The metamorphoses of Reinaldo Azevedo

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By JULIAN RODRIGUES*

From libelu to neoliberalism, from antipetism to antibolsonarism: the peculiar trajectory of Tio Rei

Out of intellectual honesty I feel compelled to open this text with a confession. watch the The thing is, by Reinaldo Azevedo, transmitted by Rádio Bandeirantes is for me pure guilty pleasure. It is probably the best journalistic program of the PIG (Partido da Imprensa Coupista – Paulo Henrique Amorim, present!).

Reinaldo Azevedo is a prepared political cadre, formed within the Marxist and Trotskyist tradition. He was a member of the almost legendary Libelu (Freedom and Struggle), a student movement with its epicenter at USP, created in the mid-1970s, as part of the Brazilian section of the International Socialist Organization (OSI), currently part of the PT movement “O Trabalho”.

It is a socialist and PT tendency linked to the Fourth International (the one led by the Frenchman Pierre Lambert). It is known that there were and exist different groups around the world aligned with the different currents of the Trotskyist movement. In general, most of these organizations have proclaimed themselves in recent decades as the legitimate heirs and continuators of the Fourth International – the one founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938.

Leninist, centralized, organized and generally small, the most different Trotskyist groups have in common the enormous effort devoted to the political training of their cadres. A historical tendency towards continuous splitting, proud sectarianism plus the organic fragility of most Trotskyist groups in any and every time and place became legend and common sense. It has inspired a whole tradition of left-field jokes for decades, one more than the other less reasonable, so to speak.

Briefly, in Brazil, the main Trotskyist currents are those of: Morenists (the former Socialist Convergence, today PSTU) and Luciana Genro's MES, Babá's CST, and other smaller ones; lambertistas (The Work is the most relevant); US mandelists – Unified Secretariat (origin of the Socialist Democracy tendency of the PT) and many more, shall we say, exotic microgroups – such as the posadistas (followers of the Argentinean Juan Posadas, known for postulating the existence of extraterrestrials). (Note that I made a point of ignoring that opportunistic and bizarre liberal-swap arms sect, privately owned by Mr. RCP. Prudence and political acumen advise me not to write what I really think about the PCO. Better to remain elegant, not to curse anyone, not help them gain clicks and, moreover, avoid legal disputes.)

 

freedom and fight

It is striking how many important people today passed through Libelu (Liberdade e Luta). The path of this current was recorded in the unmissable documentary directed by Diógenes Muniz: Libelu – Down with the dictatorship 2020.

Perhaps it is possible to group the ex-Libelu into three groups: (i) those who continued in the trend; (ii) those who joined the majority PT camp or remained on the moderate left, some as party militants, others not; (iii) those who were transmuted into liberals and/or conservatives of different strains. These would be rough approximations, of course. Every taxonomy is flawed and arbitrary first. It is almost never possible or effective to operate with rigid, watertight categories – especially if we are dealing with so many and such heterogeneous personalities.

But let's go. In the first group – that of those who remain on the right side of history, moreover in the very same place – we have Markus Sokol, Misa Boito and Júlio Turra (the current and traditional leading trio of the PT tendency O Trabalho).

It is necessary to mention the displacement of an important part of the OT (O Trabalho) cadres towards the majority and more moderate PT camp in the mid-1980s. . This is because instead of the Lambertist cadres executing the well-known tactic of “entrism” - trying to influence the direction of the majority of the PT – on the contrary, many of them ended up joining the Articulação.

The plan was to occupy key positions within the PT's most influential current to try to push their formulations to the left. In politics, the laws of physics and biology also operate. Such militants ended up changing course and opted to organically adhere to the majority and “moderate” current, the same as that of Lula, of liberation theology Christians, of trade unionists.

So did Antonio Pallocci, Brani Kontic, Clara Ant, Ricardo Berzoini, Zé Américo, Jorge Branco, Antonio Donato, the late Luis Gushiken – to name just a few.

In a second group, we can group public figures who remain in the progressive field, although they are no longer PT militants. Interestingly, the most prominent are journalists – all of whom have worked at the Barão de Limeira newspaper, such as Laura Capriglione, Paulo Moreira Leite, Josimar Melo, Caio Tulio Costa and Ricardo Melo.

The wing that turned the tide entirely – moving towards liberalism and/or even reactionaryism – includes names such as Demétrio Magnoli, Matinas Suzuki, Mario Sergio Conti – all journalists who also coincidentally work or have worked at Newspaper.

I will refrain from devoting any space to perhaps the best-known former OT militant: Antonio Palocci – a vermin common fugitive. Scoundrel, vain and corrupt, he is a despicable dog (whistleblower). The elites he obeyed so much are having fun mocking the former powerful finance minister – now an electronic ankle bracelet user. Corrupt rastaquera, a traitor fawned over for years by the mainstream media.

The tongue-tied little fellow served upstairs so much, and was so pampered by them, that he thought himself unaccountable (Vanity is my favorite sin teaches Capiroto, played by Al Pacino, in the classic The Devil's Advocate). When he believed he had already become a distinguished person Seu Palocci began to steal with spectacular eagerness. Years on end he had cultivated the image of a sophisticated, intelligent, thoughtful person - crystal that came crashing down. Pallocci stole and stole, quickly and recklessly – without any elegance or method – worse even than any rough beginner.

The former minister did not see himself as what he actually was: a “wannabe”. Then he ended up revealing his true vocation, that of a pickpocket – and even more silly than any street hustler.

 

beginnings

Initially critical of the pro-PT movement, the then Brazilian OSI – Futuro O Trabalho soon joined the effort to build that new plural, socialist, independent and classist Party.

The then journalism student Reinaldo Azevedo was a Trotskyist. He was active in the late 1970s in O Trabalho. He must have derived from this part of his consistent political formation – based at that time on a pro-PT-Lambertist-Trosco-Marxism.

I don't know exactly when Reinaldo Azevedo made his major political-ideological transitions. From revolutionary socialism to toucan neoliberalism, passing through the most strident rightism until arriving at today's exuberant liberal progressivism.

The fact is that for a long time Reinaldo Azevedo was one of the most virulent propagators of anti-PTism in the mainstream media. Endowed with indisputable oratorical talent and exquisite writing, Reinaldo Azevedo was at the forefront. He did agitation and propaganda – organic right-wing, combative intellectual. Tireless in the conservative and militant opposition to PT governments.

Historically close to the PSDB, Reinaldo Azevedo was in charge of the magazine First Reading – publication promoted and financed by the São Paulo toucanate, which circulated in the early half of the 2000s. The journalist was a columnist for the fascistoid magazine Veja for 12 years – the darkest period of his public career.

He became known as the creator of the neologism “petralhas”, a stamp that proved to be sticky, a virulent term that conservatives of all kinds resort to at all times to label not only the Lula/Dilma governments but also the PT militancy as a whole. In 2008, the ex-Trotskyist published a book (collection of articles) with a sweet title: The country of the pebbles – the work was successful and gave birth.

The second volume was regurgitated in 2012. All with wide dissemination and support from the magazine Veja, where Reinaldo Azevedo hosted his weekly column in addition to all major media. In 2017 Reinaldo Azevedo left (or was left Veja). Drooling, fuss and screaming.

The incompatibility between it and the weekly Civita publication was apparently due to the criticism that it had begun to weave and torpedoed the media's main darling – the Lava Jato operation. The trigger for this surprising rupture is related to the episode in which Sérgio Moro leaked the transcript of an ordinary conversation between Reinaldo Azevedo and Andrea Neves (Aécio's sister). Moro found a heavy enemy in this episode.

In the last article he published in that little fascist magazine, Reinaldo Azevedo classified the biased disclosure of that trivial dialogue between him (journalist) and Andrea (source) as intimidating. The conversation was common, but knowing that the same happened was didactic, between us (tell me who you hang out with – or talk to – and I will tell you who you are).

Surprisingly and strikingly, Reinaldo Azevedo positioned himself as one of the critical pioneers of that supposedly wonderful justice operation, then sponsored by all the media. We know today that it was a coup and anti-left strategy, conceived and implemented from the depths of the deep state North American. It's the oil, stupid!

This supposedly epic operation was carried out by two vain provincials from Paraná, poorly trained in the USA. They couldn't speak or write properly, not even in Portuguese, much less in English – a borderline pair of doormats for the elites and proto-fascists. Quickly the wheel of history turned. It is an almost orgasmic pleasure to watch day by day the fulminant, tragic and spectacular demise of the Moro-Dallagnol duo. Luis Inácio spoke, Luis Inácio warned.

Lucido, Reinaldo Azevedo warned us back in the beginning of the operation that it could be the beginning of a “police state”. It is important to remember: some sectors of the left flirted with and even praised Lava-Jato in the beginning – rancid udenism for some and “republican” illusions for others. Ah, the bourgeois state...

It was in February 2019 – when I was acting as a political commentator for TV Rede – that Reinaldo then gave an anthological bas-fond. He decided to ask for the bills and disconnect from the television station in style. He starred in a memorable piti – live and on national television. Unexpectedly and rudely she snatched her microphones to her feet. Many claim that she went further and made a gesture similar to that of “scratching her balls”.

Afterwards, he solemnly disdained the friendly farewell rehearsed by the reactionary Boris Casoy – who was the news anchor. Then she stormed off theatrically, foaming with rage, performing the holiest, most vengeful rage.

 

another spin

I don't know exactly when it happened (in 2019 maybe). The fact is that Reinaldo Azevedo repositioned himself again. With the same emphasis and competence as always. He began to propagate progressive positions. To the point of becoming, in the media, one of the most acidic critics of both Bolsonarism and Lava Jatismo.

Almost a lone rider riding against the grain through the not-so-green fields of the mainstream media (Reinaldo Azevedo works at band FM and Folha-UOL). He boldly claims (day in and day out) his ideological affiliation with what would be an ideal type of “classic” liberalism. In addition, she proudly displays in the background a portrait with the iconic image of the liberal-cult philosopher, the darling of the USA, Hanna Arendt.

However, however, however, however, in practice the presenter has been increasingly critical of the conservative field – and even sympathetic to the PT. He recently got to interview Lula not only correctly (which would be unusual), but also with empathy.

It seems to me that Uncle Rei is vibrating at a frequency of reconciliation with the ideas of the young socialist he once was. Even when he swears to liberalism objectively, he increasingly supports social-democratic positions – which resemble a welfare state with a Brazilian face. Notice that he formally continues to repudiate progressive and socialist ideas.

It seems that our journalist dreams of a government led by that old center-left PSDB – which would naturally be the spokesman for common sense and pragmatic reformism. we would have a blending perfect. Ideal mixture – and in the right proportions – of social liberalism with a lot of social democracy.

This imaginary PSDB would save us. He would be the bearer of an almost perfect project – even though he was essentially from São Paulo, elitist, modernizing, slightly reformist, moody, blasé, supposedly enlightened and very arrogant. Something half Covas, half FHC, representation of the cosmopolitan elite at the head of a Catholic country, but which must remain secular. A government of peaceful people, moderately conservative, vain and with perfect diction. Where is this PSDB going, anyway?

The PSDB that Reinaldo Azevedo dreams of would transform Brazil into an unashamedly modern, enterprising and globalized nation, but without falling into ultraliberal exaggerations like those of João Doria. In his toucan-liberal-progressive utopia, the country would have the face of Fiesp and agribusiness (which is pop). But with the charm of USP.

This toucan-root project that excites Reinaldo Azevedo projects a contemporary Brazil far from both leftism and neo-fascist extremism. Such a country that must conserve its democratic freedoms – with compensatory public policies and total pluralism. But without hesitating anything to give rise to the rise of the popular classes. Much less so that structural reforms can be carried out.

We would then be the country of the present, the promised land, a neoliberal paradise pretending to be social democratic. Seen from afar we would appear civilized, although in fact we would remain profoundly oligarchic. We would forever have mediocre but rational governments. Conservatives and (or) liberals – yet always compassionate.

This friendly Brazil, however, is only valid until the moment when the left does not reach the government. At that time, all masks are immediately torn apart. The ruling classes soon promoted some form of coup: quickly, effectively and shamelessly.

Owner of sharp oratory, consistent cultural repertoire and connoisseur of good literature Reinaldo Azevedo has played an important role. It is even unusual that he continues to have 60 minutes a day to express his opinion freely in full Band News, in addition to keeping your column in the Newspaper.

Reinaldo Azevedo, former professor of literature, an experienced journalist, manages with talent the “last flower of Lazio”. Lavishing references, he makes a point of showing off his vast cultural repertoire vainly and arrogantly – although he seems to try not to completely distance himself from his target audience (well-informed liberal centrist sectors of the urban middle classes in São Paulo and São Paulo).

The columnist of Folha de São Paulo does not give up performing a ritual - does all greetings to the flag. In other words, he makes it clear that he remains a card-carrying liberal: he remains reliable for his current bosses, for all the media barons and a friend of the owners of capital. When instead, by reiterating his ideological position, the anchor seems to be just repeating a protocol – which aims to keep his job and/or keep his audience among common sense listeners and readers.

There are more and more frequent and very acidic criticisms that the presenter expresses – both to the economic policy led by Paulo Guedes and to a set of ideological clichés disseminated daily by the coup press party (the famous PIG – a term created by the late Paulo Henrique Amorim).

Recently Reinaldo Azevedo has been talking about international politics. His analyzes of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are similar to those on the left. My friend Breno Altman, site editor Opera Mundi, PT cadre trained in the good old communist tradition, interviewed Reinaldo Azevedo at the beginning of June. The mood was one of camaraderie. Well at ease, the columnist of Sheet beat the Brazilian liberals mercilessly.

Among many other catchphrases (style is the man) Reinaldo Azevedo directly stated the need to take care of public accounts. But here comes what matters, without a rigidity that impedes economic growth.

One of the biggest tormentors of the PT, the anchor of the Band News acknowledged in that interview that Party governments implemented a policy of inclusion “something our liberals would not have done”. Furthermore, he emphatically postulated the constitution of a broad anti-fascist front. Scorning the Brazilian neoliberals, who wouldn't talk to the poor, he teased: “perhaps liberalism is in fact a rich country's thing”.

What is the profile of most current listeners/readers of Reinaldo Azevedo today? I really wanted to know. I sense that he currently has a much larger audience in progressive circles than among supposed liberals and/or non-Bolsonarist democrats.

Reinaldo Azevedo's trajectory is peculiar. Having been a socialist militant in youth, having graduated from the Marxist tradition, changing sides and joining neoliberalism – and/or the repugnant right-wing movement – ​​is not something rare, on the contrary. It is much less common to see someone who starts on the left and decides to cross the rubicon, reaches the opposite bank, but years later engages (at least partially) the reverse gear. And he is less distant from where he left.

 

neoliberal-fascist dystopia

In these strange days, dust doesn't even “keep hiding in corners” anymore (I miss Renato Russo). Bolsonaro's Brazil is a gross nightmare. Dystopia. Everything bad raised to the nth power. Hyper-capitalist and post-modern society, at the same time archaic. One third of the people are under the hegemony and political direction of the extreme right.

Brazil has always been radically unequal – and now with fascists armed to the teeth. Under explicit military tutelage. Structurally and conjuncturally, we are a misogynistic, violent, racist, homophobic country. In our metropolises crowds of miserable people roam around – ragged and hungry – like zombies from some TV series. Netflix. Meanwhile, a handful of white men (good citizens) – coarse millionaires – lounge around in their luxurious bunker-condos. Protected and escorted by private militias – this caste of rentiers roams the world cursing against our supposedly abusive taxes, against the corruption of politicians and the state bureaucracy.

But, in fact, the favorite sport of this fascist bourgeoisie who thinks they are liberal is to grumble against the indolence of the Brazilian working class – that bunch of disqualified people: black and brown people, poor and uneducated. They do this without ever neglecting actions to ensure the cultural and political hegemony of pro-market dogmas. Lately also from the fascist milico they elected in 2018. But there is no conversation. They have already decided that they will do everything to re-elect Jair Bolsonaro even if they are a little disgusted – or not.

It has not been easy to face so much disgrace, so much irrationality – this huge civilizing regression that came along with neo-fascist authoritarianism. We remain immersed, dispersed – often without the strength or objective conditions to collectively and organizedly row against this tsunami of fetid waste. Almost crushed by the preponderance of a dictatorship of stupidity – proud, arrogant, aggressive and seeming invincible.

But we try to keep our spines straight and our heads held high. Day after day. Catching, retreating and also kind of advancing when you can. Regrouping, reflecting, reinventing. Fighting in the streets and calling for votes for Lula, the only way to start turning this horrible page.

Hence also derives the enormous relevance of any and all voices that come to stand alongside the anti-fascist forces. More people against Jair Bolsonaro. Even though we march separately, we can – we must – continue to strike together.

Go, Uncle King! It's still a bit left in life. If our existence is filled with Drummond’s words: “still with feces, bad poems, hallucinations and waiting”, the voice of Reinaldo Azevedo: “it is ugly, but it is a flower – it has pierced the asphalt, boredom, disgust and hatred ”.

* Julian Rodrigues, journalist and professor LGBTI and Human Rights activist. She is a doctoral student in the Latin America Program at USP.

 

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