Democracy and fascism in Latin America

Image: Sinitta Leunen


There is a lack of “strategies” in the despair of TS Eliot and Antonio Negri, which are not lacking in the fascist animality of Javier milei

“This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with a groan” (TS Eliot. The Hollow Men).

Democracy and fascism in Latin America maintain a balanced struggle. Social democracy – in order to survive after the 30 glorious post-war years – replaced the fight for equality, put compensatory policies to combat hunger on the table in the social contract. On the other hand, neoliberalism (“libertarian” or reformist) cultivates the energy in the swamp of fascism to form the “leading group” of a reactionary “revolution”. In a dystopian era, resistance has an extraordinary value, but the journey towards a society with less social inequalities and without extreme poverty will be a long and complex adventure of the spirit.

The beautiful poem by TS Eliot announces the definitive dissatisfaction of the bourgeois world with the civilization that he himself created, because the tasty part of the human experience, already conservative, is being substituted by the world of the future. And this world also withers or changes, no longer as a utopia of a civilization of “perpetual peace”, by Kant, but more as a moan taken by the fascination of Clausewitz: war as a continuation of politics and vice versa.

In an interview with Antonio Negri, the dialectical pretension of “knowing a future, in which we would have conquered the power to be free, to work less, to love each other more”, fell asleep. “We were convinced that bourgeois concepts such as freedom, equality and fraternity could materialize in the slogans of cooperation, solidarity, radical democracy and love. (...), which does not mean producing more goods in less time, nor making increasingly devastating wars. On the contrary, it was a question of giving everyone something to eat, of modernizing and making people happy. Thus, communism (would be) a joyful, ethical and political collective passion, which fights against the trinity of property, borders and capital”.[I] Everything went wrong for Negri and everything remained expectations for Eliot.

Antonio Negri's speech triggers, on the opposite side of TS Eliot's dramatic conclusion, the end of communist utopia in its winning and then defeated form, perplexed by Eliot's same disenchantment with the future. Between democratic bourgeois conservatism and the utopia of a free society, among equals – however – emerge the demons that bring to the surface the absolute evil: it is called “libertarianism”, although it is, in the real world, militia slavery: “it is the same formula that applies in the United States, where firearms have become one of the main causes of death for adults and minors”.

Javier Milei, however – the new Argentine bandit – believes that Argentina will be different. The devil continues: “on other topics, (Javier Milei) assures that a free market for buying and selling organs can function without major state mediation, where people can sell or buy parts of their bodies in total economic freedom. Prices, of course, would be governed by the unspoken law of supply and demand, as in any “libertarian” economy.[ii] Zombie queues to sell body parts will replace queues to collect frozen social insurance.

The War Keynesianism inaugurated by Ronald Reagan, with its weapons factories that manage fear, generate internal jobs and millions of external deaths, did not wake up the world to the danger, rather it accustomed it to the disaster. The great economic changes in the world, with the end of the “cold war”, which accelerated the bloodshed and the strategies on the geopolitical chessboard are, today, a sequence of catharsis of a history that wants to overcome the phase of the “end of life”. history". It tries to realize the myths of Enlightenment political liberalism in the slow and violent game of regional spasms of peace, but it only prepares new strategic catharses for endless wars.

“Strategies” are lacking in the despair of Eliot and Negri, which are not lacking in the fascist animality of Javier Milei, but the first assaults in the cycle of the “final” war of modernity in dissolution cannot generate a permanent defeat: “the commander of an army ” (says Machiavelli) who wants to prepare for a fight he can do no worse than to arrange it in a single line, so that the fate of the battle is decided in the first round”. From Machiavelli's citation, important consequences can be drawn for the politics and management of the modern State, since it was he who revolutionized the relations between "war", "ethics", "politics" and "State power", links that are premises subjective views of the State as an apparatus for exercising power.

Today, the public security crisis – for example – no longer has “domestic” solutions and is the internal axis of all disputes for power, since its crisis is associated with the depredation of the environment, the climate issue, the appropriation of goods by organized crime – nationally and globally articulated – to the possible emergence of narco-guerrilla warfare in strategic national regions, oriented towards financial networks (legal and pirated) and the circulation of money and information.

Global security and internal public security, as well as insecurity, are anchored in these absolutely combined factors: a child who takes a drug to deliver in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and is murdered by a militiaman, on a Saturday night, is quickly replaced as a work-commodity that receives endless offers within a global supply and demand chain.

I register some points of support that I believe are important for a reflection on the Brazilian national destiny and its democratic evolution: (i) regardless of the ideological hegemony existing today in the Armed Forces of the country, a new period opens in the relationship between the institutions armed forces and Brazilian society as a whole for their non-adherence to the coup d'état; (ii) the strategy of the democratic field of the left and center-left in the country must value this historical occurrence in order, inside the State and outside the State, to defend the Constitutional State as a Welfare State, defining and modernizing the duties of the military institutions internally (national sovereignty) and externally (shared continental security); (iii) it urges, therefore, and for this reason, a redefinition of the concept of National Security and State Security, linking these two levels of macro security in the country with “Public Security” in the strict sense.

The objectivity of Machiavelli's thought highlighted the existence of "strategic facts", which in a chain of historical events - whether in political (or military) terms - influence the entire historical process and have the capacity to affect and, at the limit, decide on its result in this process. The “strategic facts” of Public Security are anchored in this concrete universality.

Therefore, let us think of hypotheses for our position on the future of democracy, as a method of forming parliamentary and social majorities, to achieve the objectives of the Constitution itself. First hypothesis, democracy is no longer able to form majorities with power to apply the program of the Social Constitution; second hypothesis, in the era of the universalization of money transformed into signals and data, without material backing, the owners of financial capital can, within democracy –with greater or lesser concessions– make their real power over the States permanent.

And the third hypothesis: to prevent an undetermined period of unforeseen chaos from opening, the leftist formations, "old" and "new", must agree with each other and with the democratic forces of centrist political liberalism, a civilizing program of political elimination of fascism, in which the question of the political institutions of the State and the economic and financial institutions of the Welfare State, are the gateway to a new social-democratic project.

*Tarsus in law He was governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil. Author, among other books, of possible utopia (Arts & Crafts).


[I] Negri, Antonio. “I'm 90 years old and I saved myself. But it still hurts me to have left my companions in prison”. Ctxt CONTEXTO Y ACCIÓN.2023. Available on this link.

[ii] The ideas of Javier Milei: arms liberalization, climate change denialism and BCRA closure. LaRed21, Argentina, 2023. Available on this link.

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