the black worker



The contemporary version as the previous figure of the slave is an object of contempt, it is the to be objectified, devoid of value, endowed with a spirit that can be subjected and a body to which one can imprison

The condition of poverty experienced by the salaried Brazilian people and the misery that spreads across the great mass of underemployed and unemployed people is a reality that takes on even more intense tones when considering the broad range of permanently excluded individuals. These occupy a position of constant marginalization by the deep structures of the system, which it classifies as undesirable and, therefore, clientele of its repression organs. This situation imposes deep reflection on the social, political and, above all, economic model, especially determining the objective conditions of existence in capitalist societies that ordinarily despise the basic principles of human coexistence that superimpose solidarity, mercy and fraternity on maximizing articulations of economic interests.

The supremacy of economic interests over humanist values ​​unfolds and breaks with the conditions of stability and permanence of society insofar as they increase the conditions for the emergence of the reconfiguration of the new human type, however not perfectly described and studied, the modern slave in times of post-neoliberal neofascism.[I] The figure of the worker is maintained, but culturally dismantled by the invasion of the concept of entrepreneur and micro-entrepreneur, a fantasy under which the individual detached from society subsists, helpless in his fundamental rights that serve as an indispensable link for the functionality of the socio-political and economic fabric.

The modern version of the slave does not carry the weight of identifying the iron chains around his ankles, but the chronological and cultural control that is ordinarily implemented by leading the majority of the Brazilian population, composed of black men and women, to deny their own culture and, therefore, themselves, as a condition for their affirmation (cf. FERNANDES, 1972, p. 15). The system takes all of the time from the worker, either directly or indirectly, removing from him the conditions to experience the multiple dimensions of life. Parallel to the chronological control, the economic order through the organization of the economic domain in the phase of consolidation of its planetary expansion, articulation that makes possible the imposition of the purchase of work in exchange for insufficient remuneration for the maintenance of minimum conditions of existence, despite the perfect conscience of the raw violence applied by this global slave owner, as disembodied as he is a powerful figure, whom complacency and commiseration towards slaves in no way sensitizes or seduces. The system of bourgeois legality under which these relations are carried out covertly contains highly functional statutes of slavery, hiddenly making it compatible with antipodean categories of political and economic liberalism that underpin it.

The historical affirmation of the capitalist-financist system presupposes structured movements to continually hide this abyss that separates the practice of bourgeois legality and its theoretical references, applying intense resources and sophisticated means to that end, masking the relations of concentration of political power and strength to the achievement of the project of expropriation of wealth, regarding which Florestan Fernandes (1972, p. 9-10) was right when he stated that “What was known about the universalization of slave labor and the basic pattern of asymmetric racial relations led to the assumption that the “racial” concentration of income, social prestige and power constituted a generalized phenomenon.".

The large salaried masses are no longer recognized even as having the material right to life, and even less that they have conditions of dignity, otherwise, they are placed in an existential situation located in the territory of slavery, despite the efforts of the formalities of the bourgeois legal system. to hide it from public view. The servile condition of work and existence is the substance of these despised lives, a common practice of the current time, as well as those in which slavery was formally recognized. In both cases, the established order reserves for men the certainty of suffering, although in the previous system the landlord's interest in maintaining the life of his human property, capable of generating wealth throughout its existence, competed.

In modern slavery, care for this property rs production was neglected, as human resources have no sales value and, on the other hand, are abundantly available, and are advantageously and quickly replaced at progressively lower values ​​in peripheral economies. Human masses are allocated in the organization chart of power in the world of production in positions of extreme instability, subjected to turning the gears of economic production under precarious conditions and extremely volatile work relationships. The raw objectivity of labor relations or simply of social organization to implement their absolute absence in terms of rights is an attack on morality that melts together with human dignity in the astonishing flow that previously consumes with singular voracity solidarity, mercy and fraternity as safe pavers of institutions guided by civility.

The deconstruction of this sphere of civility operates as a potentiator for the recrudescence of the diversification of forces capable of undermining the social and political rights of individuals and the economic conditions of workers. Gradually, work ties are put in check, as well as rights on such a scale and depth that we can describe the scene as modern slavery, especially when we are faced with the cold reality of the immense mass of people excluded from the productive system and access to minimum subsistence conditions . They are masses of workers thrown to their own fate in the world under the complacent gaze of a model of State disinterested in the fate of its citizens, with as much indifference as that which led it in its time to serve the interests of slaveholders.

The contemporary version as the previous figure of the slave is an object of contempt, it is the to be objectified, devoid of value, endowed with a spirit that can be submitted and a body to which it can be imprisoned. This is the culture of the white landlord placed under the spotlight, on whom all attention falls, so that nothing else is seen or admired around him, even when it is the virile and viral culture of the enslaved who temper existence with the rude crudity of everyday life. It is in the depths of the slave's veins that runs culture and the thickest, richest and most substantial broth of existence that fills the experience with meaning and makes the hearts of men and women beat stronger, with cadence and direction. This is the collective that feels densely how wide is the dissent between its to be and the promised arrangement of society that finally mortgages the conditions for the realization of democracy in the practical field.

The deep abyss created by power structures imposes existential restlessness on all modern slaves. This pulsating subjugated life is ignored by the culture of the landlord, because more than merely being poorly perceived, it is a matter of interdicting its transit beyond the racial frontier, beyond which there is no efficacy nor enjoys acceptance, and when the black transits of class, well recognizes Florestan Fernandes (1972, p. 13) that “[…] he has to accept and submit to the rules of the game, drawn up for whites, by whites and with a view to the happiness of whites”. Their culture is not infrequently instrumentalized by this power of the white landlord, it remains obscured in its value and made invisible by official history, as happened with the Black Lancers in the Farroupilha Revolution, free blacks and slaves freed by the Republic under the condition that they offered their lives at complete risk in the fight for values, goods and benefits that would remain distant, if not completely alien to them.

The black body was the resource of force repeatedly mobilized in history to lift the gear of wealth appropriation and subsequent chaining of the process of maximization of this process. In Brazil, this needs to be remembered from the correct prediction of Caio Prado Jr. by pointing out that “negro” or “preto” not only occupied a certain space and under pejorative terms in the colonial period, but also should continue to occupy it and accompany such negative adjectives (cf. PRADO Jr., 2011, p. 291), all of which are assimilable to what is understood in the previous version of the slave who today acquires his new statutory-legal and corporate-economic deed. This is the Brazilian historical format, steeped in a legacy of slavery that universalizes free labor but does not free men from work in conditions analogous to slavery, perpetrating the human dilemma in inhuman terms.

Gaius Prado Jr. projected that black individuals would continue to be treated as slaves even when they no longer were (cf. PRADO Jr., 2011, p. 291), that is to say, an inhospitable and inhuman moral statute would remain, created in the shadow of legality and which goes beyond the borders of the repeal of the legislation itself. Modern enslavement expands human geography from its initial racial scope, but by focusing on the greatest possible expropriation of wealth, it points to the majority of the Brazilian population of black men and women. The economic criteria that unite the common interests of the elite impose a new version of enslavement that transcends ethnic boundaries to reserve inhumane treatment for the broader field of the workforce and even for those excluded from it located on the margins of the production process.

In the Brazilian case, the option for the implementation of a political and economic model that excludes all individuals from the process of wealth distribution is potentiating the interests of the elite that denies the nation in its independence to propose and execute a historic solution (cf. FERNANDES, 2015 , p. 116). This is a model that tends to feed the process of concentration of wealth, while the marginalized are also excluded from access to political instances and from the ways of influencing them, making it possible to project the increase in the collective of excluded individuals and in growing magnitudes. These unprotected individuals are the individuals whose existence will always be called into question by the system, unwilling from their position of control to cede part of the socially produced riches, and even those inherent to the country's geography and which should result in advantages for the entirety of the individuals in taking advantage proportionately more for the less privileged.

Human subjugation in any of its variables presupposes, as a starting point, contempt for equality among individuals. In the Brazilian case, the black body historically embodies the rs, things objectified in bodies, transmutable in “[…] enslaved races and thus included in colonial society, poorly prepared and adapted, [which] they will form a strange and uncomfortable body in it” (PRADO Jr., 2011, p. 293), and this perception of most individuals as a “nuisance” is a violence that Brazilian society has not managed to overcome since the abolition on May 13, 1888. abolition in the legal sphere did not correspond to the liberation of bodies and lives, kept under a state of radical penury and deprivation, in the sense that Florestan Fernandes (1972, p. 13) stressed that “With slavery gone and the imperative need to organize the work system based on black labor, the black ceased to be a historical problem for whites and, therefore, ceased to count in their political arithmetic.”, and invisible continued for decades until the contemporary irruption of new lines of force more effective to make resistance possible.

If this pre-condition for integration is not met, in circumstances of equitable sharing of goods, wealth and respect, the community is unfeasible, otherwise the mere highly dysfunctional coexistence of individuals whose non-entanglement and sharing of deep values ​​and principles with a stabilizing potential for coexistence anticipates hazy prospects. It is an indispensable condition for the stabilization of social existence, guided by the recognition that it requires a common affectation of circumstances and things in life. The destabilization processes to which unequal societies are the target unequally distribute the loads of pain and suffering, imposed to the detriment of the mass of working individuals. This could not work without artifices or thick veils, which will be worked out and carried out through the intermediaries mobilized for that purpose who, following the example of the colonial period, were incarnated by the overseers and other similar personalities at the service of those established in power.

These historical actors bequeathed the moral and political archetype to achieve a common movement between our most distant past and the present moment, enabling a massive elimination project under a new conceptual format but under the same malevolent roots, which refers to the analysis of Caio Prado Jr. . by pointing out that "It is not just about the ethnic elimination that worries Brazilian “racists” so much, and which, if it took time, it was done and still is done normally and progressively without major obstacles” (PRADO Jr., 2011, p. 293). Strictly speaking, Brazilian racists are marked by the unsurpassed memory of the colonial period and the supine cut of the noise of the leather whip in the air ready to face the black skin in the thousands of pillories. The national racist group is not interested or concerned in any degree or intensity with the implementation of some version of equal opportunities, understood as indispensable for the institution of a minimum base for the implementation of a promising version of democracy.

The different versions of white supremacist groups do not care about the fate of the mass of men over whom they intend to assert themselves through an ideological veil and, when necessary, without hesitating the application of the crude empire of force. In this regard, the social criticism carried out by Brizola is notable in its sharpness and relevance, in which the balanced mixture of indignation and daring pulsates, driven by reactivity when the crudeness of the various and mystical forms that whipping can acquire in relationships is imposed on the body. social. It is imperative to ban socioeconomic and political arrangements that grant favors and privileges to some and all the hardships of life to a wide mass of individuals, which in the Brazilian case coincide with the set of heirs of all violence practiced against slaves.

Once the period of formal slavery was over, the broad legacy of discrimination was maintained on all social levels and freed blacks were reserved for all the institutional disadvantages artificially manufactured in parallel with the ordinary hardships and misadventures of life. Added to the denied equality of opportunities was the hypocrisy of expanding the meritocracy criterion to maintain and expand social exclusion, a position diametrically opposed to that rejected by Brizola when he denounced in his speech the illegitimacy of the benefits available to those whose foreseeable future was that “He will have everything in his hands without having done anything, while thousands of the same generation, flesh and blood, like him, remain in ignorance, for the sole fault of being born in poverty.” (BRIZOLA, 2004c, p. 347). Under the slave mastery in a society that saw its historical stabilizing myth of racial democracy crumble violently in the light of day, like contemporary capitalism, the experience of solidarity, mercy and fraternity seem to be values ​​far from the empirical application by the ranks of Catholicism, but nothing more than appropriated and applied by certain groups that do not enjoy a position of dominance, while dissidents of these founding values ​​follow their path without remorse. In this context, the value of democracy becomes relativized under the agenda and supreme guide of the maximum expropriation of bodies in favor of capital.

In this regard, it is essential to question what kind of social order we can reasonably aspire to, and an essential question asked by Brizola's developmental-nationalism includes assuming from the outset values ​​such as that "It is just, humanly just, patriotically just, that only the minority, children of fortune, surrounded by all guarantees, can realize their aspirations, and the children of poverty can only achieve this, at the cost of their own health, or else, inexorably , die in ignorance?” (BRIZOLA, 2004c, p. 347). It is right that the institutions created and maintained by our societies crystallize to whom the favor of the good life will be granted and to the masses who will be assigned the burden and pain of eternal working life without social and economic guarantees and supports on the part of society through the state entity? It is to the hard core of the values ​​contained in this question that a society that intends to eliminate mass of men and women considered despicable, and that, therefore, cannot respond positively from the point of view of a humanist theory. This question by Brizola could not be answered differently than what would be done to contemporary capitalist society than what slave owners have already done. For these, the disaffiliation of fortune and good luck would not deserve any repair on the part of the sociopolitical and economic arrangements, but the opposite, from the ancient and contemporary slaveholding perspective, the devaluation must be maintained, since it is explainable and justifiable given its imposition by supposed natural order and mere chance. It is an argument that is nothing more than a stupid falsification, since in fact the human condition in society derives from the social arrangements created by the actors in the world of culture who, in the face of the strategies of expropriation of wealth that they adopt, will try to hide them under a cultural veil and, at the limit, guarantee it by the use of force.

The timeless omission of the authorities in the face of the multiple faces of evil in history keeps one of the questions raised by Brizola's humanist nationalism in proposing to confront us and respond to the “[…] Should an authority that subjected a citizen to all these humiliations, to all these moral and immaterial sufferings, go unpunished, should he be safe from Justice?” (BRIZOLA, 2004b, p. 394). Effectively, will there not be resistance against supine abuses of the rights of the mass of individuals? In the absence of awareness of the abuses there will be no effective conditions for the reaction. The substantial presupposition for reactivity is the perception of violence in some of its forms, and one of them, innovative, is the emerging new human slavery that maintains pain and suffering as typical marks added to the character of expropriation of the results of its force of work.

The question about the transgressions practiced by the State and its authorities comes from a long time ago and was reiterated by the tradition that makes available the right of rebellion, the legitimacy of imposing itself in the face of unauthorized violence against the political sovereign, the people, and in this aspect I agree with Brizola’s indignation when he said how much “[…] I deplore and revolt when our government receives information from a foreign country and, through this information, triggers a police campaign, arresting and violating precisely those elements generally placed in the lowest economic levels of our society.” (BRIZOLA, 2004a, p. 447), since little can mobilize human decency more than indignation against the perpetration of violence against those who cannot rise to their defense under equal conditions.

Here is the demonstration of conditions that actualize contempt mixed with hatred for initiatives that intend to eliminate blacks, the poor and miserable, disinherited by society and never by nature, an aspect that keeps Caio Prado Jr's reading current. (2011) that blacks, who in the colony were already synonymous with the condition of slavery, nevertheless continue to be so, when the forms of yesteryear are again intensely overcome by the substance of life, still added by yet another broad collective of individuals underprivileged and despised, such as the original peoples, in addition to the mestizos, and a wide range of those considered dysfunctional or maladjusted, summed up, finally, in the category of “unproductive”, unacceptable for times of maximum productivity and the translation of humanity into objective value.

* Roberto Bueno is a professor of law at the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU).


BRIZOLA, Leonel. Constituent of 47: fight against inequalities. In: BRIZOLA, Leonel.  Gaucho parliamentarians. Profile, speeches and testimonies (1922-2004). BRAGA, Kenny; SOUZA, Joao B. de; DIONI, Cleber; BONES, Elmar. Porto Alegre: Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul, 2004c.

BRIZOLA, Leonel. The strength of the platform. In: BRIZOLA, Leonel.  Gaucho parliamentarians. Profile, speeches and testimonies (1922-2004). BRAGA, Kenny; SOUZA, Joao B. de; DIONI, Cleber; BONES, Elmar. Porto Alegre: Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul, 2004b.

BRIZOLA, Leonel. Legislative action to strengthen democracy. In: BRIZOLA, Leonel.  Gaucho parliamentarians. Profile, speeches and testimonies (1922-2004). BRAGA, Kenny; SOUZA, Joao B. de; DIONI, Cleber; BONES, Elmar. Porto Alegre: Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul, 2004a.

FERNANDES, Florestan. The Black in the World of Whites. São Paulo: European Book Diffusion, 1972.

_______ . Power and Counterpower in Latin America. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2015.

PRADO Jr., Caio. Formation of Contemporary Brazil🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2011.


[I] I dedicate specific attention to this subject in a book of my authorship whose preparation is in the finalization phase.

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