Public calamity

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Marcus Ianoni*

Parliament's tied hand and national urgency meant that leaders of six opposition parties, in march 30 manifesto, called for the resignation of the President of the Republic.

The coronavirus pandemic profoundly exacerbates the crisis of neoliberal capitalism. There is an international recession and, even more so than in the 2008 crisis, the State is again induced to inject immense fiscal stimuli into the economies and also again the issue of coordinating global actions is placed in counterpoint to the profound retraction of production, consumption and of the labor market. The impact of the international crisis on emerging countries is even more worrying, given the greater fragility of their economies and greater inequality.

In Brazil, Covid-19 has contributed to increase the ongoing political-institutional pandemonium since the end of 2015 when Eduardo Cunha (MDB-RJ), then president of the Chamber of Deputies, accepted one of the impeachment requests of President Dilma Rousseff, resulting in his deposition in mid-2016, for reasons that were, at the very least, highly casuistic.

On the other hand, will the perception be correct, resulting from news on the site DefenseNet that General Braga Neto, Minister of the Civil House, took over the General Staff of the Planalto, becoming the “operational president” in charge of rescuing the authority of a weak government, which puts public health and peace at risk Social? Furthermore, will the popular-democratic opposition, which has just asked for Bolsonaro’s resignation, be able to resume a purposeful dialogue with the nation engulfed in a major crisis?

From the deposition of Dilma until now, the double institutional character of the Brazilian State, defined in the constitutional order of 1988, which is formally, on the one hand, grounded in Law, through the legal and judicial system, and, on the other hand, in democracy , through political representation and through mechanisms of direct participation and in consultative or deliberative councils, has been put to the test and has not resisted the behaviors, in several cases explicitly hostile, of actors of the political system, of the market and of the civil society in that they do not show due appreciation for the rule of law and the regime of popular sovereignty.

O lawfare which resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of President Lula, implemented by then-judge Sérgio Moro and his salvationist allies from the Federal Public Ministry and the TRF4, all with their eyes turned to the 2018 electoral calendar, was another manifestation of the political-institutional pandemonium resulting from the contradiction between a democratic formal order and an anti-democratic process that cunningly subverts it. Subversion executed with a legalistic narrative, very well synthesized in the following maxim, arising from the lavajatismo, flagship of the contortionist sleight of hand of the Democratic State of Law, endorsed and made possible by the cameras and microphones of the mainstream media: “an exceptional situation requires exceptional conduct”.

The greatest expression of the pandemonium in the political system is the emergence of Bolsonarism, leveraged on an occasional leader, from the lower parliamentary clergy, defender of dictatorship and torture, a politician who had never had party and congressional protagonism, an extremely opportunist. right, emerged as the savior of the homeland for the defenders of ultraliberal capitalism, benefited from the crisis in the main parties of order, the PSDB and the MDB, entangled in Lava Jato, as well as the PT.

Bolsonarism is the main destructive force of the political institutions erected by the Magna Carta and its framework of welfare policies. Its mission is to eliminate the main obstacle to the ongoing anti-national and high-power surrender program, the PT, a party that, like no other in the country, has effective ties to the nation's aspirations for social justice and political-democratic inclusion, through the market. and public policies.

After four successive victories in the presidential elections and with a high chance of winning a fifth dispute, that of 2018, the PT ended up losing at the polls, but with its head held high, to a destructive force that, benefited from the 2016 coup d'état and the aforementioned lawfare against Lula, took upon himself the task of maximizing the farce of exceptional conduct, even entering criminal grounds (fake news, virtual militias, political violence in the streets).

In addition to the endorsement of big capital, this destructive force managed to obtain popular support in social strata of the middle classes and the sub-proletariat, to put into practice its tragic spectacle and neo-fascist pretense, with its leaders dressed in green and yellow costumes. A show starring and staged by a buffoon, bringing together, in a coalition ranging from the center-right to the extreme right, capitalists, authoritarians (military and civilian), low-intensity democrats and conservatives.

Leveraged by a strong wave of democratic regression, emerging in line with similar trends in other international maritime coasts, starting with Trump's USA, Bolsonarism disdains all political institutions. Its leader calls on his base, through social media, directly and using videos, to take to the streets, on behalf of the Brazilian family, against Congress, against leaders of various parties, against the STF and its ministers, against the elections (there would have been fraud in the first round of 2018). The mainstream media frequently reports facts associated with the “hate office”, made up of servants who operate from inside the Planalto Palace, all of them linked to Carlos Bolsonaro, the so-called 02, who has just won his own office next to the father. Anyway, the examples of pandemonium are many. There is an aberrant new normal, which deforms law and democracy.

But Bolsonaro has not escaped all these attacks unscathed. In July 2019, for example, jurist Miguel Reale Jr., one of the signatories of the request for impeachment Dilma Rousseff, along with Janaína Paschoal, said that he should be interdicted, after the former captain attacked the president of the OAB, Felipe Santa Cruz, insinuating that he could inform him how his father had disappeared during the military dictatorship. Several defections in the Bolsonarist ranks had been taking place since last year, at the same time that the more traditional right began to dispute political space with the extreme right due to the interests in the next presidential elections, cases of the governors of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro , Doria and Witzel.

However, Bolsonaro’s political isolation gained a new level in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, characterized by him as a “little flu”. His opposite position and explicit boycott of social isolation, claiming to be concerned, above all, with the need for the economy not to stop working, had a very bad repercussion, nationally and internationally. A Globo has been criticizing the irresponsibility of the president. The pots, which daily, at 20:30 pm, have mobilized even the noblest areas of the capitals, also show their loss of support.

An important ally of Bolsonaro, the governor of Goiás and doctor by training, Ronaldo Caiado (DEM), has just broken with the president, showing undisguised revulsion at his irresponsibility in relation to the lives of Brazilians in the face of the seriousness of the pandemic, as well as nonconformity with the outcry of certain Bolsonarist bases for minimizing the risks of Covid-19. While governors and mayors take the lead in combating the pandemic, the President of the Republic criticizes them on national television. Among the civil ministers themselves, such as Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Sérgio Moro and Paulo Guedes, Bolsonaro appears isolated.

It happens that, given the urgency of Congress to respond to the economic and fiscal demands of the “state of public calamity” which he himself formally recognized, the process of impeachment, if admitted, could divert the focus of the national effort to save lives and provide the minimum income necessary for the nation to defend itself from the tsunami that advances over the Brazilian territory.

Probably, this tied hand of Parliament and the national urgency made leaders of six opposition parties (PCB, PCdoB, PDT, PSB, PSOL and PT), in march 30 manifesto, defended the resignation of the President of the Republic. "Enough! Bolsonaro is more than a political problem, it has become a public health problem. Bolsonaro lacks greatness. He should resign, which would be the least costly gesture to allow the country a democratic exit. He urgently needs to be contained and accountable for the crimes he is committing against our people.”

But the response from the corporate-authoritarian nucleus of the government, to be confirmed by the facts to come, was immediate, it came on the same day, as reported by the DefenseNet, informal spokesman for the military: “Now General Braga Neto of “intervening in Rio de Janeiro is the 'Chief of the General Staff of the Planalto', a much broader position than the already powerful role of Chief Minister of the House of Representatives. Civil. […] The new “informal mission” was the product of a “top agreement”, involving ministers and military commanders and the President of the Republic himself”.

Anyway, the dilemma between authoritarianism and democracy continues, but now it unfolds in the context of the international crisis of capitalism, exponentiated by Covid-19. The regime's dilemma is closely related to the profile of public policies implemented by governments. All over the world, neoliberalism has turned to the right, due to its crisis and its incompatibility with democracy. The 2016 coup was related, on the one hand, to the developments in Brazil, especially since Dilma's first term, the 2008 crisis, which resulted, from 2011, in the sovereign debt crisis in several countries in the euro, and, on the other hand, was related to the end of the tree of commodities, especially significant in 2014, when the recession started to show signs of life. But this is not a question of resorting to economic determinism.

The international crises of capitalism tend to impact States in three dimensions: as a power pact grounded in the dominant relations of production, as a political regime and, finally, as a decision-making instance of public policies. In them, coalitions tend to recompose themselves, often due to electoral calendars, but not only. On the other hand, only a democratic coalition can try to rebuild a social-developmental trajectory. The popular-democratic field in Brazil is not insignificant.

Who will put some order in the political-institutional pandemonium in the country? At first, the military corporation takes the lead. Is it just a momentary division of tasks, for the extreme right-wing turmoil, led by the buffoon, sometimes useful, sometimes useless, to continue? Or will the military, whose quantitative presence in the main ministerial offices is large, also begin to exercise a qualitative participation of a new type, putting Bolsonaro in his despicable place? With the loss of base, will the mobilizing neo-fascism give way to an authoritarian technical-corporate political management, even if there is no new military coup, as there was in 1964? But the crisis also opens a window of opportunity for the popular-democratic field to present itself to the nation and sew support, whether from parliaments in the three spheres of the federation, state and municipal governments, social media, proposals aimed at voters and organized social bases, anyway.

*Marcus Ianoni Professor at the Department of Political Science at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF)

Article originally published in the magazine Theory and debate.

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