election and tradition



The Brazil that left the polls in the first round of this year's elections shows, in practice, the rooting of traditionalism in broad layers of society and, at the same time, its institutional political emergence.

On Monday, October 3rd, in the morning, less than twelve hours before the end of the counting of the first round of the presidential elections, I received the following question: “Which country did the polls reveal?”.

The question is asked by Professor Ana Veloso, from the Federal University of Pernambuco, and presenter of the program “Fora da Curva”, on Rádio Paulo Freire, in Recife, in which I participate from São Paulo, as an interviewee.

I answer: “The polls revealed a country that entered the wave of institutionalization of the extreme right, on the rise around the world”. And complete “here represented by competitive political parties”.

The answer was based on what happens in the United States, with trumpism articulated to the right of the Republican party; in Italy, with the recent victory of the “Brothers of Italy”, led by Giorgia Meloni; the expressive vote received by Marine Le Pen, of the National Regroupment, in this year's elections in France; the victory of the xenophobic party “Swedish Democrats”, in the parliamentary elections, becoming the second political force in the country; in addition to previous right-wing seizures of power in Hungary and Poland, for example.

Of course, all of this is no mere coincidence. Objective socioeconomic conditions, identified from the financial crisis that began in 2007, with the devaluation of real estate in the US and Europe, spread throughout the world, leading to a global recession in 2009.

A crisis that, due to its seriousness, can be compared to the one that occurred in the early 1930s. This makes it possible to establish a political parallel between that time and the beginning of the 70st century. The fascism and Nazism of the last century grew and brought the world to the Second World War, in the wake of the economic collapse. Political institutions proved incapable of facing and taming the crisis of capital, opening space for forceful movements, harbingers of extremist solutions. Turns out it didn't. The greatest global catastrophe in human history, resulting in an estimated death toll of between 85 and 1939 million people between 1945 and XNUMX.

Investments in the reconstruction of countries affected by war and the creation of multilateral organizations, from the United Nations (UN), with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by it, established parameters capable of guaranteeing a period where relative peace was anchored based on the precarious balance between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and on the creation and strengthening of welfare states in the core countries of the capitalist world.

The inflection in this process took place from the beginning of the 1980s, with the coming to power of Margaret Thatcher, in the United Kingdom, and Ronald Reagan, in the United States, with their neoliberal policies, directed towards what became known as the “state”. Minimum".

Actions that spread throughout the world and will culminate, in two decades, in the new crisis of capitalism. High inflation and unemployment, loss of real estate assets, bank failures shake the political structures built in the post-war period and, as in the 1930s, open space for the emergence of extremist groups, presenting the same salvationist proposals as in other times.

In Brazil, the crisis is not simultaneous to the countries of central capitalism. While the global economy suffered a drop of 1,7% in 2009, here the decline was only 0,1%. Even so, the echoes of the world crisis penetrated the country through the internationalized means of communication, symbolically anticipating the real crisis that would only arrive some time later.

It is in this context that the popular demonstrations of 2013 are inserted, which had anti-politics as one of their central mottos. In some demonstrations, political parties were prohibited from carrying their banners and posters. In an efficient interrelationship, the movements took to the streets and were stimulated by the media that empowered them. In addition to calling them and publicizing them widely, the media also provided themes and characters to serve as targets for demonstrators. The legal-media operation called Lava Jato is the main example.

In this way, space was opened for far-right upstarts. The story of this rise is well known. A coup against President Dilma Rousseff, the arrest and silencing of former President Lula, the 2018 election corrupted by the absence of the leading candidate in the polls and the victory of the self-appointed representative of anti-politics.

All that remained, for the consolidation of the project of institutionalization of the extreme right in Brazil, was the emergence of a competitive political party, like those existing in other countries, mentioned above. Do not exist anymore. The PL, although encompassing currents not situated on the extreme right, from the electoral point of view becomes, from these elections, its representative. Comparable to Arena, from the dictatorship era.

The data is indisputable. It went from two to 13 members in the Senate, and could reach 15, depending on the result of the second round of state elections. If two senators running for governor of their states are not elected, remaining in the Senate, they will expand the bench.

A similar situation occurs in the Chamber of Deputies. The PL won the largest representation, growing from 79 current deputies to 99 in the next legislature. In the case of state governments, although the PL elected only the governor of Rio de Janeiro in the first round, seven elected by other parties declared support for the PL presidential candidate in the second round.

This finding indicates that the institutional strength of the extreme right goes beyond the PL, present in associations such as União Brasil and Republicanos, among others. A set of articulations linked by a clearly defined ideological force, which goes beyond the current transitional leadership, and tends to remain in the Brazilian political-electoral spectrum.

The reason for this permanence is not only due to endogenous and temporal factors. There is a philosophical basis to this process, worked at length in the book War for Eternity, the Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right,[1] by Benjamin R. Teitelbaum, recently published by Editora da Unicamp. It's worth reading. In almost always colloquial language, the author reaches close to 600 pages, decomposing the ideas, interpretations and different applications of “traditionalism” in contemporary political situations. Of Brexit to Brazil today. There are reports of several conversations with the American Steve Bannon, of contacts with the Russian Aleksandr Dugin and, of course, the report of a visit to the Brazilian Olavo de Carvalho.

After this reading, it is impossible to treat, for example, denialism regarding vaccines by the current President of the Republic as madness or ignorance. From a personal point of view, this may even be the case, but the book allows us to conclude that he is just the voice of a vision of society that spreads around the world and has deep roots.

The Brazil that left the polls in the first round of this year's elections shows, in practice, the rooting of traditionalism in broad layers of society and, at the same time, its institutional political emergence.

The second round will define whether or not this process will continue. It will be contained within the current limits if its representative is defeated at the polls, remaining, even so, as an important institutionalized political force. Otherwise, we will have not only the deepening of the destruction of democratic institutions, but the implantation of a political-cultural regime referenced in traditionalism, putting an end to the secularization of the Brazilian State.

*Laurindo Lalo Leal Filho, sociologist and journalist, he is a retired professor at the USP School of Communications and Arts and a member of the Deliberative Council of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI).



[1] TEITELBAUM, Benjamin R. War for Eternity, the Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right. Campinas, Editora Unicamp, 2020.


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