Brazil: rejecting utopianism

We’ve spent a good deal of time on this site profiling the chavistas in Venezuela and the Kirchnerites in Argentina, but we’ve devoted little or no attention to their counterparts in the massive land between those two countries – namely, Brazil.

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Dilma Rousseff

This isn’t because Brazil is lacking in world-class useful stoogery. On the contrary: under Dilma Rousseff, who became president in 2011, the nation has seen its liberties threatened, its treasury raided by government loyalists, and its economy damaged to a degree no one could have imagined, say, a decade ago.

No, the damage may not yet approach the levels found in Venezuela or Argentina. But the situation is already bad enough to have made life far tougher for Brazilians than many of them expected a few years ago, under Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, when their country looked as if it was climbing very quickly out of poverty and into the ranks of rich, developed nations.

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Olavo de Carvalho

How did this dramatic decline and fall come to pass? We’ll get into the details of it later this week. Suffice it for now to say that last March 15, a massive protest was held demanding Rousseff’s impeachment and an end to rule by her corrupt, autocratic, and marxisant Workers’ Party. It was the largest anti-government demonstration in the country’s history, with as many as three million participants, one of whom held a sign reading We won’t be another Venezuela. Researcher Alessandro Cota called the rally “a new beginning for Brazil and probably the end of the dreams of all those who wanted to turn the largest country of Latin America into a socialist republic.” Philosopher Olavo de Carvalho said:

Never and nowhere has a government been so completely rejected by its own population. But it is more than that. It is not only the rejection of a government, or a President. It is the rejection of the whole system of power that has been created by the Workers’ Party, which includes intellectuals and opinion-makers in the big media. People are no longer afraid of going against the Workers’ Party. 

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Vladimir Tismaneanu

And Vladimir Tismaneanu commented that “the house of cards built by revolutionary Dilma Rousseff … is coming down” – because, he maintained, Brazilians are proving to be less susceptible to utopian far-left promises than Venezuelans and Argentinians. “The hyper-corrupt bureaucracy of the Workers’ Party,” argued Tismaneanu, “is coming face to face with a resurgent civil society…millions of Brazilians feel the need to expose twaddle, nonsense, irresponsible foolishness, cynical demagoguery masquerading as a springboard for collective bliss.”

Roma - Itália, 19/03/2013. Presidenta Dilma Rousseff durante encontro com a Presidenta da Argentina, Cristina Kichner. Foto: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR
Rousseff with Cristina Kirchner, Rome, 2013

If any of this is news to you, don’t worry: you’re not alone. While at least some news media in North America and Europe have been relatively frank about the disaster that is Venezuela’s so-called Bolivarian Revolution and about the nightmare that was Kirchnerism in Argentina, many of those same news media have tended either to ignore or to whitewash the deplorable record of Brazil’s current president – partly because she’s not quite as outrageously outspoken in her ideological extremism as Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, and partly because, for all her incompetence and corruption, she hasn’t – unlike Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina – yet led her country into sovereign-debt default.

The key word there, of course, is yet.

More tomorrow.

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