#NotHim and the moral motivation of the opposition

posted in: Opinion | 0

By Bruno Carneiro Castro

In the midst of the presidential race in 2018, the #NotHim campaign gained repercussion in social media and materialized in street protests in several Brazilian cities, as well as some locations abroad. That hashtag originated in the rejection of part of the electorate against a specific candidate, held by a portion of the population as unworthy to become the president.

The hashtag summarizes the imperative “Do not vote for this candidate”, which is configured as a contraposition, and not as a proposition itself. Since voting is mandatory in Brazil, logic requires that this voice of command presents its corollary, which would be the recommendation of vote in another candidate, a particular one as well, in order to guarantee the symmetry between the category of element to be denied and that of the substitute element. However, the #NotHim movement was emphatically unwilling to offer this alternative, freeing individuals to create the propositional unfolding as best they could.

Why had such an omission been deliberately attempted?

The explanation refers to another recent campaign, which uses similar procedure. This is s the mobilization against the distribution of plastic straws and bags in commercial establishments, which, again, preaches a counterposition without clear propositive appeal. What environmental anti-plastic activism aims at is essentially banning the use of polluting material in this context, with a view to preserving the planet, especially the life forms affected by the disposal of the material. The negative imperative is obvious, but what positive action should be taken as a corollary is left open: to ingest drinks directly into the glass? Use paper bags to pack groceries at the grocery store?

Both denial initiatives seem to undergo a scale of values – in which prevails the morality of duty of conscience. To put it another way, it is as if the perception of the nobility and the urgency of saying “no” to a certain element justifies doing it immediately, to avoid the feeling of omission. Thus, the need to detail a later proposition is ignored or postponed.

There are points for and against such positioning. The fact that recourse to the principles of conscience itself is a legitimate procedure and widely defended by democracy is in its favor. And, on the opposite pole, it can be pointed out that the sense of urgency would be constructed artificially, avoiding the debate on the missing propositional part of the message, to shield the denial movement – and, in the cases presented here, there are indications that this would have happened.

It is notorious that the election of a president who is supposedly unprepared for the function, or the environmental tragedy of plastic accumulated in the oceans are situations that arrive quickly and are difficult to reverse. Still, there is no justification for undergo the frenetic pace of social media to simplify and polarize public opinion. Unfortunately, common sense tends more and more to repel any idea that requires more characters to be defended than the space of a tweet.

Embracing the opposition is, in fact, a necessity that punctuates the whole History, as attested by the anti-dictatorial movements that so many nations have lived and whose fruits today benefit. But we must consider that whenever we tried to remove something without first planning what would replace it, the result was disastrous. Therefore, that each “no” is always duly grounded on the “yes” that obligatorily happens to it.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the AdmEthics Group


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