What does Brazil want from its military?

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By RICARDO ABRAMOVAY*

The elite of our armed corporation acted as if the fall of the Berlin Wall meant nothing to its operating strategy and the basic values ​​that guide it.

The reflective and self-reflective exercise necessary to overcome the January 8 coup attempt involves a crucial question: what does Brazil want from its military? Until now, and since 1985, the country has strengthened its democracy – not only without settling accounts with the crimes committed by representatives of the State during the dictatorship, but, above all, without ever going into the merits of what the most expressive military commands think, such as if the political-cultural bases of the training and performance of the military were an internal corporate matter. The problem is that this autonomy weighs like the sword of Damocles on society. [According to Greek legend, Damocles was a councilor who coveted the king's place - who one day gave it up. Damocles then observed that a sword was permanently hovering over the royal seat.]

The central question is inverted and receives a threatening formulation: what does the military want from Brazil?

The question is impertinent and absurd in a democracy, but it is radically legitimized by the military commands. His answer is not limited to the idea that we all want a sovereign, prosperous, less and less unequal and democratic country. Numerous seminars, statements and lives carried out during the pandemic show that the military commands closest to the Planalto Palace spread a crazy view of the world, which social networks amplified and which would not be so serious if it did not come from the armed bureaucracy whose constitutional function is to defend the country.

But defend the country against what? Incredible as it may seem, the most important inspiration from the military command that has been at the Planalto Palace in recent years to answer this question is a set of works by General Golbery do Couto e Silva, published in the 1950s, whose basic idea is that , in the post-World War II world, physical borders were replaced by ideological borders. According to this conception, the mission of the armed bureaucracy is not so much to protect the country from external invasions, but rather to guard it against an internal enemy that ended up materializing, after the 1964 coup, in the resistance organizations to the dictatorship. In this narrative, torture, assassinations, kidnappings and other widely documented forms of violence are justified by the civic mission of preventing the victory of communism.

Large corporations only endure over time if they are able to perceive changes in the environments in which they operate. But the elite of our armed corporation acted as if the fall of the Berlin Wall meant nothing to its operating strategy and the basic values ​​that guide it.

The enemy remains internal. The delirium that a communist threat hangs over the country at the beginning of the third decade of the 1964st century is not a pure product of social networks. It is an idea that the leadership of the military bureaucracy never ceased to propagate, whether when it insisted on commemorating the XNUMX coup or in everyday statements. The camps in front of the barracks were admitted because they strengthen this fantasy with which the Brazilian military elite, at least the one that has been next to the Planalto Palace in recent years, identifies.

And this has not been the subject of public debate where these fantasies could be given some reality check. On the contrary, through social networks, what Professor Zeynep Tufekci, from Columbia University, calls an “occult public sphere” was formed, in which the conspiratorial view of the world spreads, but in the form of bubbles of belonging. , which prevents it from being submitted to any sensible form of empirical verification, let alone public and open discussion.

But, nowadays, the biggest internal enemy, besides this communist specter, is sustainability. Who says it is the general, and now senator, Hamilton Mourão. In a Webinar held on the occasion of the two hundred years of independence, on August 25, 2021, at the General Villas Bôas Institute, he explained: “in this XNUMXst century, one of the biggest issues that threaten sovereignty is sustainability. In this way, the issue of the development of the Amazon, where several non-state actors limit our sovereignty, is something that has to be embraced by the nation as a whole”. In addition to communism, as internal enemies, there are activists, scientists and entrepreneurs who defend the forest and the people who live in it.

General Augusto Heleno, in the public hearing on the Climate Fund, convened by Minister Luís Roberto Barroso, at the STF, pontificated, in 2020: “The reasons for warming are discussed by famous scientists with antagonistic theses”.

These are not isolated cases: still in 2021, in conversation with the Defense & Security Institute, General Luiz Eduardo Rocha Paiva criticized the “submissive governments” that compromised national sovereignty, particularly in border areas, for having promoted the demarcation and signed the “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

These rants are strongly related to the priorities that the command of the military bureaucracy established, together with the Planalto Palace and a significant part of the Parliament, for the largest tropical forest in the world: to legalize what common sense and democracy made illegal (invading indigenous territories , strengthening mining, illegally extracting wood and grabbing public lands) and preventing the strengthening of organizations and activities linked to sustainable development. Paralyzing the Amazon Fund and denouncing democratic multilateralism are expressions of the folly that has made Brazil a global pariah.

Of course, people have the right to believe what they want. What is unacceptable is that the ideas and political-cultural bases of the formation and performance of such an important and costly bureaucratic body be treated as a topic of internal interest, inaccessible and insensitive to democratic debate. The 8th of January will not go into the past until Brazil broadly and openly discusses the ethical-normative values ​​that guide the military bureaucracy.

Ricardo Abramovay is senior professor at the Institute of Energy and Environment at USP. Author, among other books, of Amazon: towards an economy based on the knowledge of nature (Elephant/Third Way).

Originally published on Piauí magazine.

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