Two years of misrule – the authoritarian version of the neoliberal tragedy

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Bolsonaro-Guedes neoliberalism does not deliver what it promises and denies the harm it does

There goes two years of the national tragedy in its undisguised form, that of the authoritarian deterioration of the 1988 Constitution regime, promoted by the forces that sustain the ultra-dependent, militia-militarized neoliberalism that characterizes the Bolsonaro government. The farcical form of the tragedy, still with liberal-democratic modesty, was presented in the process of the coup that led to the Temer government and lasted until the 2018 elections.

That national electoral process gave rise to the victory, in the second round, of a broad neoliberal-authoritarian coalition, bringing together forces from the traditional right (PSDB, DEM, corporate media), the Lava Jato juristocracy, the leadership of the three Armed Forces, military police from all over the country, extremist street movements – anti-Dilma, anti-PT and supposedly anti-corruption –, neo-Pentecostalism and, sponsoring the structural power of this wide range of actors, the big business community in general, not just the most reactionary. In that electoral campaign, the transition from one form of the tragedy to the other was already outlined: “Whoever wants to hinder progress will interfere at the end of the beach, not here”.

At the same time, the owners of money, as they still do today, welcomed Paulo Guedes with open arms, for his ultraliberal program. For them, citizenship is limited to basic property rights – theirs, by the way. They disregard other civil rights. They live in Brazil, not in Brazil and for Brazil. Political rights, in turn, since the lawfare against Lula, began, at the limit, to have their validity conditioned to the election of candidates in tune with his anti-popular and anti-national agenda. And social and economic rights, which provide the vast majority of people with the material means of realizing civil liberties, are seen as costs that hinder business.

Contrary to analyzes that predicted the rapid collapse of the Bolsonaro government, if he disbanded part of this coalition, this did not occur, despite significant defections, such as the lavajatistas, the MBL, the Vem Pra Rua, civil society personalities and important right-wing cadres. traditional, João Dória in front.

The president's bombastic and truculent rhetoric and the deepening of the social and economic crisis have worn the government down before part of its electorate. This is the first less popular presidential term since the 1989 elections, and this was observed even during the duration of the emergency aid. Even so, Bolsonaro resisted the escalation of impeachment requests, either benefiting from the precious omission of Rodrigo Maia, a political representative of the market in the Presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, or now with the support of the physiological parliamentary base of Centrão, which guaranteed him victory. of two allies in charge of the two houses of the National Congress.

What happened? Basically, three synchronized movements. First of all, Bolsonaro maintains the support of 30% of the electorate, a good part of which, at this point, it is hard to doubt that it is not ideologically aligned or indifferent to the anti-democratic precepts copiously defended by him since 2018, or even before, but especially in these two years of a shameless authoritarian mismanagement. Moreover, the release of funds for parliamentary amendments convinced most of the federal deputies more than the candidacy of Baleia Rossi, defended in the name of democracy by Rodrigo Maia, one of the chiefs of the traditional right and co-author of the coup against Dilma. The last movement concerns the owners of money, after all, indifferent to the president's authoritarian outbursts and the tragic management of the pandemic, as they prioritize the swift approval of the endless neoliberal reforms, this time in the administrative and tax spheres and the Bank's autonomy Central. With Arthur Lira's victory, they gained new impetus.

Most of the powerful wealthy minority probably prefer a sweeter right, like Doria, Luciano Huck or Sergio Moro, but they don't want to risk deposing Bolsonaro to prepare the ground for 2022 for these class allies. An impeachment would consume several months of 2021 and could make the approval of reforms unfeasible. The market is pragmatic, it thinks with its eyes looking at bank vaults.

In this way, the authoritarian version, with neo-fascist elements, of neoliberalism of the reckless bridge to the dystopian future, which is destroying jobs, the well-being of citizens and the national productive structure, remains standing. Bolsonarist necropolitics, which cultivate death through pandemic denialism and the arming of militias and good men and their jagunços, is a sister of Guedesian necroeconomics, inducing chaos through unemployment and hunger.

Another factor supporting the current government is the failure of attempts to form a broad front between the traditional left and right. Since values ​​such as national sovereignty, development and social justice do not attract the parties of the non-extreme right and their parliamentary representatives, the strategists of the broad front perspective, situated in the ideological field of the center-left, emphasize the risks to democracy and, therefore, , to the privileged position of these politicians. But this parliamentary oligarchy is not convinced that the privileges they enjoy and their political networks are threatened by Bolsonarism. They use the alternative of the broad front to increase their pass in patronage with the government, abandoning it as soon as they reach their narrow objectives. The popular field faces a dilemma. On the one hand, it has not been able to organize itself around an economic, social and political platform that is an alternative to Bolsonarism, one that incorporates the democratic question, but that does not end there. On the other hand, he does not fail to deposit his opposition energy in the search for an unlikely pact with the same right that paved the way for the current government, at least since Aécio Neves refused to recognize the defeat of 2014.

An external panorama is useful. Analyzing the US political scene in 2017, philosopher Nancy Fraser identified three political types in neoliberalism: the progressive, the reactionary, and the hyper-reactionary. They all contain a regressive political economy in relation to productive capital, as they are based on financialization. But progressive neoliberalism, from the Democrats, sweetens the pill on the recognition agenda, although it embeds a meritocratic conception of inequality reduction. Reactionary neoliberalism manifested itself from Reagan to Bush Sr., then again with Bush Sr.. In it, the policy of recognition was conservative, but an elegant, parlor conservatism. The hyper-reactionary version emerged with Trump, who insisted on using racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic, etc. Furthermore, it also added nationalism and a certain protectionism. A backdrop is deindustrialization and the deterioration of living conditions for workers and the middle class. Neoliberalism, in addition to regressing industrialization and the quality of jobs – while China, following another political economy, is increasingly asserting itself –, with Trump, also threatened democracy in the US, something unprecedented in the history of that country.

The general scenario is the crisis of neoliberal capitalism, which dates back to the Great Recession that broke out in the USA. There it took place from 2007 to 2009, but, as it spread to Europe, it persisted in the Old World until the beginning of 2013. If, at first, Latin America escaped the worst, in 2011 the first signs of the end began to appear. of the commodities boom, which fueled the social advances of the Onda Rosa governments, although prices peaked only in 2014. We know that much of what has been achieved in terms of growth and poverty reduction in Brazil and in Latin America in general owes to the window of opportunity configured by the rise in international commodity prices. But one cannot ignore the reactivation of public investments as an important factor for converting trade balance surpluses into improved production, employment and social well-being.

Bolsonaro is the Brazilian exemplar of the international crisis of neoliberal capitalism, a bearer of hyper-reactionary neoliberalism, an even more bizarre platypus than the one described by Francisco de Oliveira, as he has experienced the recent degenerative trends of the global economic and political order. In addition to the incessant production of financial macrocephaly and social inequality, today's national platypus engenders the regression of sophisticated productive sectors and rescues a specific authoritarian deformation of democracy, with neo-fascist features.

But half of voters disapprove of the Bolsonaro government. In addition, the pandemic takes its breath away and we have no vaccines and no hope. In any case, faced with the pessimism of realistic reason, only the optimism of the will remains. The promising horizon, as we know, envisions a popular field unified around a democratic agenda, aimed at the majority of the nation, a well-formulated and publicized development and social inclusion agenda, which is a viable alternative for a collective way out of the economic crisis and sanitary. Bolsonaro-Guedes neoliberalism does not deliver what it promises and denies the harm it does. This contradiction needs to be explored. The necessary front to oppose the bourgeois united front is the broad popular front.

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

*Felipe Maruf Quintas is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).


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