every life matters

Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin


We will only have an effective chance of getting out of the situation we are in with the formalization of a pact around equal vaccination, which reaches, without distinction, and free of charge, all people

"Whoever missed the train of history by wanting to / He came out of his wits without knowing it / Was just another coward to hide / Facing a new world” (Song of the New World – Beto Guedes and Ronaldo Bastos).

Amid so many misfortunes brought (and added to the serious social, economic and human problems we were already experiencing) by the pandemic, we are given the rare opportunity to glimpse the urgent need to conceive a new world guided by human values ​​that abandon the logic of social relations identified with the production, circulation and consumption of goods, or, to put it another way, with overcoming a society of human beings who live to acquire things they don't need, to impress people they don't care about.

Given the characteristics of the spread of the new coronavirus and the devastating effects of the pandemic, the following stand out as unquestionable: the centrality of work; the human condition of those who, by selling their workforce, produce social wealth; the relevance of science; the understanding that every life matters; the essentiality of solidarity; the importance of the Welfare State as a responsible manager of public policy and promoter of regulatory and inspection instances.

This perception imposes on us, as an inevitable ethical consequence, the challenge of seeking the implementation of a model of society that is compatible with the preservation and reproduction of all these lessons learned.

The construction of this new world can only begin with the basic recognition that any solution to the identified problems, notably with regard to the defense of life, has its legitimacy linked to the assumption of equality, which is certainly part of the differentiation of unequal, to the extent that, due to their vulnerabilities, they are unequal, which even justifies the establishment of objectively defined priorities.

With regard to vaccination, essential for overcoming this moment, this differentiation, objectively defined, must be integrated into a social plan organized and managed by the State and not in accordance with the subjective criteria of private entities, individuals and social groups.

Put more clearly, vaccination must be publicly organized and distributed in a free and republican way, always under the assumption of equality outlined above.

The basic theoretical postulate for properly facing the tragedy we are experiencing is the understanding that we will only get out of this situation together, through collective visualization of the problem and the instruments for its solution.

The big question is that since the beginning, the federal government, which would be primarily responsible for the development of public health policy, has been denying the occurrence of the seriousness of the pandemic, encouraging individual practices contrary to the collective interest.

So, when solidarity, altruism and commitment to public projects and collective actions to face the situation should flourish, what happened, with the encouragement coming from those who should stimulate and even impose different practices, was the proliferation of selfish behaviors that not only aggravated the pandemic, in terms of the spread of the disease, but now make the vaccination process more difficult, through the use of various subterfuges to try to “jump the queue” for vaccination.

The big problem with these behaviors is that they impede the implementation of the diverse and necessary transformations that need to be achieved in our social organization, since this requires, as said, new human beings, who express and practice values ​​unrelated to the logic of reified coexistence.

However, when, in a pandemic, it is verified, in a broad and not just isolated way, the carrying out of actions that disregard the collective measures that would be necessary for the preservation of lives, what must be concluded is that the denialist posture of the government not only did it promote the spread of the disease, causing the death of thousands of people, but it also constituted a corrosive virus for the spread of solidarity and the admission of the relevance of collective action.

And, at the present time, when the denialist attitude has repercussions in the absence of an effective vaccination plan and in the complete lack of real perspectives of obtaining enough vaccines to immunize the entire population, what is produced is a kind of complementation of the “project” that destroys the future.

That's right! Irresponsibility, conscious contempt for knowledge and vanity, integrated into a government “plan”, are denying us a future.

To change the course of this story, it is first necessary to recognize that this process is ongoing and that it is extremely serious, even at a very advanced stage, since it was accelerated by the pandemic. And, second, it is important not to align oneself with such a process, since, for that, it is essential that each one perceives himself in the social context, because the engendered structures are capable of molding people, transforming them into human beings equal to those that triggered the destructive process.

If all and all, or the vast majority of people, reproduce the same fugitive reasoning from reality, to justify selfish practices, not supportive and uncompromising with the whole, there will not even be valid arguments left to fight denialism and dehumanization.

It should be noted that the absence of vaccines can constitute a major pitfall (although not deliberately planned), so that, in the face of despair and the risk of life, through justifications that equally despise knowledge, deny solidarity and encourage individualism and selfishness, selfish behaviors are widespread even among opponents of government denialism, equating each other and thereby eliminating the legitimacy of criticism and, even more seriously, the concrete possibilities of a reaction, also because the effect the spread of this kind of “enlightened egoism” can lead us, very quickly, to the collapse of humanity.

It is increasingly clear that holding accountable – followed by the due removal – of the political agents who contributed to the genocide in the country is the fundamental and urgent step to start this process of building a solidary society based on respect for the lives of all men and women and in realizing their rights as citizens.

However, it must be very clear that this is not enough.

It is crucial that everyone who understands himself committed to the agenda of the necessary construction of another society, based on diverse and renewed social ties, moves in the opposite direction to any initiatives that, even under the pretext of contributing to general immunization, despise the presupposition of the urgent construction of an effective and efficient public vaccination plan.

We will only have an effective chance of getting out of the situation we are in with the formalization of a pact around equal vaccination, which reaches, indistinctly and free of charge, all people.

And let it be clarified! I'm not just talking about individual and even institutional acts that seek means (which come to fruition) to “skip the queue” of public vaccination, which, in addition to being offensive and grotesque, are, above all, criminal.

I also speak, and with greater emphasis, of initiatives aimed at private vaccination, offering free vaccines on the market or tending to vaccinate specific groups (such as magistrates, lawyers, military personnel, workers of certain companies, etc.) not integrated into the rational and reasonable definition of essential activities, and which are tried to be justified by the absence of a state policy in this regard.
These initiatives do not solve the problem of immunization and, worse, they bring with them the whole set of values ​​that hinder the social transformations that we need to implement, as explained above.

What is our responsibility, in addition to demanding the punishment of those responsible and before proposing any other initiative, however relevant it may seem, is to charge and encourage, including financially – for those who are able to do so – the elaboration and execution of a public vaccination plan (deprived of electoral interest and personal vanities), which even presupposes the local production of vaccines (with breach of patents, this being necessary[I]) and which provides for equal and free vaccination.

Everything else, especially in the context of the absence of a public vaccination plan, with due respect (assuming here the good faith of so many who defend private vaccination initiatives), can be understood, as they say, as “flour of the same”, reproducing the selfish concern translated in popular knowledge in the expression “little flour, my first mush”.

The fact is that it will not be with the acceptance and encouragement of the struggle of all against all, the reinforcement of inequalities of opportunities and the naturalization of privileges that the necessary social renegotiation will be achieved. And each one of us has a great share of responsibility in this history.
As the result of a dynamic, consciously or unconsciously established, we are being put to the test. Our ability to be truly supportive human beings and willing to experience a reality in which everyone's life matters with exactly the same intensity is being tested.

We've missed too many chances for that redemption, and if we miss it again, we might not have another one. This, of course, can be true, at least, for many of us!

We are, more than ever, facing the definition of what we are going to leave for future generations: planted soil or the ruins of chaos. Incidentally, all of this was much better said by Beto Guedes and Márcio Borges:

“Living hope
that the blood softens
Come from the open space
And make our arm
A shelter
that can keep
The victory of clear feeling
overcoming all fear
Hands in the street
In a destination of light and love
Come now
There's almost no more time
Come with your firm step
and a child's face
The evil we've seen too much
We can always live in peace
In time
So much to do for our good
we will pass
But we can never forget
from anyone else
Simple innocents judging us
the enlightened children
heiresses of the floor

​planted soil
Not the ruins of chaos
diamonds and crystals
Not worth such power
moonlight tales
Or the history of men
vacant moon comes to play
And send your signals
What will become of us
if we are tired
of the truth
Of love
Hope alive
that the hand reaches
Come with your firm step
and a child's face
We've seen too much evil."
(“Tales of the Vague Moon”)

*Jorge Luiz Souto Maior is a professor of labor law at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among other books, of Moral damage in employment relationships (Studio editors).


[I]. As defended by Unifesp's dean, Soraya Smaili (https://noticias.uol.com.br/saude/ultimas-noticias/redacao/2021/01/21/coronavirus-vacina-oxford-covishield-astrazeneca-reitora-unifesp-patente.htm)


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