Reginaldo Moraes – Engaged word

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By SEBASTIÃO VELASCO AND CRUZ*

Homage to the political scientist, on the occasion of the three years of his death

Organized a few months after his death, the book Engaged word. Exercises in criticism and political pedagogy brings together a fraction of the set of intervention texts – short articles, aimed at the general public – that Reginaldo Moraes wrote in the last years of his journey. The book was published in electronic version by Editora da Fundação Perseu Abramo, in 2020, and is about to come out in print later this year, in co-edition of Perseu Abramo with Editora Unesp.

It is a work notable for the number of topics covered, the profusion of information gathered, the quality of the arguments presented and the flavor of the inimitable prose. Freed from academic conventions, in these articles Reginaldo Moraes appears in full, in the multiplicity of his complex personality, as a sophisticated intellectual, a dedicated professor, and a tireless fighter.

Reginaldo Moraes has not been with us for three years. No, it's not true. We don't find it in the same places anymore, we can't touch it. But he remains present. Ever! Read the book and say later if I exaggerate.

Below is the presentation I wrote for Engaged word. Exercises in criticism and political pedagogy.

 

The texts gathered in this volume represent a small fraction of the articles and comments written by Reginaldo Moraes in a dramatic period of Brazilian political life.

Indeed, between 2013 and 2019, Reginaldo used all the means at his disposal to make himself heard about the events that ended up transforming the political scene of our country so radically and about the profound displacements that gave rise to them. Much of the material resulting from this effort was disseminated through informal means of communication – email lists, a personal blog – among his closest colleagues, Reginaldo was the first to explore this resource – and shortly afterwards Facebook, where he tirelessly recorded thoughts embryonic developments and reactions to everyday facts.

We did not go after this collection, which certainly contains many gems. In preparing this collection, we only considered articles published in two well-established electronic sources: the website Brazil Debate, from the Perseu Abramo Foundation, and the UNICAMP newspaper. Even so, due to time and space requirements, we had to carry out a rigorous selection. As far as we could ascertain, Reginaldo began his sporadic collaboration with the Brazil Debate in July 2014; in June 2017 she started writing regularly on UNICAMP newspaper, as column holder The Science of Politics & Vice Versa. Since then, with rare interruptions, he has published weekly articles on the most diverse topics. In total, we counted 133 texts, of varying lengths, which left us with an immense archive, whose publication was unfeasible within the time limits and budget we were working with.

For the above reasons and others – Reginaldo has always expressed his preference for small, more easily handled books – we could not retain even half of the articles in this collection.

The harm to the reader, however, should not be exaggerated. The result of careful selection, the texts gathered here constitute a representative sample of Reginaldo Moraes' production as a publicist, and of the immense talent he displayed in this type of activity.

In the organization of these articles, between the two options that were offered at the outset – order them chronologically or distribute them by thematic keys – we decided to combine the last two, indicating in each of them where they were published. Initially, we classified the topics covered into three broad categories: Politics; Educational Policy and Technological Innovation; Political Culture and Society. Separated the articles in these three classes, they were then arranged in chronological order. In this way, we believe it becomes easier for the reader to identify variations in the author's focus of interest, the main lines of his thought, and the progress of his reflection on the topics covered.

In this regard, a word should be said about the international outlook of most of Reginaldo Moraes' texts. Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Chile – at different times and under different prisms each of these countries passed under the powerful lenses of our columnist, some of them repeated times. But his attention was for much of the time fixed on a very special country, not included in this list: the United States.

It is not necessary to go far to find reasons to justify such a “privilege”: the unique role played by the superpower in the world, especially in the post-Cold War period; the political and cultural relations it has traditionally maintained with Brazil; the enormous power of attraction exerted by its society on the elites and large portions of the Brazilian population.

But there is an additional reason, certainly more important than the general reasons listed above. Reginaldo Moraes was one of the formulators of the project that gave rise to the National Institute of Science and Technology for Studies on the United States, of which he was a dedicated researcher and coordinator of the dissemination of knowledge in society.

Implemented in 2009, for a whole decade, the INCT-INEU served as an institutional framework for Reginaldo Moraes' research activity, which unfolded into several themes, with emphasis on the study of the education and innovation system, the role of the State in development economy, and, lately, on the impact of social transformations on political alignments. Not by chance, recurring themes in this book.

The reader will have the opportunity to verify this for himself. There is nothing escapist about this outward look. When studying the mentioned national experiences, Reginaldo Moraes does not distance himself from the Brazilian reality. On the contrary, in taking this long journey, he reveals unsuspected connections and aspects of our social and political life, while at the same time gathering valuable elements for the formulation of creative solutions to the challenges it entails.

Although most of the articles in this book are limited to the critical analysis of the topics addressed, this concern with useful, socially applicable knowledge is apparent in Reginaldo Moraes' writings in general. But in some of them it manifests itself on the surface of the text in the form of explicitly formulated practical problems, with indications of ways to face them. Understandably, articles with this characteristic focus on the author's collaboration with the site. Brazil Debate.

It is worth making a brief comment on the subject of Education in this book and, beyond it, in the work of Reginaldo Moraes. The reader can easily perceive the importance given to it and the internal links that link it to the set of subjects dealt with. More than an object of study, however, Education was for Reginaldo Moraes a constant practice, an ethical-political commitment, a way of life. This condition is clearly reflected in the articles gathered here. It is expressed in the conscious choice for a short and simple sentence, in simple vocabulary, in frequent reading recommendations... given away. How best to define the teacher's mission?

It is in this register that the author's caustic humor must be seen. The style is the man, they say. And it's not possible to talk about Reginaldo Moraes' style without highlighting his very personal humor, sometimes brutal, but never unreasonable. Weapon of defense and attack before an iniquitous reality that attacks us incessantly, the witty phrase, the unabused irony and even the sarcasm are resources used in his texts for didactic purposes. They aim to disconcert the reader, shake his adherence to common sense and make him think. That's why its accompaniment is never the insult, but a battery of solid arguments and a plethora of data.

Pedagogy as a way of life, we said. But, at a deeper level, the articles that make up this book also express the inverse relationship. Indeed, in a world that exalts demeaning models of individual achievement, in addition to insights, rich information and well-sewn arguments, these articles – so revealing of the person of their author – offer the lesson of a multiple life, intensely lived, of exemplary integrity .

*Sebastião Velasco and Cruz He is a professor at the Department of Political Science at Unicamp and at the San Tiago Dantas Graduate Program in International Relations, UNESP/UNICAMP/PUC-SP. CINCT-INEU coordinator.

 

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