Bolsonarism and Fascism

Blanca Alaníz, Quadrados series, digital photography and photomontage based on the work Planos em Superficie Modulada by Lygia Clark (1957), Brasilia, 2016
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By LUIZ MARQUES*

The fugitive wants to avoid debates that show how repellent he is, to focus on the resentment of the uninformed followers.

The Italian historian Renzo de Felice, in the book Interview about fascism (Civilização Brasileira), discusses historical fascism (1919-1945) whose protagonist was “an emerging middle class, which tends to carry out politics in the first person”. Operation that started from the “disqualification of the middle classes that became proletarianized and that, to escape this fate, rebelled in search of participation and political power”. The target in view is not the establishment, but the progressive parties (socialists, in particular) that fight against the iron structures of exclusion of the system. A system that they urgently need to re-establish in order to recover the position and privileges they once enjoyed: “although they no longer recognize in the traditional ruling class either the capacity or the legitimacy to govern”.

If fascism was open to all social classes, “as regards cadres and politically and militarily active elements, it was characterized in a petty-bourgeois sense, giving the movement a class character”. The middle classes are not a page turned in history. They should not be underestimated, nor understood in the singular. Rather than losing relevance, they have become one of the most salient social forces in contemporary, pluralistic, (post-)industrial society. “In a way, we realized that the battle against fascism is won or lost on the terrain of the middle classes, not on that of other classes” (idem). Electorally, it is plausible to win a election at the polls without the intermediate layers, but not to defeat fascism.

Bolsonarism mixes Italian fascism, from which the term comes beam (beam), and German. None aimed at creating ex nihilo of non-existent values. Mussolini's Italy echoed the distant Roman Empire. Germany, from Hitler, values ​​from the Napoleonic wars onwards to rediscover Aryan purity. Bolsonaro's Brazil refers to the symbolic figures of torture and military dictatorship: Colonel Brilhante Ustra and General Newton Cruz. References that function as models to imitate, “ideal types” in sociology parlance. Ignoring the Constitutions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights serves as predicates for ideological tribes of resentful people. Not to go back, as conservative / traditionalist regimes intend. But to prospect the future, with a “new society” and a “new policy”.

In common, in addition to basing a new right-wing political conception and the support of agrarian sectors, the experiences listed above always had their rise paved by the shameful connivance of the conventional forces of liberalism, which believed it possible to domesticate and constitutionalize the bêtes humaines with the bureaucratic-palatial chores. This was evident, among us, in the alignment of toucans to the fascist path in the 2018 election campaign: João Doria in São Paulo, Aécio Neves in Minas Gerais and Eduardo Leite in Rio Grande do Sul; as well as the media.

An endorsement of the thesis that fascism is born out of an existential crisis of liberal society in the face of the broken scarecrow of communism “that eats children”. Which explains: (a) the Bolsonarian rhetoric that, frequently, waves with the beaten communist specter to enlist the property-owning elites and seduce fearful segments of descent and; (b) the demagogy of the appeal to facade nationalism, while delivering public companies to globalized capital, allowing the dispossession of the country and surrendering to imperialist interests.

The photo in which the “messianic” president – ​​without decorum – salutes the flag of the United States and the subservient comment (I love you) to the passage of Donald Trump, in the corridor of a United Nations (UN) meeting, speak for themselves. Despite the political and economic evidence of anti-country governance, the nationalist discourse cradles the neo-fascist arrangement wearing the yellow shirt of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

It's about nationalism cheesey, sheer tackiness, which joins a Christianity devoid of content, absent from the real pulse in the streets; although present in the articulations at the top with the anti-republican evangelical bench, in the Federal Chamber. Everything is false in the rituals of Bolsonarism – the defense of the nation and, equally, the profession of faith in God. Cleverness deceives fool.

Each of the projects (Italy and Germany yesterday, Brazil today) was and is concerned with prolonging power through education (an Enlightenment idea), investing in youth. The destruction of Higher Education had a counterpart in the application of the National Program of Civic-Military Schools, by the government. More than fifty units were founded, with the sole pedagogical objective of training young ideologues to “believe, obey, fight”. Fascist governments invest, rather, in feelings and behaviors than in public spheres of sociability. They bet on the community of fanatics, not on the people-entity.

On whether or not to classify fascism as “revolutionary”, that depends on the meaning given to the term. In the Leninist sense of revolution, which morally has a positive connotation, no. In the sense of a movement that tends to mobilize, rather than demobilize, the masses, yes. Herd participation is combined with the careful choice of “Jews” to shoot, such as the Federal Supreme Court (STF), to avoid talking about surrender, denialism, genocide, fuel dollarization, inflation, precariousness of labor, the withdrawal of labor rights, corruption and militias. Fake news are strategic to keep the adrenaline in the bodies.

Psychologically, fascist citizens must be different from citizens developed based on values ​​of modernity. Urban metropolises are seen as a threat to the root spirituality of the population. Cities lead to close coexistence with ethnic-racial diversity and to greater tolerance and acceptance of gender equality and respect for multiple differences. No wonder, the guru Olavo de Carvalho considered the rural inhabitants a moral reserve. On the subject, it is worth reading the excellent work Eternity's War: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right (Unicamp), by Benjamin Teitelbaum.

Mussolini boasted of the truculence of his movement and encouraged violent impulses: “violence is immoral when it is cold and calculated, but not when it is instinctive and impulsive”, he said. As the fascist movement grew and took on large proportions, it did not hesitate to channel brutality to achieve certain goals. Then, quickly, he changed the side of the old vinyl record: "fascist violence must be thinking, rational, surgical". Surgical violence would allow more precise maneuvers than instinctive ones. “We created our myth. Myth is a faith, a passion. It doesn't have to be a reality. Our myth is the nation, it is the greatness of the nation”, revealed the Duce with the usual frankness. Fascism rhymes with manipulation.

Here, it is important to list an ingredient for ethical-political reflection, which does not usually attract attention. “Fascism has done infinite damage. One of the biggest was to leave a fascist mentality to non-fascists, including anti-fascists by conviction. A mentality of intolerance, of ideological arrogance, of disqualifying the opponent in order to destroy him”, according to Felice. The annotation applies to the practice of “escrachos” (pie on the face, paint on clothes, blocks, etc.), used by supporters of “direct action” in Europe. Exaggeration of the means compromises the ends. In doubt, please, do not exceed the sign.

The pre-candidate of the Unified Socialist Workers Party (PSTU) for the governorship of São Paulo recently declared that he was in favor of arming the working class in São Paulo and throughout the country. "The population must have the right to arm itself to oppose the militias and organized crime." Paul Altino Jr. it did not realize that, with such a degree of institutional erosion, fascism would have penetrated the pores of the state apparatus and the left, defeated and persecuted, would have already been pushed into a thick underground. Only the strengthening of democratic institutions can contain barbarism. Bravado is not the solution.

The leftist's outburst contains a warning about the totalitarian amplification of fascism in the social fabric and, consequently, about the seriousness of the obstacles to be overcome by the group of progressives, in October. However, it is not possible to support the transposition of a proposal from the extreme right to the world of work, tout court. It is necessary to interpose filters to delimit the borders. To reflect is to arrange reality into different categories.

Understanding fascism does not mean imitating the spurious methods of the fascists. As the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana warns: “Whoever does not know his history is condemned to relive it”. Translating: knowledge helps build the theoretical framework of a cosmovision that questions citizenship, in the direction of a radical democratization of democracy. As opposed to obliterating hearts and minds, falling into the temptation of pamphlet shortcuts. Better not to stray from the road and remain faithful to the anti-fascist ideopolitical program.

Voting intention polls, favorable to the change of tenant in the Planalto Palace, intensify the belligerent spirit of the Bolsonarism hordes. Invited to lunch at the host's house, who had organized a master class for students at the University of Campinas in charge of former president Lula da Silva - he suffered hostilities from residents of a luxury condominium (income the reverse of civility). On the way out, he had his car surrounded by protesters, dumbfounded by hatred. The provocative and aggressive conduct was intended to provoke images of embarrassment, in response to the prominence given to the PT member on the cover of the prestigious Time. The magazine stirred up Bolsominions and the lavajatista media that blatantly exposes partiality. The pro-Lula vote by the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) serves as a counterbalance.

The new ones combat fascism do not have a political platform (our program It's simple: we vote to govern / our program is simple: we want to govern). His imagination is vulnerable to life as it is on the outskirts and in the slums. Due to the absolute lack of government, they do not have the minimum achievements to present in health, education, infrastructure, employment, income, science / technology and the environment. It remains for them to “spew supposedly patriotic insults against their enemies and, moving on to action, expose the dialectic of fists and revolvers”, stresses the late Leandro Konder in the classic Introduction to Fascism (Grail).

The challenge before the tactics wielded by the “hell dog”, in the expression of the director of the telenovela Pantanal, Walter Carvalho, to prove that “Lula cannot walk in the streets” (sic), is in logistics that prevent out-of-control contingencies. Prevention is not just an obligation of the private security of candidates and parties, but a duty of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and the Federal Police. The question implies the fairness of the ongoing process, the physical integrity and the freedom to come and go of current competitors. Cornered is Ustrinha.

Fascism is interested in naturalizing violence and, if possible, manufacturing martyrs. This is the stage par excellence for mediocre shows of authoritarianism and contempt for the rule of law. The runaway wants to avoid debates that show how repellent he is, to focus on the resentment of the uninformed following mob. In chaos, he comes. Bringing the dispute to the civilizational arena will attract sectors of the middle classes and groups under their influence, to the popular-democratic field. It is the lesson of Campinas. We are not going through normal times. But we crossed.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.

 

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