The brain of Bolsonarism dies after contracting Covid

Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s fascist guru, Olavo de Carvalho, has died after contracting Covid. Olavo, as his followers call him, was a pandemic denier and an inveterate and consistent anti-vaccine. After his death, Bolsonaro said he had “awakened many” and presented him “as one of the greatest thinkers of our country and a philosopher.”  It was none of this. Olavo de Carvalho was a propagandist, a great enemy of Brazilian and Latin American democracy and a faithful sign that we live in times of crisis where the most crazy ideas and lies occupy the center of the world political scene.
Olavo de Carvalho was a character who seemed to be taken from the imagination of the book. Nazi Literature in America by Roberto Bolaño. Like Luiz Fontaine de Souza, the Brazilian fascist character invented by Bolaño, Olavo de Carvalho was the author of an abysmal number of books with delusional titles and without any academic credibility. Among the most peculiar is one of the most famous by way of Illustration, “The least you need to know not to be an idiot.”
His books consecrated him. The illusions of greatness of this agitator with intellectual pretensions, dazzled a large number of fans. Steve Bannon, for example, said that “Olavo is one of the great conservative intellectuals in the world.” To explain it in American terms, the Brazilian “intellectual” represents a combination between Bannon and Stephen Miller, but more daring and esoteric.
Olavo presented himself as an academic outsider, although nothing he said had scientific rigor. Basically, almost nothing was true. In addition to being a deep discriminator of diversity, he was a flat earther and denied climate change. He hated Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei and even more Isaac Newton. In addition to being a supporter of Donald Trump, he was an enthusiast of the invasion of the Capitol, which he described as a struggle of the people against a globalist and communist elite. 
Among some of his most prominent statements, he claimed that Biden was a “mentally retarded” and that Kamala Harris was an agent of the Chinese Communist Party. He went on to say that “even Mussolini did not imagine that in the future fascism would be reduced to defending the anus” and as if that were not enough, he warned that Pepsi Cola is made with cells from human fetuses. 
How can it be that a character as grotesque as Olavo has had such an influence in Brazil and the world? Olavo de Carvalho was the intellectual leader of a new generation of militants and politicians of the Brazilian extreme right. While his style was characterized by daily confrontation, even with former and recent allies such as the Russian right-wing extremist Alexander Duguin, his ideas constituted the main ideological guide for the construction of the electoral campaign and the government of Jair Bolsonaro. 
With the beginning of the current Brazilian government, the presence of his followers (or if you like, his disciples) in strategic positions, such as the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs, became evident. Even the Palmares Foundation, originally designed to promote Afro-Brazilian education and culture, was turned into a front for the persecution of the Afro-Brazilian movement. 
These spaces were strategically occupied by believers in search of a cultural war against supposed enemies of the ideas defended by Olavo de Carvalho, based on reactionary, anti-enlightenment precepts with a clear fascist theme. Conspiracy theories such as “cultural Marxism”, “globalism” or even the denial and relativization of Slavery or the defense of the Inquisition, have become a component of agitation and propaganda of militants and members of the Brazilian government who seek to propose a new model of national identity, based on fundamentalist Christian values. 
While Olavo de Carvalho incorporated ideas and tendencies from radical sectors such as the effervescent American Christian right since the 1980s and 1990s, the conspiratorial, hierarchical and, not infrequently, openly undemocratic worldview has revived traditions of historical far-right organizations and Brazilian fascism.
It is not surprising, therefore, the similarity between some fascist intellectuals such as the integralist Gustavo Barroso, whose ideas circulated in fascist, religious and military sectors in twentieth-century Brazil. It was the media close to Olavo de Carvalho, even, which served as a space for the celebration of symbolfascist gías like the “Brazilian version” of Joseph Goebbels, embodied by Roberto Alvim, then Bolsonaro’s secretary of Culture.
The phrase “Olavo is right”, so close to mussolinian, “Il Duce ha sempre ragione”, stamped on T-shirts and posters at street demonstrations, was another of the Olavist slogans invoking the fascist tradition. By taking up some of these ideas – and taking them to the national political field – Olavo de Carvalho and his followers also claim a long tradition of Brazilian and Latin American political thought that treats, from its mythologies, politics as a battlefield permeated by persecutory actions against political enemies. 
From these categories, politics becomes a weapon and instrument of the processes of fascistization of right-wing populisms. His legacy, which will undoubtedly be the subject of dispute among his most prominent followers, was to give prominence to his far-right ideas. He was not an original thinker, but a disseminator of absurdity and authoritarian nonsense that, however, was applauded by many Brazilians. 
A great enemy of democracy has died, but his ideas, which already belong to the long history of Latin American fascism, will remain alive.
*The original version of this text was published in Clarín, Argentina.

Federico Finchelstein is Professor of History at the New School for Social Research (New York). He was a professor at Brown University. PhD from Cornell Univ. Author of several books on fascism, populism, dictatorships and the Holocaust. His latest book is “Brief History of Fascist Lies” (2020).
Odilon Caldeira Neto is a historian, professor in the Department of History at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and coordinator of the Observatory of the Extreme Right. He is the author of several publications on fascism, neo-fascism and the far right. His most recent book is “Fascism in Green Shirts” (2020, with Leandro Pereira Gonçalves)., a plural media committed to the dissemination of critical and truthful information about Latin America. Follow us on @Latinoamerica21

The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.

Original source in Spanish

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