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Nationalism and the Multinational In the Brazilian Spring

In Veja’s view, homegrown political process is alienated from its internal constituency — something of a self-fulfilling prophecy

The Brazilian flags and national anthem do not represent a political counterforce to the multinationals, but rather a diffuse protest against corruption and its agents in the public sector.

The [multinational] private sector was never questioned. None of its corruptive influences were mentioned.

Source: CartaCapital.  On corruption as a protest theme and subject of progressive legislation, see

An essay on Brazilian’s lost generation of young nationalists by João Sicsú, it goes a long way toward what I fund puzzling about my own observations of the MTV generation in a city where anarchists are out to do some serious anarchizing.

The demonstrations of June have grown and turned toward nationalism. The streets have been filled with people. The most recent demonstrations were composed of heterogeneous groups.There were those protesting the quality of urban life, and especially for cheap, efficient public transport, access to public health services and quality education.

And then there were the thousand “groups” composed of  single individuals, calling for the end of taxes, the return of the generals, Lula in jail, public health for animals, the end of the Bolsa-Familia, and so on.

There were also minority groups that organized their campaign around some objective fact, identifying exactly who they consider responsible for the difficulties they experience.  The march by residents of Rocinha and Vidigal, in Rio, was black and peaceful and targeted the governor’s residence with the message, “We don’t want cable cars, we want sanitation.”

Left-wing groups marked their presence, calling out for the democratization of the media and a larger budget for education, and against the privatization of the Maracanã stadium and so on.

Fascists were also present: They attacked political parties and labor unions and came well-prepared to wreak havoc in the cities.

There were also those who represent the thinking of the conservative mass media in its essence: Against PEC 37.

PEC 37 was a proposed amendment that would adjust the respective criminal investigation powers of the police and the state’s attorney. It was voted down on June 25, 2013.

Some dressed as Supreme Court minister Joaquim Barbosa, took photos and held up placards against Dilma, Lula and the PT. As evening fell, the lumpen element and the vandals seized the moment to provoke a violent confrontation.

A signficant portion of the protesters were young persons who want to embrace politics as an instrument of change.

Most, however, were members of groups representing a single member. The key quality of these demonstrations was the individualism of the protest and its goals.  But there was something more than mere individualism at work.

Most of the protesters, including some of the left-wing groups, are concluding that their fervent desires cannot be realized because of the corruption practiced by politicians in the legislative and executive branch.  Thus, politicians, parties and corruption are chosen as common enemies of the movement. The conclusion follows almost logically: “These are the enemies of Brazil!”

Thus the demonstrator takes pride in draping himself in a Brazilian flag, like a superhero wearing a cape, and the singing of the national anthem.

The Brazilian flags and national anthem do not, however, represent a political counterforce to the multinationals, but rather a general protest against corruption and its agents in the public sector.

The private sector was never questioned. None of its corruptive influences were mentioned.  For example, multinationals that suck money out of the public health system were not mentioned.

Nationalism

Nationalism, which contributes to development, is policy oriented toward external economic agents or those who violate national sovereignty.

International experience has shown that nationalisms focused on internal enemies have resulted in historic atrocities. In this case, we are seeing an internal nationalism focused on elected representatives and on institutions necessary to democracy.

In Porto Alegre, a helicopter overflew the demonstration with a message in lights according to which Brazil has a chance to succeed, but only without its political parties.

Many demonstrators at various protests, chanted “The people, without political parties, will never be defeated.” Then came the national anthem.

Fifa was the only external target of protests, and that only tangentially, in the context of the criticism that Fifa and the Cup focused too much on the allocation of public funds; that is to say, if funds had been scarce there would have been no bid.  Other marchers used the Fifa brand in a complimentary way.  Placards read: “we want Fifa-level education”. It is worth recalling here that the “Fifa standard” involves “social hygiene” around the stadiums — an affront to national sovereignty — and is engaged in “doing business” and corruption.

Fifa and the multinationals could have served as a unifying nationalist focus of the protests. Unfortunately, this nationalism was directed toward to politicians, their parties, the legislative houses and the chief executive. Is this the sort of nationalism we need?