Corruption: Escalating Habit of Neoliberal Savagery Rolf Auer, 28 January 2014
In Brazil, police have been going into poor neighbourhoods and murdering people. From 2003 to 2008, in Brazil’s two largest cities—Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro—more than 11,000 citizens were killed by police. Brazil’s leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 44 is homicide; many of those people were killed by police (1).
Of approximately 1,000 favelas (poor neighbourhoods) in Rio, 45 per cent are run by organized crime police militias, 37 per cent are run by drug gangs, and 18 per cent are run by the official and legal police force – the UPP (Unidade de Policia Pacificadora).
The primary duty of police is to protect the population. That Brazilian police are instead murdering the population is nothing less than corruption of that primary duty. This corruption is passed down from the political hierarchy. Everyone knows it is becoming worse, due to the World Cup, which begins in June, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The police are under orders to “clean up” or “pacify” the favelas, to make sure that sports tourists are safe. “Pacify” is code for “torture” and “brutal murder.”
The current President of Brazil is Dilma Rousseff. The Mayor of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, is Fernando Haddad, who was former Minister of Education in Rousseff’s cabinet. The Mayor of Rio is Eduardo Paes, the “Mayor who brought the Olympics to Rio…” (On 12 August 2012, at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, Paes received the Olympic Flag, via Jacques Rogge—then-President of the International Olympic Committee—from London Mayor Boris Johnson.)(2)
According to Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, the police violence due to the preparations for the World Cup and Olympics is about a larger issue: the transfer of wealth and land from the poor to the rich under the guise of sports mega-events (3).
The economic enabler of these all too common wealth transfers upwards is neoliberalism, which is merely modernized 19th century laissez-faire capitalism. The cruelty of this transplanted old-style capitalism conflates increasing corruption as well, made all the more apparent by modern high-speed communications and technology. One of Naomi Klein’s books, The Shock Doctrine, documents this cruelty in detail. A hallmark of corruption is wrongful death, and with amoral neoliberal savagery, there is no shortage of that. Case in point: the 11 September 1973 murder of Chilean democratic leader Salvador Allende, usurped by the ruthless dictator Augusto Pinochet, subsequently followed by his bloody repression of thousands of citizens of Chile, all in the name of neoliberalism (4).
Decades of neoliberal corruption of democracy has resulted in plutocracy, wherein neverending wealth transfers from poor to rich manifest as rampant inequality and people no longer notice the bodies of the economically injured whom they step around on their way to their comfy quasi-sinecures bought with their silent acquiescence to the status quo. Instead, complaints abound about these unsightly homeless impediments to progress, and it is commonly accepted as a fact of life that “the rich get richer” without questioning the hows or the whys of systemic classism and classist exploitation, currently aided and abetted by neoliberal doctrine masquerading as economic rationalism, itself merely a hackneyed excuse for forsaking one’s neighbour as a “cost cutting exercise.”
I claim that the emphasis of competition over cooperation, of hierarchy over networking, of secularism over spirituality all contribute to the exacerbation of Social Darwinist tendencies exalting such crudities of human behaviour as neoliberalism, corporatism, and persecution of belief.
A first step in combatting these is to be aware of these. Having achieved this, what should one do then, might be the logical response. Whatever one can is my answer. I like the following story: a stranger encountered a man on a beach. Washed up on shore were hundreds of tiny starfish, dying in the hot sun. The man was picking these up one by one, and throwing them back in the water. “Isn’t that rather futile?” asked the stranger. The man replied, “Each one that I throw back is one more that lives.”
More information about protests in Brazil can be found at the Twitter hashtag: #NaoVaiTerCopa
(1) The Enemy Within, 18 January 2014, article (Toronto Star, Declan Hill)
(2) www.wikipedia.org 19 January 2014
(4) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, 2007, book (Naomi Klein)