60 years since the 1964 coup

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By MILTON PINHEIRO*

In this event, several relevant questions arise for the political and historiographical debate. These are questions that date back to the period 1945-1964

We have completed 60 years since the coup d'état that constituted the institutional rupture in April 1964. On this occasion, several relevant issues arise for the political and historiographical debate. These are questions that date back to the period 1945-1964, the growing coup action of reactionary and conservative political forces, the role of bourgeois fractions with their internal contradictions and interrelations with US imperialism, the relevant organization of the military to act in the process, the contradictions which were condensed and configured as a political crisis, etc.

From the point of view of the left and the popular and proletarian bloc, we can state that, in that period, intervention in the class struggle advanced with a significant role played by communists, new left organizations, workers organized in their entities, popular struggles, the birth of a strong presence of national and popular ideas, of cultural and artistic flourishing, of the emergence of reformist nationalism, of the peasant struggle in defense of agrarian reform and for land ownership, of the participation in the debate of nationalist military men, of the interest in debating the meaning of “basic reforms” and the discussion of the role of women and black people in class society, among other issues.

However, even with this enormous agenda that allows us to debate that rich political scene, I chose, in this short article, to present some interpretative guidelines from the perspective of trying to characterize the coup and the dictatorship of 1964. Perhaps, this explanatory path also can contribute to combating the explicit impropriety of historiographic revisionism and its intervention in this topic.

The 1964 coup d'état is characterized by the articulated action of various fractions of the internal bourgeoisie organized by their representations in entities such as FIESP and similar entities, with the active participation also of entities representing landowners. This social class (bourgeoisie) had control of blocks of parliamentarians to be represented in parliament and in parties of order from different bourgeois fractions.

These forces of order consolidated in the pre-1964 important political-ideological action that was developed by apparatuses: such as IPES, IBAD, ESG, reactionary segments of the Catholic Church and corporate media; in line with the leadership of the military in the logistics of the intervention. The bourgeois pact, with the full support of US imperialism, was operated and directed by the military as a state bureaucracy, acting above the classes as an institution, in a Bonapartist way to preserve bourgeois interests. These soldiers were guided by the ideology of national security, whose centrality was the extermination of the internal enemy and subordination to imperialism.

This State bureaucracy (military), intervening in a Bonapartist manner as an institution, became politically autonomous during the coup process to command and manage (from a technocratic profile) the capitalist State in its various governments. Building, from there, a strong intervention in social dynamics to control and protect social and political relations. Therefore, this political process of institutional rupture and the exceptional governments that lasted 21 years were configured as a coup and a bourgeois-military dictatorship.

Still within the scope of this characterization, it is necessary to present, even if briefly, the political-historiographical controversies from which various characterizations of the coup originate. Over the past 60 years, interpretations have been presented that attempt to address this dilemma. The definition that it was a civil-military coup is lost in the hyper-evaluation of the presence of social segments that would have stimulated the military movement and, at the same time, would have been the basis of the coup process.

We did not find in historiographical research, in addition to a diffuse representation of “civil” segments, with the participation of extracts from the Catholic Church and the “middle class” (in scarce presence), a consistent representation of social sectors that would qualify this vague understanding of what be the characterization of the “civil” vector as the determining instrument of the coup. Without needing to argue that all those who are not military personnel can be commonly called civilians. Therefore, this characterization confuses rather than reveals the class role of the coup.

A second characterization, important due to the density of the research, informs that we had a business-military coup, therefore, a coup organized by businesspeople in conjunction with IPES and the military. The research of the Uruguayan political scientist, Renê Armand Dreifuss, is one of the greatest contributions to the study of the coup as a bourgeois representation and the consequent takeover of the State.

Although we can understand the meaning of this representation, however, the use of this vague characterization of what would be “businessmen” to identify the bourgeois presence as an agent of institutional rupture, does not respond to the classist qualification of the process, or perhaps denotes an individual presence of rich men as organizers of this coup action.

This characterization of the coup, as business-military, comes much closer to a Weberian ideal type to explain the phenomenon, perhaps using an approximation with the category of social action, which is based on individual intervention, therefore moving away from the debate about class, in contrast to the Marxist explanation that examines the meaning and role of social classes in dispute within society. This conceptualization also faces problems if we take into account the merit of today's qualification of what would be an entrepreneur, seen today as an indeterminate and polyclassist entrepreneur.

Finally, historical-political research clearly identifies a class-based articulation (bourgeoisie and military) to operate, destabilize and break the order of formal democracy. Therefore, I characterize as a bourgeois-military coup the movement that broke the constitutional order on April 1, 1964 and established a dictatorship for 21 years in Brazil (1964-1985).

To conclude this short article, I would like to pay tribute to the group of men and women who fell in the fight against the dictatorship and in defense of human emancipation, especially the 43 members of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) murdered by the governments of the bourgeois-military dictatorship. from April 1, 1964 to September 24, 1979:

Ivan Rocha Aguiar (PE), Antogildo Pascoal Viana (AM), Carlos Schirmer (MG), Pedro Domiense (BA), Manuel Alves de Oliveira (SE), Newton Eduardo de Oliveira (PE), João Alfredo Dias (PB), Pedro Inácio de Araújo (PB), Israel Tavares Roque (BA), Divo Fernandes D'oliveira (SC), Severino Elias de Melo (PB), Inocêncio Pereira Alves (BA), Lucindo Costa (SE), João Roberto Borges de Souza ( PB), José Dalmo Guimarães Lins (AL), Francisco da Chagas Pereira (PB), Epaminondas Gomes de Oliveira (MA), Ismael Silva de Jesus (GO), Célio Augusto Guedes (BA), José Mendes de Sá Roriz (CE) , Davi Capistrano da Costa (CE – member of the CC), José Roman (SP), João Massena Melo (PE – member of the CC), Luiz Ignácio Maranhão Filho (RN – member of the CC), Walter de Souza Ribeiro (MG – member of the CC), Afonso Henrique Martins Saldanha (PE), Elson Costa (MG – member of the CC), Hiran de Lima Pereira (RN – member of the CC), Jayme Amorin de Miranda (AL – member of the CC), Nestor Veras (SP – member of the CC), Itair José Veloso (MG – member of the CC), Alberto Aleixo (MG), José Ferreira de Almeida (SP), José Maximino de Andrada Netto (MG), Pedro Jerônimo de Souza (CE), José Montenegro de Lima (CE), Orlando da Silva Rosa Bonfim Júnior (ES – member of the CC), Vladimir Herzog (Yugoslavia), Neide Alves Santos (RJ), Manoel Fiel Filho (AL), Feliciano Eugênio Neto (MG), Lourenço Camelo Mesquita (CE) and José Pinheiro Jobim (SP).

Gifts, always!

*Milton Pinheiro is a political scientist and professor of history at the State University of Bahia (UNEB). He organized, among others, the book Dictatorship: what remains of the transition (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/3TSIpft]


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