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Serra x The Dirty Blogs

The Folha de S.Paulo reports. I translate.

In the harshest attack yet on the opposing party in this year’s mayoral elections in S. Paulo, the PSDB candidate, José Serra accused the Workers’ Party of espionage, fabrication of dossiers, invasion of privacy and piling on.

Pancadaria is hard to translate. «Thuggery»?

In an interview, Serra also said that PT militants use «dirty blogs» to attack him on the Internet.

“The Nazi SA has a new face here in Brasil: the Internet, the shock troops on the Internet”, Serra said.

This classic argumentum ad nazium is a hangover from Serra’s presidential campaigns of 2006 and 2010.

In 2006, we saw the scandal of the aloprados — «nut cases», as President Lula called them — on election eve. Campaign aides to the PT gubernatorial candidate were arrested while allegedly trying to purchase a dossier documenting misdeeds during Serra’s tenure as health minister. After the election, the charges were quietly dropped.

In 2010, when a striking worker in a Rio shantytown threw a wadded up poster that hit Serra on the head, the campaign machine, aided and abetted by major news media, attempted to blow the incident up into some sort of Kristallnacht moment. They were mercilessly mocked.

Much was made of consulting work performed by specialists from Movements.org and Blue State Digital for the ruling party, but the fact is that all parties threw resources behind Internet-driven campaigning of the kind shown in the Universal series The Good Wife — the PSDB-DEM alliance notably more than others, in fact.

The «dirty blogosphere of the Left» is, in fact, a cohesive echo chamber exchanging hyperlinks and optimizing search for comments on key issues.

Social network analysis reveals an identifiable community. It even reflects the consulting relationship between CUT, the leading federation of industrial unions;  CUT think tanks DIESSE and FPAbramo; and Simples Consultoria.

The World Social Forum plays a central role in providing content and driving news agenda.

But recourse to echo chambers by the PSDB and DEM is no less noteworthy.

In 2010, a plausibly deniable independent Web log, Gente que Mente — painting the opponents as «people who lie» — was censored by an elections court as a vehicle for unlawful partisan publicity. Defenders claimed the site was not responsible for third-party comments in this partisan vein.

Opposition campaigns during the Lula years have suffered from the failure of «moral panic» politics and have not learned the lessons of this failure. The partnership with the DEM has been especially disastrous, as two prominent national leaders have succumbed following corruption probes: the governor of the federal district and the junior senator for Goias.

Opponents of this conservative tendency have a name for this sort of «say anything» moral panic campaigning: neoudenismo, a revival of the populist rantings of the old UDN party of Carlos Lacerda. I believe that such campaigning is susceptible to ridicule, as proven by successful campaigns of mockery in past elections.

A leading proponent of this rhetoric is former Rio mayor Cesar Maia, whose son, Rodrigo, is past president of the DEM party. Carta Capital offers some observations, and I translate.

In recent weeks … Cesar Maia has begun to function as the paid mourner of the barracks — an expression used in the 1960s to describe politicians involved in military coups. Maia has systematically begun to denounce the actions of President Dilma, reviving ghosts used against Goulart in the coup of 1964.

Maia selects his talking points from the rhetoric of a cold war that no longer exists. His arguments are based on domestic and foreign policy matters. Regarding foreign policy, he has railed against institutional relationships between Brazil and Cuba — a ghost of times past — and Venezuela under Chávez, a contemporary specter.

An example from his blog: «Red Outsourcing: 1,500 Cuban doctors arrive in Brazil in 2013»

The accusation involves a treaty between the two countries. Cuba has conducted experiments in medical care with good results. These studies will be applied by Cuban doctors, who will be paid for their work. Maia colors the program as a «Red menace», reliving the days when political adversaries were suspended from the «parrot’s perch».

The DEM’s explicit ties with North American and European entities such as the IRI, Cato, the Atlas Network and Adenauer Stiftung, are also problematic. Brazilian nationalism trumps neoliberal supranationalism for the time being.