But so what?

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Ronald Rocha*

The terms of a triple crisis are amalgamating: economic, sanitary and political.

As soon as the simple carols of Christmas ceased, the merry fires of New Year's Eve, the malicious marchinhas of Carnival and the tragic prayers of Holy Week, successively impregnated by the archetypes of national culture, the automatic transmission was engaged for the second year of the Bolsonaro Government, in which there were “pools” already set up. The calendar was identical to the previous ones, even if you look at the remote references: a start forecast in hiccups, starting and stopping until the engine firmed up, as the first ethanol cars behaved in the early morning. However, the plot would be quite different, as Brazilian society was entering one of the most turbulent and doubtful periods in its history. Ask yourself, taking the meme of palatial origin in reverse: “But, so what?”

An initial answer comes from 1978, in Clube da Esquina 2, when – in the midst of democratic mobilization of opposition to the decomposing military-dictatorship regime – the petulant, incisive and dramatic song by Milton Nascimento and Ruy Guerra narrated and questioned, in a historical dimension: “Delicacies in tableware / Fine wines in that skin / And in this pain that burns me / Only my hate is not rotten / I have centuries of waiting / In the beads of my ribs / I have chimeras in my eyes / With the brightness of thirty candles / So what?” The same reverse question remains, but with precise answers, because, if poetry and music embellish and instigate – lasting, axiologically and abstractly –, politics and praxis have to analyze and carry out in the concrete conjuncture. Today, the terms of a triple crisis are amalgamating.

Initially, the adverse cycle of the economy inaugurated in Brazil in 2014: there are approximately six years of weak recovery, marked by zigzags, relapses and social ills, which belie the predictions, the promises and, why not say, the puerile hopes of those responsible for the official economic policies. One more local and conjunctural particularity – therefore, relatively autonomous – of the planetary stagnation that succeeded the Golden Age, composing the longest-lasting Phase B among those that occurred in the Long Waves experienced by capitalism since the XNUMXth century, when its sociometabolic logic was internationally imposed. Against this background, the world order moves through acute multipolar conflicts, but in a counterrevolutionary way, while here the coup process deposed Dilma Rousseff and initiated the passage to a new period in the class struggle, finally established with the occupation of the Central Government by the extreme right.

Subsequently, the economic paralysis intensified due to the implementation of social distancing, a tough but necessary and unavoidable medical response to the new coronavirus pandemic. The recurrence of the recession and its abyssal immersion were generated. It turns out that the core of capitalist valorization was reached and also surrendered to quarantine. Concretely, the sanitary campaign interfered in the contradiction between the social nature of production and the private character that prevails in the exercise of appropriation, as well as, correlatively, in the exclusive and universal way of realizing surplus value in the sphere of mercantile circulation, which resides in the transformation of labor value in its money form. In short, in order to save lives, it was necessary to pay for the decline in the manufacture of goods, in the provision of services and in trade operations, with their consequences.

Finally, the previous vectors merged with the instability at the top of political society, provoked especially by the attack of the proto-fascist horde against the National Congress, the STF, the governors, the mayors and all who, for some reason, were out of tune with their agendas and timbres, including some members of the first echelon of the Esplanada: General Santos Cruz, Dr. Mandetta and former judge Moro, to name only the most notorious. Since 1988, the reactionary forces had never invested with such virulence against the country, the democratic institutions and the population. In this context, the various classes, in full or through their fractions, including political party expressions, seek new places to reaffirm their interests or reposition themselves in the face of real changes, even with semi-deserted streets and parliaments imprisoned in the virtual world . In short, a new political conjuncture was configured within the resistance that was already under way.

In the face of radicalization from above, some recalled the splendid image that Marshall Berman drew from the The Manifest in its English edition of 1888, set in somewhat creative rhetoric and printed when Marx was already at rest, in Engels' own words in the Prefácio à German edition from 1883, “in Highgate Cemetery”, where “upon his grave […] the first grass” already grew: “Everything that is solid melts into air”. If read out of context – which refers to the destruction of previous relationships by the advance of capital as a social relationship – such a phrase could suggest the idea that the Federal Government, underneath its granitic image, was about to fall rotten, like that one. “cold” diagnosed by the boss. If the Bolsonarist group deserved some kind of clinical metaphor, it would have to resort to the name of a more obstinate and harmful disease.

Instead of the words of Samuel Moore, which parameterized countless translations around the world, it would be more fruitful to remember the classic text in its original and integral form, whose content is like this: “Every existing order vaporizes and all sanctity is profaned, compelling people to , finally, to face soberly their living conditions and their reciprocal relationships.” Such complexity, subtly nuanced by the authors, allows one to look for more fruitful and interesting analogies, such as political instability, the decline of myths and the condemnation of common sense to the perception of facts as a naked reality, in its incessant movement, in its universal bonds and in their concreteness, that is, safe from eschatological impulses.

Considering the serious hardships that afflict the country, the government's conduct, exacerbated by the president converted into the head of the paramilitary militias that he organizes, mobilizes and covers, has become a serious national problem. If there is a recession, it throws its weight on the shoulders of the poorest sectors, the workers, the middle classes and the small business community, eliminating social policies, suppressing labor gains and leaving the crowds to their own devices. If there is Covid-19, it repeats almost ipsis litteris the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” – “work sets you free”, placed on the portal of Auschwitz – to sabotage the effort of the health campaign and health professionals, as well as defend measures typical of a social Darwinism that relegates an incalculable number of citizens to neglect and death. If there is an institutional crisis, he throws everything into its depths, conspiring to completely “purify” his team, maintain his personal apparatus named Abin, control the Federal Police in the smallest detail, place the Armed Forces under his private domain, liquidate the fundamental rights and plunging Brazil into civil war.

Its main purpose is the suppression of the democratic regime designed by the 1988 Constitution. The restrictions that yesterday appeased military fears in the conservative transition no longer satisfy today's ultra-reaction. The contemporary counterrevolution needs to destroy the establishment, as stated by its adherents. It is remarkable how historical-social circumstances are reflected in individual conscience and conduct: even when they are apparently identical, actors act in a disparate way. In 1974, Geisel presented to the leaders of the Arena his plan for a “slow, gradual and safe” transition from the old order to “democracy”. Now, 46 years later, Bolsonaro wants a return to the dictatorial regime through a self-coup, but quickly, abruptly and not as safely as he thinks. One had to physically annihilate the resistance – remember the Massacre da Lapa, in 1976 – to level the playing field, while the other needs to destroy the existing institutions to banish the disaffected and start a bloodbath.

There is no doubt: the Federal Government, illegitimate since taking office, has now entered the terrain of illegality. It prepares to dictate who will be immunized, spared, investigated, condemned, without even covering the intended police activism with the already torn and dirty cover of the law, as the lavajatismo had done in its heroic days. The queue of those affected is verbalized on a daily basis and populates the imagination of the so-called “hate office”. In approximate order, the communists, the parties on the left in general, the liberals, the annoying media, the insufficiently aligned businessmen, the deviant religions, the people considered immoral, the individuals who dare to complain, their own co-religionists and so on. Only the fanatical rightists and the silent ones would be kind of safe, and look at that.

Those who doubt it can review the historical precedents in the classic ultra-right regimes: Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. They are replicating examples of the germinal and incomplete trends that underpin the Brazilian counterrevolution, which dominate the central government and which also claim to hold “power” as Bolsonaro did when he repeated the common empiricist illusion to escape accountability for self-coupling. In fact, they have not even been able to sculpt in their image and likeness the political regime that until now has been constitutional-democratic – certainly restrictive –, which, moreover, is articulated with instances of the State belonging to the dominant class, that is, structurally controlled by capital and hegemonized by its monopoly-financial fraction, and not to specific people or individuated political groupings. Thus, they have reason to be terrified, day after day, with the re-election that doesn't get out of their minds and seems to escape their hands.

This is why democratic resistance manifests itself not only in civil society, but also in political society and even internally to typical organs of permanent bourgeois power. Protesting not only opposition parties and trade union representations or popular movements, but also several personalities and conservative forces, including some bourgeois fractions, which influence the media, which orbited the Planalto Palace a little while ago and which even live inside organs key state. The pronouncements are directed against what has been going on for a long time and now almost everyone has finally seen it: the limits have been exceeded and the liberating march, which has entered a path of no return, will never stop by itself: it will have to be stopped. It became clear that presidential behavior is not fortuitous. On the contrary, it is an immanent feature of the fanatics of the conservative counterrevolution, aware that the Magna Carta and the infraconstitutional legislation hinder the retreat to a dictatorial-military regime similar to that of 1964, “perfected” by the trait of personal autocracy.

This is the myth that founded the self-coup process orchestrated in the presidential office and put into action on March 15, publicly challenging the anti-pandemic effort of his own minister. The logic repeated itself on April 19, when, cynically camouflaged by the excuse of celebrating a special date, Bolsonaro gave a speech in front of the Army Headquarters, in Brasília, reinforcing his explicit goals in shouts and uniform banners, previously prepared and financed irregularly: closing the National Congress and the STF, as well as provoking a military intervention to reimplant a dictatorial regime and reissue the AI-5, all framed with insults directed at members of state bodies and public authorities. Such an absurdity is consistent with the also unprecedented smallness of the presidential figure, who from the “supreme authority” of the Armed Forces was reduced to the mere cheap agitator that he always was, now spreading intrigues and quarrels in front of the barracks, as well as trampling on the constitutional destination of the military” to the defense of the Homeland” and “to the guarantee of the constitutional powers”. The same behaviors and patterns were repeated on May 3, accompanied by explicit threats.

It should be noted that the defense of the democratic regime and the rejection of adventurous attacks were as broad as they were forceful in both spheres of society, civil and political. As a result, Bolsonaro and his group of fanatics have descended a few more steps on the ladder that leads them to isolation. In the most indignant opposition environments, suggestions for ways and slogans focused on the individual figure of the pretender to tyrant, the impeachment, including judicial complaints and investigations of all kinds, as well as congressional proposals to institute immediate direct elections in the event of a vacancy in the presidential chair, reaching manifestations of non-compliance such as the sound of banging pans, posts on social networks, notes from parties and below. several signed, accompanied by slogans such as enough, enough, outside and below, in addition to guidelines against the self-coup purpose such as detaining, resisting, barring, overthrowing and so on, all legitimate as expressions of democratic sentiment and the various accumulated nonconformities.

At the same time, conspiracies at the top deepen to replace a reactionary by another considered more amenable and astute, aiming at the updating situationist without popular participation and without democratic protagonism, a true pact aimed at the conservative recycling of the political regime and ultraliberal purposes. With the demobilization of the masses in a phase of social withdrawal and without a strong proletarian presence at the heart of the confrontation, the “solutions” migrate to congressional, judicial, military and palatial understandings and agreements, terrains characterized by the majority and by the hegemony of capital, in that parties on the left and popular forces transit with little chance of playing a decisive or even relevant role.

Under these conditions, the institutional crisis is also, objectively, the opportunity for an exit within the framework of the monopoly-financial yoke and the dependent situation. Thus, it is justified, sometimes going against common sense and simplification, the line of basing the fight against Bolsonaro and his grouping on four central pillars: opposition to the Federal Government as a whole and not simply to one or a few figures individually. execrable; the formation of a broad democratic, national and progressive front, within which the communists and leftist parties are the most dynamic and consistent pole; the mobilization of the great proletarian and popular masses based on their most felt claims; and the elaboration of an emergency platform that unifies the different segments in contradiction with the conduct and policies of the extreme right. It is worth developing some reflections about similar pillars.

The Bolsonaro Government cannot be confused with the mere sum of its ministers and other assistants, even if the employees of the Esplanada are added to the set. It has a superior quality, as the whole is more than the simple empirical listing of the parts, even if exhaustively compiled. The same statement was recovered by Marx in The capital, when, when noting “that not every sum of money or exchange value […] can be converted into capital without the transformation presupposing the existence of a minimum”, he referred to the “law discovered by Hegel in his Logic, according to which merely quantitative variations are converted, upon reaching a certain point, into qualitative changes.”

The clashes, disagreements and dismissals, among other cases that have occurred or are yet to come, prove that the boss's tyrannical hand, backed by the entourage and tied by the ultra-conservative political-social project, centralizes the combo administrative in an intimate connection with the most reactionary fractions of the monopoly-financial capital and the imperialist interests, above the events in the plain, including those related to the indefectible figure of the deputy with the air of a soldier always available for the changing of the guard. Limiting oneself to nominating Bolsonaro and a few ministers, in a row of Beltranos and Cicranans, would be to convert the tactic into a mere personalized and useless invective, centered on citing a foe who could be fired the next day and even play the game of palace reconfiguration, that is that is, admitting in practice a far-right government without Bolsonaro.

With each stroke of the pen, the Planalto is “purified”, making it even more wrong to separate the government from its incumbent who, apart from their personal-private dimensions, make up the same thing. The ministers and other components, as Marx suggests in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, “they do not choose their circumstances” and therefore have to bow down or be defenestrated, as they are captives of the hegemonic logic that surrounds them and which they will never be able to substantially change. In fact, the escracho ao individual flirts with the bourgeois conception of history in a Jacobin variant, whose ceiling on the left is radical democratism. The attack on Bolsonaro is necessarily inseparable from the fight against his management as a whole, under the penalty of adopting a discourse capable of withering in the subsequent reactionary recomposition. It would also be ineffective to reduce political volition, simply, to a strong idea that would be realized by rhetorical repetition, as in Genesis 1, verse 1: “In the Beginning was the Word”. The tactic has to dialogue concretely with the general conditions of political reality.

Hence the objective need for a broad front in opposition to the Federal Government, which fully aggregates the forces and segments in contradiction with its conduct and policies. At the present juncture, in which the workers-popular movement is going through a difficult phase of resistance against a truculent and implacable opponent, the exclusive composition in the list of the organized left would be insufficient to stop the self-coup and defeat proto-fascism, since it would never include the democrats in full and the great masses of millions. Remember the national and international experiences, illustrated respectively by the fight against the dictatorial-military regime and by the 1935 report to the VII Congress of the Third Communist International, in which Dimitrov supported the policy of unitary alliance against the scourge embodied in the rising extreme right .

Two years later, on the eve of World War II, in the popular front, the Bulgarian leader reiterated the wide unity in the Spanish civil war, underlining that “fascism means the complete destruction of the democratic rights conquered by the people, the implantation of a kingdom of darkness, ignorance and cultural destruction, the meaningless theories of race and the preaching of hate”. He also stressed: “the fighters of the republican army who fight on the walls of Madrid, in Catalonia, in the mountains of Asturias, throughout the Peninsula, are giving their lives to defend not only the freedom and independence of republican Spain, but also the conquests democratic rights of all nations and the cause of peace.” Such a revolutionary line allowed the victory against Nazi-fascism.

In Brazil, several more or less extended meetings have been taking place in fragmented and sectorial ways, but of relevant importance. Recently, there have been some practical examples: the note Brazil cannot be destroyed by Bolsonaro, signed by various personalities; the undersigned with 100 unions against MP 936; the letter in defense of the democratic regime, launched by the Forum of Governors on the 19th; the statement prepared by the Forum of Parties in Minas Gerais on the 21st; the victorious fight against MP 905 in the National Congress; the Unified May 1st; and the message released by the Minas Gerais sections of five parties in support of the common initiative of the centrals on Labor Day. Concomitantly, the defense of freedoms also occurs within state bodies, such as the dozens of requests by the impeachment, several judgments in the STF according to the Constitution, the investigations opened by the Federal Police into illegal actions by the self-coup forces and so on.

Every day it is more necessary and urgent to aggregate such common searches and actions in an organic and permanent national forum, under the penalty of remaining as limited and less powerful initiatives. To do so, the protagonists need to focus on larger issues, seeking to create consensus and agreements capable of expanding unity. It would be inconsequential and sectarian to insist or feed small disagreements and quarrels about the minutiae of slogans or the exclusivity of a given legal instrument. Obsessions with preconceived organic forms or factional programmatic points would also prove harmful. The best slogans and instruments are always the most capable of joining forces. Therefore, concessions must be seen not as negativities that would generate incompleteness, seem like betrayals or remind of resentments, but as positivities that are indispensable for the formation of consensus around essential issues, such as democratic freedoms, national sovereignty, labor rights and support for the most needy segments.

However, the nodal point resides in the mobilization of the masses. The effective engagement of the proletarian and popular movement – ​​in strikes, demonstrations, court cases, parliamentary disputes or electoral campaigns, especially in the political struggle translated into concrete aspirations – is a priority condition for the success of the opposition to the Federal Government, whatever course it takes or what mode of action predominates. Therefore, only the superior unity of the union representative entities and the various popular movements, with the nuclear presence of the partisan left, will be able to forge a material force capable of interfering in the class struggle in such a way that the dispute for space and protagonism has real chances of to defeat the extreme right, to oppose the attempts to come out on top and to guarantee an outcome favorable to the great majorities.

Here, however, is the Achilles Heel of popular opposition. Mass movements are on the decline. Despite the important resistance actions in recent years, precious time was lost in confessional disputes and duels of acronyms or personalities. In addition, new difficulties have accumulated due to official attacks on union entities, especially with restrictive and suppressive laws of historical conquests. Under the pandemic, social distancing and the recession, living conditions and unemployment have worsened, as well as the channels of contact between representative entities and the masses have been limited, making public demonstrations difficult. In this context, it is necessary to maintain the initiative in a creative way, avoid prolonged hiatuses and prepare for large mobilizations as soon as the health protection cycle is completed, especially to intervene in the ongoing national crisis. This is a key task at the fold of the conjuncture.

Based on these considerations, the fight to win self-coup attempts and stop the Bolsonaro Government needs an emergency platform to save Brazil, the democratic political regime, human lives and popular interests, to be established nationally by the interested forces and sectors, contemplating the priority aspects in the face of the pandemic, the recession and the political-institutional crisis. An example is the dam against obscurantist ideas that encourage massive contagion, supporting special measures to combat, contain and control Covid-19, which unfold in: support for state and municipal initiatives to overcome the Planalto’s omission; centralization of available resources to face the evils of the pandemic and to reinforce the SUS; elimination of measures hostile to popular rights, social spending, state-owned companies and national sovereignty.

Furthermore, it is urgent to allocate, over the next six months, greater and more comprehensive support to people and families who are unemployed, informal, discouraged, contaminated or with elderly people at home, as well as to prohibit any dismissal in the public service and in private conglomerates, in addition to guaranteeing support for small companies that maintain jobs. It is also indispensable to defend the health campaign and the democratic regime against private saboteurs and government conspirators, through the most varied forms of struggle, including the framing of crimes of responsibility, whether by explicit or veiled action, or by any omission. . Finally, it is necessary, in diplomacy, to eliminate prejudices and request international support in material, technical and human aid, especially to countries that have demonstrated practice, qualification and solidary conduct, such as China, Cuba and Russia.

In summary, the center of the tactic today resides in the following orientation, to be carried out simultaneously: to isolate the parties and phalanxes that now dominate, operate and support the Federal Government; neutralize the pragmatic-bourgeois segments that occupy the intermediate spaces of the political spectrum and often tend towards physiological support; attract the levels that are immobilized in conciliation; and consolidate, on a broad front – with flexibility, a sense of mediation and relevant forms, national, local or sectoral –, the forces and individuals belonging to the vast democratic, national and progressive field, above ideological, party and religious preferences.

It is on the agenda, therefore, with the same importance that the fight against the pandemic deserves and the protection of those most affected, to investigate the crimes committed by Bolsonaro and his accomplices, with the punishment and removal of those responsible using the available resources. The general purpose of the opposition forces is not to remain “squatting on the beach of events” – as Tenório Cavalcanti declared himself as a rising conservative star –, but to impose successive defeats on the reactionary government in order to weaken it, accumulate in the correlation of forces and create favorable conditions to replace it with methods that facilitate popular pronouncement in the most democratic way possible. It must pontificate incontestable certainty, as noted by Brecht in the poem Praise for Dialectics, that “Things will not continue as they are; / After the dominant ones speak / The dominated ones will speak”.

*Ronald Rocha, a sociologist, is director of the Instituto Sérgio Miranda – Isem.

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