Freedom of expression

Image: Javier Gonzales


Julian Assange is a martyr of democracy in our time

Roughly speaking, it is possible to focus on the concepts of the greatest theoretical and political audience in each moment of society, based on what was highlighted in academic research financed by CAPES and CNPq, as well as in the public discourses of conjunctural actors.

(a) Between the 1960s and 70s, we find social inequality in the countryside and in the city, the issue of high prices and the growth of slums, repression of students and workers, arbitrariness, torture and the growing concentration of land and wealth under authoritarian political regimes.

(b) Between the 1980s and 90s, governance, the process of redemocratization, the conversion of supporters of military dictatorships to the ideals of democratic sociability, and the radical globalization of markets underway under the thrust of the Washington Consensus.

(c) Between the years 2000-10, the idea of ​​“another possible world” erupted, boosting progressive governments in Brazil and Latin America, and the democratization of democracy via mechanisms of direct participation – with the temporary victory of hope over the fear.

In this long period, social movements consolidated rights won with great difficulty by environmentalism, feminist currents, LGBTQIA+ and anti-racist groups, whose demands gained space in minds and hearts, and even in legislation. At the same time, conservative agendas related to borders emerged due to immigration, especially in Europe and the United States. A new type of anti-constitutional coups were born on the Latin American continent. An alliance was established between the banker-dominated media and the judiciary to apply the lawfare in attacking the reputation of popular leaders (Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil). The pororoca switched to politics.

In all cases, US ambitions were met. "Americans, as always, acted on behalf of their big business and their interests." In this struggle between the sea (recolonizing) and the rock (subalternized classes of peripheral capitalism), the battering ram used for the dirty work was the “collusion of the elitist media with Lava Jato led by Moro and Dallagnol”, summarizes Jessé Souza, in How Racism Created Brazil (Brazil Station). Never had such an anti-country mobilization been seen with such support in the institutions of the Republic. Obviously, this would not be at all viable if the native elites refused to let the metropolis despoil the country. Ah, if only they liked the Tropics.

In the book Capitalism in Debate: A Conversation in Critical Theory (Boitempo), by Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi, published in English in 2018 and translated into Portuguese in 2020, the authors point to a concept that is increasingly present in the reflections that develop inside and outside the university walls. Yes, the concept of capitalism, which decades ago disappeared with the “end of history” – is now back. “The resumption of interest in capitalism is great news for the world in general”, emphasizes Fraser, who sees in the paradigm of capital “the institutionalized social order”. Jaeggi calls it “a way of life”. Both reinsert the system analyzed by Marx into the great tide of history.

Neoliberal globalization had removed the discussion about the current gears of the waves that move the ark of humanity, at the time of the greatest arrogance and stupidity of capitalist domination. That is, on the occasion of the extinction (which was not missed) of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which had merged the Single Party with the State. So, flat earthers dressed as prophets of the past, claimed that the market and representation were the stone of Sisyphus settled on top of the mountain. Big mistake. “There is almost a consensus that capitalism is, once again, a problem and an object worthy of political and intellectual attention.” The earth moves and disturbs market dogmas.

However, another theme also gains urgency, when it seemed an iron principle: freedom of expression. The arrest of Australian Julian Assange, journalist and cyberactivist, founder of the Swedish-based non-profit transnational organization, WikiLeaks, which reposts leaked photos and documents from states and companies with an undeniable public dimension – puts contemporaneity to shame. A scandal magnified by the recent decision of a London Court that approved his extradition to the United States. He is a martyr of democracy in our time, forever loved by people across the planet, including non-Trumpist citizens of the North and non-Bolsonarist citizens of the South. With courage and republican passion, he defends a non-negotiable value, forged in democratizing clashes. It fell to Lula to express solidarity locked in the throats of the democrats. Thank you.

A WikiLeaks has already published a video about the attack of an Apache helicopter that killed twelve civilians in Baghdad, in the context of the war in Iraq, including journalists from the Reuters Agency. Moreover, he released a copy of the US military instruction manual for the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo (which is in Cuba!). Also, US Army documents that report the death of thousands of civilians in the war in Afghanistan. Both hemispheres disapproved of the actions that gave visibility to flagrant state terrorism, except for the imperialist opinion that condemned the disclosure under the pretext of freedom (cynicism does not pay taxes). Those who believe that there is a structural contradiction between capitalism and democracy, the greed for profit at all social and environmental costs, and free information are right.

To Voltaire, the patron ultimate of freedom of expression in the world, is attributed the phrase: “I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death the right to say them”. Would the famous French Enlightenment be for or against the right of expression represented in the Assange efforts? And the Brazilian press, why is it silent in the face of the revenge that the imperial State intends against those who fight (with justice) for freedom?

* 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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