Patriotism and nationalism play a positive normative role as the foundation for anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles that result in the self-determination of peoples, as well as for the search for a common national interest, which would be above private interests.
However, such values are also usually invoked by the powerful to try to give the appearance of interest of all nationals to what, in fact, benefits only the economic elite and the maintenance of relations of domination and inequalities.
As is well known, the most atrocious historical example we have of the manipulation of nationalist sentiment was Nazism, which culminated in the Holocaust and World War II.
:: Demonstrations against Bolsonaro take to the streets on September 7th; follow in real time ::
Due to this tragic experience, even with the Charter of San Francisco of 1945, which established the United Nations (UN) and with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the intrinsic dignity came to be solemnly recognized. of every human being, regardless of nationality or any other condition, that every person is an end in himself, and never a means (Kant), not even for the realization of the “ideals of the fatherland”.
From this derives the idea of a cosmopolitan citizenship (Held), which, without supplanting national citizenship and standing beside it, implies that every human being, anywhere, is a subject of rights.
Therefore, without disregarding the importance of nationality, the highest value that unites us is the human condition, from which derives a duty of solidarity with all peoples (as should happen with the distribution of vaccines against covid-19) and intergenerational (as we should to behave in the face of environmental preservation and the fight against global warming).
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Moving from the world of values to that of facts, what we have is a humanity divided by relations of class, gender and ethnic-racial domination; a global society in which, under the fog of the discourse of merit and individual effort, what determines the material conditions of each person’s life, as a rule, is mere chance: first, the country where he was born and, second, place, the family in which he was born, in view of the rentier and hyperpatrimonial character assumed by contemporary society (Piketty).
In this sense, how can one talk about patriotism in a Brazil where more than 14 million people are unemployed and more than 19 million are hungry, despite the prosperity of national agribusiness?
In this context, the only way to take the defense of patriotism seriously would be if its meaning were to adopt concrete policies to tackle inequalities, including progressive tax reform, agrarian reform and urban reform, and social policies that protect the human dignity and promote the realization of human rights.
:: Government of São Paulo prepares mega police operation for demonstrations on September 7th ::
But are these the patriotic ideals that move the Pocketnaristas to the streets on September 7, 2021? Evidently not. What would they be then?
A fraction of those who are demonstrating on this day for the freedom to spread lies, attack institutions, threaten democracy, deforest with impunity, carry rifles as an instrument for conflict resolution, do so for psychological or psychiatric reasons.
As I am not an expert in these disciplines, I will not delve into these issues, limiting myself to dealing with those of a political nature.
There is also a cultural dispute between conservative forces against the advancement of the recognition of civil rights, the protagonism of women, black and black women, LGBTQIA+, guarantees against arbitrary use of force by the State, which, although flawed, presented undeniable advances since 1988.
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However, the main reasons for the Pocketist protests this September 7th, as well as the silence or timidity of the reaction of a significant portion of the Brazilian financial and business elite, are of an economic nature.
It is for money that the most backward part of Brazilian agribusiness takes to the streets, as they profit a lot and gain power with the growing agrarian-export characteristic of the Brazilian economy, the freedom to deforest, burn, “grilar” and invade indigenous lands.
It is for money that the most advanced business sectors give timid responses to attacks on democracy, as, at least in part, the government delivers what it interests them, in terms of precariousness of labor and social security rights, and reduction of the state’s capacity to implement policies that promote equality.
It is for money that pastors from neo-Pentecostal denominations support Bolsonaro, given their faithful commitment to defending their businesses.
It is for money that many military personnel fail to comply with their legal duty of non-partisan political action, and throw in the trash the democratic image they have ardently tried to build since the end of the civil-military dictatorship, as they have largely benefited from positions and significant income in ministries and state companies, as well as, unlike other Brazilian civil servants, protected against the neoliberal rage of Paulo Guedes in social security and administrative reforms.
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It is true that there are poor, unemployed and middle-class wage earners who still support the Pocketnarism, despite being the biggest victims of the neoliberal-genocidal policy of Bolsonaro, Paulo Guedes and company.
The explanation for this lies in the ideological manipulation (Gramsci) of his real suffering and his legitimate discontent with the political system, with the status quo, against which Bolsonaro pretends to fight.
A narrative is built and disseminated that makes it appear to be on the same side as unemployed, discouraged, small farmers, evangelicals living on the outskirts of Brazil, low-ranking military, and the most retrograde fraction of Brazilian agribusiness, the financial-business elite, the temple merchants and the portion of officials more concerned with the defense of pay than of the fatherland.
Thus, the Pocketnarist demonstrations this September 7 are not about patriotism and defending freedom as a fundamental human right, but about the freedom to oppress, to impose ideas and ways of life, about continuing to earn money with the conditions provided by Bolsonaro and the pocketnarism.
*Murilo Gaspardo is an associate professor at the Department of Public Law at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at UNESP, Campus de Franca – SP. Doctor, Master and Bachelor of Law at the University of São Paulo (USP). Associate Professor in State Theory at UNESP.
** This is an opinion piece. The author’s view does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil in fact.
Edition: Leandro Melito