The blow within the blow (and the “counterblow”)

Image: Andrés Sandoval


“GOD, HOMELAND, FAMILY (and we postpone our coup)”, signed: Jair Messias Bolsonaro.

Jair Bolsonaro capitulated. At least for today and for a while longer, nobody can say what it will be, but it is certainly limited. Jair Bolsonaro, an apprentice dictator supported by the Armed Forces, saw that he couldn't do everything. But Jair Bolsonaro also cannot deny his profound nature as a (professional) far-right agitator.

If he did, his fate would not be prison or death, as he himself announced in a melodramatic way recently, but the mental institution, the Juqueri, as it was said in the old days, a victim of very serious mental confusion and a paranoid outbreak. Because his world, the one he built in decades of political opportunism, cracks, demagoguery and proximity to the militia underworld, collapsed in a few hours. But Bolsonaro, after the imposed moment of “sincere repentance”, will recompose himself in the usual figuration, or the psychic damage to the Narciso of the barracks will be irremediable.

The coup desired, proclaimed and poorly articulated, was diluted. It remained in the will and inability, in the imaginary action, in the shout with which the candidate for national Mussolini made his fame, in the violence of the pronouncements and offenses, in the aggressive vulgarity of the character who came out of the school of the military dictatorship, in the systematic intimidation of opponents with which he made a career and presumed to exercise the presidency.

Bolsonaro's conspiratorial world finally revealed a minor character whose essential concern today is to save his own skin and avoid the arrest of the contravening family he heads.

The coup d'état would be for Bolsonaro the solution. It is actually the only possible solution. And therefore, the goal of the coup will not, cannot be abandoned. Bolsonaro retreats today, pays a huge price with the “cattle”, but knows or imagines that the extreme right has no one else to put in his place. As he also has no “popular” leadership alternative to the Armed Forces, which are one of the mainstays of the current Brazilian coup regime inaugurated in 2016.

In the case of the right-wing “opposition” to Bolsonaro, someone would have to take the first step: the impulsive chief or head of state could not stand the tension of the legal-police restrictions and started to fight, publicly calling his enemies to the confrontation. It didn't work out. He did not scare opponents. He had to ignobly retreat to his allies, supporters and fanatical followers. He signed a public apology that took a heavy toll on his supporters and diners.

But, between us, Bolsonaro is a volatile subject, apparently contradictory in his radicalism, but with deep “convictions”, that is, solidified automatisms of behavior and goals. He has no commitment to facts or even what he says or what he says he thinks. He denies today what he said yesterday and what he will say tomorrow.

Bolsonaro is the scorpion of the fable.[1] Woe to the coup-mongering right, and to all those who retreat at this moment in the face of the boss's “mea culpa”, the public sense of “act of contrition”. The neo-fascist-neoliberal apparatus behind the grotesque figure of the current head of state will know how to draw lessons from what happened. Allowing the opponent to gain time and recover is what absolutely cannot be done.

Bolsonaro could be sacrificed on the altar of the coup and the current coup regime. After that, the regime's violence will become harsher, more casuistic and more comprehensive against the left. We cannot let Bolsonaro's necessary and urgent fall be a private matter for the country's owners.

*Marcelo Guimaraes Lima is an artist, researcher, writer and teacher.


[1] The fable of the scorpion: “The scorpion, who cannot swim, convinces the frog to carry him from one side of the pond to the other. In the middle of crossing he mortally wounds the frog.” But why ? asks the dying frog, we're both going to die!”, “I can't help it, replies the scorpion, it's in my nature”.

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