Bolsonarism as a political movement

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By Francisco Prandi*

Bolsonarism as a political movement with social ballast is here to stay for a long time

Every day it is clearer that Bolsonarism is something different from the traditional right. For many years there was a bet on the impracticability of a mass-based right in Brazil. If Malufismo and Janismo, which they intended to be, insisted on keeping their social bases passive, so that it was only in elections that their participation was expected and desired, Bolsonarism has another nature. In this sense, we can say that Janismo and Malufismo had a much more “bureaucratic” or technocratic conception of politics. They did not set out to “destroy” institutions and even less did they foment parallel networks of power outside the State, as Bolsonarism does. In this sense, Bolsonarism is much more a “Jacobin right”, if we want to seek inspiration in Gramsci. The unsuspecting communism Rodrigo Constantino thus demarcates with Bolsonarism when he states that, unlike them, he fights to build institutions and not to demolish them on the basis of violence [2].

But it is not only from the “Constantine right” that Gramsci is beaten. The Italian communist is also the scapegoat of the Bolsonarist neo-fascist right, which understands that all the ills of our society originate not only from “gramscism” in education, but above all in culture. Ideological apparatuses and the battle of ideas are the privileged focus of the neo-fascist artillery, that is, the right read Gramsci much better than we, who spent years trying to transform him into a harmless liberal.

In an interview given to Eduardo Bolsonaro on YouTube [3], Olavo de Carvalho makes a point of demarcating with the military dictatorship which, among other things, would have allowed the spread of leftist ideas. The “philosopher” draws attention above all to the formative aspect of literature and theater, highlighting, for example, the works of Antonio Callado and Jorge Amado as fundamental to, more than a revolutionary theory, create a unity of feelings and a common imaginary that make possible create a mystique, a fundamental condition for the political struggle. Thus, he calls on neo-fascists to work on this imaginary. That shouldn't give us the shock it's giving us. Integralism, Fascism and Nazism also had their organic intellectuals and were aware of the need to become hegemonic in the field of ideology. It is in this way that we understand the resurgence of ultraliberal and neo-fascist publishers that publish works by authors, unknown to us, but very well financed by think tanks who form the heads of our dominant classes and against whom we will have to fight in the coming years.

If the parties of the traditional right also collapsed in Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, here in Brazil, the decline of the PSDB and the division of the DEM, which had made a updating in 2007, recognizing human rights and democratic institutions, opened space for this neo-fascist right which, as Eduardo Bolsonaro stated in said interview, is still in the first phase, of identity and demarcation. Finally, Olavo de Carvalho's final remarks in this interview are also very interesting. When asked about his message to the president, he replies: “don't trust positivist and pragmatic advisors”. For him, pragmatism prohibits all ideological discourse from the right, so that the pragmatist works for the left.

Bolsonaro’s recent search for understandings with the centrão may open up the possibility that the “really existing neo-fascism” will have to make more concessions and retreats than it would like. However, it should also be remembered that Italian fascism coexisted for years with Parliament, newspapers and opposition parties until it had the desirable correlation of forces to impose its dictatorial political regime. It is less for us to expect a reaction from the institutions responsible for allowing Bolsonaro to get here and much more to work every day to shorten the life of this government, before it ends our deteriorated democracy. But it seems that Bolsonarism as a political movement with social ballast is here to stay for a long time.

*Francisco Prandi is a Master's student in Sociology at USP.


 [2] Rodrigo Constantino demarcating with what he calls the “Jacobin right” in an interview available at:

[3] Interview by Eduardo Bolsonaro with Olavo de Carvalho available at:

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