A factory of perversity

Image_Elyeser Szturm

By Maiara de Proença Bernardino*

The organization of the popular class in parts of the territories is essential for us to understand the resistance in a country that sustains its hegemony in stealing the lives of millions of people

Faced with our days taken by the pandemic environment, there is a need to return to the thinking of the Brazilian geographer Milton Santos. This teacher revolutionized the way in which reality is understood. He criticized the imperialism of knowledge, practiced by specialists oriented towards the piecemeal production of supposed knowledge of the real. Such a linear way of thinking, aligned with developmentalism at all costs, through administrative ideologies, leads to projects of ordering a supposedly disordered world. Therefore, Milton Santos defended a return to the territory, where contradictions and resistance to the perverse world are observed.

As a result of such biased projects to homogenize different forms of existence, we witness a globalization structured in perversities. Technical improvements in privileged parts of the territories herald for the populations an “age of progress” in the areas of science and information. Foundations of a still bourgeois imaginary, the production of biased speeches work for the “empire of money”, according to Milton.

Fantasies about a supposed world where there is an abundance of information, disseminated by the various technical systems, almost imposes on us the acceptance that the current world takes place through the global informational environment, believing that everyone is informed equally and in the same way. As well as, they have an ideological character, seeking to hide inequalities of access to different techniques and information, through political speeches, claiming that access is for everyone, as well as the uses of spaces. However, as is well known, the opposite happens in the globalized world that desires homogenization. Big companies monopolize information, technique and science, as well as parts of territories, using a single (imperialist) discourse, according to their intentions and wishes.

In the modern world, we are free (or not) to sell our merchandise-bodies in different parts of the territory, due to the acceleration of time and space in places. Where there is accumulation and movement of capital, the global influx of goods, of our bodies as a workforce, of capital between different parts of the world has been allowed. However, global companies colonize certain parts of territories and, through this, constitute their empires of power and knowledge in spaces. The privatization of the State is an example of such colonization, in the current world, it begins to exercise its power against the needs of the populations. Starting to act in spaces serving the wishes of large companies, or perhaps becoming one of them, as a great rational administrator of the national territory. The State starts to represent and act as a company. This movement is easy to notice, in different parts of the territories, where there are billionaire investments aimed at the execution of private projects in spaces. Also, in the police practices of the same and its agents, through the judicialization of public life, in attempts to restore bourgeois order, in places where the linearity of ordered spaces is interrupted by movements of the popular class.

With the abandonment of policies and projects aimed at fulfilling the lives of populations, the forms of existence become precarious. There is a practice of functionalizing the lives of thousands of people, through the ideological instruments of the privatized State, allowing us to ask whether: [...] before the presence of a massive ideologization, according to which the realization of the current world demands as an essential condition the exercise of fables. (SANTOS, 2012, p.19)

These fabulations, like the neoliberal actors of the State, imagine about the reality they distort. A false world, where the majority of populations do not experience such processes of “development”, of the so-called progress of most technical, scientific and informational products, massively controlled and produced by/for private transnational companies.

the pandemic moment

Now, in the pandemic moment we are living in Brazil, the imaginary of the bourgeois order, ideologically driven by ideas of developmental progress, presents its gaps to those reluctant to see them. For the majority of the Brazilian population, the bases of the country's economy, “globalization is imposing itself as a factory of perversity”, according to Milton Santos.

A State dominated by the operating logic of global companies and anti-science ideologies from areas considered non-productive, as is our case, reserves its public investments for these organizations, making part of the technical-scientific-information environment serve their wishes. We can observe this in the ease with which federal government policies are being directed to this sector, such as banking. In contrast to what is provided to populations, left in the background, due to the delay and selectivity to receive emergency aid from Caixa Econômica. Also the theft of public money, having brought significant problems to the health area, causing a lack of equipment, as the doctors and nurses denounce in their unions. Another consideration would be that such “advances” in information techniques allow the use – in the sense of exchange value – of food and driver apps. In addition to not offering rights to these workers, like the CLT, they make them believe that they are entrepreneurs (even feeding a large chain of capital) and throwing themselves into the world of the so-called “free market”.

Therefore, in these difficult times of the pandemic (a phrase that has already been repeated all over the place), it has become possible to better observe the private practices of the State, which used to operate “invisibly” for some, but which, in the end, do not match . Well, such promises that we live in an “age of technical, scientific and informational progress” have their shortcomings, as they cater to certain groups (businessmen, bourgeoisie).

The different spaces

Following the thinking of Professor Milton Santos, based on theories by Ortega y Gasset, the current world of globalization has also allowed for a mixture of different peoples in certain points of space. Making us think not only about the perversities caused by the variables of globalization, but also about the possibilities from the appropriation of technique, science and information by groups previously considered subordinate. Enabling us to raise to the foreground, the differential spaces resulting from the actions of the popular class in the spaces in which they are inserted.

Added to these mixtures in the parts of cities, different conceptions of the world and what it could become. Such encounters of ideas represent a counterpoint to European rationality, as the latter attempt to homogenize the world through their unique discourses, in an attempt to erase differences. This counter-hegemony can be better observed and witnessed today. Due to the “production of a population clustered in smaller and smaller areas, which allows an even greater dynamism to that mix between people and philosophies”, teaches us Milton Santos. Such an agglomeration of a large number of people in places where the distance is smaller, such as on the outskirts, allows for greater encounters. Not only because of the approach of the bodies, but, ideas and public debates flow through these spaces, being able to take the construction of projects to another possible world.

This is not a romanticization or naturalization of the lack of investment and public returns in these spaces, but an attempt aimed at questioning the forms of existence and resistance of these people, often considered passive to state perversities. The pandemic reality has shown more intensity to those who could not see such resistance, through popular organizations in the fight against this pandemic across the country.

Especially in these times of pandemic, what we are seeing in the outskirts of Brazil, such as Paraisópolis, is an important organization of residents, which constituted a true policy to combat the coronavirus. Among the actions, the result of donations from individuals, are the transformation of school spaces into shelter and isolation networks for residents. Also, different strategies were established in the neighborhoods by the residents' committees, one of which is assigning tasks to a “street president” for every 50 houses. The person in charge is in charge of four tasks: raising awareness among residents, organizing donations to avoid overcrowding, countering false news with true information and monitoring by groups of WhatsApp the health of each resident of the 50 houses for which it is responsible. This project to reduce the lack of State action in the peripheries is being carried out by 361 different communities across the country.

Brazilian universities, also targets of constant precarious conditions, such as cuts in incentives for scientific production, as well as community actors, are proving to be combatants against the coronavirus, with more efficient organization and strategies than those of the Federal Government. Even with the cuts in education, the different universities and federal institutes spread across the Brazilian territory are uniting to produce medical supplies, such as masks that are distributed to health professionals. In addition to working exhaustively on research, such as Brazilian researchers, Ester Cerdeira Sabino and Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who were part of the team that sequenced the genome of COVID-19. And the researchers from USP and UFRJ, having discovered a way to carry out the cheaper, faster and mass production of respirators. And at UFCG, where scientists developed a method to sterilize environments more effectively.

Above, some examples of possible forms of resistance organizations in society during the pandemic were reported. Such ways of survival, through the action of popular actors in spaces, show for those who want the end of humanity and critical thinking, an inversion in the direction of policies aimed at the privatization of the world. This diversity of groups acting in different spaces, trace the necessary path for us to turn reflections against individualist values, recovering our humanity almost captured by neoliberal ideologies.

In this way, against perverse globalization, represented by these and other different actors, there are ways of fighting for resistance and survival in the world. Through the appropriation of technique, science and information by different groups in society, reversing their uses for money, transforming them into services for society. Where adversities are not taken as an impossible situation to combat, or as an impediment to the realization of possibilities. So, these popular actions and organizations of the different actors in the spaces, show us the: […] existence of a true socio-diversity, historically much more significant than biodiversity itself. Add to these facts the emergence of a popular culture that makes use of technical means formerly exclusive to mass culture, allowing it to exert true revenge or revenge on the latter.

It is on such foundations that the scarcity discourse is built, after all discovered by the masses. The population clustered in a few points on the Earth's surface constitutes one of the bases for the reconstruction and survival of local relationships, opening up the possibility of using the current technical system at the service of men (SANTOS, 2012, p.21).

From this perspective, the organization of the popular class in parts of the territories is essential for us to understand the resistance in a country that sustains its hegemony by stealing the lives of millions of people. Even though the Brazilian State, today operating as a large private company, serving neoliberal interests, there are these organized popular groups that show us the existence of more humane possibilities for life in cities. Through the appropriation of the technical-scientific-informational environment focused on human issues.

According to Professor Milton Santos, in popular class spaces, in their organization and discourse, there is a new awareness of being and living in the world. It is a human need, belonging to a part of the world, being the world, even in the face of attempts at colonization-privatization of parts of the world. Men, and women, express this desire for Outros types of relationships with spaces, when they stand against such perversities of globalization and stand up, constituting ways of resistance in the world. Thus: “The world itself is installed in places, especially the big cities, by the massive presence of a mixed humanity, coming from all quarters and bringing with it varied and multiple interpretations, which, at the same time clash and collaborate in the renewed production of the understanding and critique of existence. Thus, the daily life of each person is enriched, through their own experience and that of their neighbour, both through current achievements and perspectives for the future. The dialectics of life in the places, now more enriched, are at the same time the culture broth necessary for the proposal and the exercise of a new policy”. (SANTOS, 2012, p.173) 

In this sense, there are needs to imagine, to reflect in relation to another possible world. So that through thought and reflection, we can trace possibilities to reverse the course of our unequal society in our daily practice. Working with the thought in a world in which we want to inhabit in the coming years, or in which those who will come, will inhabit it, in order to revert reflections on the irreversibility of the inequalities that make its continuities possible.

*Maiara de Proenca Bernardino is a geography student at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar).


SANTOS, Milton. For another globalization. 22nd edition Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2012. 174p.

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