The lights out of civilization

There's only one proper way to start this post, and that is by stating something any sensible person accepts, regardless of their political beliefs. But before, I need to clear something up: I do not include in the group of “sensible people” those who espouse anti-political views disguised as valid opinions. That means that followers of types such as Julius Evola, Aleksandr Dugin, Olavo de Carvalho, Ludwig von Mises and other charlatans are neither sensible nor political, but propagators of anti-political views. Now, back to the statement, here it is: Bolsonaro's government is the worst government in Brazilian history since the proclamation of the republic in the late 1880's. If you disagree with this, maybe this post isn't for you, but about you. Having made that clear, now let's discuss what matters.

The Fall of Empire, by Thomas Cole
Anyone who still bothers to waste their time on Facebook will understand what I'm talking about, although this doesn't happen only on Facebook: I'm referring to the reaction of scorn every time a news article is posted that highlights something bad done by a right-wing government, entity or person. The same occurs with opinion pieces. This is clear on Facebook because of the different types of reactions possible. Some bad news is reported about Trump, Bolsonaro, Steve Bannon, Olavo de Carvalho or any other beloved right-wing personality? Expect tons of 'laughing emoji' reactions deriding the article or video. On Twitter and other social networks this isn't possible, since many of them only have one type of reaction, but people can show their scorn by writing a response or posting a meme.

There is only one kind of post that anti-political reactionaries can't react with derision, laughing emojis and irony: abortion. Whenever there's news about some country legalizing abortion, their reaction is that of anger. In the case of Facebook, you can count hundreds of 'angry face emojis' whenever some article about abortion is posted. Even worse is when someone posts an opinion piece in favor of abortion. Angry emojis and even death threats aren't uncommon in those cases. Abortion represents the limit for the intellectually slow reactionaries. But, even so, their reaction is purely reflective, like cattle kicks. If a news article talks about redistribution of wealth in order to bridge income inequalities, they scorn and laugh. If a opinion piece talks about homophobia and misogyny, they scorn and laugh. But when a news article talks about abortion, they're all 'angry emojis' and angry comments, inevitably followed by comments about the end of the world, divine wrath and other stupidities.

These are only a few common symptoms of something undeniable and much larger: we live in the age of imbeciles and we risk entering the Dark Ages 2.0 in the coming decades, maybe even before. When humanity left the Middle Ages, at the dawn of the Modern Age, mankind started developing what would become modern science. A little after that, modern science united itself with certain arts, something that engendered the techno-scientific world we live today. But surprisingly, this world of techno-science — where practically everyone has access to information — has managed to make the masses even dumber and more erratic than they were before. A few decades ago, optimists imagined that new communication technologies would allow an unprecedented advancement of humanity. Connecting mankind could only yield positive results, they thought. Poor things.

Today we see the opposite of what was imagined. Hundreds of millions of human beings throughout the world believe that vaccines cause autism and that the Earth is not only the center of the universe, but also flat. There are also those who believe that there's a satanic cabal of socialist billionaire pedophiles (!?) that sacrifice children for Satan. These evil billionaires are the so-called “globalist elite” that wants to rule the world and end all national identity. Oh, and they also want to make satanism the official religion of mankind. It sounds like a joke, but that is exactly the belief held by most of Trump's followers who invaded the Capitol on January 6th. It's best known by its name: QAnon. What's worse is that this belief has already spread to several countries around the world, including Brazil, just as flat-Earth and anti-vaccine movements did before.

Instead of discussing important themes like universal basic income, instead of putting in practice some form of true worldwide sustainable economy — that is, instead of going forward — we've gone back over half a century when it comes to the political debate. Today, not only do we have millions defending the most crass forms of free-market economy, which is already terrible, we also have proud fascists and nazis walking among us. In the Brazilian case, we've got fascism sympathizers even among people who'd be considered sub-human by European fascists in the 1930's. In truth, they are already seen as sub-humans by today's North-American and European neo-fascists, but they're too stupid to realize this. One example is the far right YouTuber Allan dos Santos, who used “white nationalist” dog whistles in his videos, even though he'd probably be murdered by real neo-nazis if he tried to mingle with them. Another one is Daniel Silveira, a far-right Congressman who was arrested last week for inciting a right-wing military coup.

And these are only two individuals who are the most visible end of Brazil's anti-political reactionary movement, a movement that constitutes the base of Bolsonaro's government. Besides these characters, we also have an ocean of unknowns who vegetate their minds “in the naaaaame of Jesuuus!” in one of the thousands of prosperity-gospel evangelical churches spread throughout the country. What was bad before with Catholicism has become even worse with neopentecostal fundamentalism. The majority of the insults and visceral reactions progressives face online and in real life come from these fundamentalists, poor souls who are too ignorant to understand they're been robbed by their pastors.

The point is that Bolsonaro is just some guy. Removing him from office is a crucial step in the struggle against the forces of obscurantism, yes, but believing this is enough is equivalent to closing our eyes to what is currently happening. Bolsonaro is just the avatar that represents the yearnings of dozens of millions of Brazilians who were radicalized by the far right stupidities of people like Olavo de Carvalho, Padre Ricardo, Silas Malafaia, Edir Macedo, Joice Hasselmann, Hélio Beltrão, Caio Miranda and Felipe Moura Brasil. The same way, Trump was (and still is) the avatar of Americans who were radicalized by Steve Bannon, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. Both Bolsonaro and Trump are flesh and blood people that can be substituted by other “conservative leaders” in the future if needed.

The roots from which 'Bolsonaros' and 'Trumps' sprout are deep and ancient. Recently, those roots were irrigated by the internet. In fact, they were emboldened by the internet. But there will be a moment when the kick of the slow-witted reactionaries will stop happening mostly on the internet and will be practiced legally in the streets — this already occurs, today, but it's still illegal and we can still fight back through the democratic institutions that exist in countries like Brazil, the U.S., and others. However, the violence perpetrated by the far right is increasing. More and more we see deaths caused by private security agents and by police forces that beat, shoot and kill (mostly) black and poor people without much repercussion. Besides this, for years we've observed street lynchings in Brazil. Some of them were even incited by famous news anchors who believed that the population needed to take justice in their own hands.

Many applauded and said they didn't see any problem in extra-judicial beatings and killings. They conveniently forget that several innocents have been killed throughout the years, victims of hearsay generated by reactionary and hysterical religious fundamentalists. Some years ago in Guarujá, a coastal city in the state of São Paulo, a woman was lynched by several people in broad daylight, in the middle of the street. There was a rumor on social media that she was a witch who kidnapped children, killed them and performed rituals. Many of those present filmed her brutal death. In the middle of that crowd there were several followers of Christ, stand up citizens, eager to crush her skull with blunt instruments. Thanks to the footage, some were arrested. On YouTube we can still find an interview given by one of the men arrested. At the police station, he told reporters he regretted having participated in the woman's death, but that he believed the “news” he received via WhatsApp.

This is the world we are now creating. Despite all of mankind's achievements in science, technology, politics and social issues, it is somewhat sad to be alive now, when the lights of the civilization that allowed us to flourish so much are being turned off. It is too late, it seems. We've entered a world in which well founded ideas of betterment aren't discussed anymore. Now, an ever increasing number of humans seem to be guided by the most absolute contempt of reading and hostility towards the free exercise of intellectual activity. What matters now is dogma. Outside of dogma, there's only heresy, and heresy must be physically exterminated. Preferably, this extermination must be performed in the cruelest way possible, in order to “purify” the souls of the sinners while destroying their bodies.

by Fernando Olszewski