Brazil, now (Soundings 71, Spring 2019)
Author: Liv Sovik
With the 2018 election of Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of Brazil, the far right was victorious in the dispute over control of the state apparatus and is now instituting neoliberal economic and fascist public security policies. In this article, Liv Sovik examines contemporary Brazilian politics from the perspective of a crisis in the relationship between the white, middle class left and the broad majority of the population. It presents the reactions of public intellectuals and university students to Bolsonaro’s election and the new government’s first policy initiatives, especially as regards universities, vilified during the election campaign for promoting ‘cultural Marxism’ and ‘gender ideology’. Finally, it describes how the connection came to light between the Bolsonaro family and the extreme right paramilitary forces that executed Rio de Janeiro town councilwoman and human rights activist Marielle Franco on 14 March 2018. The article makes two contributions to the discussion of the contemporary fascism that sustains neoliberalism in government. At a micropolitical level and in the long term, it suggests the value of cultivating social relations that escape instrumental and therefore neoliberal reason. At a macropolitical level, it reads the groundswell of revolt at the execution of Marielle Franco as a sign of a potential alternative to the politics of inter-class solidarity under white leadership.