Why? rather, how?



Let's forget, for the moment, the hesitant explanatory schemes, to plug into the ground wire of everyday urgency.

In the bewildering profusion of analyses, interpretations and theoretical insinuations to understand what is happening in a world overwhelmed by conflicts, conflagrations, recession, pandemics, setbacks, collective psychoses, the insidious network of lies and dementia unleashed via digital, and the promise of an imminent Armageddon, only one thing is certain: nothing is known.

Is it the fault of philosophers, politicians, sociologists, and other friends of logos who lack commitment, insight, or inventiveness? Absolutely not. It's just that everything erupts with such acceleration (they even invented a discipline about it, Dromology), with so much oscillation of evidence, with such a disorganizing impetus, that perplexity is probably the only genuinely honest answer. Yes, there are punctual, reasonable and accurate explanations about this or that episode. But when we pacify ourselves in the expectation that “this is it, anyway”, the facts give a somersault and catch us off guard.

To say that the proximity of the events and the complexity of (more) gloomy weather narrows the perspective. Worse: it would be a lapidary stupidity worthy of the “Dictionary of ready-made ideas”, picaresque appendix of Bouvard and Pécuchet, Flaubert's characters who dream of building an encyclopedic knowledge, but end up producing a mess manual in which one of the central mottos is to regret the present time. Every present obviously lacks that horizon, that more weighted perspective that stitches together past events and gives them, if not meaning, a certain coherence.

But we are run over on a daily basis by so many infernal variables (the biggest pandemic of all time, the biggest recession ever experienced, the most acute crisis of democratic institutions, hatred and resentment escaping from civilized repression and running wild) that the planet seems like one of those eccentric atoms where an electron jumps out of orbit and boom, gone is stability.

But at the core of this marathon of senselessness and plausible inconsistencies, the greatest risk is not the atomic mushroom, nor the reheated cold war, nor the Third World War, as this has already been going on for years, in the sheds of various regions, in cities and towns , under the guise of crimes against humanity, genocide, ethnic cleansing. Add it all up, and the dice (drones, chemical weapons, bombs) are out. The greatest future risk, the culmination of defeats, is discouragement.

The why [?]

Em sleepwalkers, an analysis of the outbreak of World War I , published in 2012, its author, Cambridge University professor Christopher Clark, suggests that we live in a scenario closer to what preceded the carnage in the European trenches than the one that engendered , in World War II , the aseptic death camps, responsible for the final solution of the establishment of the millennium of the Third Reich, which lasted half a dozen years. The outbreak of patriotic nationalism was identical and ominous, like the usual boots and salutes, and “the time for diplomacy was coming to an end”.

But, as in 1914, and in contrast to the 1930s, the facts are now too tangled up, protagonism too pulverized, alignments and realignments volatile, mistrust thrives within one's own ranks, and supranational actors and jurisprudence, like the UN and the Geneva Conventions (the first and second already existed in 1864 and 1906), which played a role in the post-World War II period, are currently at the height of disrepute, weakened, innocuous, even demoralized.

See Syria, where a victorious Assad emerged unscathed from allegations of genocide and the use of chemical weapons. See Yemen, where a child dies of cholera, hunger or bomb every 10 minutes. See the ethnic cleansing and extermination of the Rohingya in Myanmar. If violence was once called the midwife of history, sadism and cruelty have refined it and are giving birth to chaos. The unsavory Henry Kissinger once declared that interpersonal morality was OK but could not be translated into conflicts between nations. State reasons.

There is an illuminating passage in Clark's book. He warns that, in the face of blind spots that are difficult to unravel, it is more convenient to ask the “how” rather than the “why”. . the question of as invites us to look closely at the sequences of interactions that produced certain results.

In contrast, the “why” question invites us to look for remote and categorical causes (in our case, the dynamics of finance capital, digital warfare, the changing international geopolitical partition, multilateralism or isolationism) (…) and would have a distorting effect, as it creates the illusion of causal pressure constantly building up, factors piling on top of each other, forcing events to come to pass”. The illusion, rather, the disillusionment that we are experiencing, is largely the result of this saturated hunt for the “whys”, a dignified effort, deeply human, to build a sketch that encompasses everything, broken down in details and intersections, and that, like good systematized knowledge , serves not only to stir up heated polemics, but, above all, to give rise to hypothetical solutions.

Cause or contingency?

The most modest “how” is limited to giving hints, here and there. It lists the combination of actors, accidents and options, unrepeatable, and, the height of the top for the prophets of the “why”, includes contingency as an essential element. A chance, an unforeseen event, an unexpected gesture can make all the difference.

The highly recommended Scotsman David Hume, a good-natured man who welcomed Rousseau and put up with his paranoia, and whose Research on the principles of morals (1751), abbreviated version of the treatise on human nature (1739) privileges the social virtues as superior to the private ones, he philosophized for years and years. To conclude that nothing, in the phenomenal or evaluative world – with the exception of algebra and geometry – is subject to 100% assertive knowledge.

For what we jealously take to be cause and effect relations are just perceptions of regularities. It's just our habit of noticing regularities that creates the expectation that these are universal. But nothing obliges Y to follow X. There is no link of necessity; what there is is a mere and constant nexus. Farewell to causes; let's deal with the more reliable conjunctions.

Very briefly, Hume would say that the “whys” are just solemn conventions that we formulate, in our eagerness to understand the compass of the world and of life. They are associations – never truths – inspired by contiguity, continuity, resemblance and coincidence. We fantasize that we can make universals because there is a regularity in perception. Let's take the law of gravity: a body always falls at a certain velocity and acceleration according to its mass. Less on the Discovery ship of 2001 a space odyssey, by Kubrick. Except in outer space. The attributes of the real are unknowable, since they are not subject to verification. And chance plays its part: for example, no one programmed Hal, the ship's computer, to have feelings and rebel.

But then how?

How did New Zealand get to zero the pandemic for a long time and is still the champion in controlling the disease, under the leadership of a prime minister who talks about the importance of Santa Claus?

How did the population of Belarus wake up from a 26-year lethargy and rise up against the dictator Lukashenko, under the leadership of a teacher with no experience in political activism?

New Zealand: Be Strong, Be Kind

With a quarter of New York's population, 4,9 million inhabitants, New Zealand had 19 deaths, and less than 1.300 infected. New York, at the height of the pandemic, with 19 and a half million inhabitants, had 300 infected with the coronavirus, and more than 17 deaths. It recently closed the borders again, with suspicions of new cases, but, if it continues its policy, success will be repeated, thanks to the policy of prioritizing lives.

The secret: act quickly, very quickly, and with draconian, surgical measures. O lockdown was decreed at the first signs that the pandemic was coming. “We only have 102 cases, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the time, but that's how Italy started”.

O lockdown it lasted five weeks, and it was for real: border screening and quarantine for travellers, all parks and playgrounds closed, everyone confined to their homes, offices and schools suspended, and even restaurants banned from even doing so. delivered.

The success of the New Zealand model is unequivocal, and is explained by several factors: confidence in science, leadership capacity, clarity of information and appeal to solidarity. Instead of talking about a “war on the virus”, the prime minister’s messages ended with “Let us be strong, let us be generous”, and signs spread across the country display the words “stay calm, be cordial”.

Arden is a competent, skilled leader with a charisma made of gentleness, not fey screams. Just remember her reaction to the attack on a mosque in Christchurch a year or so ago, of compassion and composure, praised as exemplary. In his daily press conferences on the pandemic, alongside and in line with the Minister of Health, drastic measures were announced in a calm tone, always appealing to the unity of the population, to “our team of five million”.

Arden's strategy was aggressive: elimination rather than mitigation, as other countries do, which adapt restrictions as the disease grows. There, the confinement was total and fast, in addition to economic measures to help people and small businesses, whatever the economy had to hurt. Ardern also announced a 20% pay cut for himself and his ministers, to leave no room for doubt.

On June 12, Ardern announced that for two weeks there has not been a single case of a person hospitalized with symptoms of the disease. At midnight, the country went from alert level 4 to level 1, the lowest.

All isolation and social distancing measures were suspended, and parties, games, concerts, public gatherings were allowed without limitations. Only border control is maintained. Arguably, it's easier on a small island with just 5 million people. None of that: the secret of Jacinda Ardern's victory was the timing, know how to detect the right moment, and take the necessary measures to stop the rapid spread of the catastrophe.

Ardern, who never fell into the trap of denialism, did not falter, did not allow himself to be carried away by the false dichotomy economy X lives, and acted like a good surgeon: he implanted the lockdown as soon as the first cases appeared in the country, and he faced his internal opponents who thought his measures were premature. She was right. Her goal was not to wait for the disease curve graph to rise until reaching a plateau, but rather to stop any progression in the curve. If many countries had done the same, we speculate, decreeing isolation quickly, right at the beginning, perhaps several lives would have been spared.

At first, many people turned up their noses, but today everyone applauds, relieved. In exchange for 35 days of absolute seclusion, plus a month of partial relaxation, New Zealand is now the only place on the planet where everyone can literally hug.

Who is this leader capable of locking up five million people without resorting to violence? It is the same person who took her newborn baby to a UN Assembly, who showed real solidarity with the Muslim community at the time of the attack on a mosque, who resorted to messages of generosity instead of warlike metaphors, and who reduced your salary by 20% during the pandemic.

Clarity, firmness, readiness. And tranquility in dealing with people. Ardern's first reaction, when he learned that the virus had been banned from the country, was to dance with his young daughter. had already done lives pointing to the importance of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to convince quarantined children.

How eccentric, this smooth and steady leader!

Belarus: Three Women and a Revolution.

Mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, friends: hundreds of women took to the streets of Belarus today, dressed in white and carrying flowers, demanding to know the whereabouts of thousands of demonstrators who rose up against the fraudulent victory of Alexander Lukashenko, the tyrant who ruled the country for 26 years. More than six thousand people were “disappeared”, countless tortured, two dead have already been confirmed and footage shows the moment when young people were carried by masked men into vans, where they were beaten. You could hear the screams of people inside the vans.

The European Union condemned the election as fraud. Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, opened the borders for those persecuted by the dictatorship. This time it is not a question of a dispute between the government and the opposition, but of the uprising of an entire population – including a strike by workers in some state factories – against a dictator who, in addition to leading the country to bankruptcy, recommended, as a cure for covid 19, drink vodka and go to the sauna.

Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was arrested the night before the election and is a refugee in Lithuania, is a 37-year-old teacher who has never been an activist but has decided to take the place of her husband, an opposition youtuber who was arrested in May. Supported by opposition groups, Svetlana's campaign was based on two basic proposals: freeing political prisoners, calling new elections, and establishing a democratic regime.

Alongside two other women, Veronika Tsepkalo (whose husband is in exile) and Maria Kolesnikova (spokesperson for the oppositionist Victor Babariko, also detained), Svetlana composes the troika of democracy, which awakened a population that had been dissatisfied for years and put them on the streets massively. Maria remains in Minsk, the capital, but Veronika was forced to leave the country, like Svetlana. Before leaving, the candidate recorded a video explaining that, given the threats to her family, she had opted for life.

It is speculated that she was shown footage of her husband being tortured in prison. The protests, internal and in the international community, only increase. Lukashenko had mocked Svetlana's pretensions, saying that a little woman was in no position to captain her country. But with three of them leading, and hundreds in the streets, followed by thousands of people, there is a good chance that the women of Belarus will finally succeed in overthrowing the tyrant.

Three hundred thousand people (200 thousand in the capital Minsk) embodied the protests that have been taking place for a week and a half, and returned to the streets last Sunday, despite the threat of intensifying repression. Songs and slogans demand the downfall of dictator Lukashenko. Workers at state factories, for the first time in 26 years, joined thousands of people in the streets, went on strike and greeted Lukasehnko with boos. Young soldiers burned their uniforms in public. Journalists, those who were not fired, joined the demonstrations, and some TV networks were surrounded by protesters who asked: "Show us in the streets". That's because the internet was even suspended, to censor social media. There is widespread consensus in the country that Lukasehnko cannot remain in power.

The dictator remains intransigent, but is on the rocks. For the third time, he called Russian President Putin asking for help, that is, military help to intensify repression. Putin informed him that he would consult with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in making any decisions. A cold water bath.

The Ukrainian solution (ie invasion/annexation via troops) is highly unlikely. For the simple reason that there is not the anti-Russian and pro-Western feeling in the country that there was in Ukraine. Three-quarters or more of the population speaks Russian and writes in Cyrillic. Putin is not interested in creating conflict with the Belarusians, who depend entirely on the neighboring power's oil. More: the relationship between Putin and Lukashenko has never been the best, given the comings and goings of Lukasehnko in his geopolitical alignment. Russian oil was sold at a subsidized price, but, given the agreements not implemented by the Belarusian president, Putin is already threatening to cut the subsidy.

The dictator's situation is precarious: a popular uprising like never before, part of the military refusing to continue brutalizing the population, and, perhaps most significantly, Putin's lack of interest in playing the unsympathetic and exhausting role of intervenor.

How eccentric, for three women (two of them with no prior activism) to spearhead the downfall of a tyrant!

nothing eccentric

Just the chronicle of two “hows” that can help to reflect, understand, explain, make explicit, understand the enigma of “it worked, who knew”.

What was missing was “presentism”, that cryptotheory adept at applying the tracing of the past to the present. It doesn't work, not even as a fake. Some accuse it of being 'vulgar', but it boils down to well-intentioned nostalgia, like those that pave the way to Hades.

However, Amarcord. The “how” was also valuable for a guy from the century before last who said that “philosophers only have interpreted the world in different ways; the question, however, is turn it. "

*Marilia Pacheco Fiorillo is a retired professor at the USP School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP).

See this link for all articles


  • João Cândido and the Revolt of the Whipwhip revolt 23/06/2024 By PETRÔNIO DOMINGUES: In the current context, in which there is so much discussion about State reparations for the black population, the name of João Cândido cannot be forgotten
  • Fear and HopeJoao_Carlos_Salles 24/06/2024 By JOÃO CARLOS SALLES: Against the destruction of the public university
  • The collapse of Zionismfree palestine 80 23/06/2024 By ILAN PAPPÉ: Whether people welcome the idea or fear it, Israel's collapse has become predictable. This possibility should inform the long-term conversation about the future of the region
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Return to the path of hopelate afternoon 21/06/2024 By JUAREZ GUIMARÃES & MARILANE TEIXEIRA: Five initiatives that can allow the Brazilian left and center-left to resume dialogue with the majority hope of Brazilians
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Theological manual of neoliberal neo-PentecostalismJesus saves 22/06/2024 By LEONARDO SACRAMENTO: Theology has become coaching or encouraging disputes between workers in the world of work
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones