no mincing words

Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin


Reflections on current Brazil.

I ask the reader for permission to write without certain constraints of language that often border on poetic license to describe the hardships passed by the majority of our Brazilian population that is without north. The federal government's narrative of confronting the COVID-19 virus by the messianic power of the leader who will save the nation by his psychic capacity for power emanating from some inexplicable force coming from forces beyond our comprehension, so common in the history of this country, revealed a fallacy of colossal proportions. In fact, according to the news released by all the means of communication in recent days, what we have is a political scene that borders on absurdity, even by the standards of a country that has never made a point of taking this matter seriously. much-proclaimed “democracy” on national soil.

Ignominy prevails due to the recurring public events promoted by President Bolsonaro in his psychic-quixotic adventures on trips/tours across the country promoting outrageous agglomerations for the moment in which we live. However, this same social degradation also spreads in private events clogged with people of the most varied social classes and ages. Over the weekends over the last year, parties and casinos bordered on promiscuity between the invisible and the visible, that is, between the virus and the contact between bodies and droplets of saliva in cramped rooms crowded with disproportionate people. Out with the dances!

In this sense, we are in a perfect storm, that is, the union between a pandemic with a virus that proved to be much more sneaky and merciless than we expected and a misfit government, psychologically speaking, with its chief leadership having Freudian delusions in its “superego”. ” of mass hypnotism. The last case that was taken to the extreme we know where the world ended up. It is logical that the moment is different, that Brazil is far from being a Germany of the second world war and that internal pressures still demonstrate some kind of collective sanity. But it is necessary to be attentive because, as the saying goes, “there is something rotten in the kingdom of Denmark”, and this rottenness travels in the center of federal power. Thus, it is a fact that the last week before 31/03/2021 slipped very close to an institutional coup attempt. If it weren't for the refusal of some military leaders aware of the role of the armed forces according to the Federal Constitution, who were promptly removed, in addition to the union of most of the country's media complex against such an event, perhaps we would already be regretting the validity of the reign of a charismatic demiurge.

The now-missed Italian psychoanalyst Contardo Calligaris did not like the term “holocaust”. For him, this expression conveyed the idea of ​​sacrifice, perhaps some kind of atonement. For everything that happened at the time, he preferred the meaning of “genocide”, as it indicated, precisely, the deliberate will to kill: murder. Well, the interesting thing is that this author, after absorbing the teachings of Hannah Arendt, especially after the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Lieutenant Colonel of the SS and logistical responsible for the atrocities in the Nazi concentration camps, corroborated her understanding (Arendt ) about how dangerous a society can be in which banal people decide to stop thinking. In the terms of Calligaris: “there is something in the dynamics of our normal society that makes stopping thinking a constant temptation, as if any excuse (ideological, for example) was a good way to escape loneliness, which is the condition of each person's moral dialogue with their conscience" (1).

Now, isn't it precisely this lack of moral dialogue between each person and their conscience that is lacking in Brazil today? And more, even understanding Calligaris's thesis about the collective predisposition of human beings to abdicate the “subjectivity of people”, wouldn't this thinker be mistaken in underestimating the power of the charismatic leader who professes the appropriate determinations to the yearning of the desiring masses? Was there, historically in our country, some type of domination of the masses that lasted long enough to be enshrined as a political-social paradigm, without the consent of a wealthier minority and/or the submission of a large majority without threshing floor?

I explain better: it's not that Calligaris is wrong in his thesis about the passion of human beings to be an instrument of the collective that, after all, outlines the paths that everyone must choose. Obviously, this collective instrument depends on the political paths taken at the whim of ideological winds at the observed moment. What is perhaps missing for a better understanding of this thinker is the original place of what Freud called the “ideal of the ego” in the feats of charisma. If we look through binoculars at this piece of land called Brazil, the authority of the rulers permeated, in most of the more democratic moments, the theological power of the charismatic leader, in the Platonic sense. Failure, or weakening of it, is always correlated with loss of agency.

However, one last ingredient was missing between these two impulses (charisma x arbitrariness), that is, the fetish. Note, first of all, that both charisma and agency are individual categories. The fetish, however, is ambiguous, as it can either be the result of a human animal psyche, or it can generalize, or degenerate, to an entire collective. In this vein, the commodity-producing system, through its new neoliberal guise, was a master at amalgamating the two previous drives that prevailed in the ancient world until the interwar period, the new (old?) ambivalent drive of the unmeasured demand for subjectivized consumption.

Indeed, with the Social Welfare program going at full steam in Western Europe and the Soviet bloc showing signs of exhaustion of the planned socialist model, it was necessary to extend the power of this triad around the world, especially in peripheral countries. (2), aiming to extend the power of the capitalist economic model of the main world powers, which would become triumphant until the current historical moment, along with the local elites who burned with desire for the acceleration of the new technology. In other words, it was necessary to include more people in the list of consumer desires inescapable from the shine of machines and hallucinatory pills of delegation of individual and collective wills on the edges of the neoliberal system: the definitive globalization.

But how to add a large contingent of human beings until then on the margins of a model that in itself centralizes the main benefits that capitalism provides to the owners of necropolitics, in the terms of Achille Mbembe (3)?

Here we return to Brazil today, since this necropolitics identified by the Cameroonian thinker fit like a glove in national territory. It is public knowledge, only those who do not want to/read it cannot see/understand that the parliamentary coup against former president Dilma Rousseff paved the main access route for the current authoritarian government, with a clear neo-fascist bias. A Tupiniquim species from the Roman “Via Appia Antica” of our times. In fact, the entire still rather precarious network of solidarity built by the Lulista model of government in the thirteen years of hegemony (4) waned in just 5 years after the PT stepped down from power. Along with the already infamous “Lava-Jato”, it destroyed the social fabric that formed around a society hopeful for a better future, in the name of the old concept already explained by Albert O. Hirschmann in the “rhetoric of intransigence”. (5).

The way out found by the new (old?) ruling class was simply to deepen the country even further in the irrationality of consumerist desire. The fetish of the fetish. Of course, no one here or there expected a pandemic of these proportions. This, by the way, has been the great opponent of this authoritarian government, given the anesthetic state of our society. First, because of the smear campaign described above against PT governments. Second, due to the mental confusion installed by the denialist federal government x the scientists. However, the tenacious resistance of the neoliberal wing of the government must be highlighted, turning to “boiada” whenever chaos gives a refreshment. The political hyenas know that, as in the past, after the feast of privatization and environmental devastation, they will be able to enjoy the luxury stolen in brothels for “good people” around the world, “ceteris paribus” (a maxim of economics that I borrowed), that is, for those who are left alive after the pandemic ends.

If Freud were alive today, it is possible that he himself would not believe the horror he predicted. The Bolsonarist government stands out for its media inelegance in directing the population to slaughter. The “cattle” we have already talked about is also the people being stimulated to death through the stimulus promoted by the commodity production system to live and enjoy without limits, since the idea massified by it is that consuming is always good, regardless of the moment . According to Ab'Sáber: “What was done in Brazil is that the immense destructive impulses of Bolsonarism, not being able to entirely destroy everything they want – the left, minority representations, universities, artists, civil rights – overflowed to destroy the whole of society” (6).

Thus, the logic of the common good is inverted for the triumph of the individual good. In Brazil, as in the vast majority of peripheral countries, the capitalist improvement of living for now, for yesterday is encouraged, as if tomorrow no longer brought anything good, for the sake of the consumerist insanity of goods that, deep down, do not have any real value. No wonder the growing concern about the possible increase in suicides in this pandemic in countries more submissive to the "iron heel", in London's lyrics (7).

Meanwhile, the worst defeat for the Bolsonaro government happened outside our borders, namely, the electoral defeat of Trump. As is known, Bolsonaro bet all his chips in the Trumpist “fake news” casino and lost. He is isolated as a world pariah, as even Putin made the right move to submit to science at this point. What to say about the mockery of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the Brazilian president a clown on the internet, in an Israeli humor program, precisely for denying the potential for infection and death of COVID-19? How can we deny the correlation between this non-previously deliberate but invisible way of killing with the invisible but deliberate way of killing in the holocaust (invisible in the sense of far away, outside cities, in large concentration camps)?

It is not easy to find authors who have the correct insight into the world we live in and the history in which we are inserted. The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran is one of them. In his book “History and Utopia” (8), claims that this world is not wonderful. In addition, he reminds his friend, who is also a philosopher of the same nationality, Constantin Noica, that (parliamentary) democracy is nothing more than a superstition. However, and despite hating it in its intellectual dawn, he knew how to identify the nuances of the two predominant types of society of his time, which he called “intolerable societies”: the liberal bourgeoisie of the West, of which he was a part, despite his multiple complaints; and the Soviet planned society. Both removed from human beings two of the main revolutionary forces: utopia (USSR) and imagination (western bourgeoisie).

If only our current problem were “just” the rescue of utopia and/or the libertarian imagination. Bolsonaro's Brazil is reactionary, colonial, racist, elitist and disruptive. “Nothing new at the front”, would say the German writer Erich Maria Remarque. We have been “bestialized” for 130 years (9) with the type of policy made in the country. However, we can no longer wait for some messiah (worth the pun), or for some new maharaja hunter. Soon the country will have more than 5.000 daily deaths from COVID-19. The cordial carnage [forgive me NETHERLANDS (10) by the sacrilege of the neologism] to which the Brazilian people have become accustomed throughout their history – of the native peoples here; of blacks torn from their homeland by iron and fire; from small farmers to rural oligarchies, and later to agribusiness; of the urban worker discarded by technological progress – will not be able to repeat itself in the type of carnage in fashion of the current president, unless it is to remain proven what at no other moment in our history was: genocide. But so what?

* André Márcio Neves Soares is a doctoral student in Social Policies and Citizenship at the Catholic University of Salvador - UCSAL.



(2) Anyone interested in going deeper into this topic, I suggest Robert Kurz, in his renowned book The Collapse of Modernization, Editora Paz e Terra, 1992. Reference author for the critique of abstract commodity value, not always as recognized and mentioned as it deserves;

(3) MBEMBE, Achilles. Necropolitical. São Paulo. n-1 editions. 2018.

(4) One can dispute or not this model, which, in fact, left something to be desired in many aspects, but it was evident the gain of citizenship for a significant portion of the country's less well-off population. Francisco de Oliveira has one of the most pertinent and ferocious criticisms of “Lulismo”, in his book Brazil: an unauthorized biography. São Paulo. Boitempo. 2018, among others.

(5) HIRSCHMANN, Albert O. The rhetoric of intransigence. São Paulo. Company of Letters. 1992. Here, in a brief summary, the author identifies/explains the phenomenon of the elites changing what is blocking the continuity of their “status quo”, and even its expansion, with a rhetoric for the population about some new benefit, whenever if you see yourself cornered, it will come to nothing;


(7) LONDON, Jack. The Iron Taco. São Paulo. Boitempo. 2011.

(8) CIORAN, Emil. History and Utopia. Rio de Janeiro. Rocco. 2011.

(9) CARVALHO, José Murilo de. the bestialized. São Paulo. Company of Letters. 1991.

(10) For those who haven't read or don't understand the concept of the “cordial man”, just go straight to the source: HOLANDA, Sérgio Buarque de. Brazil roots. São Paulo. Company of Letters. 1995.


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