The need and urgency of a People's Court

Marcelo Guimarães Lima, Fardo, 2020


In a time of global crisis, what the reiteration of a transnational project with a decidedly authoritarian and bellicose nature teaches us is the need for various initiatives in the popular field

We are at the beginning of 2024. Jair Bolsonaro, responsible for countless crimes reported during his term, still frequents the pages and screens of the media, gathers supporters, visits his neoliberal extremist colleague in Argentina, etc. It is possible then to say that, free and at large, the former president and professional politician has, until now, enjoyed a “virtual amnesty”, an amnesty not proclaimed, but no less effective.

Just as his closest accomplices are free and free at this moment, including his immediate family, assistants, supporters, as well as sponsors, financiers, the military leadership that supported the 2016 coup and supported the election and misrule of the Captain of Chaos, journalists and parajournalists, the families of communication monopolies, opportunists of various kinds and many other partners, beneficiaries, sheltered and diners of power during Jair Bolsonaro's mandate. In this sense, the ineligibility imposed on him by the STF takes on the appearance of a merely symbolic punishment for the leader of the Brazilian extreme right and, in fact, a circumventable punishment.

Observing that slowness is something consubstantial with justice due to procedures and safeguards is to forget the speed with which Lula was indicted and arrested in 2018 with the support of the same characters in the STF, in justice, in the media, today publicly proclaimed and acclaimed as fearless defenders of democracy and the rule of law which, as everyone knows or should know, is the same, or should be, for all citizens, even with the evident differences in speed that we observe here.

Talking about “crimes of the Jair Bolsonaro government” is in fact essentially characterizing a government that was only possible in the wake of the 2016 coup against Dilma Rousseff, against the PT and, finally, against the Brazilian people. Jair Bolsonaro's ascension to the position of president was the result of criminal actions in relation to the country's legal system, promoted within State institutions in collusion with private sectors and in direct confrontation with the will of the majority that elected Dilma Rousseff in 2014 against all political, legal and media pressures driven by various segments of the ruling class.

These segments updated, in the 21st century, the century-old history of coups against the always unstable republican order, which itself began with what many historians characterize as a military coup in the proclamation of the republic at the end of the 19th century, and the constitutive fragility of the so-called democratic order in a country where the power of the oligarchies has as its primary purpose and “imposed clause” to ensure, in any and all imperative processes of change, the maintenance as such of class divisions in society against everything and everyone who can in any way, expressly or not, and even minimally, change the conditions of concentration power in the country.

If, as an origin and in its consequences, Jair Bolsonaro's government was strictly criminal, a fact also attested in the numerous legal proceedings underway against the former president's actions and omissions during his term, it was above all during the pandemic that it reached a superlative level of irresponsibility, negligence and criminality with the staggering result of more than 700 thousand deaths in the country, many of which could have been avoided by rational, balanced, disinterested guidance and management of the health, economic, administrative challenges, etc., in the period.

Those who cannot or cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, said the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana at the beginning of the 20th century. Inability that, among us, can be thought of as a kind of program of active impediment, that is, beyond our real or imaginary inclinations and individual or collective faculties, as a power project of dominant groups, as a program of obstruction and imposition of meanings through which the past presents itself, through the rhetoric of traditions, so-called cordial sociability and national history, as a reiteration of the power structures of the present and has the role of sanctioning the status quo.

Human time is made of memories and anticipations, the present experience puts the past into perspective for the reflection of time in time. We suffer from time to the extent of our awareness of the finiteness that constitutes the human condition. On the other hand, human time is equally and essentially a time of creation, of immanent production and emergence of new realities and new meanings, conscious creation when it is done as an autonomous creation, that which occurs as an affirmation of the values ​​of freedom and freedom. human solidarity.

Human action is an act in time that implies reflection and choices, with the necessary decisions today preparing and anticipating future actions and decisions, relating retrospection, the memory of the path taken, and prospecting for possible futures, and implies in a way Imagination is fundamental as a capacity and activity to unveil the current dimensions of the present.

Thus, the future is designed based on the present experience, but as a possibility, unlike the past, the time of completed actions and meanings. And yet, the past is equally a possibility from the perspective of active legacies and the present construction of collective meanings.

Reflecting on the past is knowing the past and present in their specificities, in the dimensions of time where continuities and ruptures intersect, multiple, dynamic, mirrored and refracted among themselves. It is knowing what made us a necessity and, from there, what makes us choices and what we can do today to enter the future as a dimension conducive to practical and symbolic renewal of reality.

Historical memory is a field of battles in which diverse and conflicting meanings are confronted, where decisions are made, in the selective clashes between remembering and forgetting, about the meanings and values ​​that inform who we are and what we can and want to be.

One of the faces of the historical experience of modern Brazil has been that of interrupted transitions, incomplete changes, initiatives to constantly postpone crucial decisions, a kind of compulsion to cyclically repeat some advances and many setbacks in the de facto democratization of society, having as a result a recurrent state of generalized irresolution that, in different aspects and in different contexts, negatively affects the self-awareness of Brazilians.

Against the impunity of agents, servants, beneficiaries of the prolonged authoritarian (dis)order that has characterized the country's history as a kind of perennial obstacle to popular sovereignty, against the degradation of civic language, producing the shuffling of meanings and values, against that which Florestan Fernandes characterized as “conciliation of elites” in the transition from military dictatorship to protected democracy in the mid-80s of the last century, that is, against the ever-renewed conservative pact, the project of the Popular Court to Judge the Crimes of Bolsonaro in the Pandemic, organized by the Amnesty Never Again Collective Manifesto.

In addition to its “topical” statement and objective, urgent and current, the People's Court is an important initiative of greater scope, an instrument of reflection on what Brazil did and does as it “is” today, that is, as it has been due to the imposition of the dominant classes on fundamental issues of power relations between the so-called “elites” and the popular classes, their initiatives and their representatives in the modern history of the nation.

In a time of global crisis, what the reiteration of a transnational project of a decidedly authoritarian, bellicose, oppressive nature, with fascist guises, as support for neoliberalism in crisis, teaches us is the need for various initiatives in the popular field. The People's Court contributes, in its specific dimension, to clarifying the situation, awakening and strengthening awareness of the current challenges for Brazilian society. The People's Court contributes to strengthening the historical imagination of the present, against the symbolic misery typical of the time and the quietism imposed on consciences. In this sense, it transcends particular and conjunctural meanings or dimensions and adds to the initiatives necessary to overcome the practical and ideological impasses of our present.

*Marcelo Guimaraes Lima is an artist, researcher, writer and teacher.

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