The Rebellion of the Jagunços

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), Drawing XIII, charcoal on paper, 61,9 × 47 cm, 1915.


With polarization, a subjectivity is stimulated beyond the rational arena of political struggle, abducting conflicts to the emotional and existential dimension of extremist hordes

“Jagunço: violent man hired as a bodyguard for an influential individual” (Houaiss Dictionary).

bibles and rifles

On November 9, 1938, the destruction of the material heritage (houses, shops, synagogues) of the Jews began in Germany, in what became famous as the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). By mimicry, on the next 7th of September, President Jair Bolsonaro promises the Day of the Jagunços, to culminate the destruction of the symbolic heritage (republican institutions) of the Democratic Rule of Law. The dissolution of authorities goes back to the end of the dictatorial cycle. While, on the one hand, in the eyes of the New Republic, the consolidation of the consensus on the virtues of democracy gave the start; on the other hand, in the eyes of the outskirts of the big cities, uniformed bodyguards of the dominant classes extended their tentacles over the regions that concentrated the so-called dangerous classes. In parallel, the condemnation of the Popular Church (Liberation Theology) by the Vatican made evangelical pastors the spiritual comfort of the marginalized, in the alleys of the Valley of Tears.

With redemocratization limited to the rules of liberal democracy, for decades the members of military police corporations were the only arms of the State in the favelas. The transition was too timid with the prerogatives assigned to police missions. With trained labor and weapons, the regimentation of militias did not take long to fight the territorial domination of drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro. In other federative units discreet alliances were formed with germs of criminal factions, to share the booty. Such authorities flourished together with the Theology of Prosperity in the mud of areas lacking in urban equipment (basic sanitation, health clinics, schools, public transport, asphalt, lighting, public safety). To the desire for spirituality was added the desire to guarantee order against criminality and impunity. There was no vacuum.

For Gabriel Feltran, in the article The Revolution We Are Living [The Revolution We Are Living] (Journal of Ethenographic Theory, 2020), there are the social vertices of Bolsonarism. These are the demolishers who are now threatening an uprising, equipped with bibles and rifles, at the pace of disavowing the allegorical “colonels” of today: the governors. The fanatical following knows no bounds. He even questioned Pope Francis’ knowledge of the Holy Book, when he asked Christians to vote “for development and not for armament”, in 2018. Passages from the vindictive First Testament (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”) backed up the sacrilegious contestation. Nor does the authority of the Holy Father, in matters of Christendom, admit it. cross creed.

The apostasy was repeated with science and knowledge, objects of liquid dispute of “narratives” under the empire of post-truth (Oxford Dictionary). For some analysts, post-modernity constitutes the background of the relativism in vogue, by deconstructing the notions of social classes, ideologies and subjects of transformation that structured the cosmovision founded on capitalist modernity. The solution would no longer lie in changing society, but society. Perhaps from a planet, if you agree with the billionaire owner of Amazon, in a recent tour of the Milky Way, without empathy with the Earth. If everything is wrong, better erase all history. The radical (nihilist) attitude embodies the denial of any transgrowth that implies a superior synthesis, as it does not safeguard rights acquired at the cost of sweat and blood. The sun on the desired horizon is dystopia (!)

imagined community

“The targeted model of authoritarian power does not have a certain costume. It is possible, however, to identify sympathies in Bolsonaro and in the members of his inner circle for various forms of undemocratic regime... the permanent State of exception of Nazi-Fascism, the Brazilian military dictatorship under the aegis of AI-5", observes Ricardo Musse ( In: Bolsonaro Government – ​​Democratic Retreat and Political Degradation, Authentic, 2021). Democratic principles, in this perspective, because they refer to the idea of ​​a heterogeneous nation (weak, disunited, “feminine”), would correspond to lack of values. With the mission of freeing the homeland from the yoke of corruption, economic negligence and ideological servitude – the boi da Ponta fulfills the role of myth, accredited by necropolitics. In the nightmare, rudeness becomes authenticity, obtuseness becomes simplicity, misogyny becomes virility, anarcho-capitalism becomes austerity, de-democratization becomes freedom, privatization becomes chloroquine. Cynicism is natural.

Besieged by the siege of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI), which investigates possible crimes of responsibility and prevarication by the occupant of the Planalto Palace during the pandemic, the representative needs to anticipate the end of the match. At the risk of seeing the crown princes arrested one by one, until they reach the fussy king of clubs, with proof and not just convictions. In this scenario, it is essential to break down the authority of ministers of the Judiciary, to wrap the actions that corner the clan in a smokescreen.

The profusion of profanity thrown at members of the High Courts, in which “filho da puta” sounds like a euphemism, reproduces the pattern indicated by the guru, Olavo de Carvalho: “The profanity is necessary in the Brazilian context to demolish the polite language that it is a straitjacket that imprisons people, forcing them to respect what does not deserve respect and reinforce authorities. V-Ã-OTODOSTOMARNOCU”. At the opening of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the ploy was used and abused to overshadow the public image of former president Dilma Rousseff internationally.

The jagunços' rebellion removes the living statues of the System from their pedestals. Taking care, of course, to disconnect the greed of financial capital and the assault on the Central Bank by bankers and rentiers from the oppressive totem. It is useless to describe the anathemas to the authorities, conventional ones converted into the target of the logic of the Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt, who fits politics into the binomial “friend-enemy”. With polarization, a subjectivity is stimulated beyond the rational arena of political struggle, abducting conflicts to the emotional and existential dimension of extremist hordes. It is not the persuasion by the intrinsic force of the arguments that is pursued, but the annihilation – for now, moral – of the opponents by cursing them with vulgarities watered with prejudices. Sentimentality lends the connotation of a government in motion to presidential performances, copied from paradigmatic actors, Hitler and Mussolini, as founders of modern horror theater.

To feed anger, what matters is disinformation, shrill noise more than sober communication. Without the lies to emulate hate, Bolsonarism is a pathetic zombie, a soulless body wandering aimlessly. To the fake news generate the necessary illusion for people to imagine themselves as part of a “us” as opposed to “them”. This explains the desperation for the demonetization and cancellation of agents that produce manipulation in cyberspace. The Bolsonarist illusion enables the construction of an “imagined community”, in the sense of Benedict Anderson (Imagined Communities, 1983), which differs from the real community along the lines of the village where the personas meet face to face.

internal war

The link between the dystopian representation at the epicenter of power and the authoritarianism of the jagunços is concrete, and does not dissolve in the air. The same goes for the affinity between authoritarianism and liberalism: praise for the free market, with more efficiency and less regulation, rooted in the fable of meritocracy. The rise of the Great Worm came in the wake of a genocide and finds oxygen in the positivist motto of the flag (“order and progress”) to impose a despotic will, violating rights. It is worth remembering the context that hatched the serpent's egg. In 2011, the STF recognized same-sex unions and, subsequently, the application of ethnic-racial quotas in public universities, the abortion of anencephalic fetuses and the prohibition of physical punishment in the education of children and adolescents. Cultural changes boosted the decisions of law. The dissatisfied reversed the factors, as if the enacted laws were the protagonists of behavioral changes in the culture.

At the time, the black and LGBTQIA+ movements, as well as the struggle for gender equality, with the much-discussed Marchas das Vadias, gained spotlight in the media and on the internet. Not to mention the criticism of disrespectful and offensive language towards the so-called minority segments of the population, through racist, sexist and homophobic insults and anecdotes. Ironically, the Back door it stamped genial polls of humor without appealing excrescences. The ballot boxes revealed the growing success of candidacies from black, trans, quilombola, indigenous women and all of them with non-hegemonic sexual orientations. Like pins dropped in a bowling alley, the atavism of whites, heterosexuals and heads of families was thrown into the pre-modernity bin. It did not prevent, however, in the field of morals and customs, that resentment increased in hosts cornered by the old conservatism.

Also, at the initiative of the Executive, the National Truth Commission (CNV) was created to bring to light the years of lead. The amnesty that equated resistance to the olive green will with the vileness against humanity of torturers, under state protection, revived grudges. The bitterness intensified among the armed jagunços, who had done the dirty work in the pursuit of democrats and social and political fighters, in the countryside and in the city, to safeguard the interests of the powerful at the behest of the praetorian guard on duty (1964-1985), whose main attribution has always been the repression of the people. The Brazilian Armed Forces were not conceived for war between countries, like the North American FFAA, but for internal war. Accumulated sorrows filled the cup.

In return, the jagunços received only contempt, the threat of arrest and public scorn from influential individuals (the heads of the Judiciary, the political parties in Parliament, the anchors of the Mass Media). The same for the evangelical currents that expelled Catholics from the outskirts. The abandonment had repercussions on the outcasts of the occasion, the military police, who ran to the shelter of the extreme right. The left, mixed in the conceptual basket with party organizations, human rights defenders, popular movements, trade unionists, anti-racist groups, feminists, homosexuals, environmentalists, intellectuals, artists – was blamed for the resentments that loomed the democracy. It was the dialectic of the legs up.

The scenario is revanchist. “For twenty years I put up with the robbery of the left, endorsed by my compatriots, at each election. That time is over. We will never let the PT return to power”, declared in an interview a middle-class bolsominion questioned about what she thought of the political situation. He added, in the continuation, that he had awakened from torpor with the June 2013 Journeys. In Kantian terminology, finally, the right-wing puppet woke up from the “dogmatic sleep”, with puffy eyes after four consecutive victories of the Workers’ Party, with the poor included in the Budget. It remains to be seen whether the love of barbarism will withstand the perfect storm formed at the junction of the health and economic crisis with allegations of corruption in the government. Who lives will see.

The Man and the Tiger

In 2020, a very relevant work was published for understanding non-democratizing movements, which rose in different parts of the world map, Eternity's War: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right, by Benjamin Teitelbaum (Publisher: Unicamp). Mandatory reading to understand the chaotic set of postulates that permeate the revolt against the modern world. The book ends with a parable about a man who wants to defeat a tiger in order to achieve freedom. And then he mounts the feline, waiting for it to age and weaken, to strike it.

By analogy, this is what neo-Azifascist leaders do with each electoral victory, they parasitize the Democratic Rule of Law. Seeking to accelerate the aging and withering of democracy, they undermine the emancipatory possibilities contained in it: freedom, equality, political participation, political representation, political plurality and social diversity, mechanisms for controlling the exercise of power and space public so that society can intervene in matters of interest to the common good. As in the poem by Bertolt Brecht: “He who sees the list says: It is a lot. / But the one who wrote it says: It is the least”.

Behind the apparent madness of the Great Worm, there is a project to implode existing sociability, in the hope that the tiger will bend under its own weight. It is naive to think that this is a reliable strategy to accommodate the expectations of the barons on Avenida Faria Lima, in São Paulo. Portions of the conventional elites realized the plot. “Managers raise the tone of criticism of the government. Surrounding the president says that the liberal proposal does not work and that we only want to sell state-owned companies. President bites available personalities, civil and military, chews them up and then spits them out” (Economic value, 27/08/2021). “The end of support from financial sectors to the government is reflected in an increase in medium and long-term interest rates (they reached double digits), in a more expensive dollar and in the fall of the stock market”, emphasizes the chief economist of Necton Investimentos (capital letter, 01/09/2021).

Bolsonaro follows the coup lessons of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's pet aide. The negation of modernity, which substituted servility reduced to duties for citizenship with inalienable rights, establishing obligations to the State, – beckons with the full restoration of Traditionalism (colonialism and patriarchy) within the framework of an Aryan Christian civilization. In the spreadsheet, the tactic of the plan goes through personal dictatorship.

Rebellious jaguncism is an instrument, flesh and blood and rage, in the anti-civilizational counterrevolution of neo-Azifascism. The resilient struggle of socialists and democrats is aimed at protecting democracy, which must be improved with an emphasis on political participation. In addition, modernity must correct the class inequalities that push away the couplet inspired by the French Revolution at the end of the Ancien Régime: Liberté, Égalité, Solidarité. Armed, the jagunços will be spurred on like dogs to take to the streets on the 7th of September, in disobedience to common sense. “There are idiots who say, 'ah, you have to buy beans'. You have to buy a rifle, man. Armed people will never be enslaved”. Aware, we will raise our voice and our vaccinated arm. Hold on. Who goes, who comes.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.

Originally published in the magazine Theory and debate.


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