A few months ago, author William Gumede described Zuma as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder — a set of traits defined by Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut as “including an exaggerated sense of superiority, a lack of self-awareness about the impact of their behaviour and having a disdain for others, who they devalue to validate their own grandiosity”. These people lack empathy, have a distorted sense of reality and are incapable of seeing anything from anyone else’s perspective. Narcissists like Zuma, Gumede argues, can’t accept responsibility and don’t care if they take down entire countries with them. The events at Nkandla, sadly for Zuma, only reinforced that perspective.
Meanwhile, by refusing to engage in the traditional do ut des of Brazil’s pork barrel politics, and purging the government of its most blatantly compromised ministers, Dilma was antagonising forces in Congress on which her majority in the legislature depended, for whom corruption was a condition of existence. After close-grained analysis of the fractions of capital, Singer situates these tensions in a striking overview of the longue durée of the party structure in Brazil, from the postwar period to the present… Singer dubs this last ‘the party of the interior’, an amoeba-like force with no distinct ideological identity, slithering in whichever direction temporary power and emoluments, democratic or undemocratic, lay. Twenty years later, after the military stepped down, this trio essentially reappeared in the shape of the PSDB, the PT and PMDB. Neither of the first two could govern without the parasitic assistance of the third, with its wide-flung capillary network of local office-holders and nearly continuous control of the powerful presidency of the Senate. Any hint of republicanism was anathema to it.BACK TO TOP