Last week Rosa Weber took office as president of the STF. A historic moment, both for her, as it is not common for women to have occupied that highest position, and for us, Rio Grande do Sul citizens, honored with a fellow countrywoman being raised to that position.
And, to mark the occasion, perhaps because we are entering the Farroupilha Week, symbol of a struggle of these people to be part of republican history (still in the middle of Imperial Brazil), the president quoted a verse from the Rio-Grandense Anthem, which has given the what to say, here and elsewhere: “But it is not enough to be free to be strong, brave and brave. People who have no virtue end up being slaves.”
Evidently, there is a context of commemorations of the bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil, in which its citation gained the proper discursive accommodation. She then amended: “And virtue, I mean, I say, as a firm and constant disposition to do good”. This, however, has not freed Rosa Weber from criticism from those who see this verse as a historical problem.
In this sense, I tend to agree with those who make a parenthesis to emphasize the nonsense in the statement of the verse. Because we cannot ignore the fact that there was slavery of a people in our country for more than three centuries, and that Brazil was one of the last to abolish slavery. How can we say, without the semantic implications that this social wound still presents in our country, that the “lack of virtue” is the reason a people become slaves?
There are those who argue that, at the historical moment in which it was created, this concept had nothing to do with the African people. However, as the German philosopher Walter Benjamin teaches us, the “truth is in the historical becoming”. So I point to the fact that we are no longer singing this hymn in the context in which it was created. And if he “wanted to say something”, today he produces statements that need, at the very least, to be questioned.
Without going into the merits of a Eurocentric vision that still exists at the time when the lyrics of the Rio Grande do Sul anthem were created, I want to consider something around the meaning that it entails, in the context of modern slavery (to distinguish it from that practiced in antiquity) . Because, with the colonization process practiced by European countries in Africa and in the newly “discovered” America, from the 16th century onwards, there was only one people made slaves: the Africans.
The indigenous, by their nature, did not adapt to the slave model of production of the colonizers. In fact, most of the native peoples of America were decimated – but that’s another story. So, what I want to consider is that there is an impropriety in the use of the word “virtue” (even with the reservations made by Rosa Weber in her speech).
It is not for lack of virtue that a people is made a slave, but, since there is a war over territory disputes between empires, it is as a consequence of the supremacy of war power, of military, warrior, armament force that overcomes a less powerful army. equipped.
In the case of the slavery of the African people, we have reasons for mercantile capitalism, for the need for an abundant workforce, without greater costs (which persist in current labor relations). So the letter should be modified, as it does not reveal historical, philosophical or anthropological truth.
There are those who resist changing the lyrics of the Anthem, because they tend towards conservatism. Rosa Weber points out: “we know that the evolution of humanity takes place in permanent becoming, in a dialectical process, in necessary updating” (not referring to the Anthem, but to the context of the bicentennial).
Therefore, I warn you, it is good to note that this letter has already been modified more than once. A symbol that aims at universality cannot include a reference that particularizes a merit, or despises a portion of those represented.
This is the virtue of a wise people: “to carry out the changes that the times demand, maintaining principles, in accordance with the motto freedom, equality and humanityalso inscribed on the flag of Rio Grande do Sul”, highlighted by the new president of the Brazilian Supreme Court.
is a full professor at UFSM – retired, Doctor in Theory of Literature and Master in Brazilian Literature. He was Secretary of Culture at the Municipality of Santa Maria and Pro-Rector of Graduation at UFSM. A writer, he has published several books and literary awards, including Adolfo Aizen, from the União Brasileira de Escritores, for his soap opera Da noite para o dia.
The article is in Portuguese