Intentional downgrade?

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By LUIZ COSTA LIMA*

Underdevelopment is predictable within the capitalist system. What we live, however, is an extraordinary novelty

I am moved here by a double purpose; they will be exposed separately, in order to indicate in a few words their internal dependency.

The first purpose does not even appear in the media news. Its object is the progressive national stampede of those who specialize in some scientific or broadly cultural topic. Do not confuse what is written about evasion with the greater difficulty of employment for a considerable part of the population. The media network is naturally attentive to this. It is therefore worth insisting: why would there be such a stampede, especially on the part of young people, who no longer intend to wait for a contest?

After all, it should be argued, the difficulties are not new, especially those of an intellectual nature rather than strictly technical-mechanical. Nor is it now that the use of the Portuguese language causes the exclusion of the possibility of exchange with colleagues in the specialty. Much less is it news that there are few (or relatively few) places that allocate them or that it is not, among us, frequent practice to contact other specialists, even those from the same unit. What then explains the stampede?

The lack of news by the way does not mean that it was difficult to discover it. A first approximation consists in pointing out that the serious commitment to some specialization, especially an intellectual one, is, among us, quite difficult due to our scarcity of literature. (For its part, already motivated by the scarcity of its consumption). As a result, how can every serious specialist respond to the urgency of keeping abreast of foreign literature? Now, since the salaries of such professions are not high and our libraries are too poor, how can we keep up to date with foreign bibliography? More explicitly, how to gain access to foreign publications in view of the progressive rise in value of the dollar?

As journalists and readers will be used to the millions asked for in frequent scams, they may not be impressed that the price of 300 or 500 reais has to be available for paying and transporting a very simple copy. And, as the sum of readers of a strictly intellectual activity is minimal, the absence of news about it does not provoke protests and complaints or they do not matter. Do I still need to add that, within this environment, we become intellectually poorer and poorer? Eloquent proof of the insignificance with which the official circles face the situation is the proposal of one of our current ministers to tax the book, under the allegation that, among us, the reading of books is exclusive to the rich. (Is it still appropriate to think that the political disaster we are experiencing is occasional and provisional?)

I pass to the second purpose that moves me here. In a single day, I find in a single newspaper the reports I gather. There are approved projects for the privatization of parks and public buildings, the restriction of indigenous reserves, initiatives for the destruction of the Atlantic and Amazon forests, negotiations on the vaccine against Covid, which both imply the non-access of the vaccine and the millions reserved for their intermediaries, of reports related to censorship against the dissemination of news contrary to the authorities, at the same time that the right of expression of actors favorable to the government is defended, even if these are absolutely inappropriate cases, on the suspension of processes against “cracks” ”, on the constitutional defense of authorities who, however, are known for their aggression against the law, on the proposal to open up the work of the courts for religious prayers, even if the State is officially secular, not to mention the systematic reports on the increase in the unemployed, the underemployed, the devaluation of the national currency, etc., etc. In short, it seems, the limit of the limit is not achievable.

Faced with the avalanche of similar news, I ask myself if they are not part of a conscious and calculated project of country's purposeful self-shrinking, ceasing to be simply proof of the stupidity of a government and the “authorities” that guarantee it. Certainly, it is not now that we are underdeveloped. But underdevelopment is predictable within the capitalist system, whereas what we are experiencing, even within capitalist inequality, is an extraordinary novelty. It would remain to ask which groups and/or people national self-shrinkage interests. I prefer to leave the question open.

* Luiz Costa Lima Professor Emeritus at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC/RJ) and literary critic. Author, among other books, of The ground of the mind: the question for fiction (Unesp).

 

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