cursed inheritances

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By RONALDO TAMBERLINI PAGOTTO*

Unfaced social problems not only do not disappear, but are narrated and treated as national characteristics, under the cloak of cynicism and skepticism.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the transition from the military to a civilian government and the 32nd anniversary of the Federal Constitution of 1988. After that time, the debate on the remnants of this period is on the rise, due to the strong presence of sectors of the armed forces in the government.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy was gradual and marked by victories and defeats. The defeat in the Diretas amendment did not interrupt the transformative wave that managed to remove the military and initiate the transition that took place between 1985 and 1989.

The resumption of democracy was not accompanied by profound changes and it was up to the constituents to reform the national pact culminating in the new Constitution. The important thing here is to highlight that the transition did not face the legacy of the military dictatorship and this article intends to treat only part of these legacies, called here legacies of the dictatorial period and characterized as cursed.

It is important to clarify that every effort here is based on an overview of historical processes and this is at high risk: except for pedagogical purposes, these excerpts can serve as manipulation. The effort here is only pedagogical. Another observation is that the problems pointed out did not originate in the dictatorship, but were aggravated and intensified during this period.

Politics on the logic of the Cold War

The rise of Nazi-fascism in the first half of the XNUMXth century was the result of many factors, including the post-World War I capitalist crisis, the threat of revolution, the rise of trade union movements, civil rights for voting rights, peasants for land, skepticism and fear. All are political phenomena at the same time, historical, and also common to the crisis of capitalism, which is why this neo-fascist field is always on the lookout to dispute society.

The second war defeated nazi-fascism, but its tentacles lived on in Portugal, Spain, Algeria and spread via regimes of exception, as occurred in Latin America from Colombia in 1948, Cuba and Guatemala in the 1950s, Brazil in 1964 and so on. A conservative and authoritarian storm has passed through America, Africa and Asia.

However, the victory over the Axis allowed the expansion of the area of ​​influence and strength of the bloc led by the USSR, with the reinforcement of China in 1949, the victory in Korea and the humiliating French defeat in the battle Dien Bien Phu for the heroic popular resistance of Vietnam, followed by the triumph of the Cubans in 1959, passing through the wave of national liberations in America, Africa and Asia submitted to the colonial yoke.

Coups and revolution were two paths open to the peoples of the so-called third world. The counterrevolution found shelter in the US State Department and made its home there, just as the revolutionary struggle began to rely on the rearguard of the USSR. Once the two blocks were formed, the so-called cold war was born.

During this period, the US waged an impressive cultural war around the world. Literature, cinema, radio, TV, customs and economic, ideological, technological, military and political hegemony. This hegemony convinced part of the world that everything coming from the USSR, China and Cuba, three major symbols, was negative, harmful, terrible. It fed an anticommunism that was always superior to sympathy or adherence to this political field. Based on a lot of lies, a lot of cinema with Russian, Chinese or Cuban enemies, it created and fed a logic of thought that was intolerant, persecutory and not used to any debate.

And this picture of fueling the fight against the bloc led by the USSR and China via anti-communism occurred all over the world and also within the US borders. An example of this is the complete madness of the so-called McCarthyism period, a theme very well described in two contemporary films (“Good night, good luck” directed by George Clooney and “Trumbo – blacklist”, directed by Jay Roach), both based on in fact, about the political madness and paranoia of the communist threat.

Dictatorships were a response from the US-influenced countryside. Brazil was inserted in this context and the military dictatorship was a preventive blow to an alleged communist threat (a fact always remembered by Bolsonaro, as in the ministerial meeting on April 22 of that year). Preventive, anticipatory, paranoid, sick. US-trained clerics fanned out across America to spread the word of anti-communism, bigotry and the evils of a popular revolution. This was done in the union, student, cultural movement. In all areas the influence was monstrous. Countries led by the US created the idea of ​​a threatening monster that needed to be defeated at any cost. You can't talk to monsters, monsters shouldn't be heard or respected. Thus, the political logic of the cold war made its home here. in recent article[I] the issue of anti-communism in Brazil was addressed.

The dictatorship not only added to this picture, but also used this paranoia to arrest, torture, execute and disappear young people involved in graffiti, cultural actions, political agitation and a minority group in the heroic armed struggle. They were “dangerous terrorists” threatening the country of nearly 100 million people at the time. Obviously, the dictatorship encountered popular resistance armed with Marighella, Lamarca, Osvaldão, Iara, João Leonardo and many others who fought for freedom.

The logic of the approach based on the cold war is the way in which any popular struggle, any ideas that do not conform to the market are treated: as a very serious threat. They always resort to the communist threat that would be lurking to end the family, with God, with the property of the bakery owners, bodegas and with Brazil itself. This logic has no ballast with reality, much less does it have any rational support. It is constructed independently of any relationship with reality. That logic just needs to convince people that these monsters need to be fought and defeated. If need be, tortured, killed, disappeared, massacred. As in the dictatorship.

The mass media oligopoly

The dictatorship was established in a period of peak of the printed newspaper and magazine and of the radio. TV was still a novelty and few homes had a device, in addition to poor quality. Since then, this medium has become central and the dispute for control of the few public channels was part of the political dispute.

The authorization to conduct a radio or a TV is via concession, with a deadline and public commitments. Since the years after the coup, the agrarian oligarchies and the big bourgeoisie sought to obtain concessions to control and conform their environments of influence, in addition to the already formed oligopoly in printed newspapers and magazines.

The dawn of the promising 1980s was accompanied by concession blocks for some families and the extension of this in the states with regional concessions. The few families of the television media (Marinho, Saad, Santos and, later, Macedo) and the print media (Cívita, Mesquita and Frias), formed the oligopoly that rules over communications and controls most of the audience. They are machines for making politics and manipulating the masses and this hegemony is also reflected in the domain of advertising funds.

Most importantly, this oligopoly is based on a precarious concession system, which has no real restrictions on concessions to politicians, other than a formal restriction, and no anti-oligopoly economic regulation either. Nothing interferes with this true “fourth power”, with aspirations of moderating power, which influences the whole society's view of reality, holds popular trust to show what is and what is not reality, educates politically and directs political processes. It induces and manipulates the people without any shyness.

Against the backdrop of conservative hegemony in communications and the logic of the cold war/anti-communism, the mainstream media has historically been on the side of the great enemies of the Brazilian people: financial capital, landowners and transnational corporations. Not only on the side, but as a defender and dependent on these enemies, collaborating to elect representatives who have a central program in maintaining this situation.

The mainstream media, especially TV, a public utility, does not even comply with republican rules, does not educate, does not help to develop or clarify. What it does is just dispute politically, and take care of ensuring cultural hegemony for a long time. An unprecedented ideological hegemony in history, which does not suffer any threat, even with the presence of changes arising from the internet and other channels.

State agents authorized to kill

The military dictatorship persecuted, tortured, killed and disappeared thousands of people. I didn't hide that and that modus operandi it was not a reaction to a possible serious threat, but a method of containing any rebellious impulse and, above all, to set examples of how those who think differently are treated in Brazil. A heritage from colonial times and the very organization of public forces, the army and the police. All always marked with authorization for repression, if necessary, lethal. Especially with poor people with some rebellious streak.

And during the dictatorship period, the armed forces and police had prior authorization to kill whoever was considered an enemy of Brazil, with trial and execution by the “corner guard”, fear of Pedro Aleixo when commenting on the AI-5 that December 1968.

The forces of the Brazilian security apparatus are one of the most deadly in the world, only comparable to countries at war.

The victims always have class characteristics: they are poor, live in the periphery, boys with black skin. And since the beginning of the 1980s, the volume of deaths by firearms has surpassed the shameful mark of 1 million people. This is official data. Much of it in summary executions of people without involvement or passage by the police, even if this does not justify anything.

This social leniency towards state violence was not born with the dictatorship, but during this period it gained intensity, amplitude and habituality: assaulting, torturing and killing became even rewarded. There are not few agents and former agents of the State who are proud of the number of CPF's (people) that they "cancelled" in official numbers, not counting the cases not investigated, which deserves an observation. In Brazil, killing is almost synonymous with impunity. Depending on the victim, this can be even worse, since approximately 90% of homicide investigations are not concluded and the perpetrators prosecuted. Killing here is cheap, unpunished, and state agents are among those who execute the most.

The trivialization of violence and life was not born in the dictatorship, but the authorization to kill gained an additive in those times. That account would fit a real holocaust in which almost all of the victims are poor. And the life of a poor person in Brazil has no value and it is no different in the treatment of State agents with this population. I repeat: this heritage is historical and reinforced in the dictatorship.

The dictatorship encouraged corner guards to torture and kill with summary trials at gunpoint. And it ended without any investigation or punishment. And here there was not even acceptance for the performance of the truth and memory commissions.

True confessed murderers died like good grandparents, released, with public retirement for that "work" and without any inconvenience. They were honored with the names of streets, schools, viaducts and squares. The good grandparents were killers. The debate on memory and truth was fought by all sectors of the mainstream media, state agents and security forces, when proposed and conducted by the government of President Dilma.

It is important to highlight that even in the proposal made by the Truth Commission, the theme of justice did not even appear.

There is a true force in a constant struggle to silence this terrible past and which is connected with the naturalization of the absurd lethality of public agents today.

There is a connection of terror, uniting past and present public forces agents, in defense of the death penalty decided and applied by the same “corner guards”, under the obsequious and acquiescent gaze of superiors and part of public figures.

The extermination continues at full speed in this long tradition added by the regime: cowardice, impunity and the trivialization of the lives of poor, black and peripheral children are cursed legacies of this period.

Fragile political system and low-intensity democracy

The Brazilian political system did not undergo changes with the transition from dictatorship to democracy, nor did the Federal Constitution born on the rubble of that period. It is a system that allows the citizen to vote and be voted, with great complexity to be voted. It is, therefore, a political system that allows for an incipient democracy.

Due to the history of the Brazilian ruling classes, not even this democracy would exist.

It exists as a conquest of the people's struggle for the right to vote, that is, limited in terms of voting. It lacks, therefore, broad effectiveness, effective popular participation.

This introduction seems important to us when dealing with the limits of our democracy.

Brazilian democracy has a system of participation linked to political parties with great freedom to define the program, principles, struggles, duties of affiliates, etc., but with legal regulation that penetrates the operation and defines how the parties are organized.

There is a restrictive rule for the formation of new parties, despite having a broad framework of parties. The possibility of candidacies is conditioned to party affiliation and this requirement brings a limiting aspect to the reception of the dynamics of the class struggle for democracy. That is, a formal restriction that binds any leadership of a popular organization, be it a movement, a union or even the incipient non-governmental organizations, to membership.

The central problem resides in the dynamics itself, in the relationship between mandates and voters, as well as popular participation in the interval between elections every two years: the people are called during this interval to make a choice and return home. In the interstices of these moments, he occupies the place of the represented and is stimulated to a passive and expectant posture.

The proposal of bills can be made by popular initiative, but for it to be presented, it will need to have gone through a real ordeal, in such a way that in our history only one law has been approved with its origin in popular initiative: the law of clean sheet.

This system has been called low-intensity democracy or, for the more classic, formal democracy: it works formally with the election of representatives. There are no effective mechanisms for participation, for proposing projects, for deciding on relevant issues or even indirectly, via councils (the issue of the councils, by the way, generated a conservative fight, making people believe that they would be the soviets tropical - theme addressed in this article[ii] 2014).

On the other hand, the call for plebiscites or referendums is absolutely exceptional.

We are facing a democracy in which the people are summoned to vote and then placed in the condition of supporters. There is no control over the mandate, regarding the fulfillment of commitments assumed or expressing the majority opinion of the electorate.

The main issue is that Brazilian democracy has a form based on the US model and is structured around two major problems.

The first is the profound social inequality – the most unequal in the world, considering the size of our society. There is no format capable of democratizing a system in which a large part of the population survives by selling lunch to buy dinner, who spend most of their time commuting from home to work, an alienated job, with no time to follow the news or get involved into politics because of the situation in life. You can't expect much more than the fight for survival.

Democracy does not reach these citizens, it does not listen to their problems and they are only considered to form research segments or as a social indicator. In short, there is no living democracy on such a shamefully unequal society.

The second is that this democracy does not have mechanisms to control the influence and strength of economic power, but on the contrary, economic power is a guarantor of influence and strength. Simply put, our democracy performs an important and cruel inversion: it is capable of transforming social minorities into political majorities; likewise, in the opposite sense, it promotes the inversion in which social majorities are political minorities. No wonder that parliament and the executive, whether federal, state or municipal, are completely dominated by these social minorities who are political majorities there. Just pick a political majority and look for social matching. You won't find it. Starting with the center: the rich are a minority in Brazil and dominate the political system. Blacks (blacks and browns) are the majority and, in the political system, a minority; ditto women, majority in society and total minority in the political system. Workers in Brazil represent the majority of society and are a tiny minority in the political system.

The dictatorship achieved a painless transition, and the political forces operating under the authoritarian regime continued to act with great intensity in democracy, defending anti-people, anti-democracy and anti-national flags, always with a lot of marketing so that things are not said or understood.

The purpose of this article is to contribute to the debate on Brazil's problems and that this be the basis for thinking about democratic and popular solutions and thinking about a national project. There will be no project without social force, but it is also true that there will not be a national project without a collective understanding of the problems, their causes and the way to face them.

The four points analyzed were chosen for their connection with the current situation and also for the threat of its worsening. The problems narrated and not faced since the end of the dictatorship, like all social and historical problems, do not disappear, but intensify and worsen.

Unfaced social problems not only do not disappear, but are narrated and treated as national characteristics, under the cloak of cynicism and skepticism. Only with debate and politicization will we be able to popularize these issues so that they can be faced in the struggle and placed in the history books.

*Ronaldo Tamberlini Pagotto, a lawyer, is a member of the National Board of Popular Consultation and the national committee of the Popular Brazil Project.

Notes:

[I]                  https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2020/05/16/artigo-notas-sobre-o-comunismo-do-brasil

[ii]            https://fc.tmp.br/inesc/en/em-defesa-de-uma-reforma-politica-e-dos-conselhos-populares/

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