Occupy Rio


That's not democracy. That's freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Democracy = A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
It never hurts to remind the robber barons who is really in charge. But what comes after the giant temper tantrum?
I can't believe there is no reference to the Confederations Cup or the World Cup in this blurb. I'm sick and tired of The Stranger not giving soccer the proper respect it deserves. I didn't see one single mention a couple weeks ago when the USMNT played a World Cup qualifier in Seattle for the first time in 37 years. I've had enough of this wanton disregard of the world sport and the political and social ramifications it carries with it. There is a U-20 World Cup going on right now in Turkey and the US is playing Spain at 11:00 am today. If you can't pull your head out and see this could be the beginning of world peace in our time, I don't know if there is any hope for you.
@2. Ennui
"Also like Occupy"

How long until they vanish like Occupy?

Must be that leftist government they are protesting against.
@1 You are describing a Republic. There are few true democracies. Most of what we call "democracy" is actually republicanism.

And no, genuine democracy is not mob rule.
What have these protests led to? Look at Egypt: it empowered the religious right. Look at Turkey: Erdogan has a strong mass base and has withstood the protests that have petered out. Look at Spain and Greece: endless austerity and mass suffering unchecked by protest. Look at the USA where Occupy changed nothing and accomplished nothing.

The lessons are clear: protest is fine but unless it has organization, clear goals, and most importantly, an ability to reach beyond those involved in the protests, then not only will those protests fail to produce change, they might wind up making matters worse by opening the door to even more regressive political forces.
@3: The author does mention the high cost of stadiums but you are right, it's worth mentioning that tge Confederations Cup currently happening is also probably helping to draw larger protest crowds.

The expenses for the stadiums prepped for 2013 Confederations, 2014 World Cup, and 2016 Olympics are massive. I can only imagine the anger ordinary Brazilians feel seeing that coupled with the ongoing needs for better infrastructure and education spending which gets shafted instead.

I was in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup and it was an amazing experience. However, we had unpleasant and potentially dangerous experiences in multiple venues, largely due to lack of infrastructure/running out of money to fix it. I strongly suspect Brazil may have similar problems, especially if the protests succeed in funnelling money to worthier causes.
It's irresistible to shoehorn these kinds of events into whatever size boxes you have handy, but it's not very illuminating. Cataloging a list of specific grievances isn't helpful or accurate; the process that brings people out into the street works the other way -- the grievances are post hoc explanations for a more amorphous sense of malaise.

The World Cup? That's not why people are protesting -- though it is a very handy hook to hang it on, for the explainers and for the protesters themselves.

What they are really protesting, in Egypt, in Libya, in Syria, in Turkey, in India and Greece and Brazil, is the eroding of the future. What people want is not standard of living X, it's some sense that today is better than yesterday, and an assurance that tomorrow will be better than today. Even poor people are content if they are able to improve their lives.

It is stagnation that is lethal. And stagnation after a period of growth and hope is the most lethal of all. That's where Brazil is today: years of explosive growth are slowing down, halting the progress of the poor to the not-so-poor, and the not-so-poor into the middle class, and the middle class...upward. In Turkey, liberalization looks to be stoppered up. In Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, they can see the future happening everywhere but where they are, stuck in the nineteenth, or in some cases the ninth, century. Greece was an economic miracle until the crash.

And worst of all is the explosion of wealth in the upper class, which isn't just continuing after the economic collapse, it's skyrocketing out of it. And it's ten times more visible than it ever was before, because of the internet. We can all SEE these people rolling around in their piles of gold and diamonds. It's not that we want gold and diamonds for ourselves, just a possibility of a future.

The World Cup? It's the people's game, but it's controlled by the super-rich, in FIFA and elsewhere. The money all goes back to FIFA and the corrupt contractors building the stadiums and the politicians. But it's also the biggest venue; it's there, in other words. Everyone is watching. And the people of Brazil feel like they're not getting any of it.

The part that sucks is that this inchoate discontent bubbling up at all levels of society aside from the very top only rarely results in better conditions for the people feeling it. The answers always seem to be right wing, even fascist, because maintaining control is always the essential thing at the core after all else has been stripped away.
It's 1848 again, but on a global scale.

@7 - Just because you don't see what changes and accomplishments that Occupy has made in the US, televised on your nightly iPad news program, doesn't mean they have "accomplished nothing". Ever heard of the Rolling Jubilee? check that shit out.
what do you mean supposedly voted?

brazil is a democracy. has a lefty government. no one said democracy cures all ills though.

and treacle, really, occupy has not accomplished that much apart from tilting our politics ever so slightly from right wing to sort of moderate right wing, led by Obama, who presides over a stuggling economic in which the middle class and working class are STILL being shafted.

but oh my god, try to tell young kids that protests don't work, and they just aren't mature enough to get it.

here's a clue. you need protest plus media plus change in consciousness plus organizing plus ELECTING AND LEGISLATING so in the end, yes, you do need an LBJ, duh!

or a social democratic party. btw having an organized communist party seems to work too --every democracy that has one has better policies for it, on health care, schools, taxes, vacations etc. a communist party that wins its 20% over there in western europe is what I mean.
@6 What's the difference (in your mind) between a democracy and a republic?

And, btw, this started because the original header was something like "Democracy breaks out in Brazil." That has now been changed. (Thanks, Brendan!)

I objected because it reminded me of the simplistic chant that gets used at some protests - "This is what democracy looks like." No, it isn't. I never voted for you to be my representative. This is what freedom of speech and freedom of assembly look like. They are vital to a democracy, but they are not the democracy.
@2, 4 - Nope. Not ennui. Huge amounts of organizing at the grassroots level tends to come out of massive demonstrations like this. People coalesce into activist groups that then get lots of work done, but tend not to be very visible. Many, many things happen, but not the sort of things the teevee news tends to report on.

No, he is describing a Representative Democracy, in which each person votes to send a person to represent their votes, as in the House of Representatives.

Democracy per se would be something like e-Democracy where we would directly vote on each and every issue without a Legislature.

However, the United States is not a Democracy. It is a Republic.

A Republic is not Representative Democracy, much as people mistakenly describe it as such.

A Republic is a rule of law under a Constitution. It's more like a charted corporation with certain by-laws, or even a private club. Each person who is a member (or citizen) of the United States gets to operate under the rules of the Republic, no more, no less. As such "democracy" doesn't really play a part in it. In fact, it almost doesn't matter who is elected, as the point of running the country is administrative not political. Politicians are supposed to do what is needed under the Constitution and nothing more...no extra agendas.

Everything else that "needs to be done" is to be done by private citizens and organizations, nothing more.
Was Occupy our version? It came to so little in the end. I keep wondering what it would take for Americans to rebel against what is being done to us by corporations, politicians and the uber-wealthy. I see no sign that anyone except a tiny minority is even paying attention.
What's ironic is that Brazil is one of the countries that is doing it right.

If you consider where they are coming from, the decades of military rule, oppression, and poverty, what has happened in Brazil since the 1980s and especially in the Lula (and now Rousseff) years is remarkable: vastly increasing prosperity, not just at the top but at all levels, and a real step forward onto the world stage like no other South American (or even Global South) country before it, all accomplished with a left-liberal government with extraordinary popularity until recently. People say "BRIC countries", but Brazil, not China, is the real standout in that group.

Unfortunately, much of that growth was built on the back of commodities exports (like all of Latin America). While not all of these are just pulled straight out of the ground, like oil, and Brazil does have a strong industrial sector, it's still a little worrying, since countries that live by commodities die by them too, and because minerals, oil and gas are non-renewable. Google "Dutch Disease", for more on this.

And commodities are taking a hit right now, which is what's behind Brazil's current weakening, which is causing some of the unrest. Brazil's problems do not bode well for poorer, even more dependent countries like Venezuela.

Re: Occupy -- nobody in the world gives a shit about Occupy except a handful of spoiled Westerners. The issues that prompted Occupy, yes; the movement? It's nothing. The protests in Turkey made a grave mistake when they started looking like Occupy. Frustration with "traditional power structures" doesn't mean "give us brainless Occupy unalternatives"; it means "give us a future". Brazilians were pretty happy when Lula was in office, the economy was roaring, and programs for the poor were both expanding and working. Note though that the poor aren't the bulk of the protesters.
@14 "Everything else that "needs to be done" is to be done by private citizens and organizations, nothing more."

That sounds like a definition that a libertarian came up with. I always wondered what the hidden agenda was behind people who say there's a difference. Now I know.

I think the better distinction, if you want to ignore the popularly understood definition of democracy, would be that democracy means simply "majority rule" whereas "republic" means "majority rule within the constraints of a charter or constitution."

But since, in practice, there's no government that's truly a democracy, the alternate definition has taken hold - the definition I gave at the start.

Brazil is doing it right? Sounds like you have never been to Brazil but you have just read about it in places like the Economist. You think you can really know about a country by reading a bunch of stats in high brow publications?


If you have ever lived in Brazil, you would know that they are most certainly not 'doing it right' and that's why people are so pissed. The society is totally fucked up in terms education, corruption, crime, health care and more. I'm glad they're finally getting pissed and fighting back. What they have to experience in daily life is complete bullshit & I know this from personal experience, not from articles in the Economist that talk about how 'commodities are taking a hit right now' and so that's the cause of the unrest. Fucking armchair commentators. Get off your couch and out into the world and live in it. You might actually learn something.
One MILLION protestors .... no that is NOT a typo.

We're next.
@18 is correct. The Economist is wrong on a lot of things, just ask Greece - looted by Germany and then defrauded by a right wing government that got liar's loans from German banks that should have resulted in the banks going under, not the country - or many other countries that have dealt with their wrong-headed economic arguments that don't hold water.
@18, I've read a dozen books on Brazil in the past year, sparked by my interest in the music (Ruy Castro's "Bossa Nova" followed by Caetano Veloso's "Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil" are a great pairing). "Brazil on the Rise" by Larry Rohter, who has been visiting the country for forty years, gives good background on the culture and economy, though Peter Robb's "A Death in Brazil" is deeper and more personal. I am a close student of the favelas of Rio, the Afro-Brazilian quilombos, formed by freed slaves, in Bahia and the Sertão and the grey markets in Foz de Iguaçu and São Paulo. Oddly enough, I haven't read anything in The Economist about Brazil.

So you're off to a bad start.

You can spend years in a country and not know anything about it, if you can't read. As you are demonstrating here. I'll bet you had a good time at Carnaval, huh?

Do you know what Brazil was like thirty years ago? Are you familiar with the military junta, and what life was like under it? Do you even know who Lula is? Has anything changed in the favelas since "City of God" came out? Do you know when slavery was abolished there? Have you visited the site of Canudos, where Brazil's civil war was fought? Well, neither have I, but unlike you I've read a book by a man who has. See how that works?

As I said, it is not the specific condition of a country is not important; what is important is its trajectory. Russia is richer than Brazil in almost every way, but life is hell there, because they're going in the wrong direction in almost every way: life expectancy, incomes, happiness. Brazil is the other way around. Is there corruption, poverty, etc.? Of course. Is it better by leaps and bounds than it was just a decade ago? You fucking bet it is. Brazil is at the top of everybody's "most improved living conditions" list -- EVERYBODY'S. It's the development model everyone is looking at. And that's what the problem is today: that progress is slowing down, in large part because of, yep, commodities. Agriculture, ethanol, mining. Where does Brazil stand on the list of agriculture-exporting countries, care to guess? Oh, that's right, you don't know.
@18 - Confluence, is there a reason your comment history is hidden?
Fnarf Brazil moves in the right direction relative to life under the neo-fascists, sure, but it's silly to say they've bettered China's much broader reduction of poverty (and that's just looking at China's improvements as a domestic phenomenon, when clearly they've had tremendous positive effect in their emergence as a rival bidder vs. western corporations for resources and influence in the 3rd world). there are a few other famous East Asian countries whose development has been much more compelling, as well

a lot of enthusiasm and publication about Brazil's improvement comes from Lula's not having been as outspokenly anti-imperialist as the Chinese or Brazil's more dramatically ascended (or in Argentina's case, recovered) S.A. peers

Brazil has a tougher job than those countries, I think, in development but I'm rooting for 'em