the red button

Image: Messala Ciulla


Why did the extreme right turn center?

A few days ago, we were faced with surprising news: União Brasil, a party with several positions elected by the most reactionary sectors of the Brazilian population, and which was a substantial part of the base of the government of Jair Bolsonaro, “will not be an opposition to Lula”. An eyebrow should go up when reading the news, as soon as it goes down at the conclusion of this short essay. But eyes must widen, because this is a burning problem.

The materialist explanation for this movement goes beyond the mere “well, they are interested in benefits”. Because that would particularize the problem in such a way as to remove the understanding of the structure that underlies this old and well-known “take it, give it here” scheme, about which any ignorant person could give a bar lecture – and they usually do. Which explains that not only União Brasil, but the union of different sectors of the bourgeoisie, not only in Brazil, turned from petism (understood as a mode of regulation, not offense) to Bolsonarism (offense) and now returns as a prodigal son it is the articulation of the productive forces in post-Fordism – whose ideological manifestation is the so-called neoliberalism.

The 2016 coup and its subsequent layers, I mean, Lula's arrest, fakada, bombing of fake News No. zap, and so on, had as its structural matrix the erosion of the welfare state that Lula and Dilma engendered, due to the fall in commodity prices and the reduction in the profit rate due to full employment, in addition to the US interest in sucking up the pre-salt layer. Pachukanis teaches that fascism is always an available possibility for the bourgeoisie to maintain its hegemony and the profitability of its undertakings.

However, by signifying the cohesion of conflicting interests – high bourgeoisie of the agribusiness against the unemployed urban middle class, for example—fascism, as well as organizations that are fascist-inclined but not quite there yet, are unstable and tend to collapse. This is not a long-term position, but a red button that is pressed when bourgeois power encounters an obstacle.

But, to some extent, they won even as they lost. Because to defeat them – and this is a reality that is generalized when the extreme right enters the scene – a broad democratic front was needed, so broad that it included elements outside the left, and certainly without a radical perspective of transforming the way of sociability. The difference becomes merely quantitative: instead of accelerating the contradictions of capitalism, attempts are made to repair its effects, but the root of the problem, capitalism itself, is never attacked. For that reason, bourgeoisie parties that they are, it will not be impossible for Bolsonaro's former allies to support, to a certain extent and keeping the card of betrayal up his sleeve, the Lula government. There will be better times, we do not deny that. But the bitch of fascism will remain in heat.

*Alexandre LC Tranjan is studying law at USP.

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