Today in Quixotic Endeavors

Angry at the administration of Dilma Rousseff, at a corruption (that crosses both the PSDB and PT years), and at the PT government more generally, some Brazilian activists have decided to march 600 miles in support of “free markets, lower taxes, and privatization.”

It’s difficult to say what’s more risible here. Is it their desire to draw on the role model of the bandeirantes who expanded into Brazil’s interior in the 1700s at the expense of indigenous peoples? (Sure, one of the activists admits that the bandeirantes were “not a great example in terms of human rights,” but to be fair, given the right’s support for the military regime and for police policies that targeted the urban poor, this seems to be a feature, not a bug.) Is it their desire to march inland, where many of the impoverished Brazilians who have benefited from the social policies of the PT and who likely remember the catastrophic impact of neoliberalism on their lives in the 1980s and 1990s (and thus are likely to be unsympathetic to the cause) live? Is it in their highlighting of such political US titans like Rand Paul? Is it their raising the ghost of Margaret Thatcher? Is it the comparison of the March to the Lord of the Rings? Let’s call it a wash – it’s all rather odd and absurd political theater.

Admittedly, Brazil is in the midst of a massive corruption scandal centering on the state-run Petrobras, the damaging effects of neoliberal policies from the 1980s and 1990s are still recent enough in many Brazilians’ memories that appeals to less regulation and more privatization are unlikely to resonate widely. And by relying on with white colonizers from 300 years ago, Rand Paul, and the ghost of Margaret Thatcher as your role models, the activists are really just showing how bereft Brazil is of any intellectual heft for a serious politically right-leaning leader. That said, the activists do (humorously) show the intellectual bankruptcy of original solutions or ideas and the dogmatic partisanship of at least parts of the middle- and upper-classes.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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