the spirit of freedom

Image: David Kouakou


Despiritualization is the product of “reification”, which converts the relationship between people into a relationship between things and corrodes the public space.

Christian Dunker, in Reinventing Intimacy, considers “the loss of the unity of the spirit a form of suffering”. Spirituality contributes to the symbolic unification of the family, the people, the nation and the social-economic formation. The topics fit the concept of Zeitgeist (spirit of the times), formulated by Johann Gottfried Herder, in the eighteenth century, when designating the intellectual and cultural climate of a time to encompass the significant set of socio-individual manifestations.

Eugênio Bucci, in the article “Fun and artificial spirit” – posted on the website the earth is round – rehearses a social phenomenology of spiritual erosion, previously devoted to freedom, which “pulverizes itself into infinite individualities” mediated by image and technique. Industrialized entertainment epitomizes the artificialization of the spirit. The pessimistic impression would reach the social movements.

Mobilizations in favor of the workers' agenda on the 1st of May, black people in repudiation of police violence, women in the denunciation of femicides and LGBT groups in the affirmation of gay pride in the streets often lend a contradictory appearance to the content. The spectacle form of the dialectic of overcoming the oppressed suggests co-option, sometimes, from the perspective of the Frankfurt School. Much because Theodor Adorno was slow to soften the criticism of cinematographic art and to admit, in the 1960s, the emancipatory potential of cinema. Not even Charlie Chaplin escaped this bipolarity.

Despiritualization is the product of “reification”, which converts the relationship between people into a relationship between things. At misery of philosophy, when criticizing economists who made the amount of work the only measure of value, Karl Marx writes: “It should not be said that one man's hour of work is worth another man's hour, but rather that a man's hour is worth like another one hour. Time is everything, man is worthless; it is at best the crystallization of time. Reification was born in Manchester; today, in addition to the world of work, it figures in Americanized patterns of leisure.

Georg Lukács, in History and class consciousness, deepens the discussion on the universalization of merchandise and the commodification of everything and everyone. The distinctive feature of capitalist totality, both objectively and subjectively, is the growing atomization of individuals. The theory of reification allows an understanding of the passage from the “infrastructure” to the “superstructure” of society. The devil does not steal souls from anyone, except in Pentecostal temples. Capitalism, yes, catches, kills and eats.


The accomplices of barbarism

“The romantic feeling of degradation, the spleen impressionist and postmodern apathy are examples of feelings of dissolution of the spirit”, observes Christian Dunker. A “depression” enunciates the failure in the meritocratic race, in the neoliberal phase. An exhausting dedication to a successful profession expresses the “mania”. The former are despised; the latter are transformed into icons of entrepreneurship. The psychic coin is the same, with opposite pathological faces. The current spirit of the times adapts the manic symptom to the grammar of normality, in the sense of the yuppies.

What signaled an ethical commitment to freedom in ancient times is now expressed with the criterion of profitability and performance in company balance sheets and in the reports of patients in the Psi field. In the last decade, the accounting cleavage highlighted the governments of the bourgeoisie and was reflected in the suffering of the most sensitive, such as poets. The resentful ones who rose to power do not reject inequalities, but their place in the hierarchy of the social order. The hatred they exude is aimed at courageous fighters for rights to break the tradition of domination and subordination.

Among us, fascist governance made the apology of freedom to mirror the interest of finance, the liberalization of work, extractivism in indigenous lands and the reactionary primarization of the nation by agribusiness to export commodities, not manufactured. The ideology of laissez-faire economy guided the simulacrum of rebellion in anti-democratic preaching, which inflamed the robotic horde of addicts to social networks and fake news. Freedom was expelled from the common good.

Proof of this is the crack in the fines of one million reais, in São Paulo, for transgressing health protocols during the pandemic, to propagate the criminal and vile strategy of “herd immunity”. Voluntary servitude to the denialist tyrant is a mockery of orphaned children, given the neglect of viral vaccination and social isolation. Despite the suspicious R$ 17 million raised, the ineligible did not settle the debt – evasion always knew. As a common embezzler, he kept the millionaire wound for himself in an attitude that was as illegal as it was immoral. The amount of money was supposed to respond to a public action, not the genocide. Poisoned hearts endorse impudence.

The loss of spirit on an international scale emerged forty years ago, with the first steps of neoliberalism to conquer hegemony. No “patropi” showed up in 1989, with the election of Fernando Collor – and the scandalously militant adhesion of the patriarch of Globo. In the same period, the Washington Consensus came to light with the commandment of anti-social fiscal adjustments, privatizations, the wage squeeze of functionalism and the ruthless dismantling of public services. With Jair Bolsonaro and the chicago boy Paulo Guedes, the destruction of the spirit led to paroxysm.


Save the public spaces

“Individuals behave based on the 'meaning' that comes from social interactions”, reads in the Dictionary of XNUMXth century social thought. The meaning of “interaction” is, one, elaborated in polyclass environments; and it is, another, in monoclass environments where similar values ​​are shared: income, consumption, vision of the future. Plurality is the insurance policy of democracy. Aryanism of class, ethnicity, gender, sexual condition or religious creed is an oppressive pedagogy.

In France, the experiment in zones to concentrate Arabs, Africans or Asians turned out to be a disaster. It implied ethnic ghettoization, blocked sociocultural integration and stigmatized immigrants. The extreme right exploits the error. The architectural option did not foster a national identity, but rather stimulated the outbreak of interracial conflicts. In Brazil, the divider has a class and color profile, in the urban periphery or in the closed condominium that emerged in the military dictatorship, in 1973. The origin of the bunker middle class is symptomatic. It represented an intramural withdrawal of “good people” so as not to see the evil (arbitrary arrest, torture, censorship) of the “economic miracle”. Christian Dunker includes the escapist idea in the list of the “Brazilian pathology of individualism”.

For Michael Sandel, panelist for the 17th season of Fronteiras do Pensamento: “We need to support public spaces that bring together people from diverse backgrounds. Going to the stadium brought the experience of mixing classes. Some seats cost more, but the ticket was affordable. In metaphorical terms, when it rained everyone got wet. The situation has changed. Now, low income does not enter. It is no longer true that when it rains, everyone gets wet”. The “cabins” unite the aristocracy of the old “big house”, apart from the popular passion, and the colonialist (racist) and patriarchal (sexist) bias.

Socially, the rolezinhos shopping malls – take place in republican venues, in theory, despite reservations of “social distinction” in the absence of noble titles. Rolés in the “modern caves” (José Saramago), denounce the aversion to the poor (aporophobia) and the prohibition of the right to come and go in a segregated society. Politically, participation in the public sphere of the Multiannual Participatory Plan, of the Lula government, provides opportunities for the deliberation of citizen policies. The corporate media turns a blind eye to not legitimize the news now yes of active and creative interaction. The purpose of the federal government is to reinforce the “principle of hope” of the people, in the public orbit.

Sad note. The city sung in verses by Mario Quintana and headquarters of the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, for the time being is managed in the most predatory way in land brazil. The mayor (MDB) – whoever saw it, whoever saw it – has extermination as his vocation. He authorized the cutting of hundreds of trees in Parque Harmonia to make parking spaces and is advancing with a project to transfer structures from Parque Farroupilha (Redenção) to the private sector, for thirty long years. He injected the necropolitics of capitalism into nature. He feared the conscientious effects of plural conviviality in green public spaces. A ruler who does not govern, he hands over control of the environmental heritage to the immediate profit of the private sector. All that's missing is the bonfire to burn the spirit of freedom and, together, equality.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.

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