Ruy Fausto: the tension between logic and politics

Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenko: R is for Rodchenko

By Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval*

Considerations on the intellectual and political trajectory, in Brazil and in France, of Ruy Fausto

The sudden announcement of the death of Ruy Fausto, in Boulogne-Billancourt, as a result of a heart attack on the 1sto of May, was for us as well as for all his numerous friends a shock of infinite sadness. Ruy Faysto was, since its creation, a faithful follower of our Study Group on Neoliberalism and Alternatives (Groupe d'études sur le neoliberalism et les alternatives – GENA) and a great friend with whom we shared so many beautiful nights and happy moments both in Paris and in São Paulo, in the company of all those and all those who loved him for all that he had done and written in his life, and for his presence always warm, pleasant and generous.

He was a man of smiles and anger, combat and work, passion and conversation. Those who had the opportunity to share with him these rich exchanges of subtle analyses, vivid anecdotes and new ideas will remember the ironic art with which he knew how to combine the memories of a personal life shaken by the political tragedies of Europe. and Latin America, the history of philosophy in Brazil, the avatars of world Marxism, a critical look at the Brazilian left and the history of its most recent commitments to the renewal of the French left.

Ruy Fausto was multiple: Brazilian, French, philosopher, poet, musician, activist, journalist and teacher. It is all these aspects that, together, revived his words, especially in the cafeteria of the BNF [National Library of France], his headquarters in Paris, where we often crossed paths.

In this place where he always received, with the greatest kindness, the young Brazilian doctoral and post-doctoral students who came to study in Paris. He remained, both in Paris and in São Paulo, this vigorous link between French thought and Brazilian thought, this link that had truly constituted him intellectually since his youth, especially thanks to some of his masters, whom he always evoked with gratitude, like Gérard Lebrun while he was teaching at the University of São Paulo – an institution to which, despite his exile in Paris, he would remain deeply attached. France, as well as for other young Latin American intellectuals of his generation, was his land of exile. It allowed him to build a career in the philosophy department of the University of Paris VIII, not without singular difficulties in the midst of professional intrigues of which he had a painful memory.

Committed philosopher, man of great culture, cosmopolitan intellectual. Ruy Fausto did not conceive the exercise of thought as a closure between the walls of the university. At the furthest distance from the exegetical obsession, Ruy Fausto only practiced philosophy when in contact with the reality of societies, in relation to the lives of men. He read economists, sociologists, novelists and poets.

At times he expressed his regret at not having enough time to devote to reading the writers. How many books he still had to read! The National Library was not for him a shelter away from the furor and riots, but also a post of observation on the world, an arsenal of political weapons, and, of course, a place to continue learning. Room K (philosophy) will not be the same without him.

And his highly erudite works on Marx, which he sometimes regretted not being widely read but which will remain unavoidable, do not contradict this lifelong commitment. Ruy Fausto is the author, among other works, of a landmark book: Marx: Logic and Politics: investigations for a reconstruction of the meaning of dialectics (Editora Brasiliense, 1983). It is necessary, first of all, to pay attention to the date of publication: we are in the middle of the 1980s, in these “winter years”, as Guatarri said, when it was in good form, for many intellectuals, to treat Marx as a “dead dog”. , according to the expression applied to Spinoza in Lessing's time, or to Hegel in Marx's time, which Jean Toussaint Desanti reiterates at the beginning of the preamble he gave to Ruy Fausto's book.

As he comments in his preface: “The Marxist fashion of the 1960s succeeds, with the same haste, the anti-Marxist fashion of the 1980s”. It must be remembered that, in fact, anti-Marxism was popular among mediocre authors (plumitifs) and essayists seeking attention (en mal de notorieté), in particular among those who promoted a “brand” called “new philosophy”.

Ruy Fausto's approach was certainly against the grain of the prevailing intellectual fad. But it is by no means, for him, about restoring the integrity of Marxist doctrine and placing himself as a severe defender (sourcilleux) of a threatened orthodoxy. Observing the crisis of Marxism, he associates it in an original way with the crisis of the dialectic itself.

He intends, above all, to restore to the dialectic its rigorous sense and, for that, the practice precisely in the meticulous reading of Marx's texts, especially the floorplans e The capital, at a time when many were content with reading the prefaces to voice their informed opinions. But the most important thing for us is what, in the title of the book, comes after Marx's name: "Logic and Politics". Two extremes joined by an “and”. On the one hand, the logic of the critique of political economy. On the other hand, political practice. It is, even today, in the tension between these two extremes that he makes us think. Today more than ever. This is the great lesson he left us.

Ruy Fausto had a political experience to transmit, and not just his own, but that of the revolutionaries of the XNUMXth century. Politics is a serious matter, of life and death. That great alive he knew that mass political assassination was an ever-present threat in Europe and Latin America. As a child during the Second World War, young adult when the dictatorship was imposed in Brazil, exiled in Chile, he narrowly escaped the military during Pinochet's coup d'état.

The Trotskyism of his youth inoculated him from any commitment to Stalinist totalitarianism and its counterparts. An intransigent critic of the oligarchic, dogmatic and populist forms of the left, he maintained until the end the hope that it would know how to cure its defects and reinvent itself, in Brazil as in France. A reader of Arendt, Lefort and Castoriadis, he was one of those for whom the true revolutionary tradition is democracy put to the end. An internationalist in action, he knew that nothing good could come of nationalism. And as soon as the catastrophic times of Bolsonarism arrived, he gave a last lesson in courage by launching himself into the public struggle against the new fascism that is descending on his country.

Despite its multiple activities, especially the edition of the magazine Fevereiro and later the magazine Rosa (, to whose launch he has dedicated profound efforts in recent months, alongside the publication of his latest books on the left, revolution and totalitarianism, he has passionately participated in the creation and discussions of GENA. We had a lot in common, despite the short generation gap (à une courte génération près). He still had many projects to carry out with the French group. In an e-mail, he wrote to one of us at the end of March: “I hope we can do a French/Brazil coordinated job. In multiple forms: magazine, seminars, videos, podcasts, etc.”. All Ruy is there. At the age of 85, his future was still one of action, of coordinating ties between France and Brazil.

We would like to say to all your Brazilian friends and colleagues, who today are cruelly suffering this loss, that the intellectual and friendly ties that we were able to establish with your help will not be broken. It will be our way of perpetuating, beyond death, his magnificent life lesson.

*Pierre Dardot is a philosophy researcher at the University of Paris-Nanterre.

*Christian Laval is professor of history of philosophy and sociology at the University of Paris-Nanterre.

They are authors, among other books, of Common: essay on revolution in the XNUMXst century (Boitempo).

Translation: Daniel Pavan

Article originally published on the website Mediapart (

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