Donald Trump's Threats

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Is Trump a Bonapartist danger to the liberal-democratic regime in the US?

“Double is the danger of fleeing from the enemy. Prudence never errs. The more you squat, the more they put their foot on you” (Portuguese popular wisdom).

The Brazilian left has passionately discussed in recent days what each of us would do if we were in the US. Who would we vote for? This is not a simple dilemma. The central question for understanding the exceptional intensity of the 2020 electoral dispute in the US elections is whether Trump's leadership in the republican party indicates that a fraction of the imperialist bourgeoisie has come to the conclusion that a Bonapartist turn in the liberal-democratic regime is necessary. .

It seems uncontroversial that Trump's strategy, since his election victory in 2016, has been to defend a repositioning of the US to guarantee the defense of its supremacy in the international system of states, in the face of the strengthening of China.

But it also seems uncontroversial that this shift in foreign policy is associated with an increased role of the presidency in domestic politics, hardening of the regime, radicalization of the proprietary petty bourgeoisie, and public demonstrations by neo-fascist groups. Threats to democratic freedoms changed levels with the mobilization of the apparatus of repression, especially after the mass mobilizations of Black Lives Matter.

If this Bonapartist danger with Trump is real, the best electoral tactic for the Marxist left would be to vote for Biden, even though he is the candidate of an imperialist party. But if this danger is not real, but just demagogic rhetoric, the vote would be a mistake. Therefore, the difficult tactical decision is for those on the ground.

In the Marxist tradition, candidacies are judged on their class character. The criteria for assessing which class interests a party defends are varied. But this characterization is essential. Parties and leaders can contradict, conjuncturally, the opinions of the class or class fraction they represent. It is a political struggle. When it happens, and this is not so exceptional, the internal dispute takes on more intense forms.

But parties are not, socially, in dispute. Bourgeois parties do not cease to be bourgeois parties, even when they are convulsed, politically, by internal struggle. Its function is to defend the capitalist system. Socialists defend the need for independent political organization of workers. But defending an instrument of independent struggle is a strategy. In the field of electoral tactics, there is room for many mediations.

The two parties of the American ruling class are bourgeois. But we must not be indifferent to the differences between them, if what is in dispute is something as serious as a threat to democratic freedoms. The socialist left must defend the superior form of the liberal-democratic regime against the inferior authoritarian Bonapartist form.

The problem was posed in Brazil, in an unavoidable way, during the military dictatorship, because there were elections, but only two parties could present themselves. Should the left campaign and call for a vote for the MDB, or abstain and defend the null vote? Those who argued that it was right to campaign against Arena's candidacies were right. Those who defended the use of the MDB legend to present worker and socialist candidacies were also right.

It was with this understanding that I was involved in the campaign that managed to get the president of the metallurgist union of Santo André, Benedito Marcílio, elected as a federal deputy. It was in this campaign that Aurélio Peres, a metallurgist from São Paulo, was elected by the PCdB. I think we did well. Therefore, it is understandable that socialist candidates use the label of the democratic party, and seek to organize themselves through the DSA, as an accumulation of forces in the sense of building a party of class independence.

The reasoning that concluded that all governments in the service of capital are equal, disregarding changes in political regime, is misleading. It is light, superficial, and even frivolous. At a very high degree of abstraction, it is, of course, correct. But we must be stricter. The analysis must be concrete. Churchill and Hitler, Roosevelt and Mussolini, or Medici and Ulysses, were all at the service of capitalism, but defended very different regimes of domination. And the difference between the regimes is not limited to the opposition between fascist dictatorships and electoral democracies. Concrete intermediate forms matter, as we can see today in India, the Philippines, and Hungary.

The Second World War left the alert. It was not just a fight for supremacy in the world market. It was an implacable fight between imperialist powers around two political regimes. On the one hand, the most advanced regime conquered by civilization, with the exception of the regime of the October Revolution, bourgeois republican democracy. And on the other hand, the most degenerative, the most aberrant and regressive, Nazifacism. Because its political project went far beyond the crushing of the socialist revolution in Germany: in addition to the destruction of workers' organizations, the fascist Third Reich demanded the enslavement of entire peoples, such as Slavs, and the genocide of others, such as Jews and Gypsies. , in addition to the repulsive homophobia, transformed into a policy of state repression.

There are many different types of regimes, even liberal-democratic regimes, with greater or lesser freedoms. Interrelationships between State institutions can take different forms. Different degrees of greater or lesser authoritarianism may prevail. In other words, the elements of Bonapartism can be bigger or smaller, the armor of power can be bigger or smaller.

The Bonapartist danger posed by Trump does not appear to be a bluff. It has to be defeated.

*Valério Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).



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