The rebellion of the idiots – provisional defeat?



Considerations from the book “8/1 The rebellion of the manés or Left and right in the mirrors of Brasília”


It seems that, in recent weeks, the perception of some members of the Lula government and part of the institutional left has been changing in relation to the actions of the extreme right. As if it were sinking in that fascism operates in terms of permanent mobilization and that, therefore, victory at the polls is no guarantee of social peace or neutralization of the threat.

Quite the contrary, the exercise of fascist forces on the most diverse fronts – in Congress, in the financial market, in agribusiness, in Pentecostal churches, on the streets and in crimes against the poor and women – make clear that there is an inversion of Clausewitz's maxim: war has ceased to be the continuation of politics by other means; Today, what prevails is that politics is the continuation of war.

Little by little, then, the need to face the fascist mobilization with all available resources becomes crystal clear. The idea that it would be enough to improve the people's living conditions through the recovery of public policies, the growth of economic activity, the resumption of development, the promotion of human rights... has shown its insufficiency. After a year and five months of government, society remains divided and poisoned, the effects of positive changes remain unnoticed by important portions of the population (according to Jean Marc von der Weid, due to the high price of food), aggression and the climate of hate are stimulated daily as before, systematic disinformation campaigns are renewed and intensified all the time.

It is not enough, therefore, to try to improve government communication, to try to “enlighten” a population that is easily prey to the most powerful technologies of permanent mobilization, whose economic, political and ideological interests are closely interconnected. And the stubborn difficulty in minimally regulating social networks to seek to neutralize their toxic nature is already an indication of the size of the problem. A radical political decision would be needed to confront the fascist mobilization. But, apparently, there is no will or strength to do so.

It is in this context that the recent book by Pedro Fiori Arantes, Fernando Frias and Maria Luíza Meneses, entitled 8/1 The rebellion of the manés or Left and right in the mirrors of Brasília. Much has already been written, and read, about the scandalous occupation of Praça dos Três Poderes, a week after President Lula's inauguration. There are certainly still many questions in the air. I have, however, the impression that the authors were accurate in investigating the participation of the popular Bolsonarists in the January 8th coup episode. Because they demonstrated that it is not at all obvious, and only a simplistic assessment reduces it to a caricature, which makes it difficult to understand the real role played by “cattle”.


The book makes it clear that the manx They were both accomplices and victims of prolonged fascist mass manipulation. Accomplices because they literally committed themselves body and soul to the coup attempt – in this sense, they were active protagonists and, therefore, criminals, for transgressing the established order; victims because, abducted by a “parallel reality”, they did not have political and legal insight into the illegality of their actions, thus functioning as mere cannon fodder for powerful interests, which were not theirs.

Now, it is this ambivalent condition that becomes the object of analysis. You manx they know what they are doing, but they ignore the perverse nature of their role within the logic of the coup, which encompasses politicians, businesspeople, military personnel, police officers, in short, the organized far right – which would have everything to gain, if it were possible to succeed. victory through recourse to the Guarantee of Law and Order, validating a false interpretation of art. 142 of the Federal Constitution.

Os manx feel like heroes of a war against establishment, they firmly believe in Bolsonaro’s scoundrel pantomime against “the system”, they intensely desire a constitutional rupture in favor of colonial regression. And not even their abandonment by the maximum leader and the “forces of order” will make them wake up to the fact that they have been used and abused all along. They are poor bastards doing Selfie on the edge of the abyss, imagining that the battle was won with the consented occupation and depredation of the facilities of the Three Powers of the Republic.

To demonstrate this simultaneously grotesque and miserable condition of manx (who will subsequently ruin their lives when the iron arm of law and order falls upon them), the authors resort, in the first chapter, to the Brechtian concept of “distancing”. Such a resource is necessary because, from a political and symbolic point of view, historically, since the French Revolution, the seizure of government palaces has always been the work of insurrectionary popular layers aiming at regime change, that is, revolution.

But in both the attack on the Capitol by the Trumpist mass and the attack on Brasília by the Bolsonarista mass, there is a reversal of signal – now it is the radicalized far-right masses that carry out the assault on the center of established power. Such an aberration raises eyebrows. As the authors note, those who carried out the feat were not the landless, homeless, indigenous people, nor black blocs, PT members, students or communists; It was authored by self-described “patriots”, “Christians” and “good citizens”.

Hence the question: “What does the attack (…) reveal about contemporary Brazil? How it exposes the capacity for thought and action of the left and right, in order to act to change history in their favor/” The answer will be sought in the light of “distancing”. According to Bertold Brecht, “distancing an event or a character means, above all, removing from the event or character what seems obvious, the known, the natural, and casting astonishment and curiosity upon them”.

Strangely, the authors distance the event and, from a distance, perceive how the role reversal between left and right took place in Brazil, starting with the 2013 Days, which sealed a rupture between the institutional left, in power, and a new left, insurgent and anti-capitalist. In his opinion, it was this historical disagreement that enabled the rise of the extreme right and, with it, the risk to democracy.

It is not appropriate here to dwell on the various events that, since then, have deepened the trend triggered in 2013. But it is important to note that the role reversal is in the matrix of the transformation that makes the right an insurgent, while the left becomes a manager of the system, conciliation, maintenance of order and pacification.

Thus, the 8th of January explains the intricate and perverse game in which the manx, self-identified as the losers of a so-called rigged election, that is manx subjected to the “trickery” of STF ministers, allegedly in league with PT “thugs”. It is worth remembering that the attack on Brasília by the furious “patriots” was called the “Uprising of the Manés”. In this impulse, in this “astonishing semantic slippage between left and right”, wrote Paulo Arantes, the extreme right, looking at itself in the mirror of the left, saw itself as an anti-system radical, a supporter of “insurrectionary war”.


In the following chapters, the authors point out how, from one slide to another, the evolution of the process took “making history” out of the hands of the popular classes and placed it in the hands of the Bolsonarists. It is worth noting the influence that Olavo de Carvalho exerted on the dynamics of misappropriation of symbols, speeches, practices and weapons of the struggle of classes and peoples, and their conversion into instruments of the far-right repertoire.

It is also worth highlighting the cynical and debauched appropriations of MBL, as well as the pathetic performance of Sara Winter and the “300 of Brazil”, inspired by fifth-rate films. All this, before the invasion of the Capitol, on January 6, 2021, the maximum expression of the far-right uprising, which would constitute the model to be imitated by the “Levante dos Manés”.

The insurrection had been prepared and fueled since before the election and Lula's victory, as we would later learn, with the revelation of Jair Bolsonaro's coup plans through Operation Tempus Veritatis. Prepared and fed in two distinct spheres, but obviously with intersections. Firstly, in the sphere of power and money, mobilizing Jair Bolsonaro, the clan, advisors, politicians, experts in mobilizing networks, military personnel, pastors and businesspeople. What could perhaps be characterized as those behind the coup.

Secondly, in the sphere of “cattle”, manx, of the mass of maneuver called to give the insurrection its “popular” character. As investigations still underway indicate, the two spheres would come into play at different times: first, the manx, camped in front of the Armed Forces battalions, would create disorder in Brasília and other places; Subsequently, the military and police would intervene, reestablishing “order” and, with it, instituting the fascist coup.

It turns out that the coup failed, for reasons that are not clear, as the criminal conduct of the actors involved in the sphere of power and money still remains partially unclear to public opinion. The second moment did not happen, the GLO was not proclaimed, the Armed Forces did not take a position, the former president remained silent in his refuge at Disney...

And the manx, like fools, they found themselves alone in a trap, as now their military protectors handed them over to the police, who took them to Papuda and Colméia, where they would later be classified as “terrorists”.

Now, such criminalization has the enthusiastic support of the institutional left which, having already repressed its insurgent faction, can now join the repression of subversives. Thus, under the appearance of a virtuous circle, the vicious circle is closed. For the broken mirrors of Brasília configure both the insurgency of the extreme right and the emasculation of the institutional and rebellious left; the institutional one for not having the strength so far to force the military to respond for the institutional involvement of the Armed Forces, which emerge unscathed, handing over the “black sheep”, but seeking to maintain their claim of “moderating power” above the Powers of the Republic unscathed; and the rebellious left for not being able to even minimally articulate a response equal to the threat, unable to escape inertia.

Thus, the “victory” of democracy in the post-8 January period is more than relative. As if the coup had only been suspended, leaving, however, little compromise to the infernal machine that can be activated again at a more propitious moment. Hence the authors' disturbing question, in the final part of the book: After January, will peace be total? In his opinion, it would only be viable if Bolsonarism is dismantled in the sphere of its constituents; but the signs that this will happen are very faint.

On the other hand, as is very well analyzed in the last chapters, exemplary punishment only for manx can give rise to what the authors call “punitivism in reverse” – after all, the heavy criminalization of “terrorists” could one day turn against the true challengers of the established order, that is, those on the left who want to go beyond defense of the unfair neoliberal order that guarantees the reproduction of the appalling inequality in force.

Therefore, on the last page of the book, the authors write: “The Lula 3 government is a buffer against the neo-facist rise in Brazil, but if we do not fight for social justice and emancipatory futures, we will continue to be subjected to pro-market pacification, the new punitivism in reverse and we will soon open the way for the extreme right to reorganize itself and regain control.”

In fact, these words of warning have barely been written, and we can already see in the National Congress, in the insolence of certain military personnel, in the resourcefulness of the Bolsonarist deputies, in the eternal neo-Pentecostal crusade, in the idolatry of Elon Musk, the signs of a resumption of permanent mobilization...

*Laymert Garcia dos Santos he is a retired professor in the sociology department at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Politicize new technologies (Publisher 34).


Pedro Fiori Arantes, Fernando Frias and Maria Luíza Meneses. 8/1 The rebellion of the manés or Left and right in the mirrors of Brasília. São Paulo, Hedra, 2024, 184 pages. []

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