Intolerant thinking – extreme right, environment and vaccination

Image: Giovanni Ferri
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By BEATRIZ ZATERKA GIROLDO & TANIA GERBI VEIGA*

Neoliberalism, when promoting individual merit, did not explain that individual merit can only be measured equally if everyone starts from the same level

In October 2018, the United Nations released a report stating that world spending on weapons is three times higher than on school meals.[I] This number is staggering! But after all, what is war? It means the end of dialogue, the death of what is different. What is education? In theory, it would be the expansion of dialogue and respect for what is different. But is education really that?

Since the XNUMXth century, with the Enlightenment, education has always been thought of as expanding the horizons of the mind, education as a way of ending ignorance,[ii] what had happened during the Middle Ages, according to Enlightenment philosophers. After the end of World War II, the world thought that so many deaths could not be in vain. That the ignorance and barbarism of the holocaust could not be repeated, after all, in less than 50 years, in total, the two world wars would have killed about 80 million people.[iii]

The Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949) unveiled the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazi extermination policy, and it was from this disclosure that the consensus was outlined that humanity should respect dialogue and for that the United Nations was created. However, as soon as the Universal Charter of Human Rights was signed, other wars were already taking place in regional scenarios.

Even so, the West has always based its discourse, but not its practice, on respect for what is different and on valuing dialogue in international politics. Internally, the western powers invested in the consolidation of the welfare state, in order to enhance education for all layers of their population. This would be a prophylactic measure to avoid the extremisms that lead to intolerance and disrespect for what is different.

Even though this policy was based on the exploitation of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Global North has always guided the discourse on the need to improve education as a necessary rescue to improve the living conditions of society as a whole; that education was essential to raise the standard of living of the poorest strata of societies.

At the end of the 1980s, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet bloc, neoliberalism became the dominant tone of world society. Even so, the neoliberal discourse spoke of the need to improve school management and increase student performance by optimizing resources. International exams were created to measure the quality of teaching.

At the same time, the idea began to spread that the State was too big, that it spent too much and that everyone could get rich, it was just a matter of individual effort and dedication. Neoliberalism went so far as to claim that the era of prosperity was within reach. At the same time, the discourse of the minimal State became overvalued, since, according to neoliberal logic, everyone could reach the top of the social pyramid on their own merit, not needing State policies – including public education – for everyone to be “winners”. ”.

Public and universal education is a pillar of the democratization of society. It is in the public school that the dialogue between different people leads to respect for the multiple cultures that exist in human societies. Man has never been a homogeneous species, he has always created differences in equality. In the equality in the number of pairs of chromosomes of our species, multiple ways of thinking and creating culture have guaranteed, over the millennia, our survival.

And in the diversity that we have been able to live with, interfere with and preserve the planet over the centuries. Neoliberalism, when promoting individual merit, did not explain that individual merit can only be measured equally if everyone starts from the same level. In this way, it only makes sense if everyone has the same educational conditions as a starting point so that they can actually measure the merit of each one.

But this forgetfulness is justified in order to grab more portions of the public budget for the banks and the financial elite, which has never accumulated so much capital in the hands of a few and which deteriorates and increasingly elitizes access to school. The neoliberal discourse of the management of the educational system “forgot” to invest in teacher training, not only in salaries, but in the qualification of this workforce. In fact, every day more education professionals are disqualified, while there was a process of qualification from the pulpit.[iv]

But it was not just on the education budget that big capital advanced. The health budget also became the subject of dispute. In fact, the process of privatization of health services is an old one, it advanced a lot during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government and continued to be an important private investment sector even under Lula and Dilma, despite both having strengthened the SUS, with the creation of SAMU and the Mais Médicos program. These governments, with few measures to strengthen public health, became the target of large private medicine companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

With the 2016 coup, this sector was strengthened and, as a result, public health began to be questioned in all areas, even vaccination was put in check. Since the end of the 1960s, presidents have always participated in advertising campaigns to expand the immunization of Brazilians, this has occurred from Costa e Silva to Michel Temer.[v]

But in 2021, child vaccination in the country reached its worst level in three decades.[vi] Coverage rates returned to 1987 levels.[vii] As a result, diseases that have already been eradicated, such as polio, can once again claim victims. On 9/05/2022 in an article by Cofen, it states that in the last 5 years, the number of immunized children has been falling more and more, worrying authorities and specialists. According to the Ministry of Health, the average vaccination coverage in Brazil fell from 97% in 2015 to 75% in 2020.

Of the nine vaccines remaining by DataSus, the one that suffered the biggest drop is BCG, which drops by 38,8% between 2015 and 2021. In second place is the vaccine against hepatitis A, with a drop of 32,1% and polio in third with a drop of 30,7%. Unicef ​​data from March 2022 points out that three out of ten Brazilian children did not receive the necessary vaccine to protect them.

And until 2016, Brazil used to be the leading country in vaccination coverage in all age groups. This is because, in 1973, during the government of Emílio Garrastazu Médici, the PNI (National Immunization Program) was created with the aim of offering free immunization to the entire population. The program grew gradually and in 2015, the government of Dilma Rousseff, in its increase in vaccination coverage, offered 29 immunizers for all ages.

Vaccination campaigns have a great influence on the population's adherence to immunizers. The first campaign carried out in Brazil was in 1961 following the regulation of the National Health Code, Law no. 2312 of September 03, 1954. Vaccines were essential for increasing life expectancy and reducing infant mortality in the country, according to the Ministry of Health. It was with mass vaccination that diseases such as smallpox, rubella, polio and measles were deleted.

What we have seen in recent years is a drop in children's immunization, a fact that is linked to several factors, including the fall in prestige of scientific thinking, fake news[viii] and lower campaign budgets.[ix] Because with the questioning of universal and inclusive education, with the strengthening of religious thinking and, also, of individualistic meritocratism, science began to be questioned and, as a consequence, also vaccination and all actions aimed at the collective.

If the global extreme right, for decades, questioned vaccines in publications and networks, with the strengthening of this political strand worldwide – with Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro – this denial became a political agenda. The face of the Brazilian extreme right, Bolsonarism, following in the footsteps of its international interlocutors, also boycotted vaccination during the administration of the now ineligible former president: reducing funds, delaying the purchase of vaccines, discrediting science, not advertising for vaccination childish. During this government, vaccines were also attacked by members of the executive branch, even by the President of the Republic.

With the worst crisis of the last hundred years, the COVID-19 pandemic, in Brazil, turned into a real public calamity. There were about 700 official deaths and there is no Brazilian who has not lost someone close to this disease. During the most acute period of the pandemic, the President of the Republic and his ministers did not lead the country in a correct and true way to guide its citizens, emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated, preventing themselves – wearing masks – and protecting themselves. of the disease; in addition, it denied the guidance of the World Health Organization.

Nilze Yamaguchi – a physician and university professor with a doctorate in oncology from USP and affiliated with the Republican Party of the Social Order – became, during the pandemic period, an adviser to the federal government. She has advocated for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in the treatment of patients infected with the Covid virus. She defended the so-called “early treatment” and also tried to change the package insert for these drugs so that they appear as effective against the coronavirus, when she was with the director of Anvisa Antônio Barra Torres.

This is without any scientific proof. Failed. The Bolsonaro government had four health ministers from 2019 to 2022; the first two, Luiz Henrique Mandetta and Nelson Teich, in the face of the denialist tendency coming from the Presidency of the Republic, resigned. The other two, general Eduardo Pazuello and doctor Marcelo Queiroga, adapted to the government's discourse and postponed the purchase of vaccines, mass immunization and stimulated the distribution of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

Data from the Pharmaceuticals Industry Union (SindusFarma) show that consumption of chloroquine by Brazilians grew by 358% during the pandemic.[X] Former President Jair Bolsonaro's campaign in favor of the medicine helped push the business of five companies, authorized by Anvisa, to produce chloroquine in the country.[xi] Scientifically recommended medicine to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus; not to treat Covid.

The advance of big capital over State budgets – notably Education and Health – is endorsed by the neo-Pentecostal churches of prosperity, which feed the idea of ​​individual meritocracy and the minimal State. The churches foster standardized discourse, framing the faithful in a single logic, a single thought. When fundamentalist religious discourse enters the scene, respect for differences leaves the stage, along with scientific thinking.

By the way, religions that preach tolerance – and this is a paradox – have been increasingly attacked, whether Christian or not. These fundamentalist churches do not recognize climate change, based on scientific thinking, which demonstrates how human action on the planet has brought us closer to an environmental collapse. This is very logical, since fundamentalism bases its thinking on the divine action that defines all life on the planet and that nothing happens on Earth without the direct action of the supernatural. Therefore, any change – and permanence – in the world is due to God's direct interference.

Experts from all over the world report every day to society that climate change is putting the planet into collapse and that there is a point at which we will no longer be able to retreat the consequences of the problems caused by human action. Among these actions are: the absurd production of garbage made by our economic system,[xii] deforestation and mining, which increase desertification and the pollution of rivers and seas. And what has been done to stop the collapse that could make our existence as a species unfeasible? Meetings and agreements, with long-term goals, to be fulfilled and often not fulfilled by those who finance these meetings and agreements.

According to IPCC reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the hardest hit will be tropical countries such as Brazil. Many catastrophes could occur, such as a series of floods, due to the intensification of storms and long periods of drought. In these two situations, livestock and agriculture could be harmed, as well as the survival of several species. Some regions may suffer from heavy rainfall, which causes constant landslides and increased flooding.

Many islands and many coastal areas will suffer from rising sea levels, caused by melting glaciers caused by the increase in the average temperature of the planet and the dry areas of the planet will suffer even more from the lack of water. And human health can be seriously affected by climate change, as: sunstroke, allergies, broncho-respiratory diseases, diseases transmitted by mosquitoes (such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria), malnutrition and hunger can be intensified due to the increase in temperature. and the increase in desertification caused by deforestation.

Faced with this scenario, those who care for the environment are those who are discredited, depersonalized, criminalized and, in some cases, murdered. The native peoples save the forest, preserve the rivers and the fauna. They demonstrate through their culture that man can live in harmony with nature and that, also, the forest has more value standing than deforested. Quilombola and riverside populations, differently from the former, also demonstrate a way of life that respects the environment and knows how to live according to the rhythm of nature. Agroecology, small farmers and food production carried out by peasant movements respect the environment and produce quality food without pesticides.[xiii]

But the intolerant thinking that permeates the propaganda made by agribusiness, supported by large economic and political groups, in addition to the pastors of prosperity churches, create the path of a road that disrespects the existence of those who care for the preservation of forests and forests, rivers and springs , upon which big capital advances fiercely.[xiv]

This univalent discourse abandons the idea that human societies are diverse and multiple. This fundamentalist thought seeks to normalize, format and fit the diverse, in stereotypes, these created from the head of the one who occupies the pulpit. Therefore, it spreads the unique thought based on an exclusionary discourse that spreads more and more. This is one of the hallmarks of control by authoritarian societies, and fundamentalist religions that cling to the sacred scriptures as the only valid knowledge, in a God who, apparently, only rewards the most hardworking and the most fearful, disqualifies everyone else.

Brazil is one of the countries where social differences increase the most. India and South Korea have invested in quality education to close these gaps. China invests in the education of the new generations and also reduces the social differences between rural and urban populations. Japan has done the same over the past two centuries.

Meanwhile, the West, in the last three decades, has taken the opposite path to that constructed and idealized by the Enlightenment. It destroys the welfare state and makes the lives of its poorest citizens more precarious, destroying public security, eliminating protective labor laws and placing its population in the clutches of an accumulation of wild capital, which transforms society into a propitious stage for extremisms. And Brazil, with its 13,25% interest rate, is the most complete result of this neoliberal policy.

Have we learned nothing from the XNUMXth century? Could it be that the images of the holocaust – reproduced in Brazil in the XNUMXst century, among the Yanomami people – were not enough? How can we speak in defense of the planet, the reversal of climate change if we spend more on destruction than on building the future?

The richest countries must create an agenda to stop the concentration of wealth, which is getting worse every day. Neoliberalism demonstrates that only a tiny portion of society has infinite resources at its disposal, while the majority starves. The question that remains is: how much does a person need to live a long existence in comfort? Millionaires have much more than that at their disposal. Why do they want even more money if their existence will hardly exceed 100 years of life?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: a society is only democratic when nobody is so rich that he can buy someone else and nobody is so poor that he has to sell himself to someone else. We seem to be back in the XNUMXth century. Could it be that humanity can't overcome the traps we always fall into? We are back to a society permeated by uncritical thinking, whether religious or economic. We once again base our parameters on inequality and unilateralism.

In the 1980s, they said that capitalism would bring well-being to all. We know today that this was a lie told to workers so that their rights would be undermined by the greed of capital accumulation. We curse Margareth Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who convinced the unwary with the idea of ​​money as the parameter of life. Life must be the parameter of life.

*Beatriz Zaterka Giroldo holds a BA in history from PUC – SP, therapist and businesswoman.

*Tânia Gerbi Veiga is a doctoral candidate in history at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora.

Notes


[I] Check https://brasil.un.org/pt-br/81483-gastos-com-guerra-no-mundo-s%C3%A3o-3-mil-vezes-maiores-que-despesas-com-alimenta%C3%A7%C3%A3o-escolar-diz

[ii] Ignorance in the sense of obscurantism, ignorance as ignorance. Check in Michaelis Online Dictionary, viewed May 18, 2023: https://michaelis.uol.com.br/moderno-portugues/busca/portugues-brasileiro/ignor%C3%A2ncia/

[iii] In World War I (1914-1918) about 20 million people died and World War II (1939-1945) killed about 60 million people. These data imply, in both cases, deaths among civilians and military personnel.

[iv] Education must educate for the plural, for diversity. The new high school approved by the Temer government and the militarized schools, encouraged by the Bolsonaro government, are far from that. In these spaces, the new generations coming from the poorest strata are formatted much more than they are educated. We must not forget that the new secondary education is for the poor, the rich will continue with a quality education, in very expensive schools with all the technological resources and with access to the contents discussed in the world. Meanwhile, the (de)reform of secondary education is focused on the minimum reproduction of labor, increasing the already huge social gap in the country.

[v] Jornal Estado de São Paulo, 29/04/2021 - viewed on 22/05/2023.

[vi] It should be noted that vaccination is mandatory in Brazil and the Child and Adolescent Statute and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend vaccination coverage of at least 95% of the child population. The vaccination card is mandatory for access to various public benefits from the federal government, such as Bolsa Família.

[vii] Cofen – Federal Council of Nursing.

[viii] According to the titular professor of the Department of Pharmacology at the Paulista School of Medicine at Unifesp, Profa.Dra. Soraya Soubhi Smaili, the reduction of investments in the area of ​​Health and vaccination campaigns opened space for the dissemination of false information. Says the academic: “Until 2016, we had a health policy focused on Public Health, to strengthen the SUS and the PNI (National Immunization Program). We had good managers in the PNI and investments in this area to carry out campaigns and structure the system, so that immunizations were successful. From 2017 to ca, we already have a decrease in investment, a more disorganized structure in the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for the PNI and, therefore, a decrease in programs and campaigns that gives space to the growth of campaigns against vaccination” .

[ix] Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that the budget for vaccination campaigns fell from BRL 77 million in 2018 to BRL 45 million in 2020.

[X] Correio Braziliense collection (internet)

[xi] These laboratories do not report how much their revenues have increased. Renato Spallicci's Aspen laboratory has tripled the production of Reuquinol. This businessman is a Bolsonarist militant. EMS is part of the group controlled by Carlos Sanchez, who also owns the Germed laboratory. The businessman is on the Forbes list, as the 16th richest man in Brazil and an estimated fortune of 2,5 billion dollars. Another chloroquine manufacturer is businessman Ogari de Castro Pacheco, who saw the Cristália laboratory, of which he is a founder, be personally honored by the president. He is a member of the DEM and a Bolsonaro voter. The only foreign laboratory to sell chloroquine in the country is the French Sanofi-Aventis, which has Donald Trump as a shareholder. the dept. Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP), son of the former president, shared on twitter a photo of a box of chloroquine from the brand Plaquinol, a company in which Trump is also a shareholder. In addition, the government also accelerated the production of hydroxychloroquine in the laboratory of the Brazilian Army. How much did these laboratories earn from the sale of these proven ineffective drugs to combat COVID-19? Did the family of the then President of the Republic profit from the sale of these drugs?

[xii] We must remember that the capitalist system is based on consumption without restriction. It is this unlimited consumption that creates unlimited waste (garbage).

[xiii] On May 17, 2023, the ruralist group and the extreme right imposed a CPI in the Chamber of Deputies that will clearly seek to criminalize the Landless Workers Movement.

[xiv] Cf talks about the CEO of Nestlé See in this link and also on this link. Nestlé is trying to minimize the damage caused by the company's CEO's statement. See this link.


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