Nationalism and Bolsonarism

David Hockney, "A Jump to Bradford", 1987.


Social reinforcement in the normative function of the nationalist ideology under Bolsonarism opened a new conjuncture in Brazil. What are the risks?

When Roberto Schwarz wrote “Ideas out of place” (1973), more than a thesis on liberal ideas in Brazil, he proposed a comprehensive and ambitious hypothesis on the complicated subject of reception and, with it, a research program, and it is a pity that the subsequent debate has revolved around misunderstandings. He himself tried to undo them almost four decades later, and there is no doubt that “Why ideas out of place?” (2012) is less hermetic than the 1973 essay and, therefore, more inviting to the reader not experienced in philosophical language.

The hypothesis is not complicated: 1) ideas work differently according to context and circumstances; 2) in the contexts in which they arise, ideas can describe reality, even if superficially; 3) but, when imported, these same ideas may no longer describe the new reality they are confronted with – in this case, other ideas must be sought for this purpose; 4) this does not, however, prevent these (imported) ideas from fulfilling functions other than credible description (ranging from rhetorical ornament and pure cynicism to utopia and the real political objective) – in that regard, ideas are always in their place; 5) is the belief or perception that such (imported) ideas describe the local reality when they do not, which explains the feeling that they are out of place – in that regard, they are really out of place, or, in stricter terms, their job is out of place; 6) finally, the functions are not equivalent and do not have the same weight.

About this last aspect, Schwarz writes: “[…] we do not live in an abstract world, and the European functioning of liberalism, with its realistic dimension, imposes itself, decreeing that the other functionings are unreasonable. Relations of hegemony exist, and ignoring them, if not in a movement of critical overcoming, is in turn a misplaced response” (Schwarz, 2012, p. 171)[1].

As you can see, I tried to reconstruct the argument in generic terms, in which I see the echo of the forgotten Empirical foundations of sociological explanation (1959), by Florestan Fernandes, whose work seems to be outdated by many. But that is another story. If Schwarz speaks of European ideas, specifically, it is because the scope of his investigation is limited: he tried to examine the liberal ideas originated in Europe and their nineteenth-century reception in Brazil and their subsequent destiny. It is worth remembering that, in the context in which the essay was written, Western Europe was no longer, as in the 1973th century, the only source of ideas considered by these parts as new and advanced, and probably was no longer the favorite source, having been or in the process of being surpassed by the United States. Therefore, I insist: more than the specific thesis, it is important to retain the general hypothesis and the program that accompany it from the proposal. From this angle, the question appears to us today much richer (and more complex) than in XNUMX, given the multiplication of sources of ideas both in academic debate and in public debate: India, Mexico, South Africa... (I use names of countries and continents, it is purely economics, after all, each of these names hides varied internal contexts).

In these terms, it is not difficult to see that the hypothesis is accompanied by a research program, which consists of examining, in context, the various functions that ideas perform, contrasting the original context with the new one. The promise is that the contrast between the parts guarantees gains in understanding about the parts and the whole. If we want to put the question in terms more familiar to historians, we can follow Edward P. Thompson's “historical logic”: the interrogated is local reality, the content of the interrogation is ideas, what is aimed at is the historical process.

In the Brazilian case, it is about investigating the reception, here, of ideas other than liberal ones. This is the case of nationalist ideas – as I will call the conceptual family “nation”, “nationalism”, “homeland”, “patriotism”, “heritage” and “people”. In this essay, I want to superficially discuss the issue. An academic investigation should review a vast and rich bibliography, which I will not do. As this is an essay, I will launch hypotheses without further concern.

Right off the bat, one issue has always intrigued me: unless I am mistaken, nationalist ideas, with a few exceptions, not only were not perceived among us as being out of place but, quite the contrary, there seemed to be nothing strange about them – the opposite, therefore, of the feeling that liberal ideas evoked. Everything happens as if nationalist ideas described reality in such a credible way – even if sometimes not a finished reality, but a reality in the process of becoming – that the mere act of raising the question would sound completely pointless. It is true that there have been controversies and disputes around who the people are and who the nation is, but precisely because they dispute which is the best description, they presuppose a descriptive function and, with that, only confirm that, around here, the perception that such ideas do not describe by no means the reality.

It is not surprising that the perception and feeling that we, all Brazilians, are one people and one nation has prevailed. I emphasize: I am not referring to other functions that nationalist ideas have always fulfilled in Brazil, but to the conviction, well shared, that such ideas effectively describe the Brazilian reality. Does the almost absence of the alluded feeling of displacement then imply that nationalist ideas fulfill a descriptive function here? Unless we conceive of “people” and “nation” as a set of individuals who share the same citizenship formal, or, using imagination, as a collection of individuals who have this or that character trait in common, the answer must be no.

In order to establish the descriptive function of nationalist ideas, it is first necessary to remove what for a long time was considered (and here and there still is considered) a requirement: ancestry. When studying the genesis of nationalist ideas in 2005th century Europe, when such ideas gained the form in which we know them, historian Patrick Geary observes an ideological construction through which he sought to establish direct lines between peoples in the contemporary world and peoples in antiquity, which was only possible because these were seen as “distinct and stable, objectively identifiable sociocultural units”. However, explains Geary, the peoples of Europe "were always much more fluid, complex and dynamic than modern nationalists imagine", so that peoples' names "may sound familiar after a thousand years, but the social, cultural and political realities hidden by those names were radically different from what they are today. It is a political use of history with political repercussions in the present. This is the case of political claims on territories, which are based on the ideological notion of “primary acquisition” (Geary, 22, p. 4-2005). The most significant of these repercussions, the basis for all the others, is the very idea of ​​a nation. Geray is assertive in this regard: “nationalism can manufacture the nation itself” (Geary, 30, p. XNUMX).

Thus, although the ancestry-descendancy pair crosses the nationalist imagination – before the 2005th century, uniting contemporary and ancestral estate elites and leaving out the subordinates, and, in the 31th century, uniting all social strata into a single “people” ( Geary, 2, p. XNUMX-XNUMX) –, nationalism does not describe it, as there is no reality to be described. From the perspective of this conceptual pair, nationalism, in line with what Foucault teaches, fulfills above all a normative function – that of imposing the nation on a group of individuals – with a biological background. Revealing the expiry of this pair is the fact that, in today's Europe, part of the extreme right - above all that which has in its bases children of immigrants - has left them aside, giving way to "cultural traditions" and "indigenous values". ”.

With ancestry removed, in an attempt to capture the descriptive function of nationalist ideas, I will resort to imagined communities (1983), by Benedict Anderson, a classic in contemporary scholarship on nationalism. The thesis of the nation as an “imagined political community” is well known, although its complement sometimes goes unnoticed: “imagined as being intrinsically limited and, at the same time, sovereign” (Anderson, 1991, p. 32). In any case, what is most common among interpreters of nationalism who resort to Anderson is to take the three notions (“imagined”, “intrinsically limited” and “sovereign”) as the elementary components of the nation, which led many to emphasize, perhaps too much, the nation as representation, leaving aside its materiality. Against this tendency, I think that, for the conformation of the reality described by nationalism, the three are insufficient when separated from the notion of “community”. It is on this that I want to dwell.

In justifying the use of “community”, Anderson writes: “[the nation] is imagined as a community why, irrespective of the actual inequality and exploitation that may exist within it, the nation is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship” (Anderson, 1991, p. 34, emphasis mine)[2]. The passage has its difficulty. It implies that the so-called camaraderie or, as will appear later, “fraternity” will take place with or without inequality and exploitation, and, if these two exist, under any concrete configuration: thus, even in contexts marked by extreme inequality and exploitation , the “fraternity” would be present. Is it not familiar to us?

This passage alone suggests that, as long as “brotherhood” is present, regardless of what that means and for whatever reasons, any and all historical formations would be credibly described by the concept of “nation”. Thus, although the “fraternity” under extreme inequality and the “fraternity” under absolute equality have nothing in common except the name – this would be nothing more than a hollow, empty shell –, their mere presence would be enough to attest that nationalist ideas describe reality, even in deeply unequal countries.

Although impoverishing, this is undoubtedly a possible reading of Anderson's thesis, but it is not the only one. For another reading, the following passage is particularly helpful, in which Anderson discusses the “model” of the national State that, according to him, was ready to be copied by others at the beginning of the XNUMXth century:

“But, precisely because he was a well-known model at the time, he imposed certain 'standards' that made very pronounced deviations impossible. Even the backward and reactionary gentry of Hungary and Poland found it difficult not to put on a vast show of 'invitations' to their downtrodden compatriots (if only to the kitchen). Let's say that it was the logic of the 'Peruvianization' of San Martín that was at work. If the 'Hungarians' deserved a national state, that then meant the Hungarians, all of them; meant a state in which the ultimate locus of sovereignty it had to be the collective that spoke and read Hungarian; and it also meant, in due course, the end of serfdom, the promotion of popular education, the expansion of the right to vote, and so on. In this way, the 'populist' character of the first European nationalisms, even when demagogically led by the most backward social groups, was deeper than the American ones: serfdom had to go, legal slavery was unimaginable – if only because the conceptual model so strongly demanded it” (Anderson, 1991, p. 125-6, highlights mine).

If we take the passage seriously, including the "so on", the picture changes. Based on it, I consider that when Anderson establishes as a requirement of the nation the existence of a “horizontal comradeship” “regardless of the effective inequality and exploitation that may exist within it”, he establishes the conditions so that it makes sense to speak of a nation and, by extension, on nationalism – that is, for nation and nationalism to fulfill some function, whatever that may be – not the conditions for both to fulfill a specifically descriptive function. For nationalist ideas to describe a reality, as I infer from the passage, it is necessary to observe certain “patterns”, which do not allow for “very accentuated deviations”, and which ultimately imply the universalization of rights. In these terms, “fraternity” seems to gain its own, specific content, in light of which we can suspect why it was precisely forgotten among the three sister revolutionary ideas (at the same time that equality was reduced to its formal dimension). .

We know that the universalization of rights and the conquest of a situation of relative well-being for the subaltern layers in Western European countries and in some cases outside this region was the result much more of a long process of struggles by workers and their allies than a benefit granted by those situated at the top of the estate. It is likely that nationalist ideas occupied the function of a political weapon of subordinates, until they could fulfill a descriptive function of reality, which, as we know, happened historically discontinuously. But it is equally certain that what Anderson calls the nationalist model has had weight, as has the emergence, in the twentieth century, of the welfare state, creating a new benchmark or standard of individual, social and human rights, in which the end of serfdom and the right to vote were no longer enough.

That said, for nationalist ideas to describe a historical reality, it is necessary, in addition to sovereignty and territorial limitation, the existence not of any “horizontal camaraderie” or “fraternity” (Anderson) or “community of interests” (Geary), but the one that can only take place where there are universal rights - and not less important, where the rights are effective, not just provided for by law. I won't waste ink to justify and explain that this is not the Brazilian case. In view of the rights and relative well-being enjoyed by subordinates in some parts of the world a few decades ago – for better or for worse, despite neoliberalism, the welfare state still exists in some countries – shouldn't nationalist ideas among us seem out of place when contrasted with those same ideas in those parts? The question presupposes that the latter should prevail over the former, attesting to their inaccuracy, but that is not what happens. And since there is still a risk of the question may sound preposterous, it is necessary to see that, in this case, the preposterousness reveals the familiarity we have with an idea of ​​“people”, “nation” and “homeland” that coexists well with abysmal inequality, with alarming levels of poverty and with everyday violence. At the limit, one can “love the country”, “be proud of being Brazilian” and address a “letter to the nation” and, at the same time, nourish contempt and hatred on the part (majority) of the “people”[3]. The inconsistency, although patent, is neither felt nor perceived. How to explain it?

My hypothesis is that such a perception and feeling are possible because, unlike the ideas of liberalism, which by themselves impose a political program – such is the vocation of all liberalism, political or economic –, nationalist ideas have only imposed those “standards” of which Anderson speaks for reasons that have less to do with the ideas in itself than with the historical context in which they emerged and developed and with the way individuals and groups mobilized them according to local traditions and conditions. In some cases, such ideas have given such content to "fraternity" that they have become descriptive in the end. I think this is the case with the experience of the Popular Front in France in the 1930s, to name just one example. However, nationalist ideas are not by themselves dedicated to any political program. This allows one to speak of “people”, “nation” and “homeland”, and to be “nationalist” and “patriot” under a deeply unequal and exploitative historical ground and without planting any seed of change. Conversely, it also makes it possible for the left to adopt nationalist semantics with the hope of attaching a program of change to it. In short, the absence of pressure coming from these ideas made it possible for them to circulate around here without causing major noise as to their function. Something similar may have happened in the United States.[4].

But that is not all. When dealing with liberal ideas, Schwarz maintains, as I showed above, that the European functioning of liberalism, “with its realistic dimension, imposes itself, decreeing that the other functionings are unreasonable”. If the same does not occur with nationalist ideas, if all the forms assumed by nationalist ideas seem realistic, then where to locate hegemony? In this case, the hegemony is not with the Europeans, where, as I believe, despite all the contradictions and tensions, nationalist ideas still describe reality; it seems to be dispersed: different types of functioning, fusing local traditions with ideas of international circulation, seem to be equally purposeful. In less abstract terms, if we look at nationalist ideas in Brazil today, from the left to the right, these ideas and their use all seem purposeful. If we look at other countries, possibly we will see the same. If so, it would be superfluous to speak of hegemony. It would have disappeared. I do not believe, however, that this is the case.

If we ask ourselves what functions nationalist ideas fulfill in Brazil, different functions are in the running, many of them at a low level if we look at their historical path. Thus, I believe that nationalist ideas taken as a political project, in the sense of carrying out something like a “nation project”, is something that is in decline, as the nation and nationalism as a mere ornament seem to be in decline – it is symptomatic that “Italian descent” has already become a joke. Other functions may take place. However, with Marilena Chaui, I believe that there is a function par excellence that nationalist ideas fulfill among us, a function that is both ideological and normative at the same time:

“Even if we didn't have surveys, each one of us experiences in our daily lives the strong presence of a homogeneous representation that Brazilians have of the country and of themselves. This representation allows, at certain moments, to believe in the unity, identity and indivisibility of the Brazilian nation and people, and, at other times, to conceive of social division and political division in the form of the nation's friends and enemies to be fought. , a fight that will engender or preserve national unity, identity and indivisibility” (Chaui, 2013b, p. 149).

The image of a cohesive, undivided and endangered people only confirms what this same image tries at all costs to distance: like any and all “people”, we are also divided, that is, we are crossed by social tensions and political conflicts . And as Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world, the crossing is acute here. To deal with what we are, the nationalist ideology makes use of an image of what we seem to be, of how we see ourselves and how we represent ourselves. The image in question, of which catchphrases such as “peaceful and orderly people” and “good citizen” are emblematic, ensures that divisions are represented almost as a pathology. Especially emblematic is the catchphrase “my party is Brazil”: in a single movement, what is affirmed (indivision) is denied and what is denied (division) is affirmed, because division is simply presumed. I recognize that such an image seems excessive, as Paulo Arantes once noted, and in fact it is excessive and vulgar, which does not prevent it from existing as such and that, like it, individuals and groups that feed from it and reciprocally feed it back are equally excessive in their thoughts, speeches and actions. Excess is, moreover, appropriate in a context in which violence is the air we breathe.

It is true that this function coexists with others, and it is understandable if in individual experience it does not seem to predominate. However, it is this function that, forming a series of mechanisms of social control, guarantees the relative stability and continuity of what in itself is unstable because it is violent. In a nutshell, in Brazil, nationalist ideas fulfill the central function of classifying, regulating, framing, subjecting, criminalizing and incriminating. Such is the basis of our national identity, even if, on the surface, it presents itself in a much more friendly way, without such a base – which is favored by standardized discourses, prosaic experiences and, above all, by the naive belief that identity, summed up in the prosaic, would be fruit only and only of harmless choices[5]. On the contrary, and even to give the genesis of this common sense, Chaui sees in nationalist ideas an “authoritarian way of thinking” with deep social roots (Chaui, 2013a, p. 35), and, in the same direction, shows that “fraternity ” to which Anderson alludes operates, here, through the tripod lack, favor and privilege[6].

As an “authoritarian way of thinking”, nationalist ideas are shared, but not equally everywhere, and here I think their hegemony resides: first because they fuse the local with ideas of international circulation, and the international circuit has asymmetries, including material, that said ideas are an expression – such is the “double inscription” of nationalist ideas among us (Schwarz, 2012, p. 168-9)[7]; second, and referring specifically to Brazil, because the left cannot share the idea that social division is a pathology, under penalty of ceasing to be left. (This specificity perhaps explains why it sounds strange to us that emancipatory struggles in other countries are crossed by nationalism, as in the Catalan case). It is true that the use of notions such as “people” and “nation” does not necessarily lead to the denial of division and conflict, but neither does it favor its affirmation among us (as opposed to what happens elsewhere, such as Cuba[8]); the systematic and ostensive use of the nationalist discourse or of “green-yellowism” (Chaui) by the right feeds the denial, and, more than the ideas themselves, it is the use that is made of ideas in specific contexts and the results of this I use what matters. The point is that, although the left has historically disputed them, nationalist ideas tend, in Brazil, as in many other countries, to be hegemonized by the right.

The issue of nationalism on the left gave and still gives something to talk about, although much less than in the past[9]. Today, even Trotskyist groupings, which in the past rejected nationalist ideas more out of dogmatic propriety than a reading of reality, seem to have adopted them. Everyone's effort, of course, is to convert nationalist ideas into a political weapon: to re-signify the “nation” and the “people” to make the ill-promised fraternity real, that is, to universalize rights and well-being. Regardless of whether this is a good or bad strategy – which I consider uncertain –, what deserves to be better examined is the fact that the left is largely dominated by the perception that nationalist ideas describe the Brazilian reality: there are one people, there is one nation.

This perception among the left is not new, but it seems to have strengthened in recent years. A (non-exclusive) hypothesis that I think deserves consideration, and that could support new research, is that the emergence of identity as a central category of reflection triggered by post-structuralism in the 1970s, and which gained extraordinary reinforcement in the last two decades – and the strong adherence of the left –, implied a fundamental change in the way in which reality is felt, perceived and thought, of which an “essentialist argument” is an index:

“The problem is that 'nation', 'race' and 'identity' are used analytically, for a long time, more or less as they are used in practice, in an implicitly or explicitly reified way, in a way that implies or asserts that 'nations', 'races' and 'identities' 'exist' and that people 'have' a 'nationality', a 'race', an 'identity'” (Brubaker and Cooper, 2000, p. 274)[10].

I suspect that the greater adherence of the left to nationalist ideas, not only here, is an effect of this change, even if not exclusively from it. This is a global trend with immediate repercussions in Brazil, but especially favored here by in context of the Lula and Dilma governments.

Therefore, the reflection on the emergence of Bolsonarism as a reaction to the moment opened in 2002 cannot fail to capture and explore the conceptual short-circuits involved in it: on the one hand, Bolsonarism accuses the left of being non-nationalist, when in fact they are. ; in another, he accuses the left of identity, when himself, Bolsonarism, is no less identity than the left. In this regard, Bolsonarism does not innovate in relation to its peers on the international extreme right, it just attests more clearly, given the social ground on which it operates, the non-superficial content of the ideas it conveys.

September 7

As every year, the 07th of September is an occasion for a political use of history that perverts and distorts it, a pseudo-history that, however, we tend to regard with disdain and even some humor, as if it were a comedy. It is not by chance that this is the opportune moment for the military to appear publicly, with ritualized discursive gestures that even now seem harmless. In this year of 2021, however, it was announced that something would happen beyond the old and ridiculous rhetorical ostentation of national identity. There was even talk of insubordination in the barracks and mass adherence by the military to the acts called by Bolsonaro in his “ultimatum”. What actually took place, I leave for others to analyse. I just record that Bolsonaro did not divide society on that September 07th; Brazilian society is divided and what happened that day was an expression of the division, which Bolsonarism, as the newest expression of the old nationalist ideology of indivision, struggles to camouflage.

I still consider it unlikely that there will be a blow in the short term, although I have no doubt that this is the wish of some; improbable or not, it is undeniable that spirits are being inflated and that the coup sentiment tends to grow in the electoral context of 2022 and, depending on the results, will tend to grow even more from 2023 onwards. In the coming months, the current circulation of coup speeches and affections will leave marks in the medium and long term. Nothing prevents the worst effects of the ongoing coup from appearing only in the distant future, with other actors, which is no less worrying. In short, you don't have to be a historian to know that what seems improbable today may become probable tomorrow. And it is not necessary to be a political analyst to know that, whatever the time and form of the coup, the coup discourse will turn against the “enemies of the nation”.

The point is that there are strong signs of reinforcement in the normative function of the nationalist ideology, a reinforcement that seems to aim not at the norm, but at the exception. For this reason, we are tempted to read this reinforcement as having its origin in Bolsonaro's aspiration to be a dictator, when in fact everything indicates that it is a reinforcement social, which greatly transcends just one individual, however relevant that individual’s role may be in the current situation and however real that aspiration may be[11]. What will be the consequences of this reinforcement? Precisely because there is no fatalism in history, seeing institutions as a guarantee that there will be no coup or a resurgence of authoritarianism is an attitude that is at least imprudent. there is no guarantee. The political and legal systems, to which I unite the media, have only relative autonomy in relation to society, and Brazilian society, because it is shaped by inequalities upon inequalities, is especially dynamic[12].

Is there a greater proof of dynamism than the rise of Bolsonaro? Barely ten years ago as an isolated and folkloric parliamentarian – a place he remained for more than two decades – he saw a political breach with social ballast and was opportunistic enough to occupy it and become what it is today: an expression – it is worth reiterating, not irreplaceable – of a portion considerable of Brazilian society, of which part not despicable is fascist or has fascist leanings. In this new context, it becomes even more risky to transit through the minefield of essentialized images of “one people” and “one nation”, in the name of which everything is permitted and any actions become a duty.

*Antonio David is a historian and professor at the School of Communication and Arts at USP.

Modified version of the text published in GMARX Newsletter, Year 2, no. 30.


Anderson, b. Imagined Communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Translation Denise Bottman. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2008.

Brubaker, R., & Cooper, F. (2019). “Beyond 'identity'”. anthropopolitics, No. 45, 2018, p. 266-324. Available in>.

Chaui, M. (2013a). against voluntary servitude. Homero Santiago (org). Belo Horizonte: Autêntica Editora | Perseu Abramo Foundation Publisher, 2013.

______ (2013b). Ideological manifestations of Brazilian authoritarianism. André Rocha (org). Belo Horizonte: Autêntica Editora | Perseu Abramo Foundation Publisher, 2013.

Geary, P. The myth of nations. The invention of nationalism. Translated by Fábio Pinto. São Paulo: Conrad, 2005.

Gonçalves, JF (2017), “Revolution, twists and turns. Temporality and power in Cuba”. Brazilian Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 32, nº 93, 2017. Available at>.

Gonçalves, JRS “The malaise in heritage: identity, time and destruction”. Historical Studies, vol. 28, nº 55, Jan.-Jun. 2015, p. 211-28. Available in>.

Guimarães, ASA “Racial democracy was also a flag of struggle for blacks, says USP professor”. Folha de S. Paul, 24 Jul. 2021. Available in>.

______. “After racial democracy”. Social Time, vol. 18, no 2, nov. 2006, 269-87. Available in>.

Schwarz, R. (2012). “Why 'out of place ideas'?”. In: Martinha versus Lucrécia: essays and interviews. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012, p. 165-72.

Thompson, EP “Some Remarks on Class and 'False Consciousness'”. In: The peculiarities of the English and other articles. Antônio Luigi Negro and Sérgio Silva (Org.). 2nd edition. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP, 2012, p. 269-81.

Vesentini, Carlos Alberto; from Decca, Edgar Salvadori. "The winner's revolution". Counterpoint, year 1, nº 1, nov. 1976, p. 60-71.



[1]It is worth noting: it can happen both that, in the contexts in which they arise, ideas do not describe reality, which does not prevent them from fulfilling other functions, or that imported ideas describe reality in the new context – this is what is expected from research in the humanities –, which also does not prevent them from fulfilling functions other than the descriptive function, as is common to occur when they move from academic debate to public debate. So, you have to see it on a case-by-case basis. An example of the first situation is the concept of “racial democracy”: which emerged in Brazil in the context of the Estado Novo, there is a broad consensus today among academics, in the black movement and in other areas that the concept never described the Brazilian reality, rather fulfilled a ideological function of masking reality. However, sociologist Antônio Sérgio Guimarães maintains that, until the 1964 coup, the concept fulfilled other functions besides the recognized function of “myth” or “illusion”. He highlights the establishment of a “political commitment” or “democratic commitment” (albeit limited), with practical effects in terms of “integration of blacks into class society” – the expression he used is by Florestan Fernandes – , and whose assumptions would have been partially broken by the military regime. Finally, according to Guimarães, the concept would have been appropriated as a flag of struggle for anti-racist movements in Brazil, an aspect less emphasized in the article referred to here and more in an interview with Folha de S. Paulo. Cf. Guimarães, 2016; Guimaraes, 2021.

[2]Dealing with national identity before the 2005th century, Geary indirectly offers the contours of 31th century nationalism: “Not even a common national identity united the wealthy and the needy, the lord and the peasant, in a strong communion of interests” (Geary, XNUMX, p. XNUMX). The "strong community of interests" that cuts across society, from top to bottom, seems akin to the notion of "horizontal camaraderie."

[3]It is not too much to mention that the problem discussed here is not reduce to class antagonisms, although this is a central component.

[4]The fact that rights have been conquered over decades based on the fourteenth amendment - whose content is commonly evoked to justify the existence of a “people” and a “nation” – only confirms that formal citizenship is insufficient and that its content actually changes when rights are won. With it, the perception of “people” and “nation” also changes. Even so, I believe that nationalist ideas do not describe reality in the United States either, given the natural way in which poverty, inequality and forms of everyday violence are faced there.

[5]Dealing with identity, Foucault declares: “identity is one of the first productions of power, of the type of power we know in our society. I strongly believe, in fact, in the constitutive importance of the juridical-political-police forms of our society. Could it be that the subject, identical to himself, with his own historicity, his genesis, his continuities, the effects of his childhood prolonged until the last day of his life, etc., would not be the product of a certain type of power that is exercised over us in the legal forms and in the recent police forms? It is necessary to remember that power is not a set of mechanisms of denial, refusal, exclusion. But, effectively, he produces. It possibly even produces individuals” (Foucault apud Gonçalves, 2015, p. 213). Although I consider the Foucauldian meaning fertile, I prefer to think, with Sartre, that the individual is the product of a synthesis between the power that subjugates him (in a given context and under given circumstances) and the choices he makes, always crossed by this power and for your life story.

[6]Chaui addressed the subject systematically and exhaustively in several texts, gathered in the collections referred to here. In these works, having been based on research by social scientists and historians in the field of subaltern studies and the Social History of Work, in particular in the work summarized in the article by Vesentini and Decca, the author emphasizes the production social of the ideology of indivision, emphasizing authoritarianism within society itself. Cf. Chaui, 2013a; Idem, 2013b; Vesentini & de Decca, 1976.

[7]With the background that Anderson and Chaui offer, it becomes ironic the use we make of nationalist ideas in the face of the use that is made of these same ideas in countries where being part of the “people” and the “nation” guarantees individuals a status, in terms of social dignity, which is not verified here. At the same time, far from being a picturesque use, but expression of a global trend, nationalism among us mocks these purposeful uses, revealing their superficiality and precariousness, such precariousness that in Western Europe the nationalist extreme right continues to grow and accumulate victories. On the two ironies, cf. Schwarz, 2016, p. 169.

[8]One of the reasons why I have reservations about the sophisticated and competent reading carried out by João Felipe Gonçalves about nationalism in Cuba is the fact that the ideology of the Cuban regime recognizes and explores class division and, therefore, makes (paradoxical) use of the notions of “people” and “nation” that explicitly involves division – in the ideology of the regime, this is not presumedbut mail. See Gonçalves, 2017.

[9]A striking moment in the debate on the left in recent Brazilian history, and which at the time generated fierce controversy, was the establishment of the “popular-democratic strategy” within the scope of the Workers’ Party (PT) in the early 1990s, from which the privileged subject gradually moves from the “class” to the “people”, until it is completed in the context of the 2002 presidential campaign. The “Carta ao Povo Brasileiro” (2002) emblematically symbolized this point of arrival.

[10]As Brubaker and Cooper do not speak of “class”, it should be noted that even in the 1970s, going against the trend of the moment, Thompson criticized the essentialization of the concept of “class”, often taken in an ahistorical key. Cf. Thompson, 2012.

[11]I believe that ethnographic research that may have been or is being carried out in the universe of Bolsonarism will be particularly revealing when published.

[12]Moreover, because their autonomy is only relative in relation to society (in which democracy is not predominantly seen as an absolute and universal value) and because there are specific interests within them (idem), the political and legal systems and the media are not immune to acting as vectors of coup d'état and authoritarianism – the most recent case was the impeachment of 2016, of scandalous casuistry. In other words, if today opposition to Bolsonaro prevails in these entities, nothing guarantees that tomorrow coup d'état does not predominate in them. This is one more reason for us to have a skeptical attitude towards the argument, recurrently conveyed, of the “solidity of institutions”.

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