the rediscovered joy

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By TADEU VALADARES*

Letter to a Costa Rican friend

“For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,\ and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches\ turn without exception to the sea,\\ As if all you can do here is leave\ and plunge, never to return, into the depths .\\ Into unfathomable life.” (Wistawa Szymborska, Utopia).

A., dear friend,

Yes, the day before yesterday, the 30th, after long anguish, we achieved a gigantic microscopic triumph.

Despite the real prevailing correlation of forces, and all the electoral crimes perpetrated by the government, we managed to secure the essential, our right to survive for four more years. Said this way, with language anchored in the brutality of the facts, the fact seems little. In reality, what has been achieved is immense. Our defeat would have been a complete catastrophe, something like the people committing/suffering their third harakiri policy in the short span of six years.

The first, Michel Temer's neoliberal coup, Lula's arrest and his conviction for a non-existent crime, for that very reason never proven. Lula free after 580 days of unjustified imprisonment, Lula innocent against wind and tide, this is the fact that allowed us to reach victory yesterday. Without Lula, it would be impossible.

The second haraquiri, the victory, four years ago, of the maximum representative, until now, of Brazilian neoliberal neo-fascism, a phenomenon that surprised most professional analysts. Neofascism, yes, in the manner of the century. But neo-fascism is equally a product of the inaugural experiment in which Pinochet, Thatcher, Reagan and Kissinger, the assassination of Allende and Chilean democracy stood out. Cultivators of genealogies can extend this exercise to Mussolini and Hitler. It doesn't need.

We narrowly escaped the third, a providential escape built, it should never be forgotten, by the conscious vote of the Northeastern electorate. Great joy, ours. Massive, widespread celebrations. Welcome to Bakhtin's carnival exorcisms, in which millions of Brazilian men and women participated and continue to participate. The party has just begun; the rediscovered joy is, for that very reason, renewed and multiplied.

At this festive moment, the victorious parties appear united and harmonious. Wide social sectors also participate in it, the world of work, militants, sympathizers and activists from practically all movements and groups of our something indefinable left. To them and they are added business fringes perhaps (?) minority, as well as those who, different characters from the conformed by the representatives of the world of the capital, see themselves as members of the progressive and organized civil society.

In other words, our well-deserved party brings together a range of diversified interests, each one remarkable in itself, but also – and for that very reason – divergent interests. Deep down, this obeys a certain inevitable homology to antagonistic societies like ours. These various types of interests, between divergent and contradictory, are temporarily muted, even though, in everyday life and also in the long term, they are generators of permanent tensions of a structural nature, class conflicts inherent to the dynamics of the economy, the state, the Brazilian society and culture and capitalism.

A very broad front, therefore, ours. A fragile front, yes, but a front that proved to be, in the light of the facts, something strategically indispensable for Lula, its chief architect, to emerge victorious, along with Geraldo Alckmin, in the clash against the dark captain and his dull general. In my view, this front was the Archimedean lever that – together with the Northeast, never forgetting the Northeast – finally allowed us to begin the long march of overcoming the 'Bolsoguedian' nightmare. The narrow victory, inferior to the one that Dilma Rousseff achieved over Aécio Neves, eight years ago. His function, if an atheist can use religious language, was salvific. Yes, we were saved politically, we were saved psychologically. We maintained the minimum space of a democracy in frank weakening. We really have a lot to celebrate.

But if we take a step back, a necessarily reflective step, a step that is a minimum distance in the face of victory that also has its illusory seductive side, something seems clear to me: we immediately realize that the danger averted was, yes, but not much. The risk of neo-fascism prevailing in the country suffered a setback. We managed to get out of this tragic path, but we continue to face the same challenges. In that precise sense, nothing essential has changed substantially. But another thrust has our hope. This one was turbocharged.

What did the polls reaffirm? The practical division of the country into two opposing halves, a situation that seems to be insurmountable in the short and medium term. In the long run, we'll be dead. The cause is apparently simple: how can liberal-democrats, social-democrats and people on the left reconcile with neo-liberal neo-fascism? This is perhaps the hard core of our problematic coexistence with those who ultimately want our elimination. This, the question that does not exist, as far as the eye can see, how to overcome it. There is not repeal for this, however much the discourse of unity and harmony summons the entire people and the entire nation to a reconciliation that has a lot to do with religion.

The formal beauty and rhetorical force of this speech are undisputed. Speech, in terms of ceremonial, is necessarily indispensable. Speech, virtuous. Speech, from virtuous, is transmuted into discursive practice. Language that is act. Moreover, in this field there is also no third way. I draw the problem, I don't solve it. Having said all that, the effectiveness of this speech remains open. To dance tango you need two. And there is no evidence whatsoever that neoliberal neo-fascists want to dance with us. Do we want to dance with them?

One of the opposite halves, the one seen as the core of the liberal-democratic-representative field, is articulated, whether you like it or not, with its variant, let's say, on the left, the one centered on the project that seeks to install a truly democratic democracy in the country. participatory. Project that comes from the 80s of the last century, which is recognized at least in parts of the 1988 constitution, a project that remains alive and active. The other half oscillates, depending on the circumstances, between the traditional reactionary-oligarchic conservatism and the new type of authoritarianism, forged in Brazil from the outbreak of the Bolsonaro neo-fascist movement.

This seems to me to be the political-ideological reality of a deeply divided country, no matter what is said to the contrary. This is the reality that Lula, the PT and the other members of our left wing, something invertebrate, will be obliged to take into account from now on. I know: in this moment of celebration of life over death, it is necessary to let yourself be carried away by at least a little bit of utopianism; one has to leave aside the acidity of realism.

So with that said, what do I want? May we arrive without institutional coups, whether Bolsonarist, military or 'parliamentary' in nature, until December 2026, when Lula will ideally hand over the command of the executive to someone whose name is, today and for a long time to come, pure unknown.

Of one thing I am certain, and that makes me happy. With just over 60 million votes awarded to Lula in the second round, and despite his opponent's better-than-expected performance, the civilization under construction in the most slave-owning country in Latin America gained new impetus yesterday. It managed to impose itself on total, totalitarian barbarism. We have begun a new stage which, if we analyze it with a realistic lens, putting utopia in parentheses again, opens up the possibility of once again trying, step by step, each step taken carefully because the terrain is mined, to advance in the (re)construction of a Brazil that decisively distances itself from anomie or fascism as a result of anomie.

The democracy of 1988 is weakened, but it still breathes. For how long is not known. Democracy in crisis can only, over the next few years, I believe, function as a defense space, as our operational space. No normative illusions, no moralizing discourses, no metaphysics. Like the girl who ate chocolates at Esteves' bakery.

The first step was taken: we began to leave Bolsonarist hell behind, we began to enter Lulista purgatory. But, welcome irony and cunning of history, our purgatory is paradoxical: it exudes the perfume of promised paradise. May the promise be fulfilled.

Loving embrace.

* Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.

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