A conservative left in morals?

Image: Pille Kirsi
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By BRUNO MACHADO*

There are no theoretical or practical restrictions on the existence of two lefts in politics: one progressive and the other conservative in morals.

The 2018 and 2022 elections demonstrated how some moral and cultural guidelines overlap political and economic guidelines during certain periods. It is true that the defense of civil armament and scientific denialism are unpopular, as opinion polls have shown in recent years. However, punitivism in public security and the defense of heteronormativity, entitled defense of the family, are not only very popular, but also boosted a candidacy openly contrary to social rights, privatist and elitist, themes that are very unpopular in Brazil.

The extreme right appeals to moral agendas because it knows that it loses in popular opinion on political and economic agendas. If there were a conservative left in customs, sharing space in the public debate with a progressive left, possibly the right would be weakened with its individualist and privatist agendas.

The punitivism of “a good bandit is a dead bandit” is certainly a risk to society and civilization. Since police truculence never resulted in a drop in crime rates, whether against property or against life. Furthermore, as the side effect of police brutality is the accidental death of innocents, this public safety policy causes more innocent deaths than its non-enforcement. However, when, for example, Lula in a video relativizes young people who steal cell phones, it directly offends the worker who has his cell phone bought at the cost of many hours of work stolen by a thief who seeks to make an easy living.

It is correct and fundamental to understand crime as the result of a social environment of inequality and discrimination, but this does not make correct the analysis that the option for crime is not a personal choice. When the left debates public security victimizing the tormentor of the worker's daily life, it should expect dissatisfaction from the worker. Legal punishment and moral rejection of criminals must be part of the left's discourse if it wants to stay close to the pains of the working class.

The defense of heteronormativity represented in the phrase “God made man and woman” often repeated by evangelicals and Catholics in Brazil undoubtedly has negative effects on the homophobic and transphobic culture in the country. This culture is directly linked to the rejection of children by parents, cases of depression, suicide and violence motivated by gender and sexual orientation. Just as the macho culture is certainly directly associated with domestic violence and femicide.

Having such awareness does not necessarily mean defending agendas to combat heteronormativity that are openly offensive to popular opinion and that distance workers from leftist parties, as is the case of the debate on the medical treatment of gender transition in children. Such a political option is not easy and has real consequences in the lives of many people oppressed by both punitivism and heteronormativity, however, the loss of votes for the extreme right also has consequences for public education, public health, social rights, hunger , etc.

Contradictions arise and will always arise, it is up to society, and specifically the left, to debate them and find the best path for victories in the clash between capital and work and also in all forms of oppression in Brazilian society, without neglecting to take into account the material and cultural circumstances imposed by reality.

It is necessary to emphasize that it is evident that the historically constructed left, based on science and humanism, will always be the progressive left, combative in relation to all forms of oppression. However, the conservatism of the popular masses is a reality to be managed and the materialism that underpins the left needs to take this fact into account. There is no theoretical or practical restriction on the existence of two lefts in politics: one progressive and the other conservative in morals.

Ciro Gomes' campaign in these 2022 elections gave signs that may point to a movement by Ciro Gomes that will seek to be part of this left that is tolerant of punitivism and heteronormativity, which seeks to combine pro-working-class agendas with dangerous popular morals.

Taking all of this into consideration, if a conservative left in Brazil effectively grows, the various opinion polls carried out in Brazil demonstrate a potential for great ideological adherence of this political movement with the working class. Which could also mean a weakening of the extreme right and neo-fascism, which would only have as a differential its agendas that are highly minority in public opinion, such as the defense of privatizations, the reduction of labor rights and the non-taxation of the economic elite.

*Bruno Machado is an engineer.

 

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