Havana, 1986

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By PAULO SILVEIRA*

The day we stopped to listen to the words of León Rozitchner

To Marilena Chauí

Out of pleasure and sometimes out of duty, I attended speeches, lectures and conferences given by high-caliber intellectuals related to the field of human sciences. Some of them were more important for the ideas they brought than as speakers. From this first team, I mention some: the American sociologist Talcott Parsons, the Frenchman Claude Lefort, the Greek Cornelius Castoriadis, the German Jürgen Habermas. Strictly speaking, none of them are great orators.

Here closer to us, some also from the first team: Florestan Fernandes, also called “Professor” to indicate the essence of his intellectual militancy; Fernando Henrique in special moments, before being compulsorily retired from USP; Marilena Chaui, how many moments of extraordinary eloquence at the service of greatness of spirit; Octavio Ianni, in some circumstances, masterful; and the best artist of all, José Américo Mota Pessanha, who displayed permanent enthusiasm and who knew how to take us by the hand, especially to visit The banquet, by Plato.

In Havana, at that time, we learned that there is a special category of psychologists, Marxist psychologists, in this case, Cuban psychologists. A quick look at some subjects in the Psychology course at the University of Havana (in 1986) is enough to prove them right: Marxism-Leninism I, II and III; Marxist dialectic I and II; historical materialism I, II and III; dialectical materialism I, II and III and so on...

These Marxist psychologists received, as hosts, at the proposed Congress for the circulation of ideas, theses, research, etc., a few hundred psychologists and psychoanalysts from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Mexico; many of these Argentines forced to live in exile.

It soon became evident that not only did Marxist psychologists have a unique theoretical position, but – more importantly – they were also incapable, at least in public, of hearing or being interested in any idea or thesis that did not fit in their theoretical arsenal. If there was debate and exchange of ideas, it was among the visitors.

In this context, in one of the meetings attended by Marxist psychologists and visitors, with a table made up of representatives from both sides and chaired, as always, by a Cuban, León Rozitchner was given the floor. This Argentine, exiled at the time, armed himself with the necessary enthusiasm to expose, perhaps especially to Cubans, a possible relationship between Freud and Marx, that is, to bring psychoanalysis to the scene, to which Marxist psychologists turned their backs.

In a rare encounter between enthusiasm, clarity and precision, his words gradually appropriated the right to speak and, especially, to be heard, which had been taken away from those hundreds of psychologists who arrived in Cuba with some hint of idealization of its Revolution. . Everyone, Cuban or not, realized what was going on; the Cuban psychologist who ran the panel tried (due to too much time) to cut Rozitchner off. In vain, his enthusiasm only increased. The theoretical value of this exhibition did not matter, its political value imprinted in the subtext was palpable, within reach; like a poisonous arrow, it was aimed at the ideology that constituted the theory that supported the so-called Marxist psychologists, that is, the Cuban psychologists.

Much more recently, almost yesterday, thanks to Eric Nepomuceno, I watched about a dozen interviews with Cuban intellectuals, all of them born around 1959, that is, very close to the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. A generation baptized by the Revolution, daughter of the Revolution. Writers, poets, composers, musicians, historians, artists and film directors, in short, representatives of the Cuban intelligentsia, certainly at their best. They had two striking traits in common. None of them was able to say “amen” to the Revolution; incapable of allowing themselves to be deceived by the ideological exaltation of revolutionary deeds. Even more, with the clear awareness that they paid for it: from the stomach to the wealth of opportunities they could not have. In the 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, from which they received almost essential material assistance, they paid with their own flesh – literally, that is, by going hungry – for the continuity of the Revolution.

Everyone displayed an enormous pride in this mother who was as inflexible as she was poor. And more: the pride of representing the best ties of solidarity for Latin American neighbors and the rest of the world. And a haughtiness almost impossible to find in a world dominated by capitalism. As if, on their own, each in their own way, had decreed, in the experience of intersubjectivity, the abolition of social classes.

* Paulo Silveira is a psychoanalyst and retired professor in the sociology department at USP. Author, among other books, of On the side of history: a critical reading of Althusser's work (Police).

 

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