Bolsonarism flirts with the abyss

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Osvaldo Coggiola*

The economic and political crisis opened the door for a vast political opposition movement and for a revival of the workers' movement.

Fourteen months after his inauguration, the Bolsonaro government was reduced to a clique made up of family members, militia members (some precariously free, some in prison, others on the run from justice), evangelical leaders or supporters, and embezzlers in varying degrees, such as bossinho of Secom (Secretary of Social Communication) which is dedicated to benefiting, with substantial public funds, companies owned by it.

Retired military personnel who joined the effort deserve separate consideration. This improbable “December 10th Society” is far from gathering the political means that would allow it to carry forward the “historical model” of its French predecessor (whose existence the members of the Tupiniquim clique are certainly unaware of – with due pardon of the glorious indigenous people – , starting with his incredible Minister of Bad Education, Abraham Weintraub).

Let us remember that that was the base of political support for the coup of December 2, 1851, when President Luis Bonaparte dismissed the National Assembly of the Second French Republic, to crown himself Emperor as Napoleon III. The “Decembrists”, as the members of the Society were called, were part of the lumpenproletariat of Paris, the class of unscrupulous individuals whose only objective was to illegally enrich themselves, formed by people of dubious fortunes, soldiers disconnected from the army, ex-convicts, fugitives, vagabonds, brothel owners, etc.

The cold-blooded murder of militia capo Adriano da Nóbrega, manager of an armed brothel known as the “crime office”, carried out in a joint operation by the Bahia and Rio de Janeiro PMs, and denounced as such by the president himself, was less a “burning of files ” (no mystery about that), especially in relation to the murder of Marielle Franco, than a clear delimitation of the limits within which the independent action of the fascist clique in government (and less and less in power) will be tolerated.

If, as Lincoln Secco wrote (, today's yellow-green fascism does not even resist comparison, in terms of its consistency, with its integralist Brazilian antecedents (and even less with historical European Nazi-fascism), it is worth pointing out the same, and even more, with regard to its Bonapartist pretensions: the of the putative nephew of the “Grande Corso” were those of a power in decline that sought to regain its place in the European and imperialist concert, those of the captain dismissed from the Army for amateur terrorism are those of a country still in a conflicting relationship with its own national unity, who can only think (bourgeoisly) of his place in the world aligned with one or another of the great powers.

No association was made between the scandalous episode in which Bolsonaro launched reactionary-sexist vituperations against a journalist from the Folha de S. Paul, and the article by her (Patrícia Campos Mello), in the same newspaper (24/12/19), “uncovering” that she only awaits a sanction from the Ministry of Economy for Brazilian adherence to the program Growth in the Americas, “an investment program in strategic sectors in Latin America, launched by the United States to compete with the Belt and Road Initiative (Belt and Road Initiative or, informally, New Silk Road) from China.

Argentina, Chile, Jamaica and Panama have officially entered the US program, and Peru is in the process. Brazil too. Infrastructure, energy and communications are at the forefront of the “América Cresce” agenda. For this program, the USA does not offer a penny (no investment commitment), demanding “in exchange” exclusivity in the “partnership” of the most profitable and strategic businesses.

Brazilian (and Latin American) Bonapartism, unlike the French, is not even good as a brothel manager (in the French, at least, you pay in advance). The president and his clique lack “Society”, that is, a political party. After discarding the “Christian” acronym used by Bolsonaro to parasitize for 27 years in the Chamber of Deputies, even after the crushing presidential election victory of 2018, the attempt to colonize the PSL, sunk in an orange grove of maracutaias and disputes over public funds (more than R$ 300 million from “funds” for the PSL, thanks to the captain's work as an electoral supporter, not counting salaries, funds and benefits from governors, senators and deputies) and, above all, private funds. What you might call a case of ingratitude.

The “Alliance for Brazil” launched by Bolsonaro and family depends, among other things, on the 500 signatures that the champions of the initiative hope to obtain through the support (free? mmm…) of Pentecostal churches and registry offices, which means that the alliances will probably not even be able to run in the municipal elections of 2020, a a curious situation to say the least for a “political” current that occupies the Presidency of the Republic.

The Adriano da Nóbrega episode – the president’s screech over the unconsulted elimination of a close collaborator (even officially decorated by Bolsomínia initiative), with members of his family publicly crowded in family political offices – motivated the public distancing of the president from no less than 20 governors , including those from the PSL, who came out in defense of the shooting action of “their” PMs, without bothering to wait for the conclusions of the IML reports and investigations. Elio Gaspari concluded that his objective was to “appeal to” the PMs, without the opposite/complementary alternative occurring to him (that the MPs “appreciate” the governors), although this is deduced from his observation (Folha de S. Paul, 19/2): “There is a lot of talk about the militarization of the Bolsonaro government because there are three four-star generals in the Planalto... but they command tables and two are in reserve. The commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force are in charge of the troops... The governors' manifesto of solidarity with their Military Police shines a light in another direction. Together, these corporations have about 500 men and women. This number exceeds the number of Armed Forces and, contrary to what happens in the Army with conscripts, its soldiers are professionals”.

The danger of “professionalism” and large numbers is… organization and strikes, like the one that happens in Ceará, with hooded PMs shooting at random and an increase in crime in the streets. In Sobral, Senator Cid Gomes arrived at the Military Police barracks on a backhoe, went after the striking policemen and ended up being hit by two shots, one in the collarbone and the other in the lung.

Scalded by the episode with the governors, Bolsonaro was even happy with the events (he spoke on social networks of “fair claims” from the PMs), divided between the falling politician and the person responsible for law and order, a function that seems to exceed him by far. As noted by the journalist quoted above: “In the last 20 years there have been at least 12 riots and six strikes by military police. In Bahia alone, where Bope killed the militiaman Adriano, there were three rebellions, in one of which the intervention of the Army was necessary, as also happened in Rio de Janeiro, Ceará, Minas Gerais, Tocantins and Espírito Santo. In all cases the mutineers were helped by amnesties voted by the Legislative Assemblies and by Congress. The latest pardon benefited rioters in Espírito Santo, and the previous pardon appeased undisciplined people from 19 states. Vetoed by Dilma Rousseff, during the Presidency of Michel Temer the Legislature overrode the veto and enacted the amnesty. Nobody made a peep. They almost always had an ally in Deputy Jair Bolsonaro.”

Concerned, big capital has already opened a window for post-bolsonarism. If a columnist Sheet (“federal servant”, as reported) points to parliamentarism, stating that “the country is being saved by the qualities of its deputies and senators” (and coining the neologism of “maiamentarismo”!), the same newspaper that publishes the STF, fortunately, it acted as a “retaining wall”, “a buffer against some of the president's most abused initiatives”. That is, to save the Legislative and the Judiciary, in the face of the Executive's fallout.

The problem is that, via Bolsonaro, the Executive temporarily saved the political regime as a whole – including all powers. The alternatives are: change regime (which would provoke a capital political crisis, putting the “Chilean” question of a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly on the agenda, with unpredictable results) or seek an alternative for the Executive, to which they are scrambled. names that would discredit, in the medium term, the entire bourgeois political regime, such as the TV animator Luciano Huck (pan for today, and hambre for mañana, as the Castilian saying goes), or that would imply throwing the current government into the abyss of the crisis, like Minister Sergio Moro, “a very candidate for an alternative for the conservative electorate who may reject the president’s bizarre acts in 2022 – or who are horrified by possible more scandalous revelations” [evidence of direct involvement of the Bolsonaro clan in the murder of Marielle Franco, obviously], according to another columnist for the Frias dynasty newspaper.

The vaunted economic successes of Paulo Guedes – pension reform, public debt falling just below 76% of GDP, without, however, departing from an index and an absolute value of pre-default (R$ 5,5 trillion), drop in unemployment – ​​are not only fragile, but also volatile in the face of every Bolsonarian statement by the ministerial representative of neoliberalism, such as his tirades about the parasitism of public servants or maids who attend Disneyland (with their bosses, of course), which cause falls on the Stock Exchange or runs for the dollar. As in the case of his political mentor, Bolsonaro himself, these are not manifestations of ignorance (although it is present, in large doses), but evidence of a political logic. The “on the rise” economic indices did not remove the reality of the crisis (for capital) or misery (for workers).

Expected GDP growth continues to be meager, not reversing the decline in industry or the decline in exports (and the trade chain as a whole). The “improvement” in employment was basically due to the increase in self-employed workers, who are approaching 25 million, against just over 33 million employed in the private sector, which only experienced an increase of 1,6% (FIPE information, January 2020).

To put things in perspective even more, 27,3 million people began to receive less than the minimum wage, an unprecedented absolute and percentage rate, constituting more than a third of the country's workers (the basic family basket calculated by Dieese totals more than R$ 4, or four minimum wages), with the entry into this income range of people with higher education notable.

The workers' reaction is, for now, scarce and isolated. The strike at Petrobras, the most important political/social event from 2020 to the present, affected, for three weeks, 21 employees from 121 units of the company in 13 states, who joined the strike. The trigger for the stoppage was the closure of the Nitrogenated Fertilizer Factory of Paraná (Fafen-PR), also called Araucária Nitrogenados SA (Ansa), with the dismissal of one thousand employees, 396 Petrobras employees and 600 outsourced workers.

A certain “left” complained about the “media siege” against the strike (as if the media of big capital could be at the service of the workers), sparing those responsible for the defense and extension of the wall movement, the union leaderships, in particular the big trade unions. (CUT, Força Sindical, CTB), who overlooked (in addition to formal and costless declarations) the possibility of a vast movement of solidarity, with a classist program, against privatizations (to which the vast majority of the population is opposed, according to polls) and in defense of national sovereignty, all flags with enormous potential for popular mobilization.

The PT limited itself to a statement in support of the strike, underlining its patriotic (not class) character. The strike concluded on February 21 with the suspension (postponement) of layoffs, resulting from the closure of Fafen, to March 6. The FUP (Oil Federation, CUT) considered this a victory. The judge in charge made it clear that Fafen is closed, and that the layoffs are irreversible. Petrobras does not accept applying the clause of the Collective Agreement that prevents collective dismissals, and without negotiation with the union. The discount for downtime, which was fully paid by the company, was divided into half in cash, half in compensation for overtime, to be made within a period of 180 days. And the judicial pending on the dismissals was treated in the TRT of Paraná as if it were not part of the national strike movement. Can this be considered a victory?

Despite this, the economic and political crisis opened the door for a vast political opposition movement and for a revival of the workers' movement. The main public political reference of the so-called “popular field” (Lula), now free, however, dispatched himself with the following statement on social networks: “Even those who voted against Bolsonaro have to know the following: he is president. Am I going to sit in the chair, telling him he's no good and hoping everything goes wrong? No. He has the obligation to govern with good in mind, in human beings, in the poorest, in the country, in our sovereignty, in our students, in our working people… And stop talking nonsense!”.

Pressured by the savage offensive of educational dismantling, however, the CNTE (supported by all the educational unions) “released” Bolsonaro and called for a general stoppage of public education for the next March 13, while Andes-SN (higher education teachers ) has already announced an indefinite strike at federal universities, against net cuts of up to 25% in the salaries of professors and employees. This is the way forward, while we discuss a political orientation that does not force us to hope and act so that Bolsonaro “works out”.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP.

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