The intramural “third way”

Marcelo Guimarães Lima, Suspended form, crayon and oil pastel on paper, 15x10.5cm, 2021


How will Alckmin contribute to the 2022 elections, whose context is precisely, in its essential meaning, the fight against the disastrous consequences of the 2016 coup?

I who, as the wonderful song by Gil and Dominguinhos says, “almost know nothing”, would like you to explain to me what Lula, the PT, the fight against the execrable coup regime of the ill-fated Brazilian lumpen-bourgeoisie, a regime under the which today the marginalized, helpless and violently exploited majority of this country lives and suffers, if Mr. Geraldo Alckmin, conservative politician whose reactionary initiatives in the government of the state of São Paulo we all know (Pinheirinho, present!), if this former neoliberal PSDB leader is a candidate in the next presidential election on a ticket with former president Lula, former metallurgist leader, founder of the PT, president of the country twice, popular hope in the fight against the decomposition of Brazilian society initiated by the extreme right at the behest of the owners of Brazil, in turn allied with the global neoliberal power.

The contradictions of the Brazilian dependent capitalism regime that brought the PT to power at the beginning of the 2016st century exploded with the XNUMX coup: the Brazilian bourgeoisie and its external bosses got tired of intermediaries and expelled, without much ceremony, the PT from the presidency. Interestingly, there was no popular uprising against the coup forces and their project, clear as spring water, of reversing the modest benefits that the PT governments brought to the majority. Modest yes, compared to the secular needs of the majority. Important yes, with regard to the perspectives of changes, albeit limited, in class relations in Brazilian history.

With the 2016 coup, the Brazilian ruling class declared loud and clear, once again in the modern history of the nation, that, wholesale and even retail, it does not accept to cede anything of its domain of wealth and therefore of the organization of life mainly in a period of increasing global economic instability. A crystalline statement in the abject spectacle of the 2016 coup, a spectacle produced and broadcast by the country's venal and oligopolized media. And there was no resistance in the streets….

This last observation of mine, I must clarify, without underestimating the intelligence of others but just in case possible readers have doubts, it mixes irony, melancholy and, I confess, some perplexity. There was a time when the role of the left was to organize the popular field, enlighten, educate and be educated in the daily struggle, in its various forms, against class society and its fatal contradictions. The left fought and still fights for a viable future for the majority, today not only on behalf of the popular classes, but for the planet itself, for the entire biosphere that globalized savage capitalism threatens with destruction in the short and medium term.

Since its historic beginnings in popular struggles in Europe in the XNUMXth century, the field of the organized left has been divided, roughly speaking, between supporters of a strategy, let's say, full-autonomist, of social struggle on the margins and continuous and total confrontation of the sociopolitical system. of the bourgeoisie, and the proponents of a strategy that assumed the clashes within the existing instances of political power, within the structures of the state, aiming at their transformation towards socialism.

These two perspectives, of course, were not watertight, although in certain contexts and decisive moments they proved to be incompatible. After all, Lenin wrote The State and the Revolution where he explains that between the Marxist and anarchist anti-statist positions the difference is not one of objective but of form (although for the author it is not a mere formal difference). And Marx, as Maximilien Rubel explained, was a theorist of anarchism,[1] of revolutionary overcoming, that is, of the destruction of the organization of state power, which irremediably separates society into two unequal camps: dominant and dominated.

The critique of the state as such, of the state structure as a machine of domination constituted by the bourgeois class in capitalism, is a fundamental part of Marx's political conceptions, despite many Marxists of yesterday and especially Marxists today, who demonstrate an interesting basic misunderstanding, covered by interpretations mutants, extravagant and varied, of this essential dimension of Marx's theory.

The libertarian Marxist or anarcho-communist Daniel Guerin in his youth in the period of the European crisis that preceded the Second World War, a period that saw the birth of Nazi-fascism, undertook a bicycle trip through Germany aiming at the knowledge in loco of the German crisis and its meaning. The young socialist, through his militant connections at the time in the French Socialist Party, was welcomed by the German socialists. He was impressed by the extent and organization of social democracy in the country, the grandeur of some of its regional and capital headquarters, the number of registered militants, the penetration of its press, cultural and propaganda production. Guerin attended some sessions of the Reichstag (parliament) in which important leaders of social democracy participated side by side with representatives of the various traditional parties, conservative coalitions, representatives of the oligarchies, of the various factions of the ruling class and of big capital.

At the same time, he sought to learn about the country's day-to-day life, he saw organized and disorganized workers, employed and unemployed people in the cities, visited parks and urban surroundings where the economic crisis had dragged a part of the German youth without work and without prospects of life, who lived a precarious existence, in bands and diverse groups and expressed in the face of the crisis that hit them mercilessly in the flower of age on the one hand a nihilistic conscience and behavior, on the other a utopian hope of revolutionary regeneration of society and time, hope and conscience that made them unbelievers and radical critics of the official opposition and political structures of the German state.

the pamphlet book La Peste brune(1933 and reissues) in which the young socialist Daniel Guerin recorded his wanderings and reflections is, so to speak, an inside view of the German crisis. With the 1919 revolution aborted, the response of organized reaction will be fascism. In his account, the rapid collapse, in the turmoil of the crisis, of social democracy and the organized labor movement is obvious. Established in the status quo of German political life, Social Democracy, with all its history, initiatives and achievements, with all the weight of its tradition and popular support, cannot resist fascist subversion, that is, the initiative by which the ruling class declares that the prevailing rules of historically constituted liberal democracy are no longer valid for opponents, or, more simply, are no longer valid, period.

Keeping all the more than due proportions, the contexts, the structures, the historical moments and diverse roles, the temporal and geographic distance, the antitheses between center and periphery of the world system, and all other possible and imaginable distinctions, was what made by the peripheral Brazilian bourgeoisie in the 2016 coup. The grotesque parliamentary, media and legal farce of the coup, repeating previous episodes in our history, made possible the electoral farce that led to the office of president the professional politician and “lifetime” member of the lower parliamentary clergy , Jair Bolsonaro.

Whatever the representatives of the well-thinking right say, the “fine people”, the “fragrant mass” (a vulgar expression like its own) of the national oligarchy, the neo-repentant and the exempt of occasion, the extreme vulgarity of the Captain of the Chaos bothers them “aesthetically”, apart from the permanent difficulties and tensions (as a power strategy, whose scope is always problematic) generated by neo-fascist extremism. For the rest, everything is in order. On the other hand, the cafajeste style, the scoundrel behavior of the neo-fascist crowd and its greatest representative is extremely revealing of the structural violence of class relations in Brazil.

The neo-fascist genius, invoked as an auxiliary by the ruling class, may even change his character, but he does not return to the wonderful lamp. It needs to be thoroughly defeated, just as the Brazilian bourgeoisie needs to prove once in its life and in history the taste of unappealable defeat in order to cure itself, if possible, of the coup d'état disease.

Let's say it clearly: Bolsonaro is a symptom, both occasional and profound, of a historical-structural crisis that will not end when the Friend and Protector of the Militias disappears from the national scene like the providential goat in the living room of the well-known anecdote. Immediate general relief will follow the awareness that alleviating the symptom is not the same as eradicating the disease. The challenges will follow, the Brazilian crisis in its specificity and in general in the world historical context, does not end with the end of Bolsonaro’s misgovernment.

The process and coup regime under which the majority of the Brazilian people suffer, and here I apologize for repeating the obvious, will not “democratically” give up the essentials. He will be able to cede even the elections, the position of president, cede in retail here and there, “perfume” the national environment plagued by neo-fascists, but he will continue with his ongoing project of subjection of the people and the country, of subordinate alignment to the owners of the world, of deepening dispossession, internal oppression and the growth of profits that this provides.

“Alliance to defeat Bolsonaro!”, the apparently clear and apparently reasonable motto of an orientation encompassing Greeks and Trojans is not even the announcement of great news if we pay attention to the international scenario. In France, for example, the growth of Front National it generated anxieties and aroused alliances that facilitated the election of the neoliberal Macron, who obviously did not come to solve the material problems of the majority of the French people, but to guarantee the continuity of neoliberal domination. The result of Macron's presidency has been a growing disorientation of the popular opposition, the fragmentation of the organized left, the generalized frustration of popular expectations that leads to an even greater penetration and radicalization of the extreme right.

The crisis generating crises seems to be the formula, finally found, of continued neoliberal domination. Therefore, as a biased disciple of Nelson Rodrigues, our great thinker of glaring evidence, I must state publicly that there will be no return to the status quo ante after the eventual electoral defeat of Bolsonarism.

As everyone already knows, the so-called “class alliance” policy attributed to Lulism maneuvered within the narrow limits of the centuries-old structures of class domination in Brazil. Undeniably, it bore fruit in the momentary repair of the miserable condition of so many Brazilians. Undeniably, it was not able to recognize the alternatives available to its occasional allies, at the same time its permanent adversaries.

What about seasoned political operatives who are generally mistaken about their opponents' intentions and capabilities? That no one else saw the storm on the horizon does not explain either. And it is not at all true: some voices cried out in the desert. And they were not heard. Mistakes in the political struggle bring their own punishments, and these do not change with eventual value judgments: they are facts.

Lula is today the depositary of the hopes of the Brazilian people for an immediate overcoming of the barbarity of the genocidal, anti-people and anti-nation policy administered by Bolsonaro and his allies. The defeat of Lava-Jato and its operators, the release of Lula and the restitution of his political rights were the result of popular resistance to the coup, in its various dimensions and manifestations, and certainly did not fall from the sky nor were they gifts from those in power. These same ones who now seem to want to impose on the popular field the toll of alliances with yesterday's coup leaders to defeat Bolsonarism. Something like (surprisingly, gentlemen) a “third way” represented by Lula himself in an imposed alliance with the right.

Because among the various risks of 2022, as observed by some experienced and independent political analysts, we can list: (a) Lula is once again prevented from running as a candidate, “with the Supreme Court and with everything”; (b) Lula runs for office. Elections are rigged again and the right elects its candidate; (c) Lula wins but doesn't win and/or wins and doesn't govern (it's the same thing).

The result that really interests the Brazilian people is the defeat of the coup supporters on all their fronts: that of the historically and compulsively coup-supporting militiamen, Bolsonarist businessmen, vassals of world financial capital, venal pastors, the monopolized press, parties of right, of the supporters and servants of the neo-fascist horde, of those who profit from the chaos in the country and of those who always profit within the structures that organize and maintain the material difficulties of life for the subjugated majority.

Is it wanting too much? Now, as domination forms a system and thus perpetuates itself, counter-domination has to be systematic in its means and processes, crucially related to clarity and especially to the integrity of ends. Perhaps this is the greatest lesson of the coup. Scammers will strike whenever possible and necessary, as demonstrated in the country's modern history. “I did it because I wanted to” famously said Jânio Quadros, a demagogue among demagogues. “We do it because we can”, say the masters of the coups in Brazil, and they will repeat it until they are stripped of the power to impose their XNUMXst century slave designs on the country.

In a brief essay from 2014,[2] I called “squaring the circle” the PT strategy, as characterized by André Singer (the “enigma” of Lulism, according to the author) of distributing income in Brazil without affronting capital. And in the end, capital was strongly affronted.

In addition to being surreal, the current Brazilian reality would be “hyper-dialectic” in which the opposites not only coincide, but by doing so they disqualify each other, like the coup leaders of yesterday who rush today to valiantly defend the fragile Brazilian democracy that they helped to discard, disfigure, destroy.

If experience counts for anything in political life, alliance with someone who has already proved unreliable from the point of view of popular interest, it is not alliance, which assumes relative equality of conditions and common interests, but subordination.

But surely to the patient reader (who made it this far) I owe my thanks and apologies for repeatedly repeating what everyone already knows. I still don't know how Mr. Alckmin will contribute to the 2022 elections, whose context is precisely, in its essential meaning, the fight against the disastrous consequences of the 2016 coup, the defeat and overcoming of the current coup regime. A process that, as everyone knows or should know, is not limited to the 2022 election.

*Marcelo Guimaraes Lima is an artist, researcher, writer and teacher.



[1] Maximilien Rubel. “Theoretical Marx of Anarchism”, book chapter Marx, critique of Marxism. Available in

[2] Marcelo Guimarães Lima. “Crisis and Spectacle – Politics in the Public Square”. In: “Poetic Political Alternatives to Law – Regarding Popular Demonstrations In June 2013” ​​– Willis Santiago Guerra Filho, organizer, Editora Lumen Juris, 2014. Available at


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