Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„The Depolitisation of Politics“ – Brasiliens Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto.

Television wins election campaigns. Political parties contract groups to enhance the image of their candidates during elections. The group is usually headed by a publicity person who does not belong to the party, does not like the party and does not vote for the party. However he (she) is known for his (her) competence¦

Competence rhymes with conviction. Any marketing manual of the sort that teaches how to sell atmospheric pollution to ecologists will advise the salesman to be convinced of the quality of his product. This is why during campaigns the TV often gets stuck. The publicity person, the group and the style are replaced. And the voter is confused because, from one week to the next, the ”light version candidate turns into a radical or vice versa.What is most dramatic is to realize that ethics are replaced by aesthetics. It does not matter if the candidate is dishonest, corrupt or incompetent. A good image says more than a thousand words. Thus one of the objectives of neo liberalism which is the progressive depolitisation of politics comes about. Politics is removed from the public domain as a tool for the promotion of the common good in order to reduce it to the private domain, to a choice of candidates based not on proposals and programs, but on compatibility and empathy.

The reason is simple: in the capitalist system, politics are theoretically public and the economy is private. The vote is universalised and wealth is privatised. If in Brazil there are more than 100 million voters, only 19 million hold 75.4% of the national wealth in their hands (IPEA May 2008) (Institute of Applied Economic Research).

In a true democracy the universalisation of the vote should coincide with the socialisation of wealth in order to assure a minimum wage for all together with the three basic rights: nutrition, health and education, in that order. As this is not on the system™s agenda, the process there tends to be inverted: the population is inoculated with the horror of politics in such a way as to relegate it to the private domain of a few. Those who are disgusted by politics are governed by those who are not. Bad politicians then do all they can to use public power in benefit of their own private interests.

Take, for example, the movement in favour of the optional vote. What many see as positive and conducive to individual freedom is a way of excluding a considerable segment of the population from political decisions. Thus the degree of alienation of potential voters increases. When asked for my opinion, I say very clearly: I am in favour, as long as the present obligation to pay taxes is also optional. Why should one be obliged to sustain the State economically yet not be obliged to influence in its configuration and direction?


The lack of interest in politics is one of the disastrous symptoms of neo liberal ideology which tries to de-socialise citizens and individualise them as consumers. The Cartesian principle of ”I think, therefore I exist is substituted by the market principle of ”I consume, therefore I exist. In this way election propaganda also becomes merchandise. Instead of offering ideas, government programs or long term strategies, election propaganda offers promises, performance and images of impact.If there are positive aspects in the official restrictions to election campaigns such as not dirtying the city or avoiding large crowds who would be more interested in seeing the celebrities supporting the party than in hearing what the candidates have to say during the hustings, it is obvious that they favour the more wealthy. As long as the promised political reform i.e. the financing and the public control of the campaigns does not occur, unaccounted for funds continue to have a ball with those who pose as ethical while simultaneously recruiting suspicious and criminal resources.

It is time to open the debate regarding elections 2008 in all institutional and popular spheres such as schools, businesses, religious denominations, clubs, associations, unions and social movements. It is not a case of favouring this or that candidate, but of stimulating critical distancing from electoral marketing and accentuating the criteria for political discernment.

If the society does not undertake the political education of its citizens, we will soon have parliamentary and executive positions occupied only by those who are corrupt, militiamen, lobbyists and fundamentalists. Brazil will then find itself reduced to a huge 1930s Chicago with the Al Capones calling the shots and the law shuddering in horror on the one hand and ”Tupiniquin[1] <#_ftn1> versions of Bin Laden on the other, convinced that in the name of their religion they were chosen by God to govern and eradicate sin, in other words, to do battle with fire and sword with all those who do not profess their faith.
[1] <#_ftnref1>  The Tupiniquins were a Brazilian indigenous tribe in Northeastern Brazil.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of ”Cartas da Prisáo (Letters from Prison) (Agir).


He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).

In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Sonntag, 12. Oktober 2008 um 19:46 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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