three faults

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By EUGENIO BUCCI*

It is no longer possible to ignore that the responsibility for the sources of the afflictions that burn the spirit of the times is entirely ours.

The anguish that consumes the sensitive beings of our time has at least three sources. The first is the accelerated destruction of the planet's natural resources, which brings global warming, pandemics and extreme climate change, with more floods, more droughts and more winds. Second comes the dissolving of privacy walls. Algorithms extract intimate data from everyone to fuel strategies that misinform and sow fear, prejudice and hatred. Industrialized disinformation, in turn, generates the third source of anguish: the decline of democracy. Everywhere, authoritarianism is gaining strength, including among those who, claiming to defend freedoms, are truculent.

The worst part is that it's our fault. It is no longer possible to ignore that the responsibility for the three sources of the afflictions that burn the spirit of the times is entirely ours. It is no longer possible to play the account for the “others”. It's not "industry's" fault, it's not "China's", it's not "cultural Marxism", it's not "gender ideology", it's not "Google's", it's not "Trump's" or "Bolsonaro's" ”: it's ours, it's mine, it's yours, it's everyone's. Thinking subjects, who are rare, look ahead and see failure. Our ability to act collectively based on reason fails in bizarre moves. The anguish crystallizes into impotence.

Let's examine the facts. First, let's see what happens with the destruction of nature. After COP-26 (the Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland), there is no more political, logical, ethical or scientific space for us to say that human beings have no part in global warming. There's no more hiding it. We were the ones who set the climate on fire. The one who leads humanity towards extinction is humanity itself. This is so true that the Portuguese António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, issued his warning in a threatening tone: “Enough of digging our own grave!”.

It was in 1945, with the atomic explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that humanity realized its potential to end itself. We, who already knew that civilizations were mortal, realized that civilizations could also commit suicide.

But, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, we thought that the risk of annihilating life on Earth had to do with the risk of the outbreak of a nuclear war. Today, the old illusion has turned to dust. We realized, belatedly, that consumer habits can incinerate more than the warheads of a missile. We learned that we don't need explosives to set forests on fire, extinguish species, and kill our fellow human beings. We have seen that our way of living is the deadliest way of killing. No, there are no innocent people unscrewing the top of a pet bottle.

Another illusion that melted into thin air was that of thinking that a central bureaucratic control was needed for the so-called “system” to definitively clamp down on the intimacy of living beings. Before, we imagined that it would be necessary to have a “Big Brother” – as in the book 1984, by George Orwell – so that power could watch over individuals and society as a whole. How naive.

Given what is happening today, Orwell's dystopian fiction seems more like a nursery rhyme. It became evident that total surveillance does not need any manager, any “Big Brother”. Everyone's crazy narcissism is enough to move the technologies that snoop on every blink of an eye of every inhabitant of the Earth. Exhibitionist vanity drives widespread espionage devices. Finally, we discover that “Big Brother” is not a bureaucrat in charge of the machines, but a diffuse agent: all the eyes of all beings are his eyes. The society of spectacle, hedonism and ostentation is the other side of the surveillance society. Any resemblance to totalitarianism is not mere coincidence. No, there are no innocent people smoothing the screen of a cell phone with their fingertips.

With that we arrive at the burnout of democracies. In each country, the choreography is different, but the underlying tragedy is the same: the foundations of democracy are on the threshold of a burnout institutional. Then the guy raises his finger: “But I didn't vote for the guy over there”. The other also dodges: “I voted, but I regretted it”. It's no use. Responsibility is common.

The Brazilian case is here to serve as empirical evidence. We are all responsible. Some because they suffocated the Alvorada tenant. Others because they let him stay there, exactly where he is, despite the atrocities he committed. One day, when we are called upon to explain why we accord this barbarian the most complete impunity, we will have nothing to declare but our pusillanimity as a nation.

Do you want hope? May I help. While Brazilians kneel, humanity continues looking for ways to mitigate the environmental disaster. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sees a chance, though he fears the judgment of history: "If we fail, future generations will not forgive us." At least he, Boris Johnson, has some idea of ​​the responsibility he bears.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of A superindustry of the imaginary (Autentica).

Originally published in the newspaper The state of Sao Paulo.

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