The world without hope

Image: Sasha Kruglaya
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By LEONARDO BOFF

Why is socio-political engagement so difficult today?

1.

We are currently witnessing a worrying retreat in the popular bases and in various social movements, particularly those of a political nature, in the commitment to transform society, whether at a national or global level. It is important to recognize that there is a heavy feeling of impotence and also of melancholy. Apart from this observation, we are also witnessing in central countries (USA and Europe) university youth rebelling against the disproportionate, indiscriminate and genocidal reaction of the State of Israel against the population of the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas terrorist act on the 7th of October last year.

O establishment politician, dominant in the world, from the Global North, reacts with unusual violence against the protesters. In Germany, any demonstration for Palestine in the Gaza Strip is officially banned and immediately repressed at the slightest sign of support for the Palestinian cause and against the genocide that is taking place there. In the USA, police repression takes on violent expressions against university students and professors, even against a candidate for president of the country.

Among us in Brazil and in general in Latin America, there is a lack of public demonstrations, not even against the genocide, especially of 14 thousand little children and the death of around 80 thousand citizens under heavy Israeli bombings, criminally using Intelligence Artificial Intelligence (AI) to murder certain people and their entire family, within their own homes.

We need to try to understand why this inertia. I add some points that allow us to glimpse some understanding of the current situation, whether concerning Ukraine being devastated by Russian brutality or the massacre and genocide in the Gaza Strip.

2.

A strong feeling of impotence prevails in a large part of society, particularly in the Global South, but not excluding portions in the Global North. Firstly, objectively, the capitalist system in its most exacerbated expression of Vienna/Chicago school neoliberalism has imposed itself throughout the world. Those who resist suffer political and ideological repression and eventually coups d'état, as was the case with Dilma Russeff's impeachment. We seek to impose what Carl Polanyi in 1944 called the great transformation: moving from a market society to a pure market society. That is to say, everything becomes a commodity, human life, organs, seeds, water, food, everything and everything is put on the market and earns its price. This had already been predicted in 1847 by Marx in The misery of philosophy.

This objective fact generates a subjective reaction: we begin to see the world without hope, that there is no viable alternative to this globalized enormity. She expresses herself as TINA (There is no Alternative): “There is no other alternative”. The effect is a feeling of impotence and repressed disenchantment. This gives rise to a defeatist attitude that it is not worth going against the system, because it is too big and we are too small.

They are forced to make concessions to survive in a profoundly unequal and unfair world, which produces melancholy. This erupts when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. So, why commit to something alternative that has no chance of triumphing? There's no way around this kind of world, many people think. We must adapt to it to suffer as little as possible.

A second point is the perverse strategy developed by the dominant system: creating a consumer culture. Offer the greatest number of desirable objects, even if more than 90% are completely futile and unnecessary. It is about manipulating one of the most powerful forces of the human psyche: desire, whose nature, already seen by Aristotle and confirmed by Freud, is that of being unlimited.

It has already been said by notable psychologists (example: Mary Gomes and Allen Kenner) that “this is the greatest psychological project ever produced by the human species”: preventing citizens from ceasing to consider themselves citizens and becoming simple consumers and consumers addicted to consumption. .

To seduce them, trillions of dollars are spent on advertising through the mass media and using all possible resources of seduction. This represents six times the annual investment needed to guarantee quality food, health, water and education for all humanity. It is difficult to imagine greater perversity. But it is predominant in the general way of life of humanity that emerged from it.

Internalized impotence and melancholy mean that the majority of people, unfortunately, young people, are not encouraged to engage socially and politically in any movement or project of transformation. Education in formal institutions is decisive for the socialization of this reading of reality. Vandana Shiva, a great scientist and feminist ecologist from India, calls it a “monoculture of minds”. This monoculture generates in students the conviction that this world is good and desirable, naive consciences that do not realize that they are co-opted by the prevailing system and made its reproducers.

3.

Against all this, Paulo Freire launched his educational and liberating project, starting with the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Education as a practice of freedom and concluding with the Education with love and hope. He coined the expression “hope”: not crossing your arms (waiting for things to change on their own), but creating the conditions for hope to achieve its transformative objectives.

How to free yourself from the manipulated naive conscience? Just the awareness process is not enough, as critically understanding what happens does not mean changing what happens. We have to move to an alternative practice, confront the dominant system with a paradigm of a different society, egalitarian, non-consumerist, but supportive of a mode of production based on the rhythms of nature (agroeology and circular economy) and another type of ecological-social democracy , from bottom to top, in which the rights of nature and Mother Earth are recognized, creating the Whole, humanity and nature included in the great Common Home, Mother Earth.[1]

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of The quest for fair measure: how to balance planet Earth (Nobilis Voices). [https://amzn.to/3SLFBPP]

Note


[1] Reflection, looking for alternatives, will come in the next article.


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