Rio Grande do Sul – full of immorality

Porto Alegre), Salgado Filho Airport during the 2024 flood/ Photo: Rafa Neddermeyer/ Agência Brasil


Unlike professional career politicians and denialists, popular wisdom knows well the nature of the events that occurred in Rio Grande do Sul


Among so many serious and many irreversible issues, such as the loss of more than a hundred lives, what has the environmental catastrophe in Rio Grande do Sul been teaching us so far?

It is safe to say that not even in catastrophic situations, gigantic in the degree of destruction and death, science is brought into the debate. Why? Because, with science, data analysis would demonstrate the infinite series of excesses, abuses and environmental crimes that led to the destruction of the State of Rio Grande do Sul – because, above all, it was human action, in the service of barbaric capital (read agribusiness and oil exploration as an energy source) the engine of this enormous humanitarian and environmental crisis (and many others).[I]

The denialism seen in the COVID-19 pandemic – with disdain for the dead or for the vaccination that would turn us into alligators, with the implantation of reptilian chips – and in state actions aimed at countering public vaccination, is a similar case (and close in terms of time) of denial of science. This denial appeared at the polls. The cities with the highest death rates from COVID-19 were those that registered the highest votes for former president Jair Bolsonaro. A study carried out at Unicamp showed the relationship between the electoral choice in the 2018 election and deaths during the pandemic. This relationship remained in the 2022 election, despite the disastrous effects of the denialist policy.[ii]

In addition to the medical science denied (by many, even today), social science would tell us that this type of denialism (or mockery of other people's deaths) is a striking feature of current fascism. The future is already present, and social and environmental catastrophes are ahead of fiction itself, because they are real, they are human beings like us and you who read this text. We have already experienced what artists created and will still create.[iii]

Therefore, the following question is our first and next clue: when did we lose the total ability to connect as humans, with a minimum of sociability and empathy?


The environmental disaster in Rio Grande do Sul revealed to us the worst in humanity, in Brazilian culture. It is not normal to respond to this serious humanitarian crisis with looting, looting – it is not normal to feel so much indifference to the deaths of hundreds of people or the loss of loved ones and their unique possessions. It's even worse if we think that those most affected are the poorest populations, many of those who had already lost everything in 2023 - and now, what the water didn't take away, thieves and looters took it.[iv].

In addition, the leader of a specialized sector of organized crime in São Paulo was heading to Rio Grande do Sul when he was captured. Your specialty? Loan sharking with 300% interest per month.

Who would you be offering your services to? To those who have already lost everything, with only a thread of hope left to stay alive. And how much has the Government invested since the last major flood, last year, in preventing climate crises? Zero or very close to it. We still add to the human scourge a business gesture that forwards the “change” that customers in their stores send for help. In other words, it markets financial donations with other people’s money.

Cynicism has always been a matter of philosophical analysis, although current levels would leave any thinker quite embarrassed. Regardless of this, cynicism has to be analyzed in a more organic way, as part of the national culture, as an ingredient of an elaborate immorality. The result is not just disbelief in institutions, as we see in the appearance of anti-system candidates. The problem is now much broader, and solutions seem short (escapist) or only appear in the long term.

It seems that, after insisting so much – we would say for centuries – on human indifference, treating people like things, disposable objects, today, we finally see the light of these harmful origins. It is not normal to see the death of people agonized by tragedy and take advantage of it.

What we call cynicism, in a psychological reading, could well be translated as psychopathy, since the mental disorder is characterized by antisocial and amoral behaviors, the inability to establish deep emotional bonds and to feel remorse or regret and extreme egocentrism. It is not difficult to visualize this type of behavior if we remember that authorities have already publicly mocked people dying from shortness of breath, at the height of the pandemic. This cannot be considered normal.

Within psychology there is no consensus that differentiates psychopathy and sociopathy. But, in general terms, and specifically regarding the cause of the condition, psychopathy is a condition innate to the individual, who has a brain structure with fewer connections between some structures that regulate emotions and social behaviors. Sociopathy, in turn, is a condition of social origin, which results from the environment and social exchanges in which the individual is immersed. Both sociopaths and psychopaths violate social rules in different ways. It is estimated that around 1% of the world's population has psychopathy.

That a person is born with a brain condition for manipulation and violation of norms, or that others have suffered trauma during childhood that leads them to attitudes without empathy, is one thing. Now, that so many other people make these early leaders, or become blind followers of some of these figures, is truly worrying. Identification with people of this caliber of immorality is not occasional, it is not accidental, it is not a coincidence. It is a profound similarity with indifference and the inability to feel the pain of the Other. It is not normal for us to support or identify with individuals who are incapable of maintaining even a minimum level of social interaction.


Therefore, the feelings that the environmental disaster in Rio Grande do Sul revealed to us, in addition to the lack of social empathy of the authorities themselves, inert and indifferent, was the immoral adherence to very high levels of sociopathy: a disorder more of character, of immorality, which is the result of some brain dysfunction (although it can also be). In this way we see that the environmental disaster, not to mention the environmental crimes involved in the aftermath of the flood, reveals a social problem that is very difficult to solve. In our case, it really seems that cynicism has converted into sociopathy.

One can question these statements, contrasting them with the countless demonstrations of solidarity with those affected in Rio Grande do Sul. Companies, public figures, artists have donated amounts and raised amounts to contribute[v], while ordinary people volunteer both when rescuing victims and in recovering cities[vi]. Would this wave of solidarity be a contradiction to immorality?

To understand this issue, we must first understand that we are dealing here with a social issue, not exclusively an individual one, although it is also an individual one. In other words, it is not about João, Maria or Pedro, but about a society that, in its illness, takes actions that in appearance are of empathy, but in essence, maintains the status quo – and the environmental (and social) catastrophe would persist. That is, the billionaires who donate continue to exploit workers, the volunteers who row, continue to vote for denialist and sociopathic politicians. This is an underground immorality, as we still have to deal with that which is explicit.

In the midst of a tragedy of epic proportions, women and children have to be separated from men in accommodation, because cases of violence, abuse and rape are not few. There is no exaggeration in saying that it was necessary to establish a moratorium,[vii] a kind of state of emergency over or against total immorality.[viii]

Present and future analyzes of Brazilian society need to take into account sociopathy, and not just the minimum levels of social interaction – because, if before they were subject to a “minimum” check, today it seems that they have gained almost absolute dimensions, like a real flood of immorality, explicit and underground.

Let us ask again: When was it established that denialism, the lack of environmental control and accountability, constant deforestation and the greed for the last natural resources are valid symbols for sociability?[ix]? Given the worst impact on people's real lives, social chaos, the destruction of the land devastated by water, is it correct to say that donations of food, clothing, medicine, equipment will be responsible for a “negative impact on local commerce”? But what would this local commerce be if everything was destroyed, neighborhoods, entire cities, as in a war scenario?[X]?

In serious cases, like this combo that we see taking place in Brazil, in fact, “ignorance compounded by imbecility” should constitute a criminal offense, as, to mention just one case, it was associated with a social and environmental tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul. South to macumba.[xi]

Unlike professional career politicians and denialists, popular wisdom knows well the nature of the events that occurred in Rio Grande do Sul and is convinced of the knowledge acquired through common sense, to know that it is not a problem of nature, but yes resulting from destructive human action[xii].

So, finally, the question remains: what will they do after that?

*Vinicio Carrilho Martinez He is a professor at the Department of Education at UFSCar. Author, among other books, of Bolsonarism. Some Political-Legal and Psychosocial Aspects (APGIQ). []

*Tainá Reis She has a PhD in sociology from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar).


[I] Events such as the heat wave and fires in Siberia in 2020, the drought in the Northern Hemisphere in 2022, floods in Pakistan in 2022, hurricanes in the USA, drought in the Amazon, among many others, are also the result of climate change. Scientists have been warning about the effects of climate change for decades. In fact, in 2014, Dilma Roussef's government commissioned major research on the topic to outline horizons for the Brazilian case, Brazil 2040: scenarios and alternatives for adapting to climate change. The document predicted increased rainfall, heat waves, droughts and hydroelectric plant collapses and rising sea levels. The report was shelved.

[ii] “Disbelief about the harmful effects of the pandemic, the non-acceptance of the use of face masks, initial resistance to purchasing vaccines and the slow implementation of an immunization campaign may be some of the reasons for this association between Bolsonaro's votes and excessive mortality.” Available in:

[iii] Hollywood productions, even with their commercial appeal, brought up the theme in different ways, as in The Day After Tomorrow and Wall-E. In 2024, Francis Ford Coppola's most recent production, Megalopolis, stands out.










the earth is round there is thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles