Photo: EBC

The April 28 strike, against the reforms currently underway in Brazil, involved a large part of the population in several Brazilian states, with popular participation similar to that seen in the demonstrations that culminated in the removal of Dilma Rousseff. If this was necessary for the removal of one, why not for the removal of the other? Corruption scandals involving Temer's ministers, unpopularity at the same level, identical social dissatisfaction with the country's direction and, as a general manager, the economic results are of the same carat. Furthermore, one could say that one was elected, the other was not. Against this a more impartial mind would say: “yes, but it was a chronic and painful condition, whereas he is still a sharp, stinging blow”. In the frying of eggs, tie.

Here a dangerous feeling arises for both sides: injustice. Why are people in a similar situation, examined under the same criteria, treated differently? One is judged and removed, another makes his proposals advance in Congress. Both depend on the same parliamentarians. but it seems that dick that hits Peter doesn't hit John, or, as Maria Rita Kehl would say, two weights two measures.

Shouldn't we all be together, supporting in a dialectical movement the radical resumption, in a determined double negation, of Fora Dilma-Temer? General elections, constituent or whatever. Instead, we see the sense of injustice capillarizing into increasingly microscopic social tension and resentment.

This is what happens when reasons are suspended and the winning side imputes to the losing side mere irrationality and unreason. A deeper historical deficit is repeated here, which consists of the persistent inability to recognize any reason for the losers. In this situation, losing is not an opportunity to improve, renew or criticize, but only humiliation. To the loser, silence. On the other hand, winning is nothing more than confirming that power is someone's property and not an effect of the relay necessary for justice to happen as a collective, mutually shared experience. To the winner the potatoes.

This process evolved with the entry on the scene of a character hitherto relatively opaque: private schools. Teachers from 227 schools in São Paulo, in charge of taking care of the country's future rulers, a fundamental part of this bone of contention called the middle class, in an unprecedented attitude, joined the strike. This was perceived as a breach of contract, as if our children were threatened by the demon of politics.

The “child” is a fundamental figure in the fantasy of Brazil. In her name, everything is justified. Her purity and innocence represent the future that never comes. The promise in the form of a splendid cradle, according to this unforgettable passage from Posthumous Memoirs of Braz Cubas:

“I would whip him [the slave Prudêncio], he would go around a thousand times, and he would obey – sometimes groaning – but he would obey without saying a word, or at most an 'ái nhônhô' – to which I would retort – 'Shut up. mouth, beast!” – Hiding visitors’ hats, throwing paper tails to serious people, pulling the tails of their hair, pinching the arms of matrons, and many other feats of this kind, were signs of an unruly genius, but I must believe that they were also expressions of a robust spirit, for my father held me in great admiration; and if he sometimes scolded me in front of people, he did it out of simple formality: in private he gave me kisses.”[1]

If the Brazilian condominiums of the 1970s were an enterprise of “professionalization” of domestic servants, who were no longer part of the family, and started to wear uniforms and enter through the service door, now we have a new wave of “domesticating professionalization” that touches the schools, whose first symptom was the Escola sem Partido and the second chapter was the barbarism with which the teachers' strike was treated. Schools recruiting interns to fill the role of striking teachers, parents outraged by the politicization of education, school principals bragging about the control they exercised over their teachers, people stunned to discover that their children were in a “left-wing school”. Schools working as children's depots just for "English to see". Establishments questioned by the students themselves, although not all, about why they allowed their employees to interrupt the pedagogical work (as if the opposition were the Qualquer pension reform project and not the this specific project). Parents yelling that they were paying for the service and demanding that the directors draw the whip… against the slave Prudêncio.

It is an elementary part of political education to understand that the treatment of any conflict begins by recognizing that the other's point of view has dignity and relevance, even if we do not agree with it. The attitude of someone who wants to take the ball home when upset is the anti-political attitude par excellence. The assumption that the diversity of opinions is just a problem of misunderstanding or lack of character perpetuates the Brás Cubas complex. For him, teachers are extensions of parents, whom they hire to repeat their own prejudices. No separation between the private life of families and the public experience of school. It will be the same parents who will later complain about the corrupt takeover of the State by private interests. The same ones who shower youth parties with alcohol and are proud of their love made of exceptions to the law. The boy is the father of the man.

But both consuming parents and cornered directors also have their reasons and represent an interesting point of view, concerned with understanding how it is possible for education to mix with politics, and knowledge with ideology. They want, with good reason, to protect their children from indoctrination, bad influences and misdirection, which, as they well know, start at home. They want a Brazil that goes back to work, cleanses itself of excess politics, and stops discussing the rules of the game. They are not happy with Temer, as they were no longer with Dilma. However, when two fight it is very difficult to admit that if one was wrong the other still might not be right.

What we need is a little more humility to take the third step. The step that suspends our certainty about justice, making it a common horizon of search, not just an instrument of oppression over another or the exercise of power. The step that takes us to the swampy terrain in which law is no longer identified with justice. For that, we should remember the apology proposed by the liberal thinker Amarthya Sen[2]:

Three children are fighting over who should have a flute. It seems obvious that the flute should go to the first child, as he is the only one who knows how to play the flute. The argument seems unbeatable for those who confine themselves to their own point of view, after all, what good would a flute be for someone who doesn't know how to use it? It would be a waste and besides listening to the sound of the instrument, the two other children could share this symbolic good that is music. The instrument belongs to those who know how to use it, and precisely because of this, music can be made something that belongs to everyone. Nothing more harmonic.

If we didn't listen to the second child we would probably end up like this. However, justice changes shape when we learn that the second child is very poor and doesn't have any toys. The value that this object would have for her would be much higher than that given by the first one, which, now, looking better, has many other things to play with. Thus, giving the flute to the poorest could produce a transforming effect, which is to make this second child, who does not know how to play the flute, learn to play the instrument. We are thus embarrassed by our own narrow thinking, which has led us to employ a concept of justice so poor that it limits itself to examining the present situation, without taking into account that our decisions today can transform the future. Give the second child a chance to learn to play the instrument, after which he will be able to teach so many other people the art of the flute. Thus, musical knowledge becomes socially shared.

The two positions could fight indefinitely. Both are fair, impartial and non-arbitrary. Both follow their own terms and in accordance with their own positions. As if that weren't enough, the third girl raises a detail forgotten until then. it was she who made the flute, with his own hands, for months on end, and, in the end, had the fruit of his work taken by the others. In other words, thirsty for the tension between the present and the future, we forget that the processes also have a past and a history, and this is also a source of justice. Looking at it from this perspective it seems obvious and indisputable that whoever made the flute owns it. The rest is theft.

The third step takes us out of the dualistic logic in which the right of one is the wrong of the other. But it leads us to a bigger problem, which is to ask: which justice for which right?

We could say that economic egalitarians tend to stick with the second girl, the fact that she is poor determines the justice to be done. Libertarians and pragmatists would take the third girl. Hedonists and pragmatists, on the other hand, will adhere to the justice of those who can best enjoy it. Things get complicated when we think that the libertarian right and the Marxist left could form an alliance around the thesis that justice emanates from property and work, that is, from the third flutist.

It is at this point that we usually appeal to the suspension of reasons and resort to a kind of higher authority. It happens that in Federal Supreme Court of Litigating Flutes we found two ministers who know how to play the flute, another two who are poor and the last two are graduates of flute-building factories. In other words, it is useless to fetishize the courts and minimize our reason and that of others, as the situation will not resolve itself.

Now, schools, whether liberal, Marxist, pragmatic or hedonistic, are the place where the flute debate must take place. We hope they train our children in the discipline of diversity that will enable them to deal with conflict. Otherwise, we will be promising them a world with a lifetime supply of flutes, as Brás Cubas' father did.

[1] Assisi, Machado (1881) Posthumous Memoirs of Braz Cubas. São Paulo: Atelier, p. 87-88.

[2] Sen, Amarthya (2009) The Idea of ​​Justice🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2011.

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