lingua franca of boçalnarismo

Image_Stela Maris Grespan


Observations on authoritarianism and language

Victor Klemperer, in his agonizing diary of everyday life in Nazi Germany, cleverly and astutely describes the emergence of a type of language he calls LTR (Language of the Third Reich). It invades newspapers, official communiqués, magazines, penetrates people's conversations in homes and on the street. Authoritarianism transcends its core of origin (the State and the party) permeating society in its hidden places.

I think it is possible to say that the new Tupiniquim totalitarianism does something similar. In the speeches of the President of the Republic and his followers, a form of language emerges — aggressive, repetitive, echoing, especially on social networks, its deafening noise. I will call it LFB (Língua Franca do Boçalnarismo).

I am not referring only to the vulgar language used by politicians and their acolytes, in which rudeness has become a recurrent rhetorical device. Chulo is an adjective, I am interested in the noun, that is, a way of expressing oneself that, little by little, becomes a way of apprehending the world, in short, a language.

What delimits it, what is its identity? A language does not just refer to something fortuitous, to the simple expression of something. It reveals a “structure” of thought. The aim of the LFB is to make its own aberration banal. Every authoritarian system aims at the disciplinarization of language; it expresses, in the public domain, the virtues of its atrocity.

One of its characteristics is the insult, usually accompanied by profanity, provocations and offenses. “What did these guys do with the virus, this piece of shit from this governor of São Paulo, this manure from Rio de Janeiro” (speech by the President of the Republic); “For me, I would put all these bums in jail. Starting at the Supreme Court”; “A pity, I prefer to take care of the stables, I would be closer to her mother's mangy and toothless mare” (Minister of Education responding to a criticism on Twitter); “Coup-mongering media, bought, bunch of bastards… you rubbish” (demonstrator in front of the Planalto Palace).

Discursive aggressiveness invests in erasing the other, in correcting the behavior of those who are perceived as a danger

Shit, manure, bums, toothless mare, bunch of bastards. The terms are clear and indicate contempt and affront. The insult is a way of diminishing the other, a way of demoting him to a position liable to humiliation and contempt. The other ceases to exist in his integrity, being apprehended in his “irrelevance”, someone who, in his pallor and lethargy, dares to stand in the way of those who afflict him. This is the purpose of the insult to defile the dignity of the one to whom it is directed.

Another dimension is bravado, that is, the boast of a posture that one imagines capable of overcoming the obstacles that hinder it. “Anyone who wants to come here and have sex with a woman is welcome”; "Competence? It's the deputy's problem. If you want to put a prostitute in my office, I will. If you want to put my mother, I'll put it. It's my problem!”; “This is a reality, the virus is there! We'll have to face it, but face it like a fucking man, not like a kid… That's life. We are all going to die one day” (President of the Republic). Bravado has something narcissistic about it, presumptuous, it drifts towards superlative exhibitionism; she is dodgy, she expresses the intention of insolence in relation to what is established. Rules and moral principles would thus bend to their coercive purpose. But it is an ephemeral artifice whose strength is exhausted in the immediacy of the displayed image, its duration is short, it boils down to the spur of the moment of what is being shown.

The LFB is also characterized by its harshness, the short sentences reinforce the aggressive and authoritarian intention. “I would never rape you because you don't deserve it”; “The mistake of the dictatorship was to torture and not kill”; “If they shot 30 corrupt people, starting with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the country would be better off” (President of the Republic). Sentences shine like advertising neon, they are condensed, they reduce thought to its essence: aggression. The brutality of the facts becomes explicit, killing, torturing, raping. However, the barbarism expressed in the statement is not intended to shock, it takes a step forward, it justifies the elimination of the other.

It is necessary to reduce the opponent to nothing, his insignificance must be annulled, undone, verbal aggressiveness unfolding into physical aggressiveness. While the insult is distance, delegitimization of the other, and bravado, the exhibitionist affirmation of something that cannot be achieved, discursive aggressiveness invests in its erasure, in correcting the behavior of those who are perceived as a danger.

Finally, the denial of reality, the lingua franca of Boçalnarismo is rich in examples of this nature: “There is no homophobia in Brazil. Most of those who die, 90% of homosexuals who die, die in places where drugs are consumed, in places of prostitution, or executed by their own partner” (President of the Republic); “Around 40 [indigenous] peoples in Brazil still kill their children when born to a single mother, when twins are born, when they are born with any physical or mental disability” (Minister of Human Rights); “I don't believe in global warming. You see, I went to Rome in May and I was having a huge cold snap. This shows how theories of global warming are wrong” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs); “They needed to destroy American families because they were the underpinnings of capitalism” (National Arts Foundation President regarding the Beatles).

In all these examples, reality dissolves in the presence of a blunt, fierce and false discourse. Everything happens as if any stupidity could be said in spite of the facts, its veracity is plausible as long as it is pronounced with anger, conviction and fuss. Reality thus bends to the bluster of deceit.

* Renato Ortiz He is a professor at the Department of Sociology at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Brazilian culture and national identity (Brazilian).


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