Divided Brazil will be urged to look inwards

October 12, 2018

What happened?

Brazil’s far-right nationalist candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the majority in Sunday’s election, but not enough to avoid a runoff on October 28th. He is a former army officer with a “law-and-order” style of governance, who wants to relax gun laws, has made crude remarks directed at Black people, queer people, and women, and has denied the impacts of climate change. As a divisive figure, he could further polarize a country of big discrepancies: Brazil is large and geographically divided, inequality is among the highest in the world, and it has a diverse population.

What does this mean?

Bolsonaro has been gaining support since corruption scandals around the last three presidents and rising crime rates that have badly damaged Brazilian trust in the government. Bolsonaro rose up as a radically new type of leader and offered an alternative for voters who were fed up with corruption and rising crime. He is shaking up the political establishment and has expressed anti-globalist and nationalist views in foreign policy and the economy. His vision is comparable to that of the newly elected Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who also promised to combat corruption. Both are radical new leaders changing the course of Latin America, inwardly focused instead of being open to the world.

What’s next?

Voters will have to choose between two extremes in the second round. Bolsonaro still has to face the second-place candidate, leftist Workers’ Party leader Fernando Haddad in the runoff, whose predecessor is in jail for a corruption scandal. Either way, Brazil’s new president will have to operate in an extremely divided and diverse parliament (the senate has representatives from 21 different parties), meaning the country is heading for uncertainty and will be urged to cope with the polarized political landscape and domestic affairs.

Series 'AI Metaphors'

1. The Tool
Category: Objects
Humans shape tools.

We make them part of our body while we melt their essence with our intentions. They require some finesse to use but they never fool us or trick us. Humans use tools, tools never use humans.

We are the masters determining their course, integrating them gracefully into the minutiae of our everyday lives. Immovable and unyielding, they remain reliant on our guidance, devoid of desire and intent, they remain exactly where we leave them, their functionality unchanging over time.

We retain the ultimate authority, able to discard them at will or, in today's context, simply power them down. Though they may occasionally foster irritation, largely they stand steadfast, loyal allies in our daily toils.

Thus we place our faith in tools, acknowledging that they are mere reflections of our own capabilities. In them, there is no entity to venerate or fault but ourselves, for they are but inert extensions of our own being, inanimate and steadfast, awaiting our command.
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2. The Machine
Category: Objects
Unlike a mere tool, the machine does not need the guidance of our hand, operating autonomously through its intricate network of gears and wheels. It achieves feats of motion that surpass the wildest human imaginations, harboring a power reminiscent of a cavalry of horses. Though it demands maintenance to replace broken parts and fix malfunctions, it mostly acts independently, allowing us to retreat and become mere observers to its diligent performance. We interact with it through buttons and handles, guiding its operations with minor adjustments and feedback as it works tirelessly. Embodying relentless purpose, laboring in a cycle of infinite repetition, the machine is a testament to human ingenuity manifested in metal and motion.
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About the author(s)

Researcher Julia Rijssenbeek focuses on our relationship to nature, sustainable and technological transitions in the food system, and the geopolitics of our global food sytems. She is currently working on her PhD in philosophy of technology at Wageningen University, investigating how synthetic biology might alter philosophical ideas about nature and the values we hold, as well as what a bio-based future may bring.

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