Letter to a Palestinian friend

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By TADEU VALADARES*

Considerations based on the article by Vladimir Safatle

“Our XNUMXth century was supposed to be better than the others./Now there is no way out,/the years are numbered,/the faltering steps,/the shortness of breath./Too many things have happened,/that were not supposed to happen, /and what was to have been/was not.” (Wislawa Szymborska, sunset of the century).

Dear M.,

Many thanks for sending the short essay by Vladimir Safatle, “Using force against force”. You know, I really like reading Safatle, a thinker I admire. His formulations, always stimulating. The elegance of writing, invariable reading pleasure. With this text, it was also like that.

Don't be surprised, M., but for me Safatle has something of the young Marx, of the law student at the University of Berlin, of the prominent participant, from 1838 onwards, of the Doctors' Club, a small group of left-wing Hegelians. For me, both are driven by the same essential passion. In them we can see passion and philosophy refinedly articulated, dialectically tensioned and, together with them, the search for the means that would allow leaving behind the historical misery generated and maintained by capitalism.

In the case of young Karl, who then, like me today, knew little about classical economics, it was a question of overcoming the German political misery embodied in the reactionary nature of the Prussian State. In the case of the mature Vladimir, it is a question, in my view, of seeking the roots that sustain our misery to better illuminate our current dilemmas, to better understand the present reality, to act effectively in the conjuncture, that is, to act without illusions.

He, fully aware that the misery that oppresses us today is as old as our history; that the present is indelibly marked by the terrible weight of the colonial slave heritage that, updated, is still with us. Because that's how it is, I don't think I'm being unfaithful to Safatle if I tell you, M., that at the limit it could perhaps be said that the structure and dynamics of Brazil's transformations as a legally independent state since 1822 are still with us, however metamorphosed they may be. be.

In other words, what holds us back today is what shaped us in the original slavery, the world built by the Portuguese, the misery that was not effectively left behind. How many changes have occurred since then, how many updates to economic exploitation systems combined with reforms to domination structures. Systems and structures that have been renewed, as written by di Lampedusa, to ensure the essentials remain. History, therefore, as successive renewed forms of the same which, for this reason, is also another. If we think only of Brasil República, perhaps certain years have the ability, together, to point out a row of avatars: 1889, 1922, 1930, 1937, 1945-1946, 1950, 1954, 1964, 1988, 2002, 2013, 2016, 2018 and now.

Let us come, then, with this framework in mind, to the Safatle of “Using force against force”.

The article, M., like everything else I've read by Safatle, is acute to the extreme, a precise critical-clarifying exercise, a brilliant combat text. It works as a powerful warning against dangers that a large part of the Brazilian left is either unaware of or has neglected. It could not, therefore, be more opportune. Even so, or for that very reason, at the end of the reading I understood the essay as a manifestation of highly refined voluntarism, long reflected, something along the lines of “encourage an effort pour être révolutionnaire”. Voluntarism, dear M., which is perhaps the distinguishing mark of the philosopher, political activist, musician, public intellectual and expert polemicist.

The diagnosis he elaborated was fascinating, coherent and mobilizing. The text moves in various registers, from the historical to the social psychological. However, as a weapon that it is, it is centered on the political conjuncture that has been revealed to all of us since at least last October, a period uniquely laden with expectations, dangers and anxieties. The analysis, cutting. Reviews are valuable.

Even so, the two practical proposals, enunciated by the author with a view to ensuring a qualitative change in our precarious situation, seem to me to be more problems than solutions found. The first, the dissolution of the military police, as they were not state police, but an armed faction. The second, to immediately remove the highest commanders of the three Armed Forces, transfer them to the reserve.

“Some may find such propositions unrealistic,” says Safatle. I agree with him and see myself as part of the 'few'. Both propositions or proposals, if read in a realistic light – you will see that they are too narrow and conventional (is it?) given the urgencies of the moment – ​​seem to me to be divorced from the game of forces that will characterize, perhaps, the entire third term of Lula as president. This, despite the Bolsonarist ebb that we have been seeing and appreciating in recent days, the demonstrations of the last January 11 having been negligible.

I know that some may think that I am oversimplifying, that I am speculating without a secure basis. But I think that since Lula's victory in the first round, a somewhat frustrating victory, we started to enter a, come on, realtà effectuale something different. The insufficient impulse, generated in the first round, in the second became a victory on the razor's edge, at the same time minimal and gigantic. Our spirit, energized to such an extent that it transformed the first of January into an exciting, popular-democratic catharsis. The party was so big that, for many, it acted as a factory of illusions. He manufactured the idea that the problems were overcome, that the country was returning to normality – whatever that means –, that the history of our failures, which dates back to June 2013, at the latest, had been definitively corrected. Or almost.

The 8th, the day of infamy, a lesson in abysmal reality for all Brazilian Soderini and Candide, ever and ever. Peak, until now, of the neo-fascist barbarism that has been strengthened over the last nine years and, worse, proof that this barbarism, having laid deep roots in the people's field, will be difficult to extirpate. Difficult because, we all know, the roots go far beyond its Bolsonarist element. They are much more than riot police. They are crops that have gathered many seeds, they are the result of an operation of classes and fractions that have the power to affect the entire social body.

M. darling, v. you know, I'm just a reader who, fighting age, tries to be attentive. I am not a social scientist, nor a historian, much less a philosopher. I may, therefore, be completely mistaken in my “feeling of the world” which refers, very directly, to a certain conception of history. But I believe that the two propositions of a practical-superior character, formulated by Safatle, leave realism at a distance, yes, in favor of what Jean Paul Dollé called “le desir de revolution".

Hence, both propositions cannot be adopted by the only actor capable of assuming these gestures, President Lula. I dare to say that they will not be adopted now, at the beginning of the government, despite the fact that the chief executive is at the height of his power, even as a result of January 8th and the reactions of civil society, the other two constitutional powers, the governors of the 26 states and the interim governor of the Federal District, not to mention the mainstream media…

Impossible, too, to adopt them later, I believe, because the apex is an apex precisely because it is transitory. What lies ahead, with the government of Lula and Geraldo Alckmin resulting from the construction of a very broad front, cannot fail to be a process of relative wear and tear on the executive, whose greater or lesser intensity we will follow over the course of four years, unless there is an unlikely success. government close to the absolute, which is not on the cards in our deck.

M. I don't want to confuse you: both proposals are correct, seen from a logical point of view. But to me they seem too abstract because they lack the mediations that would ensure their transposition from the propositional intellectual plane to the sphere of practical action. This gap, if it is not my fiction, if it actually exists, is what in my view makes it impossible, in the short term of days or weeks, and even more so in the constitutional duration of the government, its adoption by Lula-Alckmin.

For them to be implemented immediately, as suggested, I understand, by Safatle, or even much later, the climate and expectations created since the beginning of the electoral campaign, reinforced on January XNUMXst, would have to be totally different. Others, too, our legal-constitutional margin of action, our strength in political-partisan terms, our ideological influence in the world of work, in civil society and within the state as an apparatus of direction, transformation and coercion. Equally others, our capacity for permanent social mobilization and for this way to exercise what escapes us, the hegemony both party-political, union and student, to stay only in what we could formally consider vanguard forces of the left.

If that were the situation – which it is not – then yes, there would be a way to go beyond the most demanding theoretical-political-critical register, transforming it into revolutionary-democratic practice. This same record is what ultimately risks being depleted, instead of gaining strength, if it distances itself too much from current popular demands, largely or mostly made explicit throughout the past electoral campaign. The theory, of which the more organic the intellectuals are the more they know, can be full or seen as such. But the ability to transmute it into practice(s) may prove to be insufficient in every situation, and even over longer periods of time. Sure, sometimes 10 days shakes the world. But only sometimes.

This distance between intention and gesture, and all the risks arising from it, also feeds into an unavoidable fact: what we live with the victory of Lula-Alckmin by a small margin is the careful reassembly, exhaustively negotiated "with the top”, of a classical social democratic project; project that draws on various European and American references/experiences (north, center and south…) of building welfare states. All of them, by the way, facing greater or lesser difficulties, strong signs of possible exhaustion, surmountable or not, of the model that came from post-World War II Europe and is incarnated today, quite weakened, in all its main variants , whether they are European or not.

But don't forget: this relaunch 'updated' of a reformist process criminally attacked six years ago has great ballast, the accumulation of successes and mistakes produced by 14 years of PT governments. In this context, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that such an effort, which is ideologically proclaimed to be civilizing, is being carried out very well by Lula. Even more: whether we like it or not, it is this renewed attempt at capitalist modernization in a large peripheral country, legitimized, in rhetoric and in reality, by so many progressive policies of redistributive social justice, which will essentially be at stake until the end of 2026. , not necessarily positive.

In other words, the results achieved in the previous PT cycle are being carefully reexamined, transformed, Hegelianly preserved. Proponents of this unique repeal tropical naturally don't want to be just a government. They want to be the beginning of a new cycle. They want more: in the orbit of maximalist ambitions, they don't want to be a government or a cycle, but a spiral that, when unfolding for a long time, ends up taking us to the 'world of the developed'.

The Young Marx would certainly ask himself: what is the point of this? Safatle, I imagine, too. I certainly. In any case, in the immediate practical sphere, the future, whether measured in four years or more, will depend on the performance of the “broad front” government, itself overloaded with seeds of dissent and conflicts that are already beginning to appear. Is anyone surprised?

What's more, friend M., the neo-fascist danger will not fade away, the tipping point has not even been reached by far. The tipping point, if it ever comes, will only be so far in the future that it is out of reach for those of my generation. Brazilian neo-fascism is a battleship that will follow its fanatical defeat until the total shipwreck that, I have faith, I, unbeliever, will not be limited to the naval sense of the term.

This project of taking power, of destroying every type of democracy, of transforming a people under construction into masses of post-modern slave slaves, will continue to be, with the minimum indispensable adjustments, what it has been since its origins in integralism. : wretched, strong, wild, howling, massive, deadly dangerous project. I am certain that in the short term, once the period of internal settling of accounts among the mafia bosses is over, and after the relative retreat to which their leaders and militants will undergo as a result of the chain of recent failures, Bolsonaristas and their allies will try to return to to the Plateau'by force or by force'. I adapt the Chilean motto, so much more direct than ours, partially 'Comteano'.

On the other hand, all of us who are neither cattle nor ostriches realize how problematic our situation will be both domestically and internationally.

At the international level, Brazil has not only South America as its surrounding reality, but the world in general terms. Brazilian misery, fully denounced by Safatle, intertwines with the real course of the world, so valued by Hegel. Real course and real world, not so Hegel like that, are our circumstances.

We have been living for more than four decades, we were four billion in 1980 and today we are more than eight, long period of general crisis. Long-lasting history characterized by a geopolitical crisis, accentuated from the dissolution of the USSR and the attack on the towers in New York; geoeconomic crisis, marked since at least 2007/2008 by successive “crashes' neoliberals; transitional crisis, given the Chinese rise, from one type of hegemonic actor to another in an international order that is also in crisis; crisis of transformation of the international system; restructuring crisis of global capitalism that affects both what Russians call the 'collective West' and the Eurasia of Putin, Xi and Modi. An environmental crisis, the catastrophic point of no return approaching, becoming potentially achievable later this century.

We, Brazil, exploring paths in this wild jungle, hoping they don't disappear into the heart of the forest. We, knowing that by our own weight, and by what we represent for South America and even for Central America and Mexico, we are able to formulate and exercise a (relatively) autonomous foreign policy, even if less assertive, perhaps, than the than that of the previous PT cycle. Circumstances are different...

The “new Cold War”, an ambiguous process that began to take shape more clearly since 2014, promises to subject countries like ours to a crucial test: we must know how to resist pressures'all-round', both multilaterally and bilaterally, both at the Latin American and global regional levels. The most dangerous of them, without a doubt and in all plans, the multifaceted pressure that will come from Washington, whether or not the Democrats remain at the head of the executive, two more years. It is essential that we be ourselves, but without losing the widely understood opportunities for trade, investment and cooperation, those that prove to be clearly beneficial to us. 'Easier said than done'.

So many crises finally make up one, M., friend. Its complex dynamics points to the expansion of a more or less coherent structure, more and more unbalanced, each time more challenging. Structure of which elements subject to their own forms and rhythms are part. Structure that is charade. Always surprising “elementary” dynamics.

What seems clear: the conflictual dimension of the international system tends to brutally prevail over the cooperative. A strong illustration of this trend is the war in Ukraine, its existential dimension for both Ukraine and Russia. And the most worrying consequences for all of us, the month by month increased risks of general European war in which the use of conventional weapons could prove insufficient, which would open the window for the use of nuclear, tactical or strategic weaponry.

Such is the state of the world. Such is the state of our country. Such is the state of affairs, the first quarter of the century has not yet concluded. Szymborska…

Warm regards, M.

*Tadeu Valadares he is a retired ambassador.

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