The judicialization of neo-fascism in Brazil

Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808–1901), Winter on the Common, Boston, 1850.


As long as the far-right network is not dislodged from the state apparatus, Bolsonarist neo-fascism will continue to remain

“The everyday sun has not yet set” (Latin sentence).


At the end of the last decade, the sectorial promiscuity between the base of the Judiciary Power and the Federal Public Ministry interfered in advance in the electoral process of 2018, depriving, with long imprisonment, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, then the favorite candidate, from running the Presidency of the Republic.

Reports from The Intercept Brazil opened the guts of the then Lava Jato operation and made the promiscuous procedure of lawfare, political persecution through instrumentalization of the judiciary system, conservative media visibility and the state police apparatus. Lula regained his freedom and the electoral energies that sustain his candidacy remain renewed, making him the main candidate for president.

Three years later, actions unleashed at the top of the Judiciary interfere, with reciprocity and similar anticipation, in the 2022 electoral process: undermining impetus from the extreme right, the decisions, although controversial, aim to master, not without cell ghosts, the path of the guest of the Palace do Planalto in the dispute of the election. The disparaging reverberation of the measures extends to the reputation of the entire presidential family.

This troubling dialectic of empiricism politics shows, in the dramatic whirlwind of facts, that some (few) Brazilian republican institutions, with prerogatives and constitutional powers, follow vigorous muscles and with legal hermeneutics inspired in the 1985-1988 triennium, despite the hornet's nest of fakenews and systematic misinformation. At least for the time being, this factual reversal also reveals that the checks and balances of the young Brazilian democracy decided, finally, to abandon the offices and drawers, without retreating in the face of threats and fears. The late judicialization of federalized neo-fascism – that is to say, the blaming of the Republic’s ultra-conservative mockery –, in defense of Western reason against fakenews and its socio-structural dissuasion extended to channels on YouTube: at the request of the Federal Police (PF), an order from the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) determined the demonetization of several of them.


Senior peers from the far-right network foam bilious surprise against the procedures of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the STE.

serial killers they are also surprised when their carelessness on the trail allows the police to arrest them. Attacks on life take many forms. The paths in fact are one of them. There are apparently more decanted forms. They concern symbolic violence, not without devastating effects. Copiously attacking republican institutions with the display of weapons crossed on the chest fits within this perimeter: it does not only harm the Federal Constitution; attacks life.

Years ago, a certain Brazilian television presenter, protagonist of nightly “cultural affairs” with candid camera (hidden camera, in approximate translation), he claimed, with indignant surprise, that his “art” had been “censored” when civil society organizations, concerned about the quality of the television agenda, managed to overthrow his “businesses” in court. Mass cultural products that, in addition to the mudflat quality, use the hidden camera scheme often undermine the citizenship of others by subjecting people (usually poor, needy or vulnerable) to abduction procedures to record lurid and depressing scenes without preliminary consent of the victims and , later, exhibit them in the audiovisual showcase as an object of laughter and public mockery. This “culture” offered to society does not hide – for those who care about filigrees – a fascist bias under pale airs of “leisure” and “joy”, allegedly useful to viewers tired of the day's journey and concerned with rebuilding their work force (bodily and psychic) ​​for the next day.

What do the above cases – one criminal and the other mass culture – have in common with ultra-rightism in terms of party politics? Beyond the indignant frown before a judicial or police order, all are equivalent, each in their own way, to emblems, among hundreds of cases, of how much subjects, social groups and networks are, from the beginning, deprived, paradoxically, of of legal uncertainty as to the consequences of their conduct and practices. Slightly or strongly, they are conscious movements or undertakings of their propositions and acts. In the case of the neo-fascist crowd, however, the parallel reality in which they live – borderline and obsessive fight against “imaginary communism” –, causes its supposedly legal extremism, within the current constitutional system, to fray the latter in the voluntary direction of illegality. The notorious confusion in matters of legal hermeneutics arbitrarily re-parametrizes the agreed rules to the point of making illicit acts consciously committed in the name of “good causes” pass, “washed”, as constitutionally legitimate. The dimension of nonsense expands when, as if that were not enough, it is verified that conservative extremism wants to export its parallel world as a normal reality for society as a whole.


Everything indicates that the fraying of political-institutional trends in Brazil has transited to the following fallacious point of no return: (a) either the occupant of the main chair of the Republic confirms himself as crazy and applies, in a clumsy way (like his administration in almost all sectors), a controversial and empty self-coup, together with Armed Forces apparently divided and pointing to an immediate future of life and death, with unpredictable social repercussions (starting with the freedom of their own children, accused of corruption and/or propagation of fakenews and hate); (b) either the Palace guest agrees to let his guard down, the ball and the bravado, discouraging the crowd of supporters (especially the most excited, defender of military intervention), due to a political-judicial leniency agreement that, not without corruption fundamentally, he bargained for his withdrawal from the State apparatus – an agreement whereby his removal from the scene was exchanged for a guarantee of protection for himself and his family, outside the cells.

Both options are unacceptable from a political, legal and institutional point of view – to stay just in these three prisms. Let ethics not be mentioned in this context: opportunisms of all kinds (not infrequently patriarchal) always threaten to prostitute it with convenient delicacies.


Evidently, no dialectic guarantees a certain outcome in an iron fist fight. Despite being transparent for those who appreciate seeing beyond short deadlines, the political-judicial dialectic mentioned is no exception.

Be that as it may, the concern with neo-fascism in the country, to which jurisprudent conservatism has rallied (in the flow of provocations to egregious personal honors), took on a crucial institutional chapter, with intrepid and daring decisions, with multiple political message and ready to make a school States across. The fact that they were executed on the eve of September 7 added to the predictable turmoil: affected groups capitalized on acts of judicial dehydration as gasoline for street demonstrations.

The first lines of the anti-fascist chapter, with an epigraph dug in previous backstage, swell the ranks of so many segments and combatant entities of the center-left field, in defense of democracy, human rights and civil liberties. This extensive range of progressive opposition wants to disinfect Brazil from the post-2018 political regression and undermine, from the bases to the apex, the disqualified denialist “cultural war” that isolated the country from the global scene and led it, through a slow vaccine spree, to the most of 550 deaths from Covid-19.

As long as the far-right network is not dislodged from the State apparatus, Bolsonarist neo-fascism will continue to lean on the approximately 20% to 30% of the electorate to polish the bank. Nepotism and oligarchic physiologism, widely exposed by the media and, at the same time – for the gullible and/or unsuspecting crowd – shaded by a robust anti-corruption chant are part of the endless steps of the slope, still in the superficial mouth of hell. At this level, strategic petulance makes neo-fascism vaguely defend something like “democracy” and “freedom”.

To hope that the current chapter does not form part of a treatise – that it is, rather, a speed book, one of those that, with less than a hundred pages and light language, are written in a few weeks and read “in one sitting” – demands immeasurable faith from the naivety. The streams discourage expectations: hopelessness, in a compendium beyond 2022, projects developments in the decade, if not longer.

* Eugene Trivinho is professor of the Graduate Studies Program in Communication and Semiotics at PUC-SP.


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