A fascist victory in one of the world’s biggest democracies should worry us all

Jair Bolsonaro, after winning the Brazilian president election on 28 October 2018
John McEvoy

Tear gas, fireworks, and noise filled the streets of Brazil on Sunday night as thousands responded to the election victory of Jair Bolsonaro. The ultra-right-winger, who rose from relative insignificance to presidential frontrunner, received more than 55% of valid votes.

Some have compared Brazil’s new president with Donald Trump. But judging by his own words, Bolsonaro looks set to be far, far worse.

Bolsonaro: Brazil’s new ‘controversial’ president

There’s something about the Western media and reducing some of the most horrifying global events to being “controversial”. According to the Guardian, Saudi Arabia’s genocidal “involvement in the ongoing Yemeni war” is “controversial”; for CNBC, Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte’s rape jokes and murder confessions are “controversial”; and for the BBC, Donald Trump’s “calling for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” is “controversial”.

Quite predictably, Bolsonaro is now the Western media’s newcontroversial” figure. But in his own words, Bolsonaro seems less ‘controversial’ and more an outright fascist.

In 1993, Bolsonaro claimed:

I am in favour of a dictatorship, a regime of exception.

In 1999, he said:

The pau-de-arara [a torture technique] works. I’m in favour of torture, you know that. And the people are in favour as well.

In 2002, he said:

If I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them.

Speaking to congresswoman Maria do Rosária in 2003, he spewed:

I’m a rapist now. I would never rape you, because you do not deserve it… slut!

And in 2012, he said of Adolf Hitler:

War is war. He was a great strategist.

These are just some – and perhaps not even the worst – of Bolsonaro’s own words. And upon election victory, he hauntingly claimed: “All of the promises made to political groups and the people will be kept.”

The global reaction

During a week that saw pipe bombs sent to journalists and politicians in the US, and 11 Jewish people murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue, many fear a global rise in the normalisation of fascism.

According to Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, whose husband David Miranda narrowly missed out on election to Brazil’s congress, Bolsonaro shouldn’t be compared with Trump:

Others agreed that Bolsonaro would be much worse:

And according to Tribune editor Ronan Burtenshaw, referring to the pre-election imprisonment of popular left-wing leader Lula da Silva:

Bad for the LGBTQ+ community, women, and leftists… But great for business

The creeping normalisation of fascism is particularly evident within the West’s response to Bolsonaro’s victory. Previously, the West might be expected to pay lip service to Bolsonaro’s horrifying rhetoric (but trade with him anyway). But now, many are not even pretending to value human life over trade opportunities.

Donald Trump tweeted:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) published various articles on the ‘investment opportunities’ presented by Bolsonaro’s election:

And the following graph shows that, when faced with fascism or socialism, “those most invested in the economic status quo will always embrace fascism over the left”:

This is also reflected internationally, as Brazil’s stock market is set to soar.

Capitalism vs democracy

The rise of Bolsonaro is further evidence that capitalism and democracy are far from the same thing. Because while Brazil may still be a democracy now, it might not remain so for long. And it’s a safe bet that Western governements won’t worry too much about that, as long as they stand to benefit.

Get Involved!

– In the UK, write to your MP to share your concerns about Brazil.

– Read The Canary‘s previous articles about Brazil at The Canary Global.

– Join The Canary so we can keep resisting the advance of the far right.

Featured image via EuroNews/YouTube

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John McEvoy