Let the dead have the right to vote

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By VLADIMIR SAFATLE*

When we are in the voting booth, we are not alone. There will be 700 thousand people voting through our gesture

“That the dead have the right to vote” is one of the most beautiful passages by Jacques Lacan. This is the moment when he discovered that there was something worse than death. Worse than death, there was the death of death, there was the act of killing death, that is, preventing death from occurring, with its mourning, with its symbolic reception, with its deceit, with its duty of memory. In this case, it was as if subjects were killed a second time. Not just physical death, but an even worse, even more brutal one: symbolic death.

Brazil then saw the horror of a government that fought against the vaccination of its own people, that mocked their deaths, that sabotaged society's attempts to defend itself, that hid numbers, that "disappeared" bodies while doing everything to preserve the income of the rentier elite, of the financial system, of the businessmen of the court. A government that killed death. The result was unappealable: even taking into account only the uncertain numbers we were able to raise, we found that we had 3% of the world's population and 15% of deaths from Covid in the world (5x more).

However, behold, they continue and, years later, threaten to be re-elected. A re-election that would mean throwing into the mass grave all those who died due to the irresponsibility and indifference of the State, leaving their bodies without burials rotting in the open. Bodies without memory. It would mean the appalling crime of forgetting and forgiving those who killed them, not once but twice. The Greeks have a beautiful tragedy, Antigone, about what should (and this “should” is strictly there) occur when a society sees it as possible to kill someone twice. She must disappear. It has lost any and all ethical substance, it is just an association of “murderers without malice and victims without hate”, as Günther Anders said.

Therefore, today not only the living will vote, the dead will also vote. Resurrected for a moment, they will hold the hand of insanity as if to say, "We will not be killed a second time." And it will be this resurrection of the dead that will save what's left of our Brazilian society, that will allow us to start building another society from the rubble of the one that has already ended. In these strange as well as beautiful paradoxes, when a society finds itself in its deepest danger, it is the dead who save us, it is their strength of not letting themselves be forgotten that preserves the openness of our future.

When we are in the voting booth, we are not alone. There will be 700 people voting through our gesture. There are times when an election is just an election. And there are times when an election is the last gesture of a society that will use the strength of its dead to force the closed doors of the future.

*Vladimir Safatle He is a professor of philosophy at USP. Author, among other books, of Ways of transforming worlds: Lacan, politics and emancipation (Authentic).

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