Bolsonaro – bachelor in mortuary sciences

Image: Toni Cuenca


The president lies, deceives, promises, breaks, says he loves the people, but makes fun of the suffering of others

Brazil is going through its worst historical and political crisis. We are swimming towards an abyss of setbacks, the possibility of a military coup, in addition to being submerged in a crisis of hunger and misery. All this mixed with the terrorism of not knowing what tomorrow will be like.

When we speak of torture, in the title of this text, we are referring to torture, which in the case of Brazil today, is invisibly configured. Jean Paul Sartre used to say in his classic work, “Nausea”, that we are people of no importance to others; we are just an individual and here we are with no reason to exist.

Sartre says: “we are a thinking reed” without dignity. In today's Brazil, governed by a president with a tongue full of fur, who always throws up things in a tone of threats, offenses, coup, who doesn't respect the suffering of others and the other powers of the Union, who spews all the time his hatred, a misanthrope who begins by hating Brazilians to be able to say he loves them later – an attitude that leaves us, in a way, without any reason to exist.

Our president fits perfectly with the argument of Harry G. Frankfurt, author of bestseller about talking shit ( "OnBullshit”), one of the best-selling books in the world, according to New York Times: "never tell a lie if you can get things by talking shit".

In this sense, we are going to make explicit on top of this work the essence of our president, a man who came from nothing, came to nothing and became president. Harry G. Frankfurt (2005) says that there is no important difference between lying and talking shit, but that the former is preferable. After all, comments the author, a lie elaborated with intelligence can do its work with absolute success.

"An honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be the truth, while for the liar, it is imperative that he consider his statements false." However, in the case of the bullshit talker, these things do not count: he is on neither the true nor the false side. His focus is not on the facts, like the honest men and the liar, unless it serves his interest to get away with what he says. He doesn't care if the things he says describe reality correctly. He just chooses or makes up words to suit his purpose. Now, President Jair Messias Bolsonaro is the stereotype of the shit talker: the things he says are said only to get his purposes, that is, the uselessness of governance.

But if Bolsonaro is a shit talker, how did he get to be president of Brazil? Frankfurt helps us understand this phenomenon by stating that a well-crafted lie with a hint of stupidity can become an absolute success. The author points out that talking shit like Bolsonaro does essentially misrepresents the reality of facts. It's just that the lie disguised as shit deceives us, and that intention makes a big difference, as it takes us away from a correct apprehension of reality. We are led to believe something that he, Bolsonaro, knows is false. Unlike the liar, the bullshit talker has no regard for the authority of truth. For him, it matters little whether his statements are factual or not.

Harry G. Frankfurt points out that the shit talker hides an absolute truth about himself. He believes the shit he talks about. So why does Bolsonaro talk so much shit? It's because the circumstances of his administration, the current destruction of the country as a result of the pandemic crisis, require him to talk shit. He has no idea of ​​the acts and lines. It is enough to see that he never wears masks against Covid-19, attacks the other powers, conducts the main issues of the country based on the brute force of militarism, Affair with the North Americans (Trumpism), destroys the Amazon, generates violence in the countryside, judges in favor of land grabbers and abhors other types of thoughts than his own. Therefore, unlike what is the result of complacent, inattentive conduct and mere indiscipline, talking shit requires a certain inner effort and objectivity.

The president came out of nowhere, he's going to nothing and sinking us with it. It is chaos, the abyss and the bottomless, as the thinker Cornelius Castoriadis said. In this way, there is little left for us to do, except to vaccinate ourselves so as not to die from the virus and face this bunch of militiamen who are constantly threatening to setback democracy, dismantling the rule of law, criminalizing social movements, propagating banditry via armed militias and loudly proclaiming the possibility of a military coup.

Harry G. Frankfurt draws attention to another relevant fact: normally, the bullshit talker is not condemned with the same severity with which the habitual liar is demoralized – which makes the bullshit talker even more audacious. In the case of Bolsonaro, this is very clear. This man talks shit, hard. Nothing elaborate, lies, deceives, promises, breaks, says he loves the people, but makes fun of the suffering of others. The lie is summarily performed to falsify the reality of the facts, which brings us to the idea of ​​Harry G. Frankfurt, that the liar is necessarily fully aware of what is factual.

I believe that President Bolsonaro does not realize that people are suffering from hunger, suicide, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia. That's not to mention mass unemployment. Inflation is getting higher every day; meanwhile, the income of those who still have work, increasingly low; beans, rice and meat – basic foods in the daily lives of Brazilians – are very expensive. Meanwhile, the president speaks that inflation is global, boasting agribusiness to the detriment of small farmers, who are the ones who truly produce what keeps us alive, food, not soy.

It is as Manolo Pérez (2001:29) teaches us: “any attempt to escape from underdevelopment for Latin American countries should be articulated with a political, economic and social democratization, which had agrarian reform as its center”. This is far from the president's thinking.

Finally, to conclude, we would like to quote an excerpt from a letter sent by Ernesto Guevara Sierna, Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban revolution, to his mother: “treason continues to be the heritage of the army, and once again the aphorism that indicates the liquidation of the army as the true problem of democracy (if the aphorism does not exist, I am creating it)” (CHE GUEVARA apoud PÉREZ, 2001:30).

*Miguel Angelo Lazzaretti Professor at the State University of Western Paraná (UNIOESTE).

* André Luiz de Souza is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).


FRANKFURT, Harry G. About talking shit. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Intrínseca, 2005.

PEREZ, Manolo Monereo. Che Guevara: contribution to revolutionary thought. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2001.


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