Between the devil and the deep sea?

Image: Tejas Prajapati


A political and ideological pre-analysis of the 2022 elections

Brazil finds itself in a trap, finding itself involved, once again, in a vicious circle: either it leans to the extreme right, or it anchors itself in reformism as the only possibility of salvation from the minimum levels of civility.

The question always arises as to whether Rosa Luxemburg's clairvoyant option – based on the descriptions of Barbarism that Friedrich Engels wove in his book on The Origin of the Family, Property and the State, and which ends up being formulated by Rosa in the famous phrase: “socialism or barbarism” – concerns bipolarization: “Either reformism, or the extreme right”.

There is a tendency, therefore, to replace the motto of socialism with the defense of bourgeois democracy, and we fall into the same trap as always... It forgets the fact that all fascism - declared or forged of bourgeois democracy, such as the one we live in Brazil which has a pathetic figure like Jair Bolsonaro in its presidency – stems either from a defeated revolutionary movement, or from a reformist or better period that, after the exhaustion of its meager resources for promoting better levels of social living conditions for the majority of the population , ends up giving rise to yet another fascist or extreme right-wing period, in which yet another setback sets in and the few advances achieved by the progressive period are systematically destroyed.

Meanwhile, the country sees the outrageous social contrast that makes, in every big city, wealthy cars pass with a high degree of indifference and adaptability alongside a legion of miserable people without even a place to sleep. If Engels lived in our times, his short visit to Cracolândia in São Paulo would be enough for him, frightened, to go public and say that his notion of Barbarism, which he already fought in the XNUMXth century, corresponded to less degrading conditions than those of passers-by that hover through the streets like lost souls! For this state of calamity, Engels would say, even a new term would have to be found!

This polarization between our “barbarism” and the apparent “progress” lends itself very well to the figure of Lula and his re-emergence as the only political exponent capable of offering, in the eyes of the desperate, a viable alternative to the extremist radicalization of the right and to boçality. bolsonarista. That is: everything leads us to think that Barbarism is equivalent to “Bolsonarism” – and we must, without hesitation, be in full agreement – ​​but that civility would be equivalent to “Lulism” – and that is where we should ask ourselves, even if we admit that Lulism has already demonstrated broad dialogical capacities and, therefore, undoubtedly more civilizing than Bolsonarist truculence, if this is the degree of civility we seek!

Imprisoned within this dualistic perspective, what this debate ends up accentuating is the importance of a “Broad Front”, legitimizing the alternative of the “Lula” type, therefore not even a single Front, in which the various effectively leftist tendencies were united, opposing radically adopted the right-wing alternative, but with a view to implementing a true policy of class independence, at the same time denouncing and opposing conciliatory strategies. And this distinction is fundamental from a Marxist historical and strategic point of view.

Objectively, the fact that the elections already constitute and will constitute until the end of 2022 the inevitable stage of the political debate and that the country will irrevocably face an electoral situation in the year that begins - even if there is the risk, minimal, that the right militarist and militia force impedes the process and institutes an open coup once and for all, removing the skirmish of the military coup already institutionalized by the “election” of Bolsonaro –, makes even the currents effectively on the left, Marxists, have to take a stand. And, in this scenario, it is quite possible that the reformist option will end up prevailing as a desperate strategy in the face of the “barbarism” already installed and the option, in the strictly electoral process, will be to vote for Lula (or whoever is in his place, or that is, in a “center-left” – I would even say: center-right – negotiated, conciliatory).

In other words: that, within the electoral process, opt for the “lesser evil” – assuming that it is better to regain a government that, despite having provided unusual profits to the banks in exchange for some improvements to the most vulnerable population and strengthening the political-business domination and that of big capital, at least instituted relevant social programs (among which the expansion of public Universities and their greater access to layers previously excluded from this process), than to continue living the current “barbarism” – worse than barbarism in the sense of Engels –, which institutes a crass social and political setback, which even destroys Universities, Research and science, and which institutes a declared genocidal necropolitics, indirectly decimating thousands of lives, promoting the domination of militias and persecuting minorities (black, indigenous, homosexual etc.), supported by a shameful implementation of the abusive gains of the military castes.

And, you see, we will not distinguish, between these two apparently so “opposite” options, the dominant role of the Evangelical Churches, since it was in the Lula governments that the most reactionary Evangelicals – the overwhelming majority among them – took over the country. For instead of a strong implementation of a basic political education within the working classes throughout the Lula governments, a chronic demobilization of workers was instituted, leaving them on a ship without direction, adrift, like that intoxicated by the consumer society and by the few social increments that, today, are, one by one, deposed by the fascist and boçal mismanagement.

It so happens that, in addition to these clear confluences between these two Lulista/Bolsonarist poles – namely: support for large financial capital and banks, the spread of evangelicals, preservation of the reactionary political caste that plagues the Legislative Power, maintenance of the shameful privileges of the military, etc. . –, and taking into account the substantial differences between both political projects, sharpened above all in the bipolarization between betterment/necropolitics (that is, between the Lula option of allowing one to survive a little better, and the Bolsonarist option of preferring to systematic death of a large part of the population), there is another fundamental factor that overshadows what, classically, is called class struggle, and which, contrary to what is thought within the framework of bourgeois thought, evidently continues to exist . What we have fundamentally is that, throughout the entire PT governance, two parallel processes took place in a complementary way: on the one hand, the military remained unharmed - contrary to clear processes of "accountability" of the democratic field with the military torturers and murderers in Chile or Argentina –; on the other hand, the marked political demobilization of the working classes that we have already alluded to occurred due to the aggregation of workers around an addicted unionism, already formatted since the end of the 1970s around Lula's conciliatory leadership position (in particular through of the CUT, Lula's own electoral mainstay with the working class, and which was already demonstrating itself as a preferable option to Força Sindical, frankly conservative), while Lula, now, and in echo of his posture since that historic time of the Strikes of the ABC, already makes its agreements with the Banks, with FHC (mediated by Nelson Jobim) and, more recently, with Alckmin – and now with the support, you see, of Paulinho da Força –, finding support even in the figure of a Delfim Netto, the remaining sputum of the military dictatorship, which defines it as a solution fully assimilable by the market.

Certainly, the very fragmentation of the working class, which was previously concentrated mainly in factories, is nowadays divided into endless service activities (from motorcycle couriers to postmen, from street vendors to Uber drivers, etc.), makes it extremely difficult a more unified coordination of political actions, but certainly the conciliatory leaderships play a privileged role in the processes of depoliticization of the subordinate and potentially revolutionary masses. Lula's conciliatory role and the immantation around his figure play, therefore, a conservative role and are part of the same machination that imprisons us: the maintenance of bourgeois order relies so much on a boçal that once again embraces the slogans of Integralism at the head of Presidency of the country and with the apparent improvement “solution” that has in Lulism its most catalyzing force.

In any case, the question that arises is: are there conditions, in the midst of this immediate process that involves us from today until the elections, for articulating alternatives of power, to the point of disregarding the bourgeois electoral process?

The answer, it seems, is: No! Although revolutionary processes are sometimes unpredictable and can be triggered by large spontaneous and almost unexpected movements, I do not see how, in the current context, we can predict that such a trend will emerge in Brazil. The few and commendable initiatives in this direction, such as the recent Manifesto of the Polo Socialista Revolucionário, active within the PSOL, must therefore be supported, as they are among the few that clearly and lucidly reveal the necessary steps for the establishment of processes of breaking with capitalism and with the bourgeois system that pushes us, like cattle to be cut, through the narrow row of bourgeois elections.

But, even if emerging, such social outbreaks are not a guarantee that effective transformations of the social fabric will take place, because if social mobilizations, even if expressive, are not combined with a revolutionary direction, with sufficient theoretical clarity to give them subsidies in their actions and that formulates clear goals (from the minimum programs to the maximum – or maximalist – program), they soon fade into pseudo-revolutionary movements, such as those that recently took place in Chile, resulting, at most, in the election of progressive representatives – certainly that they are preferable to reactionary trends, but that fall far short of the demands of those same social movements that paved the way for them to power.

When Elzbieta Ettinger quotes, in her preface to her translations of Rosa Luxemburg's letters to her great love of life, Leo Jogiches, a phrase by Leonard Woolf (who was Virginia's husband until his suicide), namely: "The threat to socialism resides more in the disunity of the civilized than in the union of the barbarians”, we immediately agree with her, but if we shift it to our context, we ask ourselves: does this disunity concern the “progressive camp” or the “revolutionary camp”? What “civilized” are we talking about?

Accepting the first hypothesis and preaching the union of the progressive camp would be to defend the Broad Front (in the mold, strictly speaking, more of the popular front of the Stalinist type); accept the second, defend the united front, that is, the union of revolutionaries, as the Marxists (or Trotskyists) want. But what to do in the face of a “barbarism” already installed in Brazilian society? Is it possible to do both? That is: in the electoral process, strategically opting for a broad front, aiming to immediately overthrow Bolsonarist bestiality, but without giving up a deep articulation for a united front that has as its goal the overcoming of the limits imposed by the alliances resulting from this conciliatory option that characterizes a broad front?

Within the specific electoral situation, some voices on the left point to the fact that perhaps this is the only alternative we have left: to the “democrats” and the “revolutionaries”. For the latter, it would be left to hope that an effective union of the lefts, at best, could, corroborated by large mass mobilizations, surprise us and accelerate a process of rebellion to such an extent that the Frente Ampla no longer even made sense. But for this to happen, it will be necessary for an effective policy of class independence to take shape in the country, to the point of overcoming the reigning lethargy of the working classes, inciting them to large mass mobilizations against which the bourgeois power feels impotent, even with imperialist support.

But, sincerely, I doubt even this hypothesis... I am faced, instead – and despite initiatives such as the one promoted by the Polo mentioned above, to which I expressed my adherence –, with a stagnation and a complete absence of rebellious potential – of perspective of rebellion, the only alternative that would get us out of this suffocation and vicious circle that makes up the history of Brazil, and that would make us overcome this chronic weakness of the revolutionary movements that we face. Because there are no left-wing demonstrations with requests for permission from governments like João Dória, agreeing on their start and end times or on the places where they may or may not occur, nor with samba instruments. Much less space is given for alternation between us, on the left, and the fascists, agreeing on the days and places in which each of these trends should take to the streets. Quite the contrary: what should happen is to mirror the historic Revoada das Galinhas Verdes in October 1934, when Trotskyists took to the streets and took over Praça da Sé in São Paulo to prevent a demonstration by the Integralists, putting them to run and causing these cowards to hide for decades inside their mansions.

What is the reason for this ineffectiveness of the left and the working classes, who find themselves practically immobilized while truculence and boçality plague the country and deepen the barbaric condition of Brazilian society? Perhaps one answer is the following: what we are witnessing in Brazil is the consequence of this country having always been used as a bargaining chip by the colonialist and imperialist powers – from what had happened to Portugal in the face of its debts to England to the bootlicking posture of green-and-yellow militarism to present-day US imperialism – and the fact that we never rose to the status of an autonomous nation. The complete lack of respect for citizenship and civic awareness and the fierce individualism that leads to the “Brazilian way”, typical of our society, are direct consequences of the civilizing backwardness in which the “Brazilian nation” is immersed.

Everything leads us to believe, then, that the option for the “lesser evil”, consisting of an inescapable concession to the bourgeois electoral process, will consist of a strategy adopted by the majority of the “progressive camp”, including even many of the revolutionaries and defending it. if, once again, the “useful vote”, aiming to appease the prevailing stupidity, from the revolutionary point of view – so argues a good part of the left militancy –, already from the second day after the elections to be in opposition to the conciliatory and “progressive” government of a Lula.

I hope I'm wrong... But if what I feel corresponds to the truth, we will again be between a rock and a hard place, a metaphor that clearly exposes our chronic impotence: placing ourselves between the power of religious belief and the power of force military repression. And, even in the (very) best case scenario – defeating Bolsonarism –, which will certainly bring us considerable relief, we will be temporarily free from the boçalidade and truculence that currently plagues the power of the State, but imprisoned by the same bourgeois machination that, has always typified our Prehistory.

And thus, no effective social transformation, much less permanent, will take place in Brazilian society.

* Flo Menezes is professor of electroacoustic composition at Unesp. Author, among other books, of Risks on music: essays – repetitions – tests (Unesp Digital).


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