Intellectuals, culture and independence

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Thought and sensibility have already taken sides in the dispute between civilization and barbarism.

The word “intellectual” circulated in the French press to designate supporters of the famous text (J'accuse!) that Émile Zola published on January 13, 1898, in the newspaper Dawn, demanding a review of the judicial process that wrongfully convicted Captain Alfred Dreyfus of espionage. In fact, for being a Jew. The source of moral authority for the writer and the collectives supporting the movement was knowledge. Involvement in a political cause inaugurates the representation of intellectuals. Zola, by the way, was murdered four years later. Pierre Bourdieu, in turn, refers to l'ambiguité de class des intellectuels and its connection with specific fields of knowledge.

In the Marxist tradition, the intellectual is the equivalent of the ideologist who elaborates ideas to intervene in political struggles. Antonio Gramsci, in the 1930s, highlighted the role of intellectual linked to a social class, in the work of sedimentation of consensus for the construction of a hegemony in society. At the time, Karl Mannheim expounded the thesis that intellectuals hovered above classes, with a capacity for syntheses superior to those in conflict. Pretentious formulation, as it sends the intellectuality to a cloud far from social determinations. Engagement, ambiguity, hegemony and impartiality are the pieces of an unassembled mosaic.

Sociologist Fernando Pinheiro, in an article included in the book Brazilian agenda (Companhia das Letras), organized by André Botelho and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, simplifies the issue: “What characterizes intellectuals is the relationship with a work in terms of culture, conceptual or aesthetic, of which they are authors or intermediaries” , resume. Heirs of the Enlightenment, they use intelligence to expand intelligence with science and/or art, and postulate their place of speech. They occupied the space of monasteries, salons and literary circles; today, universities and the press.

From the right, they elaborate arguments in favor of the market economy, tradition in morals and customs and hierarchies of command, despite the inequalities and exclusion of segments in the productive circuit. From the left, they criticize the functioning and reproduction mechanisms of the unequal social order, anchored in theories of egalitarianism and public freedoms. The exaltation of freedom explains the attraction exerted by Carlos Drummond de Andrade's “crooked angels” on the artistic universe (music, theater, literature, cinema, etc.). Freedom is the means of existence of the arts. Authoritarian regimes encounter resistance among culture makers.

Whatever the ideologies and agenda of struggles, even though many intellectuals and artists in the field of culture remain distant from political institutions (Parliament and parties) and social movements (in the countryside and in the city), at times it is Impossible to keep the distance. Occasionally, contingencies induce a posture engaged in the defense of the values ​​dear to a democratic and plural, anti-racist and anti-sexist sociability, in the face of the threats of medieval obscurantism, censorship and repression both in public and private life.


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With the rise of the extreme right and Jair Messias to the Presidency, rebellion became an ethical duty against the dismantling of health, education and technological innovation policies; the liquidation of national assets with privatization and slicing of strategic companies; unemployment, informality and precarious work; the ceiling on public spending to meet rent-seeking demands; the criminal devastation of the Amazon in the name of agribusiness; the attack on republican institutions; the massacre of native peoples and quilombolas; the attack on the rights of women, black men and women and LGBTQIA+ communities; the hijacking of the nation's future; denialism in the pandemic with thousands of preventable deaths; armaments; secret parliamentary amendments; secrecy by presidential decree to cover up corruption; – none of which leaves any doubt about the need to profile yourself in opposition to the bad stuff. To empathize with the country is to shout: “Enough”.

The victory, perhaps in the first round of the October election, will help to raise the dam to contain the destruction movement and to honor Marielle Franco, Dom Phillips, Bruno Pereira, Marcelo Arruda. And give more density to the project led by Lula da Silva, with Geraldo Alckmin as deputy. The fewer concessions the new rulers need to contemplate in order to climb the Palace ramp, the more strength they will accumulate to rebuild the country and implement policies to empower civil dignity, with popular content and citizen participation.

The intelligentsia – academic and media – and culture makers are aware of the problem and the solution. It is enough to remember the position taken by democrats such as the epidemiologist and former dean of UFPel Pedro Hallal, the philosopher Márcia Tiburi, the an influencer Felipe Neto, singer-songwriter Anitta and instrumentalist Renato Borghetti, who went on television to underline the vote for the “missionary rooster” for the Senate. The list of personalities is robust enough to assert that thought and sensibility have already taken sides in the contest between civilization and barbarism.

There is a rush to checkmate the anti-intellectualism and hatred devoted to everything that reeked of art, culture and intelligentsia, to evoke the term legacy of Russian literati who considered themselves spokesmen for the oppressed people. The postponement of the laws Paulo Gustavo and Aldir Blanc repeats the negligence of the representative in the last four years (the brutes do not love). There is a rush to throw the militia mismanagement in the service of globalized capital, which has always been concerned with the multimillion dividends of Petrobrás shareholders, into the dustbin of history, contrary to the suffering of the people, in a territory that has regressed to the map of hunger, UN, under the negative management of the unspeakable.

The Freyrean metaphor of the “big house” and the “slave quarters”, with perversity, is updated by the one who, in lives mimics covid patients with shortness of breath in their lungs. There is a rush to convince friends and neighbors to elect the majority and proportionally progressive candidates, from North to South, for the civilizational changes announced by the “Frente Unidos Pelo Brasil”.

Not even in the colonial-slavery period was the gap of inequalities as deep as it is in the present. There, at least, the masters shared with the enslaved a courtyard for common circulation. In São Paulo, for example, the city with the largest number of helicopters on the planet, not even that exists. The bourgeoisie of the metropolis, which alone holds 10% of the national GDP, never gets into traffic jams. Middle-class sectors opposed to bicycle paths should “look up”, as in the film. The target of repressed resentments does not move bike, on hot asphalt. don't walk either skateboard.

Neoliberalism, as a model for economic policy and social relations, has increased the enormous exclusion of the poor and strengthened gender, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation prejudices. It is not by chance that crimes of femicide and massacres in the periphery have skyrocketed in statistics. Neofascism has laid a paw on manifestations of knowledge and creative imagination. There is a rush to flush the toilet with the shit brought in by the family that acquires real estate, in cash.

Failure is not limited to the figure of the president and the superminister of the Economy; it is also a commitment to the free market and deregulations (labour and social security reforms). The State's solidarity with the vulnerable classes and individuals is the safe floor to give rise to a new reality, more inclusive instead of excluding, which restores hope to the population. The decision does not depend on the “elite” against the homeland with a mongrel complex, which tramples on Brazilian sovereignty and “turns the whole country into a whorehouse”, as Cazuza denounced. With the mobilization of each and every one of us, we will overcome alienation and apathy, putting the block on the street.

Voting has never implied such engagement in the banner of democracy to change Brazil and embody the anti-neoliberal and anti-neo-fascist wave that spreads in Latin America and the world, which does not want to return to authoritarian, totalitarian or theocratic experiences. Another reason is possible, later after the elections. That's the independence we want to celebrate in 2022 and beyond.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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