A youtuber broke through security and set up a shack at Palácio da Alvorada. With his cell phone in his hand, he filmed himself calling the president a chutchuca do Centrão, a tramp, etc. and saying that he didn’t have the courage to talk to you. The first of these insults was coined by Zeca Dirceu and later revived by André Marinho. It was like this: in 2019, during a public hearing with Paulo Guedes on the pension reform, the son of Zé Dirceu, federal deputy for Paraná, told the minister that he had “an obligation to with us, and with the Brazilian people”, to answer their “very objective” questions for fulfilling “a public function”. Here is one of the “questions”: “You are a tiger when it comes to retirees, the elderly, those in need. You’re a tiger when it’s with the farmers, the teachers. But it’s chutchuca when it messes with the most privileged crowd in our country.” And he followed up with a little sermon, saying that Guedes had to apologize, until he was interrupted by the elder, who raged: “I didn’t come here to be disrespected, no. Tchutchuca is the mother, she is the grandmother, she respects people. That’s offense. I respect those who respect me. If you don’t respect me, you don’t deserve my respect.”
For my part, I find it difficult to think of a more unfriendly attitude than Zeca Dirceu’s in this episode. It would be good if it were the symbol of a phase of Brazil left behind, along with petismo: a phase in which the arrogant, from the height of their enormous self-attributed importance, felt entitled to step on and disrespect any authority that was against them.
The escalation of arrogance
But apparently it was a subjective perception of mine – or at least a common perception in the general population, but uncommon among the literate. Well, it didn’t take long for André Marinho, who wasn’t a PT member and whose father is Flávio Bolsonaro’s deputy in the Senate, found the idea of using the Chutchuca/tigrão dichotomy to offend an elder to be very good: in an interview with Bolsonaro, he called him of chutchuca with the STF and tigrão with a comedian (Marinho himself). I felt the same aversion that PT caused me, but the anti PT bubble thought it was beautiful.
Between the episode of 2018 starring Zeca Dirceu and that of 2021, starring Marinho, something was lost: Paulo Guedes owed the deputy an explanation for allegedly speaking on behalf of the Brazilian people – which is greatly inflating his condition as a PT representative of the people of Paraná, but at least he was in fact elected by a tiny portion of the Brazilian people to represent it. With André Marinho, things evolved: he invests himself as the Voice of Reason or something like that. In the precarious condition of a comedian who tells “uncomfortable truths” without decorum, he believed that Bolsonaro should give him the same treatment given to the STF, which is the tiger of all of us.
The youtuber follows in the Along the same lines as André Marinho and repeats the usual accusations made by those former Bolsonaristas who claim to be ideologically pure: Bolsonaro allied himself with Centrão; Bolsonaro ended Lava Jato, etc. Then it is discovered that the youtuber himself joined União Brasil, a Centrão party par excellence, to try to be a candidate for federal deputy in this election and defend the interests of the military. In other words, he tried to follow the same path as Bolsonaro, failed, and put himself in the palm of the world. Invested by what authority, really?
Now, that of those incapable of failing.
Without doing anything, you can’t fail
I’ve already explained my theory that virtue signaling mania was a disease of left-wing literate niches that spread, dur during the pandemic, for anti-PT literate niches (who became at the same time anti-bolsonaristas, without being pro-anything). I also believe that this compulsion is a symptom of an empty life, in which people have lost the ability to understand what it is to be good and have started to work with a Manichean dichotomy to give meaning to life. These people figure out what it takes to be on the good versus the bad team and then they adapt. The game is only possible with a well-defined villain role, because, as they have no light of their own, they need bad guys to look good. The whole game happens with just the throat (or the fingers). Nobody does anything useful; it only signals virtue.
Let’s go to the commonplace accusations made against Bolsonaro. Everyone who is minimally interested in solving problems knows that cabinet funds are an invitation to petty corruption (quite different from Mensalão’s); that the party and electoral system is completely cluttered; that it is not possible to govern without the votes of the Centrão. Anyone who wants to pose as pure will be left without a party, and therefore, as it is not possible to have separate candidacies, they will not even enter political life. It will only remain on the bench of political life, just throbbing.
On the left, we heard the same chant in the mouths of the intelligentsia during PT governments: the militant of the obscure PSTU, yes, was a real left and defended the proletariat. Lula and Dilma had bowed to Congress, which is conservative, homophobic, sexist, etc. To which the governmentists replied: it is clear that they “bent” to Congress. How to rule without him? Taking a hit? Repeating the Mensalão? Today the same chant is repeated by self-declared conservatives, changing the word “Congresso” to “Centrão”.
The easiest way to not be criticized is to do nothing. Both the PSTU activist and the true-conservative youtuber will be able to cherish the idea that if the world were fair and recognized their gifts, then they would do everything much better.
A fantasy incarnation
However, there is one political figure these days that these baggy types can identify with. Who doesn’t have a party affiliation, doesn’t subject himself to the opinion of the populace, doesn’t need Congress to enforce his will? Who can boast of forgoing popularity, but rule anyway? Ministers of the Federal Supreme Court. We can say that they embody the fantasy of the sign of virtue put on the intellectual.
And that this mania has spread, the reaction of the press and the literati helps to show. When an arrogant kid curses the authority elected by millions of Brazilians, this is not treated as a crime of contempt even by the president, who in the end dedicated himself to answering the youtuber. On the other hand, we know very well that such a thing would never happen to a minister of the Supreme, since they, yes, can put anyone they want in jail, despite what the law says. Lewandowski isn’t even the worst; however, to compare him to Bolsonaro, let us remember how he acted when a plane passenger took out his cell phone and told him – without cursing him personally – that the STF embarrasses him. The passenger was detained. The episode took place in 2018, before the End of the World Inquiry discouraged criticism.
We also know that any expression of disapproval of STF ministers is promptly received as an “attack on democracy and institutions”. Nevertheless, the repeated attacks on Bolsonaro – attacks that include a stab wound – are not considered attacks on democracy. Quite the contrary: attacking the democratically elected leader who remains popular, capable of mobilizing crowds in the streets, is considered a necessary requirement to enter the chic club of true defenders of democracy.
The literate are crazy. But it’s not surprising; after all, it was really to be expected that the confinement in cliques would cause a loss of sense of reality. And as for the logical inconsistency, you can mask it with a canned speech pro-criminalization of fake news or anti-populism.
If there are people, they are against it. It is necessary to put him in the place of villain for them, who have no substance, to feel superior.