Passivity is a sequel to centuries of hegemony of enslavement of the majority of our people

Master Paulo Freire (1921-1997), who knew that “reading the world precedes reading the word”, created the verb “hope”. He wanted to oppose the widespread notion of mere waiting, which can even be less than expectation: a certain passivity, the ideological imposition of the culture of vassalage, submission, inaction.

It is true that every society has its forces of adaptation, of self-reproduction. But the Brazilian social formation, throughout history, crystallized something beyond that: passivity. It is a sequel to centuries of the hegemony of the enslavement of the majority of our people, in the Colony, in the Empire and even in the Republic – of the colonels, of the oligarchies.

This is the Brazil that arrives in 2021. Of continued and growing social inequality, of political degradation never seen before. The most basic republican values ​​are corrupted. In this dramatic period of our life as a Nation, we experience a toxic combination of economic ultraneoliberalism with authoritarian, regressive, physiological political forms, with sectors that barely disguise a crude neo-fascism. The small politics became the big one, the dominant one. Denial of science overwhelms common sense. And that costs lives.

We arrived at a new year with old acquaintances of ours, structural pillars of our backwardness: there are 14,1 Brazilians looking for work; we accumulated, in the last 12 months, an inflation of 15,9%; the expected drop in family income is 5,3%, without emergency aid and other benefits.

We have reached another year under the sign of death. The pandemic is on the rise, favored by an unbelievable criminal stance by the federal government: in stages, the policy of the necrostate, at first, vergebrates the minimization of the disease and, later, the contempt for the deaths – which approach 200! Then the shameful “vaccine war”, now the insufficiencies of the National Vaccination Plan and Bolsonaro’s selfish, gloomy, backward stance, which boasts that he will not be vaccinated.

At the beginning of the last century, at the dawn of the Republic, something similar happened. But not coming from the Rodrigues Alves government (1902-1906) but from its opponents. There was great disregard for the Instituto Soroterápico, precursor of Fiocruz, in the then federal capital, and for Instituto Vital Brasil, in São Paulo, precursor of Butantan. The national director of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz, was demonized: Oswaldo “Cruz Credo”, “Nero da Higiene”. The culmination of the crisis occurred in 1904, with the Vaccine Revolt, which was an estuary of many discontents, including aspects of “urban modernization” in Rio – which disregarded the poorest in their right to the city.

Endemic diseases brought a plentiful harvest. People died of the bubonic plague, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, scarlet fever and measles. As always, the most underprivileged. Who recognized, a few years later, the importance of sanitation measures. Our great sanitarian came to be recognized as “Mestre Oswaldo” and “Messiah of Hygiene”…

I cited the passivity of groups and classes in our history. But I also record the struggles: where there is oppression, there is resistance. We have a luminous trajectory in the defense of the natives for their lands and cultures, we know the quilombola force, the battles of workers, men and women, the affirmation of women for their dignity, which has been degraded for centuries by patriarchy.

Thus turns the wheel of History, in the midst of the devouring maw of time, which does not stop. The world is constantly changing, societies advance and retreat, dialectically. The dark times do not last forever, even though everything is “taking its time to be so bad”. The invention of the calendar also has this symbolic efficacy: an exhortation to start over, an invitation to renew, to resume. We are challenged to experience what was written and practiced by Paulo Freire: “to hope is to get up, to go after it, to build, not to give up”. So be it and let us be!

* Chico Alencar he is a professor, writer and elected councilor (PSOL/Rio).


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