Is fascism a collateral effect of the capitalist ideology? Some words on the process of impeachment in my country
Wearing CBF t-shirts, Brazilian flags, hats, and blowing their vuvuzelas, pro-impeachment Brazilians watch the voting in Brasilia, and celebrate the 367 x 137 that warrants the continuity of the impeachment process in Brazil. Photo: Agência Brasil.
From the Oxford Dictionary of English:
fascism ► noun an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization ◼︎ (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.
The world is getting fascist again. It’s not Brazil, it’s not England, it’s not Europe, it’s not the USA: worldwide, just like it happened back in the World War II, people are struggling with the financial crisis and austerity, regardless the economic growth their country displays in the newspaper. Their response to that: singing the national anthem, wearing their countries’ flags, claiming for a government that will “ make the country great again.”
This is all happening in Brazil right now. The rise of the right included, and which is widely encouraged — that was a euphemism, it’s more like commanded — by the medias. Wear green and yellow, paint your faces, go to the streets, and shout “down with that government”, “in the name of a better Brazil.” The main TV network, Globo, interrupted it’s regular programmes, such as the traditional Sunday football match, to transmit the people’s dissatisfaction with the government several times. Those riots were never repressed by the police, but were actually supported: it was very common to see people taking selfies with the soldiers (yes, in Brazil, the Police is still militarised).
Back in the 1920’s and 30’s, the rise of governments that committed the atrocities of the World War II was largely supported by the regular people, in a very similar fashion. They were sick to their bones of the crisis around them. They couldn’t understand: why were they losing their jobs, why couldn’t they provide to their families anymore, why were their lives getting worse and worse? Well, how can I put this… “because of the Jews”, of course! In 2015, it is not different. Our lives are horrible “because of refugees”, “because of Mexicans”, “because of benefits to poor people”, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are. In Brazil? “Because of the president.”
The problem never is, and never will be, with the system — that is unfair on its roots. The problem is always a particular group of people, or one individual, that concentrates all the causes of the social, economic, and political crisis we’re living. In the words of Slavoj Žižek:
“[…] instead of blaming the capitalist system, the rage is focused on a specific ethnic group accused of corrupting the system.”
So the system is perfectly fine, it is just not working properly because someone is messing it up, stealing the part of the cake that is mine by right. By right, because the ones rioting against the president are not the poor, the truly oppressed, the deprived. No. The ones “rioting” against the president in Brazil are the educated, the white, the privileged. The ones who were born and raised to be the winners, to get it all: nothing can stop you! Work hard, dream big; the best way to predict the future is to create it; stop wishing, start doing. We all know those quotes: we were taught at a very early age that the world was ours to take. A large sum was invested in our education to ensure we would continue to prosper as our parents and grandparents — most of them hard-working European immigrants that came to Brazil without a dime, and made a prosperous life from scratch: true self-made men! The system is made of opportunities to those who are smart enough to take them. Then why things are not working as they should be?
There always has to be an Other to blame, the Big Other from Lacanian psychoanalysis: the figure we use as a scapegoat for all the problems faced in our society. Like the original scapegoat, that one is used to protect something else: it is given in sacrifice as a replacement to what we wish to shield. In the case of the impeachment in my country; or the refugees, Mexicans, immigrants and poor people; what is being protected is the system itself. You sacrifice one group — one ethnicity, one religion, one nationality, one political figure — and that makes people satisfied for a while. Then they become hopeful: now that we took care of this, things we’ll be good again. My country will be great again. And when it isn’t, it is simple: you just assign a new guilty figure. And no one ever thinks about the system, because they are too busy fighting the Jews, the immigrants, the elected president Dilma Rousseff.
The way it’s been conducted, this impeachment process resembles uncannily the strategy used to protect the system back in the 20th century. But instead of blaming a particular ethnic group, or class, the media is leading the process of making the elected president herself the “Big Other”. Reading the news and the testimonials people favourable to the impeachment pour profusely on social media, Dilma Rousseff appears as the inventor and the cause of all the corruption that has ever existed, and by removing her from the power, all the problems of the country will be solved overnight. That is why Sunday’s vote for the opening of the process of impeachment, that was 367 pro and 137 against, was celebrated as the victory of a Sunday football match: with fireworks and vuvuzelas. It doesn’t matter that it is an attack on the laws and the democracy itself. It doesn’t matter that the people pro-impeachment are the 49% that voted for the opposition in 2014, against the 51% that elected the president in the same year; what really matters, deep down, is that this coup on the laws and the democracy itself are working favourably to the wishes of a “me”.
This “me” who wants the president gone, so the “me” can have their piece of the cake again, was impeccably reflected in the speeches of the deputies who supported the impeachment. They weren’t voting for an equal nation, for a more fair and great country, for a Brazil without oppression. Those were the wishes of the deputies who voted “No”: against the coup d’état, for the democracy, for the respect to the popular vote, for all the oppressed. The favourable to the impeachment, rather, decided, instead, to dedicate their vote to the people around them, their dearest ones: to their families, to their cities, to their religious organisations, to God. It is a subtle, yet significant detail, which denounces somehow the personal motivation — on the best liberal spirit! — that leads the interest on the impeachment — “so I, and the ones I love, can have a better life” — versus the motivation for the common good, for a better country for all, even if they’re not part of your personal circle.
The capitalist ideology plays with the passions of the individual as a motivation for achieving great things. You should do it for your family and loved ones, even if the price to your happiness is the misery of another. Hate the game, don’t hate the player: if you want it, you take it, and you don’t rest while it’s yours. Even if to achieve it you might have to overlook some laws, or ally yourself with people from questionable morals: you’re just doing what you have to do to succeed, as you’ve been taught since primary school…
Although I understand ignorance is indeed bliss, the time is the one to stop being so naïve, and feeling “informed” while reading only opinions that agree with your beliefs — or only believing the opinions you read currently, which is a vicious cycle anyway. Yes, we are all angry. But how long are we still going to be blaming the Other and anOther, without seeing any changes? It’s been almost one century since the rise of Mussolinis and Hitlers. Do we really need to elect Trumps, while deposing democratically elected, honest presidents?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”
said Albert Einstein.
And if that is not enough, I’ll leave a final hint. Revolutions don’t happen in peace and harmony with the establishment, with balloons and choreographies and football t-shirts. If the police is by your side, if the media is by your side, if powerful corporations are by your side, then you’re not changing anything: you’re just a pawn in the game, replicating the very things you should be fighting against.