My grandfather used to say:
“Em casa onde falta pão, todo mundo briga e ninguém tem razão.”
“In a home where there´s no bread, everyone fights, and nobody is right.” (A popular saying in Brazil)
I couldn´t agree with him more.
The last few years in Brazil have been challenging for most of us, Brazilian citizens.
We have experienced many highs and lows in our society and its economy for a while now.
But this period, the biggest economic crisis in our history, has also come along with a devastating decrease in our standard of living as well as the widespread perception of a deeply corrupt political system. This combination looks terrible on a daily basis, but beyond that, it has also led us to a desperate desire for change, radical change.
|São Paulo, Brazil – Waiting – Denys Argyriou|
The Brazilian left-wing Workers Party (PT) governed Brazil for 14 years.
It inherited a country already economically stable and ready to improve, but still lacking the social changes we needed to make progress in the battle against poverty.
During its first few years in power, it increased social aid programs and pushed millions out of poverty to create a new middle class. It was wonderful to believe that we were finally on the right path to prosperity.
But this new middle class was not financially independent, and most of the improvement was subsidized by government money, which took us a while to realize.
As time passed, huge corruption scandals shook the country, paralyzed the government and the economy, breaking our fragile stability, and leading to the impeachment of a president for bypassing congress to finance deficit spending by the government.
The investigations revealed that popular politicians from many different parties and successful businessmen were involved in bribery, collusion and kickbacks. An outrageous number of Brazilian representatives (352 of 594) are currently under investigation.
|São Paulo, Brazil – Avenida Jornalista Roberto Marinho – Denys Argyriou|
The country was ready to riot. Calls for change exploded in 2016, and people took to the streets for the largest protests in our history.
Government supporters and their opponents became locked in a permanent battle.
At that time the country began to split.
Most left-wing PT followers believed and promoted the idea that every person supporting impeachment was an extreme right-wing enthusiast, and this view reinforced the growing polarization.
Most supporters of impeachment believed and argued that the left-wing government was truly responsible for unleashing uncontrollable corruption that had co-opted the political system and brought Brazil to the brink of bankruptcy. For now, this is the belief of the majority.
After some years of gaining confidence in our improvement, we were taken by surprise as we encountered the strong feeling of vulnerability that has led us to fear, anger and an extreme polarization of our society.
During the turmoil of this last presidential election, some Brazilians, from both sides, began to think that whoever holds a different opinion was a radical opponent, supporting a very destructive political scheme, like an enemy not to be trusted.
|Maringá, Brazil – Reflected – Laura Marques|
However, a 2017 survey called “Crisis Perceptions” (published by Gallup World Poll and FGV) shows that our core issues are not ideological as many may believe, but purely survival.
We are second to last among the 124 countries surveyed in “fear of violence,” “disbelief in the political system” and “a lack of confidence in the state.”
You can gain an idea of how we feel if you compare us to other countries. For example, only Afghanistan ranks worse than us in the category of “feel unsafe walking at night in their home area” (Brazil: 68%) and only Bosnia ranks worse than us in “do not trust the federal government” (Brazil: 82%).
|São Paulo, Brazil – Protests – Marcelo Camargo|
Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash Operation), an ongoing criminal investigation being carried out by the federal police, discovered the biggest corruption scandal in Latin America´s history.
The misappropriation of public assets by billionaires should be viewed against the increases in violent crime, which accounted for a record high number of 64 thousand deaths in 2017. Our daily fear gives us the impression that we are already living in a war against crime.
That feeling is strong. It is shared by the upper, middle and lower classes, and it´s breeding a movement of intolerance with everything related to crime and government corruption, which, for many Brazilians, includes the Brazilian left-wing. The urge to reduce violence in order to prevent total chaos led us to vote against the political establishment inherited from the Worker´s Party.
Mr. Bolsonaro, the right-wing candidate from a small party, was elected president despite his highly conservative statements that offended many and caused thousands of women to protest, shouting “Ele não” (“Not him”), in mass demonstrations throughout the country.
The answer to the “Not him” movement was another movement called “Eles não” (“Not them”), not anyone remotely related to the Worker´s Party.
|São Paulo, Brazil – Rua Cardeal Arcoverde – Philip Sampaio|
Maybe we could call this political moment a Breakdown of the Brazilian State.
This scenario inevitably feeds extremism, which has emerged from an absence of hope and infiltrated our citizens in desperation. We can´t deny that the lethargy is gone. These are passionate times.
Many want to see the former political system come crashing down and many are calling for order and a reduction in the scope of the federal government. A wish that is consistent with some of the new president’s promises, at least in terms of the economy, when he says “Mais Brasil e menos Brasília,” which means “More Brazil and less Brasília (Brazil´s capital, where most of the political scandals occurred).”
We are feeling a kind of sharp aversion to the government, a feeling that we simply can´t suppress, and that doesn´t fit in any left-wing program.
Most voters chose to reject the Worker´s Party for someone we may not entirely agree with. For us, the result of this very polarized election, that ended friendships and pulled families apart, represents more of a collapse of the left than a victory of the right.
|Poços de Caldas, Brazil – Downtown – Vinícius Henrique|
But while all share this wish to put Brazil back on the right track, we are surrounded by a hybrid war between ideological opponents that is indeed very stressful.
This war between political opponents has drawn attention in a way that may hide what´s really defining most of our citizens’ worries and choices.
Brazilians never cared much about political parties or ideologies. This issue never reached the base of our society. That is so true that although the elected president won in every state in four of the five Brazilian regions (he lost only in the northeast, the poorest and less educated area of Brazil), this election showed a new record with a 60% increase in invalid ballots.
|Rocinha, Brazil – From Rocinha in the favella – Rasmus Bang|
The truth is that this last election was ruled by fear and disgust.
Fake news and misleading contents poured out from both sides.
The left-wing candidate himself, Mr. Haddad, used national television to accuse Mr. Bolsonaro´s Vice President, General Mourão, of being a torturer during the Brazilian Dictatorship. But Mr. Mourão was only 16 years old and still in school at that time.
The right-wing candidate, Mr. Bolsonaro, accused Mr. Haddad, as the former PT Minister of Education, of promoting homosexuality from kindergarteners to high schoolers. But the educational program in discussion was focused on schools’ staff and teachers to avoid homophobia.
|Volta Redonda, Brazil – Peeping out – Talles Alves|
Falsehoods increased hate on both sides and, since social media played a big part in this election, were spread everywhere, turning into jokes, memes and street fights. However, there is a preference for this form of news. Maybe e-democracy will have to learn how to live with fake news and handle it wisely, since we are all tired of fancy marketing campaigns and hunger for some spontaneity, even if it´s full of slip-ups in speeches, blunders or even awfully disgusting online hate. It´s risky, but we prefer it to propaganda, especially after knowing that a lot of money from corruption was used to support expensive reelection campaigns.
We´ll have to learn how to check what is true and what is not before starting to hate each other for nothing.
Nonetheless, in this environment, most voters chose to reject the ruling party for someone we may not entirely agree with. We will see what the result is.
It should be repeated: “In a home where there´s no bread, everyone fights, and nobody is right.”
Photo 1: Jaboticatubas, Brazil – Birds on a wire – Ronaldo de Oliveira (Unsplash)
Photo 2: Brasilia, Brazil – Pro and contra impeachment – Juca Varella (Wikicommons)
Photo 3: São Paulo, Brazil – Waiting – Denys Argyriou (Unsplash)
Photo 4: São Paulo, Brazil – Avenida Jornalista Roberto Marinho – Denys Argyriou (Unsplash)
Photo 5: Maringá, Brazil – Reflected – Laura Marques (Unsplash)
Photo 6: São Paulo, Brazil – Protests – Marcelo Camargo (Wikicommons)
Photo 7: São Paulo, Brazil – Rua Cardeal Arcoverde – Philip Sampaio (Unsplash)
Photo 8: Poços de Caldas, Brazil – Downtown – Vinícius Henrique (Unsplash)
Photo 9: Rocinha, Brazil – From Rocinha in the favella – Rasmus Bang (Unsplash)
Photo 10: Volta Redonda, Brazil – Peeping out – Talles Alves (Unsplash)
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
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The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed
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Deiana, Sara. The Dark Side of Perfection. September 2018.
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Ray, Sanjay Kumar. Once upon a Time in a Queue – India. November 2018.
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Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.
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Sem, Sebastião. Vagrant Poets. September 2018.
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Sevunts, Nane. From Uncertainty to Newness. November 2018.
Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.
Trojnar, Kamila. Ephemeral. October 2018.
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The Anthology of Global Instability
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CW 3 – Venezuela – Veronica Cordido
CW 4 – South America – Alejandra Baccion
CW 5 – Germany and Romania – Andreea Sepi
CW 6 – South Africa – Sarah Leah Pimentel
CW 7 – Bolivia – Osvaldo Montano
CW 8 – Spain – Jonay Quintero Hernandez
CW 9 – Indonesia – Rina Sitorus
CW 10 – Mexico – Alejandra Gonzalez Sarinana
CW 11 – Armenia – Armine Asryan
CW 12 – Serbia – Vuka Mijuskovic
CW 13 – Peru – Monica Valenzuela
CW 14 – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Aleksandar Skobic
CW 15 – Argentina – Julieta Spirito
CW 16 – Italy – Mary Ranaldo
CW 17 – Lebanon – Ghadir Younes
CW 18 – Cuba – Marilin Guerrero Casas
CW 19 – Ukraine – Evgeny Bondarenko
CW 20 – Uruguay – Andrea da Silva Escandell
CW 21 – Spain – Jazz Williams
CW 22 – Armenia – Mania Israyelyan
CW 23 – Poland – Pawel Awdejuk
CW 24 – Balkans – Aleksandar Protic
CW 25 – Italy – Daniela Cannarella
CW 26 – Serbia – Jelena Sekulic
CW 27 – Tajikistan – Nigina Kanunova
CW 28 – Portugal – Nuno Rosalino
CW 29 – Uruguay – Lillian Julber
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed