What fate do we want: barbarism or democracy?

Image: Ekaterina Bolovtsova
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

What fate could the country meet in the next elections

With the exception of the ruling class, which is enriched by authoritarian and far-right regimes, such as the current one, the vast majority are aware that Brazil cannot continue as it is. There must be a change for the better. For this, I think that some basic requirements must be met. Cast some.

(1) Redo the “social contract”. This means everyone's consensus, expressed by the constitution and by the legal system, that we want to live together as free citizens who mutually accept each other, beyond differences in thought, social class, religion and skin color. Now, with the current government, the social contract has been broken. The social fabric has been torn apart. The executive makes light of the constitution, goes over the laws, belittles democratic institutions, even the highest ones like the STF.

Due to this upside down authoritarian revolution, with an ultraconservative and fascist bias, supported by significant sectors of traditionally conservative society, people split, in families and among friends, and even hate each other, when they are not committing murders for political reasons. If we do not remake the social contract, we will return to the regime of force, authoritarianism and dictatorship, with the inherent consequences: repression, persecution, imprisonment, torture and death. From civilization we will be one step away from barbarism.

(2) Rescue “civility”. In other words, citizenship should prevail. This is a historical-social process in which the human mass forges an awareness of its subaltern situation, allows itself to elaborate a project and practices in the sense of ceasing to be mass and becoming people, protagonist of its destiny. This is not granted by the State. It is conquered by the people themselves as they organize themselves to face backward classes and even the classist State.

Now, this process has always been impeded by the ruling class. It aims to keep the masses in ignorance in order to better manipulate them and prevent them, with violence, from raising their heads and mobilizing. Ignorance and illiteracy are politically desired. The richest 10%, which account for 75% of the national wealth, have created a project for themselves, of conciliation between them, always excluding the great majorities. We need a national project that includes everyone. This continues to this day. It is perhaps our greatest scourge because the 54% of Afro-descendants, the quilombolas, the indigenous people and the millions of cowardly marginalized people are unknown. Without citizenship there is no democracy.

(3) Recover “minimal democracy”. There has never been a truly consolidated representative democracy in our country, in which the general interests of the nation were present. Those elected represent the particular interests of their segment (evangelical, cattle, candy, agribusiness, mining, banking, private education, etc.) or those who funded their campaigns. Few think of a country project for all, with the overcoming of brutal inequality, inherited from colonization and mainly from slavery.

Under the current government, as few times in our history, democracy has shown itself to be a farce, a collusion of the aforementioned politicians with an executive that governs for its voters and not for everyone, even inventing a shameful secret budget, without any transparency, destined , primarily, to buy votes for the reelection of an executive who uses lies, fake news as a government policy, the brutalization of language and behavior, constantly threatening a coup d'état, dismantling the main national institutions such as education, health, security (allowing more than a million weapons in the hands of citizens accustomed to violence) .

It is urgent to recover minimal representative democracy, so that we can then deepen it, make it participatory and socio-ecological. Without this minimal democracy, there is no way to make justice and law work, with due impartiality; national institutions are weakened, especially collective health, education for all and security whose police bodies often execute young people from the periphery, black and poor.

(4) To promote “education, science and technology”. We live in a complex society that, in order to meet its demands, needs education, promotion of science and technology. All this was neglected and fought by the current government. Continuing, we will be led to the pre-modern world, destroying our incipient industrial park (the largest of the developing countries), our education that was gaining quality and universality at all levels, especially benefiting basic education students, fed by family agriculture and organic, the access of the poor, by quotas, to higher education, to technical schools and to the new Universities.

We can inform ourselves our whole lives, warned us the great philosopher Hannah Arendt, without ever educating ourselves, that is to say, without learning to think critically, build our own identity and practically exercise our citizenship. If we don't make up for lost time, we could become a pariah country, marginalized from the general course of the world.

(5) Become aware of our unique importance in the theme of “integral ecology” in helping to save life on the planet. Current consumerism demands more from an Earth and a half that we don't have (Earth Overload). We must also assume as an assured scientific fact that we are already within the Earth's new climate regime. With the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we will no longer be able to avoid fatal, serious extreme events: prolonged droughts, huge snowfalls and floods, loss of biodiversity, of crops, migrations of thousands who cannot adapt and are subjected to hunger and new viruses. to come (vorosphere).

There will be a great world scarcity of water, food, fertile soils. In this context, Brazil will be able to play a real saving role since it is the world's freshwater powerhouse, due to the extension of fertile soils and the Amazon, which, if preserved, could sequester millions of tons of CO2, giving us back oxygen, supplying moisture to regions thousands of kilometers away and, due to its geobioecological richness, it will be able to meet the needs of millions of people in the world.

Our rulers have little awareness of this relevance and very little awareness in the population. Possibly we will have to learn from the suffering that will survive and that has already manifested itself among us due to the disastrous floods that occurred in several states in the year 2022. from his own grave, Sigmunt Bauman warned us shortly before he died. In the words of Pope Francis: “we are in the same boat, either we all save ourselves or nobody is saved”. The essential issue does not reside in economics, politics and ideology, but in the survival of the human species, which is really threatened. All instances, knowledge and religions must make their contribution if we still want to live on this small and beautiful planet Earth.

(6) Finally, leaving aside other important aspects, we must create the conditions for a “new way of inhabiting the Earth”. The dominant one until now, the one that made us masters and masters of nature, submitting it to our purposes of unlimited growth, without feeling part of it, has exhausted its virtualities. It brought great benefits to ordinary life, but it also created the principle of self-destruction with all kinds of lethal weapons. We must cross over to another way in which everyone will recognize themselves as brothers and sisters among humans and also with nature (the living have the same basic genetic code), feeling part of it and ethically responsible for its perpetuity. It will be a biocivilization based on which will be the economy and politics and the virtues of care, of the gentle relationship, of the just measure and of the affective bond with nature and with all its beings.

In order to create such conditions in our country for this “civilization of good hope”, we need to defeat the politics of hatred, lies and inhuman relations that have been established in our country. And to make those forces triumph that propose to recover minimal democracy, civility, decency in social relations and a deep sense of belonging and responsibility for our Common Home. The next elections will mean a plebiscite on what kind of country we want: barbarism or democracy.

Without this minimal democracy, there is no way to make justice and law work, with due impartiality; national institutions are weakened, especially collective health, education for all and security whose police bodies often execute young people from the periphery, black and poor.

*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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