Sergio Fernando Moro



The disposable arrogance of the middle class

Sergio Moro is like those human resources managers who think they have the power to fire people at the behest of the company's owner. He doesn't have the capacity to understand that they only manage the administrative machinery of big capital. The real holders of power – the owners of capital – don't want to get their hands dirty in this service. That's why they hire these figures. And the worst part is that many of them believe that they have the same power as the capitalists. They are also “wage earners”, although they may even earn more.

The 1964/85 military dictatorship had the role of intensifying the modernization of the country's economy through integration via the consumer market. The urban middle classes formed in the 1970s, particularly in the days of the “economic miracle”, began to exercise their citizen-consciousness by going to stores and having access to consumer goods that, in the past, were exclusive to the high bourgeoisie: new-year cars, home appliances, electronic equipment.

Parallel to this, the depoliticization of the university environment, with the brutal repression of student and teaching movements, the prohibition of more qualified intellectual debate, the unbridled expansion and lack of quality of private education, contributed to form a private and public administrative bureaucracy adequate to this sociability of consumption.

Another aspect is that this “modern urban” society formed during the military dictatorship was nationally integrated by the media discourse, particularly television.[1] The formation of the mass cultural market took place in a context of brutal political repression, which is why what happened in these parts is very different from what Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton call a narcotizing dysfunction. In the text “Mass communication, popular taste and organized social action”, they pointed out that the excess of information generates a feeling of impotence, which “drugs individuals” and this would generate apathetic people, something dysfunctional for a democratic society.[2] Although it can be questioned to what extent this action is dysfunctional for bourgeois democracy, in a military dictatorship in which all citizenship rights are prohibited, this narcotization is more than functional.

The result of this is a generation of technical bureaucrats, without any notion of political and/or democratic subjectivity, enjoying media culture and whose only form of social expression is distinction through consumption. With this, the bourgeoisie in Brazil has a stock of people capable of exercising the role of “reigning classes” without any risk of being inadequate to the system.[3] More than that, ruling classes that assume the role of protagonists in the full execution of the project of dependent capitalism in the country.

The data show the role that Operation Lava Jato played in the destruction of the main pillars of national economic development – ​​from the large public works contractors that accumulated sophisticated technology in the execution of large works in tropical countries to Petrobras, which was consolidating itself as a company state-owned company inducing an important national production chain in the oil energy sector strategy.

The result of this we are feeling in our pockets now: transformed merely into an oil extraction company subject to a transnational production chain and focused only on serving foreign shareholders, the price of derivatives was dollarized and the prices of gasoline, cooking gas, diesel rose almost that weekly. Not to mention unemployment.

This entire process of destruction of this national neo-developmentalist project had its moments of consolidation in the coup against President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the election of Bolsonaro in 2018. From then on, the “HR manager” is no longer needed and is raffled off. As well as parts of the urban middle class – the same that considers itself the ruling class, but are mere foremen – which is also affected by the economic crisis, uncontrolled exchange rates that increased the costs of imported products and trips abroad and, now, the spread of coronavirus.

Stunned by these various blows, like a rebellious teenager, she tries to blame everyone else for the problems caused by her own inability to think beyond her navel. She speaks ill of “politicians” forgetting that many of the corrupt politicians were elected with her vote. She says that Brazil doesn't work, but it's those who disrespect traffic laws, evade income tax, try to corrupt public agents to take advantage, throw garbage in the street, among others. And they blame their behaviors because “politicians do it too…”

Sergio Moro is the expression of this social segment. His conservative political position is not a mere ideological option, but the product of a form of insertion in this sociability. His intellectual limitation – which is also present in a large part of his still “supporters” – prevents him from seeing that, contrary to what he thinks, not only does he have no power but he is disposable. Just like the HR manager who fired a bunch of colleagues at the behest of the company owner and then got fired too. He has already fulfilled his function, now he is discarded.

*Dennis De Oliveira He is a professor at the Department of Journalism and Publishing at the School of Communications and Arts at USP and a researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA) at USP


[1] On the formation of the symbolic goods market in the 1970s, see ORTIZ, Renato. The modern Brazilian tradition. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1988.

[2] LAZARSFELD, P; MERTON, R. “Mass communication, popular taste and organized social action”. In: COHN, G. (org). Communication and cultural industry. São Paulo: Editora Nacional, 1978.

[3] The concept of “ruling classes” is proposed by POULANTZAS, Nicos. Political power and social classes. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp, 2019.

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