Between hunger and the virus

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By TARSUS GENUS*

The option between death and death is barbarism's option and it is winning

I'm close by, on a lonely street, where two old men are certainly talking about the difficulties of the art of surviving. They are two men with white hair, simply dressed, in front of a small, old house. It is a neighborhood of poor people, where enjoying the scarce morning wind – of the increasingly hot summer – is a privilege. One of them, who is sitting with his head up, answers something to the one who is standing.

As I pass by them, I hear the one who is standing saying to the one who is sitting – attentive and reverent – ​​like an old acquaintance: “… we have to choose between dying of hunger or dying of the virus”. The sentence reveals reverence and fatality, not pleasure or adherence. Neither admiration nor respect. But reception of a mythical order, on which no possibility of resistance or alternative hangs.

Then I remember a speech by Walter Benjamin about nazi-fascism and war: “In the pilot and chief of a single plane with gas bombs, all powers capable of depriving the citizen of light, air and life converge, and that in times of peace are distributed among thousands of department heads.” Fascism creates its mythical fatality in the inverted reason of the leader's word: Enlightenment reason steps into medieval darkness and opens spaces of light; the perverse reason of fascism, however, flees the spaces of light and opens the gate of darkness and death.

From the phrase I heard, as if it were a fragment of a speech about disgrace, I understood better the effects of the strategy of a genocide reaching the unconscious: it promotes domination by creating consented pain. Bolsonaro's policy is precisely that: to convince that defenseless part – available in society – that it is good to be confined between two boundary-illusions: not between life and death, but between the two types of deaths in the liberal hate market: death by starvation or death from the virus.

My dear friend Clara Ant sends me a recording about a brutal event that happened to part of her family, on a distant day 2a. War, when the Nazis occupied Poland. Separated from the families collected by the Nazis – all Jews – the captured men were taken by the Nazis to a “discreet” place, to dig a huge pit where they would be buried after the collective shooting by the “valiant” German soldiers.

In each movement of the shovel, as they opened the trench in the generous earth, I imagine each of these men looking at the sky and the earth, aware of the route that led them to the common tomb. In this certainty, the rhythm of the outraged land certainly spoke to them of a solitary death, which would come in the attempt of an impossible rebellion; or it indicated collective death, whose ritual of collective offering would be rewarded by the women who would be spared.

Among the women who managed to walk after the mass murders was Clara Ant's mother, who received a handful of boiled potatoes from a non-Jewish neighbor, which saved lives and opened up new avenues of resistance. A gesture of love, a form of self-preservation of human dignity, a germ of moral resistance planting the possibility of a future.

Death by the virus or death by starvation! This is the conviction worked by the ideologues of Bolsonarism that speculates with fear, the fragility of people in the face of programmed misfortune and that makes us ask ourselves: Where were these people who did this? Who are they? How did they suddenly begin to appropriate the lives of millions and drive them – like automatons – to dig their own graves? The option between death and death is the option of barbarism and it is winning.

All who reject barbarism, all who reject fascism, all who do not accept that the disjunctive is "death or death", but life or death - and are willing to fight for life - should sit on a wide and generous Bureau of political unity against fascism.

In this hellish year of 2021, in which the Centrão and hundreds of military personnel in the Government seem to have agreed to murder all the dreams of a Republic with democracy and justice, we must carry potatoes in the pockets of our conscience, to feed the collective desire to fight and win the bandits installed in power.

*Tarsus in law he was Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil.

 

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