death a nation

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death a nation

By JORGE LUIZ SOUTO MAIOR*

I see, with great sadness, people walking towards death and don't ask me if I'm in favor of this movement or not, because, in fact, I feel guilty for it!

After decades of construction of so many wonderful works, in different areas of knowledge and the arts, which broadened the horizon of the human condition and left us with enormous motives and feelings that make us believe even more in life and in ourselves, we find ourselves facing dilemmas that simply make a tabula rasa of all these advances.

They put us in the situation of answering questions that could not be asked for a long time.

Regarding these questions, the necessary reflection, more than the answers themselves, is to question why, after all, we were sent, so abruptly, to the past, disregarding all the learning that had already been obtained.

That humanity takes short steps and so often with little will was already known. But going back so quickly and intensely is surprising, even knowing that destroying is always much easier than building.

I am not interested, in this reflection, in accusing, although those who are guilty or responsible certainly exist and are not few, but rather explain that not questioning the questions that have been asked of us is a very serious way of normalizing the setback, making it seem that the answers obvious are some kind of advance when, in fact, they are nothing but minimization of implicitly assumed defeats.

Incidentally, it is not new that we have seen accumulating setbacks under the fallacious argument of the lesser evil, which imposed on us agreement with inhumane solutions, treated, however, as the least worst among the options presented.

Let's see, for example, what is happening in Brazil, where, due to a huge succession of historical errors, people are faced with the need to take to the streets (in crowds), at the moment of greatest severity of the pandemic, exposing themselves ( and to so many other people) at serious risk to life, for the defense of important values, but which should be guaranteed by the instituted powers and the people who integrate them by the work of the popular will.

Called by workers and workers, organized supporters and black and popular movements, the media, seeking to co-opt the movement for their particular interests, have spread that what takes these people to the streets is a supposed “defense of democracy”, when, in fact, what drives them is exactly the dysfunctionality of democratic institutions in enforcing the constitutionally formulated commitments with freedoms, fundamental rights, equality and social justice through the effective distribution of collectively produced wealth.

This is not, therefore, an act for democracy, but a demonstration against a given form of democracy. It is not, moreover, just a matter of desperation or a heroic act, but of politically engaged action, also moved by indignation and solidarity, taking as a starting point the fact that, after all, for a huge portion of the population, the care of social isolation does not was made possible, and, thus, accuse the ills and wounds of our society and explicitly refuse the authoritarian advances that the successive and widespread breaches of the constitutional pact led us to.

When someone asks me if I am for or against people taking to the streets during the pandemic to defend democracy, the only thing I can think of is how people who occupy positions in institutional structures, exercising a portion of the power that had been granted to them by the population, were so incapable of fulfilling their functional duties that they even created this life-and-death dilemma for millions of Brazilian men and women.

Thus, what comes out as a lesson from the warning of a movement carried out with an assumed risk to life, but which is still less than the one to which millions of workers who continue to go to work in crowded public transport and carrying out their care activities to the public or patients without due protections and even with a reduction in wages and greater insecurity regarding the very preservation of employment, it cannot be the mere defense of democracy, but the urgent need to rebuild the nation, which, evidently, is in state of decay. It is extremely inhumane to use the cry of the afflicted to legitimize the historical paths that produced and consolidated the process of exclusion and exploitation based on racism and sexism, among other forms of discrimination and segregation.

It is essential to understand, moreover, that this was not conceived now, as the work of a President and a government. For decades, the constitutional pact was disregarded and political agents, economic power and a considerable part of society became involved in a logic of destruction and devaluation of democratic institutions and guarantors of fundamental and social rights. The suffering of millions of people resulting from this action was disregarded and made invisible.

In the midst of all this, we were, all of us, able to produce rationalities that justify the unjustifiable. We were involved in a fleeting logic of reality, always looking for rhetorical formulas to defend undisclosed interests and attack people (and even legal institutes) that could present themselves as obstacles.

In the path of this total loss of ethical reference, we were successively placed before false dilemmas, always leaving with the need to defend what is known to be indefensible, but which could not be accepted as such, since any other option was off the menu.

It was thus, for example, that, in June 2013, a large part of the left-wing intelligentsia in the country advocated the removal of young people from the streets because, stating that the mobilizations could generate instability in the government, regardless of the discussion whether the social policies adopted by the government were, in fact, relevant to a State project within left-wing conceptions. The PT governments, admittedly, fulfilled neoliberal agendas, but which, not being so radically profound, should be defended and never openly criticized. But from so much critical abstention, it lost reference, taking with it its own ability to solve the situation.

Today, without this reference, when we are all mired in excesses of all kinds, part of the left, while criticizing the government for trying to weaken the public health policy of social isolation, worrying about creating a positive version of the past , expresses itself in favor of the youth taking to the streets, but with the narrow objective of attacking the current government, leaving out the necessary perception that what is there is the result of the absence of State policies, with the strengthening of institutions, observed over the last few decades.

In other words, years ago they didn't want the youth to explain the mistakes of the political paths that the then government was adopting, and now they want the youth in the streets to maintain, without reflection, those same mistakes, in order to even produce a narrative of how good those times were.

No, they weren't! They weren't! And much of the responsibility for getting to where we are is due to the moment when democracy was transformed into formalized adjustments, in four walls, within the scope of bureaucratic structures.

Allied to this, one cannot fail to mention the Judiciary, which, for decades, has stifled democratic manifestations, such as the right to strike, student mobilizations, social movements for land, housing and social rights, among others, just as they have also reduced the effectiveness of various constitutionally guaranteed social and labor rights.

The fact is that, over the last few decades, we have not been capable of conceiving a serious, viable, honest and intelligent project for a nation, truly committed to social justice and the elevation of the human condition and, now, before speeches, expressed in the form of escracho, who treat democratic institutions and the preservation of life with mockery and mockery, which even make us clear to what point can be reached with the repeated non-compliance with the commitment to the effectiveness of constitutional precepts and Human and Fundamental Rights, in the we are faced with the even embarrassing situation of having to position ourselves, in a binary way, whether we are in favor or not of people who have been placed in a situation of extreme need and in relation to which they have not even been conferred the minimum economic conditions to comply with social isolation, put their lives at risk to save us, or, more properly, to defend a democracy that never worked from the inclusive perspective of these same people.

There are many who, without any critical assessment of the historical construction and the very democratic life of our country, consider that they fulfill their progressive militancy by making notes in support of “movements for democracy”. However, they end up putting themselves on the same level of rhetorical abstraction and irresponsibility as those they oppose, favoring murder.

If things continue like this, with irrationalities and opportunism coming from all sides, without the production of conscience and knowledge seriously committed to historical reality, soon they will want to see us forced to march to war along with thousands of people who think that normal, as in the famous image of the film by Milos Forman, Hair, that you can review here.

I see, with great sadness, people walking towards death and don't ask me if I'm in favor of this movement or not, because, in fact, I feel guilty for it!

In any case, there is always the hope that in the face of the act of sacrifice manifested by so many people, making visible the suffering to which so many others were subjected daily for decades in our country, we can learn something and we can finally see a nation born.

*Jorge Souto Maior is a professor of labor law at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among other books, of Moral damage in employment relationships (publishers studio).

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