Militia neofascism and neoliberalism

Image: Javier Gonzales


The fight against militia neo-fascism is inseparable from the fight against neoliberalism

In the mid-1990s, the discussion about whether the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government had a “neoliberal” inclination encountered resistance from sectors of the left. “Respect for the institutions of the Republic” and the “system of the rules of the game”, in the sense of the philosopher and jurist Norberto Bobbio, made part of the opposition reject the discrediting blemish.

The debate was important for the definition of the pattern of confrontation with the governance of the president who presented himself as a center-left. “Third way”, in the expression coined by the sociologist Anthony Giddens. Illusionism convinced those who wanted to be convinced, although the toucan affinities indicated the evident alignment with the atavism of backwardness, which presented itself with the fine clothing of neomodernity to re-enchant the disenchanted.

The conceptual confusion was explained. The Federal Constitution (1988), regarded as “citizen” by Ulysses Guimarães, contemplated social rights against the prophetic administrations of Ronald Reagan (United States) and Margaret Thatcher (England). Furthermore, the Washington Consensus (1989), which listed the ten virulent points applauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, was still an asymptomatic disease.

There were no comparative numbers between the countries that were beginning to adopt the model based on Manchester's ideals. It sounded premature to evaluate the jump, from the theories outlined in the Walter Lippmann Colloquium (1938) and in the Society of Mont-Pèlerin (1947), to the core of the economic policies of nations willing to implement the prescriptions of Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman: the hard core of laissez-faire.

Free market ideas

Hayek's work (The Path of Servitude, Ed. LVM), translated into Portuguese, was relegated to “rat rodent criticism” for two decades. It flourished with the creation of the Institute of Research and Social Studies (IPES, 1961), with the support of Eugênio Gudin, who had in his curriculum the wording of the Law Project that instituted the Economics course in Brazil, and the pharmaceutical entrepreneur, active and well related, Paulo Ayres F°. Both, participants in the articulation of the civil-military coup, of sad memory. The ancient Brazilian Institute of Philosophy (IBF, 1949) and the young Sociedade Convívio (1962) supported the activities promoted by IPES, which obtained from the non-interventionist dictator, Marshal Humberto Castello Branco, the award of “organ of public utility”. Real action between friends.

The circulation of ideas in favor of the free market began, which in an incipient way penetrated the Armed Forces. However, the military that succeeded Castello applied a nationalist and developmentalist economic booklet, opposed to what was proclaimed by the supporters of market absolutism and, equally, contrary to the workers. In subsequent years, themes related to morals and civics, religious values ​​and the exaltation of the homeland were increased in basic education. In High School and Higher Education, through the subject Study of Brazilian Problems (EPB), the doctrinal axis fell on anticommunism. Those who, with a straight face, postulate a return to the years of lead with the banner of the School Without a Party, have forgotten what happened last summer. No wonder rightism appears to be a serious deviation of character. By cynicism and shamelessness. The professors recruited from EPB came from an agreement established with the Universities.

The content of the old courses was put together by Father Domingos Crippa (Philosophical Ideas in Brazil, 1978; To the Political Ideas in Brazil, 1979). Writings that unfolded titles by historian Paulo Mercadante (Conservative Consciousness in Brazil, 1965) and former PCB militant Antônio Paim (History of Philosophical Ideas in Brazil, 1967). Immersed in the boiling cauldron of letters, the former ideologue of the Brazilian Integralist Action, Miguel Reale, took over as president of the University of São Paulo (USP) after the infamous AI-5, remaining in office until 1973. In the mid-1970s, as well , signaled the rapid transition from the philosophical liberalism of Voltaire to the neoliberalism of the pleiad of Mont-Pèlerin.

Henry Maksoud was responsible for disseminating the pro-market mentors outside the elitist circuit via the magazine VISION which, from 1983 to 1986, had a stupendous print run of 150 copies. A feat. It featured articles about Mises and interviews with Friedman and Hayek. The owner of the Maksoud Hotels was responsible for financing the publication of The Foundations of Liberty, by the Austrian thinker who came to the country three times between 1977 and 1981. Although “neoliberalism can impose itself as governability, without being the dominant ideology”, agreeing with Wendy Brown in Les Habits Neufs de la Politique Mondiale (Ed. Les Praires), – neoliberals, even in adversities, have always known the importance of intelligentsia for the configuration of a lasting and solid hegemony. They conveyed the lesson to adversaries and enemies. Owner of BTG Pactual, banker André Esteves follows the trail to support the unsustainable corrupt clan in Look. Now, how farce.

The spokesmen of the national bourgeoisie

In the famous strikes in the ABC region of São Paulo, in which the leadership of a well-known metallurgist emerged, eight business leaders joined in a political manifesto that inaugurated the neoliberal campaign against nationalization. They demanded the acceleration of the return to democracy, the opening of markets and the reduction of the role of the State in the economy. The incisive document was signed by Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter (Gerdau Group), Paulo Villares (Villares Group) and Antônio Ermírio de Morais (Votorantim). The signatories were among the select ten of businessmen chosen, by peer vote, as representatives of the upper class surveyed by the Mercantile Gazette. They were authorized spokesmen of the national bourgeoisie. There she is.

Added to these were the organic intellectuals who were returning from a postgraduate course at the University of Chicago, such as Paulo Rabello de Castro, author of the statute of an entity promoting neoliberalizing reforms, the Chamber of Economic and Social Studies and Debates (CEDES , 1979), housed in the “temple of national conservatism”, the Sociedade Rural Brasileira. While the left fought for Broad, General and Unrestricted Amnesty, the right wove the Broad, General and Unrestricted Market. Some fought for the belated political freedom of exiles, others paved the way for economic freedom, the allegorical code name of the modern domination of capital. The aim of CEDES was to show the incredible virtues of neoliberalism, which would be the bridge to “social development”. The panacea for evils.

The Liberal Institute (IL/RJ) dates from 1983. In 1984, the Ling brothers who were members of its Board decided to found the Instituto de Estudos Empresariais (IEE/RS), on the land where they lived, to influence the mentality of the heirs of the large gaucho companies. In 1987, IL/SP emerged, which attracted graduates from similar associations in favor of free market capitalism. In 1988, with annual novenas, the Freedom Forum was created in Porto Alegre. Strictly speaking, one more networking of CEOs than a leadership training center. In the sequence, it came to light with Denis Rosenfield, Gustavo Franco, Paulo Guedes et al – Instituto Millenium (Imil, 2005), backed by Organizações Globo, Grupo Abril, Grupo Ultra and other dollar signs. The Mises Brasil Institute (IMB, 2007), chaired by Hélio Beltrão, was classified by the Forbes as think thanks most influential, with 280 followers on Facebook, 110 on Instagram and 44 on Twitter. It's expressive data. Yellow sign.

There was no lack of resources for the distribution of books, magazines, short texts on topics (position papers) of issues with media visibility to train “opinion makers”. Collection that for economic reporters constitutes the source of consultation on the moods of the money-god. The “financial press” guarantees a veneer to the kidnapping of the State, which abdicates its obligations towards citizenship and sociability. The formidable power of the business narrative, built, is in bundling the loose ends of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers, and conditioning social existence in a few technocratic pills.

Neoliberalism as a magnet for the right

The worn out anticommunist tone gave way to antipatrimonialism, more suited to the privatization program at liquidation prices. (Poor Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and Raimundo Faoro). The 1980s also marked the decline of Catholic conservatism based on the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). The speech against the “red peril” had lapsed. The persecution of Liberation Theology by the Vatican, on the other hand, helped cement evangelical churches in the peripheries. In politics and religion, the voids do not last. The conservatism left over from the strong wind produced medieval oddities, morals and good customs, which the Palácio do Planalto is full of. Of course, they must be taken into account, they challenge crowds of roboticized people.

Neoliberal thinking has become an unbeatable magnet for attracting right-wing entourages and polishing the swashbuckling frames of exploitation, in the phase of super-exploitation. The union economism of the associations, federations and respective confederations of the business community was complemented by the think thanks. The parties (PFL/DEM, PSDB) are not enough for formation tasks due to the excessive regionalization of acronyms. The party foundations try to overcome the fragmentation, but they come up against notables in the localities. Severe life.

Neoliberalism established an ideological paradigm for the relations between the market (private initiative) and the State. Prioritized the freedom embedded in the first and the limits that restrict the scope of the second so that it does not interfere in the dynamics of capitalist accumulation. In this framework, there was a civilizational turn that transcended the economic and social aspects, for radically altering the work relations in the post-industrial society and the subjectivation of the modus operandi of the neosubjects. Not a pin was left standing.

By the way, see Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval in The New Reason of the World – Essay on Neoliberal Society (Ed. Boitempo). It was a revolution without barricades. An economic-cultural revolution. The left took a while to realize in every dimension: “The demonization of the social and the political by neoliberal governance, and the valuation of traditional morality and markets as its substitutes. It did not (immediately) recognize the disintegration of society and the discrediting of the public good by neoliberal reason”, stresses Wendy Brown in In the Ruins of Neoliberalism – The Rise of Anti-democratic Politics in the West (Ed. Politeia). It wasn't just the economy, stupid.

To beat the neoliberal dystopia

Neoliberalism redefined the function of the State, leaving behind the weakened attributions of regulating social relations, born of the classic liberal Revolutions (English / 1649, American / 1776, French / 1789). It eclipsed social space, reducing society to a playpen. To remember the lapidary formula of the “iron lady”, here goes: “There is no such thing as society. There are men, there are women and there are families / Society does not exist. There are men, there are women, and there are families.”. Here's everything. Thoreaunian civil disobedience to the guidelines of the health authorities resulted, simultaneously, from the denialism of neo-fascist rulers and the erosion of sociability spaces, not necessarily in order. Notions of collectivity and the public good have been eroded.

The civilizing failure was due to the occupation of the State and its conventional instruments of regulation by powerful interests linked to finance. The soul of democracy, which translates into the “right to have rights”, went down the drain. The government became an aesthetic prop of formal procedural norms, without materiality. Politics, criminalized and silenced, lost contact with the demands of the people. It became a shady business counter. The Magna Carta, violated and subtracted, was offered for sale. The toga guardians proved powerless. Cowardly, they watched from afar as the herd trampled on indigenous ethnic groups, gold mining caused deforestation, the forest caught fire and biodiversity was destroyed.

Conjunctural absurdity became normal within historical abnormality. The dead of Covid-19, unemployment, hunger walk the streets. A compulsive liar does lives “Political correctness” is wielded to transfer responsibility for the hatred, racism and feminicide that appear in statistics leveraged, precisely, by the containment of language that humiliates. Scoundrels swear that the PT gave birth to a monster, hiding the vote given to the illiberal admirer of cowardly torturers. Hope clings to threads. Dreams dawn like nightmares. Haughtiness gives way to the mongrel complex, to paroxysm, to the other side of civility. Olodum's drums are stuck in astonishment. Brazil wins the international pariah repellent trophy. The dystopia of Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, in You will not see any country (Global Ed.), finally, it is confused with reality.

The fight against militia neo-fascism is inseparable from the fight against neoliberalism. The vector capable of unifying the fight is the rescue of the supreme value of society: the common. From the perspective of any individual, because everyone has rights. Utopia is the window for those without a brand, for zones freed from confinement in cities, for results that compensate for unequal opportunities, for beans in exchange for rifles. As in Lennon's song, Imagine. The nod to the vent of 2022 is understandable. “Undoubtedly, the political option gives an air of tragedy to the trajectory of the new Brazilian right. However, new choices can be made, and the future remains open”, emphasizes Camila Rocha, in Less Marx, More Mises (Ed. However), from whose information this reflection benefited.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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