Borba Gato, Aldo Rebelo and Rui Costa Pimenta

Charles Sheeler (1883–1965), Manhattan.


Considerations about the left and white identity

São Paulo's nationalism

On the day of the acts against Bolsonaro, on July 24, the statue of Borba Gato was burned by a collective called the Peripheral Revolution. The act organized with approximately 30 people was taken over by the group. Paulo Galo was arbitrarily arrested in a sentence that explains the relationship between prison, torture and denunciation, that is, arrested precisely for not denouncing his Coletivo companions.

However, a minority segment of the left undertook a crusade against the organization, classifying it as “identitarian”, the new jargon of the left to attack what it does not understand or what collides with the interests of the political group, with emphasis on the election of 2022, in which nothing can go as planned for Lula's return, including popular uprisings, even if occasional, but with great media reach. In another sense, the “identity” attack on the Coletivo was also expressed through the defense of the statue and the figure of Borba Gato, transformed into a hero, especially in the speech of Aldo Rebelo and Rui Costa Pimenta, presented with great prominence by Portal 247, which (re)transmitted, in a continuous and selfless way, the interviews in reports throughout the week.

We can divide this theme between the symbolism of the statue and the defense of “anti-identitarians”. To understand both, it is necessary to delve into what they agreed to conceptualize as nationalism. Borba Gato, as is well known, lived and died before Independence, the coffee and slavery cycles in São Paulo, the Revolution of 1930 and the Revolt of 1932, in a São Paulo that, in practice, did not exist. Borba Gato died two centuries before Afonso Taunay, responsible for the Museu Paulista, institutionally acclaimed, in 1917, the sertanista as a pioneer and founder of São Paulo in Brazil. It wasn't Taunay's political work, he was just a means of something that was already given.

The statue of Borba Gato would only be inaugurated in 1963, in the wake of the wide rise of opposition to Jango and the growth of far-right coup organizations, such as IPES, installed and capitalized by the São Paulo elite. Why was Borba Gato chosen to represent, in that historic moment, pre-coup of 1964, the people of São Paulo? Why was he hailed as a hero? More important than understanding the life of Borba Gato is understanding why the São Paulo elite, in the early 1920s, began to finance the idea that precisely the São Paulo elite of the 1920s was the heiress of the sertanistas of three centuries before, of a São Paulo that did not exist, completely different from the province of the second half of the 1920th century, when it concentrated almost all Africans enslaved through interprovincial trafficking? Completely different from the state of São Paulo in XNUMX? More important is to know why, what for and how.

Borba Gato appears in the 1922th century, in practice, as a result of a supremacist construction by the Paulistas not only on blacks and natives, but on other regional elites. The province of São Paulo would only assume some political relevance in the middle of the second half of the XNUMXth century. In XNUMX, Júlio de Mesquita Filho, owner of the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, published a manifesto in the Revista do Brasil, directed by Monteiro Lobato, called A Comunhão Paulista.[1]

The Paulista Communion was a movement, unfortunately little known by the left, for the formation of a political elite that would be responsible for guiding the country to development, as it was naturally superior to other elites and other states. But where do the bandeirantes come in? They enter into the idea that Brazil was founded and expanded by them, with the elite of 1920 being the natural heirs to the “bravery” and “intelligence” of the country's true founders. Then, the group itself The state, who would lead the country. Júlio de Mesquita Filho said in the manifesto: “The realization of this legacy from the past will, by force, mobilize all regions. (...) We are strong, we are still worthy of the past of the flags, precisely because to the misleading victories of militant politics, we still know how to prefer the rude victories that dot the history of our evolution. The healthy emotions of the free life of the farm, of the audacious attempts that we have news of every day, excite the secure and reckless vision of the São Paulo citizen, diverting him from the overwhelmingly leveling stagnation of our political parties. In the capital moments of national history, São Paulo always left the word that would decide the destinies of the nationality”.[2]

The Province of Sao Paulo, founded by Júlio de Mesquita, the father, was a slaveholder and survived with advertisements for the sale of slaves and captains of the bush. The son believed that the abolition, the way it was done, would have been an error that made “circulate in the arterial system of our political body the impure and formidable mass of 2 million blacks suddenly invested with constitutional prerogatives” (A Crise Nacional).[3]

Alberto Sales, brother of Campos Sales, had written Paulista homeland in 1887, a separatist work that entrusted the intellectual, political and evolutionary superiority to the Paulistas; proposed the separation of the state, in practice to maintain slavery, especially in the region of Campinas, so that the state, after being transformed into a developed one, without the shackles of the non-developed ones, would return to the nation to guide the other regions to development. It was in this historical period that this elite, after the Revolt of 1932 and its approach to Getúlio, became the hegemonic elite of the state, politically replacing the old coffee oligarchy, weakened by the economic crisis of 1929. USP was created in 1934 to create this intellectual elite from São Paulo or “Paulistanizada” that would run the country: “considering that the formation of the ruling classes, especially in countries with heterogeneous populations and diverse customs, is conditioned to the organization of a cultural and university apparatus, which offers opportunities to all and processes the selection of the most capable; considering that, in view of the degree of culture already attained by the State of São Paulo, with Schools, Faculties, Institutes, of professional formation and of scientific investigation, it is necessary and opportune to raise to a university level the preparation of the man, the professional and the citizen".[4]

In 1926, Fernando de Azevedo had published, financed by the group of The state, the Survey on Public Education in São Paulo. He argued that the education system should be divided into two parts: one in which workers adapted to the world of work and another aimed at the elites. In the subsystem aimed at the elites, there would be a new division between secondary education for the middle classes and higher education for the formation of the elites. The elites would produce “the truth”, the middle classes would transmit it to the workers, who would work in the ideal and correct functions for urban and industrial development. Fernando de Azevedo's entire reference was the Platonic Republic, in which an elite would guide and exercise discretion over the organic set of society.

It was at that moment that this elite began to fight bravely against the immigration of Northeasterners, seen as beings who would “blacken” the state again, after the great European immigration, financed as State Policy precisely to replace the “African element”. For this reason, in the absence of options, they preferred the Japanese – and here there is a long history since the Agricultural Congress of 1878 and the Sinophobia, reverberated by Bolsonarism –, a middle ground between blacks and whites in the supremacist and scientistic view of liberalism at the time , especially after the Japanese victory over the Russians in 1905.

In 1935, São Paulo state deputy Alfredo Elis Júnior, a sociologist and former student of Taunay, who, in that year, had written Jaraguá: pioneer penetration novel and, in 1924,São Paulo bandeirismo and the retreat of the meridian, promoter of the idea of ​​producing eugenic miscegenation that occurred only in São Paulo, along the lines formulated by Euclides da Cunha in The Sertões, defended Japanese immigration over Northeastern immigration in the following terms: “Northeasterners have black blood, and have an osteological conformation that is different from ours, showing in their flat and broad skulls, in their cigar color, the great influence of the Indian. The Northeastern has no other racial stock, he is not fixed, he is a flyer. Fortunately, our racial system is free from the influence of these people. Japanese is incalculably better for us and for our social body, as there are more affinities between us and the Japanese than between us and the northeastern people”.[5]

Blacks and northeasterns (blacks) were exogenous factors to São Paulo's eugenic miscegenation. Improvement was allowed. To this end, European immigrants came to Brazil as a result of a supremacist and segregationist policy, in which the African should be replaced. Borba Gato is the expression in a monument of the myth of São Paulo's eugenic miscegenation, which would produce a white man. Those who read the article and have European ancestry, it is important that they know that they are here, in Brazil, especially in the Southeast and South, for two reasons: export/burning of capital and workforce on the European continent and Brazilian supremacism, which he financed the arrival of his family and granted financial aid so that São Paulo would not “go black”.

That is, in Europe they were repelled/expelled for not being the ideal types for national development, whether due to poverty and misery, or due to racialization (race) – this is the case, for example, of southern Italians, considered non-white by Italians from the south. north –; the Brazilian elite, with great protagonism from São Paulo, considered it impossible to develop the country with blacks, and the State should immigrate Europeans (even non-white nationals from southern Italy, here considered white) and disappear with the black. A kind of evolutionary “final solution”. And, according to more current data on racial relations in the XNUMXth century, most likely the readers' parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were major promoters of this racialization, ensuring the segregation of spaces, jobs and studies.

As an example of what we have today, Karl Monsma, a historian at UFSCar, found lynchings, beatings and hangings of blacks by white Brazilians and Italian immigrants in São Carlos (SP) with an allusion to the KuKluxKlan at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. According to the historian, “the similarities in the ritual elements of lynching”, such as “the mutilation of the victims' bodies and the tendency to hang them from trees in central squares in the cities of the interior, suggest that Brazilian lynchings imitated North American lynchings described in the newspapers”.[6]

Therefore, racism is far from being a residue of slavery, or an undue and imported “identitarianism”, as defended by Aldo Rebelo. In the interior of São Paulo – and in the capital of São Paulo – there were, in fact, segregationist measures that prohibited, officially and unofficially, the entry of blacks into clubs, schools and salons, for example, while guaranteeing a kind of closed quota for immigrants white Europeans and Brazilians on capital and work, in which whites employed whites and immigrants employed immigrants – this is the case of the Matarazzo industries, which started hiring blacks in the interior of São Paulo only in 1970, when the fiscal collapse and the need for demotion wage.

European immigration was part of the construction of the improvement of the São Paulo race, the eugenic São Paulo miscegenation, which eliminated the African element by leaps and bounds.

Alfredo Elis Junior, in São Paulo Populations, a 1934 work, understood that, in colonial times, “blacks were much more numerous than whites”, that, even with the end of the “African trade”, they reproduced “with great fertility”. However, “these conditions evolved in São Paulo”, because “we received large immigrant masses from Europe, and the blacks with their mestizos then began to dwindle”. With “the social struggle, they fell into decay”. Finally, “the alarming decrease in the birth rate and the increase in mortality cause its disappearance”.[7] In fact, the black population at the beginning of the XNUMXth century registered negative demographic growth.

Since then, everything had to be referenced in what was created to be typically São Paulo: the bandeirantes. Highways, schools, radios and TVs with these references are the details of this process. Statues, ditto! As a complement to bandeirantism, Jesuitism, a passion of Fernando de Azevedo honored by the choice of name for the Padre Anchieta Foundation, founded by Roberto Costa de Abreu Sodré, governor at the time concerned with the “revolutionary continuity” of 1964.[8] To a certain extent, the rise of the bandeirantes is due to a similar process of rise of the farroupilhas in Porto Alegre at the same time. It is the work of half a dozen self-proclaimed intellectuals of the genius and race of São Paulo (sic!).

There is nothing popular about it, despite its official propaganda. It was common at the time, as every nation-state formed in the XNUMXth century had and still has a racial dimension, as shown by Germany and the United States. It is the same role that Germanism played for Nazism and the chosen pilgrims played for Anglo-Saxon North Americans, as evidenced by Domenico Losurdo in The Counter-History of Liberalism.

Therefore, whether or not to burn statues is a dispute over the project of power, a dispute over nationality, as is their construction and imposition, since the statues, especially Borba Gato's, represent a project of power and a given nationality. Building and destroying statues and social and symbolic representations are expressions of class struggle. Borba Gato is a racialized and neocolonial representation. It is really impressive to see left-wing or self-proclaimed people and organizations condemn the act for its content, simply relegating it to identitarianism. There could even be a (mistaken) discussion about the day, but never about the content, especially with arguments based on “art” and “memory”, as if they were entities devoid of power relations.

When it happened, obviously, I went to see the position of… Estadão. After all, the burned business is also a family legacy. To my surprise, in light of what is to be expected, the Estadão did not give up. Neither did Folha de São Paulo. I think that both realized that it is no longer possible to maintain the myth, and, in a way, they dispute the now with a supposedly more “plural” discourse. Dória restricted himself to a generic note about “vandalism”. However, judging by the investigation and the Court's rulings, the behavior is perhaps more theatrical.

Bolsonaristas, according to alarmed left-wing critics, called the act terrorist: it is expected in the game. Needless to say, the public position of the descendants of the idea's parents made me even more surprised by the “left defenders” of the statue and the memory of Borba Gato. I expected to hear and read something similar coming from the Mesquita family.

Aldo Rebelo and Integralism

Publicly, Aldo stands out in defending the generals, strongholds of Bolsonarism and embedded in the federal budget, the great guarantors of Bolsonaro, his family and the pandemic and police genocide against workers, especially black people. He defends that the military are nationalists, even if they handed over the Alcântara base to the US and the relations with the US Armed Forces and spy services are explicit.

As a deputy, he was responsible for amending the Forest Code, accusing all opponents of being financed by great powers, just as Bolsonarism does with those who denounce deforestation and fires. Aldo joins in, especially in mining activities on indigenous lands and in the prosecution of organizations that work to preserve the environment in the Amazon. Today, he is also notable for creating an agenda in line with integralist movements, which, by all indications, increasingly place some esteem in him. Keeping due proportions, Aldo is our Policarpo Quaresma in reverse, an uncritical nationalist who sees Floriano Peixoto in identity, not in the military and Bolsonarism.

Aldo militates in an (ultra)nationalist movement called The Fifth Movement. According to this movement, in a book written by Aldo himself, “the final objective of this identity is the deconstruction of miscegenation as an ethnic expression in Brazil, which would adopt the North American model of a bicolor society of blacks and whites”.[9] The cover of this book consists of Aldo looking up, with an imposing pose, reminiscent of Getúlio Vargas. The discourse is not only conservative, but reactionary, with broad discursive agreement by Bolsonaro and far-right organizations.

He continues: “the problem is that miscegenation in Brazil is much more than the promise of the cosmic race in the happy expression of the Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos”. The notion of “cosmic race” was used in a Manifesto of 1929, one of the many dissidences of the 1922 Modern Art Week. and Cassiano Ricardo, with a great impact on… Plínio Salgado and on the integralist movement. This movement defended that nationality was given in the Tupi, a non-radical, “anti-Jacobin” Brazilian, and not in the Tapuia, an uncivilized Indian. The anti-Jacobin consists of foreign words that are inappropriate to the national nature, such as communism and socialism, or any “radicalism”. The tapuia, which means enemy, is a construct created by José de Alencar, in Iracema. Alencar also believed in a new race, based on Humboldt's studies on the emergence of a new language in America, however, for that to happen, there would be a need for the black to disappear in the new American man, white and superior. “The next civilization in the universe will be American as the current one is European. This transfusion of all human families in the virgin soil of this continent would be incomplete if it lacked African blood, which, in the eighth century, spurred the progress of Europe”.[10]

That is why Oswald de Andrade asks himself “tupi or not tupi" at the Anthropophagic Manifesto and Gilberto Freyre narrates his “rapes” in a sugary and absolutely necessary way. This movement actively worked in the Estado Novo in the persecution of communists, considered a foreign, anti-Brazilian and anti-people ideology. O Green-Yellow Manifest was based on the “well-founded opinion of the Mexican sociologist Vasconcelos”, who defended the emergence, “between the Amazon and the Plata basins”, of the “'fifth race', the 'cosmic race'”, which would bring about “universal harmony”. .[11]

As can be seen, Aldo is openly dialoguing with the fascist and integralist agenda, of a manifesto made in 1929 by proto-fascists who would work in the Estado Novo. Aldo is into fascism. Whether he realizes it or not is another story. He is referencing himself in important documents for the integralist movement, under an openly proto-fascist notion. Aldo says in his book-manifesto: “Faced with the offensive against miscegenation on the part of the market, the media and academia, it is up to the State to defend it by disseminating it and valuing it in the educational system, in the Armed Forces and in the public spaces not yet dominated by identityism”.[12]

In short, it would be up to the State, above all the Armed Forces and the educational system, to combat the anti-Brazilian element, identitarianism, or, to use the jargon of the extreme right, “cultural Marxism”. It should be noted that the task would fall to a bourgeois state. It includes, in addition to the market and the media, the academy, which would be in collusion with the other two spheres. But, on the left, it seems prohibitive to state the obvious in the name of tradition. Let's take the risk: Aldo has both feet in proto-fascism, in points of contact with Bolsonarism.

Bandeirante Rui Costa Pimenta

Rui is a trailblazer. As such, just like Júlio de Mesquita Filho, the extreme right of IPES, he proclaimed himself a bandeirante. As with Neymar, the boy Ney, Rui conceptualized the bandeirantes as anti-imperialist national symbols. Says the pioneer bandeirante: “The construction of the Brazilian nation is a product, in a certain sense, of the class struggle. It is progress that has been achieved despite all the backlash. For colonialism and imperialism, the ideal is that the oppressed nations are tiny and weak. They divide countries as if taking a slice of cake, like in Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union. They want small, weak countries. Brazil is a big country, and this is great progress”. (…) “They were instruments of national economic progress and paved the way for the construction of Brazil. If Brazil were divided into five countries, Latin America would be much more oppressed than it is today. Brazil is a hindrance in political domination, as are India and China”.[13]

Walter Pomar fished,[14] of his unpalatable interview with Brazil Portal 247, the essential data of Rui's personality in the following statement: "I'm from São Paulo and from São Paulo, here in São Paulo, bandeirantismo is the symbol of the state of São Paulo". The deduction, if possible, is as follows: Every São Paulo native is a bandeirante. Rui is from São Paulo, or rather, from São Paulo, because São Paulo is not enough. Therefore, Rui is a bandeirante. As a great friend said when reading this pearl, “I thought Rui was a worker, worker and proletariat before being from São Paulo”.

The senseless and bizarre mix of Paulistanism with anti-imperialist struggle, mixing an erased idea of ​​Brics, size of the territory and bandeirantismo, still falls into the trap of historical falsification: the bandeirantes had nothing to do with the maintenance of the territory. According to Vitor Nunes Leal, in Coronelismo, Hoe and Vote,[15] centralization took place in the Empire after the coming of age coup and the introduction of the National Guard to quell regency revolts. If there was ever a moment when Brazil could be dismembered, it was when the regency revolts imposed guidelines considered harmful to slaveholders. The fear was that, if a province became independent, the enslaved could flee, in case it declared the abolition of the enslaved, causing a shortage of labor force in the slave provinces – ironic to analysis culturalist and anti-Marxist Rui.

Something similar happened between Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, where even one of the points between the farrapos and the crown for the end of the conflict was the signing of agreements with Uruguay for the extradition of Africans. There were five in all – that's farroupilha freedom. Borba Gato had died over a hundred years earlier. Was Rui opposing the regency revolts, such as the Malês Revolt, defending unity in favor of slavery, the only element, in fact, responsible for maintaining the national territory?

Was Rui defending the National Guard and the repression of the liberation movements of the 1830s, especially the popular ones? The last state to threaten independence or regional autonomy, to maintain slavery, was precisely São Paulo, as evidenced by A Pátria Paulista. In the History Olympics, for primary and secondary schools, people from São Paulo tend to perform poorly. The protagonism is of the cearenses, pernambucos and potiguares. Analyzing Rui, the São Paulo and São Paulo identity, the failure of São Paulo students is explained.

This is white identity

But what allows Aldo and Rui to classify the Collective of identities? Rui went so far as to say that “it was a thing of petty-bourgeois intellectuals”. Aldo called them “scoundrels, bandits, murderers of national memory” and “leftist daddy's children”. This fluid and disconnected conjuncture of the left's reality allows questions as disconnected as Leonardo Avritzer's, who questioned "the language of this questioning and whether the use of violence as a method is the correct language of the historical dispute".[16] What allows Aldo Rebelo to identify with the “cosmic race” of Integralism? What allows Rui Pimenta Costa to identify himself as a paulista? What makes it possible to identify bandeirantismo with nationality? What makes it possible to link identity, as something pejorative, liberal and anti-revolutionary, only to African and black identity? White identity, positioning it as a universal and indivisible unit. Criticizing Borba Gato's pedagogical bonfire is not just stupidity, but opportunism with hints of white identity, liberalism, racism, neocolonialism and proto-fascism.

*Leonardo Sacramento He holds a PhD in Education from UFSCar and is president of the Association of Teaching Professionals of Ribeirão Preto. Book author The mercantile university: a study on the public university and private capital (Appris).


[1] On the subject, see the excellent The University of Communion Paulista, by Irene Cardoso. CARDOSO, Irene de Arruda Ribeiro. The University of Communion Paulista (the creation project of the University of São Paulo). São Paulo: Editora Autores Associados/Cortez Editora, 1982.

[2]MESQUITA Son, Julio. The Paulista Communion. Brazil Magazine, 1922, year VII, v. XXI, nº 84.

[3]MESQUITA SON, Júlio. The National Crisis. In: CARDOSO, Irene de Arruda Ribeiro. The University of Communion Paulista (the creation project of the University of São Paulo). São Paulo: Editora Autores Associados/Cortez Editora, 1982, p. 34.

[4] STATE OF SÃO PAULO, Decree-Law n. 6.283, of January 25, 1934. Decree-Law founding the University of São Paulo.

[5] BORGES, Selma Santos. The northeastern in São Paulo: deconstruction and reconstruction of an identity. Dissertation presented to the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. São Paulo, 2007, p. 66.

[6] MONSMA, Karl. The reproduction of racism: farmers, blacks and immigrants in western São Paulo, 1890-1914. São Carlos: EdUFSCar, 2016, p. 138.

[7] ELLIS JUNIOR, Alfredo. São Paulo populations. São Paulo, Editora Nacional, 1934, p. 96.

[8] About the governor, see

[9] REBELO, Aldo The fifth movement: proposals for an unfinished construction. Porto Alegre: Jornal JÁ Editora, 2021, p. 10.

[10] ALENCAR, Jose de. Letters to the Emperor. In: Letters from Erasmus/José de Alencar; organizer José Murilo de Carvalho. Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Letras, 2009, p. 293.

[11] GREEN-YELLOW MANIFESTO. In: TELES, Gilberto Mendonça. European avant-garde and Brazilian modernism: presentation and critique of the main avant-garde manifestos. 7th ed. Petropolis: Voices, 1983.

[12]  REBELO, Aldo The fifth movement: proposals for an unfinished construction. Porto Alegre: Jornal JÁ Editora, 2021, p. 197-198.

[13] Available in

[14] Available in

[15] LEAL, Victor Nunes. Coronelismo, hoe and vote: the municipality and the representative regime in Brazil. 7th edition. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012.

[16] Available in

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