Democracy or permanent coup?

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By OSVALDO COGGIOLA*

Militant democracy opposes the fighters to the government policy of resolving the crisis through a changing of the guard at the uniformed summits

The resignation of the Army commander, General Júlio César de Arruda, replaced by General Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, military commander of the Southeast, is far from being the last episode of the crisis in which the transition from the Bolsonarist government to the government of the political coalition entered " center-left” that led Lula to the presidency of Brazil.

It was preceded by the removal of the Federal Police and the Highway Police, in most, or almost all, states of the federation (18 in the case of the PF, and 26 in the case of the PRF); following the dismissal of 84 military personnel, from privates to generals, stationed in the Planalto (38 of them in the GSI, Institutional Security Cabinet, the “brazilian government body responsible for direct and immediate assistance to the President of the Republic in providing personal advice on military matters and of security”, created in 1999 and recreated in 2016, in the wake of the coup-impeachment against Dilma Rousseff); the intervention in the security of the Federal District, by the Executive Power, the arrest of its responsible (Anderson Torres, from União Brasil) and the dismissal of the Governor of that District, Ibaneis Rocha, by the Judiciary Power.

These facts were direct consequences of the fascist-coup attack on January 8 against the headquarters of the three powers of the Republic, announced on the streets and social networks by lumpen-bolsonarist concentrations in the HQs of the Armed Forces across the country, assembled shortly after the known election results of the second round of the presidential elections – that is, announced more than a month in advance to anyone who wasn't, not blind or deaf (they knew), but completely idiotic. Connivance with these facts, however, was far from being a manifestation of “omission” or “incompetence”, as intended by the new government.

Anderson Torres, on the other hand, was revealed as the author or main promoter, in the previous government, of a coup-style decree (“state of defense in the TSE”) that annulled last October’s elections and perpetuated Bolsonarist misgovernment. The immediate aspect of the political-institutional crisis is given by the failure of the naive (to say nothing worse) attempt at institutional assimilation of Bolsonarism, or part of it, an attempt not restricted to the seduction of the parliamentary majority conquered by the right and extreme right (with With 14 senators and 99 deputies, the Liberal Party, which postulated the presidential ticket headed by Bolsonaro, is the party with the largest parliamentary bench), but which also includes concessions in the Executive itself: in Lula's office, a Minister of Tourism (Daniela Carneiro , “Daniela do Waguinho”, also from União Brasil, a “party” that has one foot in jail and the other in the cabinet) with proven links with militiamen, who extort “security”, urban or rural, combined with drug trafficking and all kind of mafia extortions, armed threat upon.

The Minister of Defense, José Múcio Monteiro, in turn, did not mince his words when declaring: “Those demonstrations in the camp, and I say with great authority because I have family and friends there, are a manifestation of democracy”, in the speech of his inauguration on January 2. Less than a week later, the “democratic” coup leaders, including “friends” and relatives of Múcio Monteiro, destroyed the Planalto Palace, the National Congress and the Federal Supreme Court.

This did not prevent Múcio Monteiro from being congratulated for his role as an “appeaser” (sic) of the Armed Forces even by the Minister of Justice, after the complicity, and in some cases the driving role, of those Armed Forces in the putsch vandalism-coup from January 8th. “I want to make a vehement defense of the sincerity of Minister Múcio Monteiro (who) chose the path of dialogue and cannot be condemned for that”, said Flávio Dino, who also congratulated the Armed Forces for “not embarking on the demonic chant of the coup”.

Knowing full well that, in the midst of the looting of the republican headquarters, there was a clash between the Army soldiers, who protected and guided the unbridled horde, and the Military Police shock troops, who tried to minimally control and peacefully evacuate the vandals. These attacked them without finding in response any violence comparable to the usual one used by the Military Police against popular demonstrations. Supporters of the “policy of appeasement” as the key to the fight against fascism should take a look at the opinions of historians (not necessarily, even mainly, on the left) about the policy of the same name of Western “democratic” leaders in the face of the escalation of fascism. of war provocations, in the 1930s, by two gentlemen named Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Almost all of the dismissed military personnel will lose their additional salary allowances (if these are not already included in their salaries) and will return to their barracks or offices to continue conspiring, waiting for a more propitious occasion or a less disastrous fascist/coupist policy. . They constitute, on the other hand, a minimum percentage of the seven thousand members of the Armed and Security Forces cast in state positions mainly (but not only) by the government of Jair Bolsonaro. At the center of the events, however, and their immediate consequences, are groups of a few thousand socially disqualified people, camped in Brasília with excellent infrastructure, or transported from other parts of the country in two hundred buses, who starred in the infamous bandwagon of January 8th.

A lumpen or lumpenized mass, financed by a lumpenburgesia (illegal transporters, predators of the Amazon, loggers or capitalist-miners, destroyers of nature via agribusiness, drug trafficking and militia extortion tycoons, and other similar variants) which is far from constituting a negligible fraction of the Brazilian business community, and has strong links with national and international financial capital. Just over a thousand of the predators were detained in Brasilia (their mobilization gathered 20 thousand people, of which at least four thousand participated in the attacks on the three powers), none of them were injured or mistreated, a good part of them were released, remaining in jail 1028, whose trial may be postponed indefinitely (in case there is no probable amnesty) due, according to the Sheet, the “gigantic nature of the case and the structure of the Judiciary”.

In this “boiada”, the hero of the moment, the Minister of the STF Alexandre de Morais, passed an ex officio ban on any demonstration that makes use of the total or partial blockade of circulation or transport routes, indiscriminately equated with terrorism (which has a specific law, approved during the Dilma Rousseff government), a resource that could, and will be, used against all kinds of workers and popular demonstrations, for which the misery and hunger in Brazil provide more than enough reasons.

The confusion in the description of the “democratic protesters” of January 8 is not semantic, but political. “Aloprados” (Lula), “vandals”, “terrorists”, “coupists” and some other epithets, with different legal consequences, were used. The term “fascists” was generally discarded. It is not assumed by the people themselves, who surely ignore its meaning and even its existence, which means little, considering that, a century after the March on Rome, the term was broadened and largely emancipated from its original meaning. In general, terms were used that, in addition to being derogatory, tend to place them outside Brazilian civil or political society, as if they were an unexpected and undesirable excrescence, and not a social and political tendency of the green (bourgeois and semi-colonial) society. yellow, a trend that has already governed the country during a presidential term, and obtained almost 50% of the vote in the subsequent election.

A renowned professor of ethics at USP (and former minister) described the riot police on January 8 as “useful idiots”, noting that “the crowd on the Esplanada would not have the slightest competence to run the country. And no leaders with two neurons seemed to be there… they were mere instruments of smarter people, hidden”. This conspiracyist logic, in which “idiots” are instrumentalized by “experts” who remain in the shadows, is based on the assumption that this mass would lack a program and political leadership, and it would be enough to reveal the latter and its “true intentions” to demobilize it.

An assumption that, to say the least, has neither foot nor head. The leadership is well known and led the country for four years, no less, apparently with the approval of many people. The vandalism of January 8, including the destruction of public property and works by Portinari and Di Cavalcanti, were not just symbolic or ignorant acts, they constituted a perfect and very clear political program, as much as Nazi-fascist violence (whose programs circumstances were sometimes nationalist, sometimes liberal, sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly anti-Semitic) or so is Taliban/Shiite theocratic violence against women and Arab or Central Asian cultural heritage.

Anti-communist violence (which the “crowd on the Esplanade” defends, and of which it is perfectly and explicitly aware) and anti-anything that favors the path of communism (such as critical high culture or the emancipation of women) is the basic program of any organization. fascism. Another thing is that “ours” is a semi-colonial fascism, unlike the Italian or the German, incapable of any nationalist pretension beyond the cult of the colors of the flag, proponent or practitioner of a scorched earth policy to better sell or hand over wealth national to large multinational financial capital.

At the end of his government, Jair Bolsonaro sold Eletrobrás, a privatization authorized by Congress in 2021, the year in which the company made a profit of R$ 5,7 billion, leaving the inheritance (what will the Lula government do about it?) over a hundred other privatization processes. A doubly miserable fascism, no less dangerous or reactionary for that.

A fascism, moreover and for that very reason, lacking any political structure other than militia groups and bands of corrupt/thieves forced to act in the shadows or semi-legally, the reason for its precariousness, which motivates the political distrust of big capital ( which Bolsonaro paid at the polls in 2022) and restores the Armed Forces to the center of the economic and political scenario. This is why the indignation of Conrado Hübner Mendes, a USP jurist, against the “naturalization of an illegitimate political actor” is legitimate, which “sells itself as an institution marked by obedience, hierarchy, discipline, ethical decency and political neutrality (and) delivers disobedience , insubordination, delinquency, obscenity, sectarianism and physiologism”, which consumes, in its payroll, “more than health and education together. And there are still more than 1.600 agents receiving more than R$ 100”. Proposing “to reform the Armed Forces and civil-military relations”, without telling us, regrettably, what that reform would be and how to implement it.

Vladimir Safatle pointed out that “the beginning of the catastrophe must be sought in the amnesty that sealed the beginning of the New Republic. Far from being a national agreement, it was an extortion produced by the military… There was no amnesty for crimes against humanity, such as torture and state terrorism. The amnesty did not apply to members of the armed struggle who committed so-called 'crimes of blood'. They were imprisoned even after 1979. The amnesty was only valid for the military”. Jair Krischke, a historic activist against military dictatorships and torture, rightly stated that “in Brazil there was no transition. There was a transaction”. Breno Altman, for his part, pointed out that "the home of the hydra that coup is in the Armed Forces", adding that these "have exercised guardianship over the State since the War in Paraguay".

A guardianship that UFRJ professor Francisco Teixeira pushes back even further, attributing it to a (false) self-awareness originated in the “battles of Guararapes against the Dutch, in 1648 and 1649, when the “Army” saved the country from foreign invasion, until the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889”. Going back to the origin of Brazilian military/coup support at the beginning of the New Republic, the Paraguayan War or the Sugar Wars is a correct historical exercise, at the risk of being anachronistic, as it shows the non-consolidation of a self-governed civil society in our country , and the structural dependence of the proto-colonial State and the Brazilian State, in relation to the uniformed class, a characteristic, on the other hand, totally Latin American (see Peru today, right now).

Today's coup d'état has to do with a Latin American crisis as a whole, which motivates a coup wave of continental reach, inserted in a world crisis that has its epicenter in the North American economic and political crisis, with the USA trying to impose an imperialist offensive without precedents via the expansion of NATO against Russia (“war in Ukraine”) and in the growing and multifaceted confrontation with China, objectives to which the Yankee establishment seeks to subordinate its historic backyard, Latin America.

The uniforms of our continent promoted a failed fascist coup in Bolivia, and now they struggle in the defense of Fernando Camacho, governor of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and declared Nazi-fascist, its main promoter. The Brasilia attack was accompanied by blockades and provocations against the elected government of the Andean country. Also by the coup campaign against Chilean President Gabriel Boric, under the pretext of a pardon he granted for the benefit of prisoners for their participation in the popular rebellion of October 2018. The coup against Pedro Castillo in Peru, monitored by Fujimori's armed forces, accentuated the crisis in Latin America, manifested also in the humanitarian crisis caused by immigration in Mexico and Central America. In this context, the Brazilian coup d'état fits in and "explains" as well as the autonomous action of the paramilitary militias installed in Rio de Janeiro.

The manifesto Amnesty Never Again, already signed by more than 80 entities and Brazilian citizens, calls for the “immediate demilitarization of the Brazilian State. This means both the removal of the military from decision-making and state administration and the removal of the entire leadership of the military command involved with the previous government. Let them all go into reserve. Over the past four years, the military has continually blackmailed Brazilian society, with threats of a coup and direct interventions in national political processes. This cannot go unpunished. In a democracy, the military does not exist politically. They do not speak, do not act and do not intervene under any circumstances. One of the biggest aberrations of the 1988 Constitution was to define the armed forces as “guardians of order”. In a real democracy, who defends society is society itself and does not need any force outside itself to do so”.

Militant democracy opposes the fighters to the government policy of resolving the crisis through a changing of the guard at the uniformed summits, leaving untouched the structure of military tutelage over civil power, that is, the basis of the Brazilian-style “structural coup d'état”. But the task posed is strategic. Sweeping fascism and the military coup is part of a struggle in which the foundations of social misery and national submission are at stake. The class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle for the unity of Latin America are faces of the same process.

Brazil is experiencing a national crisis, expressed in the volume of public debt, which already points to a total amount of 90% of GDP, with an annual service of almost one trillion reais, between 5% and 6% of GDP, equivalent to seven budgets annual SUS. Half of the federal budget is committed to paying interest on the debt, crippling social spending and investment in health, education and other basic items. Almost a third of the population goes hungry, and the number of Brazilians with an income of less than R$ 500 is already close to 63 million, around 30% of the population, the highest index in the historical series. The organized working class, the central protagonist in this struggle, played a lesser role in the coup crisis than the organized supporters of Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro.

The condition for overcoming this scenario is the existence of an independent, classist and left-wing political force that openly defends a revolutionary program and fights for it in all instances of the workers' and popular movement. Political debate with this objective in mind is the task and duty of all democratic and classist forums in the country.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Marxist economic theory: an introduction (boitempo).

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