Dialectic of (de)alienation

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The important thing is to disalienate the nation and bring it closer to the general interest

The concept of “alienation” is of legal origin, referring to the donation or sale of an asset or property. Over the years, it designated the lack of autonomy of an individual or a collectivity, such as the original peoples of Brazil, from the perspective of Pero Vaz de Caminha in Letter to the King: “The best fruit that it (the discovered land) can take, it seems to me, will be to save these people. And that must be the main seed that Your Highness must sow in it”.

With Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Of the Social Contract (1762), alienation gains a political connotation by indicating the positive surrender “of each one, uniting himself with all, so that he only obeys himself and remains as free as he was before”. Alienation, in this sense, does not remove the autonomy of individuals because “each one, giving himself to all, does not give himself to anyone, and, as there is no associate over whom one does not acquire the same right that was ceded to him, he gains you get the equivalent of everything you lose and greater strength to conserve what you have”.

This is how the “general will” is born. With totalitarian traits for subsuming the particularities in an iron totality, according to the somewhat dramatic interpreters of the “lone hiker”. The Rousseuanian conceptual elaboration shows that the people can be the political channel through which collective consciousness is expressed, along the lines of the French Revolution – the identity card of modernity. Here, the phenomenon results in a movement of disruptive fusion.

Ludwig Feuerbach locates alienation in the transposition of the essence of man into a divine being, in A essence of Christianity (1841). Karl Marx, on the other hand, operates the critique of religion in the space of politics and the State, metaphorically removing the discussion from Heaven and planting its feet on Earth. He speaks of alienation in a way that gives it a cold objectivity. He refers it to the historical process that distanced human beings from nature and, equally, from the products of their activity (goods and capital, social institutions and culture) in the midst of a reification of society. To be “materialist” is to combat alienation in the structures of the real: in private property, in class domination, in exploitation, in the rationalization of labor and, of course, in the fetishism of merchandise.

Oswald de Andrade, in the Anthropophagic Manifesto (1928), advocated the swallowing of the “external other” (American and European culture) and the “internal other” (the culture of Amerindians, Afro-descendants and Euro-descendants), to give birth to an authentic national culture. It is necessary to metabolize influences without denying or imitating them, due to the “mutt complex”. The impetus to disalienation occurs in retaliation against the opponents' force, with the sophisticated technique of cannibals. Anthropophagism influenced / taught Tropicália (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé) to deal with cultural cosmopolitanism. “We were 'eating' The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix”, vented Odara's son when reading the libel. At the time, the left swallowed Eastern European rations without chewing.

Os Economic-philosophical manuscripts (1844), known as manuscripts from paris, published in 1932, certainly helped to spread the theme. “The critique of alienation seems to have acquired a new historical urgency”, noted István Mészáros, in the preface to the third edition of Marx's theory of alienation (1979), three months after release. The word entered serious philosophy and political dictionaries after the middle of the XNUMXth century.



The problem of alienation, nowadays, is thematized as massification, consumerism, anomie. José Saramago uses the allegory of the myth of the cave, updated in the shopping malls, to illustrate the conversion of everyone and everything into merchandise. The modern temples of consumption are not spaces destined to the praxis of citizenship, but showcases reserved for the sovereign consumer. The interesting thing is that the only stores that signal the universe, outside the big cement and glass boxes, are the travel and exchange agencies. Buying and traveling on cruises, with the right to a tasteless show by Roberto Carlos, in this, boils down to the recipe to fill the empty souls of the middle class, which capture in the binomial the pasteurized combination of “good taste” and “good culture”. Worse, they believe in the verve of false advertising.

Postmodernists describe jouissance with alienation in detail, although they do not employ word because of the Hegelian-Marxian stamp it bears. “Plastic surgery is not about removing a scar or achieving an ideal shape denied by nature or fate, but about keeping up with rapidly changing standards, maintaining one's market value and discarding an image that has lost its usefulness or its charm, so that a new public image is put in its place – in a package that includes (hopefully) a new identity and (surely) a new beginning”, writes Zygmunt Bauman, in consuming life (2007). Surgical intervention may save a few years of expensive psychoanalysis sessions; it is likely to increase the extraordinary profits of the anxiolytic pharmaceutical industry.

Our time is characterized by the privatization of the existence of individuals, alienation. Nothing better reflects this trend than the “new reason of the world”, neoliberalism. It is no coincidence that the maximum value of the Bolsonarist movement to liquefy neoconservatism / neoliberalism / neofascism is “individual freedom”, which is not freedom and is not even individual since it is part of the valuation logic typified in the rationality of the American way of life, which amounts to a market mentality to enjoy prestige, power and social status.

It is a principle that has as its background the full extension of the capitalist model of amplification, so that everyone has “free contractual relations”. It is not a value that could be disseminated in colonial-slave society, obviously. The mystification is in making individual freedom what it is not. It is in proclaiming freedom as a trophy for the isolated individual. It lies in eliding solid socio-political references and historical conditioning. The idea that “society does not exist, what exists are individuals and families” (Hayek, Thatcher) is the result of a very particular moment in recent history.

Opposed to the illusory “us” of ambience in capitalism is an “I” taken from the magazine Faces to control the gears of depersonalization, which make work a radicalized form of alienation. Bourgeois pseudo-freedom, far from embodying “freedom in general”, is a prop of the capitalist mode of production. “Egoistic fulfillment is the straitjacket imposed on man by capitalist evolution, and the values ​​of 'individual autonomy' represent its ethical glorification. individualethik it is the sublimated German expression of brute bourgeois selfishness, which prevails as a result of the reification of the social relations of production. Before the capitalist evolution, it was inconceivable to abstract, in the name of the individual's scale of values, from an objective order of nature and society”, underlines the old Lukacsian, Mészáros (op. cit.).

Na Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843), Marx pointed out: "Philosophy cannot be realized without the abolition of the proletariat, and the proletariat cannot be abolished without the realization of philosophy." The decoding of German philosophical abstraction would be the key to overcoming alienation in reality. Us floorplans (1857-8), genesis of the mighty Das Kapital, concluded the reasoning when analyzing the relationship between the individual and the social environment. Then he noted that alienation is only transcended if "individuals reproduce themselves as social individuals".


program axis

Lula da Silva emphasizes the importance of placing the poor in the Union's budget (an anti-neoliberal proposal) and in political activity in instances of participatory democracy to improve representative democracy itself, in an acute crisis. The statesman leader raises the red flag in the “Frente Juntos pelo Brasil” program against the alienation of the people, with inclusive appeals to repair the rosary of injustices punctuated by blood, sweat and revolts – and transform the working classes, from a passive object, into true subject of politics.

Although without displaying the term in question, which would imply questioning the philosophical concept concerning the “kingdom of freedom”, to the detriment of an agenda with guidelines that dialogue directly with the “kingdom of necessity” – this is the programmatic axis of the Party of Workers (PT). The backbone of the fight against social, economic, political, cultural and civilizational domination – the unavoidable exorcism of the astral hell.

The struggle against alienation, which is a fundamental category of historical materialism, draws the line of solidarity of progressive parties and movements around the contemporary world. In Spain, for example, Podemos (Podem, in Catalan) claims the full application of article 128 of the Constitution: “All the country’s wealth in its different forms and whatever its ownership (public or private) is subordinated to the general interest”.

Amid so many demands of undeniable relevance, it reiterates its opposition to a restrictive reform of the abortion law. The important thing is to disalienate the nation and bring it closer to the general interest, on the one hand; on the other hand, to disalienate the woman's body (“my body, my rules”). The original Podemos (from the left) has nothing to do with its meager simulacrum (from the right), in these militia bands. It is the United States that is against the grain of contemporary times, which has just gone back fifty years due to a reactionary decision by the Supreme Court.

Since 2013, violence has grown and spread crimes of racism, feminicide and homophobia across borders in the country, reinforced by the impeachment of the honest president in 2016, and the illegitimate election for the Presidency of the devil's vomit, in 2018. The president, a specialist in pandemic and vaccine denialism, graduated with honors in chloroquine quackery for the treatment of the coronavirus and graduated in genocide, unemployment, famine and environmental devastation. he was the start of the premeditated destruction in areas where the Welfare State was emerging, with citizen participation: education, health, security, environment, culture, infrastructure, science and technology, Latin American integration, consolidation of world multipolarity with the BRICS pact (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and defense of strategic public companies (Petrobrás, Pre-Salt, Eletrobrás, among others).

Brazilians and Brazilians have never been further from the ideal type of Brazilianness than now. The “cordial man” was replaced by the homo demens, capable of soiling with shit the honor once bestowed on a name in universal literature. The emotional letters to “dear Lula”, addressed during his unjust imprisonment in Curitiba, full of moving thanks to the egalitarian policies that leveraged the social mobility of large sections of the population, served as encouragement in crossing the dark period. In the background, shots resound to take the life of PT member Marcelo Arruda, along with indigenous chants of indignation for the “enchanted” martyrs of the fight for the integral preservation of the Amazon, Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips: “Where is my brother / But where is my brother / Where is my brother / But where is my brother”.

* 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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