The World of Beliefs: There's Room for Everyone

Image: Rodolfo Clix


The spirituality that brings us together can be beautiful. Its military, political and commercial use is a disgrace

"The human race is always all ears for a fairy tale” [Humanity always has open ears for a fairy tale] (Lucretius, Natural Rerum)
“Moralistic ends justify violent means” (Jonathan Haidt)
"Insistence on a rooted notion regardless of contrary evidence is the source of the self-deception that characterizes folly” [Insisting on an ingrained notion, whatever the evidence to the contrary, is the source of self-deception that characterizes folly] (Barbara Tuchman).

Rationality undoubtedly occupies an important space in what we have called homo sapiens, but we have given insufficient weight to our irrational dimensions, to what we may simply call beliefs. As Jonathan Haidt clearly explains, we like to dress our beliefs in the mantle of rationality, and therefore legitimacy. But it doesn't hurt to take a step back and think rationally about our irrational dimensions.

The amount of beliefs in the world is impressive. We have hundreds of religions, of supernatural worlds, scattered with surrealist images, but each community of believers affirms with conviction that their beliefs are based on reality. How can we invent so many stories, and believe in them, even if they are absurd? There are legends, of course, and we like them, like the Knights of the Round Table, and fantasies assumed as such in tales, for example, of Little Red Riding Hood. We like fairy tales, but we know they are fairy tales.

But at another level, in the universe of spirituality, fairy tales become not only assumed beliefs, rationally assimilated and confirmed, even with so many who died or are willing to die for them. A powerful concept was even created, faith, as a bridge between fantasy, rationality, and our emotional world. Faith really does move mountains, but by definition, faith is based on believing without evidence, otherwise it would be knowledge, and would need no act of faith. Those who believe that the world was created just over five thousand years ago rightly 'believe', and those who know that it has existed for billions of years simply know, they don't need to believe.

Faith, by definition, does not need proof. And to this extent, it allows people to convince themselves, and even try to rationally defend, the most absurd fantasies, that the sun is a god, that there were serpents that speak, that there are human figures with wings and that fly, that sins are washed away in blood by making sacrifices of animals, or even humans, that bad harvests are the fault of witches who must be burned – not by chance they were women – or even more comfortably, that killing can be legitimate, an order of God, because we would be killing infidels. Faith has no limits, it dispenses with rationality.

It is amazing that in this scientific age of ours the irrational still carries so much weight. Let us remember that in the 1500s a Copernicus had postponed for decades the publication of what he knew to be reality – that the world does not revolve around the earth – for fear of religious persecution. In the 1600s Galileo had to whisper eppur si muove¸ afraid of death. In the middle of the 21st century, a large part of Americans prefer to believe than to know, and they fight for the theory of evolution to be taught in schools alongside the bereshit, of the vision of the creation of the world that we find in Bible, with apple, serpent and archangel, as legitimate theories.

We are not here denouncing irrationality, it is part of us as human beings, but seeking where so much strength comes from in this strange irrational world of spirituality. This is not just a theoretical exercise, it is of great importance, considering how religions can use the irrational to justify very real interests. The play by José Saramago, In Nomine Dei, based on wars of religion, with massacres and everything, it helps to understand how the absurd can be transformed into organized and rationally defended interests, with 'arguments'. The play is based on the 1500s, but today we see countless programs on television that justify anything, because in the Bible we can find phrases that justify practically everything – and its opposite. Magical reasoning spreads.

The feeling of spirituality is respectable, and we find it in so many times and civilizations. Its use, which led and leads to so much barbarism, violence, political opportunism, financial gains, is much less so. In 2022 Edir Macedo and family boast a fortune of 1,34 billion, speaking in the name of God can be very lucrative (Forbes, 2022, fortune 230). In the United States fortunes from this origin are much wider.

Mark Twain quips about a society “that has wars all the time, raises armies, builds navies, and fights for God's approval by any available means. And wherever there was a savage country that needed to be civilized, they would go and take it, and divide it among several enlightened monarchs, and civilize it – each monarch in his own way, but usually with Bibles and Bullets and Taxes. And the way they extolled Morality, Patriotism, Religion and the Brotherhood of humans was noble to behold” ( p. 182).

In this sense, it is essential to separate religious sentiment, spirituality, which we find in so many civilizations, from its political use within the framework of different organized power structures, which somehow appropriate the role of representatives of deities to justify everything and anything. . The current governments of Israel navigate comfortably in the powerful emotional roots that represent the conviction of being the “chosen people”, therefore with the right to exercise divine justice over other peoples. The Nazis carried on their flag the Gott mitts, God is with us. The Taliban can afford anything in the name of faith, and the appeal to “God, Fatherland, Family” is found in the mouths of every little would-be dictator on the planet, Trump, Erdogan, Orban, Duda, Meloni, Bolsonaro, Kristersson, Duterte, Netanyahu and so many more in the queue, navigating the naiveté and frustration of the population.

The implicit message is that whoever wants to breathe freely, with more democracy and equality, is against sacred ideals, and therefore not a more open-minded and tolerant person, but an enemy. The understanding that spirituality is part of a set of aspirations, which we want to list here, and that can be understood and legitimized, but that its use in the communication industry, politics and even commercial exploitation consists of abuse of the privacy of people, in acts of violence without legitimacy, seems essential to me. The appropriation of powerful symbols, such as God, Fatherland and Family, makes it possible to justify anything, generates a loan of respectability.

It is impossible not to remember the speech of the South African Bishop Desmond Tutu: “When the missionaries arrived in Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said "Let's pray". We close our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” The concept of hypocrisy finds its most perfect representation here.

Our emotions and our imagination contain universes of spiritual creativity, ranging from reincarnation to Olympus or purgatory, and the history of religious beliefs shows an amazing richness. of the beauty of Cosmogony from Hesiod, to the cosmogonies of Egypt, of Pan Ku in China, of the African Olorum, of the biblical Bereshit and so many others, it is impossible not to see the quest to fill the inexplicable, or unexplained, with myths. Is it legit? Undoubtedly, because filling the explanatory void with a myth generates a greater sense of security than an unknown black hole. And if we agree with the community around us, and accept the same myth, our mental emptiness takes on a sense of rest. In the absence of science, we have belief. And if the neighbors also believe, then we have a worldview. But the ease with which so many people get carried away, shake their heads, obey, make a Pix contribution to religious corporations, alerts us to our emotional and mental frailties, which deserve to be respected and not abused.

Ethical codifications, on the other hand, pose much broader dilemmas, as they allow justifying behaviors with loans to supernatural legitimacy, in the absence of the earthly legitimacy of not doing evil. The fact that we found Bible the divine command “you shall not let witches live” allowed massacres, and the celebrations of seeing people burned alive multiplied, with the deep satisfaction of the populations, who felt avenged for their frustrations.

A Bible, in this sense, is fertile, and Mark Twain sums it up in a paragraph: “In the Old Testament His acts constantly expose His vindictive, unjust, merciless and vindictive nature. He is always punishing - Punishing petty misdeeds with thousands of times greater severity; punishing innocent children for their parents' misdeeds; punishing populations for the misdeeds of their rulers; even going so far as to exact bloody vengeance upon harmless calves and lambs and rams and oxen, as punishment for transgressions committed by their owners. It is perhaps the most damning biography in print anywhere” (p. 319).

The truth is that we find passages in the scriptures to justify everything and its opposite. And there is no shortage of preachers with a mass of memorized quotations. As Haidt writes, “Thoughts can take you anywhere you want to go” (p. 122). Haidt uses the concepts of “confirmation thinking” (confirmatory thinking), “motivated reasoning” (motivated reasoning), or “party brain” (partisan brain): “Like rats that can’t stop pushing a button, partisans (supporters) may simply be unable to stop believing aberrant things. The party brain has been reinforced so many times to perform mental contortions that free it from undesirable beliefs. Extreme partisanship can literally be addictive” (p. 88).

We are here at the mental frontier, where the strength of belief – of what one wants to believe – overlaps with rationality, and it is empowered to reinforce one's own belief. At the limit, explaining that the earth is round and is 4,5 billion years old becomes unfeasible. In the person's head, in certain areas of reasoning, it was installed as if it were a filter - in English I prefer to use the concept of frame – which simply does not pass anything that does not match the predetermined format. O brain washing (brainwashing) is much more widespread in our daily lives than we would like to admit. Barbara Tuchman uses the concepts of self hypnosis (p. 269) and self-righteousness (p. 271), seeking to characterize the freezing of views that dress in rationality, but are impervious to arguments: “Psychologists call the process of excluding discordant information 'cognitive dissonance', an academic disguise for 'Don't confuse me with facts'” (p. 322).

It is impossible not to see that belief, in this sense, generates a comfort zone: I don't need to think about it anymore, it is resolved by the simple mental rejection of any argument that comes to bother the brain. Lime shovel, matter resolved. At the limit, depending on the adopted belief, we have simplistic reasoning that easily leads to fanaticism, particularly if it is confirmed with a community of believers. Since Constantine in the year 325 of our era, politicians have understood the strength of borrowing divine authority for human struggles. Rational, science-based knowledge is one thing; another is belief, based on faith, in what one wants to believe; and yet another ethics, the values ​​borrowed to justify what we do, an area in which blurring the boundaries between science and belief has become widespread. We adopt the beliefs necessary to justify what we assume we know.

We are here far beyond the churches, with the centrality of the process in politics, in commercial interests, generating the control of attention well described by Tim Wu in the The Attention Merchants, and denounced by Noam Chomsky in the documentary Chomsky & Co. Today, with global connectivity, human attention trapped on small screens several hours a day, from the earliest childhood, and in particular the industry that collects private information about each of us, in the most diverse dimensions, new mental architectures are being created , or new furniture in our head. Attention traders call them 'bubbles', with 'Internet users' who only find confirmation of what they believe.

Rational knowledge, beliefs and moral convictions are confused in the new planetary universe that Shoshana Zuboff called The Age of Surveillance Society: “An entirely renewed electronic text now extends far beyond the confines of the factory or office. Thanks to our computers, credit cards, and phones, and the cameras and sensors that proliferate in public and private spaces, almost everything we do today is mediated by computers that record and encode every detail of our everyday lives on a scale that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago” (p. 182).

The idea of Jesus Christ Super Star ceases to be an idea. The electronic church is here to stay. Bishop Edir Macedo owns TV Record, and browses quotes from texts from two thousand years ago. Here science, belief and ethics are mixed. They recommended voting for Bolsonaro, in the name of Jesus. With the changing political winds, he recommends supporting Lula.

But it is interesting to what extent in this age of scientific advances and understanding of the mysteries of life, spirituality combined with membership in religious organizations remains powerful in the world. We understand that the thunder does not happen because Zeus is angry, and that therefore we would have to see who irritated him: we look at the weather forecasts on the cell phone. But this immense world of deities remains strong in the daily lives of three quarters of the world's population, and consulting “texts” from so many centuries ago serves as a mysterious justification for our absurdities from the age of algorithms. We can list some mechanisms, if we can call them that, that preside over this persistence, or even renewal. And they have deep roots.

The fear of death undoubtedly plays an important role. In the most varied mythologies, we imagine that death is just a passage to another life, either in reincarnation, or in the ascent of the soul to heaven – it is always upwards, as if heaven were a place – in the different modalities of Eden. In this way, we managed to escape the obvious: we are a mammal that goes through life at a relatively slow, but inevitable pace, and then nothing will be heard from it again. Resurrection is a dream, but the end is the end, and despite Lazarus, and the bustle on the stage of life. There is no way not to remember Shakespeare's realism, about this human being, “a poor player, that struts and frets his hour' upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”[I] It's a powerful motivation, it's no wonder that many people 'convert' at extreme times.

Equally powerful is the feeling of emptiness that we feel when we think that these few decades we have to appear in the world are over, after so many fights and turmoil, and that's it after all. “But is this question la vita?”, thinks the mortal, coming to death. That is, in addition to the fear of death, and the emptiness that follows, we have to face the very meaning of what we do. Wim Wenders summed up the sentiment simply: “Humanity is craving for meaning”, humanity yearns for meaning. Belonging to a larger design, having a God who watches and judges us – as if he had nothing else to do –, having to submit to rules dictated by a superior being, being a child of God, in short, is powerful.

My father, who was very Catholic, was indignant that people “would rather descend from primates than be creatures of God”, as if knowing or believing was an option. He was an engineer, with a lot of reading, including philosophy, but here it is not a question of rationality, but of the immense emptiness that invades us when we think that we are a fragile, quarrelsome and transient creature, lost on a lost planet in the universe. In the same vein, Lee Kuan Yew mentions that “there is a search for some higher explanations as to the purposes of man, as to why we are here. This is associated with periods of great stress” (In: Huntington, p. 97).

Freedom can be very harrowing. Having rules in life, in this turbulent mess of values, can help a lot. No wonder we gave so much weight to the Ten commandments, prohibitions and obligations, points of reference that allow us to guide our behavior. They are diverse according to religions, in Hinduism we find the prohibition of killing animals and other forms of life. Christianity never prevented Christians from killing, but always “in just war”, and against pagans, or barbarians, that is, people who precisely did not follow our rules, they were not “us”.

Just the fact that we need to justify, explain why we violate the commandments, shows the importance not only of ethics, but of a set of codes accepted by a certain segment of society. Religions play an important role in personal tranquility. I'm following the rules. Dante brings with force the anguish of not knowing the way: “mi ritrovai per unoscura jungle, che la diritta via era smarrita”, straight paths lost, is precisely the entrance to Hell. Religion assists “the psychological, emotional, and social needs of people trapped in the traumas of modernization” (Huntington, p. 99). Who doesn't feel lost in the planetary chaos we live in?

But at the limit, having rules can also be oppressive. In a religious society, hatred and violence against people who do not submit to the same rules led, in the most varied societies, to behaviors of impressive violence. It's just that the feeling of knowing "the good", the certainty of the straight path, seems to justify the pursuit of all deviations. who has not read the Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of Sorceresses, by the inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Spenger, is missing a vision of how rules, appropriated by the “righteous”, can lead to appalling violence. This dates back to a few centuries ago in Europe, and the book, in the name of God, teaches how to torture women, preferably naked, as well as the importance of those questioning not seeing their faces, as the suffering expressed in it could move them, and bring them out of their stern righteousness.

The massacres in India, in the conflict between Hinduism and Islam, are yesterday, and hatred persists. The death of a young woman in Iran because she did not cover her head and face properly in accordance with religious commandments today leads to an uprising, but the essential thing here is that while a society's appropriation of rules helps social cohesion, its rigidity makes it oppressive at the same time. Between the comfort of superior rules and barbarism, the frontier is small. And we don't necessarily need deities to have game rules, moral behavior, references.

Buddha was a thinker, Siddhartha Gautama in his full name, founder of Buddhism. Confucius, Kong Fuzi, from the same time, five centuries before Christ, was also a philosopher, today a powerful reference for the rules of life in Asia. We need guides, not necessarily divine ones. And more and more, the dilemma of not physical, but legal persons, who consider themselves absolved from any ethical dimension, legality is enough. Greed is Good, ou The business of business is business, claim the corporations, and create disasters, but what about the people who work in them? Are they just following instructions?

The notion of guilt, and culpability, plays an essential role in religious sentiment, and in particular in the power of religious hierarchies. In Christianity and Judaism, we are all guilty of original sin, as if Adam eating the apple had any importance in my daily life in 2022. Christ came to redeem us from this sin, which, as in so many beliefs, has to be washed away in blood, in the Suffering. Crucifixes, an instrument of torture, continue to threaten us.

We have all the universes of the underworld of hell – always below, for a mysterious reason, but the word in Latin means precisely “below” – the place where the wicked will be punished, will suffer until the infinite end of time. The imaginary about the types of torture, which we see in so many artistic representations, but also in the Epic of Gilgamesh, shoe Jewish, or in the kingdom of Hades in Greek mythology. Incidentally, we call mythology the earlier versions of current beliefs.

Associated with guilt, as a powerful force of social control, particularly of women, is sexuality. Associating sexual attraction with something dirty, “libidinous”, when it comes to the greatest source of our little happiness, in the richness of its manifestations, continues to be the fuel for hatred and persecution. What would Freud do without this permanent sexual repression, his association with sin, with biblical prohibitions? Controlling women's sexuality, in its smallest details, by doctors of divine law, is an objective that we find in so many religious texts.

Excision (cutting the lips of the female vagina) is still practiced today in girls, in the name of obedience to rules and religious commandments, so that the future woman does not have the shameful sexual pleasure. The whole concept of the "Immaculate Conception" is linked to the feeling (more than thought) that the sexual act would be a "blemish".

Marie-France Baslez, who researches the origin of Christianity, in her study Comment notre monde est devenu chrétien, presents the details of the debates, since the second century of our era, on the virginity of Mary. But what is essential for us is the idea of ​​sin, of guilt linked to sexuality, which has allowed, for centuries and even today, a woman to be prohibited from entering church with bare arms, to mention a detail that seems innocent, but which in other cultures results in the burka.

The question of the woman's right to make decisions about her own body remains as present as in other centuries. Being in control of the sexuality of others is a power tool that today we see manipulated in electronic churches, and whose content has changed little. Just look at the debates of the Supreme Court in the USA, the fight for the right to abortion, the right to euthanasia, to dispose of one's own life. Supported by the control of sexuality, religiosity thrives. “You can kiss the bride”, hears the couple, who today probably did not wait for authorization.

Another powerful axis that leads us to religions is the search for belonging, an essential feeling in our social life. The very word “religion” brings us in its origin the idea of ​​reconnecting with others, of belonging, religion in Latin. The return to religion, more than to the territory, can be important in this phase of rural exodus and search for identity: “People move from the countryside to the city, they are separated from their roots, with new jobs or unemployment. They interact with a large number of strangers, and are exposed to new relationship patterns. They need sources of identity, new forms of stable community, and new sets of moral precepts to ensure they have a sense of meaning and purpose… For people who are faced with the need to determine who I am? what do i belong to? religion provides attractive answers, and religious groups provide small religious communities to replace those lost to urbanization” (Huntington, p. 97).

Here, too, negative sides abound: “Whatever universalistic goals they may have, religions give people an identity by fixing a basic distinction between believers (believers) and non-believers (nonbelievers), between a superior and different 'internal' group and an inferior 'external' group” (p. 97). There is nothing like an external enemy to reinforce internal ties, and organized religions have used this need for belonging in a generalized way. Those outside the group are pagans, followers of “sects”, “atheists” and many other qualifiers that allow the comfortable feeling of being in a community, of being “together”, of having a common enemy.

Political use is equally widespread, and as the conflict escalates, belief migrates to fundamentalist fanaticism, which we can now observe in various political and religious cultures. Politics migrates from rationality to emotions, from the brain to the liver. “Love one another” serves as a justification for hatred and violence. It is not Israelis who are killing Palestinians, it is "the wrath of God that falls on them". With reciprocity, naturally. God can be a political lockpick. Baslez uses the concept of “collective identification” when commenting on the popular excitement at Roman circus games when the “others” were Christians (p. 150). Homo sapiens?

Another motivation that leads us to the supernatural is that, in times of despair, we need to appeal to someone. The valiant warriors of all “civilizations” went to war asking for the protection of the gods, and many animals were gutted so that what could be read about the fate of battles could be read in their entrails. God helped me says any young man after scoring a goal, and the same will say the goalkeeper when he stops him. I would say that the command not to call on the name of the Lord in vain could be applied.

But the essential thing is that in this insecure life of ours, we cling to any hope. My mother, Polish, was as it should be: Roman Catholic. But when I was imprisoned in Brazil, and threatened with death, she in Poland prayed for me in church, and just in case she went to look for the pagan rites that still survive from ancient pre-Christian Poland. In despair, all the saints help. The fact is, I survived. Thank God, without a doubt, but also thanks to Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, who managed to publicize my imprisonment, which until then had been clandestine.

And there is no way not to see the immense civilizing potential that religions can play, by promoting human solidarity, organizing communities, restoring the sociability that is so necessary and so diluted in urban universes. I closely followed the contributions of Pastoral da Criança, which not only achieved immense success in terms of its social policies, but also generated an organizational impact of solidarity that involved hundreds of thousands of women. Pope Francis' vision of a different economy allows economic interests, social objectives, environmental protection and human respect to come together. This is clearly a different economy, but one that involves another culture, in the broadest sense.

The expansion of Islam cannot be simplified either. On the one hand, while the elites adopted a luxurious life with the sale of oil, Islamic solidarity networks ensured health services, education, a set of basic activities that the State does not provide, as well as dense community organizations. And in terms of immense colonized and humiliated regions, in the Middle East and North Africa, but especially in Asia, “the reaffirmation of Islam, whatever its specific sectarian form, implies the repudiation of European or American political and moral influence about local society” (William McNeill, in: Huntington, p. 101). We are talking about 1,6 billion people, from dozens of countries. Once again, the population needs to adopt religious references, to defend its identity, while its political use generates barbarism, even on the part of those who fight them.

In this overview of religious motivations, on the part of a non-specialist in the subject, but sensitive to the immense hypocrisy with which religious discourses even invade the economy, I could not fail to bring the immense cultural and artistic contribution that Santa Sofia bequeathed to us in Istanbul, the Cathedral of Paris, artistic wonders in Asia, the miniatures of Persia, the monuments of pre-Columbian America, so many symphonies, chants, complex religious ceremonies, from the Christian mass to African rites, a theatricality and musicality that enchant us and definitely attract. In this great and often harsh theater of life, religion is very present, precisely in the artistic and theatrical sense. Welcome to the arts, but do not justify barbarism, and do not use the name of the Lord in vain.

It's interesting to think that Australian aborigines had Uluru, the sacred rock; the Celts had Belenus, a solar god; O Popol Vuh tells the mythology of the Mayans, the Aztecs looked to the sky, Tlalocan; in Chinese mythology, Pan Ku separated the earth from the sky; in Japanese mythology, Izanagi created the gods Amaterasu and Susanoo, respectively the Sun and the Storms; O book of the dead teaches us about Atum and Ra and the Egyptian myths; Greco-Roman mythology bequeathed us the beautiful stories of Zeus-Jupiter, Aphrodite-Venus and many others; Hindu mythology bequeathed us Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the maintainer) and Shiva (the destroyer); Judeo-Christian mythology bequeathed us Adam and Eve, Jesus and Mary, and monster fighters like Saint George; Mesopotamian mythology bequeathed us the god Apsu (fresh water) and the goddess Tiamat (salt water) who created the rest, and like so many gods, fought at will; in Native American mythology, where we lack written texts, we have in any case a Heavenly Father and an Earth Mother, in addition to trickster gods like Crow and Coyote; in Norse mythology, we have Odin who lived in Valhalla, and also a doomsday, Ragnarok.

A Mythology, by Christopher Dell, from which I extract this small list, is a document of extreme richness, which by presenting the various forms as different civilizations and in different times created explanations for the inexplicable, affirming with determination and often a lot of violence their reality, calls us for a little common sense and tolerance. We are what we are, and it's the world we have. Christians pray kneeling, Muslims squatting, Jews sway while standing, Hindus cross-legged, Africans dance.

Let's face it, there's room for everyone. The issue is not in beliefs, but in its political and commercial use that prevails today. Appropriating people's privacy, and even if possible their imagination, has become an industry. At the center of this industry, more and more, are the corporate giants. Governments follow, discuss the obvious at Davos, and submit.

There will undoubtedly be other motivational universes, in this difficult separation of what is science and reason, what is belief and emotion, what is judgment and ethics. The interesting attitude seems to me to be the exercise of taking a step back, and looking with tolerance and understanding at the so difficult search for paths of the poor human being, sufficiently endowed with intelligence to understand the limits of reason. And also so powerless in the face of so many manifestations of humanity's collective bestiality. As I write, an estimated 180 million children are starving in the world, while we produce enough food to feed 12 billion people. They are children, but the “markets” are more sacred. Don't look up.

Tracing these notes, on the part of an economist like myself, might seem strange. But the challenges of the economy itself no longer fit within the narrowness of the concepts that defined it. Concepts such as culture, civilization, human solidarity emerge everywhere and force us to broaden our vision. To welcome a GDP that increases by destroying nature and by generating injustices and grievous suffering is simply grotesque. Allow me to bring up the economic obvious: the world of 2022 has reached the equivalent of 100 trillion dollars worth of goods and services produced in the year. That, divided by 8 billion people, is the equivalent of $4,2 a month for a family of four. Can you live? Today's world is not poor, it is mismanaged.

Brazil produces, just from grains, 3,7 kilos per person per day, and we have millions going hungry. Corporate giants mutter ESG, cosmetically referring to their concern for the environment, social and governance, but it's with the pout of their lips. Politicians point to the sky when our problems are down here. Beliefs are used to justify the unjustifiable. O Quo Vadis? of humanity today has become a universal dilemma. It is no longer an economic struggle, it is a struggle to rescue common sense and human dignity.

*Ladislau Dowbor is professor of economics at PUC-SP. Author, among other books, of A era do capital improvutivo (Literary Autonomy).


Barbara Tuchman – The March of Folly: from Troy to Vietnam – Random House, New

York, 2014. Cf;  m-random-house-new-york-2014-the-march-of-folly-470-p.html

Christopher Dell – Mythology: A Guide to Imaginary Worlds – Sesc, Sao Paulo, 2014.

Daniel Mermet, Olivier Azam – Chomsky & Cias. – Documentary, 60 min., 2008. Cf.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman – The Triumph of Injustice – Norton, 2019. See also

Forbes - 290 Brazilian billionaires - 2022

Gilles Kepel – Dieu's revenge: chrétiens, juifs et musulmans à la reconquête du monde – Threshold, Paris, 1991

Jonathan Haidt- The Righteous Mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion. Pantheon Books, New York, 2012. Cf.  vided-by-politics-and-religion-the-moralistic-mind-why-good-people-are-divided-p  she-politics-and-for-religion.html

Jose Saramago – In Nomine Dei – Companhia das Letras, 1996.

Ladislau Dowbor – the runaway economy – Scholas Ocurrentes, 2019 –  as-14-october-2019.html

Ladislau Dowbor – Rescuing the social function of the economy: a matter of human dignity. Ed. Elephant, 2022.  dade-humana.html

Lucretius – The Nature of Things – translation by AE Stallings – Penguin Classics, 2007.

Marie-France Baslez – Comment notre monde est devenu chrétien – CLD Editions, 2008.

Mario Theodoro – The unequal society: racism and whiteness in the formation of Brazil. Zahar, 2022. Cf.  o-brasil.html

Mark Twain - The Bible According to Mark Twain – Touchstone, 1995.

Michel Onfray – Décadence: vie et mort du judéo-christianisme – Flammarion, 2017. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion – Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2006. Cf.

Samuel P. Huntington – The Clash of Civilizations – Simon&Schuster, 1996.

Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Society – Public Affairs, 2019.

Tereza Campello and Ana Paula Bortoletto – From hunger to hunger: dialogues with Josué de Castro. Ed. Elephant, 2022.

Tim Wu – The attention merchants: the epic scramble to get inside our heads – Knopf, New York, 2016.


[I] A poor actor who trembles and shakes his part on the stage, and then leaves the scene. (Translating Shakespeare is an adventure, I left the original above).

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  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Theological manual of neoliberal neo-PentecostalismJesus saves 22/06/2024 By LEONARDO SACRAMENTO: Theology has become coaching or encouraging disputes between workers in the world of work
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones