The book Guerras culturais em verde e amarelo, edited by Pedro Arantes, a professor in the Art History Department at the Federal University of São Paulo, in partnership with students and researchers from the same university, analyzes the current situation through its ideological ends, looking at productions that take up space in advertising, the cinema, and social media, such as memes, WhatsApp chain messages, and TikTok videos. For Arantes, we are living in a culture war, where images and art objects are used as elements of ideological, economic and political combat. Regarding the extremist right-wing regime, according to Arantes and doctoral student André Okuma, “this new right has organized a reaction, studied and acted incisively in the culture war, as part of a broader strategy for regaining conservative global hegemony (called neo-fascism by some, and Christian theocracy by others), not only in the cultural field, but economic and political as well”.
The symbolic clash with images is on the extreme right’s agenda, and it’s not by chance that this was the focus of their attack. What may frighten us at first, soon slots into the great ideological puzzle defended by terrorists like these. Defenders of Nazi-fascist principles, both the group and their political leader, former President Jair Bolsonaro, replay the methods of control found in extremist, totalitarian, dictatorial and colonial systems, such as the destruction or control of cultural objects. We can look to a few historical examples where dominance of critical and sensitive knowledge was won by looting, aggression, and the possession of cultural and artistic assets, such as the European colonial regimes in the Americas, Asia and Africa, the Nazi-fascist governments in Europe, and dictatorships in Latin America. África Fantasma, a book based on the travel diaries of Michel Leiris, a secretary and archivist for France’s linguistic and ethnographic expedition, “Mission Dakar-Djibouti”, contains terrible accounts of these practices. It describes scenes of extreme terror against African communities in the territories they passed through. Their violent attacks on visual and cultural goods involved damaging, breaking, stealing and even setting them on fire.