About the spoils of the pandemic

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Erico Andrade*

The Bolsonaro government has shown a disdain not just for poverty, but for everything that is not its mirror.

If there is one thing that has been shown to be ambidextrous in the Corona Virus pandemic, it is the way we deal with our dead. The political dispute is not just about who will pay the death bill. About who will be held responsible for the deaths that are already beginning to increase in Brazil, despite the blatant underreporting. The dispute is even more serious.

If, on the one hand, it is with mockery that the president and his entourage treat the people killed by COVID-19, removing from the State any possibility of decreeing official mourning and, therefore, conferring institutionality on the suffering, on the other hand, part of the left converts images of mass graves or hastily built cemeteries into a moral instrument of punishment for Bolsonaro voters.

Undoubtedly, these are asymmetrical attitudes because the government fulfills the institutional function of commanding the country and cannot grant itself the right to ridicule the deaths for which it is also responsible; least by its omission. However, the use of images of mass graves and the suffering stamped on the faces of families, whose loved ones died as a result of COVID-19, is freely used by a certain left in a logic of merit. As if cities like Manaus, in which Bolsonaro had an expressive victory, had to go through the suffering in the face of the pandemic.

It must be said that no one deserves to die. There is no deserving of death. The punitivism that reigns supreme in the Brazilian extreme right contaminates an important part of the left to such an extent that it prevents it from sympathizing with the deaths. It is when politics leaves no room for mourning. But that only happens when we lose respect for the living.

And the Bolsonaro government has shown a disdain not just for poverty, but for everything that is not its mirror. With that, he sediments his electorate by hatred and explicit contempt for life; therefore, for the dead.

Indeed, his great victory is to contaminate the left with the same hatred that forbids any chance of a creative policy that is not merely resistance, in this case with the same weapons. When he starts to repeat the behavior of what criticizes the left, he is not just being inconsistent, after all, inconsistency crosses us as humans. It is burying the possibility of changing a punitive structure by sinking into endless revanchism.

*Erico Andrade is professor of philosophy at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).

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