Brazil 2022 – five notes on what to do

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By WÉCIO PINHEIRO ARAÚJO*

Politics is not only done with reason, but above all with people's emotions. Politics mainly involves affections and disaffections

The military fell in 1985, but the civil-authoritarian background produced by the Brazilian social formation and its colonialist, slave-owning and patriarchal nature continued to proliferate in society and in its popular imagination. In this context, the micro-fascist elements present in this process of social formation produced a political mythology that served as the ideological basis for the coup d'état. lawfare in 2016, so that it gained strength and came to power in 2018, through the popular vote won from denialist and anti-democratic tactics that appeal to a neoconservative moralism of a strongly reactionary character catalyzed by the political resentment of anti-PTism.

Microfascism is defined by the set of reactionary microelements produced in the power relations that culturally form and ideologically lead individuals in a society. This process involves everything from the family nucleus to the school, the church, the political party, the union, the company, etc. In political life, microfascism is expressed in and through cultural elements that constitute a myth of ideological significance of reactionary discursive practices resulting from the social and political formation of a society.

In the Brazilian case, what would it be like to empower this authoritarian civil fund if not the perfect strategy to orchestrate a resurgence of the democratic achievements achieved in the 1988 Constitution? The facts answer us, namely: from the path opened by the coup de lawfare in 2016, the latent reactionary elements in the microphysics of the Brazilian social formation are ideologically channeled and amplified in phenomena such as Bolsonarism, which end up favoring and strengthening the outbreak of mass neo-fascism.

This most recent period in Brazil, especially from 2013, made me remember the pitfalls experienced by the Weimar Republic. Keeping the due differences and historical proportions between Brazil in 2022 and Germany at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the similarities are both undeniable and frightening. This type of historical analogy is important in order to draw attention to the fact that in our country, reactionary thought is mature and empowered, in its most dangerous and sophisticated political and ideological form: mass neo-fascism.

Let's go to history: the fall of the young Weimar Republic happens at the beginning of 1933. It basically consisted of a semi-presidential representative democracy founded in 1918/19 – shortly after the end of the first great war. His downfall happened through a parliamentary coup negotiated by the then Chancellor Adolf Hitler, appointed with massive popular support by the elected president Paul von Hindenburg. It was not a classic coup d'état, marked by violence and carnage as happened later in the Nazi dictatorship during World War II. Initially, Hitler made use of the power of Chancellor to politically manipulate the German laws in order to overthrow the German democratic system – something very close to the tactics of using the law as a political weapon that we know today as lawfare.

This process allowed the formation of a coup alliance involving the Nazi Party, the German National People's Party and the "centre" of the Reichstag (German Parliament), read: the Catholic Center Party. This deal also included some German Protestant churches, so that it was possible to form an extreme right front that gained strong popular support by spreading false information that the democratic regime threatened the rights and freedoms of Christian churches. In March 1933, the German parliament passes the “Law Granting Full Powers” ​​to Chancellor Adolf Hitler, also known as the “Law to Heal the Affliction of the People and the Nation”.

Let us see a brief excerpt from Hitler's speech given shortly before the approval of the referred law: “By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleaning of our public life, the government is creating and guaranteeing the conditions for a really deep and intimate religious life [ …]. The national government will allow and guarantee Christian cults the enjoyment of their due influence in schools and education […]. The national government, perceiving in Christianity the firm foundation of the morality and ethics of our people, perceives as of first importance the promotion and maintenance of the most friendly relations with the Holy See. … The rights of the churches will not be curtailed; nor will it change its relation to the political state”.

Any resemblance, no matter how small, is not mere coincidence. Shortly before this, elections were held in July and November 1932, in which the Nazi Party won a large majority of votes over other parties. In March 1933, the last multiparty federal elections of a unified Germany were held until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1990. It was a election marked by the spread of religious terror and demonization of the left and all democratic forces.

Military and paramilitary Nazi organizations were authorized by the foreign minister to “monitor” the voting process. Finally, the conservative and coup-led parliamentary front led by Hitler won the largest number of seats in parliament. The Nazi Party alone elected 288 deputies, obtaining the highest number of seats in parliament. It was the fatal blow to German democracy.

On this Sunday of the first round of the 2022 elections, we proved that it was not just 30%. It's half the country. The serpent's egg prevailed and Jair Bolsonaro's party elected the largest number of deputies, not to mention dozens of other deputies elected from the famous "centrão", together with the conquest of most seats in the senate. As I wrote some time ago, “Brazil was already a Bolsonarist before Bolsonarism”. Therefore, in this year of 2022, we are witnessing the political form assumed by this reactionary mentality with strong popular support: neo-fascism. Bolsonarism showed its political vigor translated into votes. In this direction, the itinerary that brought us here is marked by a hybrid war perpetrated by the extreme right against the left and against democracy.

On the other hand, it was also this Sunday that we won a Homeric battle with Lula. Fresh out of the fire of the Lava Jatista inquisition, Lula demonstrated a lot of strength against the neo-fascism machine. However, we need to think in terms of political strategy (long-term action) and tactics (short-term actions) to dispute cultural hegemony in the mold of our time. And for this it is necessary to keep alive the energy of victory and a hopeful realism.

We can't escape the tough questions – or maybe the toughest of all: what to do? Without fearing thorny questions like this one, but also without any intention of answering them definitively, I just want to contribute to the debate:

(1) We need to have resilience, but also humility and self-critical capacity to review our political praxis, especially our discursive practices, without forgetting that in politics, words are actions and, therefore, are capable of conducting behaviors and moving material forces.

(2) We need to recognize and break our own bubbles. Review and reinvent our political vocabulary – read: renounce some “isms” that are outdated in the contemporary political arena. And in synchrony with this, master digital strategies and tactics. Yes! The challenge is herculean – it's like changing a tire while the car is moving.

(3) We need to renew the ideas that are capable of giving political and ideological form to democratic hope, in a way capable of uniting people around a common cause: the defense of democracy and the recovery of the social function of the economy, which translates into in the simultaneous and relentless fight against neoliberalism and mass neo-fascism installed in our country.

(4) Defending democracy is only possible through its constant strengthening, not only as a government regime, but above all as a culture. And for this it is essential to guarantee a place for democracy in the Brazilian popular imagination, which is poisoned by this reactionary neoconservatism. In this direction, it is urgent to produce and amplify a political mythology guided by a ethos democratic. And we will not start from scratch. There are sociopolitical bases in our society to support us. We cannot forget that hope for democracy obtained more than 57 million votes in this first round.

(5) Summary of the opera: we need to produce a political folklore of democratic values, social citizenship, human rights and the defense of science and politics as a collective exercise of freedom. To “de-theologize” our democracy, we need to democratize our theology and produce a political mythology that stands up to neo-fascist mythology. In our popular imagination, democracy can and needs to have the same strength as, for example, football and Christianity; and for this, we cannot fight with the passion for the ball and the faith in the “word of God”. In turn, we need to listen and speak with the Brazilian popular imagination, but this does not dialogue with political theories of a bookish and/or academic nature – without underestimating their importance.

We are myth-producing beings that materialize in symbolic narratives to give meaning to our behaviors and their subjectivation flows throughout the social experience that constitutes political life. The lesson of history is given: politics is not done only with reason, but above all with people's emotions; in short, politics mainly involves affections and disaffections.

*Wécio Pinheiro Araujo Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB).

 

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