Two Years of Misrule – Journey to the Center of Nowhere



Reflections on the genesis of the Brazilian political deadlock.

“An Italian, who sold carpets in Calcutta, gave me the idea of ​​​​venirme; he says (in his language):
– For the persecuted, for the usted, there is only one place in the world, but in that place one does not live” (Adolfo Bioy Casares, The invention of Morel).

It is neither simple nor easy to get straight to the point when the subject is precisely a phantasmagoria. Every attempt runs the fatal rhetorical risk of some mannerism of dubious effect, and, by pointing the ghost here, there, there, it is always ready to undo, sublimate and confuse itself, as usual, with the most harsh reality, living up to the condition of a ghost. Thus, there is always the risk of succumbing to the phantasmagoria that is believing in ghosts, indeed, dangers of dangers. Therefore, these lines carry the serious risk of mystification, something like a ghostly self-combustion, swallowed by his thesis: they are nowhere.

Let's explain. Since the election of the current president, an index of a political reorganization that took place after the white coup disguised as an impeachment, in 2016, one of the favorite themes of retail political analysis (and at a good price) is the scope, scope and nature of such a political center, which is not necessarily and immediately confused with what is called “centrão”, in direct reference to an important portion of deputies and parties of the National Congress. The hidden assumption of these analyzes would be the following: both the 2016 coup was “center”, as a result, confirmation of the well-known “Dilma lost the center”, one of the catchphrases that circulated at the time, whose rhetorical reinforcement came with another observation, already then quite doubtful, as the impediment/coup for being from the “center”, left the “center” intact, even taking into account all appearances to the contrary.

Our modest and much more common “invention of Doctor Morel”, the center, would be there, parading in front of us, as it reappears every now and then. Here and there, in the opinion exchange, the most notable examples of these analyzes are marketed, the “center” as a criterion of measurement, of those who move away from it – the extremes –, of those who approach it – the right, with other vocatives nicer –, and just like a I think very sui generis, the “center” functions as a transparency from oneself to oneself and, by extension, transparency from oneself to the other, in the most optimistic version of the Cartesians, I am, I exist, so that the simple will of its enunciation, as a promise, thesis or hope, is enough to fulfill its conditions of existence.

This measure of all things – let us warn you, there is not one – would be I don't know which reissue of a famous poultice for those who in 2018, 2016+2, bet on what they knew, and many don't believe, despite knowing, and now have some embarrassment – ​​unnecessary – to pick up the prize at the betting window – “dark horse” in lane 17 –, along with the latest news of the more than four hundred and thirty thousand dead, and counting, in addition to many other hundred, one hundred and fifty thousand deaths already contracted in the short term, perhaps very short term, added to the collapse of the health system, lack of oxygen and hospital supplies of all kinds, persistent recession, stagflation, etc., etc., etc., maintaining, however, “the ceiling of expenditures”, index and summary of the whole process – a consensus of “centre”, as “all” recognize and congratulate each other.

So, when the current government was being set up, there were so many good souls scrutinizing its possible and probable elements of moderation, those that would bring it “to the center” (I am tempted to use the infamous “quotes”, and perhaps, quotes for “quotes”. ”, but I respect the good faith of those analysts of the occasion and of that occasion in which they took all trolló, washing your hands of the scam, very seriously). There would be the idiosyncratic marks of the national center in that famous arrangement that went from the then Minister of Justice, passing through the military – “our” professionals of the experience –, through the technical staff, not only the newcomers, also those inherited from the Temer government, including the artificer of the spending ceiling, today comfortably in the private sector, where he fearlessly supports the colic of others.

Afterwards, facts belied those hopes, perhaps once, twice or three times, there were the same intelligences scrutinizing the elements of moderation in national institutions (and even, in a poignant appeal, the moderation of international institutions), the elements of moderation in actions of the parliament, the summer fantasy that was that white “parliamentaryism”, light, disguised or whatever, the elements of moderation in the Judiciary Power and we arrive, today, the height of the summit, in the resumption of the insistent investigation of the elements of moderation revived by the Armed Forces, something difficult to put into perspective, let's say, since the coup d'état and the endemic authoritarianism that they are carriers, diffusers and amplifiers, known and known.

Modestly, here with my buttons in the very lowest clergy, the ghosts I see are of another order (I dream and have nightmares about the ladies of Santana, the shabby bachelors of our Faculty of Law, a military parade of smiling criminals, an anonymous house in Niterói, crimes against humidity prescribed around here, and I always wake up drenched). Maybe it's the case that I adjust my hallucinations to those of our average opinion published on an industrial scale, and I already make the reservation, for those who understand, despite this same opinion being born, growing and flourishing according to the very local scrutiny, and family, " guild from a private school”, something very much ours. I don't despair of resorting possibly to some medication help, I confess that I am very tempted, not to understand, it would be too much, to simply try to appease so many nightmares and who knows, survive their fury. Unfortunately, it is not a dream that is dreamed alone, the nightmare in which we participate, as a very popular philosopher once predicted.

Before the effect of these miraculous pills, however, I'm going to give the nightmare a wink and another, because after all, the trade obliges.

There are not a few who, even today, after 2018+2, make their profession of faith the investigation into the elements of moderation available to and in the government and its institutional surroundings and even, with dramatic appeal, to such Brazilian society, civil and organized . This, in part, became the ideology of coexistence with the current government, and it has an almost therapeutic function. Such an appeal, however, is not without “history”, so to speak: the 2016 coup covered itself with a very thin layer of apparent moderation and “centrism”, despite the violence and virulence it mobilized, everything from now on already so announced and revealed old. Hence, in order to understand the new reorganization of our authoritarianism that governs today and its corollaries (classicisms, racisms, slavery of all kinds, in a new and effective reorganization of certain ressentiment, and in brand new discursive terms, updating the maxim of right-wing radicalism, the means is its own end, as Adorno already indicated in the distant year of 1967[I]), capable, as it were, of co-opting our party of order, it is important to understand how much what we call “center” works and has worked under certain very specific conditions and its substance is having no substance.

Some will say: this is exactly the center, to which I reply, this is just the beginning of the fable. The fact is that the search for the center that was sublimated by the 2016 coup produced certain picturesque phenomena: both a certain moral criticism, when not moralistic, in which the “critical” repertoire to describe the evils of politics – not having a “center” (transcendental, because for the empiricist, the “centre” is enough) – would require new or renewed versions of some new or renewed version of subjectivities, diagonal, horizontal, trapeze-shaped or whatever, ranging from the “entrepreneurship” of a pousada in Noronha to the “entrepreneurship” of the bicycle delivery man.

Could such a blockade of understanding, that is, why “civil society” diverge from its own text, be the effect of the tropics? I don't know, with my buttons here, but nobody should be surprised if we go from “deconstruction” and the “rhizome” to “phrenology” without any scale, this excess of measures being, by the way, the joke is very old, the measure of our ideological life. In this effort, everything that could be taken more or less as an empirical and current correlate of a “center” is sought, whose idea speculative is phantasmatic insofar as it is as much or more moral. Such a political center urgently sought, understandable, moreover, and, obviously, never achieved, does not fail to produce the ghost of the ghost. We know the end of the story: Brás Cubas dies without putting his poultice on the shelves. Announced, never realized.

Hence, I insist, it is worth noting in this thick soup that those who today seek and prophesy the “center” are the same ones who firmly believed that the 2016 coup, with all the pyrotechnics and ultra-regressive rhetoric, in most cases, less “rhetoric ” in sense rhetorical and rhetoric of the literal, which it was necessary to mobilize and liberate, the faux frais that "revolution". The coup would be, ideologically done, a highly qualified surgical operation to extract an element that proved (and had become) foreign to the dynamics of our broken political representation. The extraction of certain undesirable elements at that point in the process, to simplify with an empty adjective, seemed the best option from many points of view.

In fact, there was the expectation that the left would finally be extirpated from the competitive game for power, otherwise it wouldn't be worth the effort, and it is known how much the national elites and all their acolytes are not very friendly with the effort, therefore, the effort it has to be worth the effort, just what you need, please. Such a sleight of hand would be equivalent to replacing the entire left field, not just the Workers' Party, forty years before today and giving the artificial blessing of forty years head start for the necessary reorganization of big business and interests, together with the forces and the privileged actors in its surroundings, the right called “center”, and continuous act, all according to its rigorous and current criteria of productivity, profitability and interest, no longer or not sufficiently contemplated in the end, something dramatic, and this adjective, let's face it, has content, from the PT cycle in the Dilma government.

Of course, the PT's (not so sudden) loss of functionality in the game and mediation of big business and interests, which any government that governs and wants to govern represents, is an exclusive judgment of those same big businesses and interests, and, add to this to this, the vocalization that part of the political elite, defeated in three presidential elections, made this judgment, amplifying it and allying it to smaller and more immediate interests, their own, thickening the broth of that broth. As for this, let's face it, it's part of the game played, and there's no reason to oppose the coup, which there was, a naive purism that the PT never had, in a practical sense, despite the fact that some and others like to mobilize purisms for, normally, impure ends , right and left.

And with that, it is not to be said that the PT absolutely did not know how to negotiate with these large interests, and make its consortia with it, in general partial and precarious, as it did and did for a long time. And, once again, it's a game played. As Nicolau said: here, only, the effective truth of the thing. Therefore: the “coup”, term, process and meaning have something beyond the punctual cut that the term indicates, coup with quotation marks, therefore, and it goes, as it were, far beyond the untimeliness of its legal, normative and institutional procedures: it was a step back, institutionally and politically, in a broad sense, in the recognition and functionality, in a specific sense, of political representation in absorbing what in the PT was not (and perhaps cannot be) concession and commitment: the popular character and content that the party takes as a mark and forms its party identity by giving it a historical form, and which is not neutralized or neutralized in the commitments it accepted to assume for the governance of the country, which is what we know it to be.

The PT thought, I think for my part, that it was, and always had been, a requirement of the process of reaching the government and a good part of the institutionalized power to accept being co-opted partly by the center, partly by the right, but that the cost of this co-option would be smaller than the social gain of this new articulation of forces that passed through a consortium of governance with other forces than just those that it, the PT, intended to represent or exclusively represented. And let's not fall for the "correlation of forces" slapstick here, please. By this time, the dice have been tossed, turned over, and squished.

This recognition and commitment mark the 2002 election. From the “Letter to the Brazilian People” to the commitment to fiscal and budgetary control, passing through the operational “autonomy” of the Central Bank, the “more than compromised neoliberalism” of more than two thirds of the cycle of PT in government, everything was a concession accepted with pragmatic ends: being able to govern and accumulating power in this operation. That there is opportunism of all kinds in the midst of this and in the process itself is as obvious for this as it is for everything else, which means that one cannot and should not give analytical prominence to this open secret, under the force of any moral appeals. , as middle-class resentment likes. The result is the truth (and the truth is the result), without a doubt: being able to govern, the PT, within these narrow and derisory limits, carried out a popular government, as has already been said, and it makes no sense for me to repeat the catchphrase: as “never before in the history of this country”.

Perhaps this would be the crucial point: how much of what the PT gave of itself to the process would be a “true surrender” and how much would not remain “dogmatically” linked to the “authenticity” of its origins, this convescote enigma of wealthy people may have been marked in the permanent distrust of the wealthy in relation to the good intentions (towards them) of the PT. The supposedly realistic (and cynical) criticism of a certain intellectual elite very rooted in our dear Alma Mater of the Old Republic passes by: the lack of sophistication of the PT, which returns from time to time in the beating and rebutting discussion about “populism” – in parentheses, of “left” -, this other The phantom (or phantom of the other) that he sometimes makes out of the congenital fear of “Haitianism” that modulated our XNUMXth century would be, in short, his lack of cynicism, since cynicism is the highest moral destiny that befits moderns and it moves our little modern ones too much.

Playing the game and letting it play, the famous ambivalence between tact and politeness that had been formalized in this way at the end of the 1988th century, in the French literate world, did not fit into the “radical” costume of the most important mass and leftist party, post XNUMX, or did not fit in part. The corollary of this incapacity would lead to an insufficient realism, incapable of emulating and capturing the cynicism of modern times, and all the fetishism that it implies, according to this critical salon judgment. Few would say that this backwardness of the PT would be to its advantage, as it seems to be: a workers' party, in the classic sense, and also a party of the poor, as it has always been and continues to be, keeping the two roads open, work socialized by the process productive, in an apparent crisis, formal work, and those without “fixed” work (formal and “protected”) and condemned to work, living on the fringes of the process that replaces and excludes them.

The fact is that no one forgives post-Kantian dogmatisms, even more so after the new bellalettrism of the thirties, so typical of ourselves, reconditioned by the pertinacity of French professors, themselves effects and participants in the construction of a “neutral” and “neutralizing” center. ”, the “republican center” of the Third French Republic, as it was the one that, corresponding to the (unfulfilled) expectations of the July Revolution (1830, France), “republic” without Terror, despite being, in letter, a project of liberal constitutional monarchy, takes place only in the Third Republic (1870, France after the II Empire), until the crisis of the thirties (of the XNUMXth century) broke as many contracts as there were, and the usual ghosts, fascism, chauvinism, anti-Semitism and, obviously, “class struggle”, entered that scene, bringing everything down.

The assumptions of this snobbish critique – which interchanges terms as appropriate, oscillating from a discreet anti-popular inclination to the most explicit anti-PTism – were somewhat obscured during the boom years, in terms of GDP, political alliances and pledges to love, the construction of the center by the PT, from 2002.

However, these salon criticisms emerged and gained more and more amplification and became symptoms, as the Dilma government lost, so to speak, control of the process, and less loved, was no longer able to coordinate and monitor the various expectations at stake: it's two for there, two for here. The loss of effectiveness of the initial arrangement, in the Dilma government, is naturally the effect of many causes, competing and contradictory, which little by little appeared as the great window of opportunity for an opposition (and some recessive elements of the left) whose best cynicism was becoming proving ineffective in recapturing the political process that had slipped out of his hands in the throes of Professor Cardoso's dismal second term.

It so happens that the PT had gained an unprecedented body over the years of the plateau and it would not be just a body game that would take it out of the winning streak just like that. Hence, enter chateux et chandons the impediment thesis appears, drastic, and fueled by the political and economic impasses, to a large extent equally institutional, that President Dilma inherits and in part exacerbates, better figured after those days of June 2013, on which I will not go into detail, as they are beyond the scope of this article.

I direct analytical attention to this point: being defeated politically is a game played, the effective truth of the thing, as, once again, Nicolau reminds us. Let us stress, however: impediment is an extraordinary operation under any aspect, and even more so when applied to a party integrated into the system of rules of the political process. As it could not be otherwise, it produced extraordinary effects, largely beyond the control of those who believed they had it under control, even if in the immediate moment, in the time of politics, with the arrest of ex-president Lula, a thousand dry heads, the account it seemed closed and the matter closed. (Later it was known, now it is known: it was the winning ticket scam).

You see, my slight reconstruction of this process, in these scribbles that I put here and there, has no other claim than the following: there was a disorganization of the process, which gained body and scale in the passage from the first to the second Dilma Government, for endogenous and exogenous reasons , and which appeared, due to necessary and contingent causes. This derangement did not necessarily produce the impediment/coup, but it provided sufficient reasons for it. The fissures with the political center, accelerated in the Dilma cycle, which take shape and begin to insulate the government in its own field, and which have to do with emerging electoral dynamics, the hysteria of the average opinion with the criminal spectacularization, clearly directed, above all because anchored in the catchphrase “the corruption of the PT”, an exhaustively repeated fraud of statement, since it was not “from the PT”, as it was what it always was, it was where it always was, business as usual, the end of the so-called supercycle of commodities, etc.

Added to this are the conflicts between the government and the field in which it found itself involved, which were intensified, rightly or wrongly, in part due to the effects of 2013, all flowing into the second term, with the significant drop in GDP and its corollaries , income, productivity, conditions of accumulation, etc. All things considered, it would still not be enough to neutralize, as they say, “in parentheses”, the PT and with it almost the entire left, which would follow it by force of gravity, willingly or unwillingly. In another way: the disorganization of the Dilma government (bombarded by external and “internal” shocks of all sorts, but let us reiterate, there is no “bad luck” in politics, only luck) was not sufficient reason for the offside.

The impediment was a deliberation partly sold, partly bought by a consortium between the political elite, the defeated of 2002 added to new guests who arrived, and the big business and interests and whose expectations, then frustrated, should be mutually realigned, and surgically, with the magic spell of not paying the specific political cost of such a tremendous eccentric maneuver. Thus, it was decided not to win a PT election, it was decided to take it out of the game. The operation, bizarre by itself, would only fit if some magical operation is accepted as valid. Typical sorcery of the local elites whose modernity, prior to the modern work ethic, is of the order of enchantment and, by extension, it is not unusual that they strongly believe in all kinds of spiritual operations. Examples abound. The return of the theological-political among us is not a regression, but an affirmation of our specific modernity, it is worth noting.

That would be the great fun of it all, were it not for the tragedy: there is an incredible irrational core in the rationality that initiated the impediment, in political and institutional terms. And with this core, apparently, no one counted, none of his patrons. There is an important cognitive dissociation in the leaders of the impediment: given all the water that had already passed under the bridge, it would not be possible to extirpate the PT without extirpating together the “center” that the PT homogenized and “centralized” in left-wing jargon, in to some extent, disciplined and organized it in terms of representation and interests, with some success, especially after the middle of the first term of the Lula Government, even considering the crisis in the relationship that the center had experienced with the Dilma government, from the middle of the first term to the end of his interrupted second term.

What the PT did at a snail's pace, and which would represent a perennial gain in national politics, was to modernize the center from the left (let's forget the “mensalão”, because no one who lost their baby teeth has license to assume that the PT, in the power, would not do what was common practice of governance, “moral” or “immoral”). In part, apart from this Tucano project at the beginning, with Mario Covas, but which turned out to be the other way around, the center left of the former MDB was disciplined by the “modern” right of the end of the dictatorship, which, in terms of public and critics , can be seen in São Paulo, taking public education as an example. Here, with all the deleterious effects, possible and imaginable, public education under the long dynasty of the toucans is a given and finished disaster, under which “everyone” is silent.

And there is no greater public commitment toucan than to lower as much as possible, and in this case the imagination goes far, to the same extent that it preserves, with reluctance, the system of state universities for graduates of the system of private schools of the high class of west zone of São Paulo. Of course, we are improving and will improve as a growing part of this elite, by “internationalizing” itself “on the outside”, starts to reallocate its heirs in “center” “universities”, notably North American ones, and make it more superfluous also the local public university system, from the point of view of the chiefs and their immediate.

Let us return, therefore, putting as much as possible, in parentheses, these wretched miseries.

Thus, in part the PT's own innovation in the modernization of political representation, given the narrow limits within which it took place, in part the accumulation of a process that came from the landmarks of the 1988 Constitution, all in all, an imperfect and limited, but cumulative process and, in a general sense, “progressive”, that was our state of affairs before the leap in blow that was 2016. We would be enrolled in a long-term process, at least in appearance, very slow, but effective, which did not mean that it still wasn't bloodthirsty and unfair, depending on the zip code and skin color of the Brazilian citizen. This process led by the PT was already part of the “imaginary” construction of the center.

But, also in appearance, very real appearance, despite everything, this was fatally aborted, which gives a good margin of distrust and mystification for the last periods of this one who writes to you. So perhaps the anecdote told here is itself that of a ghost, or rather, an anecdote by ghosts for ghosts: political phraseology cannot make a difference. boom without the reality of naked violence appearing to teach us all a lesson.

What follows, without being able to say how much was caused by the blockage of this process, or how much was its ultimate cause, the decisive effect of the coup suffered by President Dilma was the following: what appeared to be the “center” was destroyed, that it was and always had been a specific and operational kind of mirage and fiction, but more or less effective, depending on the sorcerer's arts. The actors in the center, at the end of this process, speechless, lost their costumes and ran to the extremes of the scene.

The alleged and new protagonists at the center of the scene were left without a “ladder”; without “leave”, the text was lost: hence the violence and the almost obscene irruption of private discourse – family, religion, relatives, friends from the pub, soccer team – on the occasion of the ill-fated vote on the impediment, and hence, effective and overwhelming , came what we know: an unprecedented discursive degradation, a broad license for verbal violence, I would say, almost unprecedented, which is, paradoxically, not only verbal. The medium is the message, as the advertising slogan says. Our violence has acquired a new form of self-consciousness. Whether gain or loss, here is the fact.

This “center” fantasy is not new in our political history and has its various versions. A “fantasy” center was the dream of Castellistas when, when carrying out the coup in 1964, also prepared and thought out for a long time, with an extra layer of cheap varnish than the coup in 2016 – paradoxically, by the way – they did not hesitate to set in motion a party reform, an institutional reform of representation policy (Institutional Acts 2, 3 and political and administrative purges of all kinds, bipartisanship, constitution granted) in order to make resistance to what would come unfeasible, resistance in terms of the political grammar consecrated by the previous democratic cycle, 1945-1964.

In a word, they diligently took care to empty the representation, then in operation, of popular content, so as not to lose to another the representation they intended to protect. This operation founds the military-authoritarian myth that the coup had popular “support”: what was popular and opposed, no longer counts, as it is no longer represented. The reorganization of the grammatical and syntactic forms of struggle depends on the natural grammar of political life, which in large part derives from “institutions” (“institutionality”, in the broadest sense, secrets this language, so to speak, of permissible conflict). Emptying and sterilizing labor, banning the PCB, our first mass and popular party, was the great political work of that broad spirit of (terrible) Parnassian barracks prose, Golbery do Couto e Silva, and who carried it out in crooked ways, there are to agree.

The opening, which the last general president carried out, who made his career starting as Golbery's assistant, also took place in the context of the end of the cycle of "my political tasks": a broad center had been built, without overall unity, easily co-opted by retailers, in theory, all with a view to avoiding the ideological intensification typical of the early 1964s, at the height of the fatal impasse of the then populist cycle, with its basic reforms. The MDB, later PMDB, current MDB, which would be, as it is, the heir of the 1964 coup, and in that there is no demerit, it is just verified as the best foreseen effect of the political modernization planned by the castelist, little by little assumed this role of responsibility, that is to say, as the first-time hitchhikers of the XNUMX coup dwindled along the way, fragmenting on the edges of that imaginary center under construction.

It has to be recognized that at the end of the path the MDB vertebrates itself, somewhat unexpectedly, from the clay of its clay a Golem emerges, which knowingly or not, became heir to the authentic (the “authentic MDB”, to whom I pay a modest homage), and put into practice, as far as possible, the radical program of 1972-1974, as far as possible, in the final third of the XNUMXs: broad, general and unrestricted amnesty – which did not happen , it is worth emphasizing for the umpteenth time, neither in law nor in fact, but it mobilized a new center, momentarily materialized at the end of the dictatorship, especially around the revived theme of amnesty and human rights – and the (re)constitutionalization of the country, which went beyond what was expected – it is possible that Mario Covas, at the head of the Systematization Commission, pulled this old man from the center, Ulisses Guimarães, to the left – despite the initial thesis, that of the authentic, defeated, being that of a (re)constitutionalization by through an exclusive National Constituent Assembly.

In the arc of this process, from IBAD, with its famous and celebrated writer and filmmaker, to the “hatred and disgust of the dictatorship” only fragments of historical laborism remained, and a vague memory of the glory years of the PCB, destroyed and rebuilt a few times, and the amorphous mass of this center, which, however, with the 1988 Constitution, and the process that mobilized it, brings and figures the memory of the moment of best materialization of this imaginary center. One has to think how much the detail of Article 5o CF does not include the struggle for broad, general and unrestricted amnesty.

New actors could, however, appear, as they did from that general jam that was the initial project of the intellectuals of the 1964 coup: to infantilize in order to protect the political debate and, by extension, political representation, through the ghosts of the cultural laboratory, in the antechamber of the SNI, which under the care of the same Golbery, took shape in the early sixties and now reappear with all the familiar litany: “anti-communism”, “sphere of influence of Western civilization”, “social peace”, “moderating power of the army,” etc., etc., etc.

This was not without purpose, let's face it. As it “modernizes”, the country would continue to be “protected” from the eminently modern debate on the dispute over the gains of modernization, the classic cost of distributive conflicts (it is enough to see how much productivity gains were not reverted into wages in the years of the miracle , contrary to “the good” theory): class struggle, for those who are intimate. Let's explain: the promise was to advance in the modes and processes of exploitation and accumulation, and to protect (us) from the distributive debate by guardianship and military blessing (whose cost is much lower, in accounting terms, than the political and distributive cost stricto sensu).

Quite simply: the perverse, extensive and authorized use of arbitration and state violence as a means par excellence of extinguishing and suppressing conflicts, which made this violence, mediated and meditated, the obstacle not-politics of a debate whose modern background, par excellence, would be and is political. Evidently, this does not happen with impunity, that is, without permanent historical cost, and without contaminating a society and its ways of life. Maybe Brazilian society wasn't as absurdly violent as it is today before what the 1964 coup taught it to be, one of my favorite counterfactuals. But she definitely became violent and vicious, and we might even say radically violent after that unfortunate date and event. Today, it seems, that violence that is our violence acquires new awareness of itself, along with the country itself, better accommodated to its own perversity and violence.

Returning to our time, let's follow. For all intents and purposes, the intention in 2016 was this, Cum grain salis, however, with more limitations and through other expedients: instead of party reform and the blockade of pure will against politics, which inaugurated the 1964 coup – state violence requires an actor willing to violence, for which there is always voluntary military forces – with the known cataclysmic effects, and which precedes and makes possible the Campos-Bulhões plan, the latter possible thanks to the artificial and violent extirpation (as usual for the military) of the properly modern means for the distributive debate: the policy; in 2016 we had the sophistication of Temer’s spending ceiling, an action linked to the coup, the “bridge to such a future”, which sometimes makes and summarizes all these pretensions, voted and approved in a year of consented important fiscal expansion, with clear intention to make the successor and influence the electoral process before its effectiveness.

In this sense, there was no clearer electoral manipulation than this expedient, tailor-made to guarantee the continuity of the constraints imposed by the coup, granting what would soon be radically denied, provided, of course, that the best technical arguments of the ideologues of rentism and their supporters were observed. acolytes, of “center”. What nobody foresaw was that, after all these adjustments and violence, until then nothing very new among us, masked by the most histrionic discourses and texts, but also by the least histrionic and most “technical”, the center of fantasy, and the supreme fantasy of the national elite, which intended to achieve it in a flick, all in all, suddenly became old wives' tale.

And this side effect, the extinction of the center, which, being so important, clouded the symptom it intended to treat, the refusal of popular content to political representation, appeared, definitive and untimely, in 2018, even for those who have the privilege of self-deception at no cost or discomfort, a benefit that the command allows and offers as a bonus, very understandably: the impediment destroyed the center to which power was intended to be handed over and rewarded the Brazilian extreme right, more organic and organized than one might suppose, better prepared above all for the institutional anomie deliberately constructed by the establishment.

That same extreme right that, in the years when the PT brought the ectoplasmic matter of the center into its orbit, appeared residual and impertinent, and when, then, it was thought that a sanitary cordon was being created with great diligence that would isolate it as a mere residue of all possible authoritarianism and violence that we are heirs to, it has become a symptom of something bigger, which at that moment found its best conditions for expansion since the penultimate coup d'état.

Given the characteristics of our political representation and the historical difficulty in forming national political parties in the proper sense, the Brazilian center is always subsidiary to an actor who lends it substance in a typical transfiguration operation. The PT is not from the center, but it is from its party substance that the center that prevailed in the last block derives. The learning from this was the great novelty and the great asset that the PT built throughout its plateau years, and the pragmatic use it made of it gave an unexpected leap of direction to its government. The coup against the PT was also and above all the coup in the center, which cannot be reconstructed without that typical magic of political representation. And without this “center”, given our conditions of governance and the exercise of power, political representation depraves and degenerates. That's where we seem to be right now. In a depraved center, nowhere.

2018+2 brings this retrospective truth: there is no current political center. Not because there wasn't, not because there couldn't be: simply because the center, like a Golem that has already made its appearance in this text, needs a permanent divine breath to exist, needs a magical operation - let's get the terms right, finally - needs a a dense ideological operation to prevail. What the 2016 coup did was to break this spell, under the pretext of organizing public finances, but whose hidden objective, and not so much, was to extirpate and block as much popular and left-wing content as there could be in the order of representation. .

There can be left without being popular, it can be popular without being left. That was the last condition and following the best practices attached to our very poor democracy by those in power. It took two years after 2018 of the most violent and regressive government for this truth to begin to emerge. Since the extreme right's way of operating is to take the means as an end, "propaganda" as a theory, verbose virulence is already an action, it is not and cannot be Mere speech. Add to this what happened: under a vertiginous pandemic that, paradoxically, immobilized another catalyst that accelerated and dramatized the process even more, the best laboratory conditions were created to begin to recognize this truth, which, incidentally, the current president recognizes: he, an experienced politician, knows that this “center” only exists if there is this transmigration of the soul, this ectoplasmic materialization, which he diligently blocks, and maintains, he and his power bloc, with evident material roots, in the “concrete”, which they also call their “authenticity”, with some reason and, more or less, it functions as such, to keep political objectivity under the orbit of their obsessions and perversions, so to speak.

What used to be the center, the “centrão”, is brought to the center of this far-right discourse that is a political agency stricto sensu. With humor, of course, after all we are Brazilians and have tropicalized barbarism for a long time. And these obsessions, depravities and perversions, it is worth saying, are very objective and not a case of analysis or even social psychology, which used to be the center, but now is a mere “centre”, under contract with the extreme right, effective with zeal, because that's the only way it recognizes itself as real.

Although some recalcitrant people prefer to maintain the belief that tables stand on their own two feet, it is necessary to recognize the clarity of this hard truth: they do not. But that alone, on the face of it all, is not enough, it is clearly insufficient from a critical and analytical point of view. So let's go a little further.


“Criticizing classical political philosophy does not simply mean delving deeper into its problematic to demonstrate the inadequacy of its methods. It is about questioning its own object, resuming from there its real field and the problematic that must correspond to it. The critique of political philosophy therefore has its foundation in the constitution of the object of politics”.[ii]

I return, as a preamble to this second part, if not the concept, at least the spirit, the political and theoretical climate that made the work of Emir Sader, notable in several aspects,[iii] master's dissertation defended in 1968, a milestone for a certain left, as it crossed the best critical references of the time, inside and outside the university walls. In those days, Sader's work exemplarily formalized a certain criticism of classical political philosophy, if you will allow me, in terms of the avant-garde and the left, then, at the crest of the wave, when trying, in a very concise way, to correlate, approximately, as if by a reciprocal determination, “mode of production” and “political representation and power”, the modern political problem par excellence, mobilizing for this purpose politically alive or still alive elements, with new mental habits brought by the newly arrived university – the same correlation that he was looking for with other means, for other purposes and with another scale and conceptual palette, so to speak, Ruy Fausto as a whole Marx: logic and politics, by whom Emir was mentored, and José Arthur Giannotti in Work and Reflection.

All of this with the purpose of establishing an analytical cut precise enough to separate the effects of political phraseology, its essentially ideological nature, which easily produces enchantments, from its foundation. target and to replace, in a new alignment of one instance with the other, “politics” in another perspective of intelligibility.

It was not without reason that this work received the following mention: “Here is the controversial point that is worth highlighting, the fate of a philosophical discourse when its object loses social consistency. This was the case of Political Philosophy, a genre characteristic of the Ancien Régime: with the subordination of the mechanism of exchange to that of production, not only was it left without a subject but, as a residual thought, it began to focus in an inverted way on the real process. This circumscribed an original point of view from which to criticize political philosophy (victim of the substantivation of commercial capital), which in fact inaugurated with a brief reading of Machiavelli and Rousseau. Two circumstances, however, barred the fruitfulness test of this variant of the materialist critique of ideology. A few years later, as is well known, it became commonplace to point out the deficit of Marxism in the field of political science (not to mention the disastrous practice of official Marxisms): the strategic discourse of conquest of power had disqualified in advance any positive-institutional conception etc. It was when the bad conscience of the left, in a moment of liberal hegemony, rediscovered Democracy, and with it, the supposedly original dimension of the so-called “political”. One step was enough to endow it with its own ontology, resurrecting with the so-called ontology of Political Philosophy, which ceased to be a mere historiographical chapter to be elevated to the status of an original source of notions such as evaluating the progress of contemporary capitalist society”.[iv]

Without any misplaced nostalgia, let's face it, there isn't much time for this, I mention that program and the substantive problem that is a tributary of that program, outlined above - how much current political criticism and analysis are not themselves political phraseologies with a second layer ideological, that of the ideology of rigor or that of the ideology of science. Without the intention of taking the conversation to those more serious sides, in fact, on the contrary, I take it, as it suits me, to another side, without losing sight of it, however. Neither an ontology of politics, nor an ontology of social being, nor a return stricto sensu to the reciprocal determinations by the “mode of production”, only the critique of the critique of the fatal phraseology of which we are victims, at least those who are around here, in the vicinity of the plain.

At some point in The sueño de los heroes, by the same Bioy Casares who opens this text, Clara, our heroine, asks Ruivo about his knowledge about cars, she who needs Ruivo's car to reach Emilio Gauna in time (which does not happen), who, incidentally, is a mechanic . I reproduce the entire passage, with the best wishes of the Argentine agrarian oligarchy: “Clara le preguntó por qué no estudiaba ingeniería. – Do you believe that I understand mechanics? Not a word. If the car breaks down on us, don't expect anything from me, you have to leave it on the street. I am in automotive literature, not in science. I assure you that it is terrible literature”.[v]

Let's see, the finally this willful exercise of involuntary comparative literature on our part.

Class Struggle in France & The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte & Recollections of 1848.

Let's start with Marx's diptych, The class struggle in France e The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

The context in which this set is inscribed is remarkable, and it should be noted because they were, after all, extraordinary times, despite the entire revisionist bibliography after 1980 trying to show the opposite, even if only for publicity purposes.[vi] After the Revolution of 30 (1830) (this was already in Marx, but it reappears crystallized in Hobsbawm, double reader, of facts and of the first interpreters of facts), the illusions of order of restoration after 1815 are dissolved with the promise of resume the promises of the Revolution (1789), the promises prior to the First Republic.

It so happens that this is no longer possible, the “energies” released by the First Republic, and to a large extent by the Terror, which consecrate, so to speak, the new political grammar, do not allow the illusion, dear to those who were the best cadres of the party of order : recovering the promise of a republic without revolution (and without terror). The more or less diffuse diagnosis of the young liberals, in part defeated by the restoration (the gironda in the antechamber of the first constitution and the liberal monarchy, which loses the step of history, mainly due to the betrayal of the king), in part contemplated by the old order that returns, is that, despite the return, the old order has no future, only a past.

Now, add to this something that has to do with the “new order” that emerges and that further complicates the relationship between the old and the new: the revolutions of 1848, socialist, therefore, in a possible line of interpretation, but not exclusively with the continuity of the events of 1789 and 1793-1794, they are subverted into “revolutions” of order: they start out progressive, become reactionary, a mystery already known and sung in verse and prose.

For Marx, there is a great track to follow in the investigation of this new infernal mechanism that is politics after the revolution, now always under the shadow of the revolution itself: the fundamental maladjustment, the contradiction at the level of appearance, another definition of ideology, is given between the revolution in the means of accumulation/production, the new released energies that the new leaps in productivity provide and the “place” of power that is represented by the discourses of power and about power.

In other ways, which makes the comparison even more curious, Tocqueville in Souvenirs of 1848, sees the same fundamental mismatch between political discourse and the real, “the” political substantive precisely in this mismatch.

Resuming and to simplify, let us focus on the interstice that occurs between “Republic” and “mode of production”. This superimposition produces a typically modern syntactic-semantic turmoil, the phraseology of our time: what we call, again, ideology. Ideology here has an unexpected complexity. It is not a question of mere falsehood or truth, but of how certain illusions (such as transcendental illusions, possible much more diabolical heirs of the Cartesian evil genius) work objectively, have meaning and practical consequences. They are sorceries that replace work, because there is no sorcery without the work of the sorcerer.

Ideology is also an indirect way of understanding how illusions produce their effects without these effects being understandable through some common intuitive relationship that the subject would have with the world. In short: they function in another epistemological and semantic regime and are only revealed critically, counterintuitively. Therefore, quite rightly, the table dances with its own feet. O 18 Brumaire it is about that, above all: how the class struggle, that is, how the basic conflicts in the form of material reproduction of society migrate and are transfigured into figures of a figuration that would have nothing to do with their immediacy, with what they denote, that would have nothing of "representative" in the common sense.

What this base foundation, the class struggle, always represents in a different way. The class struggle, which is also a more complex substratum than is supposed, let us summarize, a conflict and a dispute between the impetus for accumulation, value as a new actual infinite, and the given (finite) material conditions for this infinite and prosaic is perfected, giving the “real effectiveness” that was talked about, in German, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, is the new I think in action, the measure of the measures of the intelligences of facts. Subliminally, Marx is telling us, and the thesis remains suspended, on my part, that this new material assemblage of the world makes the political philosophies of the old regime obsolete, without denying them abstractly, as is said in jargon.

In the French case, post-revolutionary (after 1789), the productivity gains of the agrarian reform carried out by the first constitution (1791) collided with the model of French land ownership, then insufficiently “productive” to supplant the “natural” conditions (and oscillations) of production, due, for example, to the batch rotation model, and the resulting inability to increase productivity per cultivated area, while preserving the established model of small property, whose foundation political it is immovable.

Which leads to economic complications of all kinds: both on the side of the old and the new: crop failure, due to “natural” reasons – cold, heat, rain, sun, pests – when on the side of the new: the new industrial park limiting its expansion to the amount of food available[vii]. As Braudel observes[viii], there is an old crisis in 1947 – of the order of agricultural production, of food production – and a new one, of the brand new “industrial” wave that installed itself in France thirty years after 1815. There is a productive mismatch that implies a discursive derangement, but not in the linear sense that one would suppose, here is another variation of the modern: ideology is, at once, a space not oriented by definition, say, a Moebius strip, its review it is necessarily a posteriori and not geometric. Productive impasses produce a specific fantasy that would hardly (that is, non-intuitively) correspond to it in a denotative way, according to any category of sound understanding, and even when one appeals to reason, the answer is not usually easy.

Hence the repetition as farce (Marx aestheticizes the problem more, due to critical demands, than he theatricalizes it – which was the limit, so to speak, of the Enlightenment to think the political, as it appears in Rousseau). In a way, farce precedes repetition (it has a logical antecedent, so to speak) in the sense that it is only repeated because one is freed from “saying the same thing” when one says “the same thing”. Here is a way of talking about repetition that is not repetition of the order of mere understanding, therefore, tautology: it is not politics as a spectacle, but as a spectrum and spectral, the specular space that reiterates itself with the same family air, but saying another thing: the essentially ideologicalindeed, in the best sense of the term.

Here is the old passage: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it willingly, in circumstances freely chosen, these, on the contrary, they find all already made, given, inherited from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And at the precise moment when they seem busy transforming themselves and subverting reality to create the absolutely new, it is precisely in these times of revolutionary crisis that they anxiously evoke and call to their aid the manna of the ancestors, from whom they borrow names, watchwords, customs, in order to represent the new historical piece under the old and venerable one, disguised and with these borrowed lines”.[ix]

Well, both in The 18th Brumaire, of Marx, as in Souvenirs of 1848, by Tocqueville, which we now bring better adjusted to the scene, there is an unusual convergence (besides the late publication that marks the critical fortune of the two books): the proper domain of politics is described as the place par excellence of the mismatch between words and things, and to the classic images of Marx – the first as a farce, the second as a tragedy – there are other equally notable ones, in which the central actors of this scene, the classes, assuming the stage of politics, under the scenography of history, take one thing for another: the bourgeois republic for the Roman republic, the nephew for the uncle, the constitutional monarchy for the bourgeois republic.

Tocqueville will say, in the same spirit: “Everything I witnessed that day bore the visible mark of such memories; I always had the impression that there were more efforts to represent the French Revolution than to continue it”[X]. This joint diagnosis, by Marx and Tocqueville, of the radicalized workers vanguard in Paris and its surroundings, and of one of the best representatives of the party of order, something like the Gongourt brothers of the political chronicle, due to its elegance and style, which, by the way, are very seductive, retranslate the guiding thread of our considerations: the experience of the XNUMXth century is a long farcical narrative in which the spirit, volatile, withdraws from the letter and whose (correct) diagnosis by Comte produces an unusual remedy, positivism, the most successful ideological attempt to set the pace of words and things, in the long awaited moment of normalization of the republic. At best, this would be the best apprenticeship of the “politician”. At worst, the best archeology of Third Republic ideology.

This is how we sum up the truth of the XNUMXth century, French as well as European, and its phantasmagoria: for Marx, the present was phantasmatic because it blocked the future, politics as mystification, phraseology was not necessarily worth its face value, and its effectiveness derived from this not value; for Tocqueville, the past (the old regime) was phantasmatic because it blocked the present, politics was insufficiently real to haunt the ghost of the past and rearrange the time of the present according to the moral sense of events: democracy and concertation between classes.

The place of politics, substantive in its non-substance, is perhaps the place of fiction, which is the most handy way of criticizing its appearance. But a rhetorical fiction, that is to say, a fiction necessarily organized in a rhetorical way. Tocqueville sought to occupy an impossible place, hence the ideological limits of his analyses, generally brilliant, requiring the replacement of a treatise on the passions of the soul: in large part the comedy of errors of 1848 derives from men with small souls, imagination, lacks reality principle. The 1848 revolution is narrated, but when moving to that place where it is told, it is discovered without content: the center of which it was intended to be the spokesperson, was more fictional than the attempt of the working vanguard to make a socialist critique of the property, which produces, as a counter-coup, the unity of the enemies of the June days, a new edition of the province against Paris. “Liberal Revolution”, after the fiasco of the 30s revolution, first as an ideology, then as fiction.

Marx assumes that the fiction of this place where political phraseology is based, despite narrating, does not count, that is essentially the ideological imbroglio. What the mode of production narrates – against the old political literature of the political philosophy of the old regime, “state”, “sovereignty”, “subjects” – does not count. This quid pro quo was not far from an end when the last rhetorical stupor of extreme left politics articulated Bolshevism with the red hat of Jacobinism.

In the aftermath of “revolution” and “revolutions” that the thirty glorious years of capitalism produced in the last century, after World War II and the Pax Americana in Europe was already underway, Jacobinism was definitively sterilized in the name of containing Bolshevism, with the best of intentions and theories, and the result was a re-edition of an anodyne “centre”, just as the republicanism of the Third French Republic did, being, in fact, its great work, repeated (as a farce?) in the Fifth Republic French. Incapable, recreational and merely reactive to the “world of life”, from this place we saw the slow degradation of the welfare state, more conjectural than essential, it seems. From that same place, we saw the rise of neoliberalism, today in the process of handing over weapons to the new right-wing radicalisms, it seems. Nothing is like that, with impunity: in the absence of left-wing radicalism, right-wing radicalism was filled: and the old xenophobia became the newspeak of “our” social rights.

The old transcendental story of the center, which I borrow from the old world, as an example of success, is this: it is necessary to believe in fiction, and count on the relative increase in productivity in such a way as to be able to create minimum conditions for narrating this story. history, the history of the various attempts at false emancipation, an incredibly anachronistic term today, making it “propositional”, explainable, even if not desirable... , counterbalancing with the most fantastic hopes for the future, space travel, dematerializations, technological magic within reach of a sigh.

In the French version that I report on in a hurry, in a farcical tone, as befits, both Marx and Tocqueville note the phraseological fate of the center, without a real place, its real place being there, fatally, under the permanent risk of having no place. . The success of the Second Empire's longevity also comes from this: the nephew knew how to accommodate himself little by little to a desirable and imaginable center, the happy ending of all occasional fiction, a brochure on newsprint to be read on public transport. Were it not for Bismarck's trap and the failure of 1870, perhaps he would have had a better appreciation, for so many achievements accomplished. But it's always time, after all Furet's revisionism[xi] and his friends, the time will come for praise and praise for his nephew.

The question returns to our buttons: would there be conditions for the construction of a consistent center among us? The excess of violence that characterizes us perhaps complicates the task too much, as it makes us too literal. We certainly lack literary spirit, against all this infamous literalness, even if it is from bad literature.

Meanwhile, from phraseology to phraseology, we come to the end of the fable: from you fable narratur.

“I understood that it was true what I had said, hours before, Morel (but it is possible that not what I said, for the first time, hours before, but a few years ago, I repeated it because it was the week, on the eternal disc).

I felt repudiation, even disgust, for these people and their tireless repeated activity. They appeared many times, up, on the edges. Being on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmares; being in love with one of these images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we have always wanted that the beloved person has the existence of a ghost)”.[xii]

*Alexandre de Oliveira Torres Carrasco Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp)


ADORNO, T. Aspects of the new right-wing radicalism. Publisher Unesp, São Paulo, 2020.

TOCQUEVILLE, A. De. Souvenirs of 1848. Penguin&Companhia, São Paulo, 2011.

BIOY CASARES, A. Complete Works I. EMECÊ, Buenos Aires, 2012.

MARX, K. Les Luttes de Classes in France. Gallimard, Paris, 1994.

MARX, K. Works, Band 8. Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1960.


i] ADORNO, T., Aspects of the new right-wing radicalism. Editora Unesp, São Paulo, 2020. “If the means are substituted by the ends in an increasing measure, then it can almost be said that, in these radical right movements, propaganda constitutes, in turn, the substance of politics”, p . 55.

[ii] SADER, E., State and politics in Marx. Editora Cortez, São Paulo, 1983, p. 16. Excerpts highlighted by the author.

[iii] ARANTES, PE, A French overseas department. Peace and Land, Rio de Janeiro, 1994. “Appendix: a critique of political philosophy”, pp. 252-254.

[iv] Idem, ibidem, p. 253.

[v] BIOY CASARES, A., The sueño de los heroes. Emecê Editores & La Nation, Buenos Aires, 2004, p. 223.

[vi] HOBSBAWM, EJ, Echoes of the Marseillaise, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 1990, pp. 85 and ff.

[vii] TOCQUEVILLE, A. Souvenirs of 1848, Penguin Company, São Paulo, 2011. Tocqueville, who lives very lucidly (for a member of the party of order) the process that goes from 1848 to the coup d'état of 1852, smells the same real nucleus, so to speak, behind the many phraseologies period crusades. Rural property and its status. At a time when the criticism of the socialist party was radicalized, in the June days, and the status of property was touched upon, the mass of small landowners, heirs of the 1789 Revolution, reacted “against Paris”, in a movement that never ceased to have analogy with what happened at the end of the First Republic, the Jacobin Republic. While Marx tries to demonstrate, in a very agile way, how much French economic development replaces the small owner as a servant of the mortgage debt (when before he was a servant of the manorial domain), Tocqueville shows that the attachment to the status of property is what makes the Revolution of 48 change of direction from the socialist radicalization. I also note the notable Brazilian edition of The Memories of 48, translated by Modesto Florenzando, with an introduction and notes by Renato Janine Ribeiro.

[viii] BRAUDEL, F., “Prefácio", in TOCQUEVILLE, A., Memories of 48, op.cit.

[ix] MARX, K., The struggle of classes in France, daily de, Le 18 Brumaire de Louis Bonaparte. Trans. Maximilien Rubel, in collaboration with Luis Janover. Paris, Gallimard, 1994, p. 176.

[X] TOCQUEVILLE, A. Souvenirs of 1848, Penguin Company, São Paulo, 2011, p. 93. In the same spirit, a previous passage illustrates what we intend to highlight: “It is certainly not one of the least bizarre characteristics of this singular Revolution that the fact that originated it was directed and almost desired by those who would be overthrown by power. , and that he was only foreseen and feared by men who would win”, p. 61.

[xi] HOBSBAWM, EJ, Echoes of the Marseillaise, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 1990, pp. 62 and ff.

[xii] BIOY CASARES, A., Complete Work I (1940-1958), EMECÉ, Buenos Aires, 2012, p. 62.

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