”.

As can be seen from all this, Bolsonarism itself is nothing more than, so to speak, “naturezumanism”. Everything is the fault of “human nature”. So, how to get out of this conceptual trap? We know that Hobbes said that, in a state of nature, men lived in a permanent war of all against all. Will it be there? Would Bolsonarists be Hobbesians? Do they believe that, in nature, every man is bad? Or are they themselves in a permanent state of nature? Is that why they love revolvers, pistols and pistols and are mobilized in a permanent cultural war of all against all, or, better, of “us” against “them”? (Rousseau believed the opposite, that man in nature is good, that it was civilization that corrupted him, but that doesn't matter.)

Vain philosophy, however, will not help us. They – they there, who like to call themselves “us” (and like to call us “them”) – don't know who Hobbes was, nor who Saint Augustine was, nor Epicurus, who cultivated necessary and natural pleasures. What they heard about Epicurus, they heard from the worst source. Deep down – or deep down – they don’t know that their allegation of “human nature” is, rather, an artifact of culture, not of “nature” – it comes from an uneducated culture, a bit rude, but culture nonetheless.

To understand this point a little better, it is worth quickly going back to the noble parliamentarian (and non-parliamentary nobleman) who saw something “natural” in slavery. What led him to affirm that “slavery is an aspect of human nature” was not his own “human nature”, but his cultural deformation, that is, it is not “nature” that supposes that slavery is part of “human nature”. ”, but a prejudiced culture that sees slavery as a “natural regime”.

In short, the alleged “inhuman nature” is just a degradation of culture, nothing more. “Human nature”, as they pronounce it, has served as a van for an ideology of monstrosity – which we could call inhuman nature.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of The superindustry of the imaginary (authentic).

Originally published in the newspaper The State of S. Paul.

 

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