Brazil has no forgiveness

Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875), Expression of terror, Photograph, 1862.


The sacred, the profane and the psychological: In none of these dimensions were we close to the minimum civilizing level for the dignity of the human person

The infamous massacre at Jacarezinho showed Brazilians who are endowed with a minimum of emotion – others deserve to be subjected to serious psychological studies – three things definitively: 1) “God” is not Brazilian, despite religious narratives always justifying events like this , since slavery; 2) the class struggle here is just a background to hide the real struggle for life; and 3) Brazilian society has never been progressive, in the sense of seeking a profound reform of the collective will to reduce the immense inequalities between the different social strata within our borders. Here are gathered the three real dimensions of a country that was never worthy of pity: the sacred, the profane and the psychological. In none of these dimensions were we close to the minimum civilizing level for the dignity of the human person.

Thus, if we really are a country of messianic impulses, as our history demonstrates, we have not yet been lucky enough to have an anti-system leader who would break the shackles of the way we see ourselves, a form secured by a tiny part of the Brazilian population: the most wealthy. Intellectuals of all stripes, at any time, have always sought ways to feed the national flock, answering at least one of the three questions above. Nothing remains clear to this day. In these 130 years of the Republic, perhaps the one who came closest to all – being one of the most ignored, obviously – was the intellectual Jessé Souza. He, in his various published books, especially on the subject of the “elite of backwardness” (1), managed to show the true face of those who really rule this country: the face of the ruling elites' hatred for the poor.

Now, wasn't it precisely this hatred, historically disseminated by a dominant class, that reached with its tentacles the class that lives-from-work (2) to enthrone a feeling of rottenness by the least favored? Has not God, through His earthly representatives, condone the various abhorrent forms of oppression throughout our history? If the divine is one, why did he act so differently in the countries of the north compared to the countries of the southern hemisphere? More. Why in the north of the planet the Christian schism, centuries and centuries ago, provided so many benefits for the majority of the population, despite the two great world wars, and here we are today with a part of these sects as hosts of neo-Pentecostal narco-militias(3)?

It must be complicated now for most of those who consider themselves religious to explain God's plans for families who lost their loved ones in an irrational repression of a State corrupted by the moneyed and deliberately aimed at the extermination of this "rabble", as he says. Jesse Souza. After all, what heavenly father would allow such an atrocity against his favorites? No, gentlemen. God – for those who believe in him – has nothing to do with that. Also, why would “the Almighty” be of mestizo origin? The elite of this country would not accept such a shame: having an impure god. Therefore, removing such ignominy from the Tupiniquim scenario, the predominant faith in these parts has always been much more restricted to the colonizer's imaginary, than to the actual actions of the Christian religion, except for a few individuals inspired by an inexplicable spark(4).

Therefore, there remain the other two hypotheses of why we are not yet worthy of forgiveness, whoever or where that forgiveness will come from. If one day it will come! I confess that I have no more hopes of witnessing our redemption as a nation. This personal disbelief is perhaps due to verifying, in practice, that necropolitics(5) between us is not only linked to the inherent devices of neoliberal capitalism, but has permeated our social construction since we entered the map of the great powers, more than five hundred years ago. In this vein, national necropolitics is the “soul” or, if you prefer, the “reason” for this journey. There is no point in talking about democracy, social justice and the reduction of economic inequality between classes, if we do not understand that Brazil's configuration has always been shaped by necropolitics, despite this term being recent.

There have been many attempts to explain the dynamics of Brazilian society. Jessé Souza portrays very well the racist culturalism of Gilberto Freyre, the cordiality of Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and the patrimonialism of Raymundo Faoro. In my opinion, he sins a little when he tries to generalize what is impossible in psychological and material terms. It would be better if it understood that the prerogatives until now given as a fact, that is, necropolitics as a national “soul”, was not necessarily present in the classes and their fractions as an isolated entity from intra/inter class transversalities, that is, the permission to who can live and who must die. This is to stigmatize the very history of the class struggle.

Really, if there is any truth, would he be closer to it if he pulled the handbrake of the historic(6) and verify that the main phase of the class struggle in that country, and in the world by extension, no longer matters so much for capital. The irreversible technological progress of global companies distributes only crumbs to the “class-that-lives-and-needs-to-work”, forcing its members to fight for them around the world. For those on the periphery like us, without the right to faith or the impulse of internal violence to justify the rights and duties of all citizens (like the great revolutions), the fight for life remains. In this respect, the murder of 28 people in Jacarezinho/RJ shows, so far, in a voracious, relentless and improvised way, that we are daily promoting the “historicicide” of our own history as a people gathered under the same sky.

Last but not least, the collective will for broad equality – civil, political, social and economic – has never been a personal trait of our society either. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer(7) considered the “Will” the representation of the “thing-in-itself”, but that had nothing to do with human subjectivity. She, “Will”, would be an impersonal force that would propel us towards a transcendental life, since he believed that the existence of a source of sufferings, since the human being is a slave of his own inexhaustible desire. The way out, for this atheist philosopher, would be art as transcendence of this material torment and otherness as a form of compassion and love for our fellow men, since, for him, and beyond mere appearance, we are one.

This brief philosophical digression was necessary to show everything that we never were, in the realm of what is not set, or rather, what was not, and is not, the truth of our history. Thus, when a disproportionate police force enters a community like Jacarezinho and once again unleashes all the demons of our private war, as happened in the slaughter of Eldorado dos Carajás, 24 years ago; or in the Carandiru massacre, in 1992; perhaps in the Chacina da Candelária, in 1993, etc., it is not just a matter of looking for the culprits and, sweet illusion, punishing them with the rigor of the law. But which law are we talking about? That on paper, written by the dominant elite, or that of our blood history, through the massacres of the people of the abyss, as Jack London wrote(8), the land grabs and the massacres of our original peoples?

To use a fashionable term, the commitment to the search for a fairer, less unequal and happier society is not in our DNA. In this sense, Jessé Souza's very pertinent criticism of Holanda's legacy on Brazilian “cordiality”, which will justify our mongrel complex, can be extended even further to what I understand to be our “original sin”, that is , the lack of a historical construction of the organic bases uniting the diverse peoples that mixed here for a larger project of citizenship. How can we expect violence, including the kind already mentioned, to stop happening from one day to the next, if we never build a minimal bridge of civility between social classes? Democracy among us is more than a misunderstanding, as Jessé points out, because how can democracy be understood without citizenship? Well, there was never citizenship for everyone in this country. There will never be democracy with this model.

Hence the lack of forgiveness for our green and yellow giant. Giant for whom? For local losers, borrowing Kurz's concept of global losers(9), Brazil is tiny, restricted to communities like the one that was invaded. It is there that the majority of the Brazilian people find themselves supported, either by drug dealers or militias that run the place. The State has turned its back on these people for centuries, the elite would like to bomb the favelas like in “Uncle Sam” war movies and the middle class doesn't look in the mirror so as not to see its origins there.

Therefore, I understand Jessé's anger when praising the Scandinavian peoples with their societies that are so much more egalitarian, in relation to what we have in our country. However, it is necessary not to lose focus on the historical trajectory of each one. Brazil did not constitute itself as a nation experiencing the “genetic” stages of these peoples. Let me explain better: the historical phases that Engels told us(10), what they were, the communal phase, the barbarism phase and the civilization phase did not take place on home soil by the same people, not even by the Schopenhauerian will of human beings with the same ethnicity. On the contrary, we are the result of different peoples, at different times in our own history. And more. With each phase passed, the trail we left was blood, sweat and tears. In other words, murders, massacres and massacres; slavery and overexploitation; spoliation, humiliation and naturalization of all this.

Forgiveness, or the settling of accounts between classes, so common in the histories of today's developed nations, was not the result of divine intervention. Much less the messianic leader we expect to date. All peoples built themselves socially through the Engelian phases. It will be no different with us. I imagine how difficult it is to imagine this. After all, for those who know a little about world history, these phases gave rise to civil wars, real revolutions (and not fallacies like dictatorships) and even dismemberment of territories. Only in this way did they repent with their fellow men and forgive each other. Today they are targets of our envy. But we will not reach this stage that arouses envy without following the same path as everyone else, even with our peculiarities and singularities. We will not be forgiven by history if we do not forgive our less favored citizens. Eldorado dos Carajás, Carandiru, Candelária, Jacarezinho, among many others, need to end.

* André Márcio Neves Soares is a doctoral candidate in Social Policies and Citizenship at the Catholic University of Salvador (UCSAL).


(1) SOUZA, Jesse. The backward elite: from slavery to Lava Jato. Rio de Janeiro, Leya, 2017.

(2) ANTUNES, Ricardo. Goodbye to work? Sao Paulo, Cortez, 2007.



(5) MBEMBE, Achilles. Necropolitical. São Paulo, N -1 Editions, 2018.

(6) LOWY, Michael. Fire warning: a reading of the theses “About the concept of history”. Sao Paulo, Boitempo, 2005.

(7) SCHOPENHAUER, Arthur. The world as will and representation. Rio de Janeiro, Counterpoint, 2016.

(8) LONDON, Jack. the people of the abyss. São Paulo. Popular Expression. 2020.

(9) KURZ, Robert.!/16.html;

(10) ENGELS, Friedrich. The origin of the family, private property and the state. São Paulo. Boitempo. 2019.

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