Why Libertarians support the Brazilian government Aug 27, 2019 12:18:06 GMT -5
Post by mcans on Aug 27, 2019 12:18:06 GMT -5
On the morning of March 14, 2016, in a tiny office in Rio de Janeiro, a libertarian businessman named Winston Ling met with Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman running a longshot campaign to be president of Brazil. Some of Ling’s closest associates had pleaded with him not to sit down with Bolsonaro, who was infamous for public comments praising torture and dictatorship and denigrating women and minorities. Just associating with him, they feared, would tarnish Brazil’s libertarian movement, which was drawing new followers at an astounding pace and winning mainstream recognition.
Three years later, Bolsonaro is president. Ludwig von Mises scholars, free market think tankers, and even anarcho-capitalists now occupy top-level positions in his administration, where they hope to slash the government bureaucracy of the nation ranked as the absolute worst by the World Economic Forum in the category of “burden of government regulation”—a country that goes beyond regulating the number of hours that workers spend on the job to micromanaging the size and make of the punch clocks used to record their arrivals and departures. “I’m losing all my guys to government,” says Hélio Beltrão, founder and president of the Brazilian Mises Institute, with a grin.
The 63-year-old Ling is a founding figure in Brazil’s libertarian movement—or movimento liberal, since the Portuguese word liberal has retained its classical meaning—who helped establish two prominent think tanks in the 1980s. He and his siblings co-own a handful of companies started by their Chinese immigrant father, who made a fortune in the soybean and petrochemical industries.
At their initial meeting in 2016, Ling gave Bolsonaro a half-hour tutorial on the Austrian school of free market economics and left him with two books, Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law and Mises’ Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow. (He chose those two, he recalls, because they’re “thin and easy to read”—and “politicians don’t read.”) He also offered to help Bolsonaro assemble a “council” of free market economists to join his campaign.
Bolsonaro accepted the offer, so Ling flew home to Shanghai and started working through his Rolodex. “Nobody wanted to meet him,” Ling recalls, because of Bolsonaro’s reputation as a populist firebrand and a homophobe. Then Ling got in touch with Paulo Guedes, who was “immediately very enthusiastic.”
Guedes’ openness to working with Bolsonaro may also derive in part from the efforts of the “Chicago boys,” a group of free market economists (trained at Guedes’ alma mater) who had helped guide Chile’s economy under the dictator Augusto Pinochet beginning in the 1970s. Guedes had no direct involvement with this cohort, but he held a teaching job at the University of Chile in the early ’80s, and he has expressed admiration for its economic impact. Thanks to the Chicago boys, Pinochet lifted price controls, slashed red tape, sold off state-owned companies, eased occupational licensing rules, and launched a quasi-private pension system.
Bolsonaro’s inner circle has embraced the one aspect of libertarianism that overlaps with its own ethos: opposition to socialism. But the critique is articulated in the language of a paranoid right-wing nationalism. In August 2018, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son, met with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in New York City, announcing on Twitter that they were joining forces to fight “against cultural Marxism.” After his father was elected, Eduardo became the South American representative of Bannon’s “The Movement,” a project to promote populism and a nationalist agenda. “The greatest Brazilian philosopher alive,” according to Eduardo, is Olavo de Carvalho, a pipe-smoking septuagenarian who lectures on YouTube about the alleged dangers of globalism, feminism, and Islam, and who once claimed that Pepsi is sweetened with the cells of aborted fetuses.
Bolsonaro’s foreign affairs minister (a position comparable to the American secretary of state) is Ernesto Araújo, a Carvalho disciple who believes the current administration will reverse the spiritual corruption caused by “a left-wing agenda” that includes “gender ideology” and “the taking over of the Catholic Church by Marxist ideology (with its attendant promotion of birth control).” Bolsonaro’s first education minister was a Carvalho recommendation, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, who proposed an Orwellian rewrite of school textbooks, mandating that they refer to Brazil’s military dictatorship as a “democratic regime of force.” After a disastrous three months, Bolsonaro replaced him with another Carvalho recommendation, conspiracy theorist Abraham Weintraub, who has suggested that the introduction of crack cocaine in Brazil was a left-wing plot.
The full article is here: alibertarian.org/2019/06/01/libertarians-forged-an-alliance-with-brazilian-president-jair-bolsonaro-was-it-a-deal-with-the-devil/
This is from a libertarian source, by the way, which speaks highly about the neofascist government of Bolsonaro and its connections to libertarian figures in Latin America and the US.