Nietzsche in Brazil

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By Scarlett Marton*

From the year 2000 Nietzsche becomes “popular” in Brazil; is exploited by the media, used by the media, appropriated by the publishing market

Nietzsche's presence is undeniable among us. In recent decades, the repercussion of his writings ended up being felt in the most diverse areas: in literature, in the visual arts, in music, in psychoanalysis, in the so-called human sciences.

There were four occasions when its presence was felt with greater emphasis in Brazil. Already at the beginning of the century, his ideas aroused interest; They arrived here, probably, through the European anarchist movement and, in particular, the Spanish one, which considered Nietzsche to be one of the most revolutionary thinkers. And his work left marks on Brazilian anarchist novels and short stories.

A few decades later, following the spirit of the time, Nietzsche came to be regarded in our country as a right-wing thinker. During the Second World War, ideological articles that appeared in fascist magazines intended to appropriate his thinking. But, when his defamation among us reached its peak, leading intellectuals took up his defense, calling for “his technique of thought” to be taken into account and the philosopher Nietzsche to be recovered.

Finally, in the effervescence of May 68, when the French extreme left made him the support of their theories, here he came to be seen as an iconoclast. In France, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida and others questioned concepts that had always been present in philosophical investigation, questioned notions consecrated by tradition, subverted habitual ways of thinking and, alongside Marx and Freud, included Nietzsche among the “philosophers of suspicion”. ; in our country, almost like a sounding board, the corrosive aspect of his thought was privileged.

Then, Nietzsche began to name a style at the service of a certain feeling of existence, marked by boldness and irreverence. His name was invoked to call into question established institutions and values, the well-behaved way of thinking and acting in our society. He was resorted to to affirm the need for overflow and excess, the desire for ecstasy and vertigo. Finally, it was used to proclaim political radicalism and erotic impulses; he became the patron of a “community of imaginary rebels”. And so the image of a libertarian Nietzsche was formed and crystallized, known above all for philosophizing with hammer blows, challenging norms and destroying idols. There was nothing better than this image of Nietzsche to oppose the military dictatorship, which led to the resurgence of violence in Brazil.

Alongside this libertarian Nietzsche, who is still present among us, another one was being prepared in the 1990s. The country opened itself up to neoliberalism and all that it entailed, starting with converting citizens into consumers. The year 2.000 marks a turning point in dealing with Nietzschean thought. In Brazil, Nietzsche becomes “popular”; it is exploited by the media, used by the media, appropriated by the editorial market. Introductory books are published about his philosophy, texts disseminating his ideas, articles in newspapers and magazines that mention his words for any purpose. More often than not, arbitrary cuts are made in his writings in order to satisfy immediate interests. People talk about him the way people talk about an author in fashion: without being aware of the depth of his philosophical reflection. Taken as an object of consumption, Nietzsche is domesticated. From the year 2.000 onwards, the image of a Nietzsche who would teach us how to be successful in our profession, preserve health, find happiness, in short, how to live well, is increasingly imposed. Above all, he should teach us to avoid stress when we question prejudices, beliefs and convictions.

Today, we witness the presence of several Nietzsche. On the one hand, there is the one that, domesticated, is completely devoid of critical character. On the other hand, there is what is taken as an object of study like any other, even if it continues to attract the masses. It is above all as historians of philosophy that Nietzschean scholars behave. Rich and manifold, research into Nietzsche's thought continues to thrive among us.

Among the most relevant ongoing researches, one cannot fail to mention those that reveal another face of the philosopher. Turning to his texts with attention and rigor, they explore totally unexpected aspects of his thought: attacks against the democratic ideal, the fight against the idea of ​​equality, the critique of the abolition of slavery, intolerance towards the sick and failed. , condemnation of the women's emancipation movement. He is a conservative Nietzsche who appears in the Brazilian philosophical scene. At the moment when the extreme right comes to power, this image of Nietzsche denounces the very situation we are living in: the five points above are in effect among us.

Political persecution, which leads to expulsion from the country, imprisonment and even assassination of opposition politicians, alongside the censorship of bloggers and the ideological cleansing of universities, clearly show that we live in a state of exception and not in a democracy. The promotion of the interests of groups linked to financial capitalism and agribusiness leads a large part of the population to live below the poverty line, deepening social inequalities. The reform of labor laws, contrary to the Brazilian Constitution, which reduce or even suppress workers' rights, and the deliberate abandonment of the fight against slave labor still present in the country, condemn thousands to a kind of slavery. The extermination of Indians, hatred against blacks and contempt for Bolivian and Haitian immigrants, in addition to the xenophobic and racist insults that invade everyday life, manifest intentions of a eugenic nature. The condemnation of abortion, the contempt for gender equality in wages and politics, as well as homophobic attitudes, are indications of retrograde ideas about the place of women in society.

But Nietzsche also reveals his resistance potential among us. Instead of appropriating certain aspects of his thought that would be likely to confirm his speeches, the ideologues of power, expressing their ignorance, cannot support him. If the conservative religious movements, supported by evangelical politicians, do not accept the announcer of the death of God, the military in power reject the disciple of Dionysus, who contributed to the opposition to the dictatorship in the 1970s. , the libertarian Nietzsche.

*Scarlett Marton is a retired professor at the Department of Philosophy at USP. Author, among other books, of Extravagances: essays on Nietzsche's philosophy (Barcarolla)

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