This week, PS talks with Robert Muggah, a co-founder of the SecDev Group and the Igarapé Institute.
Project Syndicate: In May, you and Ilona Szabó identified three ways Brazilian President Bolsonaro could potentially be ousted before the 2022 election: impeachment by Congress, conviction by the Supreme Court for common crimes, or ejection by the national electoral tribunal for alleged misconduct during the 2018 campaign. How likely are any of these outcomes? And if Bolsonaro were ousted, how much better off would Brazil be with Vice President Hamilton Mourão until the 2022 election?
RM: Bolsonaro is presiding over Brazil’s most chaotic and reckless administration since independence. His political future hinges on whether he can contain the COVID-19 pandemic, shore up political support, and keep a battered economy from collapsing.
On the first task, he has failed spectacularly. Over 2.2 million Brazilians are infected – including Bolsonaro himself – and 81,000 have died since the outbreak began. Researchers think the true figures could be 10-15 times higher. Yet Bolsonaro has remained steadfast in his refusal to introduce common-sense health measures. In fact, he has publicly spoken out against them.
This has not helped with the second imperative. Bolsonaro’s approval rating has taken a hit, though it has improved somewhat in the last couple of months. His cabinet is beset by turmoil. Moreover, criminal investigations into his sons continue, and his alleged attempts to obstruct them have prompted their own investigations.
We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Muggah's picks:
by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Two of the winners of the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences have assembled an honest, factual, entertaining, and eminently readable defense of the dismal science. The book acknowledges the failures of economics, and calls for reforms that place human dignity and wellbeing at the center of economic policymaking. It also leverages some of the discipline’s cutting-edge thinking to show how to tackle real-world problems that threaten to overwhelm us all.
by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
This short, powerful, and arresting book focuses on the most consequential challenge of our time: climate change. The authors offer two visions for 2050: an unlivable hothouse hellscape and a carbon-neutral regenerative world. They then provide a roadmap toward the latter, while making a compelling case for stubborn optimism in an uncertain age.
by Erik Larson
This book reminds readers what fearless leadership looks like in an era of craven populism and creeping authoritarianism. While exposing Churchill’s flaws, Larson sheds light on the courage, determination, and sheer stubbornness required to hold a country together in the face of unimaginable adversity. These are all character traits that will be essential for us to overcome the many challenges we face in the twenty-first century.
From the PS Archive
In this Long Read, Muggah and Pinker push back against the widespread view that liberal democracy is being replaced by populist authoritarianism. Read more.
Muggah, Abdenur, and Szabó show why fighting climate change requires fighting organized crime in the Amazon. Read more
Around the web
In this TED talk, Muggah makes use of maps showing interactive, visual representations of urban fragility to show some of the biggest risks facing cities – and offer solutions. Watch the video.
In a commentary for Foreign Policy, Muggah explains how working with Brazil’s agricultural businesses could be the key to a healthier Amazon. Read the article.