Liberal right, left and Bolsonarism



The government exists and is maintained on account of two sustaining forces: the military establishment and the Market.

Bolsonaro and fascism

We are, in Brazilian politics, immersed in a well of simulacra. Not even the surface fascism installed in the government, which makes us so indignant, has real consistency. We already had, with Integralism, a true proto-fascism. Today, a kind of exotic embryo of it is repeated, caricatured, as a tragicomedy. Not that it's hollow or innocuous; it's fake, fakefascism, with the virulence of fakenews. Real fascisms involve beliefs and convictions, 'truths' and evidence (often hallucinatory); here is mockery, opportunism, and cynicism.

It is true that we see a return to the basic vocabulary of fascism: God, Fatherland, Family, etc. However, the God of Bolsonaristas is that of the poor spectacles of some rude pastors, many wealthy, several corrupt, some criminals. His homeland is not that of the mystique of a national identity, nor that of reverence for origins or founding institutions; finally, that of true nationalisms.

Here, the homeland of ordinary soldiers and authoritarian and corporate officers – often coup-mongers – speaks, who do not hesitate to subordinate themselves to the neoliberal market without a country and also, in a subservient and vexatious way, to that entertainer vulgar raised to the command of the Empire. Likewise, their attachment to family has nothing to do with the old conservative – often hypocritical – devotion to the Christian family; it is the mafia defense of family members. Everything there is caricature, simulacrum.

Bolsonaro and his most fanatical followers should therefore not be feared and faced as if they represented the advance of true fascism, ideological and militant. Your 300 is less than 30; its militias, nor the digital ones, are not exactly political; its ideologues are laughable; his anti-press rants don't intimidate any journalist.

Finally, his political strength does not come from a consistent set of ideas, nor from a militant organization (he doesn't even manage to have a party); it comes from fears and hatred fed by pathetic pastors, militiamen, opportunist politicians and by the continuous mambembe staging – by tweets and small sketches street for its faithful or by profanity for those in the palace – from threats to imaginary enemies of the country and opponents of its government, whether external (communist globalism, the Chinese threat, M. and Me. Macron, defenders of forests ), or the interns (the Supreme Court, the NGOs, the corrupt PT members, the 'sissy' alarmed by the Covid flu).

But where is the reality of the Bolsonaro government? What forces really ignite and sustain it? Evidently, they are not those of the parliamentary 'allies', supporting the farce, the physiological 'centre' and always pro-government. This government exists and maintains itself as known by two supporting forces. On the one hand, the military, which backbones it in all its extension (more than 6.000 soldiers in key posts). Well, the military, with him, returned to the center of power, with its crude anti-communism, its aged and emptied nationalism, its corporate interests.

On the other hand, the Market, seeking to dismantle labor rights, privatize public goods, neutralize the left. The Market needs the President's stagings to get 'popular' and electoral coverage for its own gambling and economic manipulations. And Bolsonaro has given him, in addition to electoral coverage, parliamentary majorities for 'reforms' and even pretexts for some, meager, protests of social civility and political modesty. Market representatives generally maintain an awkward silence about the president's barbarities; From time to time, they try to clash, soon overcome, however, by common sense and the need to guarantee stability and the program of 'necessary reforms' (in the absence of which the apocalypse is announced).

The military need not give reasons for its massive presence in government other than its patriotism, evident love for the country and concern for its fate. Liberals, on the other hand, find themselves pressured to produce political allegations. What, therefore, would be his ideological-political motivations and even the underlying logic of his tactical alliance with Bolsonaristas?

Liberals and Bolsonaro

Let's start with the 'ideological' elective affinities that bring them together. In the first place, there is the alleged opposition between both parties to the “old policy”, oligarchic and corrupt (and even more sharply corrupted by the PT administrations). Then there is their common aversion to the 'interventionism' and 'directism' of the State, in the view of liberals, bloated and inefficient, expensive and paternalistic (excessive social spending on security, with unnecessary funding of university education, the SUS, etc) – to be corrected by privatizations, by the rationalization of administration, by encouraging a more entrepreneurial and 'competitive' sociability. Afterwards, they are even closer due to their common fight against the “radical ideologies of the left” (in all their shades: the Castro, the Chaves, the Evo, the Lula) – atheist and internationalist ideologies for the Bolsominions; inducing polarization and hatred, enemies of pluralism and democracy, for their allies.

But let us look for the properly political reasons. First, they claim that the Bolsonaro government was electorally instituted through good democratic procedures (here, democracy is just an aggregation of interests and opinions expressed by voting). And his election carried out a necessary and legitimate alternation in power, preventing PTism from crystallizing there. The current president, moreover, “knew how to capture the movement of rejection of the left” and “knew how to incorporate relevant trends in Brazilian political life” (the conservatism of customs; animosity towards politicians and the political system; indignation with corruption and the just demand for ethics in politics; the new intensive use of social networks).

From the point of view of democratic procedures, therefore, there is nothing to criticize: its legitimacy and legality cannot be contested (contrary to what happened with the scandalous manipulation of public accounts during the Dilma government). His words and 'outbursts' may be deplored, but not anti-democratic attitudes and acts (Cf. Minister Dias Toffloli). Thus, it is wise to offer critical and outstanding support for preserving law and order and for the necessary measures to clean up and liberalize the economy.

Afterwards, they also make a point of remembering that the current political polarization, which gives rise to so much barbarity and nonsense, was provoked by the left itself, with its 'violent rhetoric', its old game of stigmatizing opponents (recall here, with some regret, the “outside FHC”, a social democratic government); finally, his binary and adversarial view of politics. Ultimately, the authoritarianism of the Bolsonarist left and right are similar in their deleterious effects on our democratic life.

But, considering its political-institutional fragility, its ideological emptiness, its cultural ridicule, Bolsonaro's crude populism perhaps represents a lesser danger than that of the left and could, perhaps, serve as an antidote to the strong cultural and ideological virulence of the latter. Who knows, the shock of these extremisms will awaken the country to a healthy political, dialogic and pluralistic rationality. The Bolsonarist bubble will also collapse at one time or another, letting the liberal democratic reason prevail, at a distance from radicalism.

Deplorable, they admit, are things like the dismantling of the Casa de Rui Barbosa, Funarte, the Cinemateca, the strangulation of funding for public education and for the production of science, obscurantism, the culture of violence and disrespect for minorities, the apology of torture, etc, etc, etc. However, if the public deficit is controlled, if the brakes are released – mainly represented by our outdated labor legislation – that hold back investments, if the inefficient machinery of public administration is wiped out, in short, if the economy is put back on track, little by little the necessary development will return and so will the Lights. After all, one cannot have everything at once, in a backward country and with a significant portion of the people so subject to manipulation by demagogues, because they are uneducated and uncivilized.

The left, the liberals and Bolsonaro

As, therefore, it is not difficult to conclude, the opposition to the fragile and indigent Bolsonarismo, paradoxically, is far from being a politically and electorally easy task (leaving aside the military factor), taking into account, above all, the objective support that comes to him from the Market, the cultural force achieved among us by neoliberalism and, furthermore, the convictions of liberals in good conscience who are in agreement with it – even if they do not do it out of will, but out of necessity (and begging Bolsonaro not to cross the line between its 'populism' and an autocracy, supported by its military).

It is also clear how complicated it is for the left to seek a composition with groups and parties of the center-right, to stop the misfortunes of Bolsonarism. And let us also remember that, in addition to their tactical and doctrinal motives, our liberals project on the left (even in PT governments, against all evidence) the denial of their most fundamental political values: moderation; tolerance for the plurality of opinions and interests; the protection of the inviolable rights of individuals, above all that of property (because, you are sure, it dreams every day of expropriations and confiscation through taxes).

Finally, the 'center' always resists alliances with the left and these, for their part, have good reason to suspect that any broad opposition front would only be formed from the cards put on the table by the liberals and that it would end up bringing more water for the mill of neoliberalism.

It is possible to verify, in this way, that, at the moment, there seems to be only one path left for the left: to rebuild itself, politically and ideologically, in the counter-field demarcated by Bolsonarism itself: for its conservatism, its prejudices, its contempt for science and culture, his social insensitivity, which quite well mark the demarcation markers of a real opposition to his government.

It is, therefore, a question of fully recognizing the power of the struggles against obscurantism and various forms of oppression, made even more evident by the brutality of the government: identity, ecological claims, social, cultural and political citizenship (a task, it must be remembered , which is not immediately inscribed in the trade union, worker and socialist DNA of the PT, the greatest and most extraordinary progressive asset in our political history). Finally, what is at stake is the task of recreating a substantively “popular” field (an undertaking that will surely be censored as 'left-wing populism'), without which there will be no true democracy (the regime of affirmation and permanent conquest of new laws and rights).

Here, it is necessary to remember that Bolsonaro and Bolsonaristas are those who see the world as a jungle, the urban jungle of its militias, of cleverness and of take your gun and save yourself, and yours, if you can. It should also be remembered that if liberals are horrified, it is because they believe in the civilizing virtues of commerce – of King Mercado –, which tames this 'man's wolf man', giving him a referee and educating him to the advantages of exchange, the substitute for war.

Now, the left speaks a different language and operates in a different register. While the right (be it the uncivilized or the civilized and enlightened) always operates – economically – with the assumption of the war of all against all (only circumstantially mitigated by aggregations of interests), the left, for its part, operates – politically – with the affirmation of values ​​and the pursuit of law and rights; it operates not with the accommodation of selfishness (which exists), but with political universals. It unfolds and works on its fundamental principles over time: freedom, equality, fraternity – which, the latter, continues to be claimed, even after Mrs. Thatcher decreed that “there is no society; there is [only] Market”.

Overcoming the current bewilderment of the left must, therefore, certainly involve lucidity about the basic difference between these two political fields; but it must also go through the understanding that the great “He doesn't” (which the liberals have rejected and refuse) that is growing in the country is redesigning and redefining the “popular field”. It will be necessary to realize that the rejection of Bolsonaro is not just a negative and programmatically empty movement, but that he vocalizes the drive for freedom and equality placed in the claims of multiple socially oppressed strata (the poor, but also women, blacks, LGBT+ , environmentalists, etc), which the aversion to Bolsonaro – for his conservative boçalities, social insensitivity and debauchery – virtually unifies. It is, then, about achieving with these groups, beyond the sum of their own demands, their best (properly) political expression. There are good reasons to believe that it is in this articulation of contesting social movements that the dynamics of renewal and the reopening, to the left, of the horizon of politics will occur.

It is worth remembering here, once again, the astute Machiavelli: "... in all cities two different moods are found: the people want not to be commanded or oppressed by the great and the great want to command and oppress the people" (The Prince, cap. ix.). It is from the solution of this social division – originating from the social and political order – between 'the great and the people', he continues, that are born either autocratic regimes (principalities), or regimes of freedom (republics) or even a licentious anarchy, disorder (as what we see). In the pulsation of a 'popular' desire – in the common denial of oppression, exploitation and exclusion – is that the opening of history …“the future”.

*Sergio Cardoso He is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at USP.


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