Body politic, implication, representation: a study of Reinaldo Azevedo’s blog about the black bloc case

Eduardo Yuji Yamamoto About the author

Resumo

O texto apresenta elementos teóricos e conceituais que buscam compreender uma dimensão da estrutura do poder atual evidenciada pela insurgência de formas sociais que visam novas composições. Em um segundo momento, observa a importância dos dispositivos de representação (em especial os media) na constituição de discursos que intensificam ou desaceleram tais formas sociais. Então, é realizada uma análise de conteúdo no blog do Reinaldo Azevedo (veja.com) tanto para organizar os enunciados do texto a partir de suas regularidades como para observar as operações discursivas na representação de protestos black bloc, até então pouco conhecidos pelo público brasileiro. O texto conclui que o discurso do blog obstrui o advento de um corpo social.

Palavras-chave
Biopolítica; Biopoder; Media Digital; Dispositivo de Análise; Análise de Conteúdo

Resumen

El texto presenta elementos teóricos y conceptuales que buscan comprender una dimensión de la estructura de poder actual evidenciada por la insurgencia de formas sociales que apuntan a nuevas composiciones. En un segundo momento, observa la importancia del dispositivo de representación (especialmente los medios) para constituir discursos que intensifiquen o deceleren esas formas sociales. Luego, se realiza un análisis de contenido en el blog de Reinaldo Azevedo (veja.com) para organizar los enunciados del texto a partir de sus regularidades y para observar las operaciones discursivas en la representación de las protestas del black blocs, recientemente conocidas por el público brasileño. El texto concluye que el discurso del blog obstaculiza el advenimiento de un cuerpo politico.

Palabras clave
Biopolítica; Biopoder; Medios digitales; Dispositivo de análisis; Análisis de contenido

Abstract

The text presents theoretical and conceptual elements that seek to understand a dimension of the current power structure evidenced by the insurgency of social forms that aim at new compositions. In a second moment, it observes the importance of the device of representation (especially the media) to constitute discourses that intensify or decelerate that social forms. Then, a content analysis is performed on the blog of Reinaldo Azevedo (veja.com) to organize the statements of the text from their regularities and to observe the discursive operations in the representation of black bloc protests, recently known by the Brazilian public. The text concludes that the discourse of the blog obstructs the advent of a political body.

Keywords
Biopolitics; Biopower; Digital Media; Device of Analysis; Content Analysis

Introduction

Given the complexity of the national political scenario, some Brazilian thinkers have been seeking to apprehend such phenomenon through the proposition of new concepts and theoretical models. Despite these attempts being different in their approaches and focuses, some of them offer unique premises from which one can make a communicational incursion.

For the philosopher Safatle (2015)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., the dispersive character of protests, which since 2008 have taken to the streets demonstrators from all over the world, with the most different claims, is symptomatic of a crisis of the democratic political system, a crisis that, for a long time, has been affecting the governability in Brazil. To understand such crisis, Safatle (2015) suggests the update of important philosophical concepts such as affection and social body.

There is no politics without body, say, each in their way, Rousseau, Hobbes, Spinoza […] The political establishment appears thus as the constitution of a body endowed with unity, with conscious will, with a common self […] If one cannot think the political establishment without appealing to bodily metaphors is because, in fact, constituting political links is inseparable from the ability of being affected, of being sensitively affected, of entering in a sensitive regime of aisthesis. The metaphors of the body politic do not describe only a demand for organic social cohesion. They also indicate the nature of the affection regime that sustains social adhesions

(SAFATLE, 2015, p.19 – Our translation).

The reflection of Safatle (2015)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. seeks to understand contemporary power relations from a principle of bodily affection – different, therefore, from the political formulations focused on language. Such perspective is shared by other Brazilian thinkers. These are the cases of Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015., who seeks to map the lines of force that trace in the present other forms of life and relationship; as well as the psychoanalytic writings of Rolnik (2016)ROLNIK, S. A hora da micropolítica. São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016. about the reactive disposition of the State, but also of the civil society, that disrupt the production of new subjectivities and, therefore, the emergence of another social body.

The constant everyday insurgencies (marches, occupations, artistic interventions, among others), says Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015., testify the biopolitical character of the current fights: “We talk about desire, and not about demands, precisely because demands can be achieved, but the desire obeys the other logic – it tends to expand, it spreads, contaminates, proliferates, multiplies and reinvents itself as it connects with others” (PELBART, 2015PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015., p.169 – Our translation). Hence, says the author, emerges the need of shifting to the center of the contemporary political debate the problem of the management of affections that undergo and mobilize the body politic of the society. “The insurrection is of the order of fury and joy, not of anxiety or boredom, and must give rise to the ‘speaking frankly’, as Foucault pointed out when analyzing the style of cynics”. (PELBART, 2015PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015., p.165 – Our translation).

The political thought of Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015. approaches to the ideas of Safatle (2015)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. and Rolnik (2016)ROLNIK, S. A hora da micropolítica. São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016. at some points, namely: the need of admitting the collapse of the current political system that, besides not representing the aspirations of large contingents anymore (the same people who went to the streets), paradoxically produces restrictions to the circulation of their bodies and speeches (through urban divisions, monitoring behaviors, intimidation by the police); the urgency of normativities capable of stating the differences (not the inequalities), of expanding the human experience beyond the aestheticized forms of goods, of investing the minority groups of the conditions for their own reinvention.

Such convergences, which move to the center of the contemporary political reflection on the problem of social management of affections, brings to Communication Studies at least two sets of questions:

  1. How have these studies been problematizing the phenomenon of human binding,

    i.e. of the varied connections experienced by different corporeities in the streets and in the cyber networks for the production of a body politic? How have they been problematizing what Rolnik (2016, p.10-11 – Our translation)ROLNIK, S. A hora da micropolítica. São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016. called a “knowing-body”, that is, the “outsidethe-subject”, “extra-personal” experiences, that “agitate the world as a living body and produce effects in our body in its living condition”?

  2. Which media operations can be perceived in the context of the current governability: Have the large Brazilian communication vehicles been intensifying or blocking the reverberations of the political bodies in boiling? If, as Rancière (2005)RANCIÈRE, J. A partilha do sensível: estética e política. São Paulo: Editora 34, 2005. observed, the disposition of representations in the field of the visible constitutes the fundamental political gesture, those vehicles – that have legitimacy to produce, distribute, spread and suppress the representations in public spaces – assume a decisive political role with the prevailing power structure.

It is not the intention of this research to cover the unfolding of the communicational problematics related to the premises stated by the aforementioned authors; but rather to investigate those that seem to offer fruitful opportunities for empiricism. In this sense, we will cover the second set of questions to observe the discursive operations of a blog published by the Veja magazine – a Brazilian communication vehicle – for the advent of a new social body.

Hypotheses

This research is based on the essay called “Quando as ruas queimam” (When the streets burn) by Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015.. The textual structure of the essay, opened and designed around a common problematic to some Brazilian authors – Rolnik (2016)ROLNIK, S. A hora da micropolítica. São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016., Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015. –, enables not only the strengthening of an enunciative nucleus by the incorporation of convergent ideas, as well as the production of tensioning, disagreement, ramification that fix or reverberates the enunciator nucleus. One consequence is the possibility of making forays by one of its ramifications as premise for a communicational reflection.

Here, the essay can serve a double purpose: to establish the original theoretical context, situating the starting point of the communicational problem presented; and to allow the development of a ramification of the enunciator nucleus (here named communicational) in order to establish an autonomous field of reflection and research.

In a brief and schematic manner, the ideas of Safatle (2015, 2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. were systematized in three hypotheses that, together, propose the argument of an ongoing political crisis in countries of representative democracy. They are: exhaustion of the current political system; possibility of a new body politic; blockage of the body politic by representation.

Hypothesis A: exhaustion of the current political system

For the author, there is a worldwide political crisis that, in Brazil, assumes two particularities: I) inability of class parties and entities in absorbing social demands; II) alleged absence of ways to overcome this representational system.

The starting point of Safatle (2015)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. is the body politic of the society that, since the emergence of the modern State, made the fear, the key political affection.

Fear leads individuals and groups to self-defensive practices that prevent the creation of other ways of life and different association from those that give stability to everyday life, such as the family. It is because people have fear that they authorize something like a State, a sovereign instance (Hobbesian principle) that ensures physical integrity in exchange for civilian duties. The fear produced the citizen, the body politic of the abiding of duties. Activities outside this system are discouraged by negative ideas, as the possibility of loss of the self, of the properties (physical and subjective), the absence of guarantees in the future. That is why a system that generates low expectations to social demands – but still allows one to create hopes – is preferable rather than accepting a situation of uncertainty, insecurity or instability.

However, the main task of the Modern State, says Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., was never to represent the demands of society, nor to prevent the violence and barbarism of the State of nature, but, instead, to manage the fear that would result from that same violence. That is why it requires the crime constantly.

As stated by Durkheim, and this our governments know well, the crime is not a social pathology, but a key apparatus for the strengthening of cohesion. That is why there never was and never will be a crime-free society. Through crime, the society strengthens its sense of unity against the damage suffered, it comes back to life for having a risk of disaggregation on the prowl. It needs the crime. In the current governability, crime is not something one fights, it is something one manages

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p.9-10 – Our translation).

The fear, while political affection, does not mobilize the bodies to new bindings, nor enhance the destituent forces for political renewal. Its force is reactive, reformist, administrative. In this way, the apparatus of the established power work both to publicize the crises – and thus justify the existence and the indispensability of the State as an instance capable of individualized agglutinations (those who comply with the rules and duties) –, as to frustrate initiatives beyond the established political code – which would make the function of the State obsolete. One of its primary mechanisms is the circulation of boredom, of melancholy, of lack of perspectives.

[…] our time has been showing how every event also produces multiple subjects that seek, with all their forces, to deny that the time is up and the place imploded. They take advantage of the opening produced by the flames that burn our streets to use fire in the boiler that cooks the feast of reactive feelings with their soft coups, their borders, their national flags, their resurrection of archaisms

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p. 11-12 – Our translation).

This excerpt talks about a breakdown of the current politics, not because this structure no longer works – on the contrary, because, as noted by Foucault (2012)FOUCAULT, M. O nascimento da medicina social. In: FOUCAULT, M. Microfísica do poder. São Paulo: Graal, 2012. p.143-170., never a power system penetrated so deep into the living mass – but because it has been losing, gradually, its representativeness, its consistency – and, therefore, its legitimacy – by the living beings of this same mass. Some of them have been seeking other forms of political expression, as the direct, not mediated, action, for example – as will be seen below with the supporters of the black bloc tactic.

Hypothesis B: possibility of a new body politic

The limit of such political structure also indicates possibilities from the current historical conditions. Another body politic, according to Safatle (2016),SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. would be in gestation. It would be an expansive body, guided by the drive that has been echoing from the streets as a living organism in the world, unknown, however, to the hegemonic representations of politics and culture.

[…] against fear of control, the best thing to do is remember what a body actually can. A body can be the generic field of implication within which we are traversed by a drive that constitutes us, but from which we cannot take over. Drive is this impulse that causes my actions without me being able to control it, it is what removes me from the jurisdiction of myself for making resonate stories of desired desires that are not reduced to my story. To accept the existence of a drive is to accept that there is something in me that deprives me from the condition of self, of bearer of self-interests, of enunciator of my own identity

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p.24 – Our translation).

The constitution of this body politic depends on a triple challenge of existential nature: I) to replace the fear by the desire as mobilizing political affection; II) to destroy the idea of individual on behalf of an anti-predicative subject; III) to escape the temptations of trying to represent this drive to, instead, make it reverberate.

If fear produces closings and not receptive or autoimmune defensive corporeal dispositions, the desire operates by creating situations so that bodies can be voluntarily arranged in social spaces, distributing themselves in an undetermined way.

Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015. named such organization as “communism of desire”, a collective and shared mode of existence that has been observed in many protests in recent years.

We speak of a collective desire, in which there is great pleasure in going down to the street, in feeling the multitudinous pulsation, in crossing the diversity of voices and bodies, sex and types, even in facing them with a materiality of power in the form of police, and seize one ‘common’ that has to do with the bodies, the networks, the social networks, the collective intelligence, with an amplified sensory perception, with the certainty that the transport should be a common good, as well as the green of the Taksim Square or of the Parque Augusta, as well as the water, the land, the internet, the information […], the codes, the knowledge, the city

(PELBART, 2015PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015., p.169 – Our translation).

An operation to make viable the circulation of collective desire (instead of fear) and, thus, produce a social body, is the replacement of the defensive disposition of the individual to an anti-predicative subject.

An anti-predicative subject, according to Safatle (2016, p. 21)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., constitutes a disposition for the production and fruition of objects in the world without the pretension of wanting to dominate them or fix them under the oppression of property. Is a non-identity, de-essentialist or anti-subjectivist disposition: “It would be better if we were those who are not and never will be owners, because they seek to fulfill the promise of an appropriation that is not possession”.

Such conditions – necessary for the constitution of a body politic – lay on the edge of the representation, whether in its impossibility of containing the pulsation of the world in an identity, or in the challenge of deposing it to enlarge the subject’s experimentation field.

A body animated by driving continuity deposes the representation, making room for political experiences that bring to all their circuits the decision-making process. To this end, such spaces immunize themselves against what seeks to prevent the concretization of such immanence, such as the colonization of politics by force of economic agents, of institutions of all kinds, of associations that make the living by monopolizing representations

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p.27 -Our translation).

Although the communicational phenomena from the reflection of Safatle (2015; 2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. are vast, in this research, we chose to outline one specific problematic, that is, the way some communication devices act on this drive and, therefore, act slowing down the formation of a new social body. Evidently, this problematic can be compared with other empirical situations able to confront it, reiterate it or expand it.

Hypothesis C: blockage of the body politic by the representation

We conclude from Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. that the representation is one of the most important pillars of modern politics, because it is through it that one can legitimize a structure of power or claim alternatives. For him, the demonstration that intensified from 2013 on “is not only exhibition of the indignation. It is, in its deepest sense, achievement of public opinion, production of agglutinations through the emergence of a subject endowed with political imagination capable of involving anyone” (SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p. 21-22).

The challenges previously presented (mobilization by the desire and not by fear, dismissal of the idea of individual and constitution of an anti-predicative subject) generally pass by the representative action of the means of communication, of how such demonstrations (subjects, political imaginations, among other policies) gain visibility (positive or negative) in the public space.

Against this constituent and destituent continuous pulsation, the modern politics invented the representation. It made us believe that political subjects would only exist where there was political representation, that they could only exist if we represented something, a group, a sector, a class, a genre, an agenda […] Outside the representation there would only be chaos, and it is necessary to organize the voices so that one can control his/her time of speech, his/her place of speech, his/her perspective, his/her ‘decisory instances’. This was the most insidious form of conservation, and it is present both in official institutions as in groups that are opposed to such institutions

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p.25-26 – Our translation).

For the following analysis, we elected demonstrators supporting the tactics of the black bloc (BBS) as an object of representation of a blog from the Veja magazine due to some particularities of these demonstrators: I) from the point of view of their symbolic representation (not their concrete, real-historical existence), they feature a novelty to the Brazilian journalistic media; II) for authors such as Dupuis-Déri (2014)DUPUIS-DÉRI, F. Black Blocs. São Paulo: Veneta, 2014. and Pelbart (2015)PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015. 1 1 About the actions of this group, says Pelbart (2015, p.65 – Our translation): “[…] the offense to the public equipment is an attack to the instruments of a governmentality. As the power became ‘environmental’, the protests should also be like that”. , BBS present themselves as a singular movement in relation to all others, especially by the structure of combating the biopower (constitution that is anonymous, spontaneous, horizontally articulated and without leaders) – hence the possibility of conceiving them as indefinable event or social form, but capable of generic implications; III) their actions create a field of controversies, that is, an open territory for the discursive production of public apparatus of representation.

For analysis purposes, we will not consider BBS as political subject a priori, but as an event capable of producing heterogeneous discursivities. The emergence of new incorporations, of a body politic, is tributary of indeterminate events or forms because, as Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. notes, the destruction of the reified places of the current policy is given by an action outside of this power structure, and, above all, of its representative volition.

[…] within the effective political experience there are speeches without a place, speeches that break with the structure of the hard geometry of places, there are forms without figures. There is the chaotic monstrosity of speeches with no prospects and the aggressive beauty of singularities that are not located. Because building a constellation means allowing all elements in its interior to change places continuously, to circulate in a zone of uncertainty in which all differences are implied and are decentered. One constellation produces a synthesis without unit. It produces political bodies without hierarchy and functionality, that transform their force of implication in thrust of undifferentiation.

(SAFATLE, 2016SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015., p.15-16 – Our translation)

Next, we describe the methodological procedures used to observe the discursive mechanisms employed by Reinaldo Azevedo to represent the BBS in his blog. The blog is signed by this aforementioned journalist who built his career in important Brazilian communication vehicles such as Folha de S. Paulo, Jovem Pan radio, Bravo! and Veja magazines. The interest of studying this blog was due not only to Azevedo’s influence on matters of politics, economics and culture2 2 A more detailed study on this blog can be found at Christofoletti and Laux (2006, p.78 – Our translation): “The blog is hosted on the website of the Veja magazine and, in this environment, Reinaldo Azevedo appears as columnist, expedient that connects him directly to the vehicle, even though the blog preserves the author’s personal style (critic, anti-governist, ironic and sharp)”. , besides his popularity in digital communication channels such as Facebook and Twitter3 3 To have an idea, until October 03, 2017, Azevedo counted on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ ReinaldoAzevedoColunista/) 315,925 likes and 14,241 followers; on Twitter (@reinaldoazevedo), the number of followers was of 505 thousand. – reasons which would already be sufficient for a study of the blog – but, apart from that, we noticed a fixation of the journalist by the BBS and a large number of articles about them. In April 2016, when surveying news on the web about the BBS, while vehicles like Estadão, Folha de S. Paulo, O Globo, UOL, El País, among others, had a low number of texts on the BBS (five maximum), Azevedo’s blog presented 29 articles4 4 Of these, only three are reproductions of articles from Veja. They were signed, respectively, by Mariana Barros (June 28, 2014), Eduardo Gonçalves (July 2, 2014) and Daniel Haidar (July 15, 2014). , a quantity that was considered not insignificant in representative terms to evidence the discursive operations of his text. As will be seen below, even with a smaller number of texts we would be able to saturate the corpus of this research.

Methodology

The study used content analysis proposed by Moraes (1999)MORAES, R. Análise de conteúdo. Revista Educação, Porto Alegre, v.22, n.37, p.7-32, 1999. Available at: http://cliente.argo.com.br/~mgos/analise_de_conteudo_moraes.html. Accessed on: 23 nov. 2018.
http://cliente.argo.com.br/~mgos/analise...
, which assumes five steps: I) constitution of the corpus of research; II) transformation of the content of the corpus into unit of analysis; III) transformation of this unit into categories; IV) description of collected material; V) interpretation.

After constitution of the corpus (I), which comprises the period in which reports on BBS intensified in Brazil (between November 2, 2013 and January 13, 2016), we sought in the following step (II) to synthesize all this information in a semantic record. This step, also known as “unitarization”, “unit of record” or “unit of meaning”, considered the aforementioned field of problematization, i.e. the problem of representation and the advent of a body politic. According to Moraes (1999, p.11 – Our translation): “The nature of the units of analysis needs to be defined by the researcher. The units can either be words, phrases, topics or even the documents in their entirety.”

The conception of this synthetic unit allowed the passage to the third stage, which is the elaboration of categories of analyses (III). Similar to the previous step, we sought an articulation between theory and methodology to organize the corpus. Thus, such categories were defined with such communicational outline (which discursive operations can be perceived in the context of the current governability from this blog?), resulting in six categories. They are: A1 – Intensification of fear; A2 – Restitution of current normativities; B1 – What is next; B2 – Personification of what is next; C1 – Qualification of what is next; C2 – Dichotomization.

In all categories, we sought to organize the statements about BBS according to their regularity in the set of texts of the blog: the first (A1), statements that updated the feeling of fear; the second (A2), which recalled the enunciatee with the current legal representative force; the third (B1), which evidenced the quest to understand this phenomenon; the fourth (B2), which modelized the phenomenon from references of a pre-constituted social imaginary; the fifth (C1), which attributed value to the phenomenon in question; and the sixth (C2), which focused on a structural explanation.

Analysis and results

For the material description (IV), we organized the statements in a table having as basis the most recurrent representation mechanisms, as the repetition of statements and the association of the BBS to a previous system of representation. Thus, for example, to refer to the BBS, the word used the most was “bandit” (which appears five times), then “delinquents” (four times), “armed gang” (three times) and so on. Generalizations as the impunity (lack of rigor of Brazilian laws and the unwillingness of the Government in applying them, among others), the representation of BBS as an armed and criminal organization, besides their responsibility by the death of Santiago Andrade (cameraman of the Bandeirantes television broadcaster), appear constantly in the texts, sometimes explicitly – “It [Santiago Andrade’s death] was criminally planned”; “this death [Santiago] was carefully planned”; “they planned to commit crimes” – sometimes as assumption to criticize the government, artists and other political ideologies – “declaredly a left-wing group (and we know how socialist countries were real kingdoms of justice) have very particular notions of law”; “global cool leftists”; “It is evident that they have always served the left wing”.

Table 1 presents in more detail the organization of the empirical material analyzed, as well as other enunciative recurrences.

Table 1
Categories of analysis from Reinaldo Azevedo’s blog

For the next step (V), due to space limitations, we present only the inferences that we consider most important about the categories produced. Of course, other interpretations can be made a posteriori, both from the information contained in the table, as from crossing of categorial extracts.

In category A1, in addition to statements that explain the fear brought by the presence of the BBS – fear that is crucial for the cohesion of the social body around the constituted normativity (State), according to Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. –, and that repeat under other enunciative forms, we highlight two statements that allow further elaboration on the subject. In the article titled “Eles queriam matar Santiago? Não! Era pior: queriam matar qualquer um” (Did they want to kill Santiago? No! It was worse: they wanted to kill anyone), published on February 10, 2014, the enunciator states both in the title and within the article that the BBS action “was supposed to kill anyone”. This information dismisses BBS of any motivation other than death, the undifferentiated human annihilation.

This representation is reiterated in two other articles, “Here is the undeniable truth: Brazil still has no laws to keep black blocs in jail”, published on November 24, 2013, in which the enunciator says that they do not have a political bias, but “criminal bias, something like the story of the group of friends who decided to set fire to an indigenous person”; and in another, “Black blocs act as justicers and beat the man accused of theft during the ‘Ocupa Câmara’, of February 18, 2014, in which the enunciator states that a Colombian immigrant (Júlio Cesar Guzmán Ferero) was assaulted by BBS. The enunciator says “resolved to beat the suspect”. The focus on the violent action and not on the motivation creates, with these two verbs (“decided” and “resolved”), the representation of BBS as potential of death, which needs no reasons to break out, being able to do it at any time.

Here, more than elaborating different images of fear, the enunciator strives to associate the BBS to a lethal monster, of production of extreme, gratuitous and undifferentiated violence. What motivates this fixation with BBS? Would it be a reaction to the incomprehension of the phenomenon? To the (symbolic) objects destroyed?

Category A2 constitutes an argumentative complement to category A1, because if on the one hand, the enunciator updates the enunciatee about the current legal and representative form capable of containing the BBS: “both had the prison decreed also for criminal incitement (Article 286), criminal association (Article 288), resistance (Article 329) and disobedience (art. 330)”; “The big problem is the legislation”; on the other hand, he shows certain social surplus that overflows this form. As in its reflective statement: “What is the profile of those that act as black blocs in the protests?”.

The uncertainty generated by this event allows different positions in relation to the current legislation: to abandon it in favor of another one; to reform it by adjusting the BBS to their own historicity (we start from the assumption that they constitute an expression of our culture, a demand of the current society); or reinforce it, accentuating its rigor, suffocating the event – position taken by the enunciator.

In this case, the enunciative construction is given by a movement that does not seek to understand the phenomenon, but restrain it through the legislative hardening, a gesture of phenomenological reduction that does not clarify to the enunciatee the fact reported, but narrows cognitively any intention to do so.

Not that the will of understanding the phenomenon is absent in the enunciator, but the meaning behind its discursive production prevents this gesture. This is what we have in category B1: “The majority of the identified ones are young men with fixed job and residence, without involvement in the crime. But the investigation has detected several infiltrated bandits that went to the demonstrations to steal”. The text insists on the actions of the “several infiltrated bandits”. We highlight here, however, the transition between the two sentences: if in the first, the description seems to indicate an attempt at understanding the phenomenon, giving it an amplitude (and here the possibility of contradictions, paradoxes, speculation); in the second, makes sure to reduce it to a sense already established.

This sense, in turn, is sustained throughout the corpus of research by a semantic saturation. In the categories B2 and C1, this saturation is present, respectively, sometimes associating the BBS to an existing institution – the Worker’s Party (PT), First Capital Command (PCC), Free Fare Movement (MPL) –, other times qualifying them negatively according to a moral system shared with the enunciatee. Such saturation, however, even though it is important for the discursive construction, on the edge, can reach the excesses and make the sense itself unstable. These are the cases of the articles “Salada estilísticoideológico-misteriosa do black bloc de saias (Mysterious-ideological-stylistic salad of the black bloc in skirts)”, of June 28, 2014; and “Black bloc: da sainha cute-cute ao fuzil e aos tanques na Ucrânia (Black bloc: from the little cutie skirtie to the fusil and to the tanks in Ukraine)”, of September 25, 2014, in which the enunciator associates BBS to organizations such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the separatist forces of Ukraine and Venezuela and, even to the Islamic State.

In C2, we exposed some dichotomies proposed by the enunciator, whether as strategy of adhesion to his text or political predilection, or as a way of understanding the phenomenon: on one side, the BBS; on the other, “almost the totality of the population”, “the police”, “the good and honest citizen”, “the worker”.

One can observe that this dichotomic relationship again reduced the understanding possibility of the phenomenon in itself and, thus, of its developments, because it structures the phenomenon from a rigid alterity that, therefore, paralyzes it. For this reason, it constitutes a discursive operation of great importance.

When the enunciator opposes the BBS to “PM”, to “police” (institution/rigid alterity), he makes it by putting them in modalities according to the aforementioned field of semantic saturation (of the bandit, the criminal, the delinquent). Similar to when the opposition happens from the “good and honest citizen” or “worker”, the BBS slip to the mass grave of vagabonds, of the unmotivated lethal machine.

The comprehension spaces of the phenomenon, of opening and breaking of meaning are, therefore, obstructed. In a large part, by the enunciator’s knowledge on discursive and blocking operations and on moral values that guide the interpretive structure of enunciatee, but, above all, by his ability to articulate them consistently in the texts.

Final considerations

This content analysis of Reinaldo Azevedo’s blog, when seeking to understand the discursive mechanisms of BBS representation for the constitution of what Safatle (2016)SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015. named “field of generic implication” of a body politic, found a locking movement of the meaning and deceleration of this field.

Although issues as the negative allocation about BBS, the effects that such representations can produce in enunciatee, among others, are important, our research focused on the activities of survey and systematization of the statements about the black bloc case aiming at providing a unit of analysis that encompassed the empirical findings and could still highlight the functional specificities of each category.

If the systematization of these statements caused other problematics that can be objects of later reflection and research, the analysis of categories showed some modalities of discursive action both focused at the blockage of the sense as the deceleration of such field. They are

  1. repetition of fearful statements: such as crime, chaos, death, among others;

  2. stiffening of the forms of life and relationship: search for a strict enforcement of laws, increased surveillance, control and repression. Violence is acceptable as long as coming from an institution (police, judiciary);

  3. constitution of a subject of identity: need for a face, for an element that brings a total and immediate recognition;

  4. proposition of explanatory models: use of pre-existing theoretical and methodological models (rather than broader and more complex models).

With the due caution, these modalities may constitute assumptions for research in other means of communication about the representation of events that defy institutionality. Not only to observe the way these means deal with the established power structure, but, above all, to discover strategies for instability and dissolution of the sense, of acceleration or intensification of an involving generic body.

  • 1
    About the actions of this group, says Pelbart (2015,PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015. p.65 – Our translation): “[…] the offense to the public equipment is an attack to the instruments of a governmentality. As the power became ‘environmental’, the protests should also be like that”.
  • 2
    A more detailed study on this blog can be found at Christofoletti and Laux (2006, p.78 – Our translation)CHRISTOFOLETTI, R; LAUX, A. P. F. Blogs jornalísticos e credibilidade: cinco casos brasileiros. Revista Communicare, v.6, n.2, p.71-82, 2006.: “The blog is hosted on the website of the Veja magazine and, in this environment, Reinaldo Azevedo appears as columnist, expedient that connects him directly to the vehicle, even though the blog preserves the author’s personal style (critic, anti-governist, ironic and sharp)”.
  • 3
    To have an idea, until October 03, 2017, Azevedo counted on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ ReinaldoAzevedoColunista/) 315,925 likes and 14,241 followers; on Twitter (@reinaldoazevedo), the number of followers was of 505 thousand.
  • 4
    Of these, only three are reproductions of articles from Veja. They were signed, respectively, by Mariana Barros (June 28, 2014), Eduardo Gonçalves (July 2, 2014) and Daniel Haidar (July 15, 2014).

References

  • CHRISTOFOLETTI, R; LAUX, A. P. F. Blogs jornalísticos e credibilidade: cinco casos brasileiros. Revista Communicare, v.6, n.2, p.71-82, 2006.
  • DUPUIS-DÉRI, F. Black Blocs São Paulo: Veneta, 2014.
  • FOUCAULT, M. O nascimento da medicina social. In: FOUCAULT, M. Microfísica do poder São Paulo: Graal, 2012. p.143-170.
  • MORAES, R. Análise de conteúdo. Revista Educação, Porto Alegre, v.22, n.37, p.7-32, 1999. Available at: http://cliente.argo.com.br/~mgos/analise_de_conteudo_moraes.html Accessed on: 23 nov. 2018.
    » http://cliente.argo.com.br/~mgos/analise_de_conteudo_moraes.html
  • PELBART, P. P. A terra, a guerra a insurreição. Revista Eco-Pós, Rio de Janeiro, v.18, n.2, p.161-170, 2015.
  • RANCIÈRE, J. A partilha do sensível: estética e política. São Paulo: Editora 34, 2005.
  • ROLNIK, S. A hora da micropolítica São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016.
  • SAFATLE, V. O circuito dos afetos: corpos políticos, desamparo e o fim do indivíduo. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015.
  • ______. Quando as ruas queimam: manifesto pela emergência. São Paulo: N-1 edições, 2016.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    15 Apr 2019
  • Date of issue
    Jan-Apr 2019

History

  • Received
    15 Nov 2017
  • Accepted
    02 Jan 2019
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