new social contract

Image: Alexander Zvir


Human rights, sociability, human condition

It is preferable to warn the reader that this text is not intended to be a thesis, in the usual sense (combated by antitheses) nor academic, as if it were an excerpt from a doctoral thesis. Nor is it a thesis about history, like those of Walter Benjamin. It is just an essay, like Francis Bacon's, and should be read that way – perhaps, at best, it can inspire a thesis.

Humanity has only one social contract: the conditions and determinants of social interaction. So, in fact, there is no “new social contract”, since it is the same social contract that humanity remakes, reaffirms continuously. Under conditions, drastic setbacks, extenuating dangers of social disintegration or, instead, betting on the reaffirmation of social interaction, it is still the same social contract, motivator of the civilizing process.

This is the process redone since Lucy, the “primal scream” or Prometheus, or since humanity arrived at the super-action of the Homo sapiens. Or since we recognize ourselves as humanity, the homo sapiens sapiens: the human who recognizes his potential, capacity for wisdom (thought and action), as a super-action with a view to political intentionality, as political sociability: super-action oriented to politics (decision) and which is the primary source of human overcoming – in the sense that the social being (homo sociologicus) becomes (overcoming itself) the insurgency of the “political animal” (son politician).

It is obvious that overcoming is transformation and no one transforms himself without contributing to the modification of the environment. We will see that the vice versa is also corresponding. Obviously, conditions determined, imposed and independent of individual choices (as a rule by economic power) are or can be decisive – at least for some period of time. However, they are not deterministic, irrevocable, because if they were, there would be no significant changes or there would only be controlled transformations, never outside the system and its logic.

In practice, there would be no Lucy, Prometheus or the insurgent proletariat – this is a basic rule of modern social theory. Therefore, it is also obvious that the social force – especially the one that leverages social transformations – must be seen inside and outside the system, “of a supposed process determined to happen”, inside and beyond the external conditions, even global ones. : the functionalist conception does not get along with political history.

This is not the case of this text, however, we can think that there are deviant individuals or that even difficulties can be listed as irresistible motivations for mobility and the decisive impulse of uncontained, foreseen, “programmed” forces. Thus, the deviation that was once considered an abomination becomes a difference (SILVA, 2021). This difference makes us human, humanizes us and transforms our experience.

According to Goffman (1988), society sees deviation from the norm as something that puts the human species at risk, however it is a fact that since the Paleolithic, communities have included their elders and people with some difficulty in locomotion or disability (SILVA, 1984). Would these “prehistoric” communities be more humane, more intellectually developed than modern man/us?

In a high speech by Seneca (in the manner of the Stoics), Bacon told us that: “The good things that attend prosperity are desired, but the good things that come with adversity are admired […] But in general the virtue of prosperity is temperance; the virtue of adversity is strength; which, morality is the most heroic virtue […] Even in the Old Testament, if you listen to the harp of David, you will hear much of a funeral march – as well as glad singing; and the pen of the Holy Spirit labored more in describing Job's afflictions than Solomon's happiness. Prosperity doesn't come without a lot of fear and heartbreak; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes […]. Surely virtue is like a precious odor, most fragrant when it is burned or crushed, for prosperity best discovers vice, but adversity best discovers virtue.” (BACON, 2007, p. 22-23).

Necessities led us to cross the River Styx, in desperate search for the feast of the gods – as Bacon (2002) told us, in his peculiar narrative, in the form of a world of politics, polis, and that even though there is no public space in a large hall to accommodate all the people would also forge the birth of politics, under the inventive Neolithic era of another phase, one of the most fruitful, of the endless process of hominization.[I]

A process that occurs face to face, man becomes man when faced with his equal, culture and environment are modified and adapted according to man, humanity normalizes everything around him so that the environment benefits him. Culture and environment are influenced and influencers of human nature, this humanity that we know is built through and from the relationships established between man and man, man and culture, man and environment and modified according to the place and period in which he meet (VYGOTSKY, 2008).

Thus, when Marx (2003) says, in the famous Prefácio, that “humanity does not set itself problems that it cannot solve” is reaffirming our ability to overcome in the intentions and decisive actions of humanization. It is observing the social fabrication of Homo sapiens (us), in an uninterrupted continuum of overcoming the initial determinations – precisely through social intelligence – of humanity, which was and is made as a species and never in isolation.

It is about collective (social) intelligence, about overcoming persistent needs through excellent human power. The same one that started what we know as codes: linguistic, social. From the codes, we institute the symbols and their meanings (VYGOTSKY, 2008) that guide and govern what we call society and encode the modus operandi with which we need to fit in and guide our conduct in a system that encourages continuous production.

This overcoming power can be understood in two ways: synthesis and super-action. This super-action is a decisive action, the political decision, the revolutionary praxis that always overcomes the difficulties, needs, and transforms them into possibilities, activating the potentialities that (moving) make us continuously human – or more human, for good and for bad.

This super-action acts collectively, with the consequence of (continuously) making us (forcing us to be) social beings capable of acting in the praxis of overcoming humanity itself – in a generic way, and in the hominization that exists in us. Therefore, it is not an isolated action, but a social force active in the social fabrication of outstanding social beings driven by the ability to overcome the current limiting levels of social intelligence.[ii] Super-action is a dialectic, a continuous motor that builds social individuals and socializing capacity (intentionally) and transforms resistant needs into invigorating potentialities.

Which does not follow from an assumption that there are substantive links in a strong social contract; with the difference that a social contract is assumed that considers negative difficulties – even socialization and humanization. As well as the ability to face such restrictions, denials, with the same endless human capacity to assert ourselves within society - even though, in many circumstances, it has already been disintegrating as connections, social relations. After all, this overcoming potential does not belong to one or a few, since it is the essential condition of humanity and its uncontained civilizing process.

In this is the dialectic – that genetic, ontological, teleological disposition –, as mobile as the synthesis: the super-action that is always decisive in the making of human beings. This social contract requires us, in conscience and action, to (re)make a pact with ourselves: to be better humans tomorrow than we were able to be today.

It is a severe, indocile pact, demanding connection, interaction from us, at the levels and human values ​​most difficult to achieve and maintain in the decisive cortex of social individuals decided on hominization. It is a pact that requires us to overcome each day (better humans tomorrow than today): overcoming oneself implies social interaction that corroborates the overcoming of the species.

It is easy to see that there is no way to be different, after all humanity (and each one of us) does not overcome itself by inertia, by metaphysical forces or spontaneous generation. On the contrary, the civilizing process stems from the conscious, active (not just reactive), continuous pact of always becoming human. This is the individual cost of the social pact: humanity is always changing, changing us at all costs. It is from our quantity, from super-action, that superior human quality comes.

Is it possible to learn from mistakes or through adversity? Of course, yes, and the human trajectory with its technical or social creations demonstrates this. The most relevant question would tell us that more important than answering the previous question (quite obvious) it tells us that “capturing diversity”, taking human experiences that are effectively socializing for oneself, judging oneself for the benefit of social intelligence, is much more productive from the point of view of hominization: learning with heterogeneity, with differences, diversities, allows us to see that humanity is much broader than what the mirror reveals to us.

This is still the logic of Human Rights: advancing in the face of adversity, overcoming difficulties, inequalities, consolidating “unity in diversity”. this is how law reveals itself to be humanizing, profoundly ethical, anthropological, sociological. That's what we are, a futures betting contract.

In the spectrum of human rights, we can infer that social interaction increases when social inclusion is modified by heterogeneity, insofar as it acts as a source of socialization: growing sociability in diversity. This is the power of human rights, to widen the boundaries of the civilizing process, always reconciling with humanity the most inclusive, socializing and progressive human values.

Anyway, this is still a valid and justifiable way of observing human rights as a social force – peacemaker, in the sense that it enacts and reinvigorates the social forces inherent to socialization as a continuous process and inhibits the degenerative social forces of sociability. This is the effective social power of human rights – a social contract in which human values ​​are the origin and reason for social pacification.

Finally, it can be clearly seen that it is in this set that the matrix of heterogeneity is constituted: the social capillarity that moves the diversities towards the reunion in the humanizing axis of the law. How far are we from that? There is no single, deterministic answer, especially since this is the strength of our origin and essential condition as a species: super-action (acting to adapt and overcome) and progressive synthesis. In any case, let's improve our philosophy and practice right now. This will make us even more human.

*Vinicio Carrilho Martinez He is a professor at the Department of Education at UFSCar.

*Josana Carla Gomes da Silva is a doctoral student in Special Education at UFSCar.


BACON, FRANCIS. The Wisdom of the Ancients. São Paulo: UNESP publishing house, 2002.

BACON, FRANCIS. Essay. Rio de Janeiro: Voices, 2007.

BENJAMIN, WALTER. Selected Works – Magic and Technique, Art and Politics. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987.

GOFFMAN, ERWIN. Stigma: Notes on Manipulating Spoiled Identity. Translation: Márcia Bandeira de Mello Leite Nunes. Rio de Janeiro: Technical and Scientific Books -LTC, 1988. 158 p.

MARTINEZ, VINÍCIO CARRILHO. Necrofascism: National Fascism, Necropolitics, political lycanthropy, political genocide. Curitiba: Brazil Publishing, 2022.

MARX, KARL. Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. São Paulo: Martins Sources: 2003, p. 03-08.

SILVA, JOSANA CARLA GOMES DA SILVA. Double exceptionality: identification of high abilities or giftedness in visually impaired adults. Dissertation (Master in Special Education). Federal University of São Carlos. São Carlos: UFSCar, 231 f. Available at: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

SILVA, OTTO MARQUES. The ignored epic: the disabled person in the history of the world of yesterday and today. São Paulo: CEDAS, 1987. 470 p.

VYGOTSKY, LEV SEMENOVICH. thought and language 2008.


[I] Equally, it is not the purpose of this essay to navigate through the most forceful forms of denial of Politics, the most visceral forms of attack in conflict with sociability and confrontation with essential levels of Social Interaction, whether systemic - as intrinsic limitations to any social system of equally social responses – whether they be the modalities of ailments that unfold through the systematic crises of financial capital, such as classic Fascism or resilient Fascism, highly reproductive and adjustable to the times of antisocial networks and the Rentist State. As an essay it perhaps did not even need the formal announcement of its objectives; however, we will cite at least one: to outline a “social contract” in which sociability is the guide of Social Interaction (as an object of Sociology) and in the affirmative context of Fundamental Human Rights – in the sense that they are fundamental rights for poor people, excluded , black, expropriated even from the Principle of Human Dignity.

[ii] One can see, punctually in the current historical delineation, the determining force that half a dozen global communication, technology and entertainment companies exert on the path traced to human intelligence itself, conditioning human values ​​to the habits of ostentation, consumerism, “alienation from politics”, like someone who flees from the social struggle in the streets to the nest of the sofa, with the fingers raised in order to seal or cancel theses, human relations, businesses or other people.

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