us and them

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Ipolitical implications of a semantic ambivalence.

“The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats away at the core of religion, turning it into fury and intolerance; it makes patriotism an excuse to carry fire, pestilence… it leaves nothing to virtue but the spirit of censorship and a narrow, jealous and inquisitorial vigilance over the actions and motives of others”.[I] (William Hazlitt, 1826).
“Us (Us, us, us, us, us) and them (Them, them, them, them) / And after all we're only ordinary men … / “Haven't you heard it's a battle of words?”… / It was only a difference of opinion” (Pink Floyd, Us and Them.


The two epigraphs, each in its own time and manner, point to issues of our own time, in which “others” are on the agenda, either from the perspective that we are all “common men” after all, as Waters tells us, or because , as Hazlitt wrote, we take an (unfortunate) pleasure in hating others.

Both confirm the irrationality that presides over such conduct and deplore its multiple toxic effects on an agenda of civilized coexistence. While the musician nurtures some hope, somewhat lyrically, since these “battles of words” only result in a “difference of opinion”, the English essayist remains skeptical about overcoming such feelings of animosity or attitudes of hostility. For Hazlitt we always have a superfluous amount of bile in the liver, and we always want an object on which to spill it.

Rogers Waters, however, incorporates a critical dimension into the song's lyrics, noting that the first verse is about going to war and how on the frontlines there is not the slightest chance of communicating with each other, because someone decided that it wasn't. to do it. He criticizes peremptory narratives in times of war, in which lives are lost in senseless deaths. The second verse is about civil liberties, racism and color prejudice. The last one is about passing by a beggar without helping him.

The binary contrast of us and them it is an unavoidable narrative in times of war, but which advances to other times, when there is a political-ideological polarization between nation-states, or within the same nation. Weapons and/or hate speech are, respectively, the usual means of these clashes. Of these clashes, “in the struggle of Good against Evil,” in the accurate and tragic expression of Eduardo Galeano, it is “always the people who contribute to the dead”.

Although today it is one of the most pervasive phenomena tearing different societies apart, the contrast between us and them it has a long genealogy, encompasses several areas of analysis and is effective through the occurrence of multiple processes. It can be presented in social, political, moral or religious terms, or in a combination of these instances, but its usual expression is given by discursive violence at the political level.

This problematic must not be thought of in abstract terms, but with reference to actions; it serves both to justify what has happened in the past and it can lay the groundwork for future actions. The characterization of this process of coordination between allies, or between enemies, develops according to situations, and according to the cultural resources provided by language.

The various elements of these types of speeches, particularly us and them, they are then positioned along the spatial, temporal and evaluative axes. This polarization can be evidenced either by the syntactic structures or by the lexical choices of a given utterance.

In the primordial sense it is about how humans divide and categorize themselves, group themselves differently into races, ethnicities, classes, nationalities. These configurations result in positive and negative effects, which alternate according to corporate arrangements, historical phases and political-ideological conjunctures.

Groups formed in this way produce their systems of beliefs and certainties, and of stereotypes and prejudices. Based on them, they define their actions and behaviors.

Within groups, or associated with others with whom they have affinities or trust, mercantile exchanges of ideas, feelings, emotions can be established – even if it is between foreigners. In this case there is a perspective of inclusion. Otherwise, those who do not share a given culture “are of another type,” and cannot participate in a given society. In this way, the possibility of a relationship of us and them, through stigmata. Stigmatized groups are recipients of all sorts of abuse, physical and psychological violence.

A reference to Carl Schmitt, conservative and authoritarian German political theorist and jurist, symptomatically close to Nazism, may be of some use here. In his 1932 book, The concept of the politician, defines that the “political” is the scope of the unavoidable and perennial propensity of human collectivities to identify “others” as “enemies,” as incarnations of the “different and strange” in terms of ways of life, which lead them to mortal combats like constant possibility and frequent reality.

In his critique and refutation of the principles of the Enlightenment and liberalism, politics appears as a distinction between friends and enemies (although such a distinction is more a rhetorical emphasis than a consistent conceptual elaboration). His insistence that recourse to transcendental and extra-rational spheres is necessary to ground authority politically and morally seems to resonate today.

Some, due to Schmitt's emphasis on moral and theological considerations, prefer to see him as a political theologian, insofar as he conceives of history and politics as a field of struggle permeated by divine providence. It is true that pastors, evangelicals, neo-Pentecostals and others, entrepreneurs who baptized their businesses as churches, where they sell Christ at retail, more notable or more properly notorious who surround the former captain who (dis)governs us, are at a distance immeasurable of the German theorist in terms of elaboration, but the references “to the god above all” and the like are there, visible to the naked eye and hurting the ears with alarming stridency.

Perhaps this will help explain what motivates Bolsonarist groups, and what keeps them united in their fanaticism, in their faith, irrational by definition, to act based on the nonsense uttered by their leader. For the latter, most likely out of cleverness and cynicism, and for those who see him as sent by divine providence, in their holy ignorance, The State, authority and civil ties find their foundation in theology, they do not depend, therefore, on pacts or contracts or constitutions, but of revelation and the will of God (at this point in Bolsonarism, possibly already fed up, willing to give up its green-yellow citizenship).

A certain parallel between our social and political crisis – which some see as a possible prelude to civil war – and the collapse of the Weimar Republic, on the eve of Hitler's rise to power, is worrying. There, as here, there was no lack before, as there is now, voices wanting to confer authority and legitimacy on the ruler at the expense of the constitutional spirit and letter. But here, say the unwary (and the self-interested, condescending or conniving), the institutions are working and democracy is consolidated.


In recent decades, many situations, at an international level or within nations, not without drama, have updated these processes of exclusion, prejudice, racism and xenophobia. Little has been done, however, apart from cultural events, academic research or scientific forums to curb such deleterious manifestations. It is worth highlighting, in this regard, the exhibition “Us and them – from prejudice to racism”, promoted by UNESCO, between 2017 and 2018, at the Musée de l'Homme, in Paris.

A rare countercurrent approach, which introduces the practically unknown concept of xenophilia, given the non-existence of its practice, is found in a recently published book by Will Buckingham, Hello Stranger: How We Find Connection in a Disconnected World (Granta, 2021), which deals with the complexity of our relationships with foreigners, and how we can become better by welcoming them, giving them access to our lives.

 Among other works dealing with the subject is a 1972 play by David Campton, “Us and Them.” In it, the playwright exposes with astuteness, in a brief and almost didactic way, the dynamics of estrangement, mistrust and conflicts embedded in such relationships. It is very likely that Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, was based on or inspired by Campton, who a year earlier, in his play with the same title, placed a “wall” (The Wall) at the center of his text, which, symptomatically, in 1979 it would become the title of the band's notable rock opera.

Em us and them, from Campton, two groups, one coming from the East, the other from the West, are looking for a place to settle. As soon as they find it, they agree to draw a dividing line demarcating territories. Some time later, the line becomes a fence, and immediately beyond it a wall, which grows continuously to the point where neither side knows what the other is doing, which leaves them mutually curious at first, then apprehensive. From these feelings advance to distrust, thence to fear, each believing that the other is plotting something against him. When fear takes over, both sides, without even realizing it, start making preparations for a conflict, until it inevitably ends up occurring.

In the end, the few who survive, seeing the destruction they caused each other, come to the conclusion that the wall was to blame.

Common sense would advise not to blame the wall for being there; only people with their obsessions with walls, and fears of the unknown, suspicious of the different, should be blamed for their mutual paranoia of destruction.

In the absence of a basic condition of “trust”, to institute governments or to allow peaceful coexistence between peoples, we are left with the obsession with the other side of the wall. There are eventually grounds for such distrust, but there is also, not without a certain irony, the fact that walls or no walls, most of the time distrust in the other is created within our own imagination, in a paranoid disorder; or, in more regrettable cases, induced by the manipulation of the powerful, in search of more power, either to consolidate it or to establish unchallengeable hegemonies.

The polarization contained in the formula has been a field of linguistic study, where connections between language, prejudice, power and ideology are explored. As much as they appear in the institutional dimensions of a classroom, in journalistic texts, in news and television interviews, in strategic texts within organizations, in medical discourses and language, as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, and no less important, due to its corrosive dissemination, in popular language, today amplified by social networks.

In all cases, it is a functional use of language, with particular incidence in the political sphere, to delineate a field, we, against another, they, and respective positions, including or excluding certain groups, by reference to an enunciating center, which may include the social status, location, present time of the speaker.

Some political or social actors are in a position to impose borders by demarcating territories About e they, an obvious manipulative resource.

Manipulation understood here as a form of abuse of social power, cognitive mind control and discursive interaction. Social manipulation is defined as illegitimate domination, by reference to social inequality; cognitively, manipulation such as mind control involves interference with understanding processes, the formation of biased mental models and social representations, such as knowledge and ideologies; discursively, manipulation often involves the usual forms and formats of ideological discourse, such as emphasizing our good things and As their bad things (TA Vandijk, 2006).

These processes are organized around some axes: one has to do with the place or geopolitical location from where the speech is made; another, with its historical references, and a third, in relation to values ​​and ideologies.

In order to increase the credibility of a political discourse in such polarized contexts, in which manipulation is recurrent, assertive, peremptory statements are used, apparently perceived as logical, legitimate and expected, however difficult to verify their veracity at the time that are uttered.

In addition to these assertions, a politician can boast about his performances and actions, while blaming the opponent for a certain state of affairs, or highlighting his lack of moral character.

Under these conditions, it is not uncommon for doors to open to “alternative realities”, where many lives become alienated in search of consolation for their misfortunes, and in the (vain) hopes of another future.

After this operation, specific groups can organize themselves in order to reflect an identity thus constructed. In this way, solidarity between participants in one field can be increased, while at the same time aversion to the other is created.


The virulence with which this pair presents itself today, whether at the level of speeches and speeches in collective and public spheres, or in sociopolitical practice, acquires forms of hyperpartisanship; abusive language; of tricks and falsehoods to compromise the will of the polls, encouraging more or less violent confrontations as to whether to accept or reject the results; generates blind support or radical criticism of established governments; none of that, but it is unique to current times. They are recurrent phenomena in history, gaining relevance and intensity in conditions of general crisis of the systems that govern societies, with modulations on the economic, political, cultural or religious levels.

It would therefore be advisable, preliminarily, not to pose this question in abstract or universalist terms referring it to any context, place or situation. It is not enough for us to refer it to the realm of pure philosophical or political knowledge, or to that of the metaphysics of morals; there is a need to criticize the latter and, only then, bringing them back to common knowledge, apply them in practice. In turn, societies do not equate themselves or define the terms by which they function only by common rationality or morality, as these can be both confusing and perverted, respectively.

However, if its disruptive manifestations predominate today, the formula us and them and its practice, before being impugned as an absolute evil, deserving the repudiation of the well-intentioned, the tolerant, the pacifists or the democrats, it is convenient to consider it in historical terms, placing it then in different social contexts and political conjunctures. As we will see, this phenomenon cannot and should not be recognized only in its negativity, as a wedge irrevocably separating social aggregates, alienating them from one another in varying degrees of animosity, when not openly bellicose.

"We e them”, is still a formula that suggests an addition, cooperation between one and the other, a sum of efforts for a certain action, a common undertaking, although in its current use the sense of estrangement between two groups, potentially in conflict, prevails.

In this last sense, perhaps it would be more appropriate to use the formula “we ou they", "us and others” in which the contraposition becomes evident and the exclusion, mutual, explicit in its imminent confrontational crudity.

O other, From the perspective of each side, when this configuration acquires a certain radicality, it is reduced to an object, stripped of its moral prerogatives, diminished or annulled in its humanity, and then it cannot be tolerated, admitted as a legitimate member of a community, recognized in its dignity, and must be defeated, banished or eliminated.

After all, “hell is other people”, as Sartre wrote; in his play, the actors, instead of seeing in others the imperative of a social relationship to build their own identity, to know themselves, act as each other's executioners. It can also be a way of exempting ourselves from responsibilities, of assuming our own freedom, of not recognizing the shadow of what is unacceptable in us, projecting it onto others (Jung).

In this way, like Dante, who did not just send sinners to hell, by subscribing to the thesis, and putting it into practice, that the “fault” is always in others, we can do as he did by sending disaffections, political opponents, those of another “race”, creed or civilization to the terrifying depths where the most impish demons dwell.

It is where, according to the canons of “good society” (as this expression has been used by ultraconservatives), everyone who has a “color defect”, a wrong language or accent, a distant origin from their parishes, the those who eat what seems inedibly disgusting, those who have unsanctioned habits or values ​​not recognized by the presumptuous exclusivism of the ways of life of the “good citizens” of that society.

Enclosures and fences are thus established, harassing and suffocating some and isolating and protecting themselves from others. There is no lack of choreographies, songs or prayers in these lullabies in favor of the gods of a given side, nor to exalt the culture of this one while the other is denigrated and their heretical beliefs are denounced.

For some, autonomy is a prerogative that seems inherent to their own nature, while for others, heteronomy would be glued to their ancestral skin. The former are entitled to be guided by their own rules regarding moral conduct and legal organization, while the latter are only suited to submission to political systems, religious dogmas and values ​​and principles that are imposed on them.

In the first case, there is the Greek formula: the law is us (our law), corresponding to an autonomous society (law as our creation); in the second case, we have the Western European formula (XNUMXth century): the law is they (laws given from outside), corresponding to a heteronomous society.

If hell is others, on an individual level, barbarians are others, on the level of history. In this tone of civilization or barbarism, it becomes a contradance in which the protagonists change roles and movements, now graceful, now clumsy, in a succession of war and peace, of astonishing horrors and spectacular conquests.


In this interconnected world, made close, either by the joke metaphor that a sneeze in the East cools someone in the West, and vice versa; whether by the ambiguous concept of political economy, or geopolitics, of “globalization” and many other processes of world simultaneity, one of the most worrying phenomena, one of the greatest risk refers to the formula Us and Them, Us and Them, due to the potential for xenophobia it entails.

It is somewhat paradoxical that, with the universalization of the interdependence of peoples in terms of needs and the means of satisfying them, assertions about differential identities by excluding discourses have led to intransigence and xenophobia.

Dividing the world in this way, tensioning it to the degree of polarization, is a preliminary to dropping bombs on the “others”, which seems to be part of the human, social, economic and ecological landscape, more or less devastated, of today.

us and them they are expressed in different scales, from family groupings to political parties, from nations to blocs disputing world hegemonies. We found in them common elements of estrangement, mistrust, stigma, prejudice, non-recognition of the other, disqualification for interlocution; relations of independence and subalternity, of autonomy and heteronomy; impositions of arrogance and arbitrariness, of lordly culture and vassalage, of authoritarian forms of political domination, of violence and impunity and, no less threatening, of intimidation that “either you are with us or against us”.

It is necessary, however, to qualify this intransigence, which seems to level the two sides, as if both, or seeking the same ends, were equally oriented in promoting the good, the beautiful, the true, freedom, justice, rights, or were likewise deniers of such lofty dispositions.

These are, however, non-equivalent.

See how power and inequality can be built or maintained through the use of language, as a result of the asymmetric power that different social actors have. These can, in their speeches, build different narratives around events and processes that strongly impact public opinion, generating serious or harmful consequences.

Let's consider examples of continuing “controversies” in our country: whether 1964 was a coup or a revolution; if the impeachment President Dilma Rousseff, following the legal procedures, enshrined the institutional mechanism to defenest rulers, or was used as a spurious mechanism that discredited him, trying to mask a paltry political coup; whether Bolsonaro's election meant a renewal of politics or its exact and emphatic opposite, its degradation; whether such a ruler is a “myth”, or a grotesque caricature of a vulgar and vile creature politician.

Not incidentally, it is from these discursive oppositions, these disputed narratives that the political polarization, the us against them, with the emotional load it carries, dragging the weak political conscience of multitudes, instigating some to irrationalism that makes them demand a new authoritarianism, while others, perplexed and impotent, outline some resistance, or try to gather forces around some commitment or democratic project -civilizing.

If both sides invoke their reasons, claim their prerogatives or force the advancement of their interests and projects, it is necessary to distinguish them by the criteria of accumulated knowledge and civilizing historical practices. The legitimacy and credibility criteria may be in dispute, but there are parameters to validate them, enshrined by the level of civilization in which we find ourselves.

A side whose main goal is irrationalism, whose political project is a brash authoritarianism and whose morality is based on religious fanaticism, cannot claim equivalence with the side that opposes it.

As Sérgio Rodrigues writes, “The A gang represents civilization, democracy, humanism, art, science, ecology, pleasure, tolerance, straight talk, integrity, elegance, health, humor and skin smelling like lavender soap after a shower. The B group defends barbarism, authoritarianism, obscurantism, philistinism, irrationality, environmental destruction, repression, intolerance, lies, facelessness, tackiness, disease, boils in the eye and flatulent miasmas”.

It is a fact that the ravings of group B have already been subscribed, and still are, by large sections of the population. Which is immensely deplorable, and a warning about the degree of regression that occasionally makes societies unhappy, such as Brazil today.

If in “normal” times, when political conflict, inherent in society, remains within agreed rules, sanctioned and enshrined by legitimate institutions, collective actions take place within the framework of respect and recognition of the humanity of the “other”, of the adversary, even if feelings and imagination find it difficult to vibrate in the same pitch.

On the other hand, in situations of crisis, instability, in contexts of deprivation or difficulties, it is not uncommon for pacts to be loosened, disbelief in institutions, distrust in organizations and political processes, opening up opportunities for authoritarian solutions, in the mistaken perception of many , that only a strong hand, a “savior of the homeland” could, by regenerating the social fabric, meet the demands of the destitute, disinherited, destitute or resentful people.

This is a dangerous moment, in which dissatisfactions of all kinds, which certainly have objective foundations, can be channeled by unscrupulous politicians towards the dead end of the various authoritarianisms. Regimes of this type, where restrictions on freedoms, animosities and hostility to opponents, open repression or violence prevail, seek to legitimize themselves by demonizing the “other.” In our country, authoritarian, right-wing regimes, such as that of 1964, or the one rehearsed by Bolsonaro, identify the “other” especially as the communists, the left, the reds in their various shades or imaginary incarnations.

With this pretext, many falsehoods and intense manipulation induce, through fear, the conformity or adherence of many, with inflamed rhetoric and monstrous denunciations, deceiving part of the population, which ends up adhering to a suicidal course, abdicating rights and freedoms.

In such conditions, the forces that resist authoritarianism, notably those on the left, find it very difficult to reorganize themselves, and especially to regain political support, social adherence and some ideological identification.  Nikos Kazantzakis has astutely formulated this difficulty: “The rich are afraid of you, thinking you are Bolsheviks. The poor hate you, because the rich have blinded you…”.

Faced with such a disposition of minds, with which the right stigmatizes the left, it may be unproductive to return in kind, branding, for example, all Bolsonaro voters as fascists. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to inquire about the causes that led them to support such a character? Advance in understanding why the extreme right capitalized on criticism of the system (liberal, of representative democracy), criticism that was precisely one of the meanings of being on the left?

It remains somewhat incongruous, or ironic, that today the left is the political force most committed to the defense of (liberal) democracy, while the right has become radicalized to the point of extremism, by threatening it. Despite such an evident distribution of sociopolitical forces, a part of the so-called moderate/civilized right, aligned with neoliberalism, whose weak adherence to democracy has already made it support dictatorships and coups, including the most recent one, in 2016, intends, without much chance, to present herself as a representative of the political center, as a guarantor of the same democracy that she helped to weaken.

This pretension is rhetorically supported by the thesis, inconsistent, that we would be in the conjuncture that leads to the presidential elections of 2022, facing two extremes. One on the left, whose greatest leader is Lula, and one on the right, Bolsonaro. Such a diagnosis reveals not only an analytical error, but the very nature of his conception of democracy, in which popular interests, whether those that correspond to its structural position, or those that would give it greater political participation, are interdicted, or restricted to the Minimum.

There is also a trap here; this pseudo center, in fact the neoliberal, inconsequentially democratic right, which opened the flanks to Bolsonarist extremism, cannot now, in the face of the monster that it helped to create, set itself up as the main axis, around which everyone must revolve, including the left, to fight it. As a result, the proposal for a Broad Front to face right-wing extremism and its threats of a coup is innocuous and mistaken. The left would do better to continue to wither on neoliberalism, ultimately the cause of these contemporary political teratologies, without ceasing to fight them as such.

This does not mean discarding common punctual arrangements, which can momentarily unite opponents, in terms of substantive projects, aiming at a limited but crucial objective, such as the one that arises at this juncture, by bringing liberals, conservatives, progressives and the left together to make viable the impeachment of Bolsonaro, each group demarcating terrain and contributing with its forces and initiatives.


Under current conditions, the disjunctive us and them, with all the drama it carries and the risks it implies, it seems to impose itself.

Overcoming it, rebuilding a social fabric lacerated to the point of imminent necrosis, an institutionality in tatters and a collective conscience divided between some lucidity and a broad alienation will be a Promethean task to challenge the present generation and, possibly, some that will follow.

This task will have to be resolved by politics, not by its negation, by its democratic form, which, in addition to organizing power and putting it to work, must have an ethical content. That is to say, a consideration for the “other”, referring to the original meaning of the cops, an ordered coexistence of individuals, a community of reciprocal actions. As such, not yet fully realized in the history of peoples, it is even more difficult in our time, which seems to promote the estrangement as a globalizing (totalizing) vector.

This estrangement is not just a strangeness regarding the values ​​or conduct of others, but it is presented as a structural dimension of societies and the relationships they establish with each other through processes of exploitation and oppression.

It follows that the lamentable and interminable history, which makes use of mythologies and moralities to create animosities between peoples, feeding misunderstandings, spreading prejudices, generating fanaticism, or presumptuous condescension, would find a better explanation by considering economic, demographic and geopolitical factors.

In this way, unfortunately, there is no lack of a web of economic, military and other interests that define hegemonic disputes, to continue stirring the sticks and firewood that feed the bonfire of nationalist, hostile, racist, xenophobic feelings.

Moving forward in overcoming these polarizations is one of the greatest contemporary political and civilizing challenges, demanding a perspective of cooperation to build an environment of shared trust, in the recognition of “what is”, before “what could be.”

It is not unreasonable here to remember that it is the hardened elites, the presumptuous owners of power who stimulate the us against them, in the well-known and effective strategy of divide-and-rule, divide and rule.

Moving towards attenuating polarizations is not to deny the importance of political conflict, unavoidable in societies divided into classes or stratified by so many other criteria, but political conflicts do not need to take place in terms of identifying an enemy that one wants to destroy, not be in extreme situations of wars or exceptional, of revolutions.

Political conflicts in contemporary societies should admit that opponents can be in broad disagreement, but disputes need to start from the assumption that both have the right to exist.

Against xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, intolerance, prejudice, a potent antidote would be to verify, and even more to understand, that difference is not a threat.

This understanding should lead to an opening of cultural, religious, political and economic borders, in such a way that there is interaction not only via commercial wars or military conflicts, in terms of international relations; and internally, that the aforementioned confrontations were rather inevitable disputes, but that they did not result in the fraying of the social fabric, as an inevitable cost of reorganizing the political regime or legitimizing a governmental mandate.

It would not be a question of a distant utopia in the mists of the earth, still happily round, more of an agenda for coexistence, in which the reasons of others would not need to be discarded as an intolerable affront. Listening to the reason of others, taking them into account is not equivalent to giving up your own, but opening space for the recognition of differences, dialogue, cooperation.

In the practice of contemporary social interactions, it becomes sociologically impertinent, and politically inconsequential, to segment society into two large homogeneous blocks and fix them on a granite wall for indefinite periods. Demographic transformations, migrations, the spatial organization of populations, social mobility, urban planning, or lack thereof, the social division of labor in permanent liquefaction due to rapid changes in productive forces and ways of organizing and operationalizing them and its cultural and political reverberations are all ingredients of an accelerated, wide-ranging reconfiguration of society. There is, therefore, movement, displacements, repositioning at each inflection of processes, at each heating up of conjunctures, disaggregating some blocks, consolidating others, leaving many others to drift.

Faced with these conditions, a keen political intelligence will know how to capture the flow of these movements, launch anchors for strays, hooks to catch available, or nets and snares to fill your basket. In this way, if at some point the opposition us and them must be recognized in its unshakable rigidity, making confrontation the best tactic, at another time, with some or greater porosity between the parties, a more flexible tactic is recommended. It would be the moment of composition, of aggregating diverse forces around objectives delimited by such conjunctures, of minimum guidelines to leverage possible advances.

This seems to be an urgent need for the democratic and progressive forces, and a few more, in the face of Bolsonarist barbarism. An articulation of political “fronts”, more pragmatic than ideological, more circumstantial than programmatic, more tactical than strategic, whose axis, coordination and leadership will be given at every step in the real movement, through the initiative capacity and political clarity of those who compose them.

Such a possibility is what can encourage us, avoiding the tentacles of despair that constantly threaten to suffocate us, to continue the days of secular struggles of peoples for the institution of more fraternal, just and solidary societies; or at least nation-states in which the notion of people includes popular sovereignty, democratic citizenship and an ethnic community without distinction of distinctions of honor and prestige. Everything that is now interdicted or threatened by the far right government that disgraces the country.

Remy J. Fontana, sociologist, is a retired professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).


Pink Floyd. Us and Them. The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973.

William Hazlitt, On the Pleasure of Hating. The Oxford Book of Essays. Chosen and Edited by John Gross. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Eduardo Galeano. The Theater of Good and Evil. Porto Alegre: L&PM, 2006.

Horace Miner In: AK Rooney and PL de Vore (orgs). You and the Others. Readings in Introductory Anthropology. Cambridge: Erlich, 1976. A version in Portuguese is available on the internet, with the title “Ritos corporal entre os Nacirema”.

Nikos Kazantzakis. The Recrucified Christ. São Paulo, Abril Cultural: 1971.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Between four walls. Cultural April: 1977.

David Campton. us and them. A staging of the play is available at

David Campton. Us and them. For the text of the play see, from page 70

Sérgio Rodrigues, “Brazil against Brazil. The old struggle of good against evil has become a realistic way of seeing the world”. Folha de São Paulo, 27 / 05 / 2021

Susan Brokensha, “Noticing Us and Them constructions: the pedagogical implications of a critical discourse analysis of referring in political discourse”. Per Linguam – A Journal for Language Learning, 2011 27(1):56-73

Teun A. Vandijk. “Discourse and manipulation”. Discourse & Society, 2006 Vol.17(3):359-383


[I] “The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, corrodes the core of religion and transforms it into rage and intolerance; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence … it leaves nothing to virtue but the spirit of reproach and a close and jealous inquisitorial vigilance over the actions and motives of others”.

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