The bases of the unacceptable

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By Luis Felipe Miguel*

Bolsonaro will remain in office as long as he remains useful for the 2016 coup project: banning the popular field from the space of political negotiation.

The country's militiaman-in-chief joined the demonstration called for the next 15th, whose main banner, described in plain Portuguese, is "Shut down Congress!" What does that mean?

I don't think it's very different from similar situations that occurred last year. Bolsonaro knows that he does not have the strength to carry out a new coup and establish a personal dictatorship.

The expansion of space for generals in his government does not mean that he is gaining ascendancy over the armed forces, quite the contrary. And, despite the calculated outburst of Augusto Heleno, the military leadership knows very well that this tutored and lame “democracy” is more convenient than an open rupture with the constitutional order.

Bolsonaro’s move has to be understood in light of accommodations within the coup coalition – the one that engineered the overthrow of Dilma and the criminalization of the left and in which he, the extremist former captain, was initially destined for a secondary role.

In recent weeks, Bolsonaro has accumulated wear and tear – culminating in the misogynistic aggression against the Folha de S. Paulo reporter – and has once again waved the idea of ​​impeachment. As he did last year, he wants to show the right that, without him, it does not govern.

The basis he has is not irrelevant. They are those who are loyal to the “myth” and will remain so for a long time, no matter how catastrophic their rule is. They are low-ranking military and police officers who see themselves as “empowered” by the current government. They are those who remain deluded by Moro – and who, in fact, are attracted to the distinctly fascist odor that the former judge gives his ministry.

It's the millions who identify with the moral obscurantism of the government's rising star, Minister Damares Alves. (It is not possible to develop here, but I suspect that the different social bases of Brazilian Pentecostalism, as well as the characteristics of our failed Welfare State, make theories about the marriage between neoliberalism and neoconservatism imported from the United States of little use.)

And we also have, of course, the large group of pragmatists, those who may be bothered by Bolsonaro's truculence and even Guedes's verbal incontinence, but believe that the main thing is to advance in the program of annihilation of rights and destruction of the welfare state.

That's the point: the entire right wing, including Maia, FHC, the corporate media, the cosmopolitan bankers, the scandal, belongs to the group of pragmatists.

Bolsonaro wants to put his troops on the street to tell them: hold the wave there, because without me a right-wing government cannot be sustained, talkey?

After all, what he asks for himself and his family is so little – a few advantages, a few schemes, a little impunity. And in return he does so much, he does all the dirty work.

In four – who knows eight? – years, will deliver the country they want.

Yes, by personally associating himself with the open pro-dictatorship act on the 15th, Bolsonaro crossed, for the umpteenth time, the line that separates the admissible from the inadmissible. We will hear, we are already hearing, the indignant voices of the press, of respectable conservatives, of pro-men of parliament.

But Bolsonaro will remain in office as long as he remains useful for the 2016 coup project – banishing the popular field from the space of political negotiation.

* Luis Felipe Miguel Professor of Political Science at UnB.

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