Brazil between Eros and Thanatos

Image: Nothing Ahead


The victory of the fascist right in the next presidential election is a non-negligible possibility, and the political parties at the government's base are not prepared to face it.

The quality of Lula's government is one of the points that will weigh on the outcome of the next elections, but it will probably not be the most important. A bad government would have a strong negative weight, but a good government may have a low weight depending on approval in the electorate and also other factors.

One of the factors that deserves greater consideration is the structuring and consolidation of the extreme right in Brazil and in various parts of the world. The most recent Datafolha survey shows that 90% of those who voted for Jair Bolsonaro did not regret it and kept their vote. Currently, the PT members make up 30%, and the Bolsonarists, 25% of the Brazilian electorate.

 “With a lot of international and national money, with the creation of organizations that structure and feed militancy, the training of its members, their activism and their flags, the ultra right, after losing the 2022 elections, is prepared and active to continue acting, disputing hearts and minds, and power in Brazil” (Silvio Caccia Bava, The Diplomatic World). It is important to remember that a large part of the Bolsonarista electorate does not behave in rational terms.

As we have now seen in Argentina, anti-system discourse, although crazy and hypocritical, has a strong popular appeal. Jair Bolsonaro won in 2018 without any government proposal or plan. He just criticized “everything that is there”, his proposal was to destroy and he had no project to build. He himself said in the first month of his government, in January 2019: “I came to destroy, not to build”. The inspiration came from his guru Olavo de Carvalho, in turn a disciple of the ultraliberals of the old Chicago School. The idea was to destroy everything and then rebuild it along neoliberal privatist lines.

It was about destroying the State, ending public policies in all areas and privatizing everything, transforming rights into merchandise, following the neoliberal catechism to the letter. This was the political orientation of Jair Bolsonaro's government: Death to the State! We were in the kingdom of Thanatos, death drive. If he did not destroy anything else, it was due to his incompetence, that of his ministers, especially Paulo Guedes, and also due to the resistance of society. It is worth remembering that this radical privatization policy has the support of the media, always alert to criticizing public services and praising private ones.

With the support of several governors, the market, parliamentarians and the media, right-wing candidates could surprise in the 2024 municipal elections. The right-wing representatives themselves, from the physiological Centrão, appointed by the current government to high positions in the State apparatus, including ministers, will work for their candidates, generally in opposition to candidates launched by parties that support the government.

The municipal elections will be a thermometer for the future presidential election. The right-wing candidate, whoever it is, will make a speech against the system. And Lula today is the system itself. It is the president, who made an agreement with the market, accepting the zero deficit thesis that makes public investment difficult and even unfeasible to guarantee development. Congress approved the Budget and cut R$6 billion from the PAC, essential for the country's development.

The President made an agreement with Centrão to guarantee a parliamentary majority that he did not always obtain and appointed right-wing politicians to high government positions. Thus, Lula guaranteed a certain governability in a climate of semi-parliamentaryism and made some gains. He developed public policies in various areas such as health, environment, social projects, etc. The economy closed the year with good results. And most importantly: Brazil is once again breathing a democratic climate. We are now in the realm of Eros, the drive of life.

But, according to economist Ladislau Dowbor, “the problem is the financial drain that paralyzes the Brazilian economy, in particular interest (on public debt, individuals and legal entities), tax evasion and the tax system that exempts large fortunes, profits and dividends, primary exports and the like. The essential thing is that our money, both in the State and in bank deposits, must go back to financing the economy, instead of feeding rentiers” (

One of the biggest gains of the current Government was the Tax Reform, remembering that it only tried to rationalize and simplify taxes on consumption, since taxes on income and wealth were left for a second stage. But, in the next election, Lula or the candidate he supports will be vulnerable because he represents the system. Everything that is wrong or unresolved will fall on his head. The bulk of the Bolsonarist electorate is irrational, they firmly believe in fake news receives, from communist threats to unisex bathrooms. And the Bolsonaro candidate will have the support of a large part of the media and the market.

On the other hand, at the international level, we will have many crises ahead. Capitalism cannot survive without wars. So-called liberal capitalist democracy works for a small minority. Almost half of the world's wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 1% of the population (Global Wealth Report 2023 and In many parts, the far right is growing stronger. Two capitalist countries at war, Russia and Israel, although on different fronts, one against Ukraine and the other against Palestine, one claiming defense against NATO, the other claiming defense against Hamas, have common interests with regard to support for extreme right.

Vladimir Putin supported and supports Donald Trump and the ultra-right in Europe. Benjamin Netaniahu, same thing, for different reasons. Donald Trump, like Vladimir Putin, wants to weaken the European Union. Benjamin Netaniahu has the full support of the Republican Party in the US, while the Democratic Party is divided. And it's good to remember that Donald Trump, although prosecuted, is ahead of Joe Biden in the electoral polls.

And now Javier Milei's Argentina is adding to the ultra-right wing. At his inauguration, Viktor Orban, president of Hungary, Volodymir Zelensky, president of Ukraine, Felipe VI, king of Spain, former president Jair Bolsonaro, as well as leaders of right-wing parties such as Santiago Abascal, leader of the ultra-right party, were present. Vox and Spanish deputy, among others.

One of the factors that unites the far right – generally ignored – is the rejection of the climate crisis and hostility towards environmental policies. Denialism regarding climate change and the destruction of biodiversity, trust in miraculous technological solutions and support for polluters of all types are common elements of the ultra-right. In Brazil, the deforestation of the Amazon, the destruction of natural resources and the dismantling of environmental defense agencies during the past government confirm the rule. The curious thing is that, decades ago, the left also had this same position, considering that the environmental issue was a diversion from the class struggle.

The advance of the extreme right has not been met with a suitable response from left-wing parties, entirely dedicated to institutional struggles, and from trade unions, weakened by years of neoliberalism. There is no popular campaign in favor of left-wing agendas. There is no ideological struggle with the right, with exceptions, so as not to lose political support in Congress.

A campaign is not carried out with neo-Pentecostal evangelicals and others showing that supporting weapons for all, torture, civil war, is not a Christian attitude, since Jesus preached the opposite of this and died tortured. Brigades of left-wing evangelicals could visit churches and talk to the faithful, for example. There is no campaign aimed at young people who, for the most part, are depoliticized and consider all politicians to be corrupt, making them easy prey to the ultra-right's populist discourse. 

On January 8, Brazil remembers one year of the coup attempt with the invasion of Praça dos Três Poderes in Brasília and the destruction of the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary buildings. So far, only small fish have been caught and condemned. No high-ranking military officer, directly responsible for the vandalism, was even prosecuted, although the support of some generals for the January 8 coup attempt is public. The camp in front of the Army HQ in Brasília housed thousands of Bolsonarists who, with full military support, plotted the attack on the Three Powers, previously attacked the PF headquarters and planted a bomb in the tanker truck near Brasília airport.

Of the financiers, only one, from Londrina, at the end of last December was denounced in a petition sent by the PGR to the STF. Of the 2.151 coup plotters arrested in the act, many were released, several agreements were approved and, on the one-year “anniversary” of the terrorist attack, only 66 remain in prison.

This is not just a matter for the Judiciary. It is a problem that interests the entire nation, as it concerns the actions and growth of the extreme right in its struggle for power. In a country where half of all growth goes to the richest 5% (Marcelo Medeiros, “The rich and the poor: Brazil and inequality”), Lula can run a good government, but conciliation with Congress and the market , if it guarantees its governability, it can paradoxically strengthen the possibility of right-wing victory in the next election, plunging Brazil back into the arms of Thanatos, on the way to the kingdom of Hades.

Nothing is certain, the question is open. But the victory of the fascist right in the next presidential election is a not inconsiderable possibility, and the political parties at the base of the government are not preparing to face an extreme right that is gaining strength among the elites and at the base of society.

Liszt scallop is a retired professor of sociology at PUC-Rio. He was a deputy (PT-RJ) and coordinator of the Global Forum of the Rio 92 Conference. Author, among other books, of Democracy reactsGaramond). []

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