Bolsonaro go home!

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Vladimir Safatle*

This gesture has civilizing force. Brazil cannot have two crises to manage, namely the coronavirus and Bolsonaro.

On the 18th of this month, three combative federal deputies (Fernanda Melchionna, Sâmia Bonfim and David Miranda) filed a impeachment request against Jair Bolsonaro in the Chamber of Deputies. This request was signed by several members of civil society, including myself. To this group, more than 100.000 support signatures were added.

The request prompted some criticism from even the leadership of the party of such deputies, opening an important debate about the opposition's strategies at this time. For this reason, I would like to take advantage of this space to insist that such criticisms are deeply mistaken and actually express a lack of clarity and direction in such a dramatic moment in our country.

Two questions arise regarding this problem. First, whether or not we should fight for the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro. Second, if the first answer is yes, there is a need to discuss when a request of this nature should be made.

On the first point, usually those who reject the impeachment thesis say that it would be pointless to change Bolsonaro for his deputy, General Mourão. Such an exchange, in fact, would be equivalent to handing over control of the state to the Army, with catastrophic consequences. There are still those who say it is political myopia and administrative irresponsibility to fight for impeachment in the midst of biggest health crisis that the world has known for a long time. It would be better to take advantage of Bolsonaro's weakening and lead the Brazilian state to resume investments in the SUS, to revoke the spending cap, among other actions.

To those who say there is no point in exchanging Bolsonaro for his deputy, I would like to say that the focus of analysis may be wrong. The question posed by the impeachment is not “who takes over”. Rather, it is about clearly showing that the country vehemently repudiates anyone who acts at all times to undermine the smallest spaces of political conflict and who have demonstrated irresponsibility and absolute inability to manage forces to prepare the country to deal with a devastating epidemic. Bolsonaro is a fascist agitator and narcissistic gang boss who mocked the Brazilian people and their vulnerability at a time when he should have laid down his weapons, called for a government of national unity, sat down with the opposition and converged forces to put the people's survival at risk. ahead of the immediate economic and political concerns of his group.

In this sense, an impeachment at this moment would have a civilizing value, as it would make it clear that Brazilian society does not accept being commanded by someone who proves to be so inept and with exclusive interests of self-preservation. Bolsonaro has demonstrated in recent days how he is capable of producing actions that demobilize society's attempts to raise awareness of the situation in which we find ourselves. His actions cost lives. The question of who will take Bolsonaro's place is a smokescreen that demonstrates distrust in the destituent force of popular sovereignty. This same argument was used when Michel Temer was on the ropes, on the occasion of the truck drivers strike. It was said that it made no sense to trade him for Maia. Today, Maia is deified by some as the mainstay of rationality in the Brazilian State.

As for those who claim that it is time to fight to push the State to apply social protection policies, I would say that the last few days have shown that this is something of the order of delirium. Because the Government takes advantage of the chaos to allow companies to cut working hours and wages in half, allow free licensing, use scarce public resources to save monopoly airlines specializing in fleecing consumers and press for the same “reforms” that destroyed the capacity of the State to operate on a large scale in situations of biopolitical risk like this one. That is, to think that it is possible to negotiate with those who seek every opportunity to preserve their gains, with those who use the State to plunder the people in any situation, demonstrates an inability to know who we are fighting against. Let them learn once and for all: neoliberals don't cry. They make it count, even when people are dying around them.

Anyone who expects Bolsonaro to recognize the need for strong public policies is wrong, as French President Emmanuel Macron did in a moment of despair. This just demonstrates how there are sectors of the Brazilian left that have learned nothing about our enemies. To them, we must insist that the only way to really fight the pandemic is to remove Bolsonaro from power in a movement that would show the rest of the political class the path of the guillotine in the face of popular anger over the government’s inaction and irresponsibility in the face of our deaths. I insist again, this gesture has a civilizing force. Brazil cannot have two crises to manage, namely the coronavirus and Bolsonaro.

As for those who say that the moment is too early for an impeachment request, that it is necessary to compose calmly with all one's strength, I would say that this will never happen. The Brazilian left has already shown itself, more than once, to be in a position of paralysis and schizophrenia. She screams that she has suffered a blow as she quickly prepares for the next election, not wanting to see the contradiction between the two gestures. She fights pension reform while enforcing it at home. It will not find unity for an impeachment request, or it will only find it very late, when sectors of the center-right and the right have already monopolized the impeachment agenda.

Moreover, 45% of the population is in favor of impeachment of Bolsonaro (Political Atlas), the population manifests itself daily through pots and pans in neighborhoods hitherto solidly anchored in support for Bolsonaro, groups that supported him entered a collision course with him. If this is not a good time to apply, could someone explain to me what exactly “good time” means? When are we all dead?

In these circumstances, it is better to respect an autonomist principle of great strategic wisdom. In a common field, based on the absence of hierarchy and trust among all those who share the same struggle horizons, everyone has autonomy of action and decision. No one needs authorization to take effective political action. Within the common field or its members are involved in actions carried out autonomously or those who do not agree do not interfere. Outside of this, it is the subservient position of waiting for the leader (who no longer exists) to give the go-ahead or point the way to others. Which means a form of submission that could never be part of the strategies of those who fight for real emancipation.

Article originally published on El País.

*Vladimir Safari He is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at the University of São Paulo.

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