There are countless excellent analyzes on the anti-phenomenon Jair Messias Bolsonaro, predominantly sociological, historical, and economic. I think we must dig deeper to capture the emergence of this Negative in our history.
Western reflection, due to the cultural limits of our ingrained individualism, has hardly developed analytical categories to analyze historical totalities. Hegel’s Philosophy of History is full of prejudices, even on Brazil, and has few useful categories. Arnold Toynbee, in his 10 volumes on world’s history, works with a fertile but limited outline: Challenge and Response, with the disadvantage of not giving relevance to conflicts of all kinds inherent in history. The French School of the Annales, in its variations (Lefbre, Braudel, Le Goff) included various sciences but did not offer a comprehensive reading of history as a whole. The categories developed by Ortega y Gasset in his famous study on Outline of Crises and Other Essays (1942) are still inspiring.
We have to try to think for ourselves and ask ourselves with a philosophical attitude, that is, one that looks for deeper causes than the merely analytical ones of scientists: why has this sinister historical figure become head of state in Brazil, who defies any psychological, ethical, and political understanding?
We must say in advance that nothing that exists is fortuitous, because it is the fruit of something pre-existing, of long duration, which reason must elucidate. In addition, one must always think dialectically, together with the negative and the shadows, the positive dimensions that carry some light always come along too. We are not allowed to have only light or darkness. All realities are twilight, mixing light and shadow. However, our focus in this reflection is on the shadows, because they are the ones that cause us problems.
I am going to make use of some categories: repressed shadows, the theory of destructive and generative chaos, the transpersonal understanding of karma in the dialogue between Toynbee and Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda, and the principles of Thanatos and Eros, associated with the human condition of sapiens and simultaneously demens.
The four shadows repressed by the collective consciousness
The Brazilian conscience is dominated by four shadows that have never been recognized and integrated until today. I understand the category “shadow” in the psychoanalytic sense of the school of CG Jung and his disciples, who made it a category widely accepted by other schools. The shadow would be the dark and negative contents that a culture with its collective conscious/unconscious refuses to assimilate and therefore represses and strives to distance them from the collective memory. This repression prevents a coherent and sustained process of national individuation.
The first to appear is the shadow of the indigenous genocide. According to Darcy Ribeiro, there would initially be a population of about 5-6 million indigenous people with hundreds of languages, unique in the history of the world. They were practically decimated. Currently, 900,000 remain. Let us remember the massacres of Mem de Sá on May 31, 1580, which liquidated the Tupiniquim from the Captaincy of Ilhéus. For a kilometer and a half along the beach, a few meters away from each other lay hundreds of bodies of murdered indigenous people, recounted as glory to the King of Portugal.
Worse still was the war officially declared by D. João VI, who had just arrived in Brazil fleeing from Napoleon’s troops, who decimated the Botocudos (Krenak) in the valley of the Rio Doce because he thought they could not be civilized and evangelized. This official war will forever stain the national memory. Ailton Krenak, whose ancestors survived, reminds us of this shameful official war of a ruthless emperor, considered good.
Current government, of supine ignorance in anthropology, considers the original indigenous peoples as subhuman, who must be forced to enter our cultural codes to be human and civilized. The carelessness that it has shown in the face of its invaded reserves and its abandonment due to the Covid-19 border on genocide, and he is susceptible to being taken to the International Criminal Court for crimes against Humanity.
The second shadow is our colonial past. There was not a discovery of Brazil but an outright invasion, destroying the initial peaceful idyll described by Pero Vaz de Caminha. There was a profoundly unequal meeting of civilizations. Soon the process of occupation and violence began due to the wealth found here. Every colonialist process is violent. It implies invading lands, subduing the peoples, forcing them to speak the language of the invader, incorporating their forms of social organization and the complete dehumanizing submission of the dominated. From this process of submission the mestizo complex arose, thinking that only what comes from outside or from above is good, always bowing their head and abandoning any fickleness of autonomy and of one’s own project.
The mentality of many of the ruling strata is still considered colonial in a certain way, because it mimics the lifestyles and assumes the values of their employers, which have varied throughout our history. Today it is a humiliating expression for the entire nation that the current head of state makes a special trip to the United States, salutes the American flag and lends an explicit rite of vassalage to President Donald Trump, extravagant, self-centered and considered by notable American analysts, as the most stupid in the political history of that country.
The third shadow, the most perverse of all, is that of slavery, our true barbarism. The writer and historian Laurentino Gomes, in his two volumes on Slavery (2019/2020) tells us about the hell of this inhumane process. Brazil was champion of slavery. Beginning in 1536, Brazil alone imported some 4.9 million Africans who were enslaved here. Of the 36 thousand transatlantic trips, 14,910 were destined for Brazilian ports.
These enslaved people were treated as merchandise and called “pieces.” The first thing the buyer did to “tame and discipline them” was to punish them, “let there be whipping, chains, and shackles.” The history of slavery has been written by the white hand, presenting it as soft, when in reality it was extremely crude and continues today against the black, mulatto (54.4% of the population), and poor population, as Jessé Souza has irrefutably demonstrated in The elite of backwardness: from slavery to Bolsonaro(2020). Once slavery was abolished in 1888, they were not given any compensation; they were left to the “god will provide” and today they make up the majority of the favelas. The slightest humanity was never recognized. The ruling class transferred their hatred towards slaves to them, got used to humiliating them, offending them until they lost their sense of dignity.
This shadow weighs enormously on the collective conscience and is the most repressed shadow, with the lying claim that there is no racism or discrimination here. In the government, this has been unmasked by the systematic violence against this population, stimulated by the head of state himself, who has maintained a necrophilous policy. This shadow for its inhumanity inspired sensitive people, such as the poet Castro Alvez. His verses will resound forever in Vozes d’Africa :
Oh God, where are you that you don’t answer? In what world, in what star do you hide / cloaked in the skies? Two thousand years ago I sent you my cry / that in vain, since then, it travels the infinite … / Where are you, Lord God? ” . This cry is still as piercing today as it was then.
Jessé Souza, in his aforementioned work, convincingly showed how the ruling class, in order to prevent any advance of the marginalized majorities, projected on them all the burden of negativities that it accumulated in the face of the slaves, that “massa damnata”: exclusion, discrimination and true hatred that amazes us and reveals incredible levels of dehumanization.
The fourth shadow is the constitution of a Brazil only for the few. Raymundo Faoro (The owners of power) and the historian and academic José Honório Rodrigues (Conciliação e reforma no Brasil, 1982) have told us about the violence with which people were treated to establish order, the result of the conciliation among opulent classes, always with the deliberate exclusion of the people.
José Honório Rodrigues writes, «The dominant majority has always been alienated, anti-progressive, anti-national and not contemporary. Leadership never reconciled with the people; they denied their rights, destroyed their lives, and as soon as they saw it grow up, their approval was little by little denied, they conspired to put them back in the periphery, the place that they believe belongs to them »( Reconciliação e Reforma o Brasil , 1982, p.16). Isn’t that exactly what the dominant majority and their allies did first with Dilma Rousseff and then with candidate Lula? Strategies change but never their purposes of a Brazil just for them.
There has never been a national project inclusive of all. Brazil was always projected as a country for the few. The others bother. Thus, a nation did not arise, but rather, as Luiz Gonzaga de Souza Lima showed in detail in a book that will surely be a classic, A Refundação do Brasil: rumo a uma civilização biocentrada (2011), the Great Brazil Company was founded, internationalized since its inception, in order to serve world markets from yesterday until current times. Thus, we have a deeply divided Brazil between a few rich and the great poor majorities, one of the most unequal countries in the world, which means, a violent country full of social injustices. Machado de Assis had already observed that there are two Brazils, the official (for a few) and the real (for the great excluded majorities).
A society mounted on a fork, on a perverse social injustice, will never create an internal cohesion that allows it to jump towards more civilized forms of coexistence. Here a savage capitalism always reigned that could never be civilized. In addition, when the sons and daughters of poverty were able to accumulate a basic political force sufficient to achieve central power and satisfy the basic demands of the humiliated and offended populations, soon the descendants of the Casa Grande and the new national bourgeoisie organized to make this type of government of social inclusion impossible. They gave a shameful blow, parliamentary, media, and legal, in order to guarantee the levels of accumulation considered among the highest in the world and to keep the poor in their rightful place, on the periphery and in the poor and miserable marginality.
The writer Luiz Fernando Veríssimo on a twit of September 6, 2020 summed it up well: “Hatred is in the DNA of the Brazilian ruling class, which historically demolishes, by arms if necessary, any threat to its dominance, whatever their acronym might be.” This class of rich, who is not even elite because it supposes a certain cultivation of humanity and culture, supports the current ultra-rightist and fascist government because its abusive form of accumulation does not threaten them; on the contrary, the Minister of Finance, Guedes, a disciple of the Vienna and Chicago schools, appears as the great demolition of national sovereignty. The president does not know or understand anything about what can be national sovereignty.
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