Agitation, propaganda and mobilization

Clara Figueiredo, series_ Brasília_ fungi and simulacra, national congress, 2018
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By CARLA TEIXEIRA*

The essential thing is to know that no conciliation/accommodation benefits workers without building mobilization in the streets

The 2022 elections are undoubtedly the most important since the founding of the New Republic. After the 2016 coup and the rise of the extreme right to power through the fraudulent 2018 presidential election – in which Lula, the favored candidate, was prevented from running – there is a crisis among those who tore up the pact of the 1980s. at stake is the deepening of the authoritarian and anti-popular measures taken from the usurping government of Michel Temer or the rescue of the democratic and social commitments established by the Citizen Constitution. In this dispute, it is necessary to consider the aspects that define Brazilian political cultures and use the contradictions posed within the dominant classes to remove the militia from power and guarantee a democratic government with strong popular support.

First of all, it is worth considering that the advent of a political culture is a slow and generational process. According to Amber, it may take at least two generations for a new idea, based on society's problems, to penetrate minds in the form of a set of representations of a normative nature, until it eventually emerges as evident to an important group of citizens. The channels through which the integration of this (new) political culture passes are, precisely, those of traditional political socialization: family, school, university, work, religious environment, military, the media, etc. None of these vectors proceed by indoctrination, but they comprise different influences that offer the subject the political cultures of his time/place in the world.

Thinking specifically about the Brazilian case, the historian Rodrigo Motta (2018) points to a series of behaviors that are rooted in our tradition: patrimonialism, cordiality, paternalism, authoritarianism, clientelism, pragmatism, fragile citizenship and little involvement of the population with public affairs – a direct inheritance of the exclusion originated in the slavery and the barrier that for a century closed citizenship to the illiterate. Among so many, two stand out as basic aspects to identify Brazilian political cultures: conciliation/accommodation and personalism.

Personalism is based on the predominance of personal ties to the detriment of impersonal relationships. Brazilians tend to privilege fidelity to kinship, friendship, godparents or patronage ties rather than universal norms. Political identification takes place with people and not with political projects. Hence the sequence of great charismatic leaders in our republican history. But it also helps to understand the ease with which lies like “gay kit”, “cockroach bottle” and “gender ideology” were disseminated during the 2018 elections. The credibility of the virtual content sent by the aunt, the cousin, the friend was much more potent than any political propaganda that sought to disprove the (dis)information.

In turn, conciliation/accommodation deals with relations and conflicts between races, genders and social classes as a phenomenon linked to the process of domination. It is an asymmetrical strategy that necessarily implies the involvement of the popular mass. It is a game of mutual concessions. Dominant groups seek to build stable power structures that avoid revolutionary ruptures through arrangements that are not always explicit. This scheme accommodates conflicts and tensions in Brazil since the XNUMXth century.

There are several episodes in our history that portray the predominance of accommodation/conciliation in the political arrangement: the Independence of Brazil (1822) – avoided social ruptures such as the end of slavery; the maintenance of territorial unity – conquered through agreements and violence against the rebels; Second Empire party accord; the creation of the Republic (1889); It was Vargas – who inserted part of the left into the State apparatus and promoted social legislation to ward off radicalism; the end of the Military Dictatorship (1964-1988) – which never punished the agents of repression.

The fragile popular adherence to parties and the debate of political ideas, the low levels of political participation of citizens, the frequent lack of confidence in collective political actions, the usual distrust in relation to political institutions, the attachment to charismatic leaders, the appreciation for gradualist policies and aversion to radical solutions are some factors that favor the political solution “from above”. If, on the one hand, accommodation reduces political violence – not social violence – and maintains the unity of a country marked by great diversity, on the other hand, it makes it difficult to effectively overcome the legacy of slavery.

If you had the stamina to get here after this theoretical dive, take a breath to help assimilate that political cultures do not disappear overnight. Conciliation/accommodation and personalism are characteristics that delay the development of the popular struggle, but they are also determining factors for Brazilian politics. I don't like it, maybe you reading it don't like it either, but denying it is, to say the least, anti-scientific behavior. And Lula, quick, knows that. Then he meets with political leaders, representatives of the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy, while presenting an anti-imperialist project (sustained by the strengthening of the BRICS, Latin America and a multipolar geopolitics) to make the proposal of social inclusion with popular participation and sovereignty feasible. national for Brazil. João Goulart, in 1964, was the last president who defended similar agendas.

The novelty in 2022 is that this appears to be (so far) the first New Republic election in which anti-PTism (bastard son of anti-communism) will not be at stake, but anti-Bolsonarism – just look at the high rejection of Bolsonaro in electoral polls. In first place in the presidential race, Lula is the antibolsonarism that brings to the table of the bourgeoisie (with no electoral option in the third way) the possibility of conciliation/accommodation in a country in crisis and that has all the conditions to enter into social upheaval at any time. Bolsonaro knows this, so he preaches a coup left and right.

Despite seeking accommodation, bringing the ex-toucan/ex-neoliberal Geraldo Alckmin (PSB) to the line of succession, Lula is supported by the PT-PSOL-PCdoB-REDE-PV-PSB-SOLIDARIETY alliance that goes from left to center, but it does not reach the parties of the traditional right that make up the physiological “centrão”, still co-opted by the secret budget and the delirious pen of deputy Arthur Lira (PP-AL). The Brazilian youth, engaged in record numbers for the issuance of the electoral title, shows that there is an ongoing change with respect to the tradition of “low rate of political participation”. Social and grassroots movements project new leaderships that bring to the debate the need for drastic ruptures with authoritarian and exclusionary practices. They are the children aware of PT public policies. Perhaps, new political cultures in the making.

The launch of the Lula-Alckmin pre-candidacy, on May 7, was marked by a festive atmosphere with a speech on institutional harmony, national sovereignty and social well-being. Promises of mutual loyalty were celebrated between both with the culinary suggestion of “Squid with chayote”: a dish full of our most traditional political cultures. To live up to it, Geraldo de Pinda (the resurrected politician who died after three years) has shown himself to be a “spicy chayote”: a thousand criticisms of the Bolsonaro government – ​​he must be experimenting to see if we can swallow him (laughs).

The essential thing, from now on, is to know that no conciliation/accommodation benefits workers without building mobilization in the streets. Much more needs to be done than the May 1 fiasco to ensure that the guidelines defended by Lula do not become promises for the electoral platform. From now on and during the government, militancy must be in the neighborhoods, on the streets and talking to people; parties, unions and organizations need to provide transportation and think about the well-being of those present during demonstrations. Agitation, propaganda and mobilization without fear of investing resources. Lula there, with dignity, Brazil deserves it!

Lula's third term has everything to become a transitional government. Like any conciliation/accommodation scheme, the changes will be slow, gradual and limited. We should not expect the immediate resolution of structural problems, such as agrarian reform, for example. The important thing is to understand that the year 2023, with Lula's victory, could be the beginning of a new stage in our republican history. The awareness of the masses and the conquest of hearts and minds must point to the construction of a free, sovereign, exclusive National Constituent Assembly, with broad participation by the people in its definitions: the gateway to the Republic that must fill with citizenship and popular sovereignty to our fragile and violated democracy.

* Carla Teixeira is a doctoral student in history at UFMG.

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