Manifesto: Freedom of Thought For a Democracy With No Fear of Differences


The year 2017 is coming to an end. And it was no ordinary year. The moral panic constructed around gender resulted in the persecution of professors and their research nuclei, but it also reached far beyond the academy. The judiciary sprang into action to grant psychologists the right to implement therapeutic practices toward “curing homosexuals.” The Queermuseu (Queermuseum) art exhibition was shut down, and its curator faced a subpoena to testify before a congressional inquiry, although this was later cancelled due to pressure from civil society. A proposed amendment to the Brazilian constitution that for increased maternity leave was disfigured by an item that, in practice, would prohibit abortion even in cases of rape.

We, professors participating in the seminar “Who’s Afraid of Judith Butler: Moral Crusades Against Human Rights” denounce the exploitation of gender studies, and of the sexual and reproductive rights of vulnerable groups for political and electoral ends. In a democracy, we must naturally confront these as themes to be discussed openly. However, we identify the brutal manipulation of categories and concepts that, instead of orienting our political debates and public policies, have been transformed into targets for senseless attacks. The persecution suffered by Judith Butler during her visit to Brazil is perhaps the best example of this senselessness.

National elections are approaching, and we know very well how important this moment is. Yet we do not believe that representative democracy can fully satisfy the needs of a democratic society. The amplification of debates relating to social justice and human rights cannot be restricted to electoral cycles.

Public universities must carry out their mission of being spaces for thinking that affects social transformation. For us, freedom of thought is a fundamental condition of public life, and the very soul of democracy. For us, there is no special moment in which democracy must be lived; we understand democracy to be an everyday experience.

The supposed exceptionalism of the single moment of casting a ballot does not prove how democratic any given society truly is. On the contrary, this exceptionalism reveals the amputation of an important social value: democracy does not exist when it is removed from engaged thinking about the world.

We will continue to make thinking a collective act: together. We will occupy every pore of the public sphere in seminars, lectures, protests, occupations, and marches.

We will have no fear.

Gostou do texto? Contribua para manter e ampliar nosso jornalismo de profundidade: OutrosQuinhentos

Leia Também: