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Revoke Ideology

Critical Constructionist Theory in the Human Sciences

by Alipio DeSousa Filho (Author) Jennifer Sarah Cooper (Editor and translator)
Monographs XXII, 386 Pages
Series: Queering paradigms - In Focus, Volume 1414

Table Of Content


REVOKE IDEOLOGY

Alipio De Sousa

Edited and translated by Jennifer Sarah Cooper

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PETER LANG

Oxford • Bern • Berlin • Bruxelles • New York • Wien

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.

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Edited and translated by Jennifer Sarah Cooper

Cover design: Peter Lang Ltd.

issn 2235-5367

isbn 978-1-78997-548-2 (print)    isbn 978-1-78997-571-0 (ePDF)

isbn 978-1-78997-572-7 (ePub)    isbn 978-1-78997-573-4 (mobi)

© Peter Lang AG 2019

Published by Peter Lang Ltd, International Academic Publishers,

52 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LU, United Kingdom

oxford@peterlang.com, www.peterlang.com

Alipio De Sousa has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this Work. Edited and translated by Jennifer Sarah Cooper from the Portuguese: Tudo É Construído! Tudo É Revogável! A teoria constructionista crítica nas ciências humanas. São Paulo: Cortez Editora, 2017.

All rights reserved.

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Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution.

This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.

This publication has been peer reviewed.

About the author

Alipio De Sousa is a Tenured Professor of Social Theory and Political Philosophy in the Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Philosophy (Ethics and Political Philosophy) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Natal/Brazil. He is a CNPq researcher and the current Diretor of Humanitas – Institute of Integral Studies at UFRN. De Sousa received his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Paris – Sorbonne (2000). He is the founder and editor of the journal, Bagoas: estudos gays (Bagoas: gay studies) and the coordinator of the Nucleus of Critical Studies in Contemporary Subjectivities and Human Rights.

About the book

In these crooked times of chaotic and contradictory discourses in every social sphere, from politics to food production, “ideology” has become the buzzword to represent some solid structure on which to cling or under which to recoil, in an effort to understand reality. But how this structure is built and what it ultimately upholds – this is a primary focus of the Human Sciences. In this book, the author argues that in the Human Sciences, from its founders to contemporaries, a common premise is apparent: the fundamental property of all human-social reality is its character as something constructed. Through a vast set of analyses and reflections of his own, and by philosophers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, sociologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists and linguists, the author shows how this premise, applied, which he coins as critical constructionist theory, constitutes the fundamental theory of the Human Sciences. The book also traces how the main development of this theory gave rise to critical deconstructionism – philosophical, sociological, and anthropological – as an analytical procedure in contemporary studies and research, valid in discussions on culture, ethics, human rights, gender, sexuality and ethnicities. Understanding the role ideology plays in this construction, then, is key to liberation from oppressive conceptual structures of reality. This book exposes that role.

Dans la littérature « grise » qui souvent caractérise la production académique, le livre de Alipio De Sousa fait exception. Il est , en son sens fort, intéressant : « interesse » , il est dans ce qu’il écrit. Cette implication rejoint les préoccupations intellectuelles faisant de la théorie non pas quelque chose d’abstrait, mais, au contraire, totalement incarné. On retrouve ainsi ce qu’est « le réalisme » aristotélicien, rappelant qu’il n’y a rien dans l’esprit qui n’ait d’abord été dans les sens.

Autres caractéristiques de ce livre, celles de la « disputatio » universitaire, le débat, marque de toute pensée authentique. La diversité des auteurs cités, hétérogènes les uns par rapport aux autres en témoigne. Ceci renvoie bien à ce qu’est l’honneur de la démarche académique : celle d’un « divergent accord ».

Michel Maffesoli – Professeur Émérite à la Sorbonne

Membre de l’Institut universitaire de France

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Translator’s Note

Following the norms of the profession, for direct quotes of work originally written in languages other than English or Portuguese, I relied on previously translated English language versions, except when I did not have access to the text in the English version or when there was no English version previously published, in which case I translated these from the Portuguese. However, in the case of direct quotes from works in Spanish or French, when I had access to these sources, I translated directly from the Spanish or French originals, and indicated this in the footnotes. All direct quotes of works cited in Portuguese are our translations. Following the Scielo convention, all works cited are footnoted with the full reference and the references to the Portuguese version of the book are listed at the end, in the Bibliography section. I have also indicated references to English versions of works cited, to which I did not have access. Thus, researchers are provided with all they need to cross-reference titles in their various versions to facilitate conducting research in this field.

I would like to thank Alipio for entrusting me with the translation of this important and engaging work, and for his patience and for the patience of the editors, as life did intrude most heavily on this task during the process.

Finally, I dedicate the translation of this work to my son, Mário Ângelo Frota (September 15, 1998–December 2, 2018), who was an enthusiastic and brilliant student of philosophy at UFRN for the short period of time his life permitted, and I wish he were here to read it.

Jennifer Sarah Cooper

Natal, April 11, 2019←ix | x→ ←x | xi→

Preface

Revoking the Ideology of the Far-right in Brazil

In order for the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for their liberation they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which they can transform.

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000: 49)

When I first sat down to write this preface, Brazil was entering a watershed moment. Or perhaps finding itself on the edge of a precipice. The first round of the presidential elections had been won, with just over 46 percent of the vote, by far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, a man whose inflammatory rhetoric mobilizes fascist groups and those who hail the return of the military dictatorship. He has defended the use of torture, expressed sympathy for Brazil’s past military dictatorships, supported laws that take away labor rights and said that women should earn lower wages than men. He frequently makes homophobic, misogynistic and racist remarks, for example, saying that beating children is the best way to avoid them becoming homosexuals (and that he would rather his own son be dead than gay); that he wouldn’t rape Maria do Rosário, a representative in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies and member of the Worker’s Party, because she wasn’t “deserving” enough; and that there was no “risk” of his children marrying persons of African descent because they had been “brought up well”. Bolsonaro’s official pre-election political plans included criminalizing certain social movements by labeling them as terrorism, relaxing gun laws to make it easier for civilians to purchase and carry firearms, bringing the death penalty to Brazil, encouraging police officers to kill drug traffickers, reducing the age to be tried legally as an adult from 18 to 16 years of age, eliminating affirmative action programs, increasing the number of military schools for children and adolescents, “expunging Paulo Freire’s ideology” from the national curriculum, and so forth (see the “Plano de governo Jair Bolsonaro 2018” in the list of online sources consulted).←xi | xii→

As Bolsonaro’s popularity rose, so did violent attacks by his supporters on members of the LBGTQI+ community and people who oppose him, including, just since the first round election results, the brutal murder of Moa de Katendê, a 63 year-old capoeira master of African descent who was stabbed 12 times in the back by a Bolsonaro supporter for expressing anti-Bolsonaro views, in Salvador, Bahia, and the violent beating of Julyanna Barbosa, a trans woman, in Nova Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro. Bolsonaro may not be the author of these crimes, but his incendiary rhetoric certainly contributes to the motivation behind them (something for which he has shown little concern, despite being a recent victim of a stabbing himself).

As I revise and update this preface months later, the unthinkable has become reality: with just over 55 percent of the vote in the second round of elections, Bolsonaro is now president of Brazil. The first months of his presidency have been marked by a tendency to rule by decree, a strategy that, although it has become more common in democratic governments in “modern” states since World War I (Agamben, 2004), is primarily used by dictators, absolute monarchs and military leaders. He has put military officials in high-ranking positions of non-military-related sectors within the government. This raises eyebrows in a country whose last military dictatorship ended in 1985, and which, unlike other countries, such as Argentina, never went through a post-dictatorship process of criminally trying and punishing officials for torture and murder, nor did it reform its armed forces, two things that are essential for a transition to a democratic state and for the people to have more trust in the military.

He has “reorganized” Brazilian ministries, eliminating seven (Culture; Industry, Foreign Commerce and Services; Labor; Planning, Budget and Management; Public Safety; Sport; and Treasury and Social Security) and creating two (Citizenship and Economy). The Ministry of Human Rights is now the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights; here it is obvious that “family” refers only to the heterosexual family, as Bolsonaro also removed the mention of LBGTQI+ rights from the ministry’s purview. He has also put the demarcation of indigenous peoples’ lands and regularization of quilombos (settlements first established by escaped Brazilian slaves and now populated by their descendants, known as quilombolas) within the remit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, a direct conflict of interests due to the fact that the agro-industry is against recognizing native←xii | xiii→ peoples’ and quilombolas’ rights to land in order to free up more terrain for farming and livestock. Although he has not yet gone through with his pre-election promise to merge the Ministry of the Environment with the Ministry of Agriculture, he has cut the Brazilian Environmental Protection Agency’s (IBAMA) budget by 24 percent (so far); threatened IBAMA’s authority to carry out environmental inspections; permitted the risky practice of oil exploration in the Abrolhos Marine Natural Park; and threatened to extinguish the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), which is in charge of the protection of Brazil’s biodiversity and its natural parks and nature reserves. All of this is extremely troubling in a country that holds 20 percent of the planet’s species of flora and fauna, but also has many species threatened with extinction, and, despite containing 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, is number one in world rankings for deforestation. With regards to schools and universities, Bolsonaro has placed pro-privatization economist Abraham Weintraub, who has said he wishes to “defeat the left” and eliminate “cultural marxism in universities” (see BBC, 2019), in charge of the Ministry of Education. Bolsonaro and Weintraub have made various attacks on university autonomy, such as suggesting cutting funding for Sociology and Philosophy in order to increase the budget for “areas that provide immediate results to taxpayers” (see Lopes, 2019), such as medicine, veterinary science and engineering, completely ignoring the fact that the humanities are vital to successful public policy (among countless other reasons for their social importance); and cutting 30 percent of the discretionary spending budget (money allocated for paying for things like electricity, water, cleaning services, student aid scholarships, etc.) of universities that supposedly promote “debauchery” (balbúrdia) on their campuses and do not show “the expected academic performance” (although some of the universities whose budgets have been cut thus far are among the top universities in the country in both national and international rankings) (see Extra, 2019).

Along with all of these changes in the Brazilian Ministries, Bolsonaro is also trying to push through a social security reform (for all workers in the public and private sectors except members of the military) that would raise the minimum retirement age for women and rural workers, make retirement based only on age rather than age and/or years of contribution (while also fixing a minimum contribution time of 20 years), make it necessary to work at least 40 years in order to receive full benefits, and make it more difficult←xiii | xiv→ for low-income elderly workers to receive a benefit for continued service after retirement age. He also has reduced the expected increase in the minimum wage, making the increase based solely on inflation rather than a combination of inflation and the variation in Brazil’s Gross National Product over the prior two years. He has attacked unions and workers’ associations by imposing a great limitation on how they collect their monthly dues. Thus, besides following a backwards and discriminatory agenda against women, LGBTQI+ community of color, indigenous peoples, etc., he is also pushing the agenda of capital against the needs, rights and health of workers. The list of troubling changes grows daily and would require a book of its own to list and analyze. While the country is going through its worst crisis of this century, with unemployment, poverty, hatred and social discrimination all on the rise, Bolsonaro appears more preoccupied with attempting to imitate US President Donald Trump by communicating with his electorate via Twitter. He usually sends out polemic tweets on issues of little importance (including sexual practices such as the “golden shower”) and downright ignores important events or only comments on them after being pressured, such as the disastrous dam rupture in Brumadinho which left over 200 dead and almost 100 missing, and military police killing innocent musician Evaldo dos Santos Rosa by shooting his car, which also carried his wife, father-in-law and 7-year-old son, a staggering 80 times, because they “mistook” the vehicle for another.

As Terry Eagleton remarks, studying ideologies involves “an inquiry into the ways in which people may come to invest in their own unhappiness” (1991: xiii). Despite Bolsonaro’s LBGTQI+-phobic remarks, and opposition to the use of an “Anti-Homophobia Kit” to fight prejudice and bullying in schools, same-sex unions and a gender identity law that would offer more rights to transgender people, he still has supporters among the LBGTQI+ population. Despite his misogynistic statements and expressly stated desire that woman earn less than men, he is still supported by a great number of women (according to statistics from the Datafolha research institute, approximately 40 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 24 voted for Bolsonaro in the second round of elections; see Fagundes, 2019), many of whom claim that they “don’t need feminism”. Despite his openly racist comments and plans to eliminate affirmative action policies, which have resulted in thousands of students of color and students from poor families entering and thriving←xiv | xv→ in Brazilian universities, he has many supporters among people of African descent. Despite his announced intentions to intensify police interventions in favelas (Brazil’s poorest neighborhoods, often translated as “slums”), which generally result in the deaths of innocent residents and not just the arrest of people involved in criminal activities, and to support labor reforms that drastically reduce workers’ rights, claiming that “gradually the population will come to understand that it is better to have fewer rights and be employed than to have every right and be unemployed” (see Pennafort, 2018), he is popular among Brazil’s poor and working class (for more information on the profiles of different groups who voted for Bolsonaro, see Oliveira 2018). Why, as Eagleton suggests, are such groups compelled to look the other way and invest in their own unhappiness, voting for a candidate who treats them as abject beings, to use Judith Butler’s (2013: 155) terminology, and has anything but their best interests at heart? Unfortunately, as Paulo Freire states, because of a “relationship of violence that makes them conform to being violated” (2013: 58), it is common for “the oppressed to assume a posture that we can describe as ‘adherence’ to the oppressor” (2013: 44); only as the oppressed discover that they “host” the oppressor within themselves, that they have accepted and internalized his discourse, can they begin to liberate themselves (Freire, 2013: 43).

Summary

In these crooked times of chaotic and contradictory discourses in every social sphere, from politics to food production, "ideology" has become the buzzword to represent some solid structure on which to cling or under which to recoil, in an effort to understand reality. But how this structure is built and what it ultimately upholds – this is a primary focus of the Human Sciences. In this book, the author argues that in the Human Sciences, from its founders to contemporaries, a common premise is apparent: the fundamental property of all human-social reality is its character as something constructed. Through a vast set of analyses and reflections of his own, and by philosophers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, sociologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists and linguists, the author shows how this premise, applied, which he coins as critical constructionist theory, constitutes the fundamental theory of the Human Sciences. The book also traces how the main development of this theory gave rise to critical deconstructionism – philosophical, sociological, and anthropological – as an analytical procedure in contemporary studies and research, valid in discussions on culture, ethics, human rights, gender, sexuality and ethnicities. Understanding the role ideology plays in this construction, then, is key to liberation from oppressive conceptual structures of reality. This book exposes that role.

Biographical notes

Alipio DeSousa Filho (Author) Jennifer Sarah Cooper (Editor and translator)

Alipio De Sousa is a Tenured Professor of Social Theory and Political Philosophy in the Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Philosophy (Ethics and Political Philosophy) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Natal/Brazil. He is a CNPq researcher and the current Diretor of Humanitas – Institute of Integral Studies at UFRN. De Sousa received his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Paris – Sorbonne (2000). He is the founder and editor of the journal, Bagoas: estudos gays (Bagoas: gay studies) and the coordinator of the Nucleus of Critical Studies in Contemporary Subjectivities and Human Rights.

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Title: Revoke Ideology