Utopia de lugar nenhum com Eduardo Suplicy, Ronaldo Lemos e Lygia da Veiga Pereira


“INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR
UTOPIA 500 YEARS” Good morning. First, I’d like to thank
the organizers, who invited me to somehow mediate this
very prestigious table. Eduardo Suplicy, who will
interpret Thomas More, from the point of view
of contemporary politics. Professor Lygia Veiga,
a specialist in one of humankind’s most important
issue today. She works with the issue
of science and biomedicine. …a problem we experience
very intensely nowadays. And our dear Ronaldo Lemos, who works with new technology. A table that encompasses
a world of essential ideas to understand our world today. I imagine one of reasons I was invited to be a mediator was the conference we organized last year in this same space. We had three months with
Brazilian and foreign thinkers to discuss “Mutations:
A New Utopic Spirit”. Actually, we’ve been working with the mutations theme
for ten years. We believe the idea of crisis
isn’t enough to explain what’s happening
in the world today. Because it’s a big change
in all areas of activity are going through. In politics, in ethics,
in mores, in mindsets. I mean, the old concepts
are no longer enough to explain what
happens in the world. That is our proposal. And because it was the
name of the cycle, “Mutations:
A New Utopic Spirit”. We tackle “Utopia” not to remember the
500 years of Thomas More, but to try to understand
the hatred towards utopia today. …a very serious thing, and we try to somehow
map the origins of that. First, very briefly, it came up very strongly with
the fall of the Berlin wall, the so-called end of History and the establishment
of single-minded thinking. …as if we were entering
the wonderful new world, without contradictions,
desire, anything, everything has already
been defined. But I think the second
most important point for us in that conference was
exactly the domination of techno-science over all
areas of activity. That was the central point. In reality, we have general hypotheses
about this great mutation, which under the extraordinary
domination of techno-science, over the universe and
the human world, tends to abolish utopias and
create a new kind of inhumanity. I’ll talk about why inhumanity. This new kind of inhumanity
is centered on the idea of the era of scientific facts. One of my favorite theorists
is a poet. The poet Paul Valéry,
who’s a great essayist, maybe one of the greatest
essayists of the past century. He says something
very beautiful: “It may be said that
all we know, i.e., all we can end up
opposing all we are”. An amazing sentence, because it really summarizes
everything we experience today. We can take two
very brief conclusions that are enough material
for a whole seminar. First, it exposes the
obvious contradiction between science as power
and science as knowledge. Today we see the domination
of science as power. Second, scientific facts
lead men to act unconsciously. Returning, also very briefly, Heidegger says, in one of his
very talked-about texts, that science doesn’t think.
I think he’s right. To conclude, because I think
I’m taking too long, I’d like to read a very short
text by Valéry in which he says: “What would we do without the
help of things that don’t exist?” Utopia is one of them.
“Very little and our idle spirit would
wither if abstractions, utopias didn’t populate with
aimless beings and images our natural deepness
and darkness. We can only act by moving
towards a ghost. We can only love what we create” I think that’s a wonderful
definition of utopia, because it’s exactly that, utopia is not something you
grasp immediately, but it’s essential to social,
cultural and political life. Valéry also says: “Inhumanity
is the age of facts”. No society organizes itself
without what he defines, and he even writes it
in italics, as vague things. Utopia is one of those
vague things. The purist ideals emerge,
the age of facts, and utopias disappear. So, I just wanted to make
a very brief summary of that great cycle we’ve done. The book will be released soon,
by Edições SESC. And I’d like to thank the
organizers once again, for allowing us to
return to an issue we’ve been discussing
for a long time. Thank you very much. To open our communications,
we call on Lygia to speak. Thank you. I’m a teacher. I don’t know
how to speak sitting down. I’d like to ask you to show the first slide
of my presentation. The issue of genetics require images to keep
the audience’s attention. Did you find it? So, I would just like to
give you an overview of what we’re doing in sciences, specially in my field, genetics, and where it’s taking us. Next. So, I think this
a very important moment in the development, the beginning of the development
of a new individual. In this moment, at the time
of fecundation, a recipe is formed, which
will guide the development and the behavior
of that individual. Be it a mouse, a fish
or a human being. This is the first cell, then,
that becomes divided, initially in identical cells. Suddenly, some of these cells
decided they’ll transform into blood, others into bones,
brain cells and so on, until they originate a complex
being, like human beings. I could even have left
this one out. If I’d put a common fruit fly, the ability to organize
and being able to transform a single cell
into complex being would already be amazing,
admirable. How did that cell know what to do? By following this recipe,
our human genome. So, when we talk about
the human genome, or a monkey’s genome
or a fern’s genome, we’re basically talking about
a recipe nature follows for the development and
behavior of that individual. …beautiful, because it’s
the same alphabet. Just by looking, I don’t know
if this is the genome of a mouse, an orchid, a bacteria or a human being, because
the letters are the same, their order and the
amount of letters is what changes from
species to species. So, we live at a time we have the sequence
of human genome, the whole recipe
nature follows to develop a human being. Any one of you can
go into the internet, and have access to it. Another one, because
there are many animations. The first great impact
is on human health. So, by understanding this
recipe, we want to thoroughly understand all of our
physiological processes, both the normal ones
and the diseases. So, we begin by understanding
the genetic diseases, the diseases caused by a change
in those letters, that’s enough
for an individual to have a very serious disease, and those diseases are
the easiest ones to understand, from the point of view of what
went wrong in that genome. But there’s a lot
written in our genome. By understanding that recipe
and what’s written, we’ll understand our
normal processes of cicatrization, why we age, which genes are activated, and which genes, which
instructions are turned off when I remember something, or, more worrying, when I forget. The idea is that by
understanding the different… the genetics behind
each one of those processes, we can intervene, more efficiently in our health. As I understand
all those processes in their most specific details, I’ll be able to
develop more efficient treatments for each one of them. Another very interesting thing about our genome
is that all of us here, if I take a bit of your blood
and sequence the DNA, I’ll identify your genome
as human. We are all human, but at the same time we’re all
absolutely unique, different from one another. All these individuals here
have the same human genome, but they’re very different. So, a fascinating thing
we’ve been learning and we’re still learning are the variations in
our genome, our recipe. Which letters are altered to make me look this way,
have this metabolism, while others, each one of us,
have different shapes, metabolisms,
health and diseases? Understanding what makes
each one of us unique will help us understand why some people are prone
to high blood pressure, why some develop lung cancer
when they smoke, and others, rare ones, don’t. All those researches that
now also try to understand the variation between the
genome of different people are also going to bring
great benefits to our health. So, after we understand that,
we intend to do what we call
preventive genetic medicine. What does preventive medicine do? My father and my brother
have high blood pressure. Based on my family history,
I think: “I might have it too”. But I don’t know whether
I do or I don’t. With preventive genetic medicine
we intend to one day make a genetic test on an
individual and say with certainty: “You have
a genetic predisposition to this or that disease”. What can you do when you learn
about a genetic predisposition? We can remember the last news that we’re not only a product
of our genome. Sure, some things are written, and I won’t be able to change.
My blood type. It’s there, it’s O+. There’s nothing I can eat or anything else I can do
to change that. But if it’s also written that
I’m prone to develop high blood pressure
and I know that before I get the disease,
I can change my lifestyle, I can exercise, I won’t smoke, I won’t eat fat and maybe that genetic tendency
won’t manifest itself. So, this is
a very important thing. Our genome is not the crystal
ball of the 20th century, we understand we do have
written traits, but we’re a product
of our genome combined with our lifestyle. While today we can’t do much to change our own genome, we have the power to
change our lifestyle. As I’ve shown you, I think
that’s one of biology’s most fascinating questions. How do you go from this
first cell, we have all been one once, and originate that complex
cute being? I could try to
be pretentious and say: “Look, this is very complicated Let’s try to make
a simpler question.” How do I go from
this cell to that individual, who, in spite of being much
simpler than that baby, has an admirable level
of complexity? I can already see shapes
and limbs, I already have
a fully formed nervous system, blood being pumped
by a little fetal heart. How did those cells
suddenly decide that some of them would
turn into brain cells and others would turn into
blood and heart muscle and organize themselves
in such a specific way? I can then try to divide
this problem in parts, studying those cells
in the lab, and asking how
one of those cells decided to turn
into a brain cell. We were able to study that by studying
embryonic stem cells, derived from those embryos, because in the lab those cells
will reproduce that transformation
of a cell into a brain cell, or a cell into a heart muscle. Now I can watch all that
happening at the lab. To understand which genes
were turned on and off so that metamorphosis
could happen. Again, by learning how
human biology works, we may be able to intervene
in that human biology. If a person’s brain cells
are dead, be it for lack of oxygen or
some degenerative disease, I may be able to apply
what I learned here and regenerate their brain
cells or their heart muscle. So, we also have this problem. Over the course of our lives, be it because of
the normal ageing process, be it because of a disease,
we have a series of organs and tissue that lose
their function little by little. And we would like to replace
those organs and tissues the same way we replace the defective parts of a car. We do that somewhat successfully
with organ transplants. But those organ transplants
only cater to a very small part
of the population. There are many
organs and tissues we don’t even know
how to transplant. So, the idea of stem cells is that we’re able to produce
those tissues at the lab. Up there, we see
some brain cells we made at the lab, human brain cells made from
embryonic human cells. Down here, if you click
on the little video… No, go back, put the cursor over
the video. There, click. In the microscope we can see some of the cells we
turned into heart muscle. In the lab,
they organize themselves and start to contract
in a rhythm. So, there’s this ability to produce those specific
tissues in the lab. So, the question is: “Are we going
to live forever? Are we going to be eternal?” This is a curve showing
how human longevity has been increasing in
the last two centuries. That is the question. Are biology
and all the technology leading us to eternal life? Within this seminar about utopia,
I’d like to think that, ok, maybe technology,
exact and biological sciences, from a technical point of view,
will bring us eternal life. But, if we want to live forever, we’ll need some place
to live forever in. And, for now, the only place we are able to
live in is this planet. We have the huge challenges in maintaining
this planet forever. The second challenge
is that we need a place and we need to get along
in this planet. Again, despite all
our technological and scientific development, we have a series of
human conflicts in this population that
wants to live forever. Maybe we can’t get along. We have the biological ability
to live forever, but maybe you
won’t live forever because of a terrorist attack, because of hunger,
because of violence. I think this is
very interesting. On August 6, 2012,
the USA was able to land a one-billion-dollar
remotely controlled contraption on Mars. So, human beings have
the technology, the knowledge, to make that object reach Mars, land and start to
take pictures, gather things. On that same day, we watched
the demonstrations against the civil way in Syria, which lasts to this day,
with awful images of drowned children
and refugees. We haven’t been able
to solve that yet. So, when we ask about
this utopia of eternal life, we must always remember that. If we want to live forever,
we must take care of where we’re going
to live forever and how we’re going to live
forever in that place. I’ve been thinking about that.
In the last two centuries, the great investment to reach
the utopia of eternal life was in exact
and biological sciences. That’s what we’ve been
investing on, solutions. It’s easier to put
the rover on Mars than to solve
the conflicts in Syria, in Gaza, hunger, so many things, corruption and all that. …it’s easier to put
a rover in Mars. My point, and I’m
convinced of it, is that our greatest
challenge today is no longer in exact
and biological sciences, but in human sciences. I think it’s essential to have
a very large investment to understand this human nature, that deals so easily
with technology, but has difficulty understanding
each other and realizing the values and the long-term
consequences of their actions. Funny. Today, in Folha de S.Paulo
newspaper there’s news about a statement in which
Governor Geraldo Alckmin supposedly criticized FAPESP,
because, according to him, FAPESP keeps investing in research that has no practical use. And he mentioned research
on sociology. Folha begins to argue, saying: “No, but look, the budget for health, biology,
genetics, whatever…” It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean
those are the important things, who said those are
the biggest challenges? Ok, we must solve the issue
of microcephaly, of zika… But to what extend
is social science also involved in those problems? So I think our greatest ignorance is still in the human sciences. Actually, biology, exact sciences are the things humans find
easier to unravel. That’s what I wanted
to leave you with. Well, let’s go. First, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. It’s a pleasure and an honor
to share this table with such nice people
I admire profoundly. So, it’s a great satisfaction. I’d also like to thank SESC
for the invitation to be here and to think
about a very complex challenge which is to talk about utopias
and about what is possible and maybe about
what it is not possible. As Adauto mentioned,
I will say a few words about my standpoint regarding
the idea of utopia and the role
of technologies. The first thing I’d like to
share with you is about something that’s already
happening and is going to change our lives even more deeply, which is the emergence of
two very important things that seemed like science fiction,
but are quite real today. These two things are: to have robots as part
of our daily lives and the other thing is the idea
of artificial intelligence. These two facts, especially when they are
combined with each other, will start a transformation
in the next decade, in the next two decades, which is a very relevant
transformation. When we talk about robots, we usually think about movies
like “Terminator”, in which the machines will
rise against us, humans and threaten our lives, enslave us, hurt us. That fear is intrinsically part of the traditional Anglo-Saxon
perspective on robots. When we take a look at,
for example, Isaac Asimov, who created
the laws of robotics, that say a robot can never
hurt a human being, there is this concern about
the robot being a servant but also a potential enemy. We have a very great fear
in relation to robots. In our Brazilian
cultural tradition, however, is quite peculiar to see how
different is perspective about it. On Brazilian literature there are several
science fiction texts, including some written
by classic Brazilian authors, that show us that our
perspective about robots is a lot different from
the Anglo-Saxons one. There is one text that I love,
from Dinah de Queiroz, writer and immortal,
called “O Carioca”, which is a tale, and
“O Carioca” pictured here is a robot that walks through
the streets of Rio de Janeiro, a kind of a robotic person
from Rio, full of melancholy, and, to complete the scene, it
makes company to a young widow on hot afternoons of Rio
de Janeiro, where the robot, Carioca, has this torrid
romance with the young widow. Then, in our perspective the robot is a living being
almost like us, Brazilians, with our flow, our sensuality. Then, I guess it points out the contrast between perspectives,
Brazilians and Anglo-Saxons. But, the key point here is that I guess none
of these perspectives neither the Anglo-Saxons,
of the robot as an enemy, nor the Brazilians, of the robot
as a bro, a buddy, a brother, a similar,
are correct. I don’t think that the world
populated with robots will take us to a
Future Terminator situation, in which we are going to
be threatened. But the achieve of the robotics
and the artificial intelligence will indeed generate a very
grave and important threat which is even more serious
and relevant for us to think about. This is the threat of social
inequality. When we get in contact with
robotics and artificial intelligence
narratives, this is a narrative that is
more and more naturalized. É this is incredible how deeply
our lives have changed in the last ten years, and
the narratives of technology are utopians and pedagogical,
normalizable. If someone told you that
your picture, that your family picture, that your kids picture, would be
spread all around the internet, accessible for anyone to see,
ten years ago, you would say: this
will never happen. I will never place
the picture of my child, of my baby, on the Internet. Today, the first thing
that parents do the moment their son
or daughter is born is to publish the picture
of their baby on the Facebook, and, then, it’s on the net probably forever. If someone asked you if
you would use or say to everybody else your
geographical localization, where were you in a specific
place and time, ten years ago, or even five years ago,
you would say: No, this is an absurd. If I tell people where
I am geographically it will expose me to threats. This is information
I won’t share. Who would have thought that
nowadays we do check-in at places where we are on the Instagram,
on the Facebook, saying: I was here, or, I am here. So, this is a narrative that changes the unthinkable
into the normal. This is the path
that we have seen of the technological evolution
for the last years. And it is what we are
going to face if nothing changes in relation to the robotics
an artificial intelligence. Here I bring up the issue
of social inequality, because I think that the challenge
we have today is to not allow these normalizable
narratives of saying: “This is normal, this is
inevitable, it is how it is”, obfuscate the difficulty
and the hard decisions that we will have
to make for now on in the context of
this technological evolution. There is a study by Michael
Osborne, Oxford’s professor, that says that in the next decade
47% of the employments in the US will be extinct
because of the automation. Many things that we used to think
that only us, human beings, would be able to do,
the machine will do and it will do better than us. For example, to drive, to be a host in a hotel or event, call center, which is an
extraordinary source of employment here in Brazil,
and in India, they will all be replaced
by robots. Not physical robots, but androids who will answer the
phone, but through a software. You will call and it will chat
with you with natural human voice. It will be impossible, then,
to distinguish whether you’re talking to a person or a robot, including speaking slang words. Today, many of the chat-bots,
based on artificial intelligence, speak slangs, speak wrongly to add some naturalness, instead of that robotic voice,
traditional, with which we’ve got used to
in science fiction, the robot will have a human voice,
emotive and just like ours, sometimes even more human
than ourselves. And it will be funny because you will call to
your bank call center, and a robot will answer
with a nice voice. eventually, you won’t be able
to get what you want, “I’ve called to close my account”,
and her: “No, not at all, you need a document.”
You will get nervous and will start to swear
the robot and say: “Call your supervisor.” And then it will come another
robot, supervisor, pretending: “No, I’m that robot’s supervisor.” But, truly, you will
be talking to the same thing, the same machine. All of this will be programmable. According to Michael Osbourne,
it is going to take USA to an extinction of 47%
of the employments. Obviously, this is going to
affect us here in Brazil. This is an unexpected increase
of capitalism. For those who are debating the
question about accelerationism and what is the impact of
the accelerationism for the future of capitalism, the good and the bad news is that
the accelerationism has come. It will make the capital
get into an area which was reserved to work, provoking a
very relevant transformation, in a way that, if everything
goes as the technology development tendencies point out today, people won’t have in what to work, a big part of this people,
for example, today, many unemployed people
go to Uber. But imagine when the Uber car
was driven robotically, with no human needed
to do this job? To where does this people go? Thus, we are going to have
a social inequality issue. These robots have an owner, those owners are not
too many people, just a smattering of people
owns this massive infrastructure of work coming further ahead.
É capital working, doing its own job. This is something that will
take us to a worry concerned to inequality’s issue. It’s peculiar to observe
again the contrast between Anglo-Saxons and Brazilians perspectives. When the [ex] president Dilma
went to USA and used for the first time
an automatic car, one of this that is self-driven, the Brazilian press
covered her reaction of great astonishment and saying:
“this is the future.” And also used an interjection
to say: “let’s go!” She meant: “This is cool,
let’s go, this is the way”, A similar reaction to Dinah
de Queiroz and our carioca, the widow who get excited
with the robot who visit her on the torrid afternoons
in Rio de Janeiro, a positive reaction
to the robot. But in USA and Europe there is
already a debate today, which I find fascinating,
in respect to what to do with this oncoming inequality. Conservative forces,
from economic point of view, as for example, Martin Wolf,
editor of Financial Times, that couldn’t be considered
a left-wing newspaper, instead, it’s a liberal newspaper,
from the economic perspective. Martin Wolf essay is that
the world needs to create a kind of a robotic family grant
for the economic inequality and lack of employment
coming further as a consequence of
capital concentration and the run out of work
generate by this question. É it is quite interesting
to have this conversation here with the presence of
senator Eduardo Suplicy because this proposal today
comes from the most liberal countries of European territory
and USA economists, of the east developed world, fighting tooth and nail,
including in the Financial Times, to create this robotic family
grant to reward the population in this concern about
economic inequality. This is one of the proposals
that have been made, not only by Martin Wolf, but also Deborah Russ,
who is another economist, Erik Brynjolfsson,
professor of Media Lab, I mean MIT, he is not from Media Lab,
but from MIT, in the US, who stands for a
living wage program to prevent people of being completely decimated,
in their perspectives of work and opportunities,
by the future competition, related to this fast increase of artificial intelligence
and robotics. The Anglo-Saxon perspective
that still face robots as a threat and
that we must take a political and economic decision
to deal with this threat. Another solution and proposal
to deal with this situation is the
question concerning education. It is a very tough task, because, as I said, the artificial
intelligence will be able to do
tasks that we thought only us would be able to do. Therefore, the education
will have to teach us tasks that any machine can do. Thus, the education
will have to prioritize those things that us, humans,
have of most human, which is the imagination,
the creativity, this thing about
thinking out of the box. Why? Because let’s say education today emphasizes
precisely the aspects that have been replaced
by artificial intelligence. The ENEN exam is solved today
with 98% of the integral grade by a contemporary robot. It means, If you apply today
the ENEN exam to a robot, it will be able to solve the entirely exam without
any help from the humans, and not only be approved,
as well as have a 9,8 grade. Including the composition.
Today, the artificial intelligence allows you to choose a
composition theme and say: “You will speak about
the question concerning social inequality in Brazil
in the contemporary context.” The artificial agent itself
will search in Google, get the information,
make an overview of essays, produce automatically
a grade 10 composition and be approved in ENEN
with a 9,8 grade. So, if we are teaching
ourselves some skills that the machine will be
able to do much better than us, with much more regularity
and consistence, that will going to take us
to obsolesce. The educational challenge
nowadays, as I said before, is to teach, transform the
school with an emphasis in, precisely what is not possible
and won’t be possible, at least in a predictable
future from now to then, for the machine to do,
which is to emphasize, as I said before,
the creativity, imagination, everything that today
are not emphasized by the school. The challenge here is to transform
the education in something that could make us able to
compete with the own technical artifacts that we create. With this I want to close my talk, specifically leaving this
reflection that the robotic and artificial intelligence
won’t produce a phenomena as Future Terminator, nor even as the Dinah de
Queiroz carioca robot, but will certainly produce
political and economic problems with which we have to be able
to deal quite seriously to avoid being numb
into a normality, that is just like this
that it has to be. There will be decisions to make
as hard as the decision of a living wage program in Brazil, and in other countries
where they were adopted, and we have the confirmation
of the success of these programs and now we have a decision to make
in which the developed countries are leading the debate before us of implementing minimum wage
programs as a way to compensate
this forward movement of artificial intelligence
and robotics and, as a consequence,
of the capital itself, which are going to produce all
the effects I mentioned before. As soon as we start to
deal with these issues with realism, reality,
with our feet on the ground, but understanding that they
are quite hard issues that need to be faced
since now, better to us, less chances to
be surprised by these changes
and to be too late. And so it is.
Thank you, everybody. Good morning. I would also like to thank
the invitation of SESC, Danilo Santos de Miranda,
Paul Heritage, Martin Douglas, The British consul. Just yesterday he told me
this seminar resulted a lot from the dialogue we had
in the meeting a few months ago, and that made me really glad. I want to tell Adauto Novaes,
our mediator, that both his
introductory words and what Lygia da Veiga Pereira
and Ronaldo Lemos conveyed to us were
a formidable lesson for me. I kept thinking about
this challenge, who knows, one day it may be
possible to live forever, through a better understanding
of genetics. I didn’t know
this development so well, for me, it was an
extraordinarily valuable lesson, and so was yours, dear Ronaldo, because it also has
a lot to do with the theme for which we were
invited today, to speak about
the 500 years of “Utopia”. On February 2nd, I was at a simply
wonderful ceremony at the Catholic University
of Louvain, where the 500 years of the
publication of “Utopia”. Thomas More had been to some
Belgian cities, I think Antwerp and others, and there he talked to some
friends and conceived “Utopia”. And as for the proposal
of ensuring an income for everyone, “Utopia”
was an essential step towards it. We can think the proposal of
an unconditional universal basic income,
as a right of citizenship, has its roots in
the history of human kind. We could begin with Confucius,
who, 520 years before Christ, and maybe before, but I’ll stay
with Confucius 520 before Christ, who in a book written by himself remarked that uncertainty
is even worse than poverty. Can someone leave the house
without using the door? Precisely the name of
my book “Citizenship Income” has the “Exit by the Door”, to convey that if
we want to build a fair and civilized society
and eradicate absolute poverty, as the fundamental goal
of our constitution and of President Dilma and
those who came before her, if we want to provide dignity
and real freedom to all, a sensible solution as leaving
the house through the door is to establish a basic
citizenship income. We can move forward
a bit in history, 300 years before Christ,
we have Aristotle, who notes, in his book “Politics”,
that is in politics and science of how to reach the common good,
a fair life to everyone. For that, we need
Political Justice, which must be preceded
by distributive justice, which makes the unequal
more equal. Marilena Chauí, our mutual friend, once told me told me that in 1875 after writing
“The Communist Manifesto”, in 1848, and after the volumes
of “Das Kapital”, in the “Critique
to the Gotha Program”, later, he would say
that in a more mature society, human beings
would behave in such a way as to inscribe
as a motto to their society, to each according
to their ability, to each according
to his need meaning. In English, they are 12 words: “From each according
to his capacity, to each according to his needs”. John Kenneth Galbraith,
in “The Age of Uncertainty”, said those 12 words had an even more
revolutionary effect than the volumes of “Das Kapital”. But the foundations are also
in the “Holy Bible”. Which is the most quoted
word in Hebrew, 513 times,
in the “Old Testament”? In the books of Deuteronomy, of Proverbs, of David, of Jacob, It’s “Tzedaka”, T-Z-E-D-A-K-A, which means precisely justice in society, social justice. So, that was the great
longing of the Jewish people, and also of the
Palestinian people. In the “New Testament” and also
in the “The Acts of the Apostles”, it is written that they
gathered all their belongings, started to live in community
in order to provide to each according
to their needs. Even in Jesus’ parables, like
the lord of the vineyard, he says the lord of the vineyard hired countless workers
throughout the journey. In the first, in the second,
until the last hour of the day. With each one, he made a deal
that both considered fair. At the end of the day, he began
to pay the last to arrive and when he paid the first one,
he asked: “What is this?
You’re paying me the same as the last one
to arrive here, and I worked more that he did?” “Look, don’t you see
I’m paying you exactly what both of us consider fair and the last one to arrive here
also needs to be paid enough to provide
for his family?” Once, I was giving a lecture about basic income guarantee
at the CNBB, the basic ecclesial communities, and I quoted dozens
of philosophers and economists throughout history,
including Thomas More, who gave such good basis
for this proposal, and Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida,
the late president of CNBB and defender of human rights,
told me: “Eduardo, you don’t have
to quote Karl Marx to defend your proposal, because it’s much better
defended by Saint Paul in the second Epistle
to the Corinthians”. I read it and I thought
it was so beautiful. And now I always quote
Karl Marx and Saint Paul, who said we must all
follow the example of Jesus, who, being so powerful,
decided to sympathize and live amongst the poor, according to what is written, in order to have
justice and equality, so that all people who had
abundant crops don’t have too much and all people who had a small
crop don’t have too little. If we look at the teachings
of Mohammed’s followers, of Islam, like the four caliphs who wrote the a book, Omar, the second of them,
says every person who has a large estate
must give part of it to those who have
little or nothing. And if we look at
what Buddhism says, Dalai Lama, in “Ethics
for the New Millennium”, says that if we
must accept the lavish consumption of the wealthy, we must first ensure the survival of all humankind. So we can get to the beginning
of the 16h century and stumble upon
Thomas More, of “Utopia”. I even asked Sérgio…
Are you there, Sérgio? If you were to screen “A Man of All Seasons”, In the next “Utopia” seminar
I even suggest you screen it, because it’s very beautiful
and it reminds us of that man who was
beatified in the 19th century. In 1935, he was canonized as
a saint in the Catholic Church at the time of Pius XI. In 2000, Pope John Paul II
declared that Thomas More is the great patron
of politicians and rulers, because of his
moral and ethical standing. You know that… I think someone already said it,
but allow me, I believe that yesterday
our friends from England already told this, but it’s
always good to remember that, at the time of Henry VIII, the
beginning of the 16th century, when England was
very powerful, it dominated India and
what is now the USA and a great part
of planet Earth, King Henry VIII was an
extraordinarily powerful man and he was a close friend of
Thomas More, a theologian that had been president
of the House of Commons, a man who lived there
at the court of Henry VIII, who once said: “Now I need to marry again, because my wife
didn’t give me any heirs”, and asked Thomas More
to accept that and accept all his children, including those from his
marriage to Anne Boleyn, also had to be accepted. So, Thomas More said:
“That’s not what I think. I won’t write
that justification. I don’t accept that
as a catholic.” Because of that,
if you visit London, when you get to the Parliament,
on the left, there’s a nave, like a big cathedral
without benches, in the middle,
there’s a circle: “Here, Thomas More was judged,
convicted and guillotined.” Before that, however, he wrote
many book, including “Utopia”. In the first book of “Utopia”,
there’s a dialogue between a cardinal
and another character. And Raphael Hythloday,
a Portuguese traveler… Thomas More himself says
that Raphael Hythloday had once travelled
with Amerigo Vespucci and came to Brazil, I think their ship wrecked
near Rio de Janeiro. Raphael Hythloday travelled
by all hereditary Captaincies, including Fernando de Noronha. According to the Brazilian
historian Eduardo Bueno, in one of his books
about the discoveries, the shipwrecks and the mariners,
Raphael Hythloday, after seeing Fernando de Noronha, being a friend of Thomas More,
or later became his friend, influenced him
with a lot of things he saw in Fernando de Noronha. Last February, when I was in Belgium, Antwerp and Louvain, Professor Philippe Van Parijs
informed me that Raphael Hythloday is actually
a character in the book, he wasn’t exactly real. That is the true story. I mean, Raphael Hythloday is
a character that didn’t exist, although it’s written here that he travelled
with Amerigo Vespucci. Because Eduardo Bueno,
our historian, wrote as if he were
a real character. I had this doubt. Because I went to Antwerp,
where there’s a town square where Thomas More
met with a friend and developed the whole story. He even walked by
that beautiful square, where there’s a wonderful
cathedrals, Raphael’s paintings, which are extremely beautiful. What is said that is
so meaningful? In this dialogue, the characters, the cardinal and Hythloday, are
arguing about the death penalty, which was established
at that time in England, and hadn’t contributed to
diminish violent crime, robberies, muggings,
murders. So, Raphael Hythloday says, I’ll read in English first: “For great and horrible punishments
be appointed for thieves, whereas much rather provision
should have been made, that there were some means
whereby they might get their living, so that no man should be driven to
this extreme necessity, first to steal, and then to die.” Which means that a lot more efficient than
inflicting awful punishments on those who have no alternative other than becoming a thief so that he then becomes a corpse, is to ensure
people’s survival. Based on that thought,
a friend of Thomas More called Juan Luis Vives,
from Spain, wrote in 1526, ten years later, “De Subventione Pauperum,
Siv e de Humanis Necessitatibus”, “On the Subvention of the Poor”, to the mayor of the
Flemish city of Bruges, where, for the first time,
he proposes an income guarantee
to the residents of Bruges. There, the foundations
are so clear. We could move
forward in history, a little over 200 ahead,
and we find another Thomas, Thomas Paine, considered to be
one of the greater ideologists of the American and French
Revolutions. Did you know Thomas Paine
was born in 1734, in Thetford, in England, and became
a friend of Benjamin Franklin, that man that invented
the lightning rod, before, there were only monocles,
he invented eyeglasses, a very a very influential men
that persuaded Thomas Paine to go live in America
before the independence. And there he went,
as a tax collector, and, as a sharp observer
of mores and values, he begin to write essays
that had a huge impact. President George Washington
wrote to a friend that no other essay
had so much influence on the minds of Americans to fight
for their independence when “Common Sense” was published and distributed
in a fantastic numbers for the time,
150 thousand copies, distributed on
the streets of Philadelphia and in the 13 American colonies
in January 1776, six months, the Americans declared their independence
on the 4th of July. It so happened
that Thomas Paine started to feel persecuted
because of his ideas, considered so progressive.
He said things like It’s against common
that an island could dominate a continent
and things like that. But, feeling so persecuted, he
decided to go back to England. What happened?
They began to burn his books. Imagine this man, responsible for the loss
of our main colony. So, he decided to move on
to France and was so engaged in the fight for liberty, equality
and fraternity, that, three years after the
French Revolution of 1789, we was elected
a French constituent. Under that title, in 1795
he wrote “Agrarian Justice ”, which is reproduced
in my book in Portuguese. in 20 pages, he explains
that poverty is something that has
to do with civilization and the institution
of private property. In America, where he had been
before the independence, he hadn’t seen such
destitution and poverty as in the European cities
and villages of the time. But he thought it was good.
Why? Because, in America the Indians had common property. But he considered it
good sense that a person who
cultivates the land, make improvements on the land, can enjoy their work
in their property. But his plan was that every
person who did so should give some of their income to a fund that
would belong to all and from that fund,
once accumulated, each resident of
that country would be paid, and that was a proposal
for all the countries, a basic capital
and a basic income as an inalienable right
of all people, on account that when private
property was established, a common right
was taken away from them, and that’s why all the people
should have an inalienable right to basic capital and basic income. For that, hundreds of philosophers and economists have been
working more and more. Today, the idea of guaranteeing
a basic citizenship income is being spread, being considered by the editor
of the “Financial Times” and by great economists,
but I can also say there was an experience in
a village of 1,000 residents in Namibia in the last years, in large part resulting
from the efforts of bishop Zephania Kameeta,
who’s the president of the Namibian Coalition
for a Basic Income. I even went to that village
and observed the progress obtained
by that experience. In 2014, a new president
of Namibia was elected. He had been one of those
that had given a voluntary contribution
for that experience to exist. Two months ago, he announces
that by 2020, 2025, Namibia will eradicate absolute poverty
and one of the basic tools for that will be basic income as an unconditional right
for all the population. And he named as the minister to fight hunger and
eradicate poverty precisely bishop Zephania
Kameeta, who was the pioneer. In India, in the state
of Madhya Pradesh, a two-year experience
was made in 20 rural villages, in eight of them,
6,000 residents received 350 rupees
a month for two years and in other 12 villages, 6,000
residents didn’t receive it. After two years, all
socioeconomic indicators were highly positive
where it happened. Between July 7 and 9, I was invited to give
a closing lecture the 16th International Congress
of the Basic Income Earth Network, in Seoul, South Korea, and, since I’m traveling there, I decided to stop for two days
in Peking and two Macau, because Macau, since 2011,
started to pay each one of their 675 thousand
residents an annual dividend, which was larger than that
provided in Alaska last year. Out of everyone here, has
anyone ever been to Alaska? Please, raise your hands.
Not yet? I recommend you do, because
I was there for seven days, in 1995, and I saw
the following up close. Have you been there?
Do you know what’s there? Do you want to visit it?
I’ll take you there. I better get close to take Lygia da Veiga Pereira. Please, come here a bit. Look. In the beginning of the 60’s,
the mayor of a small fishing village, Bristol Bay,
called Jay Hammond, he noticed that a great wealth
in fishing left the village, but most of the population
was still poor. So, he said: “Let’s create a 3% tax
on the fishing to establish a fund that
would belong to everyone”. “More tax, I’m against it”.
Huge resistance. It took five years to
persuade the community. Once established, it worked
so well that ten years later, he became the governor
of the state of Alaska, which, by the end of the 60’s,
at the Brough Bay, in Northern Alaska, found
a huge oil reserves. So, like Jay Hammond said
in 1976, to its then 300,000 residents,
now 740,000: “We must think about not only the current generation,
but also the next one. Because oil, like other natural resources
is not renewable. Let’s set aside at least
25% of royalties from the exploitation
of natural resources to establish a fund that
belongs to everyone.” And he wanted everyone
to discuss it and vote. 76,000 said yes, 38,000 said,
it won 2 to 1. So, those 25%, for some years, 50% started be invested in the Alaska Permanent Fund, in US Bonds,
fixed income bonds, shares of Alaskan companies
contributing to diversify It’s economy, that of the USA
and worldwide. You can check the website of
the Alaska Permanent Fund. Shares of Bradesco, Itaú,
Banco do Brasil, Petrobras, Vale do Rio Doce,
97 Brazilian companies, which means we collaborated for that to exist there,
real estate developments. The fund went from one billion
dollars in the early 80’s to 55 billion dollars now. So, let’s suppose, Lygia, that you had been living
in Alaska for a year or more. So, you’d say: “I’m
Lygia da Veiga Pereira, I live in this address
and I travelled for this reason. I went to Alaska to see what
Mister Suplicy had told me. I was so excited,
I wrote to president Dilma. She decided to implement it and
now it’s working here in Brazil. I work in an institution,
the University of São Paulo…” You don’t need to
declare your income, or your accumulated assets,
it’ll be the same for everyone, it takes care of their
children until they turn 18, for them, everyone
receives the same, a few additional questions, two people who know her testify whether
the statement is true… you can call me, I’ll testify. If you had done so,
from 1982 on, you would’ve received 300, 400,
500 and some in the first year. In 2008, when the price
of oil skyrocketed, it was the largest dividend
paid to this day, 3,269 dollars for each person. Let’s say, a family, father,
mother and three children, would get about 16,300 dollars
a year for the right of all to participate in the
common wealth of Alaska. What do you think
of the proposal? -Great.
-Great? It’s about time. Look. I’d like to say
that in Louvain, at a 2,000-seat theater, besides celebrating
the 500 years of Thomas More, on stage, there was
a gigantic painting in that ceremony, the
Catholic University of Louvain decided to give a
honoris causa degree to North American
Jimmy Wales, for being the founder
of Wikipedia, as a way to facilitate
knowledge for all humankind
through the internet. And also to Italian architect
Paola Vigano, for her urbanism
and architecture work to promote the right of all
residents to the city, to the cities
where she worked. I was also honored with
a honoris causa degree, for my enduring battle for the right to a basic income
in Brazil and the world. I figure we won’t
have time for a debate, It’s a pity, but I want to
thank Professor Lygia, Ronaldo and senator Suplicy. And say there’s a common thread
in all three interventions: utopia as a severe
critique of reality and the desire
for emancipation, that’s the fundamental
concept of utopia. We only imagine that
organized selfish man who never imagines
the need for utopia. I thank you three
and all of you. Soon, we’ll have
a follow up. Thank you very much. “INTERNACIONAL SEMINAR
UTOPIA 500 YEARS”

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