Neither despise nor celebrate, but remember

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By JEANNE MARIE GAGNEBIN; MARIA-RITA KEHL; ERNANI CHAVES & PETER PÁL PELBART*

In relation to the 1964 coup and the military dictatorship, neither celebration nor contempt is appropriate.

According to Datafolha research published on March 31 in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul, the date of the 1964 coup should be despised and not celebrated by the majority of the Brazilian population. If I had been probed, I don't know how I would have responded, even knowing what I think.

Now, in relation to the 1964 coup and the military dictatorship, there is no need for celebration or contempt. To despise indicates to neglect, belittle, throw away; commemoration, celebration and homage. Celebrating is positive: Easter is celebrated, the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated, the beginning of a new life for Christians.

Disdain tends towards the negative: I disregard my neighbor's advice and get stuck in a traffic jam. When someone responds that the 60th anniversary of the coup should be disregarded, is it because they find this coup shameful, despicable or simply unimportant and not worth mentioning? And when he responds that he celebrates, is it because he was excited about the coup or because he thinks so, it should be remembered and criticized?

In relation to the coup and the dictatorship, one can only ask whether it is worth remembering or forgetting. Remembering also does not mean “remembering the past” as if that past were a pile of trinkets that are no longer useful. Forgetting is also not “moving forward” as if a brand new, clean future could simply be born from the present, in a natural dynamic.

As Jurema Werneck and Rogério Sottilli point out (p. 3 of the Folha de S. Paul of March 31), true remembering is neither revanchism nor nostalgic immobility. It consists much more of a careful and critical work of elaboration (Freud's term) that allows us to trace past events (often camouflaged or buried) to better point out their marks that persist in the present. Marks of resistance and courage, but also of violence. Remembering could also mean denouncing and punishing the crimes of the dictatorship, as happened and is still happening in neighboring Argentina...

Very strong signs of this persistence: the coup of January 8, 2022, without a doubt, but also the impunity of the murderous repression against the population. Today, it is more clear about young black people or defenders of indigenous peoples and the Amazon than about students, teachers and left-wing journalists, as was more visible during the dictatorship. But violence, torture and death continue and cast their shadow over the future.

We do need to recreate the Special Commission on the Dead and Missing; and knowing who really ordered Marielle Franco to be killed six years ago; and who just killed, on March 27th, Edneia Fernandes, the last in a long list of dead in Santos, whose lives and names cannot be erased.

*Jeanne Marie Gagnebin She is a philosophy professor at PUC-SP and Unicamp. She is the author, among other books, of History and narration in Walter Benjamin (Perspectiva). [https://amzn.to/4aHAfMz]

*Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Displacements of the feminine: the freudian woman in the passage to modernity (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/43PzXBm]

* Ernani Chaves He is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at UFPA. Author, among other books, of On the threshold of modern (Pakatatu). [https://amzn.to/3TExJzW]

*Peter Pál Pelbart He is a professor of philosophy at PUC-SP. Author, among other books, of The reverse of nihilism: cartographies of exhaustion (N-1 Editions). [https://amzn.to/406v2tU]


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