Brazil by a hair

Image: Inga Seliverstova


Ten theses on the current situation and its challenges

The political debate at that moment took on dramatic contours and added to the already tense Brazilian situation. But also of hope. The electoral process is a dominant theme and much has already been analysed, pondered over the results, hypotheses, new theses and many explanations.

The process we are experiencing is very central in life and we are facing the most important elections since before the 1964 coup. And the result will have consequences for Brazil that we will have in the next 15, 25 years.

Before moving on to topics, a note. The fact that we have a great responsibility and task at that moment: defeating Bolsonaro, should not overshadow the need to reflect on the fight, hot. But the opposite. Therefore, I present some points to contribute to this important debate.


The result of the 02nd is similar to a political census in Brazil

The election result is the closest way to understanding how Brazilians think about ourselves; the central problems, the burning issues and solutions for them. Whether we like it or not, we must see the result as a reflection of that. But there are many other factors that complicate this. We know that the electoral process and the vote are permeated by many combined factors that influence it. Starting with the preponderance of economic power, whose candidacies with greater or lesser economic capacity are more likely to have votes.

Another is visibility in the media, occupying spaces and being popular also increases the chances of good votes (see the candidacies of actors, musicians, journalists with great exposure, players, etc.) for this reason. The old manipulation of the masses still plays a relevant role, via demagoguery and candidates who promise everything to everyone. That is, only in these three aspects can we understand the result beyond the simplism of a census of Brazilian thinking about politics.

But we need to go further. Polarization crystallizes political positions, especially provoked by a political force that is based on “us x them, good x bad, save Brazil x destroy Brazil”, etc., which is Bolsonaro. The means of communication of the great commercial media helped to naturalize this political leadership and were responsible for creating a strong anti-PTism in society. Which helps explain too.

An additional factor is that this leadership is strongly rejected and the anti-Bolsonaro vote is not expressed only in Lula, nor in parliament and in part of the governments. This helps to explain the discrepancy between the Lula vote and the vote for others (governments and parliaments), which in several states were anti-Bolsonaro and voted for candidates from his political field. This rejection still has a focus on his figure and not on the political force he builds.

On the other hand, the topic of voting for Jair Bolsonaro and the hypotheses to understand it have been in the debates since 2018, and we know that this vote cannot be confused with support for neo-fascism. Voting for him is diverse and contains many different contents, not just signifying adherence to a specific program, or to fascism, but rather as a fragmented position, as it always is: part for the anti-PT, part for conservatism in customs and values, part by the issue of security, by political representation of sectors of society, by the influence of religious leaders, etc. In this matter, voting with this diversity is not surprising, but deserves additional consideration.

It is always important to remember that on this subject our most sincere and profound expectations were in the sense of seeing in the investigation a strong rejection of everything that this government symbolizes. But there is another department. It fits everything and reality is always a problem because it reveals things always in contrast to desires and expectations.

But is there reason to be disappointed with the vote? The result suggests a resounding no. Anti-bolsonarism made a candidate for re-election have the worst performance since 1998. With the machine operating at maximum speed: billionaire secret budget, electoral goodwill packages (fuel, Brazil aid of 600, gas aid, help for taxi drivers, etc.) . With the support of the centrão and a good part of the big media, businessmen, middle sectors and especially a very aggressive campaign within churches and religious temples. And Masonic lodges, which have been the main political organization of the middle sectors in Brazil since the XNUMXth century.


Jair Bolsonaro is the greatest right-wing leader of recent decades

If the 2018 candidate appeared as a name to accumulate and represent the extreme right in that election, evaluated until July of that year as a candidacy without chances and to express the vote of this political field, after the victory in 2018 and the government, combined with the Sunday's result we can conclude that we are facing a popular and national conservative leadership. Acknowledging this does not mean discounting the huge inconsistencies, disabilities, many disabilities and limits, but we cannot go wrong again by underestimating it.

This guy who for many is abject, disgusting, that part of Brazil can no longer hear and see. But it should be noted that he has a very popular communication ability, his message is clear and dialogues with what is conventionally called the average Brazilian.


Disbelief and fear in politics are useful for the right.

Unbelief gives way to divine salvation, or to the fate or benevolence of a savior. Not by human action. Fear authorizes barbarism and precedes popular fascistization.

In this crisis, the right attacks the institutions historically created by it: State, Democracy and freedoms. In this complete chaos of attacks on politics, even limited in bourgeois democracy, creating a framework of discredit of institutions, parties, organizations and what is conventionally called the political “system”.

If politics becomes synonymous with corruption, misdeeds, a space for the expression of private and petty interests, being seen as a dominated territory, with no prospects and that needs to be denounced and fought.

It is a theme that expresses an alienation in relation to the world, the State and politics itself.

Neofascist forces have a special relationship with fear as a method of politics. This has two sides: the fear they cause in part of society, for being “brave”, threatening opponents, inciting symbolic and real violence; and on the other, and perhaps what is most relevant is fear as a threat, the risks facing society if neo-fascism does not win. They are always responsible for trumpeting terrible threats.

And to cause fear, the threat has many causes, but centrally figures historical and worm-eaten anti-communism. The communist threat was always present in the message of conservative forces and especially of these neo-fascist sectors. But not only. Fear of destruction of so-called values. Fear of attacks on the family. To the children for the supposed (and crazy) threats of pedophilia. From “gayzism, abortionism, satanism, chavismo…”, all coordinated from the forces of the new world order.

Fear is functional, useful. It causes paralysis. It generates instability. Fearful people can agree with absurdities, such as accepting (and inciting) lynchings, silence for generalized violence, reaching the limit of supporting coups d'état and bloodthirsty dictatorships to prevent enemies from destroying the country, the family, values, morals and good customs or implant communism, which in their minds is a near reality.

Jair Bolsonaro's neo-fascist discourse has several cores and that of protecting society in the face of powerful threats is a very consistent and important core in his political message. Not a week has gone by since he emerged as a national figure without him roaring as a harbinger of Brazil's defense from a thousand and one threats. And that is mobilizing, it builds a moving narrative and because it is an outpouring of accusations – since there is a precise threat to indicate who are the powerful figures that would be behind it. In addition to being functional to mobilize and convince, this policy throws opponents into an endless defensive situation. Progressive forces are put on the defensive by historic struggles, centenary flags and strategic causes and without means to fight in the same dimension they are permanently placed against the wall.


Bolsonarism is a living force, directly linked to the leader and national. And it has many limits

Bolsonarism has several stages. Before the presidency, at least two: as a pre-candidate as a deputy without “pops in the tongue” and as a candidate disputing the first places and victorious. During this period, this force was conspiratorial, formed in semi-clandestine networks and surfing an anti-system wave and a profound political crisis in Brazil.

The year 2018 had the greatest spectacle in the fight against corruption with the car wash operation and its illegalities, with a president who had been impeached, former president Lula, the greatest popular leader in Brazil, convicted in two instances and under threat of prison, the coup-plotting president on the ropes with Lava Jato operations and related operations always on a tightrope, the presidential candidate who had finished second with the risk of arrest, the president of the Chamber about to be arrested and the Senate as well. Chaos in the Brazilian political system.

In this chaos Jair Bolsonaro made himself. He took advantage of the scenario and built a campaign in principle artisanal based on a few articulators and with the support of broad sectors of the ruling class, he was elected president. Lots of money and support from international conservative forces helped a lot. This was only possible with the devastation caused by the illegalities perpetrated by the 13a Federal Court of Curitiba.

Elected and assuming part of the State, this force was amplified. The previous nationalization was subjected to a professionalization, always controlled by a few trusted people, who actually are and always have been very few. He is paranoid about this topic and trusts no one. But that didn't stop it from taking a leap in quality: it created a network of more than 50 "news" sites, which do nothing more than create factoids, news without any verification and make publications from one site to another successively, creating an idea of veracity, volume. And the pipelines on closed networks – Whatsapp, Telegram, Youtube (only accessible with a link) etc. In another article I analyzed how the social networks of Bolsonarism were organized.[I]

In this new post-election stage, he sought to create poles of popular organization, but was unsuccessful in this regard. The permanent conflicts within the group, mostly with him as the protagonist, fragmented this path. The inability to organize a segment not used to collective construction also had an influence. He tried to piggyback on allies, but because he didn't trust anyone, he didn't move forward either. Unable to build an organization to provide support, he came to depend on figures who emerged in the 2018 election from within Bolsonarism and built a much more articulate core of ideological struggle, pure agitation and propaganda, operating from within the Palace and which received the well-deserved nickname "hate cabinet". And it supported many initiatives in this field, such as the channel “Terça Livre” and the self-declared “Brasil Paralelo”.

In the period from 2020, more precisely from the pandemic onwards, Bolsonarism became increasingly dependent on the forces that dominate the National Congress. The so-called forces of old politics, the Centrão, negotiators in the basin of souls of the National Congress and who operate from the dynamics of blackmail and negotiation, forcing Jair Bolsonaro to navigate combining being a force with an anti-system message and a strong link with the most traditional policy in Brazil, the centrão. From the little song hummed by General Heleno to the president stating that he has always been from the center. But he lied, he was of the lower clergy, countryside expressionless and almost irrelevant. In the corridors of Congress they are known as pickpockets in front of the big negotiators.

What makes this force continue with density and national performance are two things. Being the President, that everything he does is to guide and stimulate his troops and a front of information, agitation and propaganda that works both in networks open in the open and in closed networks and in a conspiratorial and semi-clandestine character. A president who guides daily, who guides the national debate and with the ability to guide thousands of people every day through the most diverse channels is what makes this force what it is: an important and expressive force, although without regional and local organization , only business mandates and support.


The disinformation method is here to stay

And our methods of fighting are artisanal. The barrier has been limited to common sense and the use of networks for verification.

Stating that a candidate wanted to hand out baby bottles with an additional object to the nipple shaped like a penis was impressive. That this candidate encouraged sexual diversity in children, accepted pedophilia and so many others marked the debate on this topic. Since then the methods have gained much more scope. The news is much more believable, the montages better done, the deepfake (add a speech created by artificial intelligence in an altered image, both from real images).

Denunciations are regular, there are several serious initiatives for checking, which quickly contest the lies, this has been gaining quality and professionalism. But it is always reactive and artisanal. For every lie poured and circulated in the Bolsonarism pipelines, our response, however quick and convincing, cannot have the same impact. This stems from being a reactive condition and the fake news policy not being a check error, or a policy already restrained by justice, but the opposite, it is part of the policy of the conservative sectors and especially the neo-fascists.

The fake news factory has been gaining worrying capacity. It's not just absurd things like a "cock" bottle, gay kit and other unbelievable things. But there are still the most effective ones that are a less strange and detached story from reality to reach audiences by segmentation (regional, thematic, gender, religious, age group, by topics of interest – weapons, etc.) and because it is more subtle, it attracts less the spotlight and the reaction to deny it. So it is more efficient and effective.


The Brazilian ruling class is everything we already know

The lawsuit is further evidence of this: it is anti-people and despises democracy. And for Nationals, you only have to buy the CBF shirt. She is responsible for the crisis we are experiencing.

If the result resembles a political census, it also reveals our dominant classes. The Bolsonaro candidate of 2018 received significant support, but in 2022 it is not about supporting a outsider, or a candidate with promise, but a tragedy with the threat of re-election. A resounding failure, with many reasons to be impeached and with one of the worst policies to face the pandemic in the world. But a good part of this sector embarked again with Bolsonaro and must be treated as it deserves: it is co-responsible for the tragedy we are experiencing and we will always remember that.

This sector proved to be even more anti-national and anti-popular than before. It is in the crisis that positions become evident, the classics taught us. And it is there that we have confirmation, once again, of the destructive, predatory, anti-popular, illiterate and mediocre character of this dominant class. Covetous as master Darcy Ribeiro taught us. That it is not an elite, but a bunch of moneyed people who spill nonsense, finance this neo-fascist adventure and have no national commitment.

About this, we have to remember that this ruling class is only concerned with increasing its own earnings, and for that it increases the exploitation of work with the attack on labor rights, on labor justice, on unionism (which part of the left celebrated the end of the contribution as an advance!), as well as social security (mainly social security), counting, promoting a shift towards an agrarian-ore-exporting economy, expanding the agricultural frontier in all biomes, with emphasis on the Pantanal, Amazon and in the cerrado at a monstrous speed and intensity. It has no direction, no project of its own, no horizon other than a subordinate, dependent insertion, internationally associated and as a minor partner. And pro-people is the maximum State in repression and as guarantors of the economy.


The ideological struggle remains a problem for the left

The opening of the ballot boxes for counting votes allows us to have a picture of Brazil, as previously mentioned. And the result is revealing. Conservative ideas and proposals, which idealize the past, fight changes and are permissive with state violence, demonstrate that they have significant support from society and this is nothing new. What is new is that we continue without a strong intervention on this topic.

The use of national symbols in support of anti-national proposals is not new either. Ditto with the supposed defense of democracy by attacking it. And speaking of people with anti-popular flags.

We know that the main means of waging the ideological struggle is the class struggle – the political struggle and the economic struggle, the concrete and educational experience of the struggles. But there is also ample ground to dispute and fight in the battle of ideas. Without more serious and robust efforts, the left will continue to be surprised about how deep Brazil thinks – that is, outside the bubble of the university middle classes in the capitals – about the death penalty, abortion, capitalism, the left, revolution, freedom, values, etc., etc.

It is not possible to have a different consequence if our initiatives remain far below the capacity to confront a hegemony in communications that probably did not exist before with such a capacity for diffusion and reach and at the same time discrepancy with the capacity to challenge it.

The mainstream commercial media outlets are divided and part of them are in opposition to the government. But let's not count on that for even a single measure by a Lula government elected on the 30th. These companies are co-responsible for what we've been through and the day after the investigation they'll already be organizing the staunch opposition.


Let's beat fear, chaos, neoliberalism and fascism

Brazil and the polls provided an important response. We didn't win in the first round, but the vast majority of society said no to Bolsonaro. And if nothing extraordinary happens, we will have a historic victory on the 30th. A victory that should be the confirmation of a path for the coming years: we need to continue the fight to defeat Bolsonarism in society, neutralize the neo-fascist fractions that make up this bloc and fight day and night the neoliberalism that threatens to promote an absolute neocolonial reconversion of Brazil to assume the agrarian-ore export condition as a national “vocation”, which does not generate income and employment, relegating a mass of workers to low-income jobs with no future.

This battle will be the most important in recent decades and promises to mark our history. But it will not be enough to overcome the candidate of the 22nd on the 30th. We will not have peace on the night of victory until we neutralize the neo-fascist forces, with the support of sectors of the ruling classes and sustained by fractions of the middle classes resentful and radicalized in anti-communism disguised as anti -Petismo and “CBF nationalism”.


Brazil needs a democratic and popular national project, capable of making sense for the broad majorities

A victory on the 30th will postpone important conflicts that will continue to intensify. On the one hand, the forces that adhered to the ultraliberal program, or even more savage neoliberalism, and are led by neofascist forces, articulated by ultraconservative religious sectors, military segments of the FFAA and police, local and state militias, important sectors of the middle classes and that organize around the leadership of Jair Bolsonaro.

May this victory, if confirmed, be an opportunity for us to face the most expensive challenges of this generation: taking on the debate and construction of a National Development Project capable of articulating the confrontation of historical debts with the most vulnerable sectors in terms of work and income , housing, access to education, health, culture, with the construction of a path to combat the condition of an agro-ore-exporting country of commodities.

This process will not be simple, nor will it come from brilliant, well-written ideas. This is an organized social force to build the Brazil we need for the coming decades. If we live difficult times until now, the Brazilian political situation will not give us truce. This generation will be responsible for defeating neo-fascism and opening the way for the construction of a national project: popular, democratic, anti-imperialist, liberating.

Brazil will need this by a hair's breadth. We will definitely be required to respond with much more force, energy and organization so that from this condition that we are on the verge of, in fact, the days are born happy. And we will not miss this challenge!

*Ronaldo Tamberlini Pagotto, lawyer, is an activist of the Movimento Brasil Popular.



[I] Rise of the new right in social networks. Available in

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