Corruption, Culture, and National Defeatism

My latest analysis piece has gone up on Ricochet. In it, I critique the neoliberal discourse of “corruption,” and comment on how this discourse has been used to prop up reactionary politics and authoritarian leaders around the globe. The analysis focuses on Brazil, since many of these thoughts were formed in part by a rousing discussion I had over drinks with UNICAMP prof of literary theory, Fabio Durão, about the 2014 World Cup, Carnival, and neo-fascism in Brazil; however, the conclusions it draws are global in scope. Here’s an excerpt:

“What gets called “corrupt” is, quite simply, whatever we don’t like: whatever we wish to reject, or succeeded at ignoring for a time, before it reared its ugly, noxious head. It is, ubiquitously, what we wish to reject about our bodies, our institutions, our national identities, as something we are necessarily ashamed by, which induces us to performatively project a world that is right and fair and just. In other words, “corruption” presupposes a pure state of uncontaminated moral dignity, of righteously established legality, and so on. This is why “corruption,” as it functions in political discourse, seamlessly slides between talk about bodies, politics, and economics. If some bilious community has become a source of “corruption” in the neoliberal body politic, then it must be excised, severed from the organic whole, rendered inexistent.”

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