Love in Bolsonarism

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By Alex Antonio Rosa Costa*

Against Brazilian democracy, there is not only fascist hatred, but also unshakable love for the idea. The danger is much greater, as the Bolsonarist union finds the strongest of affections as its mainstay.

"The people have a mania for creating idols, and the idol's mania is to belittle the people"
(Júlio Camargo, in The Art of Sophistry)

Bolsonarism has been a huge challenge for all political scholars. The neo-fascism employed by the president, as defined by Michael Löwy[I], still does not have its clear contours, and it seems that, in order to understand this phenomenon, the classic analyzes will have to adapt. Realizing this, Filipe Campello argued in this blog that Bolsonarism takes away the possibility of doing politics with reason and arguments, so that trying to understand politics through these means will also always be a limited attempt. Carlos Savio Teixeira[ii] has a similar position, in sustaining that the models and concepts used to think about current politics, almost all of North American and liberal matrix, prove to be insufficient – ​​and even averse to reality, due to the “functional abnormality” typical of the president. Teixeira argues that we must extrapolate what has been thought and consider the classes and social positions of political agents in any political analysis. Campello, in turn, advocates attention to the affections present in political life, shedding light on “hatred and contempt for democratic plurality”[iii].

Campello is not the only one. With the election of Jair Bolsonaro, the link between affections and politics became evident for the whole of society, now not just for those who study this subject. At all times, we see news, articles and comments highlighting hatred as the driving force of Bolsonarism. It is not close: the federal government itself has its cabinet of hatred there, by its side, as a great adviser and presidential spokesperson.

But I don't want to talk about hate. I intend to shed light on his inseparable companion: love, which, despite being so neglected in attempts to understand the elusive Brazil of today, has proved its perversity as potent as that of its comrade.

Love has been a theme in philosophy since ancient Greece. Plato, in one of his most beautiful dialogues, The banquet, reflects on the first of the gods: Eros hitherto little praised, in the words of the philosopher. As usual, the final and definitive voice in the conversation is that of Socrates, who introduces us to what he had learned from the wise Diotima. The philosopher will argue that there are degrees of love: there is from the love of material, physical, carnal things, to the love of ideas, the immutable, this being characteristic of the philosopher (in Greek, literally, the one who loves wisdom).

Plato's view has remained influential throughout the history of philosophy. If we look at Christian philosophy, we also see the separation between the love of earthly things and the love of God. The latter, called “caritas” by Augustine, is the love that must be sought by the faithful, to the detriment of that which leads to the corruption of the soul. This vision, however, is not without fundamental problems, evident especially in the public sphere.

Bolsonarist politics, in my view, serves as a sad and real example of the evils of the empire of a love of ideas. A love like that praised by Plato and Jesus reigns in Brazil, but with a certain distortion: people continue to love the idea against earthly life, but no longer in the name of Good or God. A certain messiah of salvation, with anti-Platonic and anti-Christian actions, is the new beloved idea.

To explain the Bolsonaro phenomenon, always referring to fascist characteristics, the focus has been the characteristic hatred towards the different. However, it should be noted that the love for the Bolsonarist idea is equally present. By that, I mean that, among voters loyal to Bolsonaro, in addition to hatred of everything that opposes the president, especially democracy, an unconditional love for the image created around the person prevails. Here it must be clear: it is not a case of love for the person of the president. If that were the case, mistakes made by the president, inconsistencies, injustices would be noticed. the love to people not blind, contrary to what is often said. Those who truly love can see all the defects of the loved one, but continue to love. The true lover is the one capable of moving away from the beloved, and still loving him. Bolsonarism, on the other hand – like every totalitarian political phenomenon – is fed by an unconditional love for an idol, or, as they themselves prefer, a “myth” incapable of making any mistake, a true messiah: incorruptible , infallible, but still eternal victim of the “system”, even if he is the leader, the dominant one.

The uncontested support of approximately 30% of the electorate is frightening, and a lot. Even though the president has shown himself to be one of the worst leaders in the world in the fight against the pandemic, a fact added to the serious accusations of connection with militias and criminal schemes, his faithful voter does not budge in defense of the president. The data published by Folha on 27.04.20, Monday, demonstrate that not even the departure of Moro, the highest rated minister, was able to reduce assent to presidential follies.

Against Brazilian democracy, there is not only fascist hatred, but also unshakable love for the idea. The danger is much greater, as the Bolsonarist union finds the strongest of affections as its mainstay. It would not be surprising that one day Jair Bolsonaro himself became a victim of the movement that created him, ending, as he so likes to say, the love marriage with the idea of ​​Messiah Bolsonaro.

*Alex Antonio Rosa Costa is studying for a master's degree in philosophy at USP.





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