Memories of 2016

Image: João Nitsche


Tragedy and farce in two coups d'état

With the approval by the Senate of the admissibility of the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, removed until the conclusion of the judgment on the merits, the country has a new president, Michel Temer, on an interim basis, who has already sworn in his multi-party ministry. Democracy is in mourning for Brazilians who do not legitimize the modus operandi politically arbitrary that justifies the governmental investiture of this president and the coalition between PMDB-PSDB-DEM-PP-PPS-PR-PRB-PSB-PSD-PTB-PV, much more right-wing than center-based, due to the form and content of their actions and proposals.

Once again, popular sovereignty hindered conservative economic, political and ideological interests, with similarities and, also, obviously, differences with what happened in 1964. In both situations, the economic crisis weighed, but now the representative system was not abolished or regressively reformed. There will be municipal elections in October of that year and general elections in 2018 and the same party system is still in place. But, casuistically, the presidential head was cut off to, with forceps, give birth to a governmental monster dressed up in the guise of legality, although explicitly lacking the clean record of the Chief Executive and several ministers, who seeks legitimacy, above all , through the economy, as in the former coup, which would be bad due to fiscal disarray.

“History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce,” says the classic phrase. In 1964, the military coup that deposed the João Goulart government came to history in the cruelty of the tragedy, illegally resorting to force, to get rid of the uncomfortable democratic legitimacy and, as far as possible, rescue it through economic growth, even if it concealed income concentration and rising inequality.

The ongoing coup, led by a broad conservative coalition, uninterested – at least so far, and hopefully also in the future – in mobilizing the barracks, opened its way to remove the president elected by the discretionary treatment of the Constitution and other legal provisions; selectively and politically instrumentalizing the fight against corruption; subverting civil rights in the name of legal-investigative actions; creating, with mass support, a public enemy (the PT and its leaders) constructed by the media and, finally, producing a parliamentary majority, first in the Chamber and now in the Senate, which, in both legislative houses, politicized the impeachment, arbitrarily forging a crime of responsibility, at the very least, highly controversial, which jeopardizes the re-encounter of the political and social stability lost during the crisis.

As already mentioned, the economy, once again, is the main underlying reason for this Latin American coup in the XNUMXst century. But if in the past it was approached by the ghost of subversion, now the pretext is corruption. Hypocritical legal and political procedures, mobilized in the name of combating corruption, are today the means of access to get rid of the obstacle that is supposedly hindering the economy. But the alliance between the economic interest of big capital, national and foreign, and the opportunist political elites indifferent to fidelity to democracy also makes use of another coup argument, namely, overcoming ungovernability, a situation that the subversives in suits and ties themselves they made an effort to produce, for example, with the bomb agendas and the various types of vetoes to the government's action that they wanted to depose. With a militant and hypocritical anti-corruption moralism and a boycott of governance, the broad coup coalition paved its access to the Planalto Palace and the Esplanada dos Ministérios. The subversion of the right followed its course, justifying itself both in the farcical attribution to the elected president of crimes in fiscal policy, and in the alleged fatality of ungovernability, which, in fact, was manufactured in a political crisis orchestrated in the third round of the electoral dispute. The leaders of these maneuvers say they are limited to the institutional order, when it comes to a new type of sophisticated coup d'état, carried out under the mantle of the Constitution, supported by representatives of the people and popular mobilization, in order to pass as democratic, in short, a cunning and fraudulent coup. The international press is picking up on the hoax.

The military coup was the result of a conspiracy, which went into action in a violently explicit way. He called himself a “revolution”, put a tank in the streets, tore up the 1946 Constitution, decreed institutional acts, conferred authoritarian powers on the new holders of power, defined crimes against national security, impeached parliamentarians, pursued, arrested and tortured enemies internal, assigning many of them to the list of the dead and missing, imposed bipartisanship, closed Congress when needed, etc. All of this was carried out with the unfortunate blessing of the social bases of authoritarianism at the time, starting with the business community, including the commercial press, such as the CNBB (today progressive), the OAB, the middle class, in short. In addition, the coup alliance between civil groups and the military, created in the context of the Cold War, had the strategic backing of the Kennedy-Johnson government.

The coup of the Latin American oligarchies of the 1988st century, underway in Brazil today, is implemented with several different boldnesses: the selective fight against corruption, the partisan alliance between the Judiciary and the media, the fabrication of a pro-deposition public opinion , the leveraging of street protests by economic power, which makes various types of resources available to its leaders, legal-investigative abuses – such as in the implementation and use of the award-winning whistleblower and wiretapping – and the volatilization of the impeachment law, so to consider a crime of responsibility recurrent fiscal practices in post-XNUMX Brazil. Moreover, right-wing subversion relies on the Supreme Court's omission or connivance, but some of its justices, such as Gilmar Mendes, do not hesitate to expose their coup d'état.

The regression of democratic development is underway, not necessarily the return to an authoritarian regime, but the decrease in the level of democracy in public institutions and social relations, since, in addition to the partisan selectivity of the rule of law, subcultures are mobilized intolerance and hatred policies against ideological opponents, prejudice directed at women, blacks, the poor and beneficiaries of social programs. Ghosts are created, also imagined in 1964, such as communism, today called Bolivarianism or PTism. Just as there are various types of authoritarian regimes, there are also various democracies, including semi-democracies. Political systems can increase or decrease their levels of authoritarianism and democracy. In the Brazilian dictatorship, for example, the “coup within the coup” occurred, which promoted an increase in authoritarianism.

The quality of the beliefs and actions of political leaders and the social support for the coup show how the political values ​​of the actors and the capacity for persuasion are important for the development or underdevelopment of democracy, which should not be conceived by the social sciences as a mere regime, but as a type of society, the democratic society, built on a democratic culture.

It is also about the setback in social-developmentalist public policies. The bridge to the future of the PMDB leads, in fact, to the resumption of the neoliberal past without conciliation, from the times of Fernando Collor de Mello and, above all, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, times of low growth, unemployment, very high interest rates, immense capture of fiscal policy by public debt creditors, privatizations and increased national dependence on foreign capital, the latter always eager to deepen its presence in the national market and to get its hands on Brazil's natural resources, starting today with the pre-salt layer, but not only.

Finally, the farcical character of the current coup does not exclude its tragic dimension. Isn't it tragic the sophisticated democratic setback, operated in defiance of the legal order, a setback that is supposedly seen as a splendid cradle of National Union destined to raise a supposedly awakened giant, but which, in fact, is a cradle congenitally lacking in legitimacy? How can the results of a combination of farces not be tragic? Combating corruption with corrupt people and dirty records? Decrease of clientelism in the political system with the party that most embodies it commanding the pen of the State? Democracy with mobilization of fascist-type political behavior in the streets and in the actions of institutional leaders, committed to criminalizing the largest workers' party that emerged in the world since the post-war period? Blind justice, but that, in reality, sees and has departed? National Union, but against popular rights and in the service of the Brazilian and international plutocracy?

It is a malicious and deceitful farce, built between contradictory yearnings, which take place at the junction, on the one hand, of the privileged - always averse to citizenship rights and supporters of the traditional hierarchization in social classes, aiming to delimit roles and distinct places and static to Brazilians – and, on the other hand, to voters dressed in the streets in green and yellow, who, at least in part, want social policies and a fair State. Perhaps even more than the classic coup, naked and raw, the current coup is even worse, for being very equipped, at least in the short term, with the ideological power to deceive, while the military movement, of a dictatorial character, imposed fear bayonets promptly to the workers. But isn't it a tragedy foretold to believe that market-oriented policies could be the path capable of raising the average income and the standard of living of the nation as a whole? Will neoliberalism succeed precisely in Brazil, an emerging country, deeply unequal, with a highly oligopolistic and uncompetitive economy? How can neoliberalism work if it goes against the grain of a national development model, independent of foreign savings and against the grain of a democratic-republican state, which implements welfare policies and citizenship rights? It is enough to look at what fiscal and monetary austerity and the petty interests that guide the logic of market agents are providing in terms of recession, unemployment, apart from the squeeze that is to come, to get an idea of ​​the obscure and regressive time in the which conservative reaction against the democratic revolution is leading the country. But the progressive resistance is alive and does not accept the tragic farce of Temer's interim government, just as it did not accept the tragedy of the 1964 military coup. Since the 2014 elections, the coup supporters have chosen the path of political polarization.

*Marcus Ianoni Professor at the Department of Political Science at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

Originally published in Jornal do Brasil, on May 17, 2016.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table