"Evolutionary Conservatism"

Adrian Wiszniewski, The Sculptor's Nightmare, 1986
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By LUIZ AUGUSTO ESTRELLA FARIA*

National objectives are reduced to the reaffirmation of a moldy neoliberalism and the automatic and uncritical alignment with the “West” led by the USA

The destiny that guided the Brazilian vote in 2018 meant that the biggest crisis in history came to occur precisely under the worst government ever. It is said that the great tragedies reveal the nature of societies and also the character of men. This is what was seen during the pandemic, when the population was abandoned to contagion and death. If it weren't for the decentralized organization of the SUS, which provided resources for the action of mayors and governors in care and vaccination, we would have an even more tragic result. Even so, mortality in Brazil was more than three times higher than the world average, which made us face the horror of more than 400 deaths that could have been avoided.

The perniciousness of this mismanagement was not limited to the scorched earth in health. Education, the largest public service structure in Brazil, was another area victimized by the destructive project of Bolsonarist fascism. In addition to the radical reduction in funds, a veritable ideological war against professors and scientific and cultural knowledge was waged from the ministry, making use of moral harassment, curriculum modification and administrative abandonment. The same occurred with regard to culture and science and technology. The mirror of this policy of destruction is the grotesque of the figures chosen for their leading positions.

Environment and public safety are areas in which the movement took place in the exact opposite direction of what it should have been: the exultant incentive to fires and devastation and the stimulus to violence. Since 2019, the dismantling of structures, programs and policies and the equipping of coordination and control mechanisms by criminal accomplices have been the reality in these and in almost all bodies responsible for these public services. And regarding policies that should be affirmative in relation to women, blacks, indigenous peoples, quilombolas, LGBTQIA+ and other discriminated and vulnerable groups, the guidance that comes from the government is to reinforce persecution and exclusion.

Everything resembles a bizarre action by adventurers who took advantage of the circumstances of discrediting the policy created by Lava Jato. However, there was organization and forethought. A movement on three fronts led by the business leadership exercised by the finance gurus, by the leaders of the ruralists with their right-wing political tradition and by the military leadership organized by General Vilas Boas, had been developing since 2014. Its motivation was the non-conformity with the electoral victory who gave Dilma Rousseff a second term.

The first front sought real revenge against advances in policies for the poorest, which had resulted in an increase in the share of work in national income and the resulting reduction in the rate of profit. It supported the impeachment and the Temer government and its labor and social security reforms, its spending cap and its privatizations. These initiatives, backed by the economic crisis that began in 2015 and its most deleterious effect, unemployment, actually achieved a reduction in the share of wages in the product and, as a result, increased the profitability of businesses.

The second front, made up of so-called agribusiness leaders, riding the power coming from their secular political activism, gained even greater prominence with their recent economic empowerment, insofar as export agriculture was the only sector spared by the crisis. His non-compliance with the social advances of rural and domestic workers, who had the CLT norms extended to their employment contracts, led to a staunchly opposition to the PT governments. Even if they continued to receive protection and income transfers from federal agricultural policies, the slavery and racist tradition of their way of thinking sharpened their intolerance towards what they perceived as an unacceptable rise of the “low people”.

As for the military, who make up the third front, they had been conspiring and organizing themselves for some time into a real party, led by colonels and generals formed in the mid-1970s, which had in mind a return to the direction of the Brazilian State. Jair Bolsonaro appears, then, as an asset of his. The reader should not forget that the captain thrown out of the ranks was a colleague of this group at the academy, formed in 1977. In 2014, the then deputy was a central character in the sword ceremony of the group of aspirants that year at Academia das Agulhas Negras. Vilas Boas was already in high command by then, and would take over as head of the force in 2015.

The three groups converge in the 2018 election to sponsor the far-right candidate. What are its objectives beyond revenge against workers and the revocation of the rights affirmed by the promise of inclusion in the 1988 Constitution? It is then that the character Paulo Guedes appears, who would have the map of the way to Brazil. In addition to his training limitations and knowledge of the Brazilian economy, the minister who boasts of having read Keynes in English also only has to offer undoings and no project, revealing in his actions how little he assimilated of that author's ideas. Cut, sell, revoke, extinguish, liquidate are the only conjugated verbs in managing it.

This figure, which is laughable in his know-it-all swagger, is well suited to the bourgeoisie he represents, where the ridiculous figure of the owner of Havan is still representative of the uneducated arrogance of his class peers, enchanted by the tackiness of Miami and who detest their people, in whom they only see the workforce to be exploited. Your humanity, your culture, ideas and aspirations do not deserve any consideration. The captain's boisterousness is the same as his, despite some description in an attempt to hide his grossest prejudices.

The military party revealed its ideas a little belatedly in a document signed by entities linked to reserve officers such as the institute that bears the name of Vilas Boas. The pretentious plan for a Brazil in 2035 is based on a reiteration of prejudices against a part of the Brazilian people that they don't like, the indigenous people; feminists and gender alterities represented in the acronym LGBTQIA+; small farmers and workers organized in trade unions and social movements; left-wing intellectuals and professors. Its members have a Nazi view of a uniform and homogeneous people and a eugenic perspective of eliminating all difference.

A concept as fanciful as Hitler's Aryan race wants to make the Brazilian people a uniform strain mirrored in a middle-class male, selfish, conservative, white and Christian. Nothing is more different from Brazilians, mostly women, workers, without prejudice, generous, black and poor.

The three fronts are identified to a greater or lesser extent with the ideas of the North American extreme right, there called alt-right, and here dubbed “evolutionary conservatism”. This is a contradictory ideological jam that unites a radicalized anti-state sentiment that wants to turn everything into a commodity and an anti-globalization preaching reproducing the Nazi absurdity of the conspiracy of tycoons and communists against traditions and freedom. Its only novelty is that this time the Jews were spared.

In this headless delirium, national objectives are reduced to the reaffirmation of a moldy neoliberalism and the automatic and uncritical alignment with the “West” led by the USA. Sovereignty, independent development and national interest are values ​​they do not have. The applause for the deleterious action of Lava-jato, which destroyed national engineering and its large companies, in addition to causing billions of dollars in damage to Petrobras, is testimony to this vision that gives no value to the idea of ​​building a dynamic economic structure to meet the needs of the Brazilian people.

As with Nazi-fascism at its time, the support that the Bolsonarist movement receives from a portion of the population, mostly from the middle class, was born of unconscious impulses mobilizing repressed affections, prejudices against what is different, considered a threat to a tradition lost in history, but which it is evoked as the key to happiness for an imaginary nation formed by principles fancifully attributed to a past identity.

The Nazis needed a “living space” (I lebensraum) to be conquered mainly from the Slavs and cultivated by the enslaved inferior peoples. The space to be appropriated by Brazilian extremists is not geographic, but the place of politics, the State and its institutions, from which all those who do not share their extreme right ideology must be excluded.

As a result, the complete futility of proposing policies that could offer a better life to more than 90% of the population that does not own capital and that offers some form of compensation or care to that vast majority of people in need of almost everything. Brazilians have unsatisfied needs of all kinds.

However, if there is a lack of education, the government fights educators and withdraws resources from this activity. If health is lacking, the government persecutes nurses, assistants and doctors and cuts SUS resources. If there is a lack of food, the government ends the Mais Alimentos program, defunds family farming and reduces food vouchers. The fires spread and the government ended monitoring and inspection by IBAMA. Indigenous lands are invaded and the government disorganizes FUNAI. For all these and other failures of public policies, there is only one answer, privatize that everything can be solved.

The result of this abysmal lack of initiative is mismanagement, which has no priorities for investment and public spending, which has not presented plans and projects to overcome the crisis and promote development. What we learn through the absolute absence of any minimally consistent and coherent formulation is that doing anything or nothing, it doesn't matter. Running the State only serves to promote business for financier friends and others with money in privatizations and monetary policy, to make life easier for loggers, land grabbers and invaders, to render the policy of gun control and the reduction of police violence ineffective. , to cover up illicit acts that range from corruption in the execution of the budget to the use of the State to satisfy private interests.

The most effective result of this management by the federal government was, just as Nazism did in Germany, morally corrupting not only the structures that should provide public services, but the entire political environment of the Nation. Lying, deceiving, appropriating public money, benefiting from self-assigned funds, equipping all administrative bodies, preventing control and auditing mechanisms from working, perverting police and armed forces activity, demeaning the judiciary and prosecutors with promises of positions, prebends and ill-gotten funds and bribing legislators and managers with appropriations from the “secret budget” are the only activities to be carried out within the ambit of this administration. The commission of crimes is permanent and in its wake came misdeeds that served to enrich the Bolsonaro family and its partners.

What remains of public service is carried out by jealous officials who manage to avoid the pitfalls and obstacles posed by Jair Bolsonaro and his allies. They are part of a resistance that finds an echo in the mobilization in opposition to Bolsonarism, both in the political party dispute and in the resistance within the institutions in an attempt to prevent its corruption by the deleterious action of the extreme right. In the courts, in the legislatures, in public administration departments and in the streets of the whole country, a hard fight is under way for the preservation of rights, in large part still ineffective, and of freedom itself.

Rights and freedom that have nothing to do with the obtuse interpretation of authorization to do whatever you want. Democracy, which is the other name for freedom, translates into equality and self-determination, the self-government of all without any distinction. In other words, it is an opportunity to participate in the decisions that influence and define life in society. On this very arduous struggle will depend the fate of our republic and the destiny of Brazil in the near future.

*Luiz Augusto Estrella Faria is a professor of economics and international relations at UFRGS. Author, among other books, of The Size Key: economic development and prospects for Mercosur (Ed. UFRGS).

 

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