Brasil’s “Dictatorship Deniers”: the New Guise of Capitalist Hegemony

This year, April Fool’s was celebrated one day too early in Brazil. March 31st was the anniversary of the 1964 coup that kickstarted a 20 year military dictatorship, responsible for the disappearance, murder and torture of countless political figures. It has caused transgenerational trauma in families, not to mention the on-going US stronghold in the country and the region. The president approves and shows interest in participating in commemorations, because he claims there was no dictatorship, it was a needed authoritarian regime to prevent the country from turning “red”. His followers now form a new wave of “dictatorship deniers”, fuelled by anti-communist (pro-USA) conservative views. They even changed last Christmas’ color, and blue Santas were spotted all around the country. The whole situation feels like a cruel prank, if it wasn’t for the President’s unprecedented visit to the CIA (the institution that financed the dictatorship back then), and the talks with Trump over the future of Venezuela.

March also marks the anniversary of the brutal assassination of Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes. Marielle was a powerful voice for all women, the LGBTQ+ community, and residents of peripheries who are targets of militarized state oppression. They have both left devastated family members behind, and an army of activists dedicated to protecting each other from the horrors this Presidency has been presenting. In her academic thesis, she outlined the relationship between “militarization and [the] development of capitalism”, denounced tools used by the State to criminalize poverty, and exposed “a new guise for capitalist hegemony” in the police force. She was assassinated, and less than 6 months later Bolsonaro was elected.

The connections between her assassination and the President are clear: One of the men arrested for the shooting was Bolsonaro’s neighbor, they have been photographed together, and two of their children have dated. Now the question remains: who ordered the killing?

What Marielle called the “bipolar world” of the Cold War and the Brazilian Dictatorship “gave way to a single pole of power, led by [the] large capitalist monopolies and oligopolies” that we see today. The marginalization and murder of her people by these powers, at the hands illegitimate Armed Forces, isn’t knowledge that will die with her. In this country, we cannot distinguish between a criminal militia, the police and the Armed Forces. We’ve become used to the wholesale arrests of politicians, and somehow continue to hate the poor above all.

This week I called an Uber to move an amplifier, and the driver, noticing I play, asked me to verify a Youtube video. “Is this guy really playing the guitar, or is it fake?” It was real, a very good guitar player doing a mash up of rock classics. And then he said something interesting: “All this fake stuff on the internet isn’t there to trick us into believing lies, it’s there to make us not believe anything anymore. It de-legitimized the platforms.” This is where we are at with politics, and so-called Democracy.

They can claim that the hegemony is left-wing, and that being poor means being criminal, because criminality comes from the lack of father-figures in poor black homes. They admit the militia killed Marielle, but never that the militia does it through elected officials and government institutions. This because they don’t care about who killed her, they care about undermining the Carnival block that honored her and won by a landslide at this year’s parade, and everyone else who honors her. And now- they claim the dictatorship never happened.

Truth is whatever is most convenient for me: the apex of Capitalist individualism.

Bolsonaro in 2015: “Congratulations Armed Forces- 31 / March / 64. Thanks to you Brazil is not Cuba”. Everyone I sent this photo to asked if it was real. The source is his twitter.

WE LIVED IN A DICTATORSHIP
Denying something existeds so no one fights against it is an effective strategy; it’s a global scale gaslighting project. The Get-rich-at-any-cost mentality is fed to the population through the myth of meritocracy, and an illusion of freedom from Government control ensured by hyper militarization. When I moved to the USA as a teenager, history class in highschool taught me USAmericans are unable to distinguish between Dictatorship and Communism. This is as well crafted of a concept as the one behind this new wave of Dictatorship Deniers.

Comrades abroad, I need to make clear that here we are worried. Influential rightwing media argues the Armed Forces are necessary to keep a mildly left-wing elected Government from doing too much of what they want, they’ve been saying it for a while, and now there are even more people who believe these claims are legitimate. We’ve impeached a President, replaced her with a criminal, and now we are run by militia. A severely flawed Democracy has been replaced by a Military Dictatorship that barely bothers to disguise. Where but in a dystopian world is this framed as “Freedom”?

The dispute between capitalism and “communism,” especially during the entire period of the so-called “cold war” after World War II, gave enough muscle for the Keynesian model to resist neoliberal attacks. […]

It is no surprise that the decline of the Communist model from the 1980s onwards was a fundamental spring for the capitalist model that had been under way to lose its hegemony for neoliberal politics. (Marielle Franco)*

This neoliberal hegemony is murderous. It murdered the woman who was exposing murders, as well as mass incarceration and more of their dehumanising actions. It will continue to happen, and that’s why we need to organize well and fast. Counter hegemonic resistance is self-defense, and can manifest in as diverse of ways as there are individuals on this earth. There was no “misunderstanding” when the President said “freedom and Democracy only exist when the Armed Forces want them”. It’s our reality, and what will we do about it? Where should we be spending our money? What are we reading and learning from? What are we doing to contribute to our community?- What is our community? The answers lie not within Governments, elections, bordered States and Mass Media. It lies within us, in what we perceive as community, and what our community needs to thrive. But it all starts within us, and that’s why philosophical and spiritual understanding of the self is paramount. It’s paramount to prevent us from falling in traps set out by deceitful people, who claim Dictatorship is Freedom, Meritocracy is Anti-Racism, and Patriarchal families are Natural. Let’s find our people and organize, otherwise it’s the big They that will find us in what Chomsky calls the disoriented flock, and stir us in whatever direction is most profitable for Them.

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*NOTE:

In my research, I found that Marielle Franco’s academic master thesis about the (UPP) Police, and the criminalisation of poverty within neoliberal politics, was published in book form about 3 months after her death. While they published it in her honor, they also removed the first chapter claiming it was nothing more than a meeting of academic requirements irrelevant for the understanding of the piece. Almost 25% of the written work was cut out, where the theoretical foundation of the piece was laid out eloquently. This means that 91% of the times she mentions the word “capitalism” were cut out, and 100% of the times she mentions “Keynes”. All of her mentions of the word “communism” were cut out, and consequently all of her mentions of the word “Marx”. She contextualises the current political conjuncture in economic terms, dating back to 1964, and the transition from Keynesian economics into Neoliberalism after the Cold War. I won’t speculate on the reasons why this was done, it seemed pertinent to simply present the fact, and highlight some of the most remarkable passages of the chapter.

IMAGES OF THE DEMONSTRATION “DICTATORSHIP NEVER AGAIN”.
MARCH 31ST, 2019, RIO DE JANEIRO.

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Text by Mirna Wabi-Sabi