The pedagogy of the bad

Image: Collective Manifest
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By RODRIGO GHIRINGHELLI DE AZEVEDO*

The construction of the 8th of January was a process that took place not over days or weeks, but over years.

If the inauguration for the third term of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva symbolically represented the beginning of a process of national reconstruction, guided by diversity and the attempt to face the structural inequalities that characterize the country, the following Sunday, on January 8, it was the staging of chaos, disorder and the destruction of institutions, culture and democracy. Now it is necessary to ask: who did this, with what purpose, in the name of what objective, so that the political responsibilities and criminal responsibilities of what happened can be ascertained.

The construction of the 8th of January was a process that took place not over days or weeks, but over years. Figures like Olavo de Carvalho, obscure journalists and members of the highest castes of the State bureaucracy, such as judges, prosecutors and officers of the Armed Forces, played a fundamental role in the construction of the illiberal narrative,[I] winning hearts and minds for the crusade against institutions that would be corroded by the evils of modernity and vulnerable to the communist threat.

Emerged during the Lula and Dilma Rousseff governments, this ideological trend is connected, on the one hand, with a worldwide wave of anti-modern reactionaryism, which brings to power autocrats interested in undermining the foundations of liberal democracy, ending the balance between powers, freedom of the press and alternation in power, with the militant support of neoliberal economists. On the other hand, with traditional aspects of Brazilian political thought, such as fascist integralism and militarist positivism present in the Armed Forces since forever.

Due to historical injunctions and a keen sense of opportunity, Jair Bolsonaro became the representative of this movement in Brazil, giving it even darker characteristics, such as the association with urban militias, corrupt and violent police and rural producers and miners interested in deforestation and robbery. indigenous areas and environmental preservation. What best represents the heterogeneity of these supports is the defense of the civilian population's armament, a path to the squandering of the idea of ​​community and the affirmation of an idea of ​​freedom elevated to an absolute and non-negotiable principle.

The transformation of this set of issues into ideas and movement took place with the use of social media, with online courses, audiovisual content producers, communicators monetized by the combination of algorithms with political radicalization, all potentiated with the constitution of the famous “hate office” .

Add to all this the role of the immense network of neo-Pentecostal temples in which extreme right-wing political militancy became a priority, demonizing the left and consolidating the “customs agenda”, and we already have the conformation of a field capable of influencing millions of voters, and even to mobilize a few thousand to remain active, even after the electoral defeat, camped in front of friendly barracks and ready for a crusade against the Electoral Court, the STF, the new President, the National Congress and the free press , all “infected” by the viruses of corruption and communism.

Jair Bolsonaro has always bet on the narrative of electoral fraud, which would allow him to turn the tables in case of defeat. But it also bet on winning the election, rigging the State (see Federal Highway Police), buying votes (emergency aid, reduction in fuel prices, aid targeted at truck drivers, etc.), and spreading lies and misinformation via social networks and messaging apps .

The 8th of January, which will go down in history as the day of infamy (or the revolt of the idiots), showed how far radicalization and barbarism can go. Standing out among those so far registered by the police are middle-aged men and women, part of them with criminal convictions, retired military and retired police, self-employed workers in rural areas, small businessmen, etc. In other words, representatives of a lumpenbolsonarism with very little to lose and a lot to gain in case of a successful uprising.

If no other alternative had any viability in the electoral process, despite the various calls for a “Third Way”, and Lula consolidated and won in spite of everything, it is because he was the only one who could oppose the narratives of hatred and Bolsonarist individualism with the narrative of a public life: the poor northeastern who flees poverty and makes a living in São Paulo, joins union militancy and takes the lead in building the largest left-wing party in Latin America, reaches the Presidency twice, with coalition governments marked by economic growth and income distribution, elects his successor, then impeached by a parliamentary coup, is accused, tried and convicted by a partial judge, is arrested without evidence and without final judgment, spends a year in prison and is released for the recognition of the nullity of the process. The criticisms and difficulties of the PT administrations were not enough to detract from a trajectory like this, and around it the great democratic front was built, with parties and civil society, to face the authoritarian drift.

It is necessary to highlight the role of the Superior Electoral Court, and especially of its president, Minister Alexandre de Moraes, both in making the regular electoral process viable, overthrowing disinformation, whenever identified, at the request of opposition parties, monitoring and punishing leaders of disinformation networks, ensuring a quick and effective response to reduce the harm caused by illicit campaign methods. And after the election, enabling the elected to take office and rejecting the chicanery of requests such as the PL, for the invalidation of thousands of electronic ballot boxes, without any proof or criteria. Basing the decisions, the thesis of militant democracy to face the authoritarian threat.[ii]

After the 8th of January, it was thanks to the federal intervention in the security of the DF and to the decisions of the Minister Alexandre de Moraes that the troublemakers of the coup were arrested and started to answer criminal charges, among them the ex-minister of justice of Jair Bolsonaro, and then DF security secretary, the federal police chief Anderson Torres, who later came to know, thanks to the granting of the request for search and seizure by the Federal Police, that he kept the draft of the institutionalization of the coup in his house, ready for the signature of the now ex-president.

The response to the attempted coup d'état, increasingly characterized because it involved not only the destruction of buildings in Brasília, but also the unfeasibility of the elected government, involves short, medium and long term issues, and the action of the three powers and the civil society. But there is a central path around which the answer will have to be given: institutions functioning and fulfilling their role, a system of checks and balances, autonomy of control mechanisms, recomposition of protocols and chains of command in the military police and in the Armed Forces .

We will not have a broad reform or a refoundation of the police or the Army, but a consultation around professional and bureaucratic standards of functioning in a democracy. There is no other way, despite the voluntary illusions that always arise in these contexts. Deep-rooted mentalities will not be changed. What is expected is that behaviors of rebellion and support for disorder within the security and defense forces are sanctioned, within the law.

To this end, it is important to highlight the role that Minister Flávio Dino has been playing, who, if on the one hand he was deceived and sabotaged by the Public Security Secretariat of the Federal District in the acts of January 8, on the other hand he acted quickly to propose to the President the intervention federal government a few hours after the start of the turmoil, and since then it has been acting with balance and moderation in handling the crisis. The political choice of maintaining Justice and Public Security in the same portfolio has gained greater solidity, as Fábio Sá e Silva argues in a recent publication,[iii] not because it was the best technical option, but because of the political importance of a robust Ministry of Justice for conducting the first months of government in terrain mined by the coup d'état and contamination of the police.

At a time when truth-subversion practices allow an ex-president to foment the coup on the networks and declare that he has nothing to do with it in the press, when the tradition of criminalizing the victim is updated by a state governor who insinuates that the federal government failed to act to prevent the riot and used it for its own benefit, in which “occasion guarantors” present themselves in press articles to offer their legal services to coup plotters threatened with prison and criminal liability, and in which Bolsonarist networks are divided between embarrassing applause for the riot and blaming “infiltrated leftists”, it is necessary to renew the democratic commitment, with the defense of due process against the coup leaders and the recomposition of institutional relations between the security and defense forces and the civil government.

After all, in the seas agitated by the rise of fascism and the crisis of civilizing ideals, nothing is more necessary than tying ourselves to the masts of democratic institutionality and affirming once again: they will not pass!

*Rodrigo Ghiringhelli de Azevedo, sociologist, is a professor at the Law School of PUC-RS.

Notes


[I] Illiberal democracy, low-intensity democracy, democracy or guided democracy, is a Government system in which, although elections take place, the mechanisms of control over the activities of those who exercise executive power are undermined, due to the lack of civil liberties and the breaking of the balance between the Powers. In a 2014 speech after his re-election, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, described the future of his country as an “illiberal state”. In his interpretation, the “illiberal state” does not reject the values ​​of liberal democracy, but does not adopt them as a central element of the organization of the State.

[ii] Moraes' action puts the thesis of militant democracy to the test – 20/11/2022 – Poder – Folha (uol.com.br)

[iii] Lula avoids ministry-army with Justice and Security together (theintercept.com)

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