Between Conformity and Resistance: Essays on Politics, by Marilena Chauí (auth.)

By Marilena Chauí (auth.)

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This is catastrophic because it mixes the economic dichotomy with the political dichotomy, eliminating the autonomy of both. In effect, democracy, like politics, maintains—though in a vague and f luid way—the friend-enemy distinction since it admits only the equality of citizens whose similarity derives from the linguistic, moral, and religious identity and, therefore, excludes the other or the different. In other words, democratic logic requires the exclusion of the slave, the foreigner and the barbarian, the latter because of possible impiety or atheism.

Images of violence thus produce new patterns of exclusion and segregation within public life, in ways that actually reaffirm Brazil’s foundational myth precisely in an age of indeterminacy. Published in 2000, Chauí’s book and essay of the same title, “Brazil. The Foundational Myth” is dedicated to demystifying this contemporary return to nation, exposing its theological-political roots. This testifies to the ways in which Chauí’s work and her insights are closely imbricated in and engage with Brazil’s sociopolitical scene.

Here, the others, while presumed to be humans, are the world, and, therefore, beings or things. Hence the celebrated expression from his play, No Exit (Huis Clos): “hell is other people,” since each of them, consciousness or subject, reduces others to the condition of things and is reduced by others to the condition of a thing. Although situated in the world, consciousness, as Nothingness, is not conditioned by it and cannot be determined by things or facts; on the contrary, it has the power to negate them, making them exist as ideas, images, sentiments, and actions.

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