Navigating is necessary, again

Image: Bence Szemerey
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By CLARISSE GURGEL*

What will elect Lula again will be the same laborious combination of the old and the new that gave rise to him.

There are those who believe that the course of time goes from the old to the new, in progress. Others believe that the new is an absolute other, totally different. Thus, some say that we live in new times, in which everything has changed radically and in which the old ways do not support the new forces. Others say nothing has changed.

 

the new old

Already in the 1930s, in Brazil, they said that communists ate little children. They said that the communists, if in power, would take the citizens' apartments to distribute to the poor. They said that the communists wanted to make everyone miserable, without individual freedom. There was no internet at that time.

Today, similar things are said about communists. They even say that PT is communist. Through the networks and through the streets. Thus, the old ways of fake news make an ancient Brazil very current.

In the past, there was vote buying, exchanging votes for bricks, water pipes, plots of land. Today, these practices continue, they have even become the rule of the game, they remain little visible and little opposed by the State. Together with them are the new technologies for generating consumption – from voting to refrigerators – via algorithm.

The problem is not the internet itself. But the assumption that it replaces old ways. The internet is immediate mediation that does not replace immediate mediation. In other words, a Zap does not replace a conversation, the latter derived from old ways of living together.

In the past, the political parties that were most present in people's daily lives, in cultural training work, were those on the left: PT, PDT, PCdoB.

Today, these parties rarely appear in everyday life. Not even in the campaign, they go to the field. Lula travels from north to south, but his local leaders have not set up their stands, their fragile militancy does not methodically occupy urban blocks. For years, these same parties have not held democratic conventions, they have lost the so-called “party life”. In campaigns, they don't mass distribute car stickers, they don't participate in committees, they don't even help to build themselves, they don't leaflet daily, they don't act in their workplaces, nor are they in residents' associations.

The task force of this final stretch relies on the fierce initiatives of old militants or a lively vanguard – MAB, MST, PSOL –, nostalgic for a future. Some will still say that all these forms are vain, given the power of algorithms. Others will say that parties only want to influence others and that the best thing is to listen to an “influencer”.

Meanwhile, the old is renewed by the right, with parties that expand, spreading the fantasy that something new is possible under the same logic: New, Republicans.

The people continue to teach their lessons and always bring back their need for organization. Without it, the poor cannot sustain themselves. In a world of heartless and soulless conditions, religion is the sigh of this downtrodden creature. The way out has been to church, this medieval and super current form of association.

Thus, the poor seek the same school as the rich, that of the old prosperity theology, and remain faithful to pastoral mantras. Right there is the police, which is resuming its old form of death squads, with a new name, taken from the old militias, producing weapons with 3D printers, in the name of the old fascism.

 

Love like you buy. Buy as you vote

In this effort to distinguish between the old and the new, we note that what changed with Lula was access to consumption, from plane tickets to university. With that, an old elitism returned with a vengeance. With him, an anti-communism was renewed, which, due to its old ignorance, ignores this new old one.

But what is also noticed again is the very dimension of consumption, which starts to guide all social relations, from love to political relations. They will say that what I say is old, because we consume our loving partners since the patriarchy.

A French philosopher, Alain Badiou, already points to the possible similarity between a loving affiliation and a partisan affiliation. But what he proposes is the opposite of what we witness. Alain Badiou shows us the gamble character of these affiliations: choices without guarantees, selfless commitments. What we are witnessing in Brazil is the opposite: love and politics have lost their relational dimensions of freedom and devotion, becoming instrumental mercantile exchanges, in relations of complementary opposition between use value and exchange value. In politics and in love, we are an indebted people.

It is this Brazil that, under the guise of a consolidated democracy, elected the old dictator Jair Bolsonaro. A Brazil that is still old, polarized in class, but, now, it was marked by the effects of that new mass consumption, already old. Vote how you buy. Buy as you vote. How many debts will these 2022 elections leave us?

The PT, contrary to what many say, weakened. Demanding courage from voters is ignoring the fact that there is no party supporter to support the boldness of any Lula. The prologue to the democratic tragedy in Brazil was the end of internal democracy within the PT itself. Its great cadres did not realize that a workers' party would not be supported by bosses or bosses, nor could it be an ornament for consumption. He supports himself and has always supported himself with work.

 

What to do again?

Therefore, what will elect Lula again will be the same laborious combination of the old and the new that gave rise to him. The sense that old forms can assume new destinations. The desire for political participation, even under the retrograde rules existing at the end of a dictatorship. Thus, PT was born.

Let's get our membership forms, our recruitment records, let's go back to headquarters, sidewalks and squares, swell the ranks of committees and mobilize our “internauts” for matters of vote buying, from the oldest to the most algorithmic. Let us renew our faith in political practice. That alone will save us, come what may.

Until the last second of the second Act, combining the old and the new, let's do what tete a tete, we seek the like, we conquer votes, we seek to gather.

We are in an election that proves what we have always tried to prove: that politics is endowed with several simultaneous rhythms, in time and space. It is made for concentrated crowd events, but also for dispersed crowds. It is done in a short time, but also for a long time, for a whole day, for a whole week, for months, years, centuries. There are several waves. From the old to the youngest.

There are waves that are even overnight. We live in times of war, direct and indirect. Navigating is necessary, on old tides, in new senses.

*Clarisse Gurgel is a political scientist, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at UNIRIO.

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