The past ahead – 06/08/2022 – Muniz Sodré

In the same week that the James Webb space telescope stunned the world of science with the clear vision of the light from galaxies emitted 13 billion years ago, 17 Brazilian federal universities, with losses of R$ 400 million, announced the imminent risk of paralysis and Congressmen dismantled the Constitution for the government to spend as far as the eye could see.

One thing has a lot to do with the other. The first is that the telescope, built over 15 years, cost almost US$ 10 billion, a value close to the R$ 41 billion available for a few months of pre-election spree. Worse, the spending target is estimated at R$300 billion, already considered the biggest episode of corruption in republican history.

The critical perception of a “reasonable” citizenship does not escape the signs of worrying civil decline, due to the total alienation of the ruling class from the sustainability of the nation. And it is not for less, because, in the individual or collective logic of liberal citizenship, the existence of durable civility and democracy is correlated with the formation of a critical mass of subjects sufficiently politicized to claim the primacy of popular sovereignty. This obviously depends on a pedagogy of democracy, which, even in a society with an authoritarian tradition, can have an expansive force in restricted circles but prove to be precarious, if not non-existent, at the level of the masses. This is the Brazilian case.

Under neoliberalism, the problematic reality of what is known as a nation and people is generalized, with a growing dissociation between the State and civil society. In this fracture, in which economism and privatism emerge as major values, social groups removed from decision-making bodies and regulated by the market are prey to a policy that does not dare to confess its name, that is, the one induced by the media. The result is what we might call the “client-citizen”, an easy electoral target for populist demagoguery and the crude forms of autocratism.

The “clientele” that won the Brazilian polls four years ago drew its political energy (which previously existed in an inertial state) from the immunodeficiency of the left, supposedly the only bearer of the good and the truth, therefore, indifferent to the imperative of listening to the masses or evaluating the processes of fragmentation of reality.

As a result, an obscure human nebula emerged from the social black hole, in the catastrophic form of the extreme right, averse to education, science and truth. For these people, the university is a hindrance. And a scientific feat like James Webb tells him nothing, guided as it is by his metaphorical “telescope”, also pointed to the past: not the light of the galaxies, but the stern lantern of the most atrocious social regression.

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