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Psicologia USP

Print version ISSN 0103-6564On-line version ISSN 1678-5177

Psicol. USP vol.30  São Paulo  2019  Epub Nov 14, 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0103-6564e190027 

Article

Between Speech and Act, there is much more than we could imagine

2University of São Paulo, Institute of Psychology. São Paulo, SP, Brazil


Abstract

This study aims to analyze President Jair Bolsonaro’s inaugural address and the early days of his government, pointing to the relation between speech and concrete governance initiatives. Conceptual and methodological considerations are made to support the analysis, especially based on Foucault. The fundamental concept is that of speech as act. The specific work on the pronouncement marked the subject of the Bolsonarian discourse: the result of the miracle of God, who gave him back his life, and, anointed by the People who elected him, he identifies himself with his Homeland in his sovereign will. With discursive strategies characterized by ambiguity and its perverse effects, it dissociates between those who are against it and those in favor of it: good citizens versus others, left ideologies versus true thoughts. In all this, the source of the pontificated Truth is denied: the president himself. Such traits of the elected subject are confirmed by the initial actions of government.

Keywords: discourse; analysis; subject; Jair Bolsonaro; government

Resumo

Este escrito visa a analisar o discurso de posse do presidente Jair Bolsonaro e os primeiros dias de seu governo, apontando para a relação entre a fala e as iniciativas concretas de governança. São feitas considerações conceituais e metodológicas para fundamentar a análise, sobretudo com base em Foucault. O conceito fundamental é o de discurso como ato. O trabalho específico sobre o pronunciamento marcou o sujeito do discurso bolsonariano: resultado do milagre de Deus, que lhe devolveu a vida, e ungido pelo Povo que o elegeu, identifica-se à Pátria, em sua vontade soberana. Com estratégias discursivas caracterizadas pela ambiguidade e seus efeitos perversos, procede a dissociações entre aqueles que são contra e aqueles a favor dele: cidadãos de bem versus outros, ideologias de esquerda versus pensamentos verdadeiros. Nisso tudo, nega-se a fonte da Verdade pontificada: o próprio presidente. Tais traços do sujeito eleito confirmam-se pelas ações iniciais de governo.

Palavras-chave: discurso; análise; sujeito; Jair Bolsonaro; governo

Résumé

cet article a pour objectif analyser le discours d’inauguration du président Jair Bolsonaro et les premiers jours de son gouvernement, en soulignant le lien qui existe entre le discours et les initiatives concrètes de gouvernance. Des considérations conceptuelles et méthodologiques sont apportées pour étayer l’analyse, notamment sur la base de Foucault. Le concept fondamental est celui du discours comme acte. Le travail spécifique sur cette déclaration a marqué le sujet du discours de Bolsonaro: résultat du miracle de Dieu qui lui a rendu sa vie et qui a été oint par le Peuple qui l’a élu, il s’identifie à la Patrie par sa volonté souveraine. Avec des stratégies discursives caractérisées par l’ambiguïté et ses effets pervers, il procède à des dissociations entre ceux qui s’opposent à lui et ceux qui le soutiennent: citoyens du bien contre d’autres, idéologies de la gauche contre vraies pensées. Dans tout cela, la source du pontificat de La vérité est niée: le président lui-même. Ces caractéristiques du sujet élu sont confirmées par les actions initiales du gouvernement.

Mots-clés: discours; analyse; sujet; Jair Bolsonaro; gouvernement

Resumen

Este artículo tiene como objetivo analizar el discurso inaugural del presidente Jair Bolsonaro y los primeros días de su gobierno, señalando la relación entre el discurso y las medidas de gobernanza concretas. Se hacen consideraciones conceptuales y metodológicas para corroborar el análisis, sobre todo con base en Foucault. El concepto fundamental es el discurso como acto. El trabajo específico sobre la declaración marcó el sujeto del discurso bolsonariano: resultado del milagro de Dios, que le devolvió la vida, y ungido por el Pueblo que lo eligió, se identifica con la Patria, en su voluntad soberana. Con estrategias discursivas caracterizadas por la ambigüedad y sus efectos perversos, hace una disociación entre los que están en contra y los a favor de él: ciudadanos de bien frente a otros, ideologías de izquierda versus pensamientos verdaderos. En todo esto, se niega la fuente de la Verdad pontificada: el propio presidente. Tales rasgos del sujeto elegido confirman las acciones iniciales de gobierno.

Palabras clave: discurso; análisis; sujeto; Jair Bolsonaro; gobierno

This writing aims to analyze President Jair Bolsonaro’s inaugural address, on 01/01/2019 (“Leia o discurso”, 2019), as well as the early days of his government, pointing to an intricate relation between speech and concrete initiatives of governance.

Initially, conceptual and methodological considerations will be made, so that the reader is placed in the thinking strategy that builds discourse analysis as a modality, in its differences with hermeneutics and content analysis.

Then, the specific work on the president’s speech and deeds until January 15, 2019 will be shown. The idea is to speak, on the one hand, of the actions of the government and, on the other, of the limits and scope of such an analysis. Hence, its exemplary character is emphasized, that is, without exhausting the totality of the facts related to the theme and starting from a methodological approach, showing a possible field of statements in the plane of an (thus) analytical discourse.

Discourse as an act: the foundation of analysis

It is often said that “theory, in practice, is something else.” Or, in other words and with the same meaning: “discourse and reality are different things”. Or, spinning along the same axis: “talking is one thing and doing is another thing!”.

This idea extends from common sense to academic productions, where heated discussions take place about the distances between discourse and practice. Or, as in psychology and psychoanalysis, between discourse and subjectivity, affections and/or thoughts. As if, by working with discourse in clinical or institutional care, we were setting aside the most important thing of psychical life.

I prefer to state that “it depends on the analysis made of this discourse”. And this implies that: (1) there are different types of analysis; (2) there is no unique way of analyzing; (3) their variation depends on the basic concepts that instrument them; (4) these concepts give the cut and the scope of the analysis that is performed; and (5) they also have a constitutive relationship with the point reached with analytical work.

Putting the discussion in the plane of the kind of analysis we do, I intend to demonstrate that it can operate by a conceptual-methodological approach that does not dissociate what is done from what is said, and that does not place the discourse (and the speech itself) as the order of words exclusively, relegating to practice the terrain of action that may or may not confirm it.

In the case of the discourse analysis we conduct, the hypothesis is that, through them, we configure a scope of possible actions and a subject for these actions. To demonstrate this hypothesis, we need to situate the conceptual field that organizes them.

Let’s start with the concept of speech.

With M. Foucault, this term is understood as practice, as discursive formation, which defines, for a time and a geographical region, the conditions of enunciation (Foucault, 1969/1997). Hence the idea that when we trigger a discourse, we do so from places of enunciation, historically and geographically circumstantial. For this reason, we can say that discourse is act, device, institution, event. It is not necessarily a word, although it may include it. The discursive network, for him, is not a chain of signifiers and does not even position the speaker in a symbolic structure1. Who speaks, activates the constitutive words of the procedures, the institutional device in play. The discourse is thus inscribed in an order of procedures, of a doing, which guarantees its own materiality as a device/institution.

With such conceptions in mind, we can also affirm that act is not synonymous with behavior, as commonly thought. It is to say, to enunciate from a network, from a discursive practice. To say and enunciate are the acts that reflexively show an action and a subject.

Since we come to this point with the concept of discourse, we can deal with another organically related term: analysis.

Now, the analysis that results from this thinking will have a descriptive and rarefied character, as it will highlight what is shown while speaking (not forgetting that these statements are made as and in the institutional devices, involving and being involved by the procedures that they imply and the places of enunciation they have). Above all, what a given discourse shows as it happens: (1) the prohibitions/exclusions of subjects and objects; (2) the rules of its production, or rather the rules for a production to be treated as of the field of truth, as opposed to what is considered false; (3) considerations about a false discourse may cover the true discourse; (4) their movement restricted to a group of persons, excluding those who do not speak the “same language” or do not do the same; (5) the rituals that tell of those who have power and truth; (6) the movement of appropriation and involvement of those who, as minions, may enlarge the circuit and reverberate its content. It is on these shown discursive qualities that an analyst enlivened by the Foucaultian proposal is concerned. It does not perform a content analysis that summarizes the themes that appear. It never proceeds to interpretations born of an a priori theory about senses of discourse.

Indeed, the above is a statement of principles of analysis (Foucault, 1976/1985).

Perhaps, now, we could ask another author for help, so as to consider an unfolding of these principles into procedures and concepts that would particularize analytic doing: Dominique Maingueneau. With him, linguist and discourse analyst, we will extend our conceptual field to three other terms: context, ethos and discursive scene.

For him, the meanings that can be configured in discourse analysis are relative to the context of enunciation; and this is not external, but rather constitutive of the speeches and interlocutions. Maingueneau (2000) often states that the “context involves the text”, expecially “because it is also in the speaker’s head” (p. 30). It is for this reason that it can still be stated that the meanings of a discourse-device-act are configured in function of the concrete context of its production. Concrete context here speaks of equally concrete relations, not of the structural ones of language.

The term ethos, in turn, refers to the mode of presentation of the subject of discourse. It deals with its characterization by the surroundings, by the construction of a kind of scenario that draws the qualities of the one who, when speaking, “fits” the expected position prepared for them. An example of this is the case of candidates for certain political positions who, at the time of the elections, tell of their ideas and goals by a set of details that compose the image to be disseminated and that favor the identification of the voter with their proposals. Thus, a violent man occupies the place of a speaker, with words, gestures and circumstances that indicate violence as a means of resolving opposition and resistance to what he proposes. The tone of voice, the imperatives and the sovereignty of speech acts, guns left on tables or carried at the waist-all “resemble” the opponent’s use of radical extermination. Such images, favored by the ethos, are part of the discursive strategy we may analyze.

As for the term “discursive scene”, still based on Maingueneau (2000), it is up to us to rescue that, by words and/or procedures, we produce scenes that position characters and show the relation they establish with each other. And this is also a powerful analytical vector that allows us to talk about the actions and meanings of the speech-act.

If we think of the places of enunciation as institutional places exercised by those who perform a certain social practice, we add, through an institutional analysis of discourse (Guirado, 2010/2018), that in the relations we make in these practices, we trigger certain procedures (a research interview, a class, a service clinical evaluation, a professional and/or psychological assessment, among many others), we sit in a place, with a know-how scope, in which we recognize ourselves and recognize our references as legitimate considerations on the subject. We do not know, however, the commitment of our discourses to the exercise of this place, of our references, of the institutional place we occupy, and so on. These recognition and ignorance effects are other vectors of analysis. Perhaps more directly than the others, they are the occasion to show, through the analysis of a speech, the implications between speaking/doing and how these can be signaled in a statement such as what we intend to analyze here, the speech by Jair Bolsonaro as President of Brazil.

With a conceptual field thus delimited, we can return to the initial hypothesis that we launched about the scope of the analyzes we make: they configure possible intentions and gestures, for each particular modality of discourse occurrence within the strategies provided by a practice, by a discursive formation. Moreover, such analyses highlight how a subject who triggers a discourse submits and is submitted by these strategies, in a flickering boundary between what they consciously mean and what they are unknowingly caught in by the mesh of the institutional network of devices.

With this way of thinking, we are willing to work, exemplarily, on the inaugural speech of the Brazilian President of the Republic; a much-commented speech in earliy-2019. Jair Bolsonaro was elected by 55% of valid votes (less than 50% of voters, therefore), in a very controversial campaign, both for the use of social media and for co-action (shared action) of social segments and institutional groups that were demanding, whatever that was, political honesty against corruption in the country.

Within the context of our analyses, let us go to work with this discourse: its internal organization, the sociolinguistic determinants of its order, context and ethos that give it meaning, the map of actions it supposes, the scenes and the subject it constitutes.

God and His Myth: Subject of Bolsonarian Discourse

Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration address from the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil received the attention of several commentators and journalists in the written press.

The first articles referred to the recurring use of the terms “ideology” (and correlates) and “God”, suggesting that these themes were important in the communication being made. In other words, it addressed the divisions (of groups and policies, socialists and good citizens) that operated the attribution of ideological bias to the opponents of the now president, resuming the tone and campaign insistences. Also, the absence of the theme of social inequalities was highlighted, suggesting a flaw in the president’s interests. There was also much comment on the conviction to ban socialism, Marxism, and any attempt at leftist thinking.

One of the most complete texts was by Luiz Fernando Vianna, for his column on the Época Magazine website, on January 2, 2019: Analysis: in Bolsonaro’s speech, “God is us” (Vianna, 2019).

I join these analysts to think about the same speech. I was tempted by the suspicion that this polite presidential speech, in its mode of organization, held points in common with one another, one that was a visible explosion of divisions, banishments, and accusations followed by the threat of extermination of people and thoughts that were as opposed to him, Bolsonaro. I refer to the campaign speech that plagued Ave. Paulista, via “video conference”, on 10/21/18 ([Eduardo Bolsonaro], 2018).

For now, I dedicate myself to thinking about the inaugural address, especially in the image that it draws of the subject who is authorized to pronounce it. I leave for another occasion the analysis of that stunning speech shouted on big screens, at a physical distance of its recipients, when, effectively, he was protected from any interlocution. So, he said what he wanted, with no return. He spoke alone to the many minions gathered and thirsty for cheering their Myth.

In another moment, then, supported by the same analytical method, I will be able to confront the discursive strategies, which, I bet, will be very similar in both contexts.

The contribution of this analysis is to focus on this subject that the Bolsonarian discourse shows objectively. And to do so, let us focus mainly on the way communication is organized, highlighting the place Bolsonaro attributes to himself and others, and the images and scenes he produces when speaking. We will also consider the context of the situation that, as an ethos, says of the sworn in presidency and predicts the mode of government. . .

The immediate context on the occasion of the inauguration

Military police protection apparatus, never before seen, by land and air.

One hundred thousand people, properly separated into three blocks, in green and yellow, in front of the ramp, from 7 a.m., isolated from it by a siege for snipers ready to fire at any sudden movement that would disturb the pre-established surroundings.

Inside the palace, with its identifiable enclosures, green and red rooms and rugs, for some journalists and companies that would cover the event, duly warned of its condition of movement restriction and feeding with dangerous fruits such as apples. Also awaiting the passage of official sovereignty since 7 o’clock.

The divisions scanned in the use of space were the real design of the segregation of spaces of possible physical and social circulation. Divisions that exercised restrictions on body, speech, and movement: signs of disciplinary command and their undisputed demands for submission.

The inaugural president’s speech

Following the usual greetings at first. In them, two special references draw attention: an eccentric mention of friendship to Rodrigo Maia, President of the Chamber; and another, more extensive mention of his wife, pointing out her poor origin and their first meeting in that institutional space (“Here in the Chamber”).

The call, “Brazilians,” however, is to put into effect the read pronouncement, as if this call were to all those who will “receive” his government.

Everything begins, then, with thanking God for working in him (in his body) the miracle of life after the attack (death?). He also thanks the doctors who, as extensions of divine will, have proceeded to his salvation.

“First, I want to thank God for being alive. That, through the hands of professionals from Santa Casa and Juiz de Fora, worked a true miracle. Thanks, God!” (“Leia o discurso”, 2019)

Once alive again, he reappears, in his own words, as a humble man, grown and matured by the struggles and clashes experienced in that same physical and institutional space (the “House”) while still a deputy. He emphasizes that he returns, now President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, with all the letters and insignia that another “sovereign will” has given him: that of the Brazilian people!

With humility, I return to this House, where, for 28 years, I worked hard to serve the Brazilian nation, had great clashes and accumulated experiences and learning that gave me the opportunity to grow and mature.

I return to this House, no longer as a deputy, but as President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, a mandate entrusted to me by the sovereign will of the Brazilian people. (“Leia o discurso”, 2019)

Soon after, he says he is moved and strengthened, and repeats his thanks for his life to God, and to Brazilians for their trust. With this, he repeats the wheel of meaning, from salvation to enthronement. The circuit He/God/People points to the greatness that the president invests: the fruit of a divine miracle, he is the depositary of the trust of an entire people. He is recognized, therefore, as doubly anointed. And thus the subject of his speech is shown. The profile of God in the world is drawn.

If the images that lead us to a religious discourse of beloved, chosen children were not enough, the image of someone who is sovereignly capable of leading a people in a “glorious task” is also shown.

This is how the first fifth of this speech is aimed at delineating images that directly place Bolsonaro at the center of all scenes. He is the one who speaks. And he speaks about himself. He stands literally as the subject responsible for all reported actions: his actions or those about him. This can be inferred from employing the first person singular, “I,” as the grammatical subject of the conjugated verbs (I come back; I will serve the nation; I had great struggles; I accumulated experiences and learning; I grew and matured; I will restore and uplift our homeland, freeing it definitively from the judgment of corruption, criminality, economic irresponsibility and ideological submission; rescuing the hope of our compatriots; combating gender ideology).

In the whole of the speech, such actions configure this inflated central Self, strategically centralizing what he receives and promotes (precisely because everything is said in the first person). A miraculously reborn Self chosen for an equally glorious task, animated by magical powers to alter the entire Homeland. Undoubtedly, an almighty Self mirrored in the profile of the same deity that made him the wonder of having his life redeemed in the mold of a myth.

This is the subject of the Bolsonarian discourse. A true entity, which gains concreteness in the figure of a speaker-president and in the size of the image it produces of a self. In this image, at the same time and act, creator and creature eventually merge, both in the constitution and the effects of their acts of redemption: he who is saved is also savior.

It is also noteworthy that, in the next moment, in the wake of the convocation of the congressmen present at the Inauguration Ceremony and the eyewitnesses of the whole empirical process, the speaker-Bolsonaro will use the personal pronoun “We”. The first person plural, as the subject of its utterances, and the corresponding possessive pronoun, “Ours”, indicating sharing with those who hear him, trigger actions, though still captained by the designs of a Self. Follow closely:

I take this solemn moment and call each of the congressmen to help me in the mission of restoring and rebuilding our homeland, freeing it, definitively, from the yoke of corruption, criminality, economic irresponsibility and ideological submission.

We have a unique opportunity before us to rebuild our country and to restore the hope of our compatriots.

I am sure that we will face enormous challenges, but if we have the wisdom to hear the voice of the people, we will succeed in our goals, and, by example and by work, we will lead future generations to follow us in this glorious task. (“Leia o discurso”, 2019)

Let no one therefore be mistaken about the effects of this widening of those involved and summoned in the speech in first-person plural. If, on the one hand, there is a direct reference to the interlocutor in the discursive scene, on the other, he is absorbed, phagocytized, in a movement to be part of this presidential body of the miracle of life.

And there’s more. A specific discursive strategy guarantees a recurring mark: divisions that characterize openly opposed characters, as well as the one that veiledly merges with the body of the speaker, the president! Everything now captained by the Us.

We will address specific citations later on. At this point in our analysis, however, it is necessary to highlight what it configures as the dominant feature of the Inaugural Address: its ambiguous character. In the overlap between creator and creature, the ambiguity of a grammatical and political subject, which has unsuspected consequences, is highlighted. Hence the conceptual interposition that constitutes the next two paragraphs.

In an ambiguous discourse, what appears as diverse and which could guarantee exchange (exchange of positions) does not have these effects. Such radical dissociations are created, which isolate “parts” as absolutely irreducible formations to each other, as all in themselves. These “all”, however, only juxtapose each other, and do so by a discursive strategy in which opposition is uniquely defined on one side, denying that the cut was arbitrary and that differences could exist without exclusions of wholeness. That is, the diverse is banished from the universe, while the source of irreducibility remains unknown. This is how a discursive perversion is established, a direct equivalence of ambiguity. This is why, in the case of a speech such as the inaugural address, there is an extension of the speaker’s will as a whole, an unquestionable unity of truth. It follows that, by pointing to ideology on the evil side, one cannot recognize that all these divisions are ideological because they are founded on a self-proclaimed Truth. The perverse deed points towards an enemy of a different nature, diverting attention from the fact shown in the plan of the way of saying: what it does is to put in the shadow of ignorance what is equal! The president’s speech is also ideological; but this aspect is nullified by the discursive strategy of division and exclusion.

It is hard to describe how this speech works. For unclarity is constitutive of its perverse effects. Moreover, what appears as subjective intentionality (what Bolsonaro says he wants and will do) is, in fact, the strategic intentionality of the order of discourse (he speaks of this order that is beyond himself, which prepares him for this place of fictitious autonomy).

Perhaps we may better understand the above by showing how Bolsonaro constitutes his others, listeners or targets.

Instrumenting the idea that in speaking we build scenes that demarcate characters and relationships, we will now treat, especially these others, as characters of scenes that his speech builds. Note here, too, the stubborn relationships that the Bolsonarian discourse organizes (sovereignty of the self, divisions, deifications, perversions, and so on). By the order of the staged characters.

  1. The first are the Congressmen with whom Bolsonaro shares the Us in a big act: “rebuilding our country”. Joint action is described as facing great challenges, to succeed, for example, in leading “future generations to follow us in this glorious task”; “Let us unite the people, value the family, respect the religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, fight gender ideology. . . (to make Brazil go back) to be a country free of ideological bonds.” In these quotations, there are divisions and weight exclusions: it does not attribute a place of tradition to the indigenous and African religious practices, so rooted in Brazilian culture. Subtly, this line “works the miracle” of obscuring the strategy that produces and qualifies those who belong and those who do not belong to the Us. The most that can happen is for someone to think that it was a mere forgetfulness or an intentional will to consider only the Judeo-Christian heritage. What goes unnoticed is that it is precisely the act of dividing and excluding that gives those who think like the speaker the aura of the chosen to sit beside him. That is, to belong to the extended subject of the first person plural. It is the ideological effect par excellence of ambiguity. It is the way of saying operating perversions.

  2. The election campaign is also a character. The second to be summoned to step in. It was it that “answered the call of the streets and forged the commitment to put Brazil above everything and God above all”. Personified as a concrete actor, a totalizing and somewhat abstract term, it has its own will and actions, like an inflated subject/organism/body. Like a very special and predestined person sounds the incarnation of Bolsonaro, first and singular person.

  3. A third character: the “enemies of the homeland, order and freedom (who) tried to end my life”. Note that the attack on this man/subject makes its perpetrator an enemy of the Homeland. A continuous act, one more self-attribution follows: Bolsonaro is the Homeland! Another classifying division (Homeland/Bolsonaro on the one hand, and its enemies on the other) is produced, most likely unaware of the conscience of the listener. Ambiguity and perversion as a strategy of this ideological text. The following character reopens this bias.

  4. Each of the Brazilians is the fourth character. In fact, by calling them, he places them as a constituent of the millions of his voters. With this, one more exclusion: he does not call his non-voters, who are also Brazilians. Now, another non-transparency of the speech of this subject that ejects the ideological self. The call, Mr. President, was not for all Brazilians, as the vocative “each one. . .” suggests, and his speech, once again, carries omissions and misconceptions!

Totalizing/totalitarian divisions create good individuals and/or subjects, and those without character, with characteristic profiles. The character of item (4) has the effect of hiding a classificatory separation of this species, and we could only indirectly characterize it in this analysis. Following the speech, however, the protagonist character who shows such a separation is introduced on the scene. He characterizes the side, or rather, the subject who inherits the powers of sovereignty from the one who was erected Myth in the whole discourse: Bolsonaro himself. Follow how, in the midst of all ambiguities, mergers and indiscriminations, this subject has attributions that are confused with the self-possessed ideas of the incumbent president. And, to confirm our analytical path, the discourse of the weapons begins. . .

  1. The Good Citizen, in the singular and definite article, is enthroned as the fifth character. And, in a demonstration of the chance of discourse (characterized by the analysis that we show), it is this citizen (the “good” one) who, at first evocation, has the right to self-defense: “they deserve the means to defend themselves. . . for the right to self-defense.” Thus, the separation between good and evil citizens is sealed. To the latter are the enemies of the Homeland. Probably second-order individuals who “don’t deserve it. . . ”

  2. Policemen, in the sequence, are the concrete category of those who “sacrifice their lives for our safety” and who will have “with the support of the National Congress. . ., the legal backing to do their work.” They are in audible opposition to second-order “evil citizens,” who would not deserve the rights to defense (personal, legal, and from the National Congress). To oppose this order is to include oneself among those who will not be recognized by the government, the country, and its synonym, Bolsonaro.

  3. (“Our”) Armed Forces, seventh character, comes into the picture with familiarity signaled by a possessive pronoun, “our”, most likely indicating that they are in the sense of the good fellow citizen and are the size of their homeland: “to safeguard our sovereignty and protect our borders.”

  4. And finally, in the wake of this discourse of armament and security, the characters of bureaucracy and government proposalscome into play. They are quick and generic lines that define them. Not without demarcating, at any moment, the divisions that confirm the group of Brazilians to whom these initiatives are dedicated (the good citizen), that is, to those who govern themselves. We only list the protagonists: a technical team (which we “set up without the traditional political bias that made the State inefficient and corrupt”), Parliament, the free market, structural reforms, international trade (“without the ideological bias”), the productive sector (“with less regulation and bureaucracy”), a national pact (“between society and the executive, legislative and judiciary powers, in search of new paths for a new Brazil”).

This is how, as in a turn towards the beginning, his speech goes to the last moments of its 10 minutes, in a remarkable resumption: the use of the first person singular to talk about the grammatical and political subject of actions, mingling there, also, with the Democratic State. We can hear, then: “One of my priorities is to protect and reinvigorate the Brazilian Democracy. . . so that it becomes a substantial and tangible component. . . with respect to the Democratic State.”

From this point, the use of the term “Brazil” begins to proliferate. The Homeland would come to be seen, under his rule, as a “strong, powerful, confident and bold country”, a “fairer and more developed” nation, which would begin “a new chapter in its history.” Brazil is associated with the idea of greatness.

Who supports it? This majestic and sovereign I, which has designed itself so much as the subject of actions, in an incessant exchange with the image of God and his People and of the Homeland. . .

Now, the possibility of an analogy with another scene is open: that of Chaplin’s Great Dictator, spinning the world at his fingertips! A thousand pardons to his memory and admirers for the disgust of the memory in this analytical context!

I insist that I came to this by analyzing the inaugural president’s speech, tracing the subject he draws. By the way of saying and the content said, in the concrete context of inauguration, the subject of the Bolsonarian discourse is drawn.

Is it or is it not a God and his Myth?

The protagonist stages the first acts of governance practices

If the Inaugural Address was a full-fledged, miraculously anointed subject of God, guaranteed by the elections, identified with the Homeland, and predestined to defend it against all attacks of “contrary” ideas, institutions or organizations, what to expect from the newly opened government? How will governance practices be performed, considering a subject thus characterized in the Inaugural Address?

It is not possible to predict this solely on the basis of the results of the analysis. But one can, by hypothesis, suppose that the strategies here and there are very close targets. In addition, the news may be followed by the press and television.

And what could this analyst on daily duty see in this follow-up study, since only hypotheses are not enough?

After fifteen days of government, the most noticeable were disagreements, peremptory statements immediately denied, acts and disregards of a governance already tinged with folklore.

What caught my attention, however, was the newspaper reading. It seemed to heighten a feeling that I had become incompetent to understand news, that is, the headline statements I read. I did not know what had been decided, vetoed, claimed, assumed. As much as I tried to decipher the senses, I could not really know what was affirmed and what was denied; what had been said as a measure or a tendency, and what had been annulled, refused, shown as wrong, retreated (which, incidentally, was the most widely used word).

There again, albeit minimally, an analytical competence was ignited. I thought this is what perverse discourse reverberates: opposites are only juxtaposed, and if you preserve the sense of opposition, you have no competent discursive modalities to discriminate what is at stake in the text, its “tones.” The effect of this is the production of an ambiguity of meaning and a kind of “irritation”, as the possible discriminations implode and you at least realize that you do not understand what is written; at most, you choose either side of the story and stick with it, even if it doesn’t match the content of the story when it is explicit.

I cite some of the headlines of the stories that needed to be fully read to dissolve the misunderstandings and to some extent solve the equivocity and ambiguity they provoked.

  • Bolsonaro government paralyzes land reform and demarcation of quilombola territories (Valente, 2019a)

  • Minister says government will “repeal” laws (Fernandes, 2019)

  • Incra retreats and revokes orders that paralyze land reform (Valente, 2019b)

  • Bolsonaro retreats and cancels text that allows possible errors in textbooks (Saldaña, 2019)

  • Bolsonaro announces that he will not veto a merger between Embraer and Boeing (Fernandes, T.; Caram, B.; Uribe, G., 2019).

  • Funai contract that Bolsonaro suspended did not follow legal rite (Moraes, 2019)

  • Achieved by the First Lady, Brazilian sign language lacks schools and teachers (Petrocilo, 2019)

Other titles cause a kind of faster cognitive dissonance, which does not always require extensive reading of the subject to be aware of what the subject is about. On such occasions, we are more easily aware of the affections the news arouses: indignation, irritation and/or an intense expectation of when tolerance for the facts will stop pushing forward an attitude consistent with the promises made by the same government. . .

  • Flávio Bolsonaro misses testimony about former advisor, but says he wants to clarify facts (Albuquerque, 2019)

  • Bolsonaro and Moro are mobbed at army commander’s farewell party (Boldrini, 2019)

  • Onyx purging of PT could have been done “with more affection”, says Mourão (Uribe & Fernandes, 2019)

  • In passing Army command, General praises Bolsonaro for “releasing ideological strings” (Magnoli, 2019)

  • Video shows former Flavio Bolsonaro advisor dancing in hospital (Vettorazzo, 2019)

Note also the mention to purging (getting rid of something unwanted)!

Interestingly, as discourse is act/procedure, in the actions that these statements imply, we can assume broken deeds, promised breaches, nullified, eclipsed, fused oppositions in governance practices. It is not known, when reading the headline, what was annulled, what was done, what the act annuls, what the annulment denies or shows regarding the act.

The effect of all this on the governed is perverse, since it leaves them a place tied in the audience, which they see, astonished or enthusiastic (it makes no difference, because it is paralyzed), an unfolding on which it has no effective action. Be it a critical analysis as well as the applause; the latter only seal the position of minions echoing the magnitude of the sovereign subject of speech.

In this sense, the dismissals for “cleaning” of civil servants were made in different secretariats and ministries of the new administration, claiming that the criterion was of technical competence, the same that would guarantee the substitutions. So what about the ordinance signed by the President admitting staff hiring for Itamaraty, without the expertise required so far for diplomacy? What about layoffs that involved career servants, many who had been promoted on merit? And so on and so forth. They proliferate said and unsaid, as if they were not opposites. Not as a social and political competence to review actions. Neither as an act of humility to reconsider positions, as some commentators of Globo News want, until the time of writing this analysis, still frank supporters of such Bolsonarian movements! But, as a modus operandi, which confirms, indeed, the effect of the President, at the time of the Inauguration, showing himself with the image of being miraculously reborn, as the Homeland itself will be through his saving actions. God and his Myth, fused into the subject configured in this discourse, which is made more than inaugural. He came to brand his signs.

REFERENCES

Albuquerque, A. L. (2019, 11 de janeiro). Flávio Bolsonaro falta a depoimento sobre ex-assessor, mas diz querer esclarecer fatos. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2ncqiEULinks ]

Boldrini, A. (2019, 10 de janeiro). Bolsonaro e Moro são tietados em festa de despedida de comandante do exército. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mXyRTCLinks ]

[Eduardo Bolsonaro]. (2018, 21 de outubro). Jair Bolsonaro por telefone para a Av. Paulista em 21/OUT/2018 [Vídeo on-line]. Recuperado de: http://bit.ly/2mvwkj3Links ]

Fernandes, T. (2019, 09 de janeiro). Ministro diz que governo fará ‘revogaço’ de leis. Folha de S. Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2oJfVZILinks ]

Fernandes, T., Caram, B., & Uribe, G. (2019, 11 de janeiro). Bolsonaro anuncia que não vetará fusão da Embraer com a Boeing. Folha de S. Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2oCwrKOLinks ]

Foucault, M. (1996). A ordem do discurso. São Paulo, SP: Edições Loyola. (Obra original publicada em 1971). [ Links ]

Foucault, M. (1997). Arqueologia do saber. Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Forense. (Obra original publicada em 1969). [ Links ]

Foucault, M. (1985). História da sexualidade I: a vontade de saber (7a ed.). Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Graal. (Obra original publicada em 1976). [ Links ]

Guirado, M. (2018). A análise institucional do discurso como analítica da subjetividade. São Paulo, SP: Lumen Juris. (Obra original publicada em 2010). [ Links ]

Leia o discurso de Jair Bolsonaro no Congresso Nacional. (2019, 02 de janeiro). Folha de S. Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mUh3ZrLinks ]

Magnoli, D. (2019, 11 de janeiro). Ao passar comando do Exército, general elogia Bolsonaro por ‘liberar amarras ideológicas’. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mQ1GkGLinks ]

Maingueneau, D. (2000). Aula: sobre o discurso e a análise do discurso. In M. Guirado, A clínica psicanalítica na sombra do discurso: diálogos com aulas de Dominique Maingueneau (pp. 21-31). São Paulo, SP: Casa do Psicólogo. [ Links ]

Moraes, F. T. (2019, 14 de janeiro). Contrato da Funai que Bolsonaro suspendeu não seguiu rito legal. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mqhsTgLinks ]

Petrocilo, C. (2019, 14 de janeiro). Alçada por primeira-dama, Libras tem gargalo de escolas e professores. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2kSmLdHLinks ]

Saldaña, P. (2019, 09 de janeiro). Bolsonaro recua e anula texto que dá margem a erros em livros didáticos. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2loQhrNLinks ]

Uribe, G., & Fernandes, T. (2019, 09 de janeiro). Despetização de Onyx poderia ter sido feita ‘com mais carinho’, diz Mourão. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2kVnI59Links ]

Valente, R. (2019a, 08 de janeiro). Governo Bolsonaro paralisa reforma agrária e demarcação de territórios quilombolas. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mpBBJ8Links ]

Valente, R. (2019b, 09 de janeiro). Incra recua e revoga ordens que paralisam reforma agrária. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2mP7fjkLinks ]

Vettorazzo, L. (2019, 12 de janeiro). Vídeo mostra ex-assessor de Flávio Bolsonaro dançando no hospital. Folha de S.Paulo. Recuperado de http://bit.ly/2lq1Te0Links ]

Vianna, L. F. (2019, 02 de janeiro). Análise: no discurso de Bolsonaro, “Deus é nós”. Época. Recuperado de https://glo.bo/2lgJKQ3Links ]

1The reader may be surprised at the introduction of these last two statements. They are intended to shed light on those who, accustomed to working with Lacanian assumptions, can make an immediate translation of the term “discourse” from Foucault to Lacan, and this procedure, by the mere use of the word “discourse”, would not be fair to these authors. Lacan, based on structuralism, is indirectly mentioned by Foucault in The order of discourse (1971/1996) (Foucault, 1971/1996), when he, based on the principles of pragmatics, states that to analyze a discourse it is necessary to “suspend the empire of the signifier” (p. 51).

Received: March 05, 2019; Revised: September 16, 2019; Accepted: September 19, 2019

* Correspondence address: mguirado@terra.com.br

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