Defending life and democracy – Jandson Bernardo Soares’s (UFRN) review of “The policy against the virus: backstage of the CPI of Covid”, by Humberto Costa and Randolfe Rodrigues
Abstract: Politics against the virus: behind the scenes of the Covid CPI is a book written by Humberto Costa and Randolfe Rodrigues that presents a detailed analysis of the behind-the-scenes of the Covid CPI in Brazil. The book is divided into nine chapters that address topics such as the genocidal strategies of the Bolsonaro government, maneuvers to deflect investigations, disputes on social media, and finally, the political fight against the virus. The book offers an in-depth view to understand the political impact of the pandemic in Brazil.
Keyword: Covid-19, Covid CPI, Jair Bolsonaro government.
In November 2022, although we are still facing Covid, it seems, we are already doing it more calmly and with a number of deaths that has tended to decrease since we had access to vaccines. However, the democratization of this good in Brazil dates back to a context of social disputes between those who were in favor of immunization and life and those who were not. The work Politics against the virus: backstage at the CPI on Covid, by Randolfe Rodrigues, lawyer and historian, and Humberto Costa, physician and journalist, both actors in this Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, are about the struggle for access to this collective good.
Organized into nine chapters, the work seeks to answer the challenges faced during the establishment and execution of the Covid Parliamentary Inquiry Commission, as well as its results. To this end, it relied on the use of multidisciplinary knowledge and the experiences developed by the authors in making political decisions in their work on the Commission, reconstructing the timeline that configured such parliamentary disputes. These started with the first movements towards putting pressure on the government to buy vaccines, still in February 2021, going through the confrontations for the establishment of the CPI, the discussions on its execution, until reaching its resolutions and post-report (dis)referrals , in 2022.
Despite not having an explicit theoretical density in relation to the field of politics, the work develops from a central concept, that of good politics, a reference to its opposite, bad politics. The first would consist of two pillars that characterize Brazilian democratic normality: a) the correct functioning of the various institutions and instances that make up the Brazilian democratic republic, based on the self-monitoring capacity of the three powers and their isonomy, and b) the negotiation capacity that would develop beyond the simple party or government logic, based on the debate that involves the diversity of opinions and the possibility of generating consensus. Breaking with such aspects would signal the opposite concept, understood as negative because it would break with democratic mechanisms.
We consider this choice to be inappropriate. She endorses a Manichaean view of politics and favors the idea that good always triumphs over evil. Such notions could be easily expanded using theories such as procedural democracy and public spheres proposed by Jürgen Habermas (1997). Both are based on the constitution of communicative consensus reached from the various argumentative clashes developed in the public sphere, involving organized civil society with its institutions and positions, so that the best arguments would constitute consensus among all those involved, substantiating laws, procedures and actions, as well as provoking new debates (good politics, according to the authors of the present work reviewed). For this author, breaking with these characteristics would imply a loss of democratic participation and the possibility of overlapping of technocratic powers based on the abuse of political-administrative power (use of the state machine) and economic power (use of capital) to elaborate agreement. (Bad policy)
From the conception of bad politics, the authors defend the idea that Jair Bolsonaro directed his actions towards the face of the pandemic, breaking with the ethical dimension of politics, demarcated by his interference in other spheres of power. This action made investigations coming from the control bodies unfeasible, constituting a way of governing that vetoed opponents and broke with the communicative capacity between the various social agents. It broke the communicative dynamics to support only projects embraced by parliamentarians from the governing base or adherents to their plans, even if this means the risk to the lives of Brazilian men and women in vulnerable situations, exposed to the virus and its physical, material and economic consequences. social. At the same time, it harassed non-sympathizers through digital militias associated with the government, which distorted information that affected the personal and public life of political opponents.
To the same extent, according to the authors, the protagonists of the fight for the vaccine are signaled as the coordinators of actions to resume democratic normality, which had as its first challenge to take the Internet as a new space of social pressure that, in turn, presented itself as challenges to the policy and its practices, touching, in turn, the CPI. It was thanks to this spatiality and its perception that the CPI would have broken the record for the largest audience in relation to the previous ones, with a younger audience as spectators. These spectators demanded from political actors another way of doing politics, centered on media communication and the conversion of processes and procedures into a language that was easy to understand and circulate on social networks.
It was from this awareness that those responsible for this work pointed out the fundamental role of networks in reinforcing the importance of this investigative process, functioning either as a support group that guaranteed its legitimacy and maintenance, or as an aggregator of civil society groups. organized and of individuals in favor of the vaccine, who shared fundamental information to base, exemplify and reinforce the arguments of the parliamentarians, used, including, in the course of the interrogations.
This denotes the place that communicative rationality, as a dynamic to be resumed, had in the constitution of arguments of vaccine supporters, listening to experts, civil society institutions, as well as the mainstream press, responsible for generating a mass of information that reiterated the central thesis of the group in the CPI. Thus, the argument was defended that Jair Bolsonaro, through the constitution of a parallel cabinet, adopted a policy of immunization by contagion, ignoring vaccines and encouraging early treatment through proven ineffective drugs. Bolsonaro also used a violent internet campaign, spreading incorrect information about Covid, while at the same time pursuing politicians who disagreed with his arguments who waved to isolation actions. For the authors, it was no longer about fighting the pandemic, but Bolsonarism, its lethal disinformation machine and the rigging of institutions.
This last aspect is the target of the work’s denouncement and is progressively presented in the omission of several political actors who refused, from the beginning, to investigate the president’s conduct, changing signatures or preventing the opening of the CPI. They ignored the current practices of the Senate, exceeding deadlines, which culminated in the judicialization to enforce democratic procedures, and the refusal of the Attorney General’s Office to deepen investigations, contrary to the Public Ministry of several states, shielding the president the consequences of their irresponsible actions.
This work, therefore, offers an important contribution as a historical document, insofar as it reports aspects of the CPI that, if not presented by its authors, would remain only in the experience of those who lived it directly. At the same time, by denouncing the barriers imposed by the institutions, it works as a manifesto for the resumption of democratic normality, based on good politics, from the rescue of its ethical dimension. This was the path rehearsed during the Covid CPI, in which the common good and the urgency in the acquisition of vaccines made it possible for social forces from different political spectrums to come together, from left to center right.
It is also worth pointing out that the work directs our eyes to the future of politics based on its relationship with the networks, indicating its living and changeable character, without denying other more orthodox ways of doing things. It is a fact that the internet emerges as a new space of dispute with its own structures and logics to be understood and mobilized by the progressive field, since Bolsonarism, despite its conservative marks, quickly installed itself in this space, adding it to itself. At the same time, the book helps us to rehabilitate politics as not only a viable field, but a necessary one, through which it is possible to make a difference and intervene in reality.
It should be noted that the non-adherence to theoretical references that would allow a more complex analysis of what politics is from the emergence of Bolsonarism can lead the work to be seen only as a political propaganda for the actions carried out in the CPI, including, functioning as a political capital for their authors. By using the idea of good and bad politics, the authors design a policy with a dualistic tone, associable with the idea of heroism, in which the progressive field always wins movements like Bolsonarism. This thesis is not true because politics is not made by two single blocks, but by a diversity of individuals and groups that can be volatile, changing sides based on the interests of the moment or capital, as pointed out by Habermas. The Policy is much more about respect for the established commitments and the common sense that would be given by subordinating it to communicative rationality, constituting consensus and established as a rule for disputes in the public space.
The book show to us that the struggle for justice is in place and accompanied by clear evidence. However, in a country marked by legal selectivity, it remains to be seen whether it will be applied in the case of the 688,000 deaths . Certainly, the fight will also be fought in the field of memory and this work will be a necessary document for the exercise of our responsibility as professionals of History, teachers and citizens of the Brazilian republican democracy.
 Data updated according to the Ministry of Health on November 17, 2022 (https://covid.saude.gov.br/)
HABERMAS, Jürgen. Direito e Democracia: entre facticidade e validade. Rio de Janeiro: Tempo Brasileiro, 1997. v. 1-2.
Sumário A política contra o vírus: bastidores da CPI da Covid
- Introdução: A arte de recuar para avançar
- 1. Costuras e assinaturas
- 2. A estratégia genocida
- 3. Retratos do desgoverno
- 4. O tabuleiro de xadrez
- 5. No ringue da política nacional
- 6. A temperatura não para de subir
- 7. Bacalhau e ópera-bufa
- 8. Corações, mentes e likes
- 9. A política contra o vírus
- Sobre os autores
Para ampliar a sua revisão da literatura
Consulte resenhas de livros sobre
- Epidemia | Epidemia de Cólera | Epidemia de Febre Amarela | Epidemias
- Governo Jair Bolsonaro | Jair Bolsonaro
- História das Políticas de Vacinação
Consulte dossiês de artigos sobre
Jandson Bernardo Soares – PhD student in History at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. He published, among other works, The institutionalization of textbooks in Brazil (2021); History and Teaching Spaces: historiography; PNLD e a busca por um livro didático ideal; A institucionalização do livro didático no Brasil; e, Produzindo livros didáticos de História: prescrições e práticas – notas de uma pesquisa em andamento. ID LATTES: 9151962206801002; ID ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-8195-5113. E-mail: [email protected].
To cite this review
COSTA, Humberto; RORIGUES, Randolfe. A política contra o vírus: bastidores da CPI da Covid. São Paulo: Companhia das letras, 2022. 130 p. ISBN 9786557826874. Ebook (130). Resenha de: SOARES, Jandson Bernardo. Defendendo avida a Democracia. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.10, mar./apr., 2023. Disponível em <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/defendendo-a-vida-e-a-democracia-resenha-do-livro-a-politica-contra-o-virus-bastidores-da-cpi-da-covid-de-humberto-costa-e-randolfe-rodrigues-2/>. DOI: 10.29327/254374.3.10-2
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