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A column in a newspaper obliges us to read things that are not quite pleasing, and through them we communicate with spirits who, in any other situation, do not inspire us with the slightest interest or interest. There are many readings of this type, but you have to choose. The criterion for selection is, of course, the special prominence of the texts and the fame of their authors. There are, in fact, masterpieces of all kinds, including the art of deception. Article by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, published in General On the tenth of March “Towards a self-criticism of Europe“, belongs to this chosen genus. They will tell me that it is pointless to waste time on this, because everyone knows the talent of Boaventura de Sousa Santos in class. Allow me to disagree. There are reading lessons that go beyond the author’s specific idiosyncrasies and may allow us to better understand the ways of thinking that have an indisputable influence in society.
What does Boaventura de Sousa Santos tell us about the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Amazingly, there is only one thing: the blame for the war is the responsibility of the United States alone. It is worth mentioning. Russia has been coming for a long time.”Clarify your security concerns“,”legitimate concernsagainst the United States. So its position was necessarily defensive, in sharp contrast to the offensive position of the United States. In fact, aggression comes from there. “The United States aims to unite spheres of influence at all costs, ensuring trade facilities for its companies and access to raw materials.“Having made clear the opposition between aggression (USA) and defense (Russia), we can be more clear:”Do you need to know more to understand what is happening in Ukraine? Russia was provoked to expand, but was criticized for doing so“.Finally, Europe remains. Occupies, versus the United States,”The status of the minor partner“what or what”Hurry up to arm the Nazis“, obey”Three oligarchsthat dominate the United States:military-industrial complex, gas, oil and mining complex; The real estate banking complex“.
awkwardly respond to Foreword by audience managerManuel Carvalho who criticized him, Boaventura de Sousa Santos Our age is accused of not acceptingcomplex thinkingThe one that says exercise, don’t give upbe a sociologist [sua] Circumstance“.I don’t quite understand how it can be considered.”complex thinking“Using the most robotic, schematic, and Manichean conceptual system, but the brilliant sociologist, or for him one of his innumerable disciples, will undoubtedly enlighten us one day—perhaps with the aid of his famous concept.”southern epistemology“- About this riddle. However, let’s move on to other things.
Here are some of the Boaventura de Sousa Santos strategies that exemplify a more general way of thinking in which it has been recorded. The most famous is the heart of causal relations. Will Russia invade Ukraine? If it does, it is because of pressure from the United States, which is the remote cause of the Russian invasion, and the immediate cause is the Ukrainian government itself, in the service of the United States. Sociologist’s Thinking Principle: The One Cause Principle. Whatever happens, it is always the fault of the United States and, more generally, the fault of the West. Only the United States has activity, and all other peoples are constrained by passivity or, at best, interaction, which guarantees them complete innocence. So, of course, Putin cannot be responsible, under any circumstances, for the invasion of Ukraine. The only real responsibility is the United States, which sees itself ascribing premises of divinity, albeit pernicious, to the image of Descartes’ evil genius: one cause and pure activity.
It is not difficult to see here a version, not even a particularly complex one, of conspiracy theories in general. They are also governed by the principle of one cause. All the evil in the world is the product of the group hallucinally chosen to be endowed with unlimited causal power: Jews, Freemasonry, Bilderberg Club, you name it. For Boaventura de Sousa Santos, in the kind of theological argument running through his mind, the only hallucinogenic cause is the United States, with the three “complexes” he refers to in the article, a kind of holy trinity of evil. There is, in fact, something theological in the sociologist’s way of thinking, seeking (and in his eyes discovering) something that lies beyond everything in this visible world, maneuvering it as he pleases.
The result of all this was that the empirical event was completely faded into the “explanatory” discourse of Boaventura de Sousa Santos. Reality is completely evacuated, it becomes a flat desert occupied only by words, the words that your conspiracy theory allows. Want proof? Putin’s name does not appear once in the entire article. Let’s face it, it’s a work, in a script dedicated to the invasion of Ukraine. But this omission is not accidental in anything. Reference to empirical personalities will not only undermine the dignity of theory, polluting it with various impurities, but the theological schema that guides his thinking gets rid of any direct reference to reality. The private, as I noted earlier, is completely dissolved in the theological discourse of the One Cause.
In other words: Boaventura de Sousa Santos categorically rejects the practice of the Faculty of Arbitration. Kant defined the totality of government, in its many forms, as the ability to assimilate the particular under the general. It’s a special talent that can’t be taught – you either have it or you don’t – but it does require that it be practiced. I completely ignore why Boaventura de Sousa Santos refuses to practice it, what is voluntary or involuntary about it. I limit myself to saying that your article escapes the harshness of referring to the empirical reality – to the particular – as the demon of the cross. It’s just that Putin is not the only one who shines through his absence in his text. The Ukrainians – who he claims should not participate in the ongoing peace talks – and the Russians, as individuals, too. Voluntary decision? For lack of such talent? I’m ignoring him completely like I said.
I intentionally left for the end what shocked me the most in the text—and, in fact, the one thing that really struck me about it: the utter lack of empathy for the human suffering it reveals. I will be the last person to advocate that a newspaper article should be devoted to displaying good vibes, the kind I myself try to avoid at all costs. But there are cases in which empathy is a structural component of objectivity and its absence reveals the inability to understand and capture the thing one is thinking. How can one write about the invasion of Ukraine without thinking for a moment about the enormous and horrific human suffering we face daily through the images we live in our minds? How is it possible to reach such a degree of insensitivity to human tragedy that it completely disappears from the discourse?
Looking at things clearly, perhaps the answer to this question is the answer to the question I asked myself earlier regarding the ownership of judgment. It may not be owned by Boaventura de Sousa Santos. That special human talent he lacks. His theology of politics, the doctrine of the one cause with absolute vigor, prevents him from reaching an understanding of human political matters. Wouldn’t it be time to devote himself to other problems that did not exceed his capabilities to such an extreme degree? The academy offers many opportunities.
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