Brazilian style eugenics

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Eugenics already dominates medical protocols in the US, as noted by the Italian newspaper edition. In Brazil, members of bioethics committees of large Brazilian private hospitals, without taking into account the country's glaring inequalities, preach who should die or live in the face of emergencies, guided by market criteria of the law of supply and demand

By Marcos Aurélio da Silva*

In the face of government anomy to fight Covid-19 clearly and decisively, eugenics is already being discussed in Brazil. This is what can be concluded from an article published in Folha de SP on 5/04/2020 under the title “Dramatic Choices in Tragic Contexts”. It is a true cretinism, signed by Daniel Wei Liang Wang and Marcos de Lucca Silveira, respectively members of the bioethics committee of Hospital Sírio Libanês and Hospital Infantil Sabará and also professors at FGV-SP.

We are facing a measured form of eugenetics, a shameful form, there is no doubt, but the line of reasoning is unequivocal, and with examples that make your hair stand on end: “If we agree that a 30-year-old person with a normal post-ICU life expectancy should be preferred over an 80-year-old with advanced Alzheimer's, so time and quality of life can determine key choices.”

Eugenics already dominates medical protocols in the US, as noted by the 25/03/2020 edition of the Italian Catholic newspaper occur, noting that in many North American states “physicians are required to assess the level of general physical and intellectual ability before an intervention, or to save a life”.

In the report, titled USA, 'no respirators for the disabled'. More than 10 states choose who to save (free translation of "USA, 'niente repiratori per i disabili'. Più di 10 Stati scelgono chi salvare“), it is read that the exclusion protocols can vary from “cognitive capacity” (as in the state of Washington) to “severe neurological disorder” (Maryland and Pennsylvania) — which alarmed associations for the defense of disabled people — passing even by cases of muscle atrophy (Tennessee), liver cirrhosis, lung disease, and heart failure (Minnesota).

There is no way not to conclude: in line with North American medical protocols, the article by the Brazilian professors is unparalleled stupidity. Well placed in their posts as university professors in the area of ​​applied social sciences, members of “ethics” committees of large private hospitals, they conduct a moral discussion — that which is universally valid for all men, taught Kant — guided by the market criteria of law of supply and demand, typical of the most common manual of neoliberal economics.

Not a word about the overthrow of the spending ceiling (Constitutional Amendment 95/2016), a condition for enduring a radical quarantine — as demonstrated by the successful Chinese experience — , with financial support for formal and informal workers; not a word about the nationalization of large private hospitals, or at least the public management of hospital beds, as Argentina does, or the emergency construction of hospitals, as China did; not a word about the emergency industrial reconversion, with the nationalization or that is the temporary public management of factories dedicated to the production of respirators, masks, products worldwide delivered to the fiercest law of the market, as demonstrated by the recent North American “piracy” , according to the words of the Minister of the Interior of Germany, Andreas Geisel.

Finally, not a word about the urgency of socialist policies, or at least socializing ones, whatever they may be. Nor could they: the hand is very visible, said institutionalist economist Alfred Chandler.

In fact, the coincidence in the ideas that now dominate medical protocols in Brazil and the USA is not surprising. The governments of these countries were at the forefront of the most abject denialism when Covid-19 had already been declared a pandemic. They were and still are, because it is unacceptable to forget Bolsonaro's daily attacks against horizontal isolation, unilaterally hammering an extemporaneous geographical determinism (“the cold weather is to blame”). They are, in effect, the most jealous governments in maintaining a particularistic project of society: nothing to cockroaches, to be separated by a huge wall; nothing for the working classes, to be mercilessly exposed to enslaving welfare reform, among other evils.

When he wrote his pages on American Fordism, Gramsci recalled that in addition to the labor aristocracy, dispensed to the “natives”, there was a whole series of “unskilled”, “temporary” workers, workers relegated to the mass of the “weak and refractory” who , especially in big crises, are “thrown into subclass hell” or eliminated entirely. Returning to his own country, already under the fascist regime of Mussolini, where not even a working-class aristocracy was firmly established, as the bourgeoisie presented itself as an “army of parasites”, devouring “enormous amounts of surplus value”. , he recalled — here in a letter to his sister-in-law Tatiana Schucht in mid-1928 — “the extreme selfishness of the generations between twenty and fifty years old” which was verified “to the detriment of children and the elderly”.

Mutatis mutandis, that's where we seem to be now, here and there. In the greatest capitalist power, when the time of great crisis of Fordism, a crisis of accumulation that ended up being translated into a resounding crisis of representativeness — strictly speaking an organic crisis —, a large portion of the population is thrown into the limbo of the “weak” classes, to be entirely eliminated. In our parts, whose Fordist configuration and all that it implied - high wages and a solid welfare state — was no more than a sketch, the explicit acceptance of a government with fascist ink — a government, but certainly not a regime, in the absence of a true fascist party —, old men and women, also cast into “underclass hell”, are invited to leave life so that the economy can pass.

Indeed, it is still the same Gramsci as Americanism and Fordism that we must call to our aid. To the dismal eugenetics that is now offered to us, it is urgent to oppose the struggle for a “better quality of life”, a quality of life “suitable to the new modes of production and work”. Without prejudice to a spatial reconfiguration of production and work, as is now beginning to be insisted, but in any case still only a capitalist reconfiguration of the spatial agglomeration of life and production, it is, rather, the struggle for “a proper form of Americanism acceptable to the working masses”, not exactly “American brand”, but one capable of “transforming into freedom what is today a necessity”.

Without further ado, a socialist tenor for life and production, in the most different forms in which this tenor, according to the different social formations, can embody. The really adequate way to deal with the moral question that the Covid-19 pandemic puts, without any hesitation, before all of us.

*Marcos Aurélio da Silva He is a professor at the Center for Philosophy and Human Sciences at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (CFH/UFSC), working in undergraduate and graduate courses in Geography, in the area of ​​​​Regional and Urban Development. doctor in Human Geography from FFLCH-USP, with a postdoctoral internship in Political Philosophy at the Università degli Studi di Urbino (It)

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