Labyrinth of conservatism

Image: Wendelin Jacober
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By LUIZ MARQUES*

Bolsonaro is a crook for hire to dismantle democracy and state regulatory bodies; submissive to the accumulative interests of the plutocracy

When Enlightenment philosophers abjure the ancien régime To raise servants to the unprecedented level of citizens, monarchical, obscurantist and medievalist absolutism is defenestrated. The Modern Age is born – doubt, progress. Question is the habitus of cities, the memory of nations, superstitions and prejudices to which, previously, an important role was attributed in the cohesion of society to endure common sense in social relations and inhibit the emphasis on individual ends.

Political theorist and member of the London parliament for Whig Party, Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is the admitted master of conservative theory. In the Reflections on the French Revolution, lists the arguments against the event under three axes: (a) the denial of the values ​​of modernism (freedom, equality, fraternity) because they are mystifying, abstract and also detached from reality; (b) the defense of the state of nature, not as the starting point, but the arrival of the historical process that culminates in social inequities and hierarchies and; (c) the fact that morals, customs and traditions do not belong to the present generation, but to all eras, makes them perennial. Conservatism takes Paul Valéry seriously: “The problem of our time is that the future is not what it used to be.”

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, conservatives welcomed the mundaneization of life without moving away from the transcendent dimension. The needle of the spiritual balance of individuals, then, gradually moves to the place of creative activities of change – the external world. Those nostalgic for interiority believe in communities closed organic, where acts of rebellion have the sole function of illustrating behaviors unacceptable by the divinity. The belief that the collective is not a gathering of isolated atoms, but parts of a gear, lends meaning to existence.

By definition, people fulfill themselves in the socio-family sphere that has its own norms, discouraging interventions to change the status quo and recommends going slowly with your walk. The dream of consumption is the suspension of the passage of time, in the hope of canceling conflicts. With ancestral wisdom, in Great wilderness: Veredas, Riobaldo warns: “Living is a very dangerous business.” It sure is.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the collection of dogmas in the labyrinth of conservatism still maintained its essence, with the challenge of filling some gaps with concessions to the march of individualism. The entry of the masses onto the scene was balanced; the nightmarish nights of the aristocratic José Ortega y Gasset. It is wrong to imagine that reason is the measure of reality and society is the clay to model utopias. Insurrectionary emancipatory attempts provoke disintegration. O Homo sapiens it is not an exclusively historical creature nor is it capable of being modified and improved by re-educational efforts. No way. It is conditioned by the divine, superhuman will.

The gaze of those who see the future in the rearview mirror reacts with violent emotion to diversity. The evocation of the “right to have rights”, which promotes the empowerment of feminism, anti-racism and anti-homophobia, provokes untimely reactions. Crude police statistics record the results. See the femicides and the murder of black and trans people. Antimodernism inspires far-right intellectuals, such as the American Steve Bannon and the Brazilian Olavo de Carvalho. The last one did not enroll his daughter in school. After all, girls don't need to know how to read. It was up to the aunt to enroll the pre-teen, belatedly, in a class attended by minors of normal literacy age.

Emotional excess explains why the effort to protect the emblems of the idealized order leads to aggression, both symbolic and practical. “Feelings were all that 'conservatism' gathered throughout history”, appears in the entry of the Dictionary of 21st century social thought. Even current religions are the target of restrictions for keeping only the residues of the Indo-European matrix.

Not for nothing, the an influencer Christian community in Rio Grande do Sul attributed responsibility for the floods to the profusion of “macumba terreiros” in the region, more than was found in Bahia. The deformation of the Aryan rite of the colonizers would have aroused “the wrath of God” – and the Gaucho flood.

The morning star

Conservatism is articulated with economic liberalism, in discourse. “I am conservative in customs and liberal in economics.” Commonly used, the expression brings with it the contradiction that consists of, on the one hand, supporting an immutable organization for human beings with frozen positions in the social pyramid; and on the other, endorse the system where everything that is solid dissolves into thin air – outside the social and moral structure. The assertion does not fear being this walking metamorphosis.

In the meantime, the evangelical caste takes pleasure in the National Congress' abundant budget amendments and rehearses the fight for higher flights. The alliance with the extreme right catapults the satanic dystopia of the prophets of delay. The crusade against abortion, per se, but not for the benefit of children, sets the line between “them” and “us” in the subproletariat’s market niche. Without due care from the democratic State, the rabble loses its status as creditors of rights; She becomes in need of other people's generosity and is enticed by fake coin purveyors. In the new salvation army, temples forge rebels in favor.

There are 109,5 thousand evangelical centers in the country. Adding up the terreiros, churches and synagogues there are 579,7 thousand religious auditoriums; 286 per batch of 100 thousand inhabitants. The legislation allowed the opening of the floodgates that the (neo) Pentecostal line takes advantage of. Such private ideological apparatuses militate for alienation. According to the IBGE Census, only six units of the federation have more health centers and schools than places for faith: São Paulo, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Norte and Piauí. Secularism is at a flagrant disadvantage among believers.

For the rapporteur of PL 1904/2024, the outrageous perversity against black children aged 8 to 12 – which makes up the majority of rape victims – aims to “test” the president of Palácio do Planalto. Cynicism and fake news they are the strategic refuge of the idolaters of the mythical past. As in the verses of the poet Ferreira Gullar: “It’s useless to ask / forgive / say / that has it in your heart”. Theologically the Second Testament Biblical (the God of love) is at a low ebb. Come back into fashion First Testament (the God of punishment). Kindness gives way to blackmail from criminals on the stand, to unbridled ambition, to premeditated revenge. The law of retaliation prevails – talionis lex, the identical requirement of the same ilk.

The phrase that translates conservative thought is summarized by Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa, in the popular novel The Leopard, which Luchino Visconti immortalizes in the cinema with a great cast: “Unless we save ourselves by joining hands now, they will subject us to the Republic. For things to stay the same, everything needs to change.” The ruling classes repeat the saga, in transitions from above. The working classes must lay bare the pantomime with the weapon of criticism.

Conservatism and neoliberalism form a triangle with neofascism to combat: (a) the decision of individuals over their body or mind; (b) the exercise of citizenship in a secular environment of republican equity and; (c) emancipation from the dialectic of domination and subordination. Hence the option for an exceptional regime with an adventurer with a militia profile, without any administrative competence or empathy with the suffering of the people. A crook for hire to dismantle democracy and state regulatory bodies; submissive to the accumulative interests of the plutocracy.

The participatory social and environmental welfare state is the antidote to the spread of irrational hatred, which returns in the current century with greater danger and lethality. With the development of military technologies and military drones of various sizes, killing is similar to playing video games for fun. Today the terror appears worse than the original spread in the 1930s in Europe. The potential for destruction is greater.

In Brazil, the victory of President Lula 3.0 blocks the specter of barbarism, which calls for an insistent reaffirmation with flags in the streets. Social participation concentrates the founding values ​​of modernity. The morning star foretells a time of struggle.

* 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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