Andre Mesquita on Wed, 10 Oct 2018 23:14:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> elections in Brazil / media

Thank you Brian for all insights.

My friend Frederico Freitas wrote this article about the causes and the context of this tragedy:

I would like to highlight the following passage:

"Bolsonaro has spent his three-decade career in the Brazilian Congress building a public profile as an apologist for the military regime. His discourse reproduces a more pedestrian version of the mentality of the generals who ruled Brazil when Bolsonaro spent as an Army captain, following his graduation from the Agulhas Negras military academy in 1977. It reflects a shallow nationalism and an obsession with persecuting internal enemies—“communists,” “f—-ts,” “subversives,” and “Indians”— and appeals to using clandestine violence to purge the nation of them. It shows an extreme reverence for the Armed Forces, particularly the Army, as the bedrock of the republic, and displays bitter contempt for the electoral process based on the belief that the “rabble” does not know how to vote. In a now famous TV interview from 1999, Bolosonaro declared that the military dictatorship— its hundreds of extra-judicial killings and thousands of people tortured notwithstanding—had failed to “finish its job.” He continued, “You are not going to change anything through voting.” Change, whatever that meant, would only come through a “civil war,” with the Army resuming the dictatorship’s campaign against internal enemies and “killing at least 30,000” more, including most of the political class. In his rhetoric, LGBT and other minorities must learn their place and disappear from the public sphere. Political adversaries are crooked subversives who should be straightened with a “good” beating and electric shocks. And death squads are the permanent solution for common criminals.

There is no question Bolsonaro is a fascist. But he is a Brazilian kind of fascist, astute at drawing upon the aesthetics of violence of the Southern Cone military regimes for his own political gain. Bolsonaro spent most of his political career as a fringe politician. He was a joke to the mainstream media and nothing more than a curiosity nationwide. For a while, his appeal seemed limited to a niche electorate of retired military, police officers, and the then-minuscule far right in Rio de Janeiro. His rallying point, besides diatribes against democracy and human rights, was to improve the salary of personnel in the Armed Forces. This helped elected him to Congress seven times.

Things changed with the profound economic and political crisis that engulfed Brazil in the last four years. With mainstream parties, including Rousseff’s center-left Workers’ Party (PT), mired in corruption scandals, Bolsonaro managed to reinvent himself. He became a crusader against corruption, an outsider who would drain the swamp of Brasília (despite his three decades as a congressman), and the embodiment of antipetismo, the middle-class identity built on class hatred for the moderate welfare policies introduced by the PT. Swiftly, Bolsonaro transformed his obscure PSL into the second largest party in the lower house, only behind the PT. The politicians elected by the PSL comprise a colorful band of right-wing crackpots that include Bolsonaro’s sons, an heir of the Brazilian royal family, a porn actor, and police officers.By supporting Dilma Rousseff’s illegitimate impeachment in 2016, the mainstream center-right parties helped sustain the PSL’s growth. Though the left kept its numbers in Congress, the center disappeared, leaving a void to be filled by the far right. Of course, Bolsonaro is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a Latin American _expression_ of the recent rise of the far right in Europe and North America. Still, the question begs: how could 49 million Brazilians vote for an apologist of the darkest period in the recent history of the country?"

Em ter, 9 de out de 2018 às 17:49, Brian Holmes <> escreveu:

On Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 2:21 PM Andre Mesquita <> wrote:
This is terrible, friends, unfortunately

How Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro used Trump tactics to move to 2nd round of presidential race

It's devastating. The upsurge of the extreme right is global in scope.

Andre, what are the causes are in your view? Yes, Bolsonaro used Trump's rhetorical tactics - but those have ever been available. In the totally incomplete picture I have, two additional factors stand out:

First, the legal and legislative coup by Brazilian capital (which fractions beyond agriculture, I don't know) that removed Dilma from office and then imprisoned Lula to prevent him from from running again.
Second, the perception by large sectors of the middle class of extreme personal insecurity, motivating their vote for an otherwise despicable law-and-order candidate.

When capital allies with the military and security forces, it's fascism in the classic sense of the word. We are headed there in the US too. It's not something I say lightly.

I have never been clear on how much corruption can really be ascribed to the Workers' Party. Nor is the security issue really possible to grasp from a distance. You know, even from up close it is hard to gauge. In Chicago I am anti-cop because of real, proven institutional racism. But meanwhile three people have been killed just a block from me in the past three years and about fifteen shots were fired a couple weeks ago into a house three doors down the street. Why do I think this level of violence is OK? Has there been any change in the levels of street violence in Brazil?

Chicago where I live is continually used by Trump as a scarecrow for security panic. If the cop who killed a black teenager named Laquan McDonald had not been rightfully convicted for murder just days ago we most likely would have had a giant riot in this city, which could have set the national stage for previously unthinkable things. Elements on the right are waiting for exactly such an event. We are walking a tightrope in this country, like everywhere.

The left should never abandon its minority focused social-justice agenda, but it needs to couple that with universal welfare and security policies as well as climate-change mitigation strategies that can achieve corporate buy-in. Of course those things are contradictory, but the job of politics is resolving contradictions. Those who think that fascism is finally a chance to fight the real system, unmasked, have not taken a very good look at what happened in the 1930s and 40s. Militarized regimes can be instituted under whatever ideology. That's exactly what killed the progressive/socialist movement in the US, from Roosevelt's third term onward.

We need a workable vision. It has to be both idealistic and calculable, buildable, institutional, productive and enforceable. These things don't just spring full-blown from charismatic leaders, nor are they spontaneously generated at the grassroots. Progressivism was an urban, middle-class movement that grew out of the ruins of late-nineteenth century agrarian populism. Socialism of the kind that inspired the welfare state grew out of a mix of communist idealism and unionist pragmatism. All that stuff had to be created. Even at its most idealistic, it was always coupled with real universalist plans developed to solve complex problems. We are so far from that right now, it's tragic.

I am devastated by this news from Brazil. Courage and fortitude to all.

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