Travis Waldron discusses worldwide failures of democracy in the face of rising fascism. After a decade of Worker Party corruption and incompetence, Brazilians turned to the far right.

Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses

Jair Bolsonaro, a federal congressman and former Army captain, had just won the election to become Brazil’s 38th president.

Brazil is about to show the world how a modern democracy falls apart.

This is not exclusively a Brazilian phenomenon. Countries around the world, from Hungary to Turkey to the Philippines, have turned to noisy leaders who promise instant renewals and silver-bullet solutions under the banner of a right-wing, nativist “populism” ― the preferred term of news outlets, even though the key constituencies backing these candidates tend to comprise the nations’ elite.

Each major election has become, in part, a referendum on the state of global democracy as a whole. And each victory for a right-wing, anti-democratic figure has paved the way for a similar candidate in the next major election somewhere else.

… Bolsonaro has threatened his leftist political opponents with violence and imprisonment. He has promised to deliver a political “cleansing never seen before in Brazil,” and threatened media outlets that report news unfavorable to him.

Bolsonaro has modeled his ascent to power on the rise of Trump, whose own victory was built on years of democratic erosion.

Bolsonaro adopted many of Trump’s strategies:…

Beneath the surface, Bolsonaro and his supporters took advantage of social media, amplifying his message across Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp ― Brazil’s most popular social network ― exploiting both the existing distrust of Brazil’s largest media outlets and the utility of those social networks for spreading news that was baseless and manufactured out of thin air.

Brazil’s police already killed more than 4,200 people last year ― in Rio, they were responsible for 1 in every 5 homicides across the state.

The day before the inauguration, Carlos Bolsonaro ― a Rio councilman and another of the new president’s sons ― posted a video on Twitter of his father celebrating police killings and calling his opponents “pussies.” [order changed]

When Waldron says Jair Bolsonaro "celebrated police killings" that means celebrated police killing civilians.

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I disagree with Waldron that widespread corruption among left wing governments indicates that democracy isn't working. What we see is the failure of democracy-inside-Dominator Culture. Inside of a global oligarchic culture built upon elite control of mass media, where fascism is misnamed as nativist “populism”. Inside of a global oligarchic culture which is free to hide vast wealth from taxation and to launder illegal plunder through nested shell corporations and corruption-friendly bankers.

Not only is "justice" unequal, and wealth unequal, most especially access to information is unequal. Ordinary workers lives, minds and hearts are an open book, where 100 likes tells the elites more about you than your  spouse knows, while elites are shielded by nondisclosure clauses, dark money influence, and armies of lobbyists and lawyers.

Democracy, living Democracy in a transparent open society, hasn't even been imagined, much less tested and found wanting. Until we've tried democracy in a transparent egalitarian Partnership culture, we haven't actually tried democracy.

I can't locate the article which proposed that as a nation the US suffers from political learned helplessness, and a symptom of this is the vast energy and time the average man devotes to sports expertise. The author said we all need to use our capacity for expertise, to challenge our intelligence. That the culture has turned to deep serious sports expertise is a symptom, he said, of us having given up on understanding politics excepting as a group identity affirmation. Political knowledge isn't rewarded socially. Strangers bond over details of sports fantasy games, but not over details of laws and policies that directly impact their lives.

I imagine a world in which details of the lives of rich and powerful elites, not their properties but revealed business and politics secrets, are daily entertainment. Extensive scrutiny of deals and money transfers would be public, grist for gossip. Fact checking their lies, tricks, and cons would be taken for granted, so guys could compare running tallies of real power brokers instead of hits and runs of game players.

Can democracy even be called democracy when it's distorted to accommodate multidimensional systemic cultural inequality?

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Replies to This Discussion

Ruth, I would understand “Can a government be called democratic when ...?”

I don’t understand “Can democracy can be called democracy when ...?”

What are you asking?

I will look for Travis Waldron’s credentials.

My attempt to question the use of "democracy" was poorly worded. Your version makes more sense. 

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