Paths of consciousness

Image: Richard Bell


The paths of consciousness point to multiple combinations between class struggle, nationalism and internationalism

The reactionary essence of impeachment Dilma Rousseff's misogynistic approach lies in the re-updating of the values ​​of colonial slavery (New Fiscal Regime with Public Spending Cap, 2016; Labor and Social Security Reform, 2017; Outsourcing Law, 2017; Autonomy of the Central Bank, 2021). Wage cuts, precarious work, deindustrialization, denialism, cuts in scientific research, starving public universities, dismantling of social policies, discredit of the institutions of the democratic rule of law completed the package of the neocolonialist coup.

The metaphor of Gilberto Freyre's magnum opus, “big house” and “slave quarters”, perfectly linked social relations in the almost 350 years of slavery, of sad memory, which factional historiography intended to slow down as it did in bloody episodes. In the meantime, privileges went hand in hand with an abstraction of rights – of life, property and freedom – for the enslaved. The perverse enjoyment of the objectification of human beings persisted until the end of the Roman Empire, where slaves in gladiatorial costumes mutilated and killed themselves to entertain the audience and the emperor, in the Coliseum.

The abolition of slavery in Brazil does not change the situation in depth. There was a lack of compensation for generations of labor activities, under shackles, and an agrarian reform to absorb the freed people into cultivating the land, in accordance with the vocation of the creatures torn from mother Africa. Without preparation for urban tasks and suffering competition from European ethnic groups, who had official prebends aimed at whitening, Afro-descendants were left out of the incipient production circuit. The saga of peripheral communities began. The peripheral people did not participate in the concept of nation and were accused of “vagrancy”. In Rio de Janeiro, they settled on the hills.

Offended and humiliated, they were excluded from the ongoing political process. The worldview of the elites was verbalized by Ruy Barbosa – slaves, beggars and illiterates should not have the right to vote, as they lack education and do not discern the common good. Exception regimes continue in an attempt to make the “bloc of dirty people” invisible. The proclaimed mestizo virtues and the so-called racial democracy did not lead to national unity. João Ubaldo Ribeiro, in Long live the Brazilian people, describes in a crude way the origin of miscegenation in the country – the rape of black and indigenous women by white landowners.

Nightmare back

Patriotism, transformed into a nationalist emotion, welded the loyalty of subalterns to the State via language, popular traditions and folklorization (joyful, sensual, musical) of race – a recurring concept in XNUMXth century sociology, like that of social class in the XNUMXth century. Brazilianness, in this case, served as a redemptive shortcut for raising the consciousness of the excluded to a Brazilian consciousness – the suffix “eiro” is only appropriate for occupations, such as shoemaking, hence the word “Brazilian” has no translation in English or French. The dream of consumption was limited to economic inclusion.

The historical phases since then have been nuanced by culture, customs and everyday beliefs: Old Republic (1889-1930); Provisional and Constitutional Government of Getúlio Vargas (1930-1937); Estado Novo (1937-1945); Fourth Republic (1945-1964); Civil-Military Dictatorship (1964-1985); New Republic, in the expression of Tancredo Neves (1985-2016); State of Exception (2016-2022); Brazil Union and Reconstruction (2022-…), under the designation of Lula da Silva. Public freedoms were up or down over that time. In the slavery nightmare between 1550-1888, freedom was not even a criterion for sociopolitical measurement, in the domination/subordination pendulum.

With refinements of cruelty and naughtiness, Bolsonarism reaffirmed the arbitrariness of the beginnings. It borrowed the hypocrisy of the “elites”. Unconditional oaths to individual freedom, a predicate of the strong, undermined the Constitution to favor those who had to step on in the social hierarchy, the police officer who unmotivatedly searches the young man or the ruffian who charges the prostitute. The impunity of the old mister it extended to the sem-engenes, during the militia period of the Palácio do Planalto. Statistics of massacres by the “dangerous classes”, crimes of racism, feminicide and homophobia have increased. The small and sadistic would-be dictators were empowered and open was the hunting season and cowardly persecution of the resentful of the usual vulnerable – poor, black, women and men. Gay Boys.

Hijacked by the Bolsonarists on social media, nationalism lost its aura of universality despite maintaining a lofty capacity for agglutination, in the face of the struggle of classes with an egalitarian and libertarian orientation. It also lost its content, poorly compensated for by the rhetorical use of national symbols, to obscure the surrender of solid companies and cater to privatist ideas. “Our flag will never be red.” Yellow signaled a creeping supraclassist politicization. For the parallel mentality, those alienated at the time were the opponents. “Why don’t you go to Cuba?”

Stage to shine

For Marilena Chaui, in Brazil: founding myth and authoritarian society: “The explanation lies in the nature of the modern State as a space for political feelings and political practices in which the citizen's political consciousness is formed in relation to the nation and civics. Nothing expresses this situation better than the nationalism of the left in the years 1950-1960, with the names of national-developmentalism, first, and national-popular, later”. Work embodied totality.

The dialectic of critical awareness had the door of class struggle blocked and nationalism snatched by the extreme right as early as 1964. The institutional and extra-institutional revival of the opposition was forged by authentic trade unionism, Liberation Theology and the Workers' Party (PT, 1980) by inflecting the fundamental conflict, “pawn does not vote for boss”. The eighties saw colossal mobilizations, recorded in the biography of the awakened giant. Its emblem (the Unified Health System / SUS) was approved in the Constituent Assembly, thanks to the mobilizations.

The 1989s changed the scenario with the hegemony of neoliberalism, on the one hand, and, on the other, the experience of Participatory Budgeting (OP), in Porto Alegre, under PT administrations (2005-1998). Even under the siege of the governors of Fernando Collor de Melo and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the City Hall of the capital of Rio Grande do Sul accumulated awards in transport, health and the environment, and was elected the number one metropolis in quality of life at the United Nations (UN). , in Brazil. In 2001, it was recognized by the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Living Condition Index (ICV), which measure longevity, income, education, childhood and housing; titles repeated in 2003 and XNUMX, at the UN. Located among the forty municipalities with the best management practices on the globe, the city hosted the World Social Forum (WSF) at the suggestion of the team of journalists from the The Diplomatic World, accepted by leaders from the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

The Participatory Budget was aligned with the nationalist perspective, with a local reach. His achievements focused on a category of unification, the improvement of individual and collective life in the city. President Lula da Silva's Participatory Multi-Year Plan (PPA) seeks well-being in the general conjunction. Both initiatives highlight the supreme value of belonging to entities of a conceptual scope that transcends social classes, stricto sensu. They show the importance and extraordinary centripetal force exerted by the guiding idea of ​​civilization. The class struggle does not evaporate. It manifests itself in different guises, while generic and progressive protagonists take the stage to shine.

Strategic triad

Made the revolutionary of Bertolt Brecht's poem, participants in the assemblies (now yes) learn to ask property, “where do you come from?” and ask opinions, “who do you serve?” Mechanisms of social deliberation interfere in the political sphere to rehearse a convergence between the nationalist and classist poles, in addition to contributing to the political-intellectual formation of a large vanguard contingent, in the working classes. Ordinary citizens look directly at the functioning of the Medusa-State, without fear of being transfigured into stone or tortured and disappeared, as in previous eras. Deliberative action converts social fighters into political subjects, with organization and program. The bureaucratic apparatus has its staff dissected.

It is difficult to assess what will prevail in the future – national or class dynamics. In 1943, the dissolution of the Communist International (Comintern) decreed the end of the international revolution. At the moment, however, other intervening variables come into play. Social inequalities, the threat to democracy and the climate crisis have re-internationalized the discussion about overcoming capitalism, controlled by the greed of finance. Serial catastrophes are announced and fall upon humanity. There is a rush in the steps of emancipation to overcome the political apathy of the crowds.

It is wrong to ignore national issues. When reading in the still current Communist Manifesto 1848 that workers had no homeland, leaders often concluded that the task was to recover their place in the national framework. One hundred years later, in a Manifesto to the Nation (1945), affirming blackness, Abdias Nascimento claimed dictates of “national conscience” so that the 1946 Constitution admitted a composite of three races in the people: black, indigenous and white. “Let each one be a soldier against the decadence of our customs, against ignorance and prejudices, which many want to deny, in the war for the identity of a destiny that merges with that of our own nationality”.

The oppressed and exploited desire recognition with traits that are not folklorized, artificially, or ideologically eclipsed. The paths of consciousness point to multiple combinations between class struggle, nationalism and internationalism. Such dimensions have concreteness. In literature, “life as it is” features urban and suburban tragicomedies, reported by the talent of the chronicler. In political realism, the actual effect of things challenges counter-hegemony to condense the triad of plural struggles into a superior synthesis: socialist and democratic utopia. This is the challenge of parties and movements – environmentalist, anti-racist, LGBTQIA+ and feminist. The dynamo is in the resilience, lucidity and companionship of those transformative people. Nalu, present.

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

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