The mediocrity of not thinking

Image: George Becker
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By PEDRO BENEDITO MACIEL NETO*

We have to speak outside the bubble, without fear of criticism, because, believe me, we are on the right side of history.

I keep in my WhatsApp some “Adolf Eichmann”. Let me explain: I call it "Adolf Eichmann” all people captured by the mediocrity of not thinking; previously devoid of discourse, they ended up finding something to say in OlavoBolsonarismo's ideas.

They serve me as a “source” of information and their messages show the size of the lies that circulate on social networks, the bad manners of those who produce them and the stupidity of those who circulate them.

Most of these people, men and women of various ages, think highly of themselves, have the best image of themselves, but they are actually bad people, who do and reproduce evil and who, at the end of the day, go home full of certainties and convictions, however, they are nothing more than breeders of the evil they trivialize.

The concept “banality of evil” was created by the philosopher Hannah Arendt and presented in the book Eichmann in Jerusalem. In it, Arendt discussed the perspective of evil caused by people devoid of the ability to think, incapable of thinking for themselves, people contaminated by Nazi logic and who, for this reason, normalized all the evil they vocalized, practiced or about which they were silent.

The “banality of evil” would be the mediocrity of not thinking, and not exactly the desire or premeditation of evil, personified and aligned with the demented or demonic subject; it would be a political and historical position, not an ontological one; the “banality of evil” is installed by finding the institutional space, created by not thinking.

In Eichmann, Hannah Arendt saw not someone wicked or sick, not even someone anti-Semitic or angry, but only someone who followed orders, unable to think about what he was really doing, keeping his focus only on carrying out orders. If you haven't read the book, or don't want to, you can watch the movie. Hannah Arendt - Ideas that shocked the world.

How many “adolf eichmann” know and didn't even know? The fact is that the physical and verbal violence that we witness, daily, in social networks and in the newspapers, would provide ample study material for Hannah Arendt. Evil normalizes and trivializes violence, sharing fake news, making aggressive comments and overlapping friendships, family and religious beliefs; evil normalized the “let's machine-gun the gunfire”.

Despite the defeat of the main representative of evil, it continues to sow itself, because, while thinking is absent, there is room for the banalization of evil to take hold. How to fight evil: thinking critically and sharing this thinking, putting it in motion, through education, not banking, but liberating.  

Each one of “Adolf Eichmann” that we know continues to be a victim of manipulation, they believe that there was fraud in the elections, in the ballot boxes, that there is a dictatorship in Brazil, that communism is a threat, that the Earth is flat, that globalism is demonic and that “in six months” we will be a Venezuela (or would we be? After all, we are in the seventh month and nothing has happened in that sense).

Uncritical actions, motivated by institutional consensus, common sense or lack of sense, generated and generates verbal and often physical violence. The unwary mass, incapable of thinking, acts mindlessly, does not see the harm they are doing, and resents it when they are attacked, which impels them to respond, with even greater violence: a vicious circle of banality is created. bad.

There is no doubt that we are experiencing a trivialization of violence, for political reasons, but “who” or “what” caused the amplification of evil in society?

In my opinion, it was the timely non-punishment of Jair Bolsonaro and those who, like him, are not embarrassed to present themselves in favor of the dictatorship, the macaw stick and torture.

Despite the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro, its main representative, evil remains strong and has lost its shame because we have been condescending for too long: with revisionism, which shamelessly claims that there was no dictatorship in Brazil; with attacks on people of African descent, as recently done by a criminal named Gustavo Gayer; with the stupid assertion that there is no racism in the country; with disrespect for native peoples; with attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community; with misogyny and machismo; with contempt for the environmental and climate issue; with those who insist on criminalizing the peripheries and their residents; with the militiamen and with those who decorated them; with hate speech; with whom he paid and still pays homage to a torturer colonel and a murderous militia captain; with those who do not respect our Latinity; with whom he called Bolivians and Haitians scum and “paraíba” and “pau-de-arara” the northeastern; with whom he denied poverty and hunger; with whom he denied the severity of COVID.

It is impossible that we are not able to explain that the motto “God, homeland and family” has its origins in the integralism of Plinio Salgado and in the fascism of Benito Mussolini, and that it still adds the word “freedom” to the motto, as did Nazism. Could it be that evil is so powerful that we won't be able to tell every "Adolf Eichmann” that the slogan “Brazil above all” is inspired by Adolf Hitler's “Germany above all”?

I have said that our task is to return to politics, not just with a view to the next elections, but seeking to contribute to the endless and necessary civilizing process; we have to speak outside the bubble, without fear of criticism, because, believe me, we are on the right side of history.

These are the reflections.

*Pedro Benedito Maciel Neto He is a lawyer and holds a master's degree in civil procedure from PUC SP. author of Reflections on the study of law (ed. Komedi).


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