Denialism, barricade of barbarism

Image: Elīna Arāja
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By LUIZ MARQUES*

The legitimization of the parallel reality is guaranteed in the activism of social networks, in which democratism gives voice to the nonsense and the feeling of importance of those who, trampled on by those above, wish to trample on those below

The persistence in adhering to what is known as Bolsonarism defies rational understanding. Indicators with the reimplantation of social programs in the country point to an improvement in people's quality of life. But beneficiary does not equal empowered for the future time. At the same time, the extreme right manages to stimulate the fanaticism of militants whose empowerment comes from mobilizations that track the future. Our theses focus on the brain, not the heart:

(a) The crisis of democracy is due to unfulfilled promises during the forty years of neoliberalism domination, with restrictions on rights. In addition to an economic and social model, this regime has become The new reason of the world, to evoke the thought-provoking book by Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval;

(b) Resentment in the face of the meritocratic system produces arrogant winners, on the one hand, and a majority of resentful and angry losers, on the other, warns Michael J. Sandel, in The tyranny of merit. Many have developed interesting explanations from these two starting points.

Labyrinth of denialism

There are aspects that are still little explored about the reasons for the loyalty of crowds to those who use them as a mass of maneuver, in the midst of a society of knowledge, hyperinformation and increasing levels of education and intellect. In denialism, in multiple inflections, lies the key to the enigma for the events of the fateful January 8th, and the distilled hatred.

The concept of denialism is not limited to rejecting vaccines. The crisis of democracy has a dimension with deep roots in social life: “Distrust in relation to institutions and procedures that do not adapt to extremist ideology. The new populists undermine belief in science, in fact-based public discussion; they undermine trust in anything that does not reinforce their prejudices. They intend to replace universities, experts and free press with hate offices”, writes Celso Rocha de Barros, in the presentation of the Dictionary of negationisms in Brazil, organized by José Szwako and José Luiz Ratton. Denialism is the main barricade of barbarism.

Paul Klee’s “angel of progress”, played by Walter Benjamin, in this case, helps to unravel the mystery. The angel is pushed forward and moves forward with its head turned back. What you see? The rubble of the National Congress, the Planalto Palace and the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The attacks target the powers of the establishment in a political version of the enemies. They leave out hegemonic socioeconomic forces; yesterday, the colonizers in extractivism and, today, the alliance between agribusiness and financial rentierism. Everyone always has their backs on the domestic market.

The ruling classes' demonstration of contempt for the fate of native peoples and the enslaved, precarious workers and sectors of the middle classes who lose jobs and hope with the technology applied to artificial intelligence is evident. As in the story of Alice in Wonderland, when the Red King asks Alice what he is seeing, she replies: “Nothing”. Impressed, the king comments: “What great eyes you have.” If you asked the protagonists of anti-democratic vandalism, the answer would be: “Everything”. And the majesty would say: “Poor things”, in the paraphrase of Jair Bolsonaro's indifference towards the abandoned riot police, without any gesture of solidarity or recourse on Pix to defend the people, in court. A family above the Republic.

Between opinion and values

The corporate media's mission is to disregard the wreckage left at each juncture, with the optimism of Pangloss. Denialists elide history. This is not an individual phenomenon, but a social one. The important thing is to belong to the group so as not to feel apart from the movement against egalitarian struggles in modernity. Hence the media assumption of democracy of opinion, in opposition to the conception described by Claude Lefort, in the democratic invention, about “democracy as a cumulative process of civilizing values”, which does not go backwards. Resilience shows that the oppressed never forget the heinous crimes inflicted by the oppressors. Memory is nourished by ruins.

The game of opinions detached from civilization is born in the mainstream press. So the debate was whether manipulation occurred in the dissemination of misinformation or the omission of information, when reporting or not reporting a strike or protest. “Alternative facts” were in their infancy, decades before the post-truth become a safe conduct to justify the coups, by way of impeachment. If the civil-military dictatorship seizes public opinion, the extreme right gives the narratives a seal of authenticity to hypocrisy. Cognitively, he equates the wise man with the sociopathic clown, Jesus' forty days in the desert with the guava tree.

In the classical tradition of democracy, inherited from the French Revolution, the exercise of citizenship for the evaluation and control of rulers involves access to information, in order to make a well-founded judgment. In post-truth, emotions override facts. To the fake news colonize the public sphere. The argument from authority is not valid, nor is the authority of the argument. The new agora it is the belated revenge of obscurantism against the Enlightenment. Doubt about the ideals of society (Marx), Judeo-Christian values ​​(Nietzsche) and what individuals think of themselves (Freud) is replaced by the alley of certainties in authoritarian and totalitarian bubbles – the vientres of their mothers.

Brutes, who only love films as revealed by feminicides, have the illegitimate prerogative of rescuing historically outdated principles, such as race and gender supremacism, homophobia and transphobia. The ignorant lose the shame of ignorance, and this is serious. For sociologists, shame is a factor of cohesion and appreciation of honesty. Without the disciplining moral imperative, behaviors drift. See those fencer judges of the anguish of males, in the trial of the “sleepy” girl. They denied current instruments to inhibit sexual harassment. They mocked language, as if humans were not linguistic beings. If the word heals, it can also hurt, humiliate and kill. Sexist cosmogony prevailed in court.

The nod to the State of exception

The Bourdieusian notion of “symbolic violence” (disguised, by definition) allows us to understand the profusion of civic-military schools built to, with the support of education, disseminate the Armed Forces in the condition of tertium ou Logos of the Brazilian nation, in the last four years. Theoretically, the initiative naturalizes acceptance of the existing order and contemplates the conversion of installed power into social capital and symbol. Accusing the mentor of the indigestible idea as an idiot compensates for the political apathy of the petty bourgeoisie who sleeps with their conscience at peace, remaking their subordination in the morning.

The polarization of good men against communism is also cunning. “Both our sensory perception and the thought processes we use to organize the world around us are constrained by a polarized view of reality, which is based on opposites such as day-night, cold-hot, male-female, etc.”, highlights Marcelo Gleiser, in The dance of the universe. Bolsonarism transforms personal worthlessness into virtue, and real or imaginary contrasts into revenge. It overcomes the political difficulty of superior synthesis to overcome dichotomies, with a nod to the State of exception.

The extreme right reinforces hierarchies and abjures knowledge, through the germ of subversion in the act of knowing. His comfort zone is prejudices, which strengthens the bonds of conservatism. Discrimination in its representation of society echoes neoliberalism, in the triad.

The legitimization of the parallel reality (denialism) is guaranteed in social media activism, in which democratism gives voice to the nonsense and the feeling of importance of those who, trampled on by those above, wish to trample on those below. This meat grinder works as an energy generator in the yellow-green vestment, with blood in its eyes. – “They will pass, I little bird”, says the poet.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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