deceive me that I like

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By FLÁVIO R. KOTHE*

The cultivation of hatred of communists brought with it something more permanent: Russophobia.

Trying to decipher fictional narratives propagated as news does not save anyone when no one wants to be saved, since most people believe they are on the side of the saved by believing in what they pretend to have a head and a head, but have no torso. Critical reason does not change the dominant practice: it demands centuries of incessant action, with no guarantee of reaching a more enlightened level. Painful are the paths of ideational dissidence. Your martyrs will not be sanctified or have altars of celebration.

What prevails in the population is the attitude of “you fool me that I like it”. It is easier to adhere to what has the strength of institutions and the passive power of crowds. Reason, backed into a corner, does not dare raise criticism, all the more so as it is known that so-called critical reason has so often served to camouflage dogmatics that were neither rational nor critical. They still pretend to criticize left and right so as not to touch what really should be criticized.

The manipulation of the masses is as old as the existence of the masses and the powerful who dominated them. The dress of a king, the belief in a god, the ceremonial of the court, the parade of an army, incense and chanting in rituals are but samples of a long and discontinuous tradition. The aestheticization of power – and with it art – has always served to auratize and legitimize those who dominated: to give more power to those who already had power.

Brainwashing of Ukrainians and demonization of Russians is ongoing in local backyards. Vladimir Putin is placed as a devil in power. Whether he is or is not does not matter: he is said to be. Poets recite poems for peace, little children sing songs and dance, the actor who plays the role of the minister of Ukraine is deified and appears in the media every day.

John Reed's decisive book called Ten days that shook the world told of the communist revolution against tsarism in 1917. It is not by chance that the Americans made a film called Thirteen days that shook the world, on the so-called Cuban missile crisis, from the perspective of the White House. They managed to exorcise the memory of the book and show the communists as a permanent threat to American soil. What appeared to be merely the cultivation of hatred for communists brought with it something more permanent: Russophobia. People are manipulated and don't even know they are. They don't want to know either.

Silvester Stalone starred in films in which he fought a Russian boxer, ending up destroying him. In American serials, what is said to be the “Russian mafia”, made up of cold, murderous thugs, often appears. This “mafia” replaces what was formerly communist, the KGB. The American hero can be blond with blue eyes like Gibbs from NCIS or black with dark eyes like the hero from The protector, the surface structure matters little: what matters is the function it performs. The American government can put black women in relevant positions, the important thing is that they will do what the American plutocracy wants. In the last 007 film, they tried to put a black woman as a substitute for the British agent, in order to make her say that it would be better for him to keep the role himself.

Skin color, height, sex, sexual preference, age and so on are just masks that hide a secret identity, which remains the same. The more the deep structure is the same, the more it is convenient for the surface structures to be different. I showed how this works in different genres in the book the trivial narrative.[I] It was no use.

The “Russian mafia” must embody evil, while the good guy who embodies good is the representative of the US government who does away with the bad guy, after letting him demonstrate the evil he presupposes. Old westerns taught young South Americans to cheer for the white good guys and to hate Comanches and Mexicans, cheering when the cavalry came to save the besieged colonists: there the conquest of the center and west of the continent was exalted.

Invaders of indigenous or Mexican lands were nice: the genocide of indigenous peoples and warlike expansionism were exalted there, as if they were paths to salvation and civilization. If young Yankees could identify with their ancestors and heroes, young South Americans did not realize that, in the American scheme, their position would be that of Indians and Mexicans. They identified themselves with those who did not want their identification, as they did not admit their identity.

The new generations are indoctrinated by films and series that try to show how (in) the United States (if) fight criminals. People sit in front of the television and think they are having fun, while their brains are being conformed to seeing the world as the American plutocracy wants it to. They are catechism classes under the guise of pure fiction, pure fiction. This brainwashing also occurs in the news of the mainstream media: it is a form of totalitarianism, all the more effective the less it is perceived as such.

This brainwashing has been going on for a century and it is only increasing. There is no reaction from critical reason, the Brazilian media only propagates what the establishment want it to be propagated. Brazil is not part of NATO, but NATO has been part of Brazil for decades. In the 1960s and 70s, dictatorships were installed in Latin America on the pretext of defending democracy. When Brazil discovered the pre-salt, it was seen that there was a lot of oil and a coup was planned against the elected president, which had the cooperation of many parliamentarians, journalists, prosecutors, judges within the country. Whoever makes the policy of a foreign power within the country was called, in the Estado Novo, a fifth column. Today, such people scream moralism, are respected and popular.

NATO represents the interests of the war industry and large American companies. It says what the European Community should do, and it says what the presidents and ministers of Western and Central European countries should do. Europe was occupied by American troops at the end of World War II. They settled down and never left: former imperial metropolises were occupied by a former English colony and lost sovereignty. NATO was the legitimation of an occupation, presented as a defensive alliance. It represents economic and geopolitical interests, which need to be legitimized by the ideational suprastructure, from sports to scholarships, from tourism to fun movies.

The recent French election had as its theme the acceptance or not of this domination. Both the left and the right proposed there to expand national sovereignty, which would involve a rupture with the status quo from air bases, barracks, naval bases, rocket parking. There's enough intelligence in NATO to know they couldn't. It was predicted that the center-right would manage to maintain the status quo French, but the contradiction between national sovereignty and foreign presence is still unresolved and will unfold, with the advance of the xenophobic extreme right in a country that since 1789 has tried to present itself as a champion of freedom, equality and fraternity.

The Brazilian globalized media, both in the symbolic bombing during Lava Jato and in the War in Ukraine, has been right-wing, doing what NATO wants. In Brazil you don't have a Russian cable television channel, as you have in Germany, France, Portugal, Japan, England, Spain. The Chinese channel only speaks English, it does not yet appear in Spanish or Portuguese, Russian networks are not present, an application like RT is rarely read. More critical journalists not only have no space in the global media, but have even been banned from alternative channels.

You pretend that you are in a democracy, but you live in a spiritual totalitarianism. There is no effective freedom of expression and demonstration, people have not learned to develop an inner freedom to think for themselves. When there seems to be tolerance, it is only because the Lord of the Rings is aware of the low importance of what appears as an alternative.

Why don't young people learn to decipher the manipulation they are victims of? They don't see themselves as victims: they think they're just having fun. They side with the “good guys”, as children used to play “camonha”, which must be a corruption of “come on”, and which made people raise their hands, as if Latinos and South Americans were no more for Indians than for wasps dominant.

There is an ongoing mental regression, which increases with a profound moral degradation, in which offenses and crimes are committed without the culprits being punished. Blame is invented for opponents, while allies' dirt is swept under the rug. When something is told, it has no consequences, it is made irrelevant by some other piece of news.

Critical reason tends to resign, because it perceives its own impotence. Some look for alternative paths, but end up participating in the system by serving a fraction of the market. Denial of denial is not comfortable and needs to be overcome. Why? Because we are manipulated by a salvationist metaphysics, which has been instilled in us since childhood. Most see salvation in heaven after death; the minority, on earth, as long as there is life. Attitudes that seem opposite, but are complementary.

* Flavio R. Kothe is a retired full professor of aesthetics at the University of Brasília (UnB). Author, among other books, of Benjamin and Adorno: clashes (Attica).

 

Note


[I] KOTHE, Flavio R. the trivial narrative, Brasília, Publisher of UnB.

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