The selective outrage

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By CARLOS ÁGUEDO PAIVA*

The functionality of Russophobia for the maintenance of world (dis)order)

Are we already in the Matrix?

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has put the world left in a very uncomfortable situation. History seems to have gone through a rapid acceleration and the growing political-ideological convergence of the mainstream media (object of frequent and sharp denunciations by Glenn Greenwald) was suddenly transformed into an absolute consensus. It has been a long time since such unanimity has been observed in world public opinion.

Radical criticism of Russian action overflowed from the mainstream media and unified organizations, political agents and personalities that traditionally operated in very different political-ideological and cultural fields. From US President Joe Biden to the PSTU in Brazil; from the President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen to the International Trade Union Confederation; from the leaders of Ukraine's largest neo-Nazi militia (the Azov Battalion) to activist Greta Thunberg; from millionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk to the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International; from the vice-president of Brazil, General Mourão to the PSOL-RS state deputy Luciana Genro, strong manifestations emerged, from all sides, against the Russian political-military action in Ukraine.

Even the very rare dissonant voices – such as the radical PCO, in Brazil, and the governments of Cuba and Venezuela (characterized as “banana dictatorships” by the mainstream media) – entered the scene to fulfill the role of exceptions that confirm the rule. Never before in human history has there been such a consensus on who is the bad guy (Putin, the Russian Tsar) and who is the helpless girl (Zelensky's little Ukraine, in search of its enchanted West).

One could argue that this is the normal and predictable reaction of world public opinion to the invasion of one country by another. Big mistake! During the invasions of Afghanistan, in 2001, Iraq, in 2003, Libya, in 2011, and Syria, in 2014, the “common consensus” was not only smaller, but also in the opposite direction: for the majority, at the time, the good guy was the invader, a tireless fighter against terrorism and a fearless defender of the Arab Muslim people subjected to terrible tyrannies.

The unvarnished truth is that the Western media (and the common sense associated with it) do not treat all wars and invasions as equivalent: the wars promoted by the “West” are just and its invasions are necessary. Only wars and invasions sponsored by the “axis of evil” are unjust. And Russia is the evil star of it. What did the big Bear do to rise to such a high rank?

The answer to this question is far from trivial. But there are countless texts and videos on the net that, if they do not exhaust the theme, touch on the answer. Among this material, there are three interventions by national analysts that seem particularly enlightening to us: the interview of Dilma Rousseff at 247, the text of Fabio Venturini on InterTelas and the interview of Celsus Amorim at Opera Mundi. Each of the authors contributes with peculiar and distinct elements to the understanding of the crisis in Eastern Europe and Russian action. The authors and/or interviewees are far from having the same assessment of the pertinence and/or effectiveness of Putin's politico-military movement. Of the three, Amorim (alongside Lula) is the most critical of Russian moves.

But there are also important elements of convergence among analysts. A convergence that is not based on the well-known political-ideological affinity of those cited, but on the theoretical bases on which they structure their analyses. Bases that are not even “leftist”: countless conservative political analysts, such as Henry Kissinger (in texts by 2014 a 2022) and centrists, such as the American political scientist John Mearsheimer and French-Russian journalist and political analyst Vladimir Posner share this general reading.

Well, if that's the case, we can't claim (as we did above) that the critical consensus on Putin and Russia amounts to unanimity. Undoubtedly: the anti-Russian unanimity has many holes. But the (new) exceptions make up a particular social group, of agents who look at reality through attentive research and sophisticated analytical instruments. The group that is informed by WhatsApp and by the headlines of the mainstream media (including almost all journalists) has no doubt about who is right and who is wrong.

What has been fueling a set of scenes in the radio, television and social media media bordering on the ridiculous: most of the time that reporters receive specialists in International Relations live, the abyss that separates the interpretations of the interviewees from the perspective comes to light. Manichaean and Russophobic of the interviewers. Journalists seem to want to extract from guests confirmation of what they already “know”: that Putin's Russia is history's only culprit and the invasion of Ukraine is an irrational imperialist aggression against a peaceful Western democracy.

As a general rule, however, they hear clarifications about NATO's advance towards Eastern Europe since 1999; about Western countries' non-compliance with the agreements signed with Russia at the end of the Warsaw Pact; about Russia's strong historical, ethnic, religious and cultural ties with Ukraine; about Russian linguistic and ethnic hegemony in the east of this country; about the American “support” (better to say: intervention) to the 2014 Orange Coup Revolution; about the eight years of civil war in Ukraine; on Ukraine's and the West's non-compliance with the Minsk Accords; on the censorship of pro-Russian parties and media in the former Soviet Republic; and about the “double weights and two measures” of the USA, which supports, in Ukraine, the installation of military bases similar to those that the North Americans do not allow in Cuba.

Sometimes, the embarrassment of the representatives of the “free media” is so much that there is no way to contain the laughter. An embarrassment that only becomes greater when international correspondents directly confront some of the most qualified Russian political leaders. When this occurs, the videos produced in the confrontation go viral on the network. This is the case of the video in which Putin responds to the journalist's demands Diana Magnay, from Sky News, about what guarantees Russia could give that it would comply with new agreements with the West.

Equally viral was the firm response from Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked by Dominic Waghorn, from the same Sky News, about the humanitarian crisis opened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine: “You are mistaken. The humanitarian crisis did not start a few days ago. Peaceful citizens have been dying in eastern Ukraine for over eight years. You never accounted for them. Like President Zelensky, you do not consider them human beings.” It's worth watching the videos. Only to see the astonished, stunned, troubled look on Magnay's and Waghorn's.

Their reaction is understandable. Any seasoned journalist knows that the death of several Yemeni Muslim children is worth much less (it sells less paper, makes less headlines, generates less commotion) than the death of a single blonde Christian European child. But perhaps Magnay and Waghorn had not yet become aware of how different the value of Russian, Ukrainian and “Western” Christian and blonde lives is. Russians are worth less. Why? This is part of the story that is still poorly told. Our aim is to contribute to it.

 

A little history

Russians enter the stage of European history late. All Mediterranean peoples inherited something from the Egyptian, Phoenician-Carthaginian and Greco-Roman cultures and civilizations. With the unification of Mare Nostrum by Rome, all surrounding regions and cultures were affected early by the three great monotheistic religions of the Near East. In the immediate sequence of the Mediterraneans, came the Germans and, soon after, the Scandinavians. The Slavic and Baltic peoples were the last European peoples to enter Christianity and to develop (or rather, to receive) a script. But even the Slavs did not simultaneously enter this new world. The Slavs are divided into three major groups: the North-West Slavs (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the westernmost portion of present-day Ukraine), the South Slavs (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia) and the Slavs from the east, the “Rus” (eastern Ukraine, Russia and Belarus).

The latter were also those who later joined Christianity and written culture. It is worth remembering that the Anglo-Saxon name for slave – slave – is a corruption of Slavic. Its origin lies in the capture of Rus Slavs by Scandinavians, who were sold to the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East. It is only from the year 1000 AD that the Rus definitely enter the Christian world and develop complex and strongly hierarchical political systems.

More than its late character, however, what is surprising about the History of the Rus is the extraordinary speed of its economic, political and cultural development. In 900 years of history, Russian cultural and theoretical production will rival French, German, Italian, British and American productions in all areas: from poetry to political science, from music to psychology, from architecture to chemistry, from theater to economics, from fine arts to engineering. At the end of the century, Russia was therefore a country of “European standards”.

In 1917, the socialist experiment opened by the Revolution involved a break with the past that is only comparable with the English, American and French bourgeois revolutions of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. And socialism led to the creation of a productive machine that was as unique and innovative as it was efficient and effective. This system had numerous mishaps, we all know, and ended up sinking. But for decades, Russia technically and productively rivaled the US and the great European powers. More: the historical criticism of this experience was carried out from within, in an essentially peaceful way, and was resolved in the construction of a solid political system, which did not suffer any break in continuity. Today, according to the IMF, in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (as opposed to the nominal exchange rate) the Russian economy is the sixth largest economy in the world, ahead of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, South Korea and Canada. The question is again: what is the problem with Russia? What is the basis of Russophobia?

From our point of view, the first (but insufficient) foundation of Russophobia is the success of this country. We are aware that this argument goes against common sense. For most of intelligentsia West of the most diverse political-ideological shades, Russia is a conservative country, radically averse to any modernization. Its political and economic structures would be authoritarian, corrupt, patrimonialist and archaic. Religious traditionalism and intolerance of ethnic, cultural and sexual orientation diversity would be the socio-ethnological side – of political and economic archaism. Russia would not be up to the XNUMXst century.

The fragility of this argument is such that it is not worth using arguments to contradict it. It is only worth asking: assuming that these cultural, political and economic traits are real and are the basis of Russophobia, how does Ukraine differ from Russia? where to corruption is higher? There is more political and economic stability in Russia or Ucrania? There is more freedom of expression in Russia or Ukraine? Where there is more tolerance for diversity ethnic and religious? by chance the homophobia in Russia is higher than in Ukraine? where the controls institutional legal are more solid? Where there is more promiscuity between armed civilian groups, the police and the Army?

And what authority does the “West” have to judge the Russian civilization pattern so negatively? Hungary – a member state of the EU – has just approved the criminalization of any and all public demonstrations of homoaffectivity. If it was Russia, it would be a horror. In Hungary it is just a topic to be discussed democratically. And that? Poland refuses to adopt the policy of welcoming immigrants defined by the EU. Especially because this policy penalizes the states on the periphery of the system, the first in which immigrants enter. But Poland's insubordination (and the “trickery” of Western European countries) is legitimate, modern and citizen. And that? While Putin was promoting research that led to the Sputnik vaccine, the leader, at the time, of the largest country in the “free world”, Donald Trump, was campaigning against vaccination. At the end of his government, he promoted the invasion of the capitol.

His colleague, Boris Johnson, the Brexit man, who advocated immunization by contagion in the United Kingdom (following the example of cultured and modern Sweden) has been accusing Putin of genocide in Chechnya and Ukraine. So far, he has presented the same evidence as GWBush about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: none at all. How can being British, blond and wearing a “cool” (dis)hairstyle be snotty, rude and irresponsible? It just couldn't if it was Russian. And that? In France, the ultra-right advances rapidly: Marine Le Pen seems reasonable next to Eric Zemmour, whose popularity continues to grow. But even so, the free and civilized world is shocked by conservatism, patrimonialism, homophobia and Russian archaism. … I'm sorry, but it doesn't stick.

The problem with Russia is definitely not its conservatism. Since its emergence and entry into Western Christian civilization, Russia has been one of the most daring, revolutionary and fast-paced countries in the world. This is indeed a serious problem. Especially since it manages to mix this propensity for transformation with the preservation of its sovereignty. Russia is strongly nationalist. As, in the modern world, only the US, China, Japan and Iran manage to be. Until the 1980s, Japan was a challenger to US economic hegemony. Since it lost its dynamic capacity, its nationalism ceased to be a problem. But when it comes to China, Russia and Iran, it's a different story. The three are challengers of the “good old status quo ante”. And, for this very reason, they are the leaders of the “axis of evil”.

What looks like cultural idiosyncrasy in the Saudi tyranny, is sociopathy in the Iranian regime. What seem like peculiar traits of Japanese economic and industrial policy, is illegitimate interventionism in China. What in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary are traits of the secular national political culture turns, by magic, into czarist-Stalinist perversity in Russia.

Now, it is understandable that the decaying imperial center uses 200 pesos and 400 measures in valuing puppet governments and sovereign countries. It is more difficult to understand how and why the countries of Europe – the ones that suffered the most from the disastrous consequences of the recent Uncle Sam wars on terror – continue to participate in a chess game in which they operate as pawns or, at most, horses. And it is even more difficult to understand how the left – which was once critical – let itself be entangled in the spider's web.

 

Matrix and Brazilianness

Part of the answer is economic. Europe – whether as the EU or as specific national states – is permeated by conflicts and contradictions inherent in any class society. The Slovakian bourgeoisie is first and foremost a bourgeoisie. Only secondarily is she Slovak. With monetary unification and the limitations imposed by the EU on national fiscal and industrial policies, the competitive exposure of the Slovak bourgeoisie was exponentiated. The Slovakian bourgeoisie can no longer appeal to the “national” State to defend itself against the competition imposed by the (more powerful) German, Dutch, Belgian or Czech bourgeoisies.

In addition, the intertwined processes of denial of work, income concentration, productive oligopolization and the financialization of wealth further increased the differences in the competitive capacity of the different blocks of capital. Finally, on the political-ideological level, the construction of a “Europe without Borders”, emasculated the National States and put in check the very idea of ​​nation and national unity, catalyzing and deepening the entropic and anomic tendencies of the mercantile order. capitalist. After all, the Unified Europe – modern, civilized and solidary on the surface – has been “Brazilizing” and has already entered the era of “save yourself who can, if you can, and how you can”.

After all, you have to take advantage of everything, right? The “Brazilianization” is particularly radical in the less competitive strata of the peripheral bourgeoisies. Often the best (or only) option for survival is to become a minor partner in foreign capital. After all, the very notion of external and internal was being diluted. So much so that it no longer matters whether the majority shareholder is German, Korean, Indian or American. It only matters how much he can pay. And, in this regard, the owners of the world's money usually present a stronger argument.

Evidently, such transformations do not take place without friction. There is resistance from all legal, institutional, political, moral and ideological orders. What to do with notions of national identity and culture? Where to put patriotism? What to do with the Lutheran and Calvinist precepts of honesty, vocation, frugality, work and love of neighbor?… The whirlwind is not easy. But, fortunately, the new “(Mis)Information Technologies” come to the aid of broken hearts and guilty minds.

In their emergence, the internet and social networks were seen as the foundations of a new era, marked by the democratization of information and the fullest freedom of expression and access to culture. Big mistake. The truth is much closer to the opposite: the internet and social networks fueled a process of concentration and centralization of capital that was unimaginable until the last quarter of the XNUMXth century. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are the symbols of the new era. In no past era, a few private individuals, without any kind of politically agreed social investiture, held so much power over the planet. At the same time, these veritable empires have developed (and continue to develop) systems for monitoring the activities of private users within the world wide web, allowing them to offer each individual, duly packaged, the services that suit them. Who does it suit?

In theory, to the user, as it is his search activity that is tracked and that informs what should be offered. But, in fact, it does not offer exactly what the user would like to access. But that similar “medium B” that is able to arouse the interest of internet users and whose production company can afford the “little box” of the networks. In the end, the internet and social networks have served to deepen the concentration of capital and income at all levels, while addicting end users to games, pornography and the gossip and plots of superficial information, in which the headlines (preferably shocking) are worth more than the core content, and content is only readable if it's short and simple. Preferably very small and very simple. There is no time to read, to make face-to-face visits, to talk, to question, to philosophize. Military, then, there is no talk. By the way, what exactly is military? Become a militiaman?

This is the Brazilian world. Brazilians are the most conversational and friendly people on the planet. And it is also one of the least reads and studies. And one of the ones that most confuses fact, narrative, desire and delirium. If I say that Lula is a thief and that I am an honest meritorious, then it is a fact. It doesn't matter if I'm a land grabber and a drug dealer and Lula is a world leader and was acquitted. The reality is what I want it to be. The world of networks is the “Mundo Brasil”. The networks frayed and liquefied the notions of fidelity, continuity, depth, seriousness, complexity, hard work, study, knowledge, territory, nation and ethics. They depress superego and guilt and thus free Europeans from Lutheran, Calvinist, and national identity constraints. Bingo! One last detail and we will have all the ends of the plot in our hands.

We said above that Russia's historical success was a necessary but insufficient condition for Russophobia. It is clear. If Russia were not a successful “case”, it would not be an object of hatred. As Barba used to say, you don't hit a dead dog. Russia is a very lively and quite large dog. Big enough to be the necessary justification for sustaining NATO. As long as Russia is dangerous. Very dangerous! If not, we have to turn it into this. For on this depends the enormous and very rich American industrial-military complex. A complex that, today, is the condition of US hegemony and of which all the large blocks of monopoly capital that operate on the web (under US command) are part of. When in doubt, read Mazzucato.

Well, Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, among so many other world IT giants are (or were) geniuses in their areas. And, even if they do not have expertise in Sociology, Political Science and Economics, it would be very naive to pretend that they make their strategic decisions influenced by what “goes on zap” or by the headlines (often bought by themselves) of the great world media. They know very well the tortuous paths that lead to their own success. And these paths involve supporting those who support them, that is to say, the political group that guarantees the appreciation of their businesses. The gang that defends the American military-industrial complex. The group that depends on the existence of a “big enemy”, a big bad guy: Putin and Russia are the ideal enemies for sustaining the “Justice League”. By the way, Putin even resembles Lex Luthor. Perfect. All that remains is to make the whole world believe in it.

This is where networks (re)enter. Please don't think that Google has decided to block the world from accessing Russia Today and Sputnik via YouTube and that Elon Musk and ceded the use of Starlink to Ukraine because these poor rich kids sympathized with the little Ukrainian children. Nor because they were sensitized by the protest of Madonna in the networks or by the chronicle of Fernanda Torres accusing Putin of making Monark's head. Don't even think that the reason you only find posts criticizing Putin on Facebook is because everyone is against him. It's just that Mark also defends the free world (of his own ideas). And it won't stop Lex Luthor and the trained Russominions who support him.

Don't be naive, little buddy. What is in operation are the algorithms$ and and the interÉ$$e$ (as the late Brizola liked to say). It's buSine$$, just bu$ine$$.

 

There is still hope?

In this increasingly “Matrix” world, what is surprising is that there are still leaders with the ability and courage to say something that is at variance with the vulgar “common consensus”. French President Emmanuel Macron is one of them. He declared – to the astonishment of many! – who would hold talks with Putin as “France is not at war with Russia”. Evidently, such a statement, so dissonant from the noisy boasting of Biden and Johnson, the cowardly silence of Scholz and the endless litany of retaliations against Russia that von Der Leyen unravels with his cold and somewhat malevolent elegance, was accompanied by a barrage of criticism of Putin. After all, there will be elections in France this year. And there are strict limits for the tolerance of the people of the world Matrix with any phrase that “does not work on feici or zap”.

The basic problem is that one swallow does not make a summer. And in Europe, apparently, Macron is still alone. And the game being played is very tough. Since the fall of the wall, the West (read: NATO, led by the US) has been advancing on Eastern Europe and planting missiles around Russia. In 2014, a legitimately elected president was overthrown and the new rulers (backed by the US as usual) began a struggle against the ethnic Russian population. In 2015 the Minsk Accords were signed which were never implemented. The Zelensky government deepened the crackdown on Russophile media and requested Ukraine's membership in NATO.

But what is NATO for? To control the only enemy left: Russia, HQ of “Putin-Luthor”. And, for this very reason, Putin and Russia are 100% right in not accepting more missiles aimed at themselves. The question is: how can we collaborate so that this “no” is finally heard, understood and accepted by the US and the EU? Everyone who is effectively (and not rhetorically) against the war has to be in favor of creating an exclusion zone. And this exclusion area must be the original core of Slavic Rus: Ukraine. You don't have to be leftist or progressive to understand this. Even Kissinger understands, Cacilda!

As Fábio Venturini rightly said at InterTelas, it is not about “supporting the war”. Only crazy and irresponsible people can be in favor of a war. Being against war is as obvious, as elemental, as being “for good and against evil”. The real question is how to contribute to the end of the war?

The US will push the rope against any agreement to the limit. After all, as in the Libyan and Syrian conflicts, Europe will pay the price. For the US, the Ukraine war can last as long as it will. The military-industrial complex thanks you.

It is Europe that needs to assume its responsibilities and coordinate the negotiation process. But this will only happen if the left (not so candid, somewhat opportunistic, with an eye on votes and facebook “likes”) leaves the networks, unplugs from the Matrix and stops chanting the simple mantra “Bad Russia” X “Ukraine Bride of West, Goodie”.

At the same time, it is necessary that the other leaders of the world – and not just Europe – contribute with objective proposals and real gestures of solidarity towards the suffering peoples of Ukraine, Donbas and Russia (which has endured, for years, the retaliation imposed by the Free and Democratic West) to resolve this impasse. Among the leaders of the “G-13” (that is to say: G-20 – 7) the only one who (as far as I can see) is acting with the responsibility and greatness that should be his due is Xi Jiping, who speaks through his Minister of Foreign Relations, Wang Yi. But still more is needed.

From the outset, it seems to me that some watchwords should be agreed upon as quickly as possible. Among which: (1) Ukraine will not join NATO; (2) the independence of the republics of Eastern Ukraine, with a Russian majority, is guaranteed and recognized; (3) all Russian troops will be withdrawn from Ukraine and the new republics; (4) cease all European sanctions on Russia (those of the USA will not cease. And there is no point in asking for the impossible.)

Proposals apparently more radical than those outlined above are circulating on the internet: Putin out of Ukraine / NATO out of Europe. I'm sorry, but that's about as realistic and doable as asking: "Putin: back home with his tail between his legs / Europe: free from all evil and hatred in the world". Or: “Russia: go back to square one / Europe: promise (once again) what you won't deliver”.

This is definitely not the way to go. The worst possible result of this war would be to go back to a worsened version (due to the destruction already imposed) of the situation before it. It's time to change the correlation of forces in the world. And for that, the world left has to take a stand firmly and resolutely. Europe's leaders (Johnsons out: where you least expect it is where nothing really comes out!) have to assume their responsibilities. And the leaders of the other G-13 countries must get involved and resolutely support the end of this conflict based on an agreement that contemplates all interests. This is the only way we can transform the “lemon war” into a “lemonade peace” that will definitely change the face of the world.

Is this possible? Yes very possible. This crisis may prompt Europe to shake the decrepit American eagle off its shoulders. And this is precisely the scenario that the US fears the most: that the world crisis will be resolved and overcome despite its most absolute inaction. The Empire is decadent, we know it well. And, in this decadence, it lost all ability to act as a constructive hegemon, as it did in the past, with Roosevelt and Truman leading the construction of the UN System and the Marshall Plan. Today, the old eagle is stuck in zero-sum games: his winnings are made at the expense of other players. It's past time for the rest of the world to come of age and arrange the pieces on the board and the rules of the game according to their interests.

No doubt this move would be traumatic for the old eagle's pride. And she will bite. But, contradictorily, it could have very positive consequences for the American people. As Trump said (yes, even Trump says something reasonable every now and then), America must look more inward to its internal problems. If and when this happens, the world will cease to be unipolar and a new pattern of dialogue will be established.

The left should be fighting for this. Unfortunately, it isn't. She is trapped in the Matrix and Orwell's opportunistic sheep game, bleating with delight at the sight of pigs walking on two legs. Enough of servility. It is necessary to reflect and inflect the discourse and practices. We still have time for this. But not much.

*Carlos Águedo Paiva is a doctor in economics and professor of the master's degree in development at Faccat.

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