The wolves of flat earthism.


By Paulo Martins*

Wolves are a minority, but when placed in the exercise of power they can bring irreparable damage. The XNUMXth century witnessed, in its various wars, the parade of wolves.

The new coronavirus, far beyond being a dangerous virus because of its ability to spread easily and quickly, claiming lives, disrupting families, interrupting projects, demobilizing the educational system, destabilizing industry and commerce around the world, brings to light a social pathogen : the individual who insists on fighting against evidence, who refuses to understand science, who disregards others, in short, an individual who is a social disease and, moreover, is the complete proof that homo homini lupus (man is wolf to man) according to Plautus in the comedy Asinaria[I].

According to Seneca in the Letters to Lucilius and, modernly, with Thomas Hobbes, in the of Cive, published in 1642, which revitalized the sentence plautin. Today our wolves multiply around the world, those who defy science, who believe themselves above good and evil; who think that their personal projects overlap with collective ones. Anyway, those who disregard the human race.

Plautus, in a comic context, states: Lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit – “Man, who is not known what he is, is a wolf to man”. In this text, a merchant expresses distrust of a person he did not know and, therefore, as he feared not being paid, he did not grant him credit. The clarity of this conduct brings into play the character of human nature itself in a generalized way. Even if this occurs in a comic genre, it is extremely worrying to imagine that the simple fact of not knowing the other prevents you from granting him a vote of confidence. This reduces man to something that denies him as a human being.

Seneca, in Letters to Lucilius[ii], it states: "Homo, sacra res homini, iam per lusum ac iocum occiditur”, that is, “man, who should be something sacred to man, is exposed to death for fun and games”, the author, speaking of the constant deaths in public in the games, proposes that the promoters of these atrocities are beasts - beasts for the human race itself, the life of the similar is insignificant to them. They belittle our greatest good: the zeal for life.

In Hobbes, Plautus' brilliant verse serves his argument that the subject, man, the human being is naturally compelled to live at war with one another. The non-observance of consensus – please, not civilized dissent – ​​conflict between men is food for some, it is pleasure, it is innate perversity and it indicates that, among all the threats that a human being can face, the greatest of them is the confrontation with other people, more than that it's your voice and turn. In this sense, Hobbes says:To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; that man to man is a kind of God; and that man to man is an arrangement[iii] wolf – To speak impartially, both sayings are very true, namely, that man to man is a type of God, and that man to man is an absolute wolf.”.[iv]

We see that the biggest challenges we face – as a species – are created by ourselves. We observe that, for human beings, it is common for the strongest to exploit the weakest, when, in fact, they should protect them. This reveals that man is the predator of man himself, a villain of himself. As Hobbes, Seneca and Plautus propose, we cannot generalize. Wolves are undoubtedly a minority, but when placed in the exercise of power they can bring irreparable damage. The XNUMXth century witnessed, in its various wars, the parade of wolves. They decimated millions of people, committing absolutely inhuman acts.

The 19st century, in times of Covid-XNUMX, presents us with an appetizer that sounds redundant. For Republican Donald Trump, the problem was that the virus was Chinese. For the entrepreneur Beppe Sala, mayor of Milan, the important thing was to promote an institutional film that viralized the idea that “Milan cannot stop”. Viktor Orbán and János Áder, the great Hungarian leaders, took advantage of the pandemic to legalize the state of exception. In Belarus, the dictator Alexander Lukasheko, mockingly, prescribed a sauna and vodka. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow from Turkmenistan considered it a language problem and more than quickly banned the press from using the word “coronavirus”. The Colombian government, led by Iván Duque Márquez, has intensified a campaign to control sexual relations, considering it a good measure against the disease, proposing masturbation as a prophylaxis[v].

Our president seems to have summed it up. Jair M. Bolsonaro and his family troupe at no time imagined considering the importance of science or scientists, these in fact are always vilified by the “family”, they never showed themselves to be indebted to the university, to research institutes such as Fiocruz or Butantã, to the On the contrary, they reinforced the masterful ideas of those “statesmen”. The clear attempt at self-coup, the flu, disrespect for isolation, disqualification of the Minister of Health, attacks on state governors, including those in his political field, the vice president, the presidents of the Chamber, the Senate and the STF , all of this demonstrates boldness and inability to manage the crisis and the country. Castellated in Olimpo do Planalto, the president, and his minions, believe themselves to be gods; fools, do not know that they are only hungry wolves.

* Paulo Martins is a professor of Latin culture at the University of São Paulo.


[I] Plautus (254 – 184 BC). Asinaria. the comedy of donkeys, lines 495-496.

[ii] Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD). Letters to Lucilius, 95.33.

[iii] arrange = notorious, absolute, complete (Old English).

[iv] Hobbes, T. (1588 – 1679). “Philosophical Rudiments Concerning Government and Society” in: The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Vol. II. London: John Bohn. 1841. p. iii. (Deticatory Letter). 

[v] (accessed 5/4/2020).

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