about names

Pieter Bruegel (1525–1569), Detail from The Harvesters, oil on wood, 1565.

By LORENZO Stained Glass*

Brazil is not really a democratic society.

The judicial confrontation between, on the one hand, Lula and, on the other, Moro, the Lava-jato prosecutors and the TRF-4, makes us think about the surnames involved. It wasn't Luís Inácio against Sérgio or Gabriela. It was a Silva, the most frequent in our country, originating from our economically most fragile region and, on the other hand, Moro, Dallagnol, Pozzobon, Paulsen, Gebran, Tessler , Hardt, Burman Viecili ; Danelon and others. Most of Lula's executioners bear the names of families who arrived "by boat" to use the image of Argentine President Fernández. And all of them had no difficulties in legitimizing the «indeterminate official acts» that make up the sentence of former judge Moro.

Underlying the judicial confrontation was, as is now clear to anyone who wants to see it, a political struggle in which any act, as in all wars, was available to those who arrived “by boat”. It was imperative to hunt down Lula's honor and thereby eliminate the Lula example that a Silva, among the millions among us, can become a citizen of Brazil and enjoy fundamental rights that have been withheld for centuries.

As Brazil became the sixth largest economy in the world in the hands of Silva, it became essential to convert him into a leader of the square, as in the famous power point, which amassed, billions, no… trillions of dollars, which must be somewhere, like under Lula's bed or traceable in the tablets learned from his 4 year old grandson.

The refusal to validate the democratic progress made in the three PT governments (the fourth term was not, in fact, exercised), despite already known mistakes, does not seem to be able to be explained on exclusively rational grounds or, at least, escapes our attention. interaction of the contribution of many of the factors, of various natures, involved.

In the search for the intelligibility of this state of facts, we need to return, of course, to some points already widely known by the « classic » interpreters of Brazilian society. Our greatest difficulty is to make Brazil in fact a democratic society and I am referring, in this case, as is well known, not to the simple, formal act of holding periodic elections, which is proposed in TSE advertisements during election periods, as what defines a democracy, but the guarantee of citizenship to all so that we move towards a society in which all citizens enjoy fundamental rights such as decent housing, education, health, etc..

The question that intrigues us, at first glance, naive, is why those classes that enjoy these rights deny them to those, the vast majority, who do not enjoy them. The theoretical tool of the opposition between capital and labor certainly plays a relevant role in the answer, but I will pursue, in this text, other contents, perhaps with explanatory value, that underlie the aforementioned opposition, which may have the character of a superstructure in the Marxist sense.

The pointed evasion is certainly a manifestation of the refusal to seek equality, always as an ideal, of course, of rights, opportunities, etc. It is at the moment that a human being looks another in the eyes that his legitimate otherness, such as it is, can be glimpsed, and welcomed or not. Let's return to the question: why does our society, in a broader sense of "civilization", refuse to consider everyone as others who should be worthy of recognition in their otherness? The answer to a question of this quality must try to make explicit psychosocial properties that are, surely, predominantly non-rational in nature. It is therefore a question of trying to theorize about what can be called, today, cultural conceptualizations which, with good will, make explicit, to some extent, what we often call, in the German tradition, "spirit", or of mentality, which is subjacent, or unconscious, to what we are going to name here, despite some antagonism of expression, “Brazilian civilization”.

Becoming aware of the difference between us and conceiving it as equality is obviously not an easy posture for any human being anywhere. Now, as is well known, what is different and, perhaps because of this, is, due to lack of knowledge, what can promote fear and insecurity. The question above, in depth, can thus be the following: why did our country form from the radicalization of fear as a result of difference?

What calls our attention in the reformulated question what does “graduated” mean. We return to the idea of ​​trying to define the national « spirit », that is, what are the cultural conceptualizations that constitute the Brazilian mentality.

Sergio Buarque de Holanda in Brazil roots, based on the cyclical conception of history by the Italian Vico, corsi e resource (or flux and reflux) (which seems quite current in view of the authoritarian regression in which we find ourselves), proposes a concept, often misunderstood, or even despised, called Brazilian cordiality.

The notion of cordiality should not, of course, be understood as if, in Brazil, a communion of cultures and races prevailed, which would be – a common belief in my generation – a possible original civilizing contribution of Brazil to universal history. In other words, as if Indians, blacks, Arabs and Europeans could form a non-discriminatory, generous civilization, thus opposed to what can be seen elsewhere, especially in North American civilization, and which is the rule in European civilization. This civilizing ideal of cultural and racial harmony in Brazil was, as we know, greatly promoted in a certain period of the last century, which is summarized, in the words of Gilberto Gil, as follows: « The role of Brazil is the role of fraternity universal ».

What we are experiencing, however, is quite different from what I have just described as the ideal of a generation. To take just one example, among many others, the execution of such serial killer Lázaro is emblematic: it constituted a collective pleasure that, even those who lived far from where he transited, would have liked to have shot him in the body.

Now, the reality of relations between classes and ethnic groups in Brazil is quite different from the idealized fraternity. As I write this, a PEC has just been partially approved that removes the rights of the original communities to the lands where they live; manifestations of discrimination against Brazilians of African descent are the subject of the media every day, which seems, as one could not imagine, to intensify; targeted killings in poor communities; the comparison of wages between whites and blacks; women and men, etc., leave no doubt about the brutal racism that has always existed and which we have spent centuries pretending did not exist. Gilberto Freyre, of course, has a lot to say on the subject: the affective and sexual closeness between, on the one hand, descendants of Europeans, especially "African" Europeans,, that is, the Portuguese, and, on the other, Africans and Indigenous peoples, in reality, never prevented the non-recognition of the other who was different from the ruling class. In other words, those who are different never seem to be subjects of rights, but objects, which evidently dehumanizes them. It seems to me that we have not been able to, I will not say evolve, but significantly change this state of affairs.

Brazilian society, as Cazuza asked, in «Brasil, show your face» showed it and that face is quite ugly, if not grotesque. Our society, to a large extent, resuming what we have said so far, rejects alterity and its consequent natural rights.

On the other hand, Holland's notion of cordiality, if well understood, can help us to answer the questions raised. It is, in fact, a certain aversion, in our culture, to formality in interpersonal relationships. For example: we use diminutives or nicknames to address people; everyone, in principle, is «you» (except in more specific cases); the names on the shirt of the soccer team are given first names, not last names, as in other countries; We always seek, in public relations, as in a simple «buying a shoe or sandal», to know about the person who assists us; if you are from a well-known city, it is a reason to research about common acquaintances, and so on. It seems to me that this type of behavior is sometimes valued, for example by foreigners who visit us, as specific experiences that would distinguish us from other peoples.

The search for informality in interpersonal relationships, that is, the aversion to hierarchy, the real meaning of Buarque de Holanda's cordiality, actually favors the ruling class and not, as dreamed, the construction of a society based on equality of rights.

Why not ? We need to go back to Hegel, in the dialectic of master and slave. These are two places, two roles, which, in a sense that we will clarify, are, so to speak, comfortable or safe.

Let's think, initially, that there are « gains » in being in each of the two roles. The Lacanian notion of jouissance can help us at this point. It is comfortable for a slave to have a master; he abdicates the struggle for recognition and builds his place and security, which reminds us of the reflection of the Grand Inquisitor of the Karamazov Brothers : Christ returned, at the end of the Middle Ages, at a bad time, when everything was already dominated in favor of the Church Catholic. Now, the delirium of the population with the sacrifice of the heretic was a certainty of the "normality" of the domain finally achieved, which at the same time guarantees the enjoyment of the lord.

Everything indicates that the positions of slave and master are well established in our «Brazilian civilization». The Silvas and those who arrived by boat had, as it turned out, to preserve their predetermined places at all costs. When a Silva occupies the presidency of the country, it is as if the world were turned upside down: now, slaves could now occupy the undue seats in the living room of the Casa-Grande or travel by plane. However, it was a good part of the slaves themselves, when the miracles ended (family allowance, in its original sense; Minha Casa Minha Vida ; inclusion of poor and black people in the University ; Petrobras, as the fourth oil company in the world ; about 360 billions of dollars in reserve; Brazil's exit from the hunger map; about 40 million people included in the middle class (or C), etc.), who have lost faith and turn to worship a lord of explicit cruelty to put all in their proper places, as if it were what they missed. As in the biblical passage in which the Hebrews began to worship Baal, the Egyptian deity, their executioners, in the absence of Moses and the generations who witnessed the miracles of liberation, in our case, a myth of clay, of gold, is chosen. which resulted in the tragedy we find ourselves in, in which a life lost was worth, apparently, a handful of very few dollars.

Let's think a little more about the gains that are achieved by accepting the roles of master and slave. Considering the notion of struggle for recognition, the comfort of «cordiality» is supposed to guarantee that the slave will not claim the place of the master; thus, treating slaves with apparent courtesy is, supposedly, a guarantee that they will not claim their fundamental rights, which, incidentally, is what has prevailed. It is clear that «cordiality» between masters already guarantees compadrio; common profitable interests; and, above all, non-competition, that is, everyone wins among the masters, which, in fact, always prevailed ; observe the so-called « centrão » ; well, they support whoever is in charge; no one loses, that is, there is no dispute; it is the form of Brazilian capitalism in which everyone wins without opposing interests to prevent it. It is the fight for the recognition of its value that is reflected in our compadrio.

And enjoyment of the slave? Alienated and inert because they are also used to the greater or lesser favors of the lord, they are subject to the lord of the time; in a way, to the one, as we have seen, who offers more on that particular occasion or who treats him better towards other slaves. Now, such alienation cannot be attributed only to the lack of formal education; the manipulation of the media, Globo, etc.. Losing the place of a slave is also uncomfortable; how to build an autonomous identity that takes into account its opposition to the master? How to face the Grand Inquisitor?

The answer to this last question depends on the elaboration of a subjectivity of the excluded in the sense that they form a large majority that must be able to reject the type of enjoyment that is to be a slave to masters who refuse them recognition.

One day, perhaps, in Vidigal, Maré or Rocinha, someone will unify this majority, which did not "arrive" by boat, and build, after a confrontation that will be absolute, the demand for recognition of the other, which will be a consequence, missing, the radical nature of the Brazilian situation.

*Lorenzo stained glass Professor of Linguistics at the Faculty of Letters at UFMG.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis