Why did the Brazilian people elect a neofascist? If you get your information from the newspapers, you might think that this happened because Brazilians are afraid of rising violence rates or fed up with corruption. These explanations sound great on paper because they function as what sociologist Pierre Bordieu called mind stopping cliches. When hearing something familiar and logical sounding, the brain stops and moves onto another subject.
Violence and corruption. Everyone hates that. What’s happening in sports? This is how the Anglo media wants people to process the issue of the arrival of fascism in Brazil, because if the public begins to scratch under the surface, it will find uncomfortable truths that implicate their own governments, think tanks, corporations and media institutions. That could lead to some difficult questions, so why not stick to the mind stopping cliches of violence and corruption? The problem is that, although both issues may have been used to manipulate the public, neither of them hold up to scrutiny.
Haddad had more support in the most violent regions
Like all countries that have to deal with the legacy of slavery and the fact that one segment of the population considers another segment to be sub-human, Brazil has always been a violent place. The image of Brazil as a land of violence has been burned into the minds of the Anglopublic through films like Pixote, City of God and Elite Squad. Only 6% of Brazilians live in favelas, and many favelas have more middle class residents than poor, but in the minds of many casual northern observers, most Brazilians live in desolate slums full of child soldiers. Could fears of violence have been the deciding factor in electing a military man to the presidency? Brazil certainly sounds scary to many Americans.
While it is true that violence has risen in Brazil in recent years – especially after the start of the austerity policies that began mildly during the last year of Dilma Rousseff’s presidency and were greatly exacerbated by the coup government which took power in 2016 – violence patterns have been marked by a geographical shift which does not strongly correspond with electoral support for Jair Bolsonaro.