Arson on a massive scale

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

Given the events that are happening across the globe, we should be building fallout shelters and stocking up on canned tuna by now. With suicidal leaders who refuse to acknowledge their potential to doom us all with their crazy ideas, intense paranoia and pessimism should be commonplace.

Brazil currently has a president who won’t hesitate to put the Amazon rainforest to the torch just so the rest of the world can savor the country’s most prized exports. Being one of Brazil’s main economic drivers, beef will also cause the demise of what many “green” enthusiasts call the planet’s lung, although this has been a subject of dispute, given the fact that burning the Amazon won’t cause a significant drop in oxygen levels.

Still, seeing large swathes of the area being engulfed by massive flames is  enough to show us the way towards an impending ecological disaster.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who ran a glaringly reactionary campaign against his rival from the Left Fernando Haddad, ascended to power based on an ultra-nationalistic agenda that includes reclaiming the Amazon, displacing indigenous communities, and branding critics as “colonialists” for opposing his MAGA-esque agenda. In a recent development, Bolsonaro went so far as refusing a $20-million aid package from the G7 after French President Emanuel Macron’s comments supposedly admonishing Bolsonaro for his inaction in dealing with the Amazon fires.

The amount was unimpressive and was reflective of the G7’s own refusal to consider radical approaches to curbing environmental problems and to acknowledge that these problems are caused in the first place by a high demand for beef and other Brazilian exports in the world’s most advanced economies. But it’s not for these charges that prompted Bolsonaro to refuse aid, nor was it Macron’s hypocritical high-handedness. Bolsonaro simply doesn’t care, and anyone who puts him in the hot seat for his sheer indifference to what could actually pass off as a national crisis in Brazil is branded an interloper.

What’s important to him is that his plans to turn an entire rainforest into a grotesque pasture goes unhampered and that he commands a base that subscribes to his twisted ambition of building a Second Empire of Brazil.

Bolsonaro’s rise to power is just one instance of how populism that operates on a platform of prejudice and resorts to lowbrow and sensational rhetoric can lead us towards impending doom. But it’s not only Brazil that’s suffering under the soles of madmen.

People living in countries that have fallen victim to impotent populist platforms are living in fear. Obviously, these fearful individuals belong to a supposedly enlightened audience that takes issue with how the world works right now. Everything is sliding down towards a morose pit where there’s not much else to do but count the days until everything ends in a nuclear flash – which is very much likely to happen.

Of course, the best that the rest of us decent folk could do is to watch from afar as more gasoline is being poured into the fire. Those who couldn’t bear the show can only manage to vent out through social media or regional newspapers that feature inconsistent ranting from disturbed spectators who cringe at the sight of such arson.

Clearly, there’s more to displaying fits of anger or writing incendiary columns in the hopes of shaking up an establishment that runs on misogyny and outright disrespect for everything beautiful that exists. To resist the forces that threaten the world with extinction, the right tools and messages should be manufactured.

Other than that, we should also know which side to pick as we slowly sink into an environmental and humanitarian mire. As the Amazon burns, the Bolsonaro government met widespread backlash from people who supposedly care about the environment and who wouldn’t, at once, attribute this manufactured catastrophe to Bolsonaro’s penchant to smear opponents, rely on fake news, and promote a corrupt form of nationalism that has infected other countries – like the Philippines.