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Report from Brasil: a Wild Swing to the Right


Sao Paulo, Brazil–Went out to the supermarket to buy some groceries. Decided to go through Avenida Paulista to check what was happening in the streets. If anything was going on, sure as hell it was happening in Avenida Paulista. Lucky we live so close. After all, Paulista has been the battleground where our collective will manifests, for about three weeks now. Indeed, people were occupying it, each person holding a homemade sign, some giving passionate public speeches, while others (usually from the lower classes) were selling popcorn or boiled corn to increase the family income for the month. The middle class was proud and parading, and yes, also 1%ers parading their Gucci + Louis Vuitton fashion for a change.

Like the sordid Che Guevara T-shirt, protesting became an experience for mass consumption.

This tendency became evident on Thursday, 06/20. Paulista Avenue was flooded with moderate and conservative messages that were far from the original keynote of social justice. The discourse now seemed to align with values and causes that the rightwing media and military support. The message that started to emerge is an abstract opposition against “corruption and violence”, many of them blaming PT, Lula or Dilma. After the 0.20 cents one demand victory, the box of Pandora was open and everybody decided to go out and broadcast their opinion, with no regard to consistency, dialogue or strategical analysis.

It began to stink.

Yesterday, each bloc showed more yellow and green popping up, national anthems, and abstract calls for an end to “corruption”, as if corruption weren’t part of Brasilian politics since its beginning. Voices defending the restoration of fundamental values such as family, property, morals and nation. Tradition. Values. I started to feel a bit dizzy. Was this really happening? The tide was rapidly changing in Brasil. The conservative media – actually the only one we have – operated swiftly, maneuvering to push the issue of corruption and violence up on the priorities through their unrestricted control of television networks and big circulation print magazines. The fact that we spent decades in political submission and consumerist alienation in the wake of our military dicatorship helped: people were embracing any cause, even the ones pushed by rightwing nuts.

I had to talk to a real person. Panic attack was coming. That’s when a corner for a deep breath and a homeless man preparing his sleep grounds changed everything for me. His name was Chico and he had a productive cough and one eye taken by massive cataracts. We talked a lot, about politics, food and our healthcare system, and of course about the crazy past weeks… He told me some mean people “threw five bombs” at him just for shits and giggles.

He was an alcoholic that never robbed or stole from anybody, “why would they do that?”

Went home and tried to sleep. Woke up this Sunday to a chilly morning and an internet meme invoking soldiers, police, and firefighters to side “with the people” against the corrupt government of PT and Dilma (?!). Similar rhetoric as in 1992, when Collor was impeached; I freaked out a little bit, because we do have a recent history of coup-d’etats and manufactured consent orchestrated by MSM. Did more research, and finally ended up ruining my day: found an open letter dated 06/22/13 published in the Military Society Magazine {source: http://www.sociedademilitar.com.br/} co-signed by 300,000 active and reformed members of the Armed Forces suggesting they would “side with the people” to fight “vandals”, “corruption” and the deterioration of moral values in our society. A subtle warning that if the crooks that always existed in Congress continued their ways, the military might be forced to “legally intervene”. Their rethoric is supported by polls from respected institutes whose numbers show that a significant number of people [19%] want the armed forces to come back, 20% don’t care, and 8 % don’t know {source: Datafolha}. The letter is transcribed below.

What is clear now is that the next few weeks are uncertain. The narrative has taken a wild swing to the right and co-optation is a reality. The struggle for social and economic justice needs to think and act strategically or suffer the consequences.

MILITARES em CAMPANHA NACIONAL ANTI-PT e Pró-Brasil.

Rumo a 2014. Precisamos impedir a destruição de valores fundamentais como família, honestidade e honra.

Militares entrevistados pela Revista Sociedade Militar em Copacabana, na passeata pelo reajuste de salários, manifestaram enorme decepção com administração do Partido dos Trabalhadores, marcada por escândalos como Mensalão e Cachoeira. “Pensávamos que seria um governo de um homem do povo para o povo, mas tudo indica que se transformou no governo dos escândalos e favorecimentos ilícitos”, disse um dos militares.

“No Brasil a família esta ruindo, no Rio a criminalidade só está sendo transferida para a Baixada e Niterói e a política de pão e circo só aumenta a cada dia… nos próximos anos vai ser só festa, e a roubalheira continua”. Diz outro militar, reformado.

Os militares das Forças Armadas somam mais de 600.000 entre os que estão em atividade e os da reserva. Somados com seus dependentes e círculos de influência esse quantitativo pode passar de 5 milhões de pessoas. Um número que definitivamente pode mudar os rumos de qualquer eleição.

Ainda que alguns pensem em criar um novo partido, para as próximas eleições a maioria parece ja estar se articulando para se candidatar dentro de legendas ja existentes, quase todos optam por partidos de direita.

Militares estaduais também estão muito insatisfeitos com o governo federal, que até hoje não facilitou para que as negociações sobre a PEC 300 prosseguissem. Na passeata em Copacabana verificou-se a presença de lideranças dos policiais e bombeiros do Rio de Janeiro, e isso acena para uma possível união de militares federais e estaduais. Se isso se concretizar e chegar às urnas certamente será um problema a mais para os políticos vermelhos.

Militares das Forças Armadas e auxiliares, comumente, são homens de conduta ilibada e bem relacionados, é freqüente assumirem cargos populares, como síndicos em seus edifícios, diáconos em igrejas católicas e evangélicas, pastores e líderes comunitários. Mencionamos ainda os milhares de militares reformados que atuam como professores em escolas particulares e cursos pré-concursos. Homens acostumados a liderar e aptos para discursar diante de pequenos e médios grupos, eles representam realmente um perigo em potencial para o partido da situação, principalmente se, unidos, resolverem usar sua influência para um objetivo comum.

Pesquisas demonstram que as Forças Armadas são as instituições com maior credibilidade no Brasil, o que confirma que os militares brasileiros gozam de boa reputação junto à sociedade.

Nos últimos meses há freqüente divergência entre militares das Forças Armadas e o governo. Manifesto Interclubes, abaixo-assinado dos oficias e marcha virtual, são exemplos de grandes questões surgidas redentemente, sem contar o reajuste de salários que não cobriu sequer a inflação.
Essa queda de braço com os militares pode causar bastante prejuízo político, já a curtíssimo prazo. A conquista de mais de 300 mil adesões em um abaixo assinado no Senado mostra que os militares de hoje já aprenderam a se mobilizar politicamente, e podem utilizar eu status moral para conquistar a população, em sites e revistas militares abundam as solicitações para que as forças armadas assumam uma postura diante do mar de corrupção que assola o país.

Temos certeza que nas proximas eleições, junto com os Militares federais e estaduais, os cidadãos honestos e conscientes expressarão sua insatisfação com a falta de perspectivas e a corrupção generalizada que assola o Brasil. A esmagadora maioria não acredita que qualquer tipo de autoritarismo seja a solução para o Brasil, mas se parcela significativa da sociedade tem falado nisso, é um indício de que ha muitos cidadãos insatisfeitos com a forma que tem sido conduzido o nosso país, e pode haver uma guinada à direita por parte do eleitorado, portanto, uma grande oportunidade para oferecer a opção de mudança. O momento é bastante oportuno.

Algumas pessoas parecem estar assustadas porque uma parcela da população resolveu se mobilizar legalmente contra o partido que quer se eternizar no poder, veja abaixo. Foram centenas de twitters e postagens desse tipo em blogs. Eles forçam a barra na interpretação e dizem que os militares pretendem dar dar um golpe!

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Knowing the Value of Nothing


On May 17th I arrived in Chicago by bus. Then drifted along the el train with the sweet smell of wet cement and electricity; Chicago in the spring. The City is low-­tech beautiful and almost charming.

On May 18th I rallied for health care and ate deep dish pizza. The cops seemed tolerant until the sun went down.

On May 19th I marched with my brothers and sisters through the park and to the mayors home. CPD was once again tolerant until the moon came out, then they turned into werewolves and ran over protesters with vans and ‘bully’ clubs.

On May 20th I Occupied NATO for the ones who couldn’t. I ran through the city streets at night in a fleeting act of defiance toward the merciless Helegalian Dialetic and still have the blisters to prove it.

It’s only been a week but it feels like a year.

It also feels like a bee on my eyeball, nausea and a budding revolution wrapped in a headache. It’s hard to believe a little over a week ago I was in Chicago marching the streets in protest with my arms full with grievances that needed redressing. Good-god we need a revolution or at least a reevaluation of the whole damn thing; the ‘system’ is poisoned.

There were anarchist, socialist, communist, anti-­‐capitalist, Ron Paul Revolutionaries, clowns, vets, charlatans, buffoons, peacers, truthers, birthers and I’m sure some jokers, smokers and midnight-­tokers. As diverse a crowd as I have ever seen. Different races and colors and ages. Professional and nonprofessionals alike; together to protest an entity that some think has out served its purpose. Or worse has become a power so evil it aims to rule the world. Don’t look here for answers – I have far too many questions. (You might want to take a gander at “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins for a truly eye-­opening read).

What exactly is happening with this movement? What does it value? What are the goals? Does anyone really give a shit? And what happens next?

Here’s my honest take: we’re almost completely fucked!

Not exactly what you wanted to read? Okay, here’s why I say that (and yes, ‘almost’ is the operative word):

The Occupy Movement is sliding off the same cliff as the old Tea Party. I say ‘old’ because the Tea Party now is only a shell of what it was and could have been. And the cliff is the co-option of the movement by shaping the narrative to what ever “the powers that be” desire.

For the Tea Party, Neo-cons took over and the left fought it with a racist, old, white and anti-immigrant narrative.

As for Occupy, the leftists are taking over and have been demonized by the right’s dirty, young, drug addled anarchist-Marxist narrative.

Both narratives are, at least, incomplete to a point of irrelevance and, at most total horseshit. But that is what’s hitting the news and like it or not the narrative is important.

Blame it on an educational system gone to hell or social engineering but we are no longer critical thinkers. As a whole we are robots. We haven’t been vigilant. Narrative is a cheap but effective tool to control you and pass along information predigested; we are all on socio­political feeding tubes. Thank you, big brother. And it hasn’t even gotten really bad yet. Is anyone listening?

I’ve been a part of both movements, Tea Party and Occupy, and that’s not the way it is. Before the Tea Party was commandeered by Neo-cons and before what looks to be a potential socialist take over of Occupy, both were/are made up of everyday people pissed off about corruption and a ‘rigged game’. In fact I would go so far as to say they are virtually the same at their core. Just like the Right and Left is being challenged as really being the same thing; I, similarly, see the 1st Tea Partiers, the Occupiers and even the Ron Paul Revolutionaries as the same.

If taken a step further, the right vs. wrong meme, that naturally replaces the right vs. left meme, puts all of the above on the ‘right’ side and the statist pushing us toward one world government (as conveniently illustrated by NATO) on the ‘wrong’ side. Anti-­Corruption, anti-­insider dealings, anti-­nontransparent government – this is the tip of the spear.

Well, it should be.

I’m beginning to doubt weather Occupy can pull their shit together fast enough. I love the fighting spirit but without a center to coalesce around we can’t do it alone. If you haven’t noticed, the militarization of our police forces across the country keeps accelerating. And yet crime is down almost everywhere. So what gives? They’re preparing for you or them or us depending on where you’re sitting. Dissent is no longer tolerable. It’s dangerous. Which I think is how it’s supposed to be.

Why blame us, the 99.9%? For instance we told our representative where to stick SOPA and PIPA. We thought they would get it – hands off the Internet. No censorship! But instead they try over and over to sneak another one of these bills through. Now it’s CISPA. And soon we will be talking about UN mandates. Just who the hell are these assholes representing? Isn’t that a fair question to ask considering the facts? I hope I’m wrong about Occupy but I can see a scenario where Occupy doesn’t finally sharpen its spear with an idea we can all get behind. Like liberty. Or smaller government. Or ending the war on terror. Or breaking up the banks via Glass-­Steagall. Or ending the Federal Reserve. If we don’t make this movement more inclusive we’ll never have the support we need. Less talk about carbon credit schemes and more about our loss of fundamental rights is a step in the right direction.

We need to question everything.

What causes a movement to live or die?

The short answer is simply the people armed with an idea whose time has come… or not. It’s a romantic dream, isn’t it? Underdogs against all odds, fighting the powers that be with an idea that is universally true. Sorry, ‘big government’ anything isn’t going to cut it. The preservation of our natural law rights as illustrated in the Magna Charta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are to be protected first and foremost.

As Fredrick Douglas said, “power concedes nothing without a demand!” But what are we supposed to demand with a collective voice when so much is broken? Vote everyone out? An armed revolution? Await the spiritual shift in consciousness?

Winston Churchill said:

“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only the precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.”

The struggle has begun. Where we are in Churchill’s quote I do not know but the thought does chill me.

On May 20th I woke up with pangs in my stomach and a light hangover. I took the red line with a bagel to Lake and walked to Grant Park from there.

On May 20th Chicago was in lockdown but corruption was put on notice. The zeitgeist was with us. Hell, it was us.

On May 20th roughly 40 vets threw their metals over a fence in downtown Chicago in a brave act of defiance to regain a little of the humanity the war on terror had taken from them. One former soldier, Greg Miller who served in Iraq in 2009, said, clutching one of his metals, “The military hands out cheap tokens like this to soldiers, to service members, in an attempt to fill the void where their conscience used to be before they indoctrinated it out of you.”

Maybe we should begin to think about the metals we get in return for our complacency and capitulation of conscience. Maybe it’s part of what Oscar Wilde was talking about when he spoke of “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Occupy Everything. Tea Party Forever. Ron Paul Revolution. The time is nigh. Hang together or hang separately.

-Winston Smith-

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