The infantilism of power

Image: Elijah O'Donnell


The political-regressive rage of the underworld sublimates the patriarchal weakness that depends on institutional vandalism and hatred of democracy

“a face of fire that wants to come out and sing, / from the heap of bones, dark times” (Georg Trakl, 1913).*

Preamble – Letters of War as a Trial Balloon

Symbolic truculence barks at the highest decision-making institutions of the Brazilian Republic. Embedded in the State apparatus, the Bolsonarist network mobilized, on August 10th, war letters to pressure the Chamber of Deputies to approve the Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment (PEC) in favor of the vote printed in the 2022 presidential elections. The mobilization of the military convoy took place on the same day as the poll.

Senior government voices rejected the association of facts as accusatory. Organized society, however, has few doubts about the rehearsal balloon for the guest at the Planalto Palace: the factoid, financed with public funds, represented an undisguised threat.

Part of the international press reported the fact from this perspective: that of a terrifying message to the democratic tradition, with blackmailing pressure against Parliament, through an unusual parade of subtanks and other armored vehicles (from Rio de Janeiro) in Praça dos Três Poderes, in in front of the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia. **

Without ceremony, the episode cited, on a factual level, that of the Armed Forces threat to the Federal Supreme Court (STF), on the eve of the plenary judgment of the Habeas Corpus to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on April 04, 2018.

The political momentum assumed in the movement of armored vehicles was exasperated weeks before and during the celebrations of September 7th. The street arrangements, in turn, also cited the April and August factoids, in a fashionable tautology hybris (unmeasured, in the usual Greek translation). The exhibitionist escalation of symbolic truculence – for the time being, appeasable with institutional checks and balances – is explained, with coherent details, in the light of sublimatory schemes. Below is a suggestive evocation of the elementary injunctions involved, which common sense, acculturated by epic values, often forgets.

Vicious cycle of regressive compensation – Factoid staging for media visibility

Politicized psychoanalysis and psychologically oriented political science, when enriched by the foundations of feminist criticism and recontextualized by concern with mainstream media processes, do not even scratch their heads to admit how much the protomonarchical pantomimes of the guest of the Palace and of several extreme right peers were equivalent, on the symbolic level, the regressive compensation for the neurotic fear of loss (phantasmatic synonymy of death) and for the patriarchal anticipation of imminent phallic impotence – all as a factoid-enactment for media visibility, particularly for the horde of supporters, from TV to networks social. The unusual character of this observation (actually, a memory) is only apparent: anchoring in the essential – in this case, the authoritarian exhalations of the sublimated libido – allows the socio-psychoanalytic critique of power and politics to protect itself from mistakes and self-deceptions. She thus glimpses historical naivety far from her guardhouse.

In this light, taking the process in reverse, the lenitive-regressive component present in the aforementioned factoid-enactment for the national and foreign press ends up delivering the central wound of the blunt infantilism of patriarchy itself: the virulent and unbearable feeling of inferiority under imaginary terror of castration. Biopolitics, when shaded by the socio-psychoanalytic depth of field, adds light to the cut: it is about an authoritatively puerile sublimation of power without potency. Since admitting it would be shameful, the dynamic structure of the process remains obliterated and, to optimize the camouflage, the manifestation of force prevails, in a vicious cycle, for public dissuasion of the final.

The factoid staging –linked, ultimately, to an epic fantasy, of a fictionally heroic strain, as insecure as it is self-decaying– is equivalent to an obsessive ritual of exorcism against the symbolic death of one's own potency as a value (in a generic sense, never reducible to the sexuality).

Keeping the scales, the fear of this fatal fallibilism (as a representation of the phobia of loss of power), combined with the autocratic and immature fetishization of triumph (military and militia) at all costs in the State's apparatus, does not, in some sense (always patriarchal), to extend to the entire neo-fascist network.

Mutatis mutandis, there is similar infantilism – programmatic and anti-democratic – in the socio-political, legal-governmental and corporate-financial strata that carried out the 2016 coup. make the institutional ruckus, under simulated legitimacy and case law of the occasion. Transnational multimedia showcases showed adolescent performance in the Right to Convenience.

Patriarchal demonization of the alien – Neofascist infantilization of society

In the male symbolic repertoire, the fear of castration, taken at the individual level, has always made unhappiness hurl demons at others. The history of patriarchy as a form of governance demonstrates that the demonized alien is often equivalent to the collectivity.

In the occluded creaking of Bolsonarist canines, the infantilism presupposed in the mentioned sublimatory-demonic pitch is, at the same time, an attempt to infantilize society through the imminent use of brutality.*** This executive pretension, in the rhythm of sobs, has tautological arc since the beginning of 2018, based on the tradition of Brazilian positivism. It is an enormous social harassment, unheard of after the enactment of the Federal Constitution of 1988. As a political-media procedure, this toxicity parametrizes an unspeakably harmful government – ​​from the progressive deepening of socioeconomic inequality to open-air pandemic genocide.

Words, whether isolated or in interaction, are never unpunished, because they are never casual: infantilization of society, infantilism of power – all in a brutal and extemporaneous fashion, without any historical atmosphere. Strictly speaking, childishness refers to isolated or sporadic acts. Infantilism indicates a permanent tendency (embraced by sublimatory insistence).

Cowardice due to psychopathic weakness – Cantilena of terror as banal language

Not by chance, the same grimaces and faces of the guest at the Palace, of an apocalyptic demonstration of supposed power, were transferred to the programmed inflation of September 7th. The phlegm of the two presidential speeches that day – one in Brasília, the other in São Paulo – was no different.

In all circumstances, the setting up of resounding scenes, with ready-made phrases, is done in the shadow of the well-known cowardice arising from psychopathic weakness. The neurotic puerility that desires a world (institutional or not) in its own image – infantilized – speaks the cantilena of terror as a banal language of symbolic violence.

This flagrant impotence, when in force as a world view, does not camouflage base assumptions: for her, society is equivalent to an undisciplined child that must be trained and tamed, with a frontal slap and a punch in the abdomen, in order to adapt more quickly to the “real world”. ”. The serious display of fire toys at the waist is equivalent to the symbolic form of slap and punch.

The collectivity, internally too diverse for neo-fascism, appears as subject to inferiorization: ultimately, a child, as a growing stage, is to be, above all, supposedly ostracized, out of the verb – punished, silent.

By becoming diurnal, the strategic collusion between threat of force and repetition always tries to tame dispersion and evasion (figures of deviation, difference, freedom) as if taming an animal, taken as a beast. An intelligent child, daring because educated, does not hesitate to transform insolence into creative bewilderment: he asks who, in fact, the beast is.

Extremist threat video graphic emblems

Due to the residue of frayed power, the impudence of these authoritarian brash fits the institutionally vandalistic mockery of another civil supporter of the federal government who posed in digital visibility with two revolvers crossed on his chest, foaming rationalized resentment and threatening, with extremist obsessions, instances of the State in the name of God, the homeland, the family, freedom and life. It sounds like neo-fascism defending democratic values.

The lexical and semantic short-circuit games, much appreciated by ultra-rightist infantilism, are placed on this treadmill. Weeks before the September 7th celebrations, a reserve military man even summoned, by video, the Bolsonarist horde not only to join the demonstrations in Brasília, but also to “enter” – “in peace” – the STF and the National Congress , from groups previously organized under the flag of Brazil at the head. When faced with a proposal of this nature, the healthy democratic conscience, resilient in millions of Brazilians, has no doubts: it is the audiovisual verbalization of anti-republican barbarism, disguised as a delusional interest – from the 1964th century – of “returning the nation”, a reminder of “ liberation of the homeland” against “imaginary communism”. The retired agent suggested “running over” anyone who resisted. Interestingly, he claimed not to be "joking" anymore. Strolling together, waving streamers and camping in the federal capital lost their charm. It also lost its fun just to frighten enemies. The invitation assumed that the time had come for a “mature attitude”. An emblem of this “maturity” is being inspired by XNUMX and sabotaging democracy. This last notation detracts from the perspective of constitutional precepts and, in particular, human rights and civil liberties – landmarks, among others, non-negotiable. This perspective doesn't play around in service either.

A little worse was the case of an Army artilleryman who, also on video, alluding to professional marksmanship skills, during the 2018 election period, put a member of the STF in the spotlight as his idealized target. In a previous video, the same retired narrator, in defense of interventionist Bolsonarism, had threatened the Presidency of the Superior Electoral Court (STE) and three members of the STF. The soldier, who at the time the Army Command (CEX) claimed did not represent the institution, unleashed a barrage of curses at lawyers, politicians, journalists, artists and a member of the Federal Police. It was up to Celso de Mello, then dean of the STF and now a retired minister, to deliver the scathing institutional retaliation: “filthy and sordid speech”, with “deeply insulting language” and “superlatively rude and boçal words” – an “unacceptable outrage” to the Court, democracy and the justice system as a whole.

Just this list. Representative of an endless queue, it brings up similar scenes from the times of the civil-military-business dictatorship in the country; and recalls authoritarian disasters in neighboring nations.

The radically democratic university community does not dispense pepper (enlightenment, if you like) when necessary: ​​it does not hide that the critical trajectory of sociopsychoanalysis, in the wake of cyberculture studies, would undertake good interdisciplinary advances if it could find out, in the name of democracy as a universal value , to what extent the perverse and puerile unconscious is strategically videophilic and unaccompanied by itching to exhibit it.

With the extra license of comparing big leaps, the attempt at infantilizing society's inferiority with crossed revolvers on videographic breastplates or with hallucinatory allusions to weapons is, in essence, of the same order as the cowardice of the Taliban shooting haphazardly with rifles at the skies to break up recent protests by hundreds of Afghan men and women in Kabul. The maximum audacity that emerges from despair, when it becomes a political force, especially for women – extremely courageous Islamic women – puts to shame, in terms of mature action in the world, the patriarchal sublimation that promotes weapons at hand to camouflage fearful escapes from castration as self-terror unbearable.

Public shaming of patriarchy

It is worth, for emphasis, a word more about the sublimatory-dissuasive scheme of infantilism as political behavior of the underworld.

In conventional politics as in everyday life, there is no expression of rapture or boasting without anchoring in occluded fragility. This is, by the way, the modus operandi basis by which the traditional and modern hyperbole of patriarchy realizes the compensatory appropriation of power, in the name of the political identity of the male and his regular anthropological fetishes (monotheism, patriotism, heteromonogamism, conservative familialism, private ownership of the means of production, etc.).

As it could not be otherwise, the sign expression of this modus operandi it even includes an oral facial and body gesture aesthetic. Typical and well-known, it dispenses with description annoyances to also avoid reading discomforts.

Bravado - public vexation of throat and arm - always rests on corroded feet. They are incorrigible mouco airs, in sculptures of busts without a base. Incidentally, occupants of more affluent institutional shifts without other nations, when they can, squander such airs with transcontinental missiles. The politics (of display) of force, seen through its infantilism and its desire to infantilize the alien, only demonstrates this: the supposedly humanist height of the simulation of political-institutional responsibility manifests itself in mutual “adultism” with sophisticated toys. Power and puerility make a circle in the orchard of the most diabolical fury.

In Brazil, like the wild people, eager for the militarization of society, they firmly believe in shells, if the guest at the Palace hints again, as he did in November 2020 because of the Amazon, which will mobilize convoys to attack the United States next week, it won't be long before thunderous applause will galvanize viability, singing victory.

Necrosis hates towards democracy

The neo-fascist infantilism of power is never that of stupidity, lack of courage or tactical retreat in applying blows on historic dates of national celebration. It is, rather, that of adorning galliform crests with the warmongering of mass insufflation and with the threat of the use of brutality: it concerns the permanent propensity for State sabotage. The rest is copious amounts of bluffing without continuous limelight.

Instead of a discreet intelligence operation, with obedience to republican guidelines and without aggression to democracy, the palace cult of dictatorships prefers the incorrigible demonstration of robustness, in iron traction and vexation – a promiscuity that combines media muscle and a small institutional brain.

The regressive fulcrum of this infantilism – it bears emphasizing – encloses, as a whole, a hateful necrosis in relation to democracy as a universal value and its multicultural and radical diversity. This vehement rejection beforehand, which is confused with the hunt for “imaginary communism”, is expressed even when, with petulant opportunism, democracy is tolerated only to extract the greatest benefit from it.

Incidentally, the beaten juice of the Bolsonarist “cultural war” is this: keeping the entire society mediatically “occupied”, subordinated to the mediocre agenda of dissuasive factoids, under the scourge of an imminent political catastrophe over everyone’s head. This simple-minded strategy, of known military scope, does not depend on, on the expected day, there being curdled milk in favor of behind-the-scenes agreements, frustrating the instrumentalized horde itself, pre-pubescent hostage of government maneuvers, populist “friendly fire”.

Democratic life and death challenge

From the perspective of this rage, the perverse childhood of power, when trained and expert, is tyranny long planned, intensely ruminated and, with eager training for a crust of the world, successfully carried out under widespread fear. The mere recurrent attempt to concretize – sobbing, swallowed, frustrated – the core of this infantilism corresponds only to the messed-up childhood of power. For the time being, apparently, fragile Brazilian democracy remains at the mercy of this second, equally perverse prank, in the shadow of the madness of the first, without majoritarian ballast for subtank adventures and shootings by half a dozen in the country's capital.

The institutional containment of these underworld political impulses, as virulent as Bolsonarism, is, in a way, feasible at a given moment or for a certain time. Political and legal checks and balances still in force in the national republican instances have, by the way, prevented, at the “h” hour, the achievement of a worse institutional accident, of closing time according to interventionist natures. In abysmally unequal societies, such as Latin American ones, especially Brazil, the usual vicissitude –in essence, the democratic challenge of life and death– is the conversion of this precarious containment into a long-term normalized reality.

Value of socio-psychoanalysis of neo-fascist politics

Any outfit, uniformed or not, that eventually gets bored with the above reflection must, in the name of irresistible moods, charge direct tribute to French and German psychoanalytic roots. Despite the authoritarian annoyances, psychoanalysis and its socially oriented variants are, since the first decades of the XNUMXth century, irreversible. This article recognizes them as crucial for understanding political processes and behavior, in particular linked to neo-fascism.

The approach – succinct and communicative – of the relations between infantilism, authoritarian power and sublimation inspires the treatment of an essentially similar macrostructural phenomenon of humus, in a different reflective register, this time involving infantilization in culture: the psychosocial regression in the context of mass adherence to the use of “digital stickers” on social networks in the palm of your hands.

A post-industrial puerility surrounds people's lives in adulthood. From the belligerent infantilization in the sphere of conventional politics to the sign infantilization in the scale of cyberculture, one observes, between differences in nature and proportion, the similar epic of a domesticated and reified childhood, as induced by the current powers, in the direction of the status quo. Matter for a future article.

* Eugene Trivinho is professor of the Graduate Studies Program in Communication and Semiotics at PUC-SP.


* Prose verses from “Metamorfose do mal”, published in De Profundis (São Paulo: Iluminuras, 2010, p. 85). Translation by Claudia Cavalcanti.

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