Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer
to experience this site as intended.
Tools Search Main Menu

Is Brazil the Albany of South America?

April 20, 2016

Daniel ReichmanIn an editorial published in today’s New York Daily News, associate professor of anthropology Daniel Reichman wonders why the American media has reacted with shock and concern regarding the political corruption in Brazil, while largely ignoring the political scandals that have embroiled New York over the past few years.

Reichman, who is currently working in Brazil, observes that Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is about to be impeached over allegations that she used public money to cover gaps in the the budget, a practice that was fairly common under earlier governments.

From New York Daily News:

Yet unlike in Brazil, New Yorkers have not taken to the streets. They haven’t even reacted with sufficient anger to force major ethics reform. The notorious “LLC loophole,” which effectively lets individuals give huge sums to political campaigns via shell companies, remains in place.

New Yorkers react to corruption in the state Capitol roughly like we do to a surprise April snowstorm: It’s not pleasant, but it’s pretty much just part of life here.

The different reactions to corruption by New Yorkers and Brazilians speak to a larger political issue, which anthropologists call “political culture.”

There are positive and negative conclusions that can be drawn from New Yorkers’ seemingly jaded reactions toward political corruption in their state, Reichman argues. On the one hand, the lack of outrage can been seen as an indicator that citizens feel the state economy is strong, and that the corruption they see in Albany is not “a symptom of an underlying crisis.” On the other hand, their apathy can also be seen as “a sign of resignation and cynicism.”

Tags: , , ,

Category: Voices & Opinion