The hypnosis of class conciliation

Image: Josh Hild
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By ANDRÉ BOF*

In Brazil, the State absorbs everything and offers seductive individual compensation as a reward

It is no exaggeration to say that in the current conditions of left-wing Brazilian politics, the importance of theoretical debates is less than instrumental. If in so many historical contexts the theory surrounding the great phenomena of class struggle was pragmatically used as justification for a practice, so many times, materially interested, today, its role fulfills, at best, the task of perfuming the little read elaborations of intellectuals useful for the project of a more or less reddish liberalism.

It is painful, but inescapable, to see that there are no reflections on the political horizon of broad layers of the working class around major political transformations that could provide historical solutions to the growing deterioration of their living conditions.

The obvious result of the process of forced and permanent “straightening” to which the working people were subjected by Bolsonarism and its mothers who, today, interestingly, disembark from the radical adventure of the extreme right and rage in defense of a sacrosanct abstract democracy.

As living conditions deteriorate in a constant inflation that continues until today, in the precarious jobs and in the hard survival of the last few years given the context of the Pandemic, despite the division of the country in half, the working masses almost brought to command from the Executive of the Brazilian bourgeois state a solution that seemed more sensitive to its economic and material needs.

It would be expected that, in a context of aggravation of all dimensions of the social and economic life of the masses, organizations, programmatic perspectives and progressive or radical proposals would strengthen and there would be a shift of the political spectrum to the left. It didn't happen.

The physiologism of bourgeois parties, which today serve as shelter for the most disgusting representatives of the extreme right, came to the practical control of the National Congress, in the figure of the PL, practical heir of the proto-fascist right that rose to power in 2018 by the extinct PSL, both linked to Bolsonarism.

Of the 81 senators, 61 belong to parties that, even if they divide for convenience in the face of traditional bargains with the current federal government, identify with the wildest, coronelist, oligarchic liberalism that, deep down, are the characteristics that fill the core of the driving forces of Bolsonarism.

The current president of the Central Bank, transformed by these foxes into a kind of fifth autonomous power of the republic, Roberto Campos Neto, a relative of the widower of the dictatorship “Bob Fields”, acts in such a way as to sabotage the economy as much as possible for the benefit of Bolsonaristas arsonists and, of course, rentiers and exporters profiting from high interest rates.

As a whole, with the election of Lula-Alckmin (inseparable binomial), the Brazilian political spectrum that followed to the right, suffered a bump and, in exchange for some cosmetic concessions, has walked in the same direction. Such a political movement cannot pass without leaving marks on the cultural and, therefore, theoretical superstructure of what we can call, even too generously, the Brazilian “vanguard”.

The arrival of the current bourgeois government, disguised as a “broad front for national salvation”, was paved with theoretical aberrations and opportunism by most representatives of the current left. Fraud is more and more evident every day. Despite the correct, but inescapable action, in the face of the Yanomami humanitarian tragedy, the entire center of the government's promises has been abandoned in the path imposed by the commitment to the Realpolitik Brazilian

To calm the middle class, an exemption from income tax was promised for those earning up to 5 reais, rearranging the higher weight for large fortunes. After a theater of months of the “transitional government”, that promise was left for an uncertain future to be negotiated at a price in gold with the bosses in the aforementioned houses.

The increase in the minimum wage, the resolution of the unsustainable problem of indebtedness of low-income families (which today reach a historical figure of 79% in debt), the resumption of an industrial and employment policy, the repeal of the labor and social security reforms that destroyed jobs in the country, in short, the rump steak on the table and the salary in the pocket are increasingly withheld in the face of the trenches of Brazilian high-intensity spoliation capitalism.

The one that, today, the government manages, defended by the apologists on its left with a rhetoric of “harm reduction” saying that they do “what they have for today”.

The Dilma government and the PT were, for a period of years, the targets of a coalition of conservative bourgeois forces that understood them as obstacles in the face of a historic window of opportunity to reduce the price of the workforce and carry out structural transformations that would allow the control fullest and most permanent form of conditions to keep their profit rates high, even in crisis conditions.

For this, numerous traditional politicians, members of the judiciary and the corporate press closed ranks and raised the lie, the dissimulation, the instrumentalization of religious and moralistic fanaticism to the condition of a political force of the first order, synthesized in the circumstantial figure of Bolsonaro, shortly after Alckmin demonstrate the dehydration of a traditional politician in the face of the acute radicalization of the masses against “everything that is there”.

It is repeated to say that this whole process stems from a profound erosion of the institutions of liberal democracy. This is a worldwide phenomenon, which is paralleled by the chronic inability to encourage the emergence (the only thing necessary) of revolutionary and transformative forces on the part of the “out there” left.

The division of the country, added to the very high levels of abstention and null votes in a country with mandatory voting, is the result of the exhaustion of institutional outlets and the notorious decadence of the current political regime. Its inability to deal with problems and offer outlets for the aspirations of the broad masses, in an increasingly connected, fast-paced society, can only cause political epilepsy within the middle classes and revulsion on the part of the most excluded layers of the people.

Numerous are the comments on the phenomenon. Bolsonarism basically knew how to synthesize all these grudges, anguish, dissatisfaction and contempt in the face of the current regime of things into a false “anti-systemic” rhetoric. And it is here that the theoretical reflection of the apologists of the current broad front stops.

It is remarkable the fact that the current bourgeois government managed to absorb into the State, repeating the pattern of domestication practiced by the first Lula and Dilma governments, important figures of social movements, strategically allocated in figurative ministries and secretariats, with very low prerogatives and budgets.

Its role is obvious: to emanate “popular” legitimacy to the current government, while this makes the bread and butter of bourgeois politics: it exchanges billions from the secret budget for “increase in the spending ceiling” to guarantee “electoral-assistance” effect programs, it supports the representatives of the Brazilian oligarchy in the presidency of the Senate and Chamber (the same ones that allowed Jair Bolsonaro to massacre the people for four years, preventing impeachment requests from taking their course) in exchange for “governability”, that is, it remains the same, speaking who do it differently.

Tactic known in the history of so many processes of political shaking, revolutionary and friction, focused on absorbing the legitimacy of popular representatives while they govern to undermine the bases of popular organization and divert their forces and expectations towards the State and its promises.

After 700 deaths, surprisingly, there has not emerged a force capable of questioning the paralysis of union centrals and bureaucratized social movements and their mafia-like form of organization that prevents independent association on factory floors, workplaces and neighborhoods. Nor did such a tragedy provide for a debate on tactical perspectives as to which flags to raise in a unified way to fight hunger, unemployment, underemployment and the precariousness of life in the neighborhoods. Everything was absorbed by the expectations of “who will be the next to command the State”.

In a country of indebted, uberized, unemployed, whose wages orbit the measly 1700 reais, the entire so-called "vanguard" coalesces around the defense line of "democracy", the same commanded by parasitic enslavers of the people, hateful and hated, sounding as order firefighters, reducers of exploitation damage, providing the most diverse forms of ideological confusion in ever-increasing layers of workers and the middle class.

In this way, they made the arch-reactionary “social justice” Globo in a first-class ally in the “defense of the democratic State of law”, even if this “right” is always imposed “right” against the poor and “crooked” against the magnates of capital and their children.

Embarked on the unitary tune, our yellowed left, and sometimes intoxicated by an unsuccessful lysergic journey of return to the non-existent glories of the corpses of Stalinism, clings to the despicable role of terrorizing the unwary with the dangers of “prematurely criticizing” a government in the face of the constant and threatening potential of Bolsonarist forces.

Grateful are, obviously, the forces of class conciliation, materialized in the hostage-kidnapper merger of Lula and Alckmin, whose main offer to bankers, rentiers and tycoons was social pacification in times of inevitable economic and social upheavals. This was the reason for the acceptance of the previous social liberal government and will be its main commodity offered today.

In this way, the strategy debate disappears on the horizon of the fog of Realpolitik when it becomes more urgent and necessary. The Italian Antonio Gramsci, revolutionary of the 20s, is then invoked for this inglorious scenario. It will be common for the diligent and patient reader to find references to the Gramscian lexicon in the elaborations of various “socialist” groups, often as a form of theoretical justification for their practical political action. This is not new.

Perhaps one of the most reviled Marxist authors in this regard was Gramsci, whose comprehensive categories that often start from partial, specific and even unclear reflections, constant in his prison notebooks, are thrown into the air as juggling political opportunism. .

We do not consider it possible to blame the author, whose production took place in prison conditions under fascism. If even Marx is incensed as a rhetorical “luxury article” by so many liberals of different stripes, it is not surprising the interested use by the lineage of theorists who dominate the rarefied national and world theoretical debate.

Among his categories, the idea of ​​“war of position” occupies a prominent role, both in his thinking and in the inventory available to Brazilian opportunists. For the author, there was a clear distinction between the West and the East with regard to the formations of each dimension of their superstructures. What does that mean?

Roughly speaking, it means that for Western countries the performance of proletarian organizations would not take place under the same conditions as those of Eastern countries. While in the East the “State was everything”, comprising society's relations in a comprehensive and primitive way, concentrating its power in a dynamic that was so many times more rigid and authoritarian, in the West there would be a series of “fortresses and bunkers” behind the State, being this is a reality of power distribution in a more flexible, multifaceted, complex way, distributed in a more robust civil society, in a way that the political struggle should change.

This definition, interesting from a theoretical point of view and useful from the point of view of revolutionary practice, has, of course, been historically distorted by all kinds of classical reformists and opponents of the revolutionary perspective.

While Gramsci advocates for intelligent action to infiltrate all the inevitable “gaps” that exist in a superstructure of a class society, comprising the spaces where culture is produced, territories are organized, political and professional representations, spaces for literary production and journalistic, in view of the objective of accumulating forces for the conquest of power through the outcome of an insurrectionary and revolutionary movement with mass support, the opportunists painted another scenario.

It is about understanding that the struggle itself had changed, no longer aiming at the sharp and disruptive transformation to try to occupy the spaces within the Bourgeois State, its institutions and its forums, managing “things as they are” until an unfathomable future. of gradual and progressive improvement.

Trade unionists accommodated to the unionism of economicist results with a date set with the courts, well paid and privileged university professors with reddish rhetoric, career civil servants in “strategic leadership” positions, an immense range of middle class figures embellished with a Marxist vocabulary and accommodated in relative comfort, they tried in the past and are trying, again and again, today, to position themselves as disciples of the Gramscian line.

In Brazil, really, the State is everything and, despite the relative robustness of institutions present in civil society, every potentially disruptive initiative is absorbed and, less acutely at least in recent history, repressively dismantled. To use Gramsci's analogy, perhaps the human face of the centaur, with its chant of co-option, future promises, offers of material improvement and relative comfort above the real conditions of the real mass hypnotize leaders and activists and predominate when it comes to political alternatives organized. At worst, they get stuck in social niches and microcosms.

The wild part of the centaur is reserved for the disorganized, malnourished, excluded and angry in the peripheries, prisons, precarious jobs, ghettos and alleys. There, the factual powers acquire their clear features for anyone who wants to see. They are expressed in the figure of Capital's “factory floor” dictatorship and its imposition of precarious and poorly paid work as a rule, in moral and religious fundamentalism and, in the social burrs, in crime and begging.

While reproducing the most depressing of bourgeois politics, adding to the endless chatter and minority chorus of the left media surfers of “social justice” (impossible under capitalism for minorities and majorities of the people) in congress, the left leaves all the space free for the factual powers impose the election of their representatives and their strength in congresses, in the chambers, in the Executive, in the Judiciary, that is, in the legal superstructure of the Bourgeois State.

Even if they were serious in their electoral intent, they would be making mistakes. They are not and do not act as if they want to seriously dispute the influence of working people. They may be successful in niches, layers of workers and progressive middle-class sectors, but they abandon the huge mass to the pyrrhic choice of the aforementioned alternatives.

Behind the discourse of the dispute for a gradual and progressive improvement “as more and more come to the congress”, seeking power through a phenomenon that never existed in the history of the modern class struggle, hide the real accommodations to modes of life, wages, privileges, benefits, status and comfort alien to the vast majority of the people.

What is hidden, therefore, is the profound process of domestication, again, nothing new, of union, worker, social and left-wing leaders, by legality and bourgeois property. Nothing is done beyond these. On the contrary, from being the greatest questioners of order as the revolutionaries have always been, we are reduced, by the supposed yellowish, Stalinized or directly social liberal “socialists”, to lifebuoys of a regime hated by the people, circumstantially surfing the high waves of dissatisfaction, sometimes diverted, in lows, to the lap of the extreme right.

Armed with the discourse of the war of position, our current left in its various facets, all accommodated by the umbrella of the liberal government of Lula and Alckmin, hides the opposition to war….of class.

It is true that in this war we cannot choose the terrain. In conditions of a historic low of consciousness and class organization, propitiated by the profound historical defeats of communism in the XNUMXth century, by the neoliberal offensive and by the transformations in the morphological structure of work, defensive, clandestine, underground forms, to use Antonio Gramsci, gain central importance.

The dispute for influence, trying to merge ideology and practice in actions of revolutionary solidarity between territorial areas, sectors of workers and factories, seeking to form a physical and political presence in areas of the crowded peripheries of the country, creating centers, fighting their struggles and experiencing their dramas, offering revolutionary political perspective of transformation, various aid where the bourgeois State withdraws and questioning the order, a program that has profit and employer power as its central target, whose practice gathers support and protection of the opinion and action of masses of workers against the powers those who see the revolutionaries as their own, arising from their own, as an alternative way of life for their own people, this is the only true war of position capable of putting the proletarians in a position of war in the more or less near future.

It is obvious that, along the way, detours and accommodations will always present themselves. In Brazil, the State absorbs everything and offers seductive individual compensation as a reward. So much more central is understanding the historical futility and political dwarfism of such justifications and projects of electoralism.

In historical conditions of accelerated decomposition of the lives of pedestrians and the conditions of life itself on the planet, it is only the future of humanity that remains in the hands of the communists, today, unfortunately, dispersed and disoriented. A scenario, however, already so fertile for resumptions of historic importance.

* André Bof He holds a degree in social sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP).

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