Thousands of petty tyrants

Image: Engin Akyurt


La Boétie and the accomplices of the tyrant and his cruelties

“The tyrant does not love, never has loved. Friendship only happens between people who cultivate mutual appreciation. There cannot be friendship where there is cruelty, where there is falsehood, where there is injustice”. We are all companions, we eat the same bread of existence. Nature has placed us all in each other's company. This is the central understanding of the sixteenth-century French thinker Etienne de La Boétie, in his classic Voluntary servitude speechabout human existence. Because we are all companions, we are all free; each is born in possession of his liberty, with the affection to defend it.

From this conception derives one of his questions: how can so many men support the tyrant who has only the power granted by them? Strange thing that they prefer to tolerate it than to contradict it. It is pitiful to see a million men serve miserably, with their necks in a yoke, as if enchanted and bewitched by a myth, whose evils they should not tolerate, since they act in an inhuman and ferocious way towards many. And he adds: what makes a single man treat millions of humans like dogs and deprive them of their freedom? (In Brazil, under the Bolsonaro government, there are 33 million people subjected to the yoke of hunger).

For La Boétie, it is the people themselves who, by submitting themselves, are beheaded. Having the choice between being a servant or being free, he abandons his freedom and accepts the yoke, placing himself in a subhuman condition. Incredibly, according to the author, when a people is subject, it falls asleep and loses the dimension of lost freedom, making it difficult to wake up to go in search of it. Humans born under the yoke and brought up in servitude are content to live as they were born. So the first reason for voluntary servitude is custom. Under the tyrant government, they are deprived of all freedom to do, to speak, to think freely, to oppose and to resist. Everyone becomes limited and standardized in their fantasies, numbed by the pleasures offered by advertising and by entertainment policies (motorcycle riders, jetskiatas, etc.), games, miraculous religious cults, attractions continually developed to put the people to sleep.

But the central point of tyranny, the strength and secret of domination, according to Etienne de La Boétie, are the accomplices of the tyrant and his cruelties, all those who approach him and declare: “we are together!”, becoming thus partners in the results of the plundering of the common good promoted by the tyrant. There are thousands of petty tyrants seeking, through opportunism and self-interest, benefits and the handling of money, wealth and privileges, in order to be able to exempt themselves from complying with the laws and their penalties, using tyranny to their own advantage. It is these people who generate the tyrant.

In Brazil, in July of this year, a young man with epilepsy was publicly executed in a gas chamber set up by federal road police in the official vehicle with which they carried out their violent action against that person; in this same period, a legal rape occurred by a judge when preventing the legal interruption of the pregnancy of an 11-year-old girl raped by her uncle; then, a white man and public agent – ​​municipal prosecutor – punched and kicked his co-worker, through the lens of the fantastic; an anesthesiologist was recently caught raping women during hospital surgical procedures; environmental activists, engaged in the defense of indigenous peoples, Dom Philips and Bruno Pereira were cowardly dismembered in the Amazon, whose crime has not yet been fully elucidated; finally, on the last 10th of July, in Foz do Iguaçu (PR), the militant of the Workers' Party, Marcelo Arruda, was murdered for a vile reason, of a political nature, during his birthday party, by the Bolsonarist policeman Jorge Guaranho, with point-blank shots.

The cultivation of hatred is characteristic of the President of the Republic. The trigger for the crime in Foz de Iguaçu was triggered by it, as it systematically feeds this culture of violence. For the anthropologist Adriana Dias, Studying Brazilian Nazi and conspiracy groups, there is an escalation of hatred and violence in Brazil, fueled with great force by Bolsonarist groups in the deep web. One of the examples of the escalation of political violence presented by Adriana is the amount of cocaine seized in the Amazon with symbols of the Nazi swastika.

In 2018, in the middle of the election campaign, former captain Jair Bolsonaro, then candidate for the presidency of the Republic, reported that his “specialty is to kill”. Previously, he had already proposed, in front of television cameras, the need for a civil war to do the job that the 1964 dictatorship did not do, that is, kill around 30, starting with Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In addition, he clearly exposed his position in favor of the “pau de macaw” and torture. And, at a rally in Acre, also in 2018, he said: “we are going to shoot the petralhada”. Even in the face of all these statements, there are among his supporters, those who declare themselves to “be together” with him, finding him a person of great wisdom, inspired by God and defender of life. As La Boétie states, “hypocrites create their lies in order to make people believe them”. We must react now!

*Alexandre Aragão de Albuquerque Master in Public Policy and Society from the State University of Ceará (UECE).


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