June 2013

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bacchus), 2008
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By JOSÉ COSTA JUNIOR*

Considerations on three documentaries that address the 2013 Demonstrations

Back in June 2013, in a conversation with a close friend who had no broader interests in politics, something caught our attention: according to him, the “giant had woken up”, which would be the main reason for the protests we saw in the streets from the country. It was strange to hear those words, spoken out of enthusiasm by someone who dealt little with social and political issues.

Another moment of that period that comes to mind is the colossal boo received by then-president Dilma Rousseff during the opening of the Confederations Cup that year in the city of Brasília. The football competition between national teams was part of the country's preparation to host the 2014 World Cup and the boo portrayed the various political and social dissatisfactions at that time. What draws attention here is the fact that the indignation involved in the booing surpassed even the possible joys and expectations in which Brazilian football has always been involved (for a short time, as we would know in 2014).

Since that unforgettable month, Brazil and the world have undergone major changes, which have stimulated reflections and analyses, proposals on different fronts and which try to understand the causes and consequences of those manifestations. In this context, three documentaries about the period help us to contextualize and reflect on such events and their consequences.

The first one is June: the month that shook Brazil, released in 2014 directed by journalist João Wainer and produced by Folha de São Paulo. This documentary looks at the June 2013 unrest from the perspective of those who were inside the protests – protesters, police and journalists. The second production is The month that didn't end (launched in 2019), directed by philosopher Francisco Bosco and artist Raul Mourão. It deals with events from a different temporality, a little further away in time and with more detailed analyzes and reflections.

Finally, the recent June 2013: The beginning of the reverse, a documentary series directed by historian Angela Alongo and journalist Paulo Markun, unravels the different aspects of events at the time in six episodes, based on varied (and opposing) perspectives. In this way, the three documentaries form an interesting set, “hot”, “cold” and a posteriori of a specific moment, which led (or hoped to lead) to changes in the country, “a giant that woke up” and forgot football and its pretensions of joy and cordiality.

 

June: the month that shook Brazil

João Wainer's documentary begins by portraying the first protests that took place in the city of São Paulo in early June 2013, against the increase in bus fares. Led by social movements, the demonstrations blocked city roads and underwent considerable changes in their composition and agenda over the days. With new strategies, more violent and reactive, the protests began to count on the presence of the so-called “black blocks”, which generated a strong police reaction.

The documentary features strong scenes of this reaction, such as bruises, rubber bullets and injured police officers. The media, which at first demanded the control of the demonstrations, started to denounce the repression of the protests that gathered more and more support and popular participation. This involvement was largely due to the virality of the protests on social networks, which took them to several cities in the country. Attempts to invade the Planalto Palace, the seat of the state government and the city hall of São Paulo portray the expansion of indignation beyond the initial agenda of the increase in the cost of public transport, which took more and more people to the streets.

At this point, attention is drawn to a scene in which a reporter questions a woman about the reasons for the demonstration. Dressed in the Brazilian flag, the interviewee is unable to structure an objective answer, and points out: “It is against everything that is there”. The scene clearly portrays the diffusion of the agendas and the absence of leaders of the demonstrations, which started to involve several different groups: students, residents of the periphery, middle class, professionals, among others. With the withdrawal of the police, the protests began to manifest order speeches, contrary to politics and parties, with clashes and tensions between the groups that demonstrated.

It is possible to identify in this change of objectives the participation of a revolted patriotism, where people expressed their dissatisfaction through a diffuse agenda, often singing the national anthem and not infrequently with the presence of inflamed and violent speeches against “the system”. A session of the National Congress portrayed in the documentary shows deputies and senators distressed by the situation in Brasília, and questioning each other: “Where did we go wrong?”

The documentary ends with the Confederations Cup final, when Brazil beat Spain in the final, a result that did not impact the country's social and political moods. The demonstrations that began with demands related to rights and citizenship expanded to a broad agenda, which opened space for several parallel demonstrations and anti-system revolts. João Wainer's documentary well describes this change in agendas, public and demands, in a movement that also involved a shift from indignation to resentment, including among the different groups that protested there. The expansion of protests to many cities in Brazil and abroad also serves as evidence of the increasingly diffuse nature of these agendas throughout the month of June 2013. The situation is portrayed in the phrase said by many at that time: “The giant has woken up” . However, at the end of the documentary, some questions arise: What actually woke up in Brazil? In what sense did we in Brazil “sleep”? What would be the consequences of the demonstrations? In addition to the scare with the protests, would Brazilian politicians find out “where did they go wrong”?

 

The month that didn't end

It is on such questions that The month that didn't end treat. Francisco Bosco’s script seeks to explain the “becoming conservative” of the 2013 demonstrations and protests, a non-linear process that culminated in the impeachment of an elected president and the rise of a politician allegedly defender of conservatism and the civil-military dictatorship. The production is more reflective, with the participation of experts from different areas (philosophers, economists, psychologists, journalists, politicians, etc.), promoting in-depth reflections on events after the demonstrations, with the aim of understanding their developments and consequences.

The directors divided the documentary into five parts, which follow a temporal sequence of facts linked to the “month that never ended”. In the first part, entitled “The sky was never blue”, the global context in which the 2013 demonstrations were inserted is presented, along with some Brazilian political contradictions of the period and the government at the time. Such circumstances were decisive for the outbreak of the protests, also stimulated by the media and various political movements – which would also be impacted by the unfolding of the protests.

In the second part, “New political culture”, the documentary shows how the political debate became central in Brazilian culture, starting to involve everyday situations in the years 2014 and 2015. In a country little used to debates of this nature, more tensions arose. within social relations, mainly in relation to the party that occupied the government of the country. In parallel to this, the huge expenses with the hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games were fuel for the increase of tensions in the conversations about politics in the period.

In the third part (“The Gordian Knot”), the different readings of the process of impeachment of then President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, also addressing the structures and political movements involved in this event. The manifestations of the deputies who voted for the president's removal demonstrate a strong resentment and an often aggressive and violent speech, pointing to conservative and reactive positions.

The rise of this conservatism is the theme of the fourth part (“The new right and the new liberals”). The fall of the most traditional left-wing party in the country and the arrest of its main leadership, contributed to the rise of a new right and a so-called liberal current in the Brazilian political context between the years 2013 and 2017. content and information through social networks and guided by a discourse of freedom, honesty and political effectiveness, this current found more and more followers. The documentary exposes some contradictions of the alleged liberalism of this group, such as its contradictory identification: being “liberal in economics and conservative in customs”. However, in a society in which indignation and resentment began to involve political contexts more and more, discourses guided by this new right began to have more receptivity and support.

The last part (“Fear and revolutionary utopia”) deals with the ways in which this position was expanded and radicalized, flooding social media with violent speeches in the 2018 election period. Such circumstances contributed to the formation of a polarized society, in which political debates became aggressive and without contact zones for dialogue. The epilogue of the documentary shows how “the spoils” of all these years of political tension culminated in an election that many people did not expect in June 2013.

As the documentary goes up to 2018, it does not deal with the developments of the elected government. However, we know that the events that started in June 2013 did not end in June 2022, with the growing expansion of tensions and latent democratic difficulties. Currently, it is possible to perceive that the “becoming conservative” offered neither solutions nor stability, as many of its defenders had hoped, generating even more frustrations, indignation and resentments.

 

June 2013: The beginning of the reverse

Yes, June 2013: The beginning of the reverse, addresses those who were directly involved in the demonstrations or were the target of popular indignation due to the position they held. Thus, leaders of social and union movements, politicians from various spheres of power, members of military corporations, among other participants in the events of that month, revisit the events, now with a distanced look, in search of a more effective understanding of the causes and – mainly the consequences.

The reflective look of Angela Alonso and Paulo Markun denounces and concludes little, but describes well the perspectives, motivations and revisions of those involved in the protests. The nine years that separate the month of June 2013 from June 2022, in which we live a series of crises are well described in the title: there began, at least in our country, the reverse that we have experienced in recent years – and which seems far away to finish.

The first episode (“Inspirations”) contextualizes events and demonstrations around the world, such as the Arab Spring, among others, whose participants relied on new forms of approximation and mobilization. Digital social interaction networks have become fundamental for such movements and it would not be different here. In the second episode (“Actors”), the different perspectives of those involved are addressed; the diversity of social movements stands out, along with the emergence of views opposed to the tradition of social movements: new conceptions and revolts, closer to conservative perspectives and the political right also took to the streets.

The different approaches, positions and ways of expressing these perspectives are dealt with in the third (“Tactics”) and fourth episodes (“Violence and the media”). The fifth episode (“Massification and violence”) discusses the spread of protests inside and outside the country, along with the initial responses from society and media corporations. Finally, the sixth and last episode (“Desdobramentos”) closes the documentary, exploring the reactions of the governments at the time, such as the decrease in the cost of the ticket, which was the initial motivation for the protests, and the political reform proposals of the government of then (which, as we know, would not have time or space to carry them out).

Revisiting the events of the time, seeing and reviewing such productions, makes us observe and think about the tensions and reactions of all of us who lived in June 2013. The set of increasingly crowded streets, the virtual and real viralization of screams and revolts, the diversity of movements and demands, was involved in nuances and peaks of emotions and feelings that overflowed and reached Brazilian society and politics in full – for good and for bad. Perhaps this is what my friend and many of us – bordering on common sense – were describing when the giant was said to have woken up. Needless to say, such a figure was dominated by indignation and frustration.

Analyzing the relationship between politics and emotions can be a difficult exercise. Due to the subjective nature of moods and passions, bringing them closer to political contexts is a complex task that requires careful reflection. As the three documentaries point out, the 2013 protests involved a strong emotional charge of indignation and frustration, which demands an understanding of this intense relationship between emotions and political and social contexts.

In the analysis of the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, proposed in political emotions (2013), emotions play a role that is little recognized in collective and individual processes. Not considering their causes and effects limits our understanding of how social and political forces work, which can open up space for emotive and populist discourses to find a channel and spread, as has happened so many times in history. Nussbaum points out that his hypothesis does not advocate converting emotions into the foundation of political decisions, but recognizing that they play a considerable role in their formation, especially when manipulated or stimulated. Thus, emotions such as fear, insecurity, indignation and resentment can generate social and political consequences, especially in contexts of change, such as what we have experienced in the last decade in Brazil and in the world.

In this context, the philosopher Daniel Innerarity formulated some hypotheses that can help us understand the manifestations of that period in a broader way. Considering the changing contexts arising from globalization and the impact of economic crises, Innerarity defends in Politics in times of outrage (2015) that many of the certainties and expectations we had began to crumble. Such processes make the dynamics in which we are involved become incomprehensible, generating tensions and more uncertainties. An example involves the role of technology in our lives: while providing comfort and facilities, technological development threatens our jobs and makes us increasingly dependent.

Another example involves the difficulty in controlling our own lives, often impacted by political and economic decisions that are distant and difficult to understand. Within all these changes and uncertainties, people's frustration comes to occupy a central place in social relations. Amplified by the internet, the indignation and resentment involved in this frustration can open space for extreme and reactive political positions. In a complex world, in which politics and economics do not respond satisfactorily, indignation remains to assuage common frustration.

In the case of the 2013 demonstrations, it is possible to see how the indignation linked to public services motivated the protests, but soon gave way to violent and resentful reactions against the “system”, a broad and not very descriptive description of the social and political structures that impact the society. people's lives. Innerarity recognizes that demonstrations and protests are important political means for demonstrating dissatisfactions in democracies. However, it also sees risks: indignation alone does not promote changes, requiring a political and structured construction that promotes the necessary changes for the consideration of rights and dignity.

Another risk is that the constant indignation can distance rationality from politics, creating antagonisms and tensions that are not very constructive for political processes. This situation can pave the way for easy and emotional speeches, which promise the impossible in ways that are not feasible, maintaining frustration. Here, the understanding of political processes and the organization are essential for the indignation movements to implement political agendas and responses to their demands.

 

Resentment

This indignation can also give way to resentment, another affect with great political potential. Political scientist Manuel Arias Maldonado discusses the role of this “psychic intoxication” in politics in Sentimental democracy: Politics and emotions in the siglo XXI (2015). His analysis starts from the assumption that resentment, a type of “adversative emotion” is compatible with a legitimate demand for justice; however, it can also open the door to ever-increasing tensions that close off the dialogue necessary for democracies to function.

An example of this potential is the political discussions that involve historical situations and events, loaded with resentments between the parties involved and that return to the surface at some point. In democratic processes, the strength of resentment can be decisive, as we saw in the case of the unfolding of demonstrations in the years after 2013, where debates about politics became increasingly violent and aggressive in Brazil, whether in everyday conversations or on social media. increasingly polarized social groups.

Maldonado identifies this tension as coming from a “digital sentimentalization of the public sphere”, showing how the uses of digital social interactions end up fomenting not only political resentments, but also the whole set of possible affections, including hatred. In such environments, subjects change their self-image, approaching others like themselves, configuring “bubbles” of opinions and positions that are often inviolable.

The debate proper to democracies loses more and more space in this agora violence, which dangerously empowers itself every day, relying on massive amounts of fake news for fuel. Enraged subjects are motivated to public participation by media structures, which do not encourage them to have communicative concerns, but only in order to obtain information that supports their views. The intense use of digital platforms in the 2018 elections, with wide use of informational disorder and directions, well portrays the process of “digital sentimentalization of the public sphere”, maintaining voter engagement, with high levels of indignation and resentment.

The polarized political social framework that emerged from the events of June 2013 seems to further limit the possibilities and changes required by the indignation of that moment. The access to power of political figures who called themselves “non-political”, who represented the “new”, or who would correct “everything that is there”, seems to have been a disastrous consequence, especially when we consider how much we suffered in a pandemic that killed more than 600 people in the country. Yet here we are, still outraged and resentful – and polarised.

Who suggests possibilities for this scenario is the philosopher Francisco Bosco, who directed one of the documentaries discussed here and rehearses paths from this production in The possible dialogue: For a reconstruction of the Brazilian public debate. This June 2022 essay revisits the formation and meanings of this polarization and defends a new conception of center, which highlights the social and historical tensions that formed Brazil and that need to be considered. Bosco defends the joint search for a “universalism to come”, as a means of building a more democratic and inclusive society, also considering the possibility of a public space with debates that are less “inflamed, mystified, aggressive, authoritarian and often in misery”. intellectual".

The polarization, much more affective than analyzed and reflected in clear positions in the debate and political positioning, ends up dismissing the necessary possibilities for the changes that we really demand and that were at the base of the indignations present in the marches and protests of the “month that did not end ”. However, such possibilities for dialogue here do not involve the dissolution of antagonisms – typical of any political structure that claims to be democratic – or an immobilist conciliation, which “changes everything to continue as it is”, but rather in the processes that Bosco calls disidentification ou detotalization, procedures involve cooling expectations regarding the relationship between politics and emotions.

However, recognizing Sigmund Freud as a reference, the author knows that it is an “unequal fight”: “The human intellect is powerless against instinctual life”. However, he also finds expectations in the position of the Viennese psychologist himself: “The voice of the intellect is low, but it does not rest until it receives attention”. It is still a bet, in which you can still place some chips, especially when we are still experiencing the effects of that “month that has not ended”. However, it is a gamble, not a certainty.

watch the documentaries June: The month that shook Brazil, The month that didn't end e June 2013: the beginning of the reverse it's a good way to look at how social, political and economic tensions, coupled with our limited political structures, have brought us into a spiral of more uncertainty and fear about what lies ahead.

*Jose Costa Junior Professor of Philosophy and Social Sciences at IFMG –Campus Ponte Nova.

 

References


ARIAS MALDONADO, Manuel. Sentimental Democracy: Politics and Emotions in the XNUMXst Century. Barcelona: Indómita Page, 2017.

BOSCO, Francis. The possible dialogue: For a reconstruction of the Brazilian public debate. São Paulo: However, 2022.

INNERARITY, Daniel. Politics in Times of Outrage: Popular Frustration and the Risks to Democracy. Translation by João Pedro George. Rio de Janeiro: Leya, 2017. (2015)

NUSSBAUM, Martha. Political emotions: Why love matters for justice. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2013.

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