The sense of the demented blow

Édouard Manet, The Execution of Maximilian, 1868.


A demented story that began with the genocide of indigenous peoples

There are many questions raised by the failed January 8 coup in Brasilia. Appalled, we ask how we could have reached such a level of barbarism as to destroy the symbols of a nation's government: the three powers, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary? This doesn't happen by chance. It is a consequence of previous historical and social factors that materialized in the vandalization of the three palaces.

Philosophically, we can say that the dimension of demens (dementia, excess, absence of the right measure) suffocated the other dimension of sapiens (of rationality, of balance) that always accompanies it, because this is the human condition. It turns out that the demens prevailed over the sapiens and flooded the consciousness of numerous human groups.

This fact shows the perverse side of the cordiality described by Sérgio Buarque de Holanda when in Brazil roots (1936) speaks of the Brazilian as a cordial man. Most analysts forget the footnote that the author makes when explaining that cordiality comes from the heart. In this heart there is goodness, good will, hospitality. But there is also hatred, evil and violence. Both have their headquarters in the hearts of Brazilians.

The Brazilian people showed cordiality in these two dimensions, the luminous and the dark. In Brasilia descended the spirit of pure dementia, without any trace of rationality, destroying the bodies that represent democracy and the Republic.

Why did the dementia break out? It is the result of a demented history that began with the genocide of the original peoples, it was implanted in the colony, as a factory, a company to make money and not to found a nation. It was aggravated beyond measure by the 300 years of slavery, when people uprooted from Africa were made things here, animals for work, slaves subjected to all kinds of exploitation and violence to the point that their average age, according to Darcy Ribeiro, does not exceed 22 years. , such was the brutality they suffered. Abolition threw them to hell, on the street and in the slums without any compensation. This debt cries out to heaven to this day.

Once colonization was over, the Brazilian people, in the words of the great mulatto historian Capistrano de Abreu, were “caped and recaptured, bled and rebled”. This logic has not been abolished as it is present in the 30 million hungry people, in the 110 million with insufficient food and with more than half of our population (54% of African descent) poor living on the outskirts of cities, in slums and in inhumane conditions.

The owners of power, “the elite of backwardness” as Jessé Souza pertinently calls it, always controlled political power even in the various phases of the Republic and in the few periods of representative democracy. The wealthy classes made a policy of conciliation among themselves, never of reforms and inclusion. Logically, several constitutions were created, but when did they regulate and limit the greed of the powerful?

Our capitalism is one of the wildest in the world, to the point where Noam Chomsky said: “Brazil is a kind of special case; I have rarely seen a country where elements of the elite have such contempt and hatred for the poor and working people.” He never let himself be civilized. There was barely any class struggle because they with violence (backed up by the military arm) ruthlessly crushed it.

We had and have democracy, but it has always been fragile and has been and is continually threatened, as seen in several coups, against Getúlio Vargas, Jango, Dilma Rousseff and on January 8 of this year. But she always came back.

All this must be taken into account in order to have a framework that allows us to understand the recent demented and frustrated coup. It is worth noting Veríssimo on a twitter: “Anti-PTism is not new, anti-people is in the DNA of the ruling class. She has never allowed anyone coming from the bottom floor to go up to another, occupying the center of power, as happened with Lula/Dilma and again with Lula in 2023. She made all kinds of opposition and coup maneuvers, supported by the ideological arm of the big corporate press”.

There is another point to be considered: the culture of capital has exacerbated individualism, the search for individual or corporate well-being, never for an entire people. Such ethos it permeated society, socialization processes, schools, the minds and hearts of less critical people. We are all, in a way, hostages of the culture of capital because it forces us to consume superfluous goods and it has been implanted all over the world, generating planetary disgrace, throwing a large part of humanity into marginalization and putting life on planet Earth at risk. It created consumers not citizens.

The dictatorship of this individualism led to many, thousands not wanting to live together. They prefer their Alfa Villes and their neighborhoods restricted to wealthy people and speculators. Now, a society does not exist or sustain itself without a social pact. It expresses itself through a certain social order, materialized in a Constitution and in laws that everyone undertakes to accept. But both the Constitution and the laws are continually violated, since individualism has undermined the sense of respect for laws, people and the agreed order.

Those who are behind the Brasília attempt are those types of people who consider themselves above the existing order. There are people of all classes, but mainly, representatives of big capital. Let's not forget the magazine's latest report Forbes which brought data on the opulent people of Brazil: 315 billionaires, most of whom live on rent rather than on the production of consumer goods.

The main factor that created the conditions for this frustrated coup was the atmosphere created by Jair Bolsonaro, which raised the demented dimension in millions, taken by hatred, truculence, discrimination of all kinds and cowardly contempt for the poor and marginalized. They bear the main responsibility for poisoning our society with traits of inhumanity, regression to antiquated and non-contemporary social models. Not even religion escaped this pestilence, especially in groups of neo-Pentecostal churches and also in groups of conservative and reactionary Catholics.

Thanks to the quick determination of the Ministers of the STF and TSE, namely of Minister Alexandre de Moraes and in the case of the coup, the quick and intelligent action of the Minister of Justice Flávio Dino who indicated to President Lula, given the seriousness of the issue, the need to order a federal intervention in terms of security in the Federal District. Thus, at the last minute, a coup was aborted. The stupidity of the invaders of the three houses of government and the destruction they perpetrated there, stopped the military junta that, according to the revealed plan of the coup, would assume power in the form of a dictatorship with the arrest of all ministers, closure of Congress and acts of repression already known in our history.

Democracy may have its defects and limits, but it is still the best way to allow us to live together, as participatory citizens with guaranteed rights. Without it, we fatally slip into barbarism and dehumanization in personal and social relationships. This democracy has to be built day by day, be daily, open to enrichment and to transform itself into a true permanent culture.

*Leonardo Boff, ecologist, philosopher and writer, is a member of the International Commission of the Earth Charter. Author, among other books, of Brazil: complete the refoundation or extend the dependency (Vozes).


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