The beginning of the end of patriarchy

In a providential first, two of the candidates in Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections are women: Marina Silva and Dilma Rousseff. The latter is favoured in the polls to win in the vote, set for Oct 3. Brazil has never had a female president.

At the start of the millennium in 2001, the United Nations Population Fund wrote in its annual report, “The human race is plundering the Earth in an unsustainable manner. Giving women greater decision-making power on the future can save the planet from destruction.”

This statement reflects the recognition that Earth and humanity have entered a zone of grave danger. The increase of poverty constitutes injustice on a planetary scale; global warming of the earth’s ecological system is irreversible; and human beings consume 30 per cent more than what the planet can regenerate, a clearly unsustainable situation.

Given the above, if we want to continue living on this small, old planet, we will have to take some major decisions.

All of these questions are tied to life. Who better than women to care for life and create the conditions for perpetuating it?

God complex

Men, in contrast, are proving themselves confused and powerless, and according to eminent German psychoanalyst Horst-Eberhard Richter, are suffering from a ‘God complex’. They take on divine tasks: dominating nature, organising all forms of life, conquering space, and remaking humanity -staggering undertakings. Excessive arrogance, which the Greeks defined as hubris and punished with death, has overthrown them.

A new equilibrium must now be established by women. World feminism has provided a fundamental critique of the patriarchal system that has dominated since the neolithic age 7,000 years ago.

The patriarchy gave rise to institutions that still today are shaping human societies according to the instrumental-analytic reason that separates nature from the human being, leads man to dominate natural processes in a devastating manner, creates state bureaucracies organised around male interests, devised a mode of education that reproduces the patriarchal structure, created armies, and provoked wars. It affected religions, whose gods and figures are almost all masculine.

The ‘manifest destiny’ of the patriarchy is the domination of the world with the intent of becoming “the masters and owners of nature” (Descartes).

International meetings demonstrate that governments are more interested in business than in saving life and protecting the planet. Thus the urgent burning need for the intervention of women to save the world.

While different in many ways, both female candidates in Brazilian presidential elections have indisputable ethical gravity and a vision of politics as service to the common good and not to systems of conquest and the use of power to benefit elitist interests and vanity that still dominate Brazilian democracy.

Dilma Rousseff, an economist of Bulgarian origin, was chief of staff in the current administration, leading political actions and overseeing the largest national programme: the Project to Accelerate Growth, with more than $500 billion of investment in infrastructure and industry. Rousseff is an excellent executive with moderate ecological credentials. She represents the Workers Party of President Lula, and polls say she has the support of 50 per cent of voters and will likely win the presidency in the first round of voting.

Marina Silva has the same humble origins as Lula, an ex- metalworker. She was born to a poor family in the heart of the Amazonian jungle, worked as a rubber tapper, and taught herself to read at 16. She helped form church communities in the state of Acre to spread a message of liberation.

After being elected senator, she served as environmental minister for five years under Lula and was a charismatic, tireless, and eminently competent advocate for the environment. Her Green Party has little popular support so her message has not received the play that it deserves. However, she has succeeded in placing the issue of the environment on the agenda of all parties and in the national conscience.

The fact that there are two women candidates running for the presidency of Brazil is both profound and providential. They embody a call from Mother Earth for preservation and are a response to the urgency of this moment in history. What is most important is not saving the economic-financial system but rather saving human life and protecting the well-being of the planet. The economy should serve this higher goal, not the other way around.

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