Metropolis and Colony: Steve Bannon’s Interference in the 2018 Brazilian Election

To understand the colony, one must first understand the metropolis. 2019 Brazil is marked by a far-right government, a political direction of conduct that many call conservative, an economy that devalues ​​the state before the market, a false patriotism, a strong presence of religion, especially neopentecostal Protestantism. , in the gut of the state, a virulent government speech against the left and all those who do not share the same views of the ruler, an incompetence of much of those who make up the government, a huge approximation in all fields of the US of Trump, among other features. This approach is no coincidence, it is part of a global rearrangement headed by the US and, by virtue of the evidence, puts Brazil as another pawn on the board, since the right and extreme right turn is something that happens, in a short time in much of the world.
Fascism or neo-fascism, as some theorists call it, including Judith Butler, is a reactive force that has always been on the surface, ready to hatch. Taking into account the near past, it can be seen the strengthening of several points linked to the liberal agenda that were left over, as well as the growth of a plurality of social movements. The fight against homophobia, women’s rights in relation to their own bodies, the growth of feminism in its various forms, guarantees obtained by minorities, the defense of immigrants, the fight against poverty, the search for racial equality, the questioning of In relation to a global distributive justice, the struggle for the expansion of labor rights are just a few points that can be mentioned. The election, for the first time, of a president of African origin in the US, symbolically important, though not politically important, and the growth of the left in the rest of America also help to understand this unfavorable scenario for a vision. conservative and far right.
For the first time since the end of World War II, a far-right, ultra-nationalist party, the Alternative für Deutschland or AfD, arrives in the German Parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Rassemblement National came second in the presidential election with its anti-European Union project, immigration and an essentially conservative agenda. In Greece, the Golden Dawn party (Χρυσή Αυγή) considered by experts as a neo-Nazi party, since it defends the “white race”, manages to elect 18 deputies. In the Netherlands, the Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid), with a liberal and conservative view on the economy, against immigration, a negationist on environmental issues and a zero tolerance security agenda, has become the second largest strength in the Dutch Parliament. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was elected with an extremely conservative, racist, nationalist and anti-corruption speech, and his party, Fidesz, is not the only one on the far right, as there is also the self-styled Jobbik. calls it “conservative and radically Christian and nationalist.” In Italy, the Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania (Northern League), with a conservative and xenophobic speech, won 18 deputies in the Italian Chamber. We also find examples of the far right growing in other European countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium.
n Latin America, the so-called “conservative wave” is on its way. Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Chile and Paraguay are examples of right-wing or extreme-right governments with neoliberal and conservative policies. The Brazilian case, in particular, is an example of how far this global rearrangement can go. A plan that was designed before the Trump administration, but reaches its peak in that government, with the project shifting its first major milestone with the Arab Spring to the far right.
As stated above, the project has shifted from right to far right, as the current US government is a far right government. It will be seen here that the whole propaganda structure, ideology and government plan that elected Donald Trump ends up being repeated in Brazil.
Steve Bannon, the best-known ideologue of the Trump administration, is an excellent guiding thread for understanding how the Brazilian far right was structured and how it came to power. Of course, as it is a short article, the whole journey cannot be analyzed, since the protests and protests of June 2013 and, before that, the fall in commodity prices, and the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in her second presidential term. , the use of lawfare avoiding Lula da Silva’s candidacy and leading him to prison and the election of a candidate considered by many to be fascist. Thus, we will demonstrate only the similarities between the USA and Brazil regarding far-right strategies.
After all, who is Steve Bannon? First of all, it is worth remembering that Bannon is an important cog in this power game, but it is certainly not the only one important. However, it would not be possible to work all the important gears in one short article, so focus on what has become the most discussed of the process.
Bannon is a multi-faceted person. Studied at Virginia Tech, served in the United States Navy, worked for the financial group Goldman Sachs, was an investor in that same group. He also became a media and entertainment man, producing highly ideological documentaries and running an American right-wing information and opinion site called Breitbart News, a proliferator of racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic materials. Perfectly fits Trump’s hard core profile. It’s also worth remembering that Bannon is on the board of Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm behind the Facebook manipulation scandal for Trump’s election. Despite all this résumé, Bannon only lasted seven months in the Trump administration as chief White House strategist. After the White House, Bannon expressed his desire to be the infrastructure for the global populist movement, another name for the far right. He then travels to Europe and makes contact with various conservative and far-right leaders and parties. He founds The Movement, a far-right populist organization that claims to be the antipode of George Soros’s Open Society, according to Bannon himself, and plans to influence the direction of the 2019 European Union elections, as well as several others. elections around the world. In Brazil, he appoints Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son, leader of The Movement for South America, and helps, much more than one might first imagine, to structure the campaign that will bring Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.
Bannon, speaking of Breitbart News, said one of his fundamental principles is war. Bannon thinks of war in the sense that Foucault explains biopower. War is the standard of intelligibility of biopower and is also, for Bannon, a tool for understanding society, its daily life and the individuals of that society. It’s a day-to-day war, “America is at war,” he says. Foucault’s readership, although not admitted, after all, the French philosopher is considered an enemy as has already been claimed by his Brazilian allies, impacted Bannon and Bannon, in turn, impacted Brazilian politics. There is no denying that PSL candidate Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign was marred by his truculent speech, by treating all opposition as enemies, even to the point that Bolsonaro himself suggested strafing his opponents. Bannon’s war materializes in Bolsonaro, just as it had materialized in Trump.

Detailing the issue of war, we find a new resemblance to the far right of the largest country in South America. For a number of political analysts, such as David Brooks of the New York Times, Bannon, like every alt-right, is a kind of reaction to a whole liberal and leftist policy that set values ​​and standards different from those of conservatives. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in their book (How Democracies Die) also think this way. Thus, the greatest struggle occurs through a cultural war, and the supremacy sought in this field. See, economics, in Bannon’s speech (not in his practice) is put as something secondary. Obviously, the values ​​espoused by Trump’s ideologue are conservative, traditional and reactionary values. An example of this is their way of defining feminists as “a bunch of dykes.” Here, there is no denying the similarities between Bannon’s speech and that of the campaign and government that took office in 2019 in Brazil. Racist, homophobic, misogynist talk, fight against all liberal or leftist public policy are part of this government. Seeking a statement of traditional values, backed by neo-Pentecostals, attacking all sorts of diversity and difference, Bolsonaro and his ministers have always made these values ​​their flags, repeating Trump’s false ethics.
As Jeffrey C. Alexander points out in his article Raging Against the Enlightenment: the Ideology of Steve Bannon, Bannon’s ideology is “built on binary codes and temporal narratives…”, the former are responsible for exclusion, the latter present a vision terrifying and apocalyptic. Therefore, Bannon mixes in his political recipe three powerful factors: Manichaeism (dividing everything between good and evil, right and wrong), fear (terrifying narratives of wars such as the West against Islam), simplicity ( all understand its meaning). Thus, in their narratives there is an enemy external to the West, Islam, and an internal enemy, the left. Binary, it points out the good, represented, for example, by property, Christianity, nationalism, the alternative right; and evil, embodied in poverty (evidence of disqualification), Islam, globalism, and the left. In this dichotomous view, there is a merely rhetorical opposition: the opposition people and elites. The elites are presented as cosmopolitan, egocentric and interested only in their own enrichment, while the people, a concept that had already fallen into disuse among theorists, appear as the positive, pure and good side of this pair. It is no coincidence that this happens. Bannon is populist and as such needs the appreciation of the people to achieve power. Therefore, the metaphysical appeal to the concept of “people” helps to structure their ideology in a seemingly democratic dispute.
How does this part of ideology fit, then, with the Brazilian far right? First, an explanation. The PSL, Bolsonaro’s current party, cannot be considered, stricto sensu, a party. Bolsonaro’s group has chosen a small and expressionless party to make its candidacy for presidency via dubious negotiations. Because of this, it is better to use “far right” as this includes a number of supporters from various parties of that government. As can be seen, the simplified and Manichean worldview is always present in the speech of this far right. The current government is good, the others represent evil, the businessmen are good, the trade unionists are bad, the block that defends the government is good, the PT (Workers Party) is the ultimate evil, patriotism is good, the NGOs who defend the planet are evil. In this narrative adaptation, the left is seen as the great evil to be fought and corruption as the great evil of its governments. With the help of lawfare (political instrumentalization of the law to counter their enemies in a seemingly legal manner) they attack their enemies as if they were responsible for every evil present in Brazil. The left, in the official speech, must be eliminated and its defenders machine-gunned. In the superficial lines of Bolsonaro’s speech, we also find dichotomies: Brazilian always in green and yellow, “leftists” in red, Christianity (Protestantism and Catholicism, he does not decide not to lose politically) and non-Christians, “good people” and bandit, white and black, straight and LGBT.
This way of thinking of Bannon, as well as the Bolsonaro family, ends up destroying democracy. First, breaking unwritten rules of respect and tolerance among political opponents, Second, breaking the law itself, taking advantage of the gaps and shortcomings of the law itself, to promote lawfare and, knowing its elasticity, stretching it so far that it breaks. Third, ending freedom of expression and, with it, freedom of the press. The press only speaks the truth when they report something positive to them, when it reports something negative, they label it fake news. By the way, the use of fake news is practically unbearable by the far right. Repeating Trump, even more aggressively, Bolsonaro spreads lies, promotes falsehood, and even accuses unofficial bodies of disclosing false data, such as data on Amazon deforestation. Fourth, breaking the “guardrails” in the terminology of Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, who defend democracies from violent attacks by undemocratic people and entities. Political tolerance, for example, was sent away along with its sister, religious tolerance. The fairness of the elections was doubted by Trump and Bolsonaro, further scratching the electoral process in both countries. For them, if the victory occurs the process is legitimate, otherwise it was defrauded. It should be remembered here that Brazilian democracy, unlike the American one, is fragile and recent. If the US can stand a Trump, Brazil can hardly stand Bolsonaro.
The use of social networks as an instrument of control and mass manipulation, the abuse of fake news to attack its political opponents, the aid of a foreign power, the favoring of the market, the religious crusade, the struggle against freedom of expression and the press, not just political Manichaeism, the simplified worldview, the support of white supremacists (former Ku Klux Kan leader David Duke supported Bannon, trump and Bolsonaro), the horror of differences and diversity, the conservative agenda , false ethics and moralism, alternative media (Breitbart, The Antagonist) as a means of defending and attacking their opponents and a host of other factors ultimately demonstrate that the Bolsonaro campaign was all driven by Stephen Kevin Bannon or for your ideas. The question that arises from all this is: what price to pay? How much will the Empire charge from the current Brazilian government. By these first months of government, it can already be seen that the bill is quite high.

Alexandre L Silva

Ex-professor de diversas universidades públicas e particulares. Lecionou na Universidade Federal Fluminense e na Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.