Stefan Zweig and moral atmosphere
Daily Contextual Analysis – 27/04/2016
by Miguel do Rosario. Translation: Eoin O’Neill.
Stefan Zweig wrote a fabulous book, The World of Yesterday: Memories of a European, which discussed the transformation of Europe from the Belle Époque before World War I to the tumultuous and violent reality which began in 1914 and extended at the very least to the end of World War II. Like with everything that I read, I do not stop to think of Brazil and to make comparisons.
The European Belle Époque, I compare this with the brilliant decade that began with the victory of Lula in 2002. Of course, there was never peace: the wearing down process, the mediatic and judicial persecution, the criminalization of politics, began as soon as Lula put his foot inside the Planalto Palace – or maybe a couple of months later, after the end of the pretended honeymoon which the media felt forced to celebrate with the sapo barbudo (bearded toad).
In 2013, the tumults began which I can compare – taking all the due precautions – with the beginning of World War I.
Zweig explains that it is a thousand times easier to reconstruct the historic facts that characterize a time than its moral atmosphere. This, he says, is not manifested in the official events, but rather in small particular events.
The Austrian writer then reports an episode which marked him a lot in Tours, a small peasant town in France, which he was passing through a few months before the war. He and a friend went to the cinema at the end of the afternoon, and before the film began, as was usual a short news report was shown. The cinema was full of simple people from the community, who made a lot of noise, enjoying themselves greatly with the news on the screen. However, when the German emperor, Wilhelm II, appeared on screen the audience was transformed, making “a great din of whistles, catcalls, and curses. Everyone shouted and booed, women, men, children, as if they had been personally offended.”
Zweig was horrified by what he saw, because he could never imagine that the campaign of hate waged by the French press could have poisoned even the simplest people of a small and quiet rural town.
This reminds me of the violence in hospitals and restaurants against members of the PT, the fascist persecution of Stédile in Fortaleza airport, and the cursing of Senator Gleise, in Curitiba Airport.
Such is – as it is sad and worrying to discover! – the atmosphere of our time, which also explains the vote on 17 April, that spectacle of horrors.
Shortly afterwards, on the eve of the outbreak of war in 1914, Zweig – then a young writer aged 32 – described how the Austrian newspapers in a movement synchronized by others, began an aggressive campaign inciting war.
This made me think of the reasons which led the Europeans, a people proud of their democratic values and their intransigent defense of freedom of expression, to create in the postwar period, a strong regulation of the media. They know the tragic consequences of an irresponsible press, without the commitment to the values which guarantee social peace. Equally, they know that the best manner of attenuating the danger of a press like that is to stimulate the diversity of opinions, understanding that the counterpoint is the best way of avoiding the creation of foci of radicalism, intolerance, and collective hysteria.
World War I was a particularly frightening phenomenon because millions of Europeans voluntarily marched to the slaughterhouse, incited by furious editorials.
In Brazil we are experiencing something similar. The communications system was not touched after the end of the military regime. To the contrary, media fiefdoms were even further consolidated, while the mediatic universe has become even more oligarchic and corrupt during the last 30 years of democracy.
The same communication companies which enriched themselves in the dictatorship and in the neoliberal cycles have become the owners of information in the democratic regime. All of them belong to a family plutocracy with an ultra-conservative ideology, which cannot stand seeing political power, or part of it, in the hands of a popular and trabalhista party.
A plutocracy which idolizes a president who changed the electoral laws for himself, without consulting the people, who bribed deputies to change the law to allow him re-elect himself, how can they speak of corruption?
However, the plutocracy is numerically minuscule. To expand its political power, it needs a mass to manipulate, thus the importance of the media and its game of manipulation, especially among the middle classes.
As in the large European wars, the plutocracy is willing to destroy countries, devastate economies, sacrifice liberties, and compromise the future of various generations, only to make more money.
It is very symptomatic that Judge Sergio Moro was yesterday, 26 April 2016, in the United States, receiving an award from Time, as one of the one hundred most powerful men in the world.
It is an award for destroying the Brazilian economy, and creating the moral and political economy which gave sustenance to the coup consummated on 17 April.
Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) has resulted in practice in the destruction of entire sectors of the economy. Reports about the ‘recovery’ of values by part of the operation are a joke in bad taste. The last calculation spoke of losses of more than R$ 200 billion for the economy in 2014 alone, resulting from the closure of large engineering companies.
This number can be tripled when we add 2015 and 2016. Without even counting the incalculable damage, in terms of human suffering, caused to the families of workers who lost their jobs.
Yesterday, I read a report that the Attorney General of the Republic has filed a suit against President Dilma because of the MP of Leniency, which was part of the government’s efforts to prevent Lava Jato from destroying the Brazilian economy.
The media corroborates all this: it does not even call the engineering companies by their names. Now they are Lava Jato companies. The companies which constructed hydro-electric plants, railways, ports, airports, which constructed the entire infrastructure of Brazil, have been sacrificed on the altar of the coup.
It is like this: Lula, who created 20 million jobs, who took 40 million out of poverty, who invested in infrastructure, is threatened with prison because of a ranch in Atibaia which he does not own, but only spends some time there…
The entrepreneurs who constructed Brazil are in prison.
Sergio Moro, who destroyed millions of jobs, who destroyed our principal engineering companies at the moment they were reaching their peak and conquering the world, who assisted a coup d’état, received an award from Globo and a US magazine…
On Time’s site, it is stated that “although President Dilma is not directly linked to any corruption, she is now facing impeachment in part because of Moro’s work.”
Also in Moro’s profile in Time, it is admitted that the judge is accused of “ignoring due legal process, and that he has made a great effort to gain support from public opinion.”
What wonderful praise for a judge!
Really, he deserves awards from Time and Globo and all the corporate and ultraconservative media in the world!
Meanwhile, Eduardo Cunha remains in control of the Chamber of Deputies, and presided over a criminal process, a mutiny of delinquents, which was the first step in overthrowing a president elected with 54 million votes.
Michel Temer, an ally of Cunha and a traitor, will be the new president of the republic, even without a single miserable vote.
Globo, this monster given birth to by the dictatorship, can pose as the great winner.
Just as well history exists, which will know very well to put the golpistas in their due place: the bin.
(Moro’s photo in New York, receiving the award from Time…)