Stupidity is endemic like never before in Brazil

I have lived most of my life in a lower middle class neighborhood of São Paulo called Ipiranga. Technically, it is where Brazil was born in 1822, when a Portuguese prince declared our independence from Portugal (yes, I know that is pathetic). Ipiranga is a region that always votes conservative, but it was far from being a place of bigotry. In recent years it experienced a real estate bubble that brought foreigners and wealthy paulistas for the first time since the 1930ies, when industries first set here. Some of those new neighbors aren’t rich, though. They are desperate miserable Haitians.

About 20 of them crashed into an empty building 100 meters from where I live. The place belongs to São Paulo’s archdioceses and it was unused for decades. Still, the Haitians got no empathy from their new neighbors. At our local supermarket, I heard elderly clients say these people are here to form a mercenary army to keep our self-evident communist dictatorship. I heard neighbors make the same comment twice. Preemptively, I mentioned the stupidity of all this to my mother. I feared she’d be dragged into that nonsense. I never felt I had to do such a thing, but Brazil 2015 became a very, very stupid place.

Protesters in Porto Alegre use anticommunist rants… against a Catalonian independence flag

Chants like “Go to Cuba” have become trendy in protests, whenever someone that looks slightly leftist is around — a red shirt can do that trick. Lunatics mistakenly scream that Brazil’s Constitution would allow a military intervention since the current administration has links to the Petrobras scandal — although none of them are connecting to the commander-in-chief of those troops. Even neonazis have come out. Truth be said, those peculiar groups aren’t the majority in the protests, but they are often welcomed and rarely criticized openly enough for others to draw a line between demonstrators and wackos.

Part of the communist delirium started with Glenn Beck like columnists and bloggers years ago. They were responding to a growing online community of government sponsored columnists and bloggers who, with a bit less tenacity, attacked mainstream media and the opposition. Since 2011, the meanness is mostly on the right, feeding itself from smears of the 2010 presidential campaign and social media. Some truth and a great deal of lies now become Facebook threads, Whatsapp messages and anonymous emails. The hoaxes are multiple: here are pictures of people President Dilma Rousseff killed during the dictatorship, take a look the scandal of a maid that wants her to pay alimony after they lived together, see how she faked her cancer…

Former President Lula and his disgraced chief of staff José Dirceu, who was condemned for corruption, were also targets of that stupidity. The first was accused of owning shares of the world’s largest meat processing plant in the world. Another hoax claimed he was making money out of a change in Brazil’s outlets (!!!). Old accusations came back and got a lot of attention, including one stating he lost one of his fingers on purpose in a sweat shop so he could get a pension. The latter was involved in so many accusations — some true, many untrue — that he personifies now the hatred towards his party.

Of course not all the idiocy belongs to right-wingers. A few days ago I heard a leftist say that protesters that recently took to the streets against President Dilma Rousseff should be punched down “like Trotskyists did to the fascists downtown São Paulo in 1934.” It is as if Brazil had not changed at all in 80 years. Others that are obsessed with the Worker’s Party (PT) say that corruption at Petrobras means nothing because you have to do what it takes to finance campaigns, keep alliances and remain in office. They often claim that corruption accusations are a plot of the opposition and mainstream media to overthrow Rousseff.

These are just a few of the hundreds of bizarre comments that are around. It is clear that the rise of social media made all this possible and it is evident that corruption at the federal government played a key role in the antagonism towards leftists (even though the Worker’s Party is as leftist as the Democrats are in the United States). But the level of stupidity has to do with something deeper: Brazilians are okay with lying to make a political point. We used to go along with the tide. Now that there are two sides, people of low education, no matter how wealthy they are, find it hard to engage in honest dialogues. That goes for lower, middle and upper class.

That has made Brazil’s society as divided as the American, with less filters to tell truth from nonsense and more risks to democratic values. All those mean spirited comments from left and right became part of normal political conversations, as if those bizarre topics came from facts, and not from spin doctors and crazy militants of the opposition or of the ruling coalition. The filters in the media matter less and less, people seem to want more opinions than facts. Our journalists, including myself, could do a better job if we were equipped to deal with our complex political landscape and try, at least, to end hoaxes. We can’t even do that at this moment.

Some will say that kind of stupidity existed in Brazil prior to the 1964 coup d’État.  But this is 2015. Brazil is a much better country that has absolutely no links to communism. Our finance minister went to the Mecca of neoliberal economic policies, we have an investment grade economy, a housing bubble is on the rise… Add those anticommunist wackos to those that believe Brazil should become a military dictatorship to get rid of communist influence. The result is intellectually catastrophic. Although there are many idiots on the left, those on the Brazilian right are now the vast majority. Brazil’s current level of idiocy has a lot to do with them.

Brazil is stupid like never before. And it won’t get better anytime soon. To those that want to report on Brazil or understand what the country is going through politically, I say listen to what I say: don’t listen to anyone. Not for now.


About Mauricio Savarese

I am a Brazilian journalist who got tired of reporting only in Portuguese. Politics and football, these are my turfs. Twitter: @msavarese. Email:

Posted on 30/03/2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Sou brasileiro, vivo en Espanha e aqui jamais fizeram isso comigo, alias aqui luto contra o racismo, discriminação das minorias étnicas, contra a violação dos direitos humanos, favor da educação livre etc., é uma grande pena vergonha, por alguns desclassificados de nome ter a minha nacionalidade, medo, vergonha, onde esse mundo vai parar, que pais e esse. soy brasileño vivo en España, jamas me hicieron eso aqui, lucho contra la violacion de los derechos de las personas, estoy en una lucha con mas personas contrar muchas cosas que salen en el video, pero que me da verguenza, me da miedo, es frustrante saber que algunos de estos son de la misma nacionalidad que la mía, menos mal que en Brasil no son todos así, bueno trabajo, gracias. muito bom trabalho, obrigado.

  2. Primeiramente devemos separar aqui dois assuntos diferentes em relacao ao aumento (ou nao) da estupidez no Brasil.

    No que diz respeito à política, acho que essa (mais que nunca) dualidade existente no Brasil atual, que veio mais à tona agora depois das eleicoes de 2014, é de fato uma prova de que o Brasil está mais estúpido do que nunca. No fervor de brigas ESTÚPIDAS sobre qual dos dois partidos é mais (ou menos) corrupto, perdemos totalmente a racionalidade nas discussoes que passam a ser meramente partidárias/subjetivas, e assim deixamos de discutir objetivamente o que realmente é importante: críticas construtivas para melhorarmos o país (independente de quem o governa).

    Hoje se você critica o governo, você já é taxado de direita; se você elogia algumas políticas do governo que deram certo, você é comunista. As pessoas esquecem que aqui nao é novela onde só existe o bem x o mal, o preto no branco, o inferno e o céu e o bandido ou mocinho. Essas “taxacoes” ESTÚPIDAS limitam as discussoes democráticas, criando-se pré conceitos ESTÚPIDOS que impedem a fluidez de idéias de melhorarias do nosso país.

    Discordo, porém, sob pena de aqui ser taxada de direitista (rs), de que a maioria dos idiotas sao da direita. Atualmente eles fazem mais barulhos por serem a oposicao (a oposicao tradicionalmente é e deve ser mais barulhenta que o governo – normal isso, até porque sao eles quem criticam o trabalho do governo – o PT nao era tao menos barulhento quando era oposicao), razao pela qual se tem a impressao de que sao a maioria entre os estúpidos. Porém, os petistas de plantao, hoje em dia mais calados e discretos em se exporem, por conta da corrupcao que está sendo amplamente divulgada pela mídia (segundo eles, de direita, é claro! Rs), ao serem “cutucados” em discussoes de bar, também soltam as suas abobrinhas e chavoes: “os fins justificam os meios”, “tudo é culpa da Veja e do Mainardi”, etc etc. Ou seja, o nível de estupidez está nos dois lados. A coisa tá bem “nivelada” rs.

    Já no tocante ao eventual aumento da estupidez dos brasileiros em relacao a imigrantes, discordo aqui do autor: essa infelizmente vem de longa data. O Brasil é “o bem sucedido ´melting pot´,” no Brasil “nao há discriminacao”; essas sao algumas idéias incutidas na sociedade que sao usadas para esconder uma realidade cruel do país: o Brasil é um país racista e preconceituoso sim. É e sempre foi. Preconceito contra negros, nordestinos, pobres, índios, etc etc…e agora o preconceito contra os novos imigrantes. Isso existe e sempre existiu. Essa estupidez infelizmente está enraizada há muito tempo na nossa sociedade.

    Se isso serve de “consolacao,” nisso o Brasil nao está só: qualquer país que recebe grandes fluxos migratórios, como EUA, países europeus, etc tem que lidar com a ESTUPIDEZ discriminatória de sua populacao em relacao aos imigrantes. Esse tipo de ESTUPIDEZ infelizmente é mundial e epidêmica.

  3. I would take a more positive stance. For the first time ever many Brazilians seem to be genuinely upset about corruption. I think it was Mauricio who asked in older posts why Brazilians did not protest against corruption in the late 1990s or 2005 (mensalao). I lived in Brazil in 2005/06 and remember the mensalao discussion very well, a topic for the elite, 100% even though press coverage was huge, CPI live on TV, books being written etc. Ordinary people could not care less.

    In the Petrolao affair media and commentators do their job as during the Mensalao. What is totally different today is that ordinary people care; they seem to be genuinely upset. And this in turn is what upsets the PT. They have no response other than organizing government-sponsored manifestations with low turnout or have paid bloggers massage the facts.

    Anyway, we are still talking about Brazil. If you apply US or Western European standards Dilma would have had to resign by now and most of her ministers would never have made it into cabinet.

  1. Pingback: Unprecedented stupidity has taken over Brazilian politics - Latin Correspondent

  2. Pingback: The state of the nation - Brazil is getting more extreme - An Endless Summer

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