Three years without Marielle

Image: ColeraAlegria


Marielle's example for building a synthesis explosive in the search for an emancipated society

“Tyrannical [regimes]: their reasons are explained by the improvement of government (and, with that, by the stabilization of such government) [Leo Strauss, On Tyranny]

The Italian political philosopher Norberto Bobbio once said: “If I looked further, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants”. He was talking about how he managed to analyze facts of the political, intellectual and cultural life of his always effervescent Italy and the world in the 2016th century. That Bobbio was not a man committed to leftist ideals, and sometimes quite the opposite as Perry Anderson demonstrated in an epic polemic between the two, is nothing new for those who follow the public, political and academic debate. But his message must urgently echo in the Brazilian left today and the search for our reconstruction after the “counterrevolution” and the 2018 coup – consolidated by the election of the Bolsonarist group in the 5 election. some of our and our giants. Political game, party dispute, judiciary, military and the research university. Recent facts, not so recent, bring to the fore events in national public life that should be meditated on by the political, social and cultural forces of the left. In the election for the “Casa do Povo” a broad right-wing bloc was formed to elect the candidate of the Bolsonaro group (with its project of devastation of the country); Arthur Lira is a man of agrarian capital. It so happens that the most “democratic” party in the nation, the PSDB, converged on the government's candidate. The majority of the elegant party's bench supported the candidate from the plateau. In the words of one of the party's politicians, “the government presents, on the economic side, guidelines that are close to what we defend [...] even [if they are] timid”. These are observations by Eduardo Leite, governor of Rio Grande do Sul, who still says he hopes and seeks for consideration and moderation from the government of Jair Bolsonaro. The arrest of Daniel Silveira: deputy from the base of the Bolsonarist group overlaps or is articulated to the party game. He called for the closure of the Federal Supreme Court urging the “return” of the AI-XNUMX. With the bravery that is peculiar to it, the court in the work of the fearless Alexandre de Moraes requested the arrest of the deputy. Indeed, this farcical plot was undertaken after the publication of the book-interview organized by Celso Castro (one of the main researchers of military history in Brazil) from the CPDOC-FGV, in which General Eduardo Villas Boas confirms the “requirement” in a 2018 tweet not to accept impunity in Lula’s Habeas Corpus trial by the STF. (In this same 2018, the Army of Eduardo Villas Boas occupied Rio de Janeiro, and in the same historic court Marielle Franco was murdered by two former military police officers – militiamen – with four shots to the head –; and in the same period Daniel Silveira, the one arrested for inciting the “return” of the military dictatorship, he broke, smiling on his face, with his knees, there are always knees here and there…, a simple plaque in honor of the councilwoman, politician and black activist. video calling for the return of the AI-5, Silveira, displays a frame with the image of a skull embedded with a knife, symbol of the BOPE in Rio de Janeiro.) To complete the picture of our violent farce, a shareholder of Petrobras “evokes” in a television journalistic program (GloboNews in Agenda) the theory of the two demons demonstrating indignation with the alleged and cynical government interventionism in fuel prices.

Excursus on Marielle Franco (Gift!)  

Organic intellectual; academic researcher; left politics; black; woman; lesbian; mother. Marielle Franco was all of these. Contradictory, dialectical, immanent and even unthinkable result in a society like the Brazilian one. Marielle would become councilor for the PSOL-PCB in 2016, reaching an unexpected 46.502 votes. She would be, fatally and inexorably, one of the great personalities and figures of the Brazilian socialist left and of the radical black feminist movement. Active in the slum communities of Rio de Janeiro, present with the families of victims of police violence (the civil-military-business bloc that continued the war within the framework of the 1988 constitution), driving the cause of peripheral black women and active politics in Rio city council echoing Luiz Mahin, Dandara, Tereza de Benguela and Aqualtune – and, why not, Rosa Luxemburgo and Alexandra Kollontai. A writer from below, Marielle interpreted her society, continuing our tradition of critical education in the social sciences. Her understanding of the meaning of the UPP's, in a master's research carried out at the Fluminense Federal University (UPP-The reduction of the Favela to Three Letters: an Analysis of the Public Security Policy of the State of Rio de Janeiro, 2014) – Marielle was a science student at PUC-RJ – reveals what our slave society is (Florestan Fernandes) in the daily life of the city. Written from the best of contemporary critical social theory (Ellen Meikisins Wood, David Harvey, Loïs Wacquant), from our national thinking (Octavio Ianni, Jacob Gorender, Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos), from leading researchers in the area of ​​inequality and public policy (Marta Arretche) and specialists in studies on criminality, policing of favelas and militias (Ignácio Cano) – Marielle mobilizes “official” government documents to interpret the police-military occupation of territories where the overwhelming majority is inhabited by the black population. In its terms, a strong and violent “penal state” was installed with the UPPs, with the objective of containing those dissatisfied or 'excluded' from the process, formed by a significant number of poor people [with black skin] increasingly placed in the ghettos of cities” (p. 15). Marielle drew attention to something decisive in the context of our political and social history of repression and exploitation of subordinates; is that the UPP's were preceded by two state-military “interventions” (in Maré) (p. 16): the first by the local police on “March 30, 2014”, and probably complying with the calendar, the second took place on “April 05, 2014 by the Armed Forces, enforcing the Law and Order Guarantee decree ( GLO)” (Ibid.). Precautionary fear, the counterrevolutionary mentality and the notion of war against the internal enemy of (pela preta) are what make figures and characters like Marielle Franco unacceptable to our bourgeois class elite, our conservatives and liberals and our concentrated instances of power (judiciary, legislative, executive and military). 1000 days ago the black councilor was exterminated with 4 shots to the head – by two members of the state-police forces. Yes, militiamen Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz belong to the State, according to researcher and professor José Cláudio from UFRRJ who has studied militias as a Brazilian social and political phenomenon for over 20 years. Those who cruelly executed Marielle Franco are the result of death squads created in the 1960s during the military dictatorship: and with its endorsement. Just like the militias today, efficient and improved heir, the death squads were formed by military police, civilians and firefighters. Let's not mince words; the summary execution of Marielle was carried out, “therefore”, by agents (or former agents, paraphrasing Paulo Arantes) of the military police constituted by the 1964 dictatorship as an auxiliary force – “a repressive and ostensive force”. (They plotted Marielle Franco's death for three months.

Perhaps no intellectual from the Brazilian left has understood the meaning of politics in the country at the end of the 2008th century (and beginning of the XNUMXst) than the essayist and philosopher Paulo Arantes. It is with a spirit of emergency, a word that makes up his recent critical vocabulary, that it is suggestive for us to return to his XNUMX text: 1964, The Year That Didn't End (Boitempo). It is not a standard answer or even an article in the mold of academic research, as Paulo indicates in the footnote, the text emerges from other texts. And more: inserted in the volume organized by Edson Teles and Vladimir Safatle whose title-question What Remains of the Dictatorship?, Paul's argument is epochal-historical. It is not the dictatorship that we should question about permanence and vestiges, but the meaning of 1964 itself. In the sequence, I gloss this intervention by Paulo Arantes in the light of recent events (without bringing them to the compositional making of the text). First, a very brief intellectual history.

Graduated in the transition from the second to the third generation of the philosophy department at USP, Paulo Arantes wrote one of the main works on Hegel in our universities. The thesis defended in France in the 1970s was one of the pioneers in studies on the German philosopher. Paulo joined the theologian Henrique Lima Vaz from Minas Gerais. But Paulo, unlike most of his departmental peers, is not a professional philosopher (historian and commentator on philosophy as some experts say) or even a professional academic of any kind.[1]. Hence he is free from the restrictions and limits of the university – the coherent definition in this respect and for fairness is that he is a public intellectual in the sense given by Jean-Paul Sartre. (He resembles his Anglo-Saxon simile: the historian Perry Anderson.) If in the 1990s the profile of the public figure of the letas was consolidated when he retired from his career as a professor in the philosophy department at USP, in the previous period Paulo Arantes explained what his style of activity would be. Thus, if we want to understand this peculiar circumstance of his trajectory, it is necessary to turn our attention to the work Resentment of the Dialectic. All of Paulo's existential understanding is contained in this long and dense essay on public intellectual life, dialectic as an expression of negative criticism and history of (national) ideas. With an erudite prose guided by the best of the Marxist tradition, what we see in this major work (the main and most important, perhaps by Paulo Arantes) is the radical commitment of the “man of letters, the écrivain” with the causes of those from below. The “digressive loquaciousness” of the revolutionary, articulated to the “negative dialectic” as a critical activity made Paulo Arantes a character present in the main debates of the left. But, at the same time, his unrestrained and real radicalism earns him the nickname of pessimist – something that bothers him greatly. It is that utopia, “organized skepticism”, which shapes the essayistic lines of the Resentment of the Dialectic it never found practical-political space for the transformative and insurrectional expressiveness it cherishes. Now, it is as if even though he was “not” a Bolshevik, Paulo lacked “Bolsheviks”. Still, he would not surrender in recent years to aphasia and/or language dissolution. In a word: dialectic was (and is) his modality of political action.

This was what allowed him in 2008 to write the essay 1964, the Year That Didn't End. What does Paul say there and what is suggestive for us to be aware of in our current national situation? Being free from the commitments and obligations of the academic profession, Paulo did not reverence the constrictions and habits of the field with its consensus arrangements about literature, the linguistic standard of approach and the impositions on writing style. Thus, he can say with a defiant statement that “the 1964 cut would change the logic of the exception once and for all” (p. 207) and further on he continues, “in the light of his own civilizational criteria, an evolutionary pattern was irretrievably broken by the elites condominiums [this year]” (p. 208). It is as if 58 years ago a decision was taken on the only possible conditions of existence in a society in which figures like Marielle would inevitably form. In the wake of Norbert Elias, “the historical progress is reversed” (Ibidem) for Paulo – in fact the coup was “a true decivilizing process” (Ibidem). However, there is dialectic there. It happened that in decivilization the political scenario of “today's normality” was structured (p. 2010). Well, what about the convenience of Haiti mission, of the territorial occupation tactics of the UPP's, the violent militarization of public security, the private policing system established throughout Brazil, the 2018 intervention in Rio de Janeiro and the election of the Bolsonarist project-group in the same year. Paulo warned in his essay: “the world began to fall in Brazil in 1964 and continued 'falling forever', except for those who deluded themselves while falling” (Ibidem) and still falls with the illusion of our social sciences and post-1984 governments that intones public policy as national salvation.

Now this is not a simple argument that is mimicking (a naive tracing) the Brazilian social reality and the decanted political interests; what is at stake in reading Paulo Arantes is how the left understood the political “culture” widespread around the “effect of the preventive panic triggered by the […] [theory-interpretation] of the two demons” (p. 210). (For those who watched the interview with Petrobras director Marcelo Mesquita on the GloboNews in Agenda – 22/02/2021 – and understood the weltanschauung present there will realize what 1964, The Year That Didn't End wants to convey.) Of course, there is always a preference for that demon whose cynicism and fanciful diatribe is (and hides) the Katechon. In Brazil there are iniquities, the antichrists (black and brown) – who can form conscience. That is why Paul will say: “the war is over, the war is not over: whatever […]” (p. 211). But this means, on the other hand, that the warnings were given since March 31, 1964. The survival of the democratic order, even the one that exterminates political opponents as was the case of Marielle Franco that we toured above, is fundamentally conditioned by the “unequivocal demonstrations of moderate convictions” (Ibidem) by those who were part of the defeated side in the war. Indeed; from 1964 onwards Brazil, one might say, was refounded. And nothing reveals this condition of our history more than the reading that is made of the 1988 Constitution. It is a question here, in the terms of the USP essayist, of denouncing with radical and intransigent criticism the well-thought-out propositions (the foolishness of a large part of the conformist left, as Perry Anderson claims) that are always saying about the need to keep the conquests and deeds of Citizen Card (who wouldn't do it around here?) – and not doing so signals fragile learning with democracy. Well, that had been a consensual, mature negotiation of a reconciled society, of a country that had learned the importance of rights, of a renewed, responsible left: and we could write a glossary...

However, Paulo Arantes perhaps always writes in the hope that younger people will read it – with the intention of these and those rationally without memory he proposes a very brief chronicle in which we find the historical-political narrative saying that “the civil-military bloc operating since 1964 completed the set of works inaugurating the New Republic with the velvet blow, removing Ulysses Guimarães [things well understood: Ulysses Guimarães!] from the succession line of Tancredo, who, in turn, had negotiated with the military his approval by the Electoral College, moreover, legitimized by the civic dramaturgy of the Diretas Campaign” (p. 212). Indeed, what remains of the dictatorship then, after “the innovative so-called citizen Constitution of 1988?” (Ibid.). The answer is fatal – dialectically everything and nothing remain. Everything – the armed forces, the military police and public security remain; and the violent farce of our days brought together state and private militias. Nothing – the radical, rebellious, profane and revolutionary impulse on the horizon of the left has disappeared. Paulo concludes: “simple as that”. Public security was militarized; Provisional measures have become a government technique; coercive violence is unveiled as a guarantee of the transition pact. It so happens that there is a black pulse in Brazil, our ever-present Marielle moment, the daily turmoil of the dangerous classes. (Always feared a Secession – there is no 13% here as Bernardo Carvalho recently recalled – and a haitization – with post-1917 strategies and tactics.) Our social time, says Paulo Arantes, following the trail left by Florestan Fernandes, is that of the “preventive counterrevolution paradigm” (p. 218). Thus, even after 1988 the “civilian[-business-financial-]military bloc” understood for a long time that its survival – its obscene way of life, its snobbish style, its “unimaginable” profits, its realistic Western policy – ​​depended on transform social warfare into normality. This is the steel sertraline, accompanied by the iron glove (Conceição Evaristo) for the “anxiety of the proprietary layers” (p. 216) in Brazil. In this way, the “savagery of counter-insurgency” (p. 232) against the internal enemy (with black skin) will have a peculiar aspect in everyday continuity. A two-faced State was formed in Brazilian class society: a well-articulated result of 1964®1988/1988®1964: there is a state administration for the usual integrated ones (bourgeois elite, without forgetting the dominated and naive sector of the dominant ones, I would say Bourdieu, the middle classes) and a state administration for the rabble; a state organized on a day-to-day basis with a view to containing the insurrectionary impulse of male and female subordinates, and it is necessary to insist – with black skin. Now, a State of exception, of siege, autocratic-bourgeois, necropolitical (all perennial) and tutti quanti... is necessary among us around here. the author of The New Time of the World He ends by saying that “alarming signs of [redeeming] convulsion are always possible” – and therefore the temporality of the coup continues to prowl with a sidelong eye (Machado de Assis) and a closed circuit (Florestan Fernandes). Notice was given to us again on March 14, 2018. Paulo is still alive and is about to turn 80 and has just launched Formation and Deconstruction: a visit to the French Ideology Museum (Ed. 34), a book that will most likely be debated in intellectual and political circles; Marielle Franco was exterminated three years ago by state militiamen, but her spirit still lives on with the same radical arrogance, insubmissive courage and transformative impulse as when she was among us – with the utopia of free fields that will flourish. Things understood well: it is on the shoulders of both that we must look and build a explosive synthesis in the quest for an emancipated society.

*Ronaldo Tadeu de Souza He is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science at USP.


[1] It is evident that I stylize the argument. This does not mean that Paulo Arantes does not participate in the academic-university debate. In addition to guiding research (theses and dissertations), participating in master's and doctoral evaluation boards and area events (meetings, congresses, symposiums, colloquiums, etc.) Paulo animates a debate seminar with young critical researchers and political activists on Wednesday nights at USP's philosophy department.

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