The Communism=Nazism Equation

Carmela Gross, ENTRE WORDS series, Jaci, 2012, graphite and enamel on dictionary sheet, 27,5 x 20,8 cm
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By JOÃO QUARTIM DE MORAES*

The assimilation of communism to Nazism is a basic postulate of almost unique neoliberal thought

That the liberals attack Losurdo is part of the logic of the struggle of ideas. That criticisms come from authors self-identified as left is also not surprising. After all, arguing is necessary... However, the low slang of two or three low and rabid attacks, the loudest of which I dedicated a comment on the portal of the magazine Principles [:http://grabois.org.br/portal/artigos/155223/2020-09-18/besouro-cacando-aguia], to which I refer the eventually interested reader.

Those who, in Brazil, entered more seriously into the discussion of Losurdo's work highlighted three main topics: Stalin, totalitarianism and liberalism. The connection between them is clear, but it is against Stalin, critical history of a black legend which the criticism has focused. They took a long time, considering that the Brazilian version of the book was published in 2010. We have a hypothesis to explain the sudden explosion of this retarded anti-losurdian zeal. It can be summed up in two names: Jones Manoel and Caetano Veloso.

The two other most important topics of discussion also require comment. We will deal with them later, in a second part of these counter-critical notes. Here we limit ourselves to (1) bringing basic information about the very underestimated dimensions of Losurdo's work and its diffusion in Brazil and (2) showing how the demonization of Stalin serves as a battle horse for the great ideological operation of the liberal reaction: identifying Communism to Nazism.

Losurdo in Brazil

Domenico Losurdo's writings began to be known and translated in Brazil in the mid-1990s. Since then, he has visited us regularly, corresponding to the growing interest aroused in intellectual and academic circles by the refreshing originality of his criticism, by the always fine irony of his comments, for the extraordinary ability to dissolve the prejudices and latent assumptions of liberal common sense, for the rigorous and eloquent dialectic of his argumentation.

As far as I know, based on my own recollections and notes, the first of these visits was academic in nature: a two-week course (August 15-24, 1995) on "The Dilemmas of Democracy" at the Department of Sociology from IFCH/Unicamp. The initiative for the invitation came from professor Walquíria Leão Rego, who knew Losurdo's ideas well, so much so that in 1999, in partnership with her colleague Elide Rugai Bastos, she published the book Intellectuals and Politics – The Morality of Commitment, in which, as Ricardo Mussi pointed out in a complimentary review, the “situation of the intellectual” is discussed in the “new context” resulting from the “great transformations” that affected the planet (without, however, changing its sphericity). The authors center the analysis on three Italian authors, who, like many of their compatriots, had in Gramsci's work the great reference for the historical analysis of the role of intellectuals”. Losurdo is one of the three.

From the course of August 1995 a little-known, but important, record was left. Sociology Notebooks nº 2, of July/December 1996, published by the IFCH, transcribed expositions and debates of the seminar then promoted on the theme “thinking democracy on the left”, with texts from the interventions of Losurdo, Walquíria Leão Rego and Carlos Nelson Coutinho, as well as from the questions proposed by participants to exhibitors. The great political themes of our time are present in this debate, discussed in their concrete manifestations in an international context strongly marked by the dismantling of the USSR and the resumption of imperialist wars for the recolonization of the planet, conducted by the NATO war machine.

Since then Losurdo visited us many times until the end of his life. In the multiple activities in which he participated, he launched and commented on the translations into Portuguese of some of his most important books, in which, combining theoretical rigor and dialectical mastery, he defended and illustrated the cause of the historical construction of the idea of ​​an effectively universal humanity. Transcending academic circles, over these years his influence extended to the Brazilian left, particularly among anti-imperialists and communists. Until the end of 2019, however, the recognition of the exceptional importance of his work did not go beyond the circles of critical intelligence. It was Caetano Veloso's much-discussed interview with Jones Manoel, one of the strongest brains of the new generation of Marxists, that made his name widely known. An extremely positive fact for the political culture of the Brazilian left, since notoriety multiplies readers and mobilizes critics, intensifying the debate. Especially considering that between 1995 and 2019 references to Losurdo outside the Marxist editorial and political circle are very rare, in contrast to the almost uninterrupted flow of texts about him published in recent months. Undoubtedly, this surge is explained in good measure by a reaction to the Jones Manoel/Caetano Veloso effect.

The interest, quality and objectives of the texts that convey this reaction are uneven; we will show how and why in a later topic of this counter-criticism. We only note, for the moment, that long before becoming one of the most important Marxist authors of his time, Losurdo had already obtained wide academic recognition for his remarkable studies on the connection of philosophy with German political-cultural history (Kant, Fichte and especially Hegel published between 1983 and 1989; in the following decade, he published studies on Heidegger and Nietzsche). He highlighted the responses of each of these philosophers to the problems and dilemmas facing the culture of the time, trying to show how they positioned themselves in the struggle between the affirmation and denial of the universality of the human condition. (at the height of the dismantling of the USSR), he wrote successive articles in defense of the legacy of the 1991 October Revolution, among them the remarkable historical-critical study From the October Revolution to the New International Order (November 1993), published in a Brazilian version in the magazine Marxist Criticism (1997-1998, nos. 4-5-6) and reproduced in Red on 7/11/2015.In his political works, the following stand out among the fundamental themes: the critique of liberal ideology in its historical course and in its neoliberal crystallization; the links between the national question and neocolonial domination and racial oppression; the critical examination of socialist experiences and the impasses of “Western Marxism”.

Stefano Azzarà, Losurdo's colleague at the University of Urbino and his closest partner in the intellectual project of thinking critically about our time, added to “Domenico Losurdo 1941-2018, in memoriam”, a dense synthesis of his political-philosophical legacy (Brazilian translation in the collection Losurdo, presence and permanence, recently published by Anita Garibaldi), a “Complete and approved Bibliography of Domenico Losurdo” with 200 titles (books, book chapters, articles) published between 1983 and 2017. Both texts were originally published in nº 1/2018 of Historical Materialism, the biannual journal of philosophy, history and human sciences launched in 2016 by Losurdo and Azzarà.

Evidently, it would be unreasonable to expect that the plethora of criticisms in reaction to what we can call the Jones Manoel/Caetano Veloso effect would be based on a panoramic view of a work of such great scope. Even among regular readers (myself included) who have access to original texts not yet translated into our language, few can say that they have read everything that was important. As for those who probably only became interested in Losurdo when they decided to participate in the liberal reaction to the wide dissemination of his ideas stimulated by the writings of Jones Manoel, and who, therefore, have a recent and fragmentary contact with his work, the majority contented themselves with mobilizing the specter of Stalin to condemn the “neo-Stalinism” that they claim to have discovered in her. With this, they contributed to the fact that the liberal public and even more so the crypto-fascist, rejecting the distinction between Stalinism and Communism as an ideological subtlety, treat them as two political names of the same Satan.

forcing the equation

The assimilation of communism to Nazism is a basic postulate of almost unique neoliberal thought. When fascistoid underthinkers from the Bolsonaro clan claimed that Nazism was left-wing, there was laughter in intellectually civilized circles. But in their rough mentality of biblical militiamen, the Araújo and consorts only drew the consequence of their syllogism: if communism and Nazism are the same and if communism is left-wing, so is Nazism. There is therefore no logical error in the stupidity of the Araujeesque conclusion. Cretin is the premise communism=nazism. However, far from being supported only by Bolsonarists, it thrives in the political and ideological environment of the so-called “West”.

Note, however, that Araújo is somewhat vacillating in his assessment of Nazism. It is very difficult, indeed, for a right-wing extremist not to sympathize with the Führer of the thousand-year-old Reich. Added to this are emotional reasons. As he opportunely recalled the Folha de São Paulo, when his father (to whom he refers with filial devotion, praising his radical anti-communism) was Attorney General of the Republic in the middle of the military dictatorship, the Nazi criminal Gustav Wagner, former commandant of the Sobibor death camp (where around 300.000 Jews, Soviet prisoners and gypsies), who lived clandestinely in Brazil, was identified by Nazi hunters. The governments of Germany, Poland, Austria and Israel have requested his extradition. Thanks to the protective zeal of Araújo senior, requests for extradition of the monstrous Wagner were denied by the STF.

There are no more explicit Nazis in the Bolsonaro government. There was Culture Secretary Roberto Alvim, who in January 2020 approvingly quoted Goebbels in a public statement. They had to fire him: after all, the Bolsonarist extreme right unreservedly supports the Israeli government and its US sponsor. The message to the other nazistophiles in the government was clear: do you like the Thousand Year Reich? Keep that feeling to yourself. Even because the Führer’s unparalleled crimes against humanity were committed in the name of a teratological exacerbation of German nationalism (“people of gentlemen”) that contrasts with the subservience of Bolsonaro and his ultra-hound foreign minister to the empire of the dollar and the Pentagon . Neither Hitler nor Mussolini would have reverent attitudes towards a foreign power like those of the current Brazilian government.

Marking some distance from Nazism has other uses for colonized crypto-fascism. The main one is trying to assimilate it to communism, to outlaw both. On September 1, 2020, deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL/SP) took on this initiative, which journalist Mário Conti in a list of mini portraits of Bolsonarism characters published in the Sheet, as he described it: “He made a career in the Federal Police and was nothing more than a clerk. Deputy, he is still a clerk with the brain of a police clerk”. The bill authored by him (PL 4425/2020) confirms the biographical sketch made by Conti. It is police-like at a low level: it manipulates pre-existing laws, ignoring the main one, law 7.716/89, which considers a crime: “to practice, induce or incite discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin, with penalty imprisonment of one to three years and a fine, and that in paragraph 1 of article 20, provides for the “crime of spreading Nazism”, as well as the law n. 9459 of May 15 de 1997, which introduced minor changes to it. The purpose of these laws is to condemn racism and, therefore, the doctrine whose propaganda they prohibit is the Nazism, which is intrinsically racist, dividing humanity between superior and inferior races, advocating the domination of the former over the latter and, once in power, exterminated, with systematic coldness of psychopaths, the Jews, the gypsies and the Soviets.

This law therefore does not serve the McCarthyist project of criminalizing communists. That is why Deputy Bolsonaro set it aside, in order to resort to a law from the times of the dictatorship (nº 7.170, of December 14, 1983), which “defines crimes against national security, the political and social order, establishes its process and judgment” and to Law No. 9.394, of December 20, 1996, which “establishes the guidelines and bases of national education”. His plan to go back to the good old days of the cold war changes those two laws. In the 1983 he inserts: “Art. 22-A Any reference to persons, organizations, events or dates that symbolize communism or Nazism in the names of streets, highways, squares, bridges, buildings or installations of public spaces is forbidden”. In the 1996, carrying forward the dark thoughts of Abraham Weintraub and Damares who saw Jesus in the guava tree, he stipulates: “Article 12, item XII – Adopt measures aimed at making students aware of the crimes committed by representatives of the communist and national regimes. socialists (Nazis), elaborate and improve books, programs and measures on the history of totalitarian communist and national socialist (Nazi) regimes, recalling that the communist and Nazi regimes are responsible for massacres, for genocide, for deportations, for the loss of human lives [...]”.

The passage we have underlined needs no further comment. It throws open the objectives that liberal doctrine can serve by joining communists and nazis in the common grave of “totalitarianism”. The matter is serious, but the “Justification” of PL 4425/2020, which is inspired by the “writer Olavo de Carvalho”, the sinister fortune teller specialist in insults of the lowest slang, defies ridicule by excluding fascism (which, in the however, explicitly considered itself a totalitarian regime) in its project of police repression. Bolsonaristas throw Nazism to the piranhas to pass the McCarthyist herd of anticommunism, but the similarities of their movement with the prototypical Mussolinian “myth” are so evident that they do not dare to deny it. Adolfo is handed over to preserve Benito. Without fading into ridicule, “Justification” cites as “main examples” of “genocide”, the Nazi Adolph Hitler and the communists Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, PolPot, Fidel Castro and more recently Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. A big piranha bull with little mustaches to pass the cattle of six communists.

Losurdo knew what he was talking about when he criticized the liberal equation.

*João Quartim de Moraes He is a retired full professor at the Department of Philosophy at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of The military left in Brazil (Popular Expression).

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