Independence of powers?

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Julian Rodrigues*

The left that ignores the nature of the capitalist state and places faith in the neutrality of its institutions is not prepared to maintain power.

Sounds like a kind of consensus. Politically correct opinion: “the Federal Police must be autonomous and independent”. Correct government is one that does not interfere with police activities. Even before that: who has the prerogative to appoint Ministers and federal managers is the President of the Republic. Judiciary does not govern. If this fad catches on for good, when the left returns to the Federal Government, we won't be able to appoint even an elevator operator for the Planalto Palace.

Registering to start: Gilmar Mendes is a toucan with long plumage. Alexandre Moraes toucan with a card too. The ban on the nomination of Lula by Gilmar and of Carluxo's friend by Moraes expresses the position of the PSDB in the STF, in both cases. They wanted to carry out the coup in 2016 and now they are in opposition to Jair Bolsonaro. There is nothing “legal” about Mendes and Alexandre's decisions.

Unfortunately, Lula and Dilma were the greatest propagandists of the “non-interference” concept. From the idea of ​​independence and neutrality of state institutions. And they conducted their governments based on that premise. It was the so-called “republicanism”. Until the Federal Police showed their claws. It was organized and conspired, within the federal government, articulated with the coup arm of the Public Ministry, Judiciary and Globo. They were protagonists of the 2016 coup, the public humiliation/arrest of Lula and the election of Jair Messias Bolsonaro.

This debate is strategic, central. It is about something basic: State, power, democracy. A good part of the left still hasn't stopped to think about the silly things we've done and the size of the (re)organizational challenge that lies ahead.

Before approaching the theme of the police, it is necessary to demarcate. A left that ignores the nature of the bourgeois capitalist State (especially in Latin America, with no tradition of liberal-democratic regimes) and deposits a certain idealistic faith in the neutrality of institutions, will hardly be prepared to dispute and maintain power. It will fall sooner or later.

The majority of the PT, Lula and Dilma abandoned the perspective of structural reforms transforming tactics concessions to the bourgeoisie into virtues, premise and method of government. They thought, for example, that it was nice to give a bunch of coxinhas – white men from the upper middle class, public prosecutors – the prerogative of appointing the Attorney General of the Republic. something that would be chic, cool, well accepted by the media, “democratic” attitude. (They forgot that Fernando Henrique had nominated and reappointed his Attorney General – who was absolutely trusted – for eight years, without any triple list).

The Federal Police (I won't even go into the merits of the errors in conducting our governments' policy towards the Armed Forces) was strengthened, without the counterpart of any democratic control. No democratization of contests, of access. We don't hire poor, black, women. We filled the institution with young, white, privileged, upper-middle-class concurseiros. 

Even worse. We promote the idea that a “technical” police force is above everything, good and evil, and can do whatever it wants. And that the cool thing is to let everything run free. As if the PF agents and delegates had more discernment, competence, social commitment and legitimacy than the elected president.

An immense digression could be made here about both the PT's moderate reformist strategy and the conception of the State that underpinned such “republicanism”. However, this is not the time to delve into either of these two fundamental questions. But you can't stop registering.

The abandonment of any Marxist perspective to understand the character of the capitalist state has done enormous damage. To the point that a cadre formed in the best communist tradition, like Dilma, was hit in the hard face because she let the guys set up a coup inside her government. And he is still proud to this day of “not having interfered with the PF”. Its Minister of Justice was a silly liberal-democrat, who was always giving interviews to Veja, remember?

Should police forces be independent?

Well then. Do police have to be autonomous? Are they technical organs, clean and cute? Avoiding historical, philosophical and structural prolegomena and extrapolations (what is the historical role of the security forces, of the repressive apparatus in the bourgeois State, how the socialist left should organize itself and relate to this theme), the questions are much simpler, after all.

Are mayors or not the legitimate heads of the Municipal Civil Guards? Are governors natural commanders of the Military (and Civil) Police? Do presidents have or do not have a popular mandate that allows them to command the Federal Police? Police without a boss, without control, without guidance becomes mafia. Uncontrolled corporation, governed by its own interests. Let's run away from it.

In the case of the PF: a group of white men from the upper middle class, with a salary. All qualified, full of autonomy, empowered, corporate to the core and, above all, armed. Why would the left defend that they should manage themselves instead of following the guidelines of presidents elected by the people?

The police, as a whole, are one of the few Brazilian institutions that did not undergo any reform after the end of the military regime. The Military Police continued, after the 1988 Constitution, as auxiliary forces of the Army. They are legacies of the dictatorship, tributaries of a model of public security based on repression and war against the poor, blacks, young people. Of the nearly 60 annual homicides in Brazil, around 10% are summary murders committed by police officers.

The governors – of all parties and in all states – have always been hostages of the PMs. They have little effective command, they negotiate all the time with the top officers. They reproduce common sense and conservative discourse. In São Paulo, for example, there are about 100 military police, with a lot of equipment and structure (the national army has only three times the number of soldiers of the São Paulo PM). What civil ruler could actually control this huge troop?

The left and the PT, in particular, never prioritized public safety, the reorganization of the police, the prison system, human rights, the homicide epidemic. Ending the War on Drugs. Error that we will have to correct. Reform and reorganize the police? No way. Our governors either reproduced common sense or reinforced explicitly right-wing policies. Lula and Dilma made little progress on this issue. Incidentally, during the PT governments, incarceration exploded.

But let's go back. Police are cute, clean, technical things and, above good and evil? How does this relationship between rulers and police – and the Public Prosecutor’s Office – work around the world?

In the American “democracy”, which so many admire (right and left), the President appoints and controls both the “Attorney General”, and the heads of the FBI, CIA, etc. And if they do not abide by its directives, it is considered entirely legitimate for the head of state and government (the president) to replace them. Not to mention that there the nominations to the Supreme Court are made by jurists totally identified with the party of the president who nominates them. There is no such thing as the president being proud of not knowing and not making any agreements with the guy he is nominating for the highest body of the judiciary (as Lula incomprehensibly still does, even after 580 days in prison).

In short: those who encouraged this idea of ​​“independence” and “autonomy” of the Federal Police and the Attorney General's Office were Lula and Dilma. A mixture of naivety, concession to the elites and whatever else. FHC, for example, had not even given “autonomy” to the Federal Police, much less named the most voted Attorney General in the corporation's triple list.

To remember the indications to the STF. FHC appointed, for example, Gilmar Mendes, a qualified and organic member of the PSDB. Lula and Dilma erred in almost all nominations, giving up the appointment of recognized, capable and reliable political cadres from the PT and the left. They only got Lewandowski's nomination right, there were 13 nominations in our two governments!

Strategy and program

A critical and in-depth assessment of the PT experience in the federal government is a precondition for the reorganization of the left, the reconstruction of the popular-democratic program and, mainly, the re-elaboration of the tactics and strategy for the reconquest of the federal government (leverage of the process of carrying out the reforms structural and socialist transition).

Core theme: breaking with a certain idealist conception of the State, which assumes that institutions are technical and neutral. We move away from the idea that the dominant classes, the Brazilian elites, have any democratic commitment. Preparing our troops for a political war, not conciliation and salaams.

So, to get back to the motto of this article: a key idea. Police need neither autonomy nor independence. The head of government elected by the people is in charge of the police and militiamen!!

Without structurally reforming the State, mobilizing and organizing the people, it is not possible to build and sustain a popular-democratic government. 

* Julian Rodrigues is a journalist, PT activist and LTBTI and Human Rights activist.

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