Faculty Writing: On the Future of the Brazilian Presidency and the Fantasy of Power Without Politics

Writing in Jacobin, Nara Roberta Silva takes a look back over the past two decades of Brazil’s history in order to assess what kinds of challenges, and pitfalls, may await the winner of this year’s presidential election—in the event it turns out to be the Workers’ Party candidate, and former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Projecting a potential Lula victory, Roberta Silva outlines the grievous, and not so simply remediable, damage done by and during the Bolsonaro administration. From the hollowing out of social provisions to knee-capping regulatory agencies to advancing reactionary values, “Bolsonaro’s government has undermined the state apparatus in a way that hasn’t been seen before,” and this, she argues, has “huge implications” for any potentially resurgent left politics moving forward, even if Lula wins reelection: “Today’s world is not the same as the one in which he first rose to power.”

And, in The New Republic, Suzanne Schneider, looking at the British—and US—fascination with the famously apolitical Queen Elizabeth, asks: “Why are so many…so desirous of power without politics?” On the one hand, Schneider suggests, neoliberalism has a role to play: “For more than a half-century, neoliberalism has championed a depoliticized world in which capital would be insulated from democratic demands.” On the other, and working in tandem, there may be a political theology at work: “perhaps we Americans are envious that the British have something as historically sturdy as the divine right of kings to legitimate vast, hereditary, and permanent inequality and enshrine its maintenance as a civic virtue.”

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