The Battle of the 7th of September

Image: Mike Chai


Reasons and consequences of street occupation

The 7th of September marks a new phase of the political struggle, with the dispute intensifying and street demonstrations gaining centrality. On Brazil's Independence Day, there were mobilizations of the neo-fascist current that supports President Jair Bolsonaro and the progressive forces, led by the Brasil Popular and Povo Sem Medo fronts, in conjunction with the social pastorals of Grito dos Exclusivas. On Sunday, September 12th, there will be another protest, called by a fringe of the “third way”, the MBL and Vem Pra Rua.

Bolsonarist acts

Bolsonaro made an extreme effort and succeeded in demonstrating support for his government, which is experiencing a slow and permanent decline in popularity. The government is going through an adverse scenario, evolving into a situation of isolation and wielding anti-democratic banners. Even so, a considerable contingent of people participated in Bolsonarist demonstrations, at a time of deep national crisis.

A cold assessment of Bolsonarist acts needs to consider the situation in the country, the political conditions of the government, the policy of alliances and the ideas that moved the demonstrators. In addition, leaving aside the previous expectations for the mobilization of one side or the other to decree that they were the greatest acts in history or that they simply “brought a mouse”.

It is necessary to recognize that the acts in Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were great. Thousands took to the streets to defend a mandate that is at the heart of the institutional crisis (stricken by the CPI on the Pandemic, by STF inquiries and TSE investigations), suffers accusations of corruption, has failed to implement measures to reverse the economic situation, which punishes poorer workers and generates distrust in business sectors.

The protests provided images that will be used by Bolsonaro, in the short term, as a kind of safe conduct to maintain his line of fraying institutions, which are unable to put an end to Bolsonaro's threats and the blackmail imposed by the alignment of the Armed Forces. to the president.

For the medium term, Bolsonaro prepared the ground for the new confrontations to come, by giving a mass expression to the maneuver of undermining the credibility of the democratic regime in Brazil, both creating a “vaccine” for an eventual response from the institutions and to react to the electoral process and the outcome of the polls next year, with Bolsonaro embodying a messianic discourse about “prison, death or victory”.

For this reason, in his speeches, he attacked the STF, the most unfavorable arena for his intentions, in particular Justice Alexandre de Moraes. The rapporteur of the inquiry fake news it has harassed the president and his supporters who are part of the structure for spreading lies to attack the institutions. The president threatened to disregard the decisions of the STF and returned to defending the printed vote, the trigger for accusing electoral fraud. Next year, Moraes will assume the presidency of the TSE, the body responsible for elections.

In the long term, the consolidation of a neo-fascist current in society with political expression, a higher level of organization and a mass dimension advances. Thus, the neo-fascist policy of the most active, intransigent and ideologically cohesive minority is radicalized and makes a radical counterpoint to institutions that are going through a deep crisis of demoralization, which has been dragging on like an open wound since 2013, which has become more acute with the legitimacy they have conferred on the 2016 impeachment coup.

Attention is drawn to the operation of Bolsonarist militias on social networks to broadcast videos and photos of buses moving to Brasília or São Paulo before the acts, as well as truck drivers on the roads to create the atmosphere. On Monday night, images of the “invasion” of the Esplanada dos Ministérios, information about invasions and attacks on Itamaraty, Congress and the STF, and messages of apprehension circulated at high speed, favoring the mobilization of Bolsonarists and spreading the word. afraid to participate in demonstrations against the president.

The opposition protests

The fury of the mobilization process for Bolsonarist acts had a reflex effect on the demonstrations of the Grito dos Exclusivas in conjunction with the Fora Bolsonaro campaign. On the one hand, the president encouraged his demonstrations and praised the participation of his supporters among police, ruralists and religious fundamentalists. On the other hand, the unity of the progressive forces weakened, the doubt about the pertinence of keeping the acts on the same day grew and the fear of being on the streets spread, especially in São Paulo and Brasília, but not only.

Regarding the decision to maintain the national day, the responsibility for a process of national organization of the demonstrations and the commitment with the partners of the social pastorals of the Grito dos Exclusivas weighed. As well as the conviction that it was necessary to fight in the streets, raise the flags and resist, even more so with the prospect that this intensification will persist until the end of 2022.

Acts were organized in more than 200 municipalities, in all states and in the Federal District, which brought together around 300 thousand people. With the exception of Brasília, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the acts of the progressive forces were at the same level as those of the Bolsonarists. In São Paulo, central to the controversy, the protest in Vale do Anhangabaú brought together more than 50 people, even in an adverse scenario.

The demonstrations had, this time, a greater weight of the militancy of the organizations, both for the sense of responsibility with the political situation and also for the advance of vaccination and containment of the numbers of the pandemic.

The fringes of the progressive middle sectors and student youth, which gathered the last acts, had a smaller participation, especially due to fear and also due to their disagreement with keeping the date. Part of these segments were expressed in pots, held in the late morning and early evening.

Faced with the mobilization of the Bolsonarist hordes, the demonstrations were unable to work mass lines that could mobilize other sectors, in addition to the banner of Fora Bolsonaro. Even the defense of democracy against authoritarian escalation lacked force. The defense of an employment and income program as well as health measures to face the pandemic were dispersed, as well as other demands.

It will be necessary to open a debate on the next steps in the fight and respond to Bolsonarist demonstrations. The discussion on the new mass lines must consider the need to put the progressive middle sectors and student youth in motion. It is still a challenge to promote initiatives that affect the poorest workers so that they get involved in the struggle process.

The dispute on digital platforms was fierce on open networks. On Twitter, Bolsonarism had a large volume of posts, but it reverberated only among 18% of users who discussed the topic. On the side of progressive forces, the hashtag #7SForaBolsonaro was in the top positions in TTs throughout the day. On Instagram, of the 10 posts with the most interactions about “September 7”, the three most popular were against Bolsonaro (Quebrando O Tabu, Lula and Manuela D'ávila. On Facebook, before the acts, the call for Bolsonaro's demonstration had an average of 1 million interactions/day.

The last chapter of this week's street dispute will be on Sunday, September 12th, when the act called by MBL and Vem Pra Rua takes place, supported by the governor of São Paulo João Dória, who tries to build a mass expression for the third way . It is the first street act of this camp against Bolsonaro and it is still difficult to predict the mobilization capacity of the organizers, who became famous in the protests for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Stronger statements by non-Bolsonarist right-wing leaders, putting the president’s impeachment letter on the table, could strengthen this demonstration as a reaction by society to Bolsonaro’s authoritarian escalation.

*Igor Felipe Santos is a journalist and social movement activist.



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