Fear and Hope

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By Anderson Alves Esteves*

The welfare state projected by the 1988 Constitution never left the status of incipience. The ruling class managed, through a succession of counter-reforms, to transform it into a “corporate welfare state”.

“He who sows wind reaps storms” (Erico Verissimo, The time and the wind)

One of the modern metaphysics is the consideration of individual interest as the key to explaining societal ties: a specific historical moment is universalized in order to, unconsciously, intertwine it with the intellectual and sensorial faculties of the person, allegedly taken as its prerogative and, thus, essentializing it. if and ontologizes a man from a certain time and space as “the man”, invalidating any judgment that transcends his own particular interest (heralded as general) and taking any reforming/transforming projects as chimeras that violate sacred individuality.

However, by pulling the social rug out, both cohesion is reached and the individual is placed on the edge of the abyss: the person is approached as a pursuer of interests (profits, trades, pleasures) and fear is instilled in him, in order to who surrenders to a power that imposes itself on all forms an emasculated individual.

This is what happened in the seventeenth century, in the theoretical body of Thomas Hobbes, when the philosopher observed that in such a way the competition advanced, the strife between papists and Presbyterians, between apologists and detractors of the monarchy, the class struggle between bourgeois and aristocrats, that the country resembled a war of all against all; from this emerged the demand for order, security, preservation of amenities and the possibility of achieving all the desires established as natural to human beings.

Such a way of thinking is ideological in two senses: false consciousness as it attributes particular considerations of history and society to the whole, inverting them, leading the reasoning geometrically from the particular to the universal, as if the first were not a social product; true by involuntarily mirroring, at a theoretical level, the contradictions existing in society, inadvertently denouncing them. Such is the penetration of this ideology that, mutatis mutandis, in XNUMXst century Brazil, electoral responses continue to convey it with the ambiguity that already existed in XNUMXth century England, and also to present the cipher with which the electorate has responded to the latest opinion polls.

The popularity indicators of the Jair Bolsonaro government in 2019, according to Ibope, pointed out that (1) the “excellent or good” rating fell from 35% (April), to 32% (June), to 31% (September) and, finally, to 29% (December); (2) “regular” ranged from 31% (April), to 32% (June and September) and again 31% (December); (3) “bad or very bad” grew from 27% (April), to 32% (June), to 34% (September) and, finally, reached 38% (December); (4) were unable to answer 7% (April) and 3% in subsequent months[I].

In terms of differences between family income ranges, from April to December 2019, Datafolha indicated that (1) the “great or good”, for those with a family income of up to 2 minimum wages, fell from 26% to 22%; among those earning between 2 and 5 minimum wages, it dropped from 36% to 35%; among those earning between 5 and 10 minimum wages, it rose from 43% to 44%; among those who earn more than 10 minimum wages, it increased from 41% to 44%.( 2) “Bad or very bad”, among those with a family income of up to 2 minimum wages, increased from 34% to 43%; among those earning between 2 and 5 minimum wages, it rose from 27% to 31%; among those earning between 5 and 10 minimum wages, it increased from 28% to 31%; among those earning more than 10 minimum wages, it decreased from 37% to 28%[ii].

In 2020, on March 23, when the country registered 1891 infected with the coronavirus and 34 deaths, Datafolha presented the first survey on Bolsonaro’s conduct in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic: it was considered “excellent or good” by 35 %, “regular” by 26%, “bad or terrible” by 33% and “did not know how to answer” 5%. The president's evaluation was much lower than that of the governors who, in general, had 54% approval, and that of his own Minister of Health, approved by 55%. Even among those with a family income above 10 minimum wages, 51% rated Bolsonaro’s conduct in the face of the pandemic as “bad or terrible”.[iii] and even the noblest neighborhoods of the big Brazilian cities joined the reinauguration of the pots.

In addition, disapproval of the government also grows in line with schooling (the “bad or bad” reaches 27% among those with elementary education and increases to 46% among those with higher education). Also on March 23, Ibope pointed out that, in the city of São Paulo, 48% evaluated the Bolsonaro government as “bad or terrible”, 26% as “regular” and 25% as “great or good”.[iv]. Gradually, Bolsonarism shrinks and insole towards its own core, losing power of attraction over the center and the center-right.

What kind of calculation/reasoning did the Brazilian of the underlying social stratum do to bet on Bolsonaro and then slowly and steadily disembark from approving his government?

Hobbes raised the well-known thesis that the sociability and progress of human industries are only ensured by a pacifying and coercive power, which circumscribes individuals (rational, free, individual and isolated as if they were “mushrooms”[v]) to respect rules established by themselves, through a “contract”[vi], and who decided to assemble civilly and peacefully, instead of attacking each other like “wolves”[vii], under an institution that gave them security, dictated the criteria for determining just and unjust and good and evil, that monopolized force and the collection of taxes, that made it clear to whom each property belonged and that prevented sedition and factionalism.

Thus, despite not enjoying life in society and not being characterized as son politician, the modern individual, loving himself and not others, reasoned/calculated that he would achieve his goals (profits, trades and pleasures) by associating with other individuals to conquer and maintain enjoyment often, since he would like to enjoy himself always and not just once at the expense of suspending everyone's right to everything.

In society, an individual encounters others; hence the enmity between them, the “war of all against all”[viii] to which they are disposed with the same bodily and spiritual nature and aspiring benefits to which others also desire, is only avoided by putting an end to the law of nature (jus naturale) that gives everyone the freedom to do what they want. Civil and political differences are imposed that force the renunciation and transfer of the right to all things to the “State”[ix]-Leviathan, thwarting and abolishing equality among all in order to achieve and preserve the peace and comforts resulting from their industries. Mushroom individuals set up laws of nature that everyone had to obey and which can be summarized by one of them, namely, “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”[X].

However, two constitutive passions for people, fear and hope, are not voluntary and incline them to violate the laws of nature rationally established in a contract and to orient themselves to the taste of the individual sword; therefore, in the name of rules and common defense, it was necessary to submit private wills and transfer the right of individual actions to something that observed whether everyone was restraining themselves or, in other words, whether they were metamorphosing from natural men into citizens .

An institution with the strength of a Leviathan (Job 41, 24) was needed in order to impose itself on all pride and vanity and to check whether each one was truly exchanging the security received for the obedience due. Only then can the “common good”[xi] of the law prospers and prevents everyone from ruining themselves, giving rise to and choosing for the “mutual relationship between protection and obedience”[xii] to Leviathan and its “absolute” power[xiii], limiting what each would naturally do to achieve their goals.

To submit to the Leviathan-State is to calculate that there are more advantages in renouncing the individual sword in order to ward off what one fears, to hope to achieve what one desires, than to fight alone against all competitors to preserve and achieve the yearnings. The sovereign carries out the punishments for the infractions of the violators of the contract and maintains, permanently, the fear[xiv] of the consequences of the crimes, propagating the punishments as greater than the possible benefits of breaching the contract. Fear was summoned by the State to unite all individuals against war and to maintain the resulting peace.

Fear is a cipher; hope, another: in addition to the aversion to something/someone, men have the desire to keep what they have acquired through their efforts; beyond the preservation of life and the fear of death, there is the yearning for peace, progress, comfort, respect and expansion of the my M and tuum, for enrichment, for living as something good. Fear stimulates the contract and hope is needed to keep it.

Marital status protects; however, it needs to prosper continuously: if the sovereign, on the one hand, is thought of as prior to justice and property by establishing laws that make them possible, on the other hand, it only remains legitimized, in the eyes of the contracting parties, by preserving security and offering the conditions of possibility to increase the comfort resulting from the work performed and the autonomy that each one has to do with their goods what they want.

The fall in popularity of the Bolsonaro government among the poorest, despite their affiliation with the conservative agenda in the 2018 elections and the fear of the erosion of certain traditional values ​​and institutions, denotes, as time has passed, a loss of hope in expanding material comfort to life. The reckless Brazilian, faced with the risk of erosion of his customs, is the same hopeful and eager for education, health, work, retirement and well-being. This is seen in the imminent collapse of the SUS and the attack by Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes on labor rights, while governments in other countries, on the other hand, increased the social protection network during the pandemic crisis.

Datafolha pointed out that, in spontaneous responses, the four most problematic areas cited by Brazilians, after a year of the Bolsonaro Government, were, in order, health, education, security and unemployment; among those with a family income of up to two minimum wages and those in the range of 2 to 5 minimum wages, the main concerns were health and unemployment. When evaluating the areas of government administration, “bad or terrible” reached 59% in the items combating unemployment and combating hunger and extreme poverty, and 57% in health[xv]. In the city of São Paulo alone, the population as a whole assesses health as the biggest problem (47%), with a large advantage over the second biggest problem, public transport (14%).[xvi].

In the rational and monadological calculation of the mushroom-individual belonging to the underlying strata of Brazil, the hope of maintaining and increasing material conquests – ignored by the government due to its affiliation to the dominant classes and its ultraliberal policy – ​​has slowly and continuously eroded research after research. research, the ideological force of fear and part of this contingent moved pendularly to criticize Bolsonaro: 15% of those who voted for Bolsonaro say they regret it and the number rises to 49% among those who disapprove of his erratic conduct in the face of the Covid pandemic -19, according to the survey of 23-03-2020[xvii].

The very dynamic that puts the passions fear and hope in tension in the individual shows that politics cannot be reduced to the allegedly rational choice of subjects that sprout like mature and aware mushrooms. Not only fear and hope are ideologically summoned by this and other governments, the theoretical framework that organized them as well: in addition to a brain, the individual has a stomach, drives, he relates asymmetrically with other individuals arranged in hierarchical chains...

That welfare state designed by the 1988 Constitution, and which never left the status of incipience, as the ruling classes managed to repeatedly impose their “veto power”[xviii], directly or indirectly, and convey the “semicolonial” condition[xx] of the country, was severely depleted by the various counter-reforms instituted, from the Collor Government to the current one, and, more than depleted, transformed into a “corporate welfare state”[xx].

With the liquidation of the bathwater of the welfare state, the baby of hope is thrown in, since peripheral capitalism, by itself, does not spread material comforts to the underlying classes. More recently, from the outcome of the class front and class fractions, which occurred during the second Dilma Rousseff government, public policies that sought to leverage some autonomous development (“possible within the neoliberal capitalist model”[xxx]), characterized and problematized elsewhere[xxiii], were obliterated and, under Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes, the welfare state has never been closer to abortion. Without autonomous development and without a welfare state – a complete absence of a positive agenda – there is no hope or support for the government on the part of those who, faced with the balance that weighs living conditions, see disadvantages in the measured result.

From the Central Plateau, only fear and the defense of the continuity of the war of all against all, transfigured in that “social murder”[xxiii] described by Engels, at a time in England after the Author of the Leviathan, and in “wolf capitalism”[xxv], an expression with which Ernst Bloch, referring to Hobbes, showed that the intended pacification was never achieved as long as it preserved internal contradictions.  

*Anderson Alves Esteves is a professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo (IFSP).

Notes

[I] CNI-IBOPE. Government assessment (December 2019). Available at: https: https://www.portaldaindustria.com.br/estatisticas/pesquisa-cni-ibope-avaliacao-do-governo/. Accessed on: 23-03-2020.

[ii] FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO/DATAFOLHA. Evaluation of President Jair Bolsonaro. Available in: http://media.folha.uol.com.br/datafolha/2019/12/23/57102c2d2b4f095adbec95cb335c7066abc.pdf. Accessed on: 23-03-2020.

[iii] FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO/DATAFOLHA. Bolsonaro's assessment of crisis management is much worse than that of governors and ministries, says Datafolha. Available in: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2020/03/avaliacao-de-bolsonaro-na-gestao-da-crise-e-muito-pior-que-a-de-governadores-e-ministerio-diz-datafolha.shtml. Accessed on: 23-03-2020. Surveys carried out over the phone are not as effective as surveys carried out in person.

[iv] ESTADÃO/IBOPE. Ibope: disapproval of the Bolsonaro administration is 48% in the city of SP. Available in:  https://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/eleicoes,ibope-desaprovacao-da-gestao-bolsonaro-e-de-48-na-cidade-de-sp,70003243790. Accessed on: 23-03-2020.

[v] HOBBES, T. of the citizen. Trans. by Renato Janine Ribeiro, São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1992, p. 158.

[vi] HOBBES, T. Leviathan, or Matter, Form, and Power of an Ecclesiastical and Civil State. Trans. by JP Monteiro and MBN da Silva, São Paulo: Abril, 1974, p. 84.

[vii] HOBBES, T. of the citizen. Trans. by Renato Janine Ribeiro, São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1992, p. 04.

[viii] Ditto p. 38.

[ix] HOBBES, T. Leviathan, or Matter, Form, and Power of an Ecclesiastical and Civil State. Trans. by JP Monteiro and MBN da Silva, São Paulo: Abril, 1974, p. 90.

[X] Same, p. 97 (Author's emphasis).

[xi] Ditto, p.109.

[xii] Ditto, p. 414.

[xiii] HOBBES, T. of the citizen. Trans. by Renato Janine Ribeiro, São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1992, p. 123.

[xiv] “Of all the passions, the one that makes men least inclined to violate the laws is fear. More: excepting some generous natures, it is the only thing that leads men to respect them [when the violation of the laws does not seem to be able to give profit or pleasure]” (HOBBES, T. Leviathan, or Matter, Form, and Power of an Ecclesiastical and Civil State. Trans. by JP Monteiro and MBN da Silva, São Paulo: Abril, 1974, p. 183).

[xv] FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO/DATAFOLHA. Evaluation of President Jair Bolsonaro. Available in: http://media.folha.uol.com.br/datafolha/2019/12/23/57102c2d2b4f095adbec95cb335c7066abc.pdf.

[xvi] ESTADÃO/IBOPE. Ibope: disapproval of the Bolsonaro administration is 48% in the city of SP. Available in:  https://politica.estadao.br/noticias/eleicoes,ibope-desaprovacao-da-gestao-bolsonaro-e-de-48-na-cidade-de-sp,70003243790. Accessed on: 23-03-2020.

[xvii] FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO/DATAFOLHA. Bolsonaro's assessment of crisis management is much worse than that of governors and ministries, says Datafolha. Available in: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2020/03/avaliacao-de-bolsonaro-na-gestao-da-crise-e-muito-pior-que-a-de-governadores-e-ministerio-diz-datafolha.shtml. Accessed on: 23-03-2020.

[xviii] MIGUEL, LF The collapse of democracy in Brazil: from the constitution to the 2016 coup. São Paulo: Rosa Luxemburgo Foundation, Expressão Popular, 2019, p. 19.

[xx] PRADO JR., C. Brazil's economic history. 41st ed. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1994, p. 224.

[xx] CARVALHO, L. brazilian waltz: from boom to economic chaos. São Paulo: However, 2018, p. 156.

[xxx] BOITO JR., A. Reform and political crisis in Brazil: class conflicts in PT governments. Campinas: UNICAMP publishing house; São Paulo: Editora da UNESP, 2018, p. 57 (Author's emphasis).

[xxiii] ESTEVES, AA; VALVERDE, A. “Law 13.145/17 – the jettisoning of the subject of Philosophy in High School, the most recent pendular movement in Brazilian basic education” In: Cognitio-Studies. São Paulo: PUC/SP, vol. 16, No. 02, 2019, pp. 176-192.

[xxiii] ENGELS, F. The Condition of the Working Class in England According to the Author's Observations and Authentic Sources. Trans. by AB Schumann, São Paulo: Boitempo, 2010, p. 69 (Author's emphasis).

[xxv] BLOCK, E. The Hope Principle Vol. two. Trans. by W. Fuchs, Rio de Janeiro: EDUERJ; Counterpoint, 2006, p. 92.

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