The minotaur of fascism

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By GUSTAVO FELIPE OLESKO*

The class issue was practically set aside. Those who seek to bring the class into the debate are treated like dinosaurs, orthodox, backward or simply ignored.

Sailor, sailor (sailor)\ I want to see you at sea (sea)\ I'm also a sailor (sailor)\ I also know how to govern\ Wood that drives you crazy\ It's going to go down until it breaks\ It's the return of the mastic vine\ On the back of the one who ordered it\ It is the return of the aroeira vine\ On the back of the one who ordered it to be given” (Geraldo Vandré, mastic).

There is currently a large and to some extent fruitful debate about the death of the left in Brazil and around the world. Debates about the crisis of the left, about whether or not the Workers' Party is left-wing or not, are being built under the rubble of the outdated class conciliation policy, almost a dispute to see who is more to the left. However, here is a provocation, inspired by the recently enchanted geographer Carlos Walter Porto-Gonçalves[I]: “The left is in crisis. Long live the left!”

Therefore, starting from two points, we seek here to highlight the possibilities of restructuring Brazilian critical thinking, based on some past analyses, which already marked the left-wing crisis. Robert Kurz, one of the most acidic Marxists, highlighted more than three decades ago that

With gestures of relativization, of masochistic humility, which revokes any concept, just pronounced. The continuous concern with “differences”, exacerbating the bridge of becoming an addiction, seems to dissolve historical and social objects, making them unrecognizable (KURZ, 1997, p. 16).[ii]

Precisely postmodern relativization, taken as an addiction, leads the left and critical theory into a crisis. During the years of PT governments, the notion that there was a predominance of so-called “progressive” ideas was created outside of academic thought – I dare say political thought as well. Like King Minos, superb and arrogant, this thought ended up being punished with the creation of a minotaur, in this case Brazilian proto-fascism, which has its essence as a cult of key figures, a clumsy and squalid Bonapartism of substance. This was proven when part of the left was shocked by the victory of this extreme right in the 2018 elections. Well, the monster had already broken the walls of the labyrinth in which it had been trapped and had taken over the municipalities by storm in 2016.

It was precisely this addiction to difference and disdain for unity, which produced a crushing defeat and which allows even today, among other factors that have already been discussed a lot in various texts here on the website A Terra é Redonda or in other media, to be academic , politicians, unions, etc. make sure the minotaur of fascism is still on the loose. The greatest political force in the country at the moment, and it is not just Vladimir Safatle who highlights it, Paulo Arantes had already done so a year before in various media, is the extreme right.

Its monstrous uniqueness shows how, yes, it is possible, in difference, to create unity. After all, the national extreme right is made up of a huge range of groups: part of the neo-Pentecostals, rentier landowners, rural land-grabbing businessmen, military personnel, security forces, those outraged by corruption, widows of the dictatorship, neoyuppies daytraders fans of billionaires, footballers, etc. The list is endless. Now, on the left, the fractures are gigantic.

The class question, returning to Robert Kurz, was practically set aside. Those who seek to bring the class into the debate are treated like dinosaurs, orthodox, backward or simply ignored. Not that other issues should be set aside, quite the opposite. Ronaldo Tadeu de Souza helps us enormously by quoting us that: “[…] the Brazilian left dies not because it largely appropriates such social theories to compose the range of understanding and action in reality; In this regard, we are at the forefront of what Perry Anderson and Göran Therborn suggest. But the absolute contempt with which the Brazilian left, except for very few voices, has towards Marxism and the arrows in the quiver of classical socialist theory is scandalous. A left that was still reading, just What to do?, by Lenin, written in 1902, and not knowing what Butler and Honneth, Laval and Rahel Jaeggi were writing would be a serious problem. However, a left that only focuses on the theory queer and studies on inequality, psychoanalysis and post-coloniality, public sphere and theory of justice and does not even envisage investigating, for example, what the concept of imperialism of Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Kautsky, Bukharin and Hilferding means [...], it does not fail to be symptomatic of its deep crisis (in this case, the insistent use of the notion of correlation of forces to justify the political conduct of Lula, Haddad and the PT is embarrassing).[iii]

In other words, the current decorum of the left is to be in constant search of the newest and most fragmented critical thinking, however, putting in the shadows precisely classical critical thinking, from which these other social theories were often born. We bring as an example the decolonial theory itself, touted by many as anti-Marxist (sic), one of its main exponents (for some even formulating it) was one of the greatest Marxists that Latin America has produced, in this case Enrique Dussel.

Now, why is Carlos Walter important to us? His final analysis on the crisis in Geography was that it is precisely the crisis that brings the possibility of overcoming it, an overcoming where more unity is built, fewer divisions, fewer fractures within the left, not only the academic one, but mainly the of materiality, that is, of social movements and classes in struggle.

A critical theory that knows how to rescue the peasant, instead of segmenting and judicializing the struggle of the different fractions of the peasantry, that knows how to unify the struggle of urban workers in their most diverse strata, that manages to reach this and that worker in rags, the the lump, of the magnetism of the far right. For a left that seeks in Marx, in Tristan, in Kropotkin, in Reclus, in Luxemburg, the weapons of criticism to attack and revolutionize, and not just resist “by law”.

May the Brazilian left find its mastic vine, to give to those who ordered the beating, may it find in these seas today increasingly red with blood sailors and sailors who beat their chests and shout: I also know how to govern.

*Gustavo Felipe Olesko He has a PhD in human geography from the University of São Paulo (USP). Book author Agrarian Geography (InterSaberes). [https://amzn.to/49Avl38]

Notes


[I] Gonçalves, CW Geography is in crisis. Long live geography! Paulista Geography Bulletin, (55), 5–30. (2017[1978]). Retrieved from https://publicacoes.agb.org.br/boletim-paulista/article/view/1050.

Died on September 6, 2023, Carlos Walter was one of the most prominent Brazilian geographers, belonging to a generation that gave the country other intellectuals who revolutionized geographic science in the country (we are not mentioning them all for fear of missing someone), always highlighting that it was not possible to explain the world with Marx alone, but it was also not possible to explain and change the world without Marx.

[ii] KURZ, Robert. The Intelligentsia after the Class Struggle. In: KURZ, Robert. the last fights. Ed. Vozes, Petrópolis, 3rd Edition, 1997. The original text dates back to 1992, having been published by Kurz in Münchner Zeitschrift for Philosophie.

[iii] Souza, Ronaldo Tadeu de. Is the left dead? The Vladimir Safatle debate. Available in: https://blogdaboitempo.com.br/2024/04/05/a-esquerda-morreu-o-debate-vladimir-safatle/


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