voluntary hardiness

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Eugênio Trivinho*

The social dissemination of fake news creates minimally lasting symbolic conjunctural uncertainty with the help of the mass media and the thoughtless flow on social networks

Theodor Adorno once criticized the group The Beatles because the worldwide success of the quartet's mass songs would have contributed to the rapid expansion of the cultural industry, communicational power structure (and politics, Lato sensu) with an eminently conservative and invisibly totalitarian content.

In the reactionary course of recent decades, behold, the pseudo-intellectuality of the extreme right in Brazil has given birth to ultra-conservative anti-intellectual vipers, supporters of the “pure opinion kick” – really, of “Plant Earth” –, as a certain Brazilian descendant of ideological resentment has been exiled for years in the United States and whose name is not even worthy of evocation here; and, from the underworld of cognitive hoaxes, it was heard, from his unbelievable mouth, in a video (date unspecified) on YouTube, last September, the insinuation that Adorno, co-founder of the Frankfurt School (intellectual group with a cohesive thematic tendency , with marked internal axiomatic differences), composed the songs of the Beatles! [1].

Both the mockery of the German theorist, an acerbic critic of all forms of fascism, and the propensity to depreciate, in a futile and subjectivist way, the creative trajectory Liverpool rockers. Not without endorsing this laugh, Adorno's poor heart (who died of a heart attack) must, in fact, be palpitating with disgust even now in the face of so much gratuitous intellectual decay, while his body certainly shakes itself in the cemetery of Frankfurt am Main, in Germany .

In another famous tomb, in Basel, Switzerland, Desiderius Erasmus, a cleric-philosopher born in Rotterdam, Holland, is probably regretting not having risen in Brazil in time for his maturity to follow the current events and behavior of Babel rulers and boastful advisers: more than 500 years later, Erasmus would have diverse and incomparable raw material for the continuity of his Encomium Moriae [praise of madness].

Anyone who really knows the bibliographical history of Adorno, an acute dialectical skeptic, lover of classical music, especially Berg and Schönberg, and a refined critic of literature, knows that Negative Dialektik [negative dialectic, Zahar, 2009] – work that he published in 1966 and continues so insolently (and, why not, “kidly”) quoted by those who do not know it, both in structure and in intentions and content – ​​was radically incompatible with any type of artistic production, is regulated by the pursuit of exchange value (that is, by profit or economic-financial return, especially if with immediate effect), is distributed through the conventional and conservative channels of the mass industry and, therefore, is devoid of guarantees of an exclusive link with the autonomy and with the interests of the artist and/or producer (not their contractors, intermediaries and/or consumers).

These considerations serve as a preamble to some important aspects. Firstly, Adorno's tortuous instrumentation, even to ridicule bands from rock, demonstrates, strictly speaking, the absence of reading a single line of the work of this thinker responsible for a sophisticated, profound and unusual articulation between Hegelianism, Marxism and psychoanalysis, which raised European culture to a golden conceptual moment that is still difficult to compare in the field of philosophy today. ; or, if there was reading, it was so underqualified that the result amounts to zero comprehension.

This note amounts only to minimal diplomatic treatment where someone legitimately adept at frankness would not escape naming the erratic aggression purely and simply as bad faith. Be that as it may, the fuss and the outbursts of pantomime and trickery against Adorno disallow, in origin, any speech – above all of acerbic criticism – about the theorist of The authoritarian personality [authoritative personality, Unesp, 2019] (monumental socio-psychoanalytic and empirical work, from 1950, on the cultural, political and subjective foundations of the Nazi character) and, more extensively, on the Frankfurt School.

aiming shotgun vintage In the song pop supposedly progressive, the trampoline of tentative guesswork inevitably slipped into the cantilena – which moves no one anymore – of “philosophy with a leftist bias” and, deep down, did not hit anyone with the veracity that so much delights in intellectual honesty. Without a doubt, it is the lowest level of the scale of intellectual capacity that, it should be recalled, determined the very poor quality of the theoretical reception of Adorno and the Frankfurt School in Brazil since the second half of the XNUMXth century.

This impressive bluff should not even be the focus of mention, were it not for its pestilential potential, to be fought at all costs, even up to the limit of the patience of a press article. Who in the country really understands the stuff of Dialekt der Aufklärung [Dialectic of Enlightenment, Zahar, 1985], a work that merges and ciphers the essays of Adorno and Horkheimer – friends for life, in a rare consistency of theoretical principles – is told, if anything, on the fingers of two hands; and this very select redoubt of understanding, which is obviously projected onto the entire logic of the Frankfurt School, does not include anyone – absolutely anyone – from the right-wing political spectrum.

Secondly, the political relevance of this very banal episode – whose pettiness, by the way, roars in self-denunciation, when it needs to be taken as an object of consideration – lies in the fact that it throws wide open the modus operandi from the source of fake news, as well as shedding light on the level of voluntary, arrogant, insolent and militant rusticity, as cretinous as it is willful and of theoretical dishonesty, today, generally, invested in the misrepresentation of intellectual, historical and cultural facts. At this point, the video available on YouTube marches, frame by frame, in unintentional self-betrayal, by being socially revealing, in the kid – and in other words –, about how these scattered opinionated factoids are born, happy and irresponsible.

Its objectives, predictable and easily mapped, consist of (a) interfering, with the purpose of counterfeiting, in the background cognitive based on a given community (on a local, regional or national scale), casting myriad doubts on the circumscription of circulating beliefs and bets, especially those linked to human, social and civil rights; (b) intercept, with previously calculated falsification, the form of access to knowledge about facts and ideas, until reaching the mode of individual subjectivation about the world; (c) attributing, in a blatant way, total discredit to the share of previous knowledge, failing them, at the bar, with the lie, under the fanciful and sensationalist alibi of being supposedly “wrong” and, therefore, deserving “correction”; (d) dissuade, with this, the common and unsuspecting public perception, confusing the minds of millions of people, of all social classes and age groups, through the criminal disturbance of progressive conventional meanings; and (e) invite them, in the pathetic camouflage of cunning, to assume the content promoted by repetitive bombardment and inflated by purposeful adulterations, via news, messages, posts and “memes” scattered everywhere, in an indistinct circularity, often under robotic ballast online and “virtual gangs” (some of them paid for with public money).

The macrostructural goal expressed in the interest of social dissemination of fake news boils down to creating minimally lasting symbolic conjunctural uncertainty with the aid of the traditional mass media and unstoppable multimedia corridors of social networks, lethally bargained for by their own eagerness to report and/or radiate anything scandalous or exotic, without axiomatic weighting regarding the political and/or ethical merit of disclosure.

This escalation takes place until the complete establishment of a post-truth sociocultural environment in which all interaction segments inside and outside electronic communication spaces operate under the impossibility of being able, in the turmoil of confusion between reality and fiction, to distinguish facts verifiable and consistent versions, objective milestones and forged bubbles, original bases and uncontrollable developments.

Thirdly, it shows, in the same vein, at the most blatant moment and in the most disqualified cultural cuisine, how the extreme right machine works, aimed at destroying reputations of names, profiles, images and/or symbols aligned with the broad political spectrum of the center- left, in action without guilt or concern for any harm and under a permanent conviction of impunity.

The central instance of the new Brazilian political, cultural and moral reaction, currently installed in the American state of Virginia – almost a customary department of underqualified police of customs and the future in all areas (politics, culture, education and relations ahead) –, an instance now more blindly proud of itself without, however, reaching the pinky of José Guilherme Merquior’s “right foot”, has become a digital storehouse of intrigues and falsifications whose confessed obsession is to systematically corrupt , the credibility of thinkers, icons and/or militants enshrined in the history of Western culture, mainly linked – it should be emphasized – to the progressive field, with the despicable egotistical inclination to preserve unscathed its own image, ultraconservative (that is, agreed with a status quo noisily murderous), before peers of an uneducated and fundamentalist group of origin and that claims to be historically emerging.

It is a cowardly puerile and shortsighted strategic scheme, which sucks crumbs of public prestige from the prosperity of the image of others founded on social causes and is not ashamed of the intellectual dishonesty of molesting even the personal memory of those who, despite being livid from the tomb , can no longer duel, like Adorno. It is this parasitic and persecutory tribalization in the political field of traditional disputes around the State apparatus that is said, paradoxically, to be supported by the morality of “goodness” and under the ballast of God; it is precisely this “people”, acting under ideological falsehood and/or anonymity online and reveling in the destruction of others, who want to build – with hateful pillars and gunpowder cement – ​​a “nation”.

The “network hub”, of protomental command, of this new Brazilian ultra-right horde has revealed, for decades, blatant inventive chatter, of malicious intent, combined with exhibitionism of an easy cybermedia hot seat and ambition in relation to the immortality of one’s own ideas, actions and reverberations of the faction. And, it seems, everyone, in this perimeter of unreflected faith, remains well with their insane consciences only when they practice injury, slander and/or defamation for their own benefit: typical neo-fascist catfish surrendered to the poisonous decrepitude of a destructive morality and harassed by the previous horror of being completely swept away from the cultural field by fair oblivion in a few years.

This trend covers important features of what can be called “hyperabsurdist neopositivism”, with a resounding manifestation in audiovisual niches online, bordering on political-paranoid delirium, in terms of the unconditional and intransigent defense of status quo and the affirmation of proto-state, infra-democratic and/or anti-republican authoritarian propensities, which evokes the practice of justice with one's own hands, at the expense of insults and bad language, when not a firearm, within the scope of social relations.

With regard to hallucinatory ultraconservative productions, it should be mentioned that Adorno is the author of The stars come down to Earth [The stars descend to Earth, Unesp, 2008], an equally socio-psychoanalytic study on the superstitions implied in texts from the newspaper's astrology column Los Angeles Times, in order to dissect the biased metaphysics of late capitalism, to whose ideological-narrative totality the very movement of the heavens would belong.

It sounds significant that the characteristics of hyperabsurdist neopositivism make it appear as the dangerous tropical corruption of the “axiological plates” that appear in The authoritarian personality. In a free interpretive mosaic, the conformation of the Nazi character, on which the study is centered, brings together, in full harmony, unquestioned adherence to current values, beliefs and conventions; absence of tension in relation to social hierarchies; homeostatic submission to authority; destructive dislike of activities and intellectual profiles; denial of any deeper introspective propensities; superstitious and stereotyped view of life and stigmatization of the other; enterprising and cynical rusticity as a sufficient value; peaceful acceptance of social aggressions against those who are or think differently; and unconscious pathological repression of sexual drives.

Based on ground-level criticism and immediatist foam, the always alarmist overflight, in a stronghold of digital visibility that, under the pretext of galvanizing relevant public discussion, only simulates it, the interpretative adulterations about Adorno and the culture of the mass from the second half of the XNUMXth century only prove how much the “theses” about the so-called “cultural Marxism” urgently need to undergo a shock of rigor, a shock of seriousness, that is to say, a shock of qualification theoretical-reflexive, in short, a shock of the University – not to reiterate the most important thing: a shock of honesty – against the grain of all questioning or neo-fascist whining to the contrary.

Fortunately, against all the cognitive and conceptual slopes also to the contrary, this encouraging balance prevails, as an inerasable response of the Western intellectual tradition: it is the negative dialectic that, in the end, allows apprehending the social-historical and political-political meaning itself. culture of all this henchman moralistic hatred distilled by a cunning rudeness and that, disguised as a seductive culture, corrodes the country from within its own social relations.

* Eugene Trivinho is professor of the Graduate Studies Program in Communication and Semiotics at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP).


[1] See https://f5.folha.uol.com.br/musica/2019/09/olavo-de-carvalho-diz-que-quem-escreveu-as-musicas-dos-beatles-foi-sociologo-alemao.shtml.

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