Two years of misrule – fascist neoliberalism

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By LINCOLN SECCO*

The episodic resistance of a left with a fragmented agenda is incapable of defeating fascism

Jair M. Bolsonaro did not rise without the complicity of business elites, the media, Congress, the Armed Forces and the Judiciary. The only requirement of those institutions was that, once the electoral process was over, it adapted to the modus operandi traditional governance.

However, he stabilized himself in power without abandoning the sectarian discourse. In spite of successive changes of ministers and the verbal intemperance of its members, the government remained firm and survived all the false prophecies of its imminent fall. The economic policy got support from most of the Congress, corporate media and business community, besides the imperialist countries, of course.

Bolsonaro also maintained the capacity for popular mobilization because he defends moral values ​​rooted in a part of society. In addition, he equipped himself with a military device to sustain his power. In June 2020 there were 6.157 military personnel in the federal government and they headed 36% of the ministries.

In the second year of his term, he opposed his economic team, granting emergency aid to workers during quarantine with legal authorization. Even so, he questioned the very maintenance of the constitutional limit on public spending. The amount offered was higher than Bolsa Família, the most praised social program of the PT period. This ensured that amidst the tragedy of the pandemic, there was a rise in the president's popularity, despite his doubts about the lethality of the virus. She retracted with the end of emergency aid and the second wave of deaths in Manaus.

Bolsonaro's adherence to this or that economic program was never a matter of principle, as we observe from his political biography; it is subordinated to a purpose of dismantling what he believes to be the State apparatuses infiltrated by “cultural Marxism”.

Fascist Neoliberalism

Bolsonaro is a fascist, although he has not yet completely fascistized the institutions. In the age of monopoly capital, fascism is the opportunistic and rational mobilization of the irrational in people, particularly the resentful middle strata. Fascism may or may not fulfill the historical phases that transform it from a marginal and disaggregated belief into a mass movement, a party, a government or even a political regime.

If we take the definition seriously, we need to recognize that Bolsonarism does not just represent a passing wave of collective hallucination. Even if he is electorally defeated, the foundations of his policy and the anti-values ​​he defends will remain in a larval state in his social base.

Bolsonarism provides finance capital with its mass base, founded on an ideology that translates the most reactionary elements of common sense into political action. In our time, they are those of neoliberal individualism and form a web of beliefs that guides the left itself. This is called hegemony, that is, the ability to direct morally and intellectually even opponents. Just as the “middle man” believes in the merit of the great finance tycoons, the left believes in fiscal balance tempered by compensatory social policies.

Fascism needs permanent terror and operates within the hegemony of big capital, reinforcing it. When its political cost threatens the economic existence of the ruling classes, it can be discarded.

However, the story is always more complex. Fascism has a relative autonomy that can lead to the destruction of the state apparatus and the country. For those who doubt it, just remember that Germany was close to this in 1945 and survived by the pity and economic interest of its opponents. Some of them simply proposed its dismemberment into the small monarchies prior to the Bismarckian era.

The German ruling class, which financed the Nazis and then profited from government purchases and the ephemeral conquests of territories and slaves, never opposed the regime. Even other bourgeoisies, such as the French, sought to adapt and profit from collaborationism. Therefore, there is no point in expecting anything from any internal bourgeoisie. Ultimately, it chooses to sacrifice its political survival in the name of economics. Centers and centers lose their usefulness when businessmen desert their traditional parties.

The Industrial Entrepreneur's Confidence Index was, on average, higher in the Bolsonaro government than in Dilma's two terms. Despite the economic depression, the ruling classes continued to support the government with the expectation that it would further dismantle the state. Attacks on social security and labor rights were not enough. Not even the tragedy of a country that lost the ability to produce its own vaccine or a government that left Amapá without energy moves the capitalist. He is the mere personification of an economic category and not of ideals. The exceptions of the past, such as Roberto Simonsen, confirm the rule of the Skafs, the Lemanns and an industrial bourgeoisie reduced to shed capitalism.

The behavior of entrepreneurs and their media spokespersons is explained by the fact that it is even more advantageous to sustain the rate of profit by reducing the share of salary in the composition of the price of the product. When they talk about productivity, they don't think about technological innovations, but about the difference between what the worker produces and what he costs. The translation of expressions like “fiscal adjustment” and “reforms” is simply paying less taxes and wages.

The improvement in the macroeconomic environment is not attributed to the inducing role of the State and a robust domestic market, but to the end of labor and social security rights and the cut in public spending on health, research and education. In the microeconomic rationale of entrepreneurs, they are not economic externalities that make long-term investments viable. Its only historical interest is the rate of profit, even though there is no longer a society in which to realize it. They are not innocent and they know perfectly well what they are doing to the country. They transformed it once again into a platform for the export of primary goods and, alongside media and sports celebrities, they live abroad and from there support the government's misdeeds for the rest of their lives. Twitter.

For the negative work of critics, it is still fascinating: Bolsonaro finally exacerbated the immanent tendencies of peripheral capitalism in a continental country: more than overexploitation, he assumed an economy of enclaves for the export of commodities and energy; and reduced the State to the role of a night watchman. All explicitly and without provoking any social upheaval so far. In the best of expectations, he could suffer defeat in the 2022 elections, although today this is still unlikely.

Bolsonaro even reduced the Armed Forces to a political police force, reinforced its privileges, distributed positions and opportunities for illicit enrichment and overturned its last illusion: that of defending the sovereignty of the territory.

The neoliberal model will not disappear even with a government defeat. The political game was reduced to the contradiction within neoliberalism between its fascist and “democratic” modality. The Liberal-Social Republic of 1988 came to an end. In the “neoliberal republic”, the country returned to the condition of a factory disguised as a society, to use Caio Prado Júnior's expression.

Eppur si muove

The wild capitalism of the periphery has insurmountable contradictions that no government can solve. Bolsonaro cannot simply adopt a Keynesian program in a country where banks, businessmen and the middle classes operate according to a rentier and non-productive logic; at the same time, he needs to generate employment, income and public services for the poor because they are the vast majority of the electorate; he would be left with the option of a new coup, something always proclaimed by some member of the family in the power.

The moralistic precepts that Bolsonaro presents have social support because they satisfy, in a real or imaginary way, people's everyday problems. But at the same time, they contradict current practices at the base of society that are difficult to revert, such as free sexuality and the notion that some public services are a historically acquired right.

Episodic resistance is incapable of defeating fascism because in a torn society it offers the reunion of the community; facing a left with a fragmented agenda, he presents engagement in a national cause. Yet all this is as false as the Führer's secret weapon that would save Germany.

The idea of ​​a socialist society led millions to revolution, anti-fascist resistance and even social reforms and expansion of rights. There was a world to win, not an article of the constitution to defend.

As the authors of the The Manifest, “it is high time for communists to openly expose their points of view, their objectives, their tendencies to the whole world, and to counterpose the legend of the ghost of communism with a manifesto of their own party”.

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Editorial Studio).

 

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