Army: at whose service?

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By TARSUS GENUS*

The authoritarian delusion and the “hell so feared”

Liberal democracy in crisis around the world – in Brazil, which degrades the Social State in a planned way – now makes a parody of itself. In this degradation, the relationship between societal, racist and slave-owning fascism, with the mockery of the Republic promoted by President Bolsonaro, reaches the moment of its maximum power. And this maximum – the hell so feared, as in Onetti's tale – is still incomplete. It is not known, yet, if our destiny is hampered by the last manifestation of the Barracks or if it will be reopened by what remains of our republican shame.

The note from the Minister of Defense, signed by the other Commanders of the Armed Forces, does not have the main purpose of intimidating, but has a much more complex objective: to remove the doubt of traditional politicians about “whose” the Army is: if it belongs to Bolsonaro or of the Republic, as determined by the Constitution.

This doubt, in the tutelary thought that wrote it, must be purged from the mind of the political body (the Minister of Defense must have thought) because if it prospers, a failed military man who is President, can stop contaminating the barracks, which will then absorb – finally – that the Army is not a praetorian guard at the service of a family, but an institution at the service of the Constitution and National Sovereignty.

The excellent book by Marcia Tiburi, mongrel complex (Civilização Brasileira, 2021) is an enviable set of ideas about the domination and humiliation of Brazilians – before the Republic and now – that has several moments of brilliance. The work helps to understand the ongoing national tragedy and at times – such as when the author discusses what she calls the “Columbus Complex” – sheds light on an entire era. This complex would be, in terms of popular subjectivity, the way to create consensus, through adherence shaped by violence.

This would be the “fundamental subjective matrix that constitutes the subject of the emergence of the Americas” (…) “a pattern of domination involving the State, Churches” (…) a process “repeated for centuries” (…) “which is a pattern of relationship with the another, in which it cannot be said that there is communication”, (...) in which “exchanges are not promoted”, but “the reproduction of invasion and violence”. In this pattern, indigenous peoples and slaves are primarily the unknown “others”, invaded and violated – in their minds and bodies – to be displaced from commodified lands and their bodies turned into commodities.

This pattern of domination in modern capitalism involves from the control of information by media oligopolies, the reproduction of ignorance and charlatanism by fundamentalist religions of money, to the eternal guardianship of the Armed Forces over the political processes of liberal democracy. This guardianship is made explicit in moments of crisis, in which it does not inform, nor does it intend to exchange opinions, but wants to order the state of affairs and warn of identifiable dangers.

But what would these dangers be, in the current parody? Is it the possibility that military cadres in civilian functions can be identified as corrupt and this fact could hurt the guardianship corporation? If this was the “danger” to be overcome, what the Note did – in fact – was to promote the increase of the danger and the emptying of the Constitution: the criminal acts of military personnel in civilian functions, if they occurred, should promote the legal purge of these military officers and their punishment for crimes committed in those civil functions, where they dishonored the uniform and attacked the honor of the Armed Forces and the civil institutions of the State.

The assertion of the mode of domination in crises always uses “suicide bombs” to concentrate blame and simulate overcoming the ills of the old liberal democracy, which has not renewed its institutions for over 200 years. In its ultraliberal stage, however, it satisfies citizens' personal identities through the fetishisms of equality in the market, not through the right to participate in a community of destiny in the formation of the nation. It is the moment when democracy gropes in search of a light, which is not a train at the end of the tunnel, which will protect the promises of the Republic.

This Note from the military was the train of the moment. Hopefully it's just a dark fiction that the citizen Constitution tried to bury forever. To think that the country's military can conceive of themselves as guardians of demented Bolsonarism is to kill all hope and welcome the possibility that “Haiti is here!”. Or that we are living at the entrance to Dante's Inferno, or that the ghost of Hitler stands firm in a horizon of blood, like a Vampire of history, incarnating the “Columbus Complex”.

In this, humiliation ceases to be a fundamental tactic and becomes the state strategy of death. No one believed this was possible in Germany in the 1920s, but today we are beginning to learn that history can repeat itself, both as pure tragedy and as farce and parody coexisting with it.

Out Bolsonaro, before it's too late!

*Tarsus in law he was Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil.

 

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