Assange, Snowden, Delgatti

Dora Longo Bahia, Liberdade (project for Avenida Paulista II), 2020 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper 29.7 x 21 cm


In defense of international freedom of expression, democracy against imperialist surveillance and against the illegalities of Operation Lava Jato

In antiquity, at the stage of development of the Athenian and Roman republics, people identified themselves with reference to a family, tribe or city. “The we-identity carried much more weight than it does today on the we-me scale”, stresses Norbert Elias, in The society of individuals (Zahar). Nowadays, the association with a sphere external to the “I” is only seen in TV soap operas, to highlight the family background of the characters, by surname. Poor people have fun nicknames, which indicates a self helpless. The fact is that the “I-identity” is the face of our time.

Some authors consider individualism the paradigm of Western civilization; others, a modern ideological configuration. Where one expected to reach an intellectual agreement, the incredible polysemic variation persists, ranging from a lack of empathy to a courageous heroism. Indeed, the term individualism covers the most heterogeneous notions imaginable.

Individualism rests on the conviction that humanity is made up not of social groups (nations, races, classes, groups), but of individuals who do not allow themselves to be imprisoned in a holism (from the Greek, holos / totality). Self-determination is at the origin of the concept of individual freedom. Synonymous with an egoic will capable of outlining objectives that overcome any coercive order, to forcefully impose the singularity of unique entities, owners of their actions and inactions – for evil, good or isolation.

Em Crime and punishment, by Dostoevsky, the young character of the novel symbolizes the path to evil when he murders an old moneylender and her sister, to steal their savings, judging himself worthy of pecuniary money to finance vain pretensions of social ascension. NoThe diary, by Anne Frank, in a borderline situation, the journey towards good is made by rescuing the memory that leads the protagonist back to the feeling of existing, breaking the veil of life denied in Nazism.

In both cases, adverse contexts hindered personal aspirations. Already in The foreignerby Albert Camus, without the corresponding emotions of rage or remorse, a lone man whose favorite phrase is “Whatever” kills someone, for nothing, as “the sky opened wide and rained fire,” on the way to the isolation that distances him. of the we-relationship.

The birth certificate of individual freedom was registered by René Descartes, in the Discourse on method (1637), when concluding that the only certainty of existence (I cogito, ergo sum / I think, therefore I am) in the world is the I: “My thought is I”. It goes for the student Raskolnikov, the Jewish girl Anne or the civil servant Meursault. Individual freedom guarantees the right to property, the market economy, religious belief, sexual orientation, artistic creation and free opinion. The DNA is in the mindset and values ​​of early Christians.

In the Renaissance, it took steps towards itself. In the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, it appeared as an experience and analytical category by establishing the individual in the form of a separate subject, with the right to a body, converted into the revolutionary democratic-liberal matrix. Beginning of the new era.


Heroes of the Democratic Struggle

According to Alain Laurent, in Histoire de l'individualism (PUF): “Individualist practices are expressed under a sociological, political, economic and also religious, ethical, and even epistemological and philosophical bias. Surely, the individualistic configuration can embody all imaginable fields of human activity. On the ideological-political level, the primacy of individual freedom is shown in anarchist, democratic, aristocratic, liberal and conservative versions”. That, remember, encouraged the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) – the charter of founding principles of modernity. Hence the widespread presence in the spectrum of interventions. Individualism spread in the formation of the innovative cosmovision.

In extreme (solipsistic) formulations, individualism is opposed to “community” in which individuals are bound together by common perspectives, on the one hand; on the other, to “society” forged by legal rules decided by majority. The pandemic brought to light episodes in contradiction, whether in socializing communitarian that subsumes individuals in an intricate organic network, whether in societal interaction that spontaneously fits individuals into criteria for building the community – such as the use of sanitary masks to protect oneself and others from viral contagion or the recommendation to avoid crowds . Denialists ignored the restrictions. In some countries, stimulated by the genocidal and perverse necropolitics of the rulers.

How to reconcile a conflicting myriad of individual freedoms, if not by imposing universal rules, without making a clean slate of the sacred conquest?

Social interaction created the need for harmonization of manifestations of freedom. Organicist communities eliminate the autonomy to make personal choices. See the oppression of women in Afghanistan, where Taliban totalitarianism severely represses any empowerment of the female gender, along western lines. Contractual societies tend to preserve the autonomy of individuals, despite the resistance of reactionary segments. The themes of abortion, homophobia and ecology are illustrative of the misunderstandings.

the Latin word individual began to refer exclusively to human beings in recent times, although the phenomenon encompasses a long-lasting wave for civilization. This is not an ideology that can be changed like a flat tire on a car. In the former USSR, under the repressive heel that prohibited the practice of Psychoanalysis, accused of being “petty-bourgeois”, gravitational statolatry and forced collectivism did not succeed in pulling out of the citizen conscience the individualist roots, planted two thousand years ago. The caravan goes by, the dogs bark. Discounting the malaise caused by excesses, the balance is positive on the scale of history. It is sheer naivety to reduce the multifaceted cognition of individualism to an antisocial selfishness.

The suffix “ism” blurs the perception of the moral greatness of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Walter Delgatti in defense of international freedom of expression, democracy against imperialist surveillance and against the illegalities of Operation Lava Jato which, anchored in the lawfare, contributed to defrauding the 2018 elections. silly, the Greeks cursed apolitical individuals without active participation in the public affairs of the state. Assange / Snowden / Delgatti are heroes of two eras, the ancient and the modern, for daring to fly the banner of democratic principles and confront the powerful. It is necessary to praise the struggle for emancipation in the republican dynamics of individuation in favor of the truth.

Freedom is the sign of post-capitalist utopia: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”. In this definition of socialist humanism, it is important to emphasize the sovereignty of the individual, even though collective liberation depends on the mobilization of classes and the “new prince” (incarnated in a Popular Front), for the production of an individual that goes beyond the limitations of dark narcissism . Perhaps, at a later stage, “a more stable balance in the we-me balance will prevail”, projects Elias.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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