I have been visiting Brazil for 17 years, and the election tomorrow (round 1) promises to be the most interesting in the post-dictatorship period. There are 6 or 7 serious candidates, but only three really matter:
- Jair Bolsonaro, the hardline militarist law-maker from Rio, former military officer and congressman since 1991 – Social Liberal Party (PSL);
- Fernando Haddad, ex-mayor of Sao Paulo, minister for education 2005-12 under Lula and Dilma Rousseff, with an academic background in philosophy, law and economics – Workers Party (PT);
- Ciro Gomes, ex-state deputy in the northern state of Ceará, ex-mayor of Fortaleza and a lawyer – Democratic Labor Party (PDT).
Bolsonaro is controversial to say the least. I won’t explain here, but for English language readers, this Guardian article entitled How a homophobic, misogynist, racist ‘thing’ could be Brazil’s next president by a Brazilian journalist summarises well enough. For outsiders, Bolsonaro would seem something like Trump, but less dumb, more racist, homophobic and with the same interests in democracy (i.e. only temporary). The closer parallels are with Turkey and the rise of Erdogan, and Duterte in the Philippines. Think about that.
El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) from RTVE is an unexpected find on Netflix. It’s English-subtitled, no need to take Spanish lessons, although if you understand (some) Spanish, it’s even better value, and in any case it’s far better viewing than 90% of the rubbish series available on Netflix or Amazon.
Above we see the leader image from an article of the British Computer Society (BCS) of which I am a member (CITP). The quote ‘computing is too important to be left to men’ is from Karen Spark Jones, a professor of IT at Cambridge; as far as I can determine, it was made comically (native English speakers will know the linguistic template from various comedic plays, TV shows etc). It seems to be used here as if it were serious, however, and what follows on the BCS website conforms to the wearisome and confused narrative of gender-fetishisation, from which no profession appears to be free today.
Widely lauded with wall to wall 5-star reviews, Blade Runner 2049 looks set to become the new reference for dystopian science fiction film-making.
I beg to differ.
On 8 November 2016, a reality show celebrity and business man with no political experience of any kind became US President Elect, against all expectation. Earlier that year, on June 23 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU, against even the expectations of those vociferously running the ‘leave’ campaigns. These events need some explaining.
Let’s have a look at Trump first. There’s a prevailing view that people who voted for him are essentially racist, misogynist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and generally nasty. Internet memes such as this one make fun of this.
I laughed too. And then, on 8 November, Donald Trump won the election.
The UK in/out referendum result on 24 June 2016 should go down as a black day in British history, for reasons that not everyone will agree on. Like many, I went to bed late on the night of the 23rd assuming the opposite result would occur. The political discourse on all sides has now taken alarming leave of reality and is spiralling out of control; on the streets racist hooligans are attacking anyone they think is an immigrant. This is not the UK anyone wants.
Cafe, Corsica, 2013
Like many people in the UK, I will vote in tomorrow in the EU referendum (the turnout itself will be most interesting to see). The vote has given occasion for us to examine the many issues around this question, and in doing so I’ve learned things and challenged some of my own previous thinking. My main conclusion is that we should not be having this referendum, a) because it has opened up the possibility of political, economic and social isolation for the UK, something which I think particularly the younger generations will live to regret; and b) because it isn’t going to address the very serious problems with the EU raised by both Leavers and Remainers. Although I disagree with the conclusion, one pretty good articulation of the structural problems of Europe as seen by thoughtful Brexiters was published by Alan Sked, Professor of International History at the LSE in November 2015.