Deconstituting dynamics

Image: Felipe Ribeiro


The rise of the extreme right in Brazil is a cause and consequence of the political subjectivation processes of the financialized Brazilian bourgeoisie

“It is in the magical handling of a scale that all the mathematics of the wise is stored, in one of the dishes the rough, modelable dough, in the other, the amount of time to demand from each one the refinement of the calculation, the ready look, the agile intervention to the most subtle unevenness.”
(Raduan Nassar).

“Between February and October, there was April”
(Francisco de Oliveira)

I call abysms what we have around and ahead: the consolidation and normalization of socio-territorial dissolutions resulting from the intensification of capitalist dynamics that scavenge collective wealth and knowledge. These deconstituting dynamics took shape from 2011 onwards, with spasms in 2013 and 2015, and reached primacy between 2016 and 2022, remaining in a latent state from 2023 onwards.

The rise of the extreme right in Brazil is both a cause and a consequence of the political subjectivation processes of the financialized Brazilian bourgeoisie. It is not possible to separate political neo-fascism (“Bolsonarism”) from market neo-fascism: both shield themselves from the exchange of booty, be it state assets or public, social and ecological goods and rights. Once this “De facto Government” was encapsulated in 2022, a tentative “Government of law” was erected to which strict margins of governability were granted that fit the edges of these abysses. In this interstice in which reactionary and centrist positions are rearranged, a century after Lenin, it is worth interpreting this diagram of forces in precarious balance.

Before, under the projection screen of invented and inflated enemies (communists, corrupt, deviants), and with the unison support of Faria Lima, wholesale assaults on public facilities and social rights were authorized. Then, with the election and inauguration of Lula, and in response to the January 8 attempt, an institutional convergence took place around the inadmissibility of similar coup plots. The broad front government expresses, in the end, an interclass agreement for the purpose of consolidating previous offensives and replacing the country as a global player in the regional and global arenas.

Agribusiness, mining and finance did not change either character or hands in this rearrangement and the border of commodities continues in forced march. If there is a relative truce on the surface of the institutions, on the other hand, in the territories, in the immense internal Gaza strips, the asymmetric war continues and with the approval of the federative units. Just see how direct actions by urban and rural militias combine to expel territorialized communities and federal and state parliamentary initiatives in defense of the empire of property and privatism.

Popular leaders with greater power of aggregation and building unity in their communities are cut down to expose the cost of standing in the way of private incorporations. The plot and execution of Mãe Bernardete make clear the modus operandi of the policy of massacres and selective executions adopted in Brazil, a decentralized, outsourced and self-dissimulating policy. Literally forced redundancy: those who killed Bernardete were drug gunmen, just as those who killed Mariele were militiamen.

In this necropolitical device, the prizes increase in distribution with companies and large owners who benefit from the “cleaning” carried out, and thus the authorship of the crime ends in the execution itself. The paramilitary arm of capital assumes the burden while waiting for new orders with increasing bonuses.

The calculation required here, which goes against this regressive calculation, is the calculation of the contingency of the times and setbacks of domination, which captures the moments of impasse and the fissures towards which all available social energies must be directed. The “Lenin Moment”, epigraphed by Chico de Oliveira (2006), is one that measures the extent to which the institutionalized forms of democracy can be torn apart, that is, the extent to which the violence of capital can be institutionally contained.

This would be the fulcrum of Lenin's thought/action: the permanent effort to identify how certain conjunctures “would enter into a relationship with the totality, with the totality of the present and with the central problem of future evolution, and, therefore, with the future itself .” (LUKACS 1970, p. 92).

The possible learning about the decisive moments for the displacement of forces is done by generalizing the lessons extracted from revolutionary experiences that are always unique. Generalizing the experience itself, without the mediation of historical circumstances and the actors involved in them, means another way of burying memory. Lenin's legacy cannot be petrified at the cost of its emptying.

The Russian Revolution only became viable and postulateable in the context of the Great War (1914-1918) and amid the collapse of the tsarist autocracy. The accumulation and intensity of social and economic contradictions, which are at the origin of the rupture of the so-called “weakest link” in the capitalist chain, were the result of the unique Russian condition that combined backwardness/advancement in maximum polarity: semi-feudal economy & monopoly capital; monarchical absolutism & intelligentsia bearing ambitious universality; Great-Russian imperialism & subordination to English and French capital; peasantry recently returned from servitude & a young and combative working class concentrated in large factories.

After the Tsar was deposed by the opposition united front led by the Kadetes, the incipient Russian liberal-bourgeois party, a provisional government emerged in February 1917 from the Duma (the Parliament, in which a new alliance between the bourgeoisie and autocracy was negotiated). At the same time and in an antagonistic way, the experience of the 1905 insurrection was re-edited, that of the self-managed councils of workers and soldiers, the soviets. The first demand of the workers, peasants and soldiers (Peace, Bread and Land) was the unilateral withdrawal from the War, meanwhile the Kadetes did not give up the war agreements and render accounts to English and French financial capital. The duality of powers was established and access to its outcome was open

After April 1917, the watershed between the Menshevik groups aligned with the old Bolsheviks (among them Kamenev and Stalin) and the expanded Bolshevik fraction, of Lenin and Trotsky, was that the former did not admit a bourgeois revolution without an ideal bourgeoisie, while the latter anticipated the inability of the real Russian bourgeoisie to fulfill what would be its “own” tasks. The time had come to concentrate political intervention under the declared leadership of a “democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants”, to take the slogan of “All power to the soviets” to its ultimate consequences. The continuation and completion of the democratic revolution could only take place under the control of workers and peasants, that is, their direct representation bodies.

October was, therefore, a victorious deviation, Lenin's deviation from the doxa Russian social democracy of which he himself had been (and would remain) a pillar. A victory for the “revolution against Capital” as the young Gramsci referred to the Russian revolution shortly after its outbreak. The capital implied here, by Gramsci, as disseminated through the lenses of Kautsky and Plekhanov, as if it were the universal theory of historical development; I understood it like that The capital as the result of a determined effort by a generation, represented by Marx, which saw a new mode of production and reproduction mature and which needed to systematize and register the criticism that was more totalizing to it. What Gramsci was trying to say with his aphorism is that the Russian revolution went against the grain of the official interpreters of Marxism, which also gave it the status of “theoretical revolution”.

Russian Marxist organizations and intellectuals soon realized that the core of the revolutionary transition program would have to incorporate tasks from distinct historical phases and based on heteroclite tactical-strategic alliances. The counterpoint to Russian populism would necessarily have to build on its findings and overcome them. Faced with the question of the temporality of the process of maturation of capitalism, which presupposes a historical sequence with a homogeneous rhythm and scope, Lenin (1985, p. 244) countered by saying that it is “incomparably more important to ask: in what way, as well as, from what point ?”

Replacing the same issues in the current bourgeois counter-revolution in Brazil depends on overcoming the chronic lament of the “lack that makes” the country an ideal capitalist subject. This misplaced credulity presupposes the possibility of the existence of a more indigenous, fair and progressive capitalism in Brazil. As if there were, on the one hand, a modernizing and national capital blocked, on the other hand, by another, archaic and surrendering capital.

Would it then be the duty of citizens to close ranks with the first against the second and await developments? However, as we have seen, it was capital from different origins that closed ranks among themselves and went out of their way to advance their profitability margins in the absence of previously defined pacts and legal limitations.

The new realities constituted by the interfluve between State and market, after the restructuring of central capitalisms in the 1970s and 1980s and in the periphery and semi-periphery of capitalism in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, require proportional political and theoretical leaps.

First, it is necessary to understand that the tasks of the bourgeois revolution in Brazil were accomplished in their own way, within the framework of orders of exception, and with a subordinate role in the international division of labor. Faced with the profusion of a civilizing-innovative, sustainable and inclusive rhetoric, it is necessary to emphasize that interbourgeois connections and couplings continue to predominate, converting the State, especially its economic and sectoral agencies, into spaces for facilitating and generalizing the commodity form, unrelated to any meritocracy – and considering achieving credibility with financial investors as sufficient, other legitimizations aside.

Second, it is necessary to extract the meanings of the institutional left having today become the bastion of liberal democracy in Brazil and the fact that the Lula Government seeks legitimacy by raising itself as a historical substitute for a disembodied industrial/national bourgeoisie.

Going with Lenin and beyond him, it is then necessary to ask where the solutions are in the face of an obstruction that is simultaneously neoliberal and neofascist, asking how we activate social forces, with what starting points and with what organizational spaces. It is essential to decipher the already priced present-future of the country, identify the points of bourgeois and pro-bourgeois unity forged around the strategy of “more capitalism” for all subsumed, or about to be subsumed, and uncover gaps for political and social reinvention .

*Luis Fernando Novoa Garzon is a professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Federal University of Rondônia.


LENIN, VI The development of capitalism in Russia. São Paulo, Boitempo, 2023..

LUKACS, G. Lenin: The coherence of his thought. Grijalbo, Mexico DF, 1970.

OLIVEIRA, Francisco. “Lenin Moment”. In: OLIVEIRA, Francisco and RIZEK, Cibele Sailiba. The age of indeterminacy. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2007, p. 257-288.

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