The dynamics of the popular uprising

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By VLADIMIR SAFATLE*

A molecular revolution haunts Latin America

The term came from the hands of Álvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia and effective leader of the hard-line right that today governs the country. Faced with unprecedented demonstrations that took to the streets of Colombia, making the government abandon a tax reform project that once again the costs of the pandemic were being passed on to the poorest, he could think of no better idea than to call on his people to fight against a “dissipated molecular revolution” that was taking over the country. In which, it must be recognized, Uribe was right. Usually, it is right-wing politicians who first understand what is going on.

Latin America, or at least a substantial part of the continent, is going through a popular uprising set whose strength comes from unprecedented articulations between radical rejection of the neoliberal economic order, upheavals that stress, at the same time, all levels of violence that make up our social fabric and wide-ranging insurrectionary organization models. The images of fights against the tax reform that have subjects trans in affirmation of their social dignity or unemployed building barricades together with feminists explain well what “molecular revolution” means in this context.

It means that we are facing insurrections that are not centralized in a line of command and that create situations that can reverberate, in a single movement, both the fight against disciplines naturalized in the colonization of bodies and in the definition of their alleged places as against macrostructures of work spoliation. These are upheavals that operate transversally, questioning, in a non-hierarchical way, all levels of the structures of reproduction of social life.

Indeed, the XNUMXst century began like this. Those who believe that the XNUMXst century began in September 11, 2001, with the attack on the World Trade Center. That's the way some would like to tell it. For it would be the way to place the century under the sign of fear, of the “terrorist threat” that never goes away, which becomes a normal form of government. Placing our century under the paranoid sign of threatened border, of the invaded identity. As if our fundamental political demand were, in a retraction of horizons, security and police protection.

Indeed, the XNUMXst century began in a small town in Tunisia called Sidi Bouzid, on December 17, 2010. In other words, it started far from the spotlight, far from the centers of global capitalism. He started on the periphery. That day, a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, decided to go complain to the regional governor and demand the return of his cart selling fruit, which had been confiscated by the police. A constant victim of police extortion, Bouazizi went to government headquarters with a copy of the law in his hand. Whereupon he was met by a female police officer who tore up the copy in front of him and slapped him across the face.

Bouazizi then set his own body on fire. After that, Tunisia went into upheaval, Ben Ali's government fell, leading to insurgencies in almost every Arab country. This is how the XNUMXst century began: with a body sacrificed for refusing to submit to power. Thus began the Arab Spring. With an act that said: death is better than subjection, with a very particular conjunction between a restricted action (complain about having his fruit cart impounded) and a agonistic reaction (immolate oneself) that reverberates through every pore of the social fabric.

Since then the world will see a sequence of insurrections for 10 years. Occupy, Plaza del Sol, Istanbul, Brazil, Gillets Jaunes, Tel-Aviv, Santiago: just a few places where this process went. And in Tunisia one could already see what the world would know in the next 10 years: multiple uprisings, which occurred at the same time, which refused centralism and which articulated, in the same series, Egyptian women who asserted themselves with bare breasts on social networks and strikes general.

Most of these insurrections will struggle with the difficulties of movements that raise against themselves the most brutal reactions, which are faced with the organization of the most archaic sectors of society in an attempt to preserve power as it has always been. But there is a moment when the repetition ends up generating a qualitative change. Ten years later, it occurred and it was possible to to be seen on May 16, in Chile.

Last Sunday, Chile elected a new Constituent Assembly. After massive demonstrations in October 2019 that made the Chilean streets burn until the Government stopped killing its own population and agreed to call a constitutional process, the Chile elected 155 constituent deputies, of which 65 are independent, that is, not linked to any party structure, but united, like the 24 constituents of the Lista del Pueblo, by an “environmental, egalitarian and participatory State”; parity between men and women; 17 are original peoples, all of whom are present (from the Rapanui of Easter Island to the Mapuche). The right wing, which wanted to reach at least a third in order to block constitutional changes, will have only 37 deputies.

The absolutely unique character of the Chilean process lies in the fact that it takes place as insurrectionary institutionalization. It was the result of a insurrection that immediately demanded a new institutionality. Icelanders tried this, when the economic crisis produced deep popular mobilizations that ended up producing a new constitution. However, Parliament did not recognize the new letter, aborting the process.

Such Andean exceptionality must be understood in the light of what was the Chilean road to socialism. the gSalvador Allende's rule (1970-1973) sought to realize a Marxist program through a progressive mutation of social life that preserved large parts of the structure of liberal democracy. Many criticized such a strategy after the coup, but their reasons must be remembered. It was the Chilean way of preventing the militarization of social life, as had normally occurred in all revolutionary processes up to now. There was a real issue that Chile sought to resolve by innovating.

In a way, this interrupted process resumes now 47 years later. Since the student revolts in the gBachelet winter, Chile saw student leaders become deputies and deputies to extract from Congress a reform that made the public education system free. Now, they made the unprecedented move of only leaving the streets with a constituent in their hands, which the Tunisians only achieved years after the formation of the first post-dictatorship government. By coupling the two processes, Chile allowed insurrectionary enthusiasm to command the constitutional process, institutionalizing its molecular revolution.

The spectator who sees all this from Brazil wonders what happens to us. However, those who think that such dynamics will not arrive in Brazil are wrong. It turns out that she will encounter a much more dramatic situation. Because Brazil is the country in which the forces of reaction organized themselves in an insurrectionary way. These are significant sectors of the population that they went and will go to the streets to ask for a military coup and defend fascism who governs us.

Within the logic of preventive counterrevolution, Brazil, unlike other Latin American countries, was able to mobilize the dynamics of popular fascism. Therefore, the trend scenario among us is that of an insurrection against another insurrection. A fascist revolution against a dissipated molecular revolution. It would be better to be prepared for that.

*Vladimir Safatle He is a professor of philosophy at USP. Author, among other books, of Ways of transforming worlds – Lacan, politics and emancipation (Authentic).

 

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