Bolsonaro, fascism, united front

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By OSVALDO COGGIOLA*

The “boiada” that Guedes wants to pass consists of a complex political operation, which is being cooked together with the Centrão

The decomposition of the Bolsonaro government challenges analysts and political analyses, due to its speed. As soon as the ink of the last article published was dry, a novelty occupies the political scene. The fall of Abraham Weintraub from the MEC (and his projected flight abroad, like a common criminal, to occupy a position at the World Bank), the arrests of the militiaman and Bolsonarian financial operator Fabrício Queiroz (imprisoned on a farm owned by the lawyer of the president) and the unbelievable “Sara Winter”, leader of a fascist group, the “300”, in support of Bolsonaro (a group that is for the squadristi Mussolinians, or the Hitlerian SA, as Donald Duck is to Napoleon) succeed one another without pausing for breath, add to the pressure for the investigation of the fake news, to the TSE judgment on the annulment of the winning ticket in 2018, and are linked to the murder-burning of the file of another friend of Bolsonaro and family, the militia chief Adriano da Nóbrega, probable articulator of the murders of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes.

The dominant class, that is, the capitalist class (Brazilian or not) is fighting. A substantial part of its political representatives are opposed to the downfall (impeachment) of Bolsonaro and his gang, mainly his minister Paulo Guedes, preferring to let him carry out his “dirty work” (made urgent by the economic crisis, aggravated, by the non-origin, by the pandemic ) until the end of 2022, when it would be possible to replace it with the less painful usual institutional channels. The dirty work has been carried out, mainly, through the strategic agreement, in addition to secondary divergences, between the economic and labor initiatives of the Executive, complemented or corrected by the Legislative: legalized salary cuts, suspension of public competitions and non-approval of those already carried out ( at times when the public sector desperately needs reinforcements to fight the pandemic), replacement and deepening of the privatization of Social Security, tax relief for large companies, subsidies to financial capital, legalization of layoffs and a beautiful etc. The fascist-like Executive, a minority in Congress, pays the price of the deal in the form of ministries and posts in juicy (and budget-rich) second-tier positions in the federal administration. The so-called “Centrão” is the main customer of this give-and-take, taking the blessings with his right hand while in his left he holds the club of political judgment (and probable imprisonment) not only of the entourage operational, but from the members of the family ruler.

The risk of this position is threefold: 1) Leaving in the hands of the Bolsonarian clique a fraction of political power (the Executive) which, in conditions of worsening crisis and lack of political alternatives, can be used against other powers to reduce them to a decorative function or simply to destroy them, sending their holders, as foreseen and explicitly desired by the prophet Abraham (Weintraub) to jail; 2) Continue trusting that Bolsonaro’s main international supporter, Donald Trump (and other minor governing members of what was called in 2019 the “Anti-Liberal International”) will continue to support him (which is not clear, there have already been statements of Trump taking distances), or that he himself (Trump) will be dethroned as a result of the popular rebellion that is sweeping the USA (Black Lives Matter) in an election year; 3) Raise a popular rebellion in Brazil, which is no longer deaf (see pots and pans, repetition and street mobilizations, against fascist groups and in defense of health workers) and which could make its current major disadvantage (the pandemic and the social isolation) an advantage, by adding to its ranks not only the usual participants and organizations in the mobilizations, but the entire population, including the disorganized, who are forced to fight for their elementary right to life.

Hence, another sector of the ruling class, with the highly unsuspected Rede Globo at the head, whether explicitly or implicitly in favor of adopting institutional measures that facilitate the removal of Bolsonaro. Of course, it is also a position that carries risks, since the beginning of a political trial would open a crisis of power that would trigger an enormous popular mobilization, in a word, “the variable that they do not exhibit, but the most likely one, is that of a coup, because Brazil, that is, the people, would not support the long parliamentary process of an impeachment”. The Armed Forces are under this double pressure, with the aggravating factor (which did not exist, or almost, in the last coup, that of 2016) of a notable reduction in their ability to play an arbitration role (via coup), due to the fact that more than 2800 military personnel work in administrative functions of the federal government. In most cases, they receive gratified functions (FGs), which generates an increase in salary, but there are many in commission positions (CCs), especially reservists. Of this total, around 1500 are from the Army, 680 from the Navy and 622 from the Air Force, that is, the coup in political power would require a previous coup inside the barracks, which would transform the former into a coup squared, when the political strength of such powers is more like square root.

What is this if not a crisis of power, or “institutional crisis”, that is taking shape behind a news program that rivals, not only in audience, but also in comic or tragic moments, with the telenovelas that precede and follow it in the schedule noble of TVs? Any analysis that does not start from this crisis, and from its material (or “economic”) basis, will be restricted to the filigree, perhaps in an intelligent and perceptive way, but losing sight of the whole and its support platform. The political/institutional crisis, and its economic base, are of such depth that they put on the carpet the extreme alternatives of the coup (fascism included) or a mass rebellion against the political and social regime as a whole, that is, with revolutionary projection , regardless of the degree of awareness of its potential protagonists (which is, in general, how revolutions happen, how good history has tired of demonstrating, or how humanity is realized, in whose course the relationship between private interest and the universal is inseparable and is verified in participation by opposition, as good philosophy teaches).

It would be illusory to think, on the other hand, that the crisis only divides the ruling class. Quite the contrary, in the field of the left (be it “intellectual” or “militant”, or both) a fundamental political debate opened up, in relation to Bolsonaro and perspectives, largely, but not completely, hidden. for the mirage of “unity against Bolsonaro”, more or less equivalent to the unity of Catholics in the mass or the unity of evangelicals in the temple. Its most evident aspect is the issue of the “Frente Ampla” against Bolsonaro, criticized by individuals/militants, or spokespersons of different currents (such as the Popular Consultation) for including not only, as is obvious, reactionary political currents, but, above all, figures and parties that are perfectly comfortable voting anti-popular measures and favorable to big capital in parliament, along with Bolsonaro supporters. To which the answer, obviously, is that in order to avoid the danger of fascism, it is even permissible to ally with the devil, if he adopts an anti-fascist stance. What is surprising is that such a debate, which is that of the “united front”, is considered as new, since it is older than walking on foot, and that one intends to face it making a perfect abstraction of its entire history, more than how secular.

For those who like a “pure” Marxism, uncontaminated by the uncomfortable presence of realities alien to theory (that is, victories and defeats, advances and setbacks, in short, history and life), let’s say that, well read, this debate was already present in the The Manifest of 1848, when he stated: “In what relationship do communists find themselves with proletarians in general? The Communists are no particular party vis-à-vis other workers' parties. They have no interests separate from the interests of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set out particular principles according to which they want to shape the proletarian movement. The Communists are distinguished from the other proletarian parties only by the fact that, on the one hand, in the various national struggles of the proletarians, they accentuate and assert the common interests, independent of nationality, of the whole proletariat, and by the fact that, on the other hand, , in the various stages of development through which the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie passes, always represent the interest of the total movement” (or “in its entirety”, depending on the translation). Communists, therefore, should do politics, fronts included, but with a differentiated position and freedom to defend it, not dedicating themselves simply to proclaiming a perfect system that emerged from the head of a genius.

In the Communist International (those who turn up their noses at the mere mention of the dictum whose can do so from now on, qualifying it as superseded and outdated, and if you ask what this has to do with the long ideological propaganda of the same forces that brought Bolsonaro to power) that was the question of the “Frente Única Operária”, a response not only to the rise of fascism in Italy (1922) but also to the ultra-leftism of the young communist parties, which launched isolated offensives aimed at the conquest of power, ignoring their minority status in the working class, still dominated by the old social democratic apparatuses, at the same time assuming that these apparatuses could be pushed into the field of revolution at the base of the muffles, that is, without delimiting programmatically from them. The Fourth Congress of the Communist International extended the United Front tactics to the colonial and semi-colonial world, with its majority peasant composition and its predominance of nationalist movements (or “populist”, as later sociology wanted), as the “United Anti-imperialist Front”. ”.

During the 1920s and 1930s, with the splits in the Communist International (and also in the Socialist International!), the rise and consolidation of Nazi-fascism, first in Germany, and the rise of the colonial revolution, first in China, the debate on the Single Front gained in depth and drama, for well-known reasons. Against the suicidal orientation of the leadership of the Communist International and its theory of "social-fascism" (it was necessary to defeat social democracy in order to face Nazism, which would only be a brief prelude to the proletarian revolution), Trotsky fought for the United Workers' Front against fascism, a front based on political struggle and direct action, not on the verbal aggregation of all the competing or divergent parties of Nazism for whatever reason, which would have taken it to a front with the parties that made up the first Hitler government (which would be, today, the parties that make up Bolsonaro's parliamentary and political base, including those that were once the parliamentary base of the PT government), paving the way for the construction of the Nazi State, a policy that would have led Trotsky to go down in history as an imbecile (in a footnote).

Trotsky did this based on a characterization of Nazi-fascism, combating what he saw as a radicalized or worsened repetition of past rightist movements and dictatorships, confronting Marx himself who, according to Trotsky, “imagined the process of liquidation too unilaterally”. of the middle classes, such as a wholesale proletarianization of artisans, the peasantry and small industrialists”. The capitalist crisis and decomposition, in the monopoly era, had unforeseen consequences: “Capitalism ruined the petty bourgeoisie at a faster rate than it proletarianized it. On the other hand, the bourgeois state consciously acted for a long time with a view to artificially maintaining the petty-bourgeois stratum.” The political consequences of this process for the contemporary counterrevolution were enormous: “If the proletariat, for whatever reason, demonstrated its inability to overthrow the surviving bourgeois order, finance capital, in the struggle to maintain unstable domination, could only transform the petty bourgeoisie, ruined and demoralized by the former, in the pogromist army of fascism. The bourgeois degeneration of social democracy and the fascist degeneration of bourgeois democracy are united as cause and effect.”

“Cause and effect”, however, does not mean that social democracy and Nazism were “twin brothers”, an idea that served the Communist International as a basis for the theory of “social fascism”, breaking all possibility of proletarian unity and victory against the nazifascism. While the Stalinized communist parties considered the Nazi victory as a “lesser evil”, Trotsky already warned about the horrific originality of the new type of counterrevolution, in 1932: “Fascism puts on its feet those classes immediately above the proletariat, and who live in fear of of being forced to fall into their ranks; organizes and militarizes them at the expense of financial capital, with the cover of the official government (...). Fascism is not just a system of reprisals, of brutal force, of police terror. Fascism is a certain governmental system based on the eradication of all elements of proletarian democracy within bourgeois society.”

Before the rise of Hitler, in April 1931, the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) called, together with the NSDAP, to vote against the SPD to overthrow the socialist government of Prussia, in the "red plebiscite" (which the Nazis called " black plebiscite”). In November 1932, he allied with the Nazis against the Social Democrat “bonzes” in the transport strike in Berlin. As a result of these positions, there were political crises that successively overthrew the centrist government of Brüning, the Von Papen cabinet in November 1932, and then the government of General Von Schleicher, until the call for Hitler to become Chancellor, on January 30 of 1933. Hitler came to power without resistance from the workers and with the support of the bourgeoisie, intermediated by the former finance minister of Stressemann's centrist government, Hjalmar Schacht, who had occupied the finance ministry even in previous "socialist" governments (sometimes similar to with some ministers of the Dictatorship-New Republic?).

Nazi-fascism was an international phenomenon (though national and nationalistic in its form and political platform), which appealed to a mix of extreme traditionalism (the Roman Empire for Italian Fascism, the swastika cross of Indo-European tribes for German Nazism), combined with an equally extreme modernism (which led the Italian futurists, with their apology for speed, to support fascism, as well as representatives of high German culture and philosophy supported Hitler thinking that he would free them from the historical backwardness of the late Germanic unification) not because those were randomly chosen ways to manipulate the masses, but because this spiritual-symbolic contradiction (or “variety”) reflected the real contradictions.

In the words of Trotsky: “There were many people in the country who were ruined or on the way to ruin, with scars and recent wounds. Everyone wanted to bang their fists on the table. And this Hitler could do better than others. It is certain that he did not know how to cure the evil. But his harangues resounded, now as command orders, now as prayers addressed to inexorable fate. The condemned classes, or the fatally ill, never tire of making variations around their complaints, nor of hearing words of consolation. Hitler's speeches were all tuned to this key. Sloppy, sentimental form, absence of disciplined thinking, ignorance parallel to stilled erudition, all these defects turned into qualities. (…) Fascism opened the bowels of society to politics. Today, not only in peasant homes, but also in city skyscrapers, the XNUMXth century coexists with the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries”. Long before “semiology” was born, Trotsky warned that “if the paths of hell are full of good intentions, those of the Third Reich are full of symbols”, because “if every grimy petty bourgeois cannot become Hitler, a part of him becomes finds it in every dingy petty bourgeois.” Just add the XNUMXst century. Any resemblance to Bolsonaro is not mere coincidence.

Fascism was, and is, a phenomenon Historical characteristic of the era of capitalist decomposition, and a phenomenon political of a stage of class polarization that poses the more or less immediate alternative between revolution and counterrevolution. As in the 1930s, the “dark times” were and are smoothed over by Popular Front governments – like the coalition governments of the left with the bourgeoisie in the Weimar Republic that preceded Hitler, or the Popular Front governments in France and Germany. Spain that preceded the dictatorships of Vichy (Pétain) and Franco – because it happens, in the words of Eric Hoffe, that “there is often a monstrous difference between the noble and tender hope, and the actions that it unleashes. As if the parade of flowering youth preceded the passage of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (The True Believer). Past things? It was the Popular Unity that preceded Pinochet in Chile, and the Popular Brazil Front that preceded Bolsonaro in Brazil. The party with many guests before the tragedy with only one (or only one family) participant.

Without the above definitions, the characterizations of the “Bolsonaro phenomenon” and, above all, the determination of the political means to combat it remain, at best, in the void of expressions of desire or, at worst, in collaboration with the impotence to do so. it. One can argue as much as one likes that “that” imperialism, “that” working class, “that” peasantry, in short, those historical conditions no longer exist (what is history if not perpetual change?). It will be difficult to argue that capitalism no longer exists, eluding the characterization of the historical era in which it finds itself, and to give up saying that Brazil is at a certain stage of its political trajectory, in which many (not all) of of the contradictions and ills of its past, in the first place African slavery for four centuries. If this is not done, it would only be possible to state that Bolsonaro is a product of random chance, and hope that the same chance will free us from him, which is a politically conservative and intellectually cretinous position.

It is surprising, therefore, that in an article in the Folha de S. Paul signed by several USP intellectuals (tenured professors), animated by the laudable purpose of “preventing it (the fascist threat) from consuming itself, but making it regress to the marginal space from which it should never have left”, it is stated right away that “it does not there is a consensus among scholars on the definition of fascism. In part, the difficulty comes from the very nature of the phenomenon, which escapes easy identification. Fascism was reactionary and revolutionary; sought tradition but admired technology; preached order through rebellion; he stood against the system but had strong links with the elites; he spoke of the people, despite being deeply authoritarian and stifling any criticism of the leadership”. As if the polemics and combats exposed above had not existed, intellectual and political responses (not easy, certainly) had not been given, and we were facing fascism, in addition to being equipped with a natural and very human antipathy, like an elephant with its eyes blindfolded. in a china shop. Historiographical (or sociological, or…) polemics about fascism will continue to exist, and it is very good that they do (and that they are developed in full freedom): the same can be said about the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Although Brazil has not gone through a war, like Italy or Germany, or a colonial occupation, like China, here too “there are many people ruined or on the way to ruin, with scars and recent wounds”. Part of it becomes a rabble willing to do anything to preserve (or conquer) an imaginary social position. In the accurate words of Lincoln Secco: “In moments of crisis, fascism publicly exalts crime. Through crooked ways, he breaks with individual guilt and reveals the social roots of crime. He finds the culprits of his own crimes in a race, a political group or an external enemy. With that pretext, it manages to repress any social discontent and wins the support of the dominant classes because it defends them better than the usual judiciary bodies. But fascism only violates institutions that were already demoralized. In order to defeat a real or imagined revolution, the armed forces, the courts, the press and even the police need to disprove their neutrality, abandon their rites, discredit their discourse and violate due process of law. In the name of combating crime, institutions become somewhat criminal; and the real criminals pass themselves off as half-honest politicians. The fascist does not force his way in through democracy, he just kicks in a door that has already been opened for him. It is for no other reason that police heroes do justice with illegal methods and immorally defend the morals of citizens. Fascism is a frontier phenomenon between illegality and legality and therefore finds in the police a source of recruitment”. Where were and are the Brazilian militias recruited?

Therefore, when the above-mentioned professors seek the cause political the discredit of the “(pseudo) democratic institutions” in the country, discredit surfed by pocket-fascism, in the fact that “the extreme right knew how to take advantage of the anti-institutional impulse awakened by the 2013 demonstrations, with its topics of political and refractory anti-representation to the governance models characteristic of democracy after the 1988 Constitution… Brazilian fascism surfed this wave, presenting itself as a force that repudiated the predominant institutional game in the country's political life. Riding, thus, the anti-systemic steed... etc.) without mentioning capitalism, its historical crisis and the political phase of its crisis, nor the support (quite public, on the other hand) of the business community (Brazilian and international, in particular the financial aristocracy ) to the ascension, and to the government, of Bolsonaro, are not only ignoring, but concealing the fundamental dimension (and, as a matter of fact, the most obvious).

When you point, on the plane Historical, that “Brazilian-style fascism has always been around, with its threatening face and gestures, although, in general, wandering on the margins of national life. Now, however, it has reached one of the decision-making centers of the Brazilian State”, for reasons with which capitalism (the only one that exists, that is, the one that is there, not the Weberian “ideal type”) would have nothing to do with it. And it would be good if the qualification of reactionary, or at least highly inconvenient, of the “2013 demonstrations” (in general!), were also subjected to the sieve of doubt about their “identification” (with reasons even stronger than those existing in relation to fascism).

Now, “Brazilian-style fascism” has everything to do with today’s Brazilian capitalism, with its current needs (due to the crisis) and circumstances (due to the pandemic). As Edgar Azevedo points out, “the bourgeoisie tries to take advantage of a Brazil devastated by thousands of deaths and economic disorganization, to impose a historic attack on the living conditions of the working class on all fronts. The “boiada” that Guedes wants to pass consists of a complex political operation, which is being cooked together with the Centrão, which contemplates, at the same time, reformulating the entire social policy, approving a new labor counter-reform with the “Green-Yellow Card”. ” and reintroduce the funded pension plan. The plan is a response to Bolsonaro's political failure and aims to organize and confront, with the resources of financial capital, the fraction of the working class pushed into the informal economy against workers with murdered portfolios, with the aim of eliminating historic achievements, taking as starting points the “exceptional” measures taken in the context of the pandemic, despair and demoralization because of unemployment and lack of prospects”.

The strength of this perspective (eleven ministers fell, but Guedes remains firm and supported by the business community) is also its weakness, as it has to face an undefeated working class, which has already led important social and political mobilizations against Bolsonaro and his regime, a popular movement in ascension (especially the anti-racist one, strengthened by the mobilizations in the USA) and which can, through an in-depth political struggle, organize the unemployed and those affected by the pandemic in a combat political of masses against capital and its State, claiming nationalizations and expropriations under workers' control, not in the name of a “statist ideology” (as neoliberals claim), but in the name of the basic survival needs of the immense majority of the population.

In order to materialize the United Class (and Anti-imperialist) Front, the only one that can actually defeat fascism, it is necessary to set up the organizations of the working class, the popular movement and the youth, which, unlike the 1930s, they are not subject to the control of bureaucracies still haloed by the fresh prestige of the great combats of the 1917th century or the October Revolution of XNUMX. The task is not easy (no political task of historical scope is), it is also intellectual (demands leaving vulgarity, the ideological or historiographical cliché, and the narrow national/nationalist framework), it is Latin American (since Brazil is a “continental country”, but not an island) and it is the only one that corresponds to the best tradition Brazilian intellectual and political life, like the one left to us by Mário Pedrosa, born 120 years ago and a great organizer of the 1934 anti-fascist fight (Brazil is one of the few countries that defeated fascism in the street, and this is also a tradition), not to mention the young Friedrich Engels, born exactly and very recently 200 years ago

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books by paths of history (Shaman).

 

 

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