Miguel Lago on People-Powered Action in Dire Political Times
On February 7th, the Brazil LAB hosted political scientist and social entrepreneur Miguel Lago, currently a visiting professor at Columbia University, New York. In conversation with Woodrow Wilson School Professor Stanley Katz, Lago discussed his Rio de Janeiro-based "activist laboratory", NOSSAS, and the political challenges it faces in Brazil's current far-right political climate.
According to Lago, Brazil is experiencing a dealignment between its major political parties and society. This is exacerbated by social media, enhancing the power of populist discourse in hijacking electoral politics. He described how the branches of NOSSAS in Rio and São Paulo (Meu Rio and Minha Sampa) were able to push for progressive policies even as the cities elected mayors who were dramatically more conservative. NOSSAS' system of “civic mobilization infrastructure” have allowed it to capitalize on political opportunities by drawing on its hundreds of thousands of supporters to quickly mobilize actions for infrastructural justice, social inclusion, and care.