What's left of 1932?

Image: C. Cagnin


It is important to always look at history from left to right so that we are not eternal spectators in the theater of constitutionalist illusions

In 1932 “Sao Paulo”[I] reacted against the Revolution of 1930 and triggered the largest military movement in the history of Brazil. He never regained the power that had eluded him; but he has since exercised a semblance of moderating power in national politics.

It is likely that new approaches from that moment will henceforth be influenced by the end of the “New Republic”. In 2016, the demonstrations of the middle classes, financed by businessmen and landowners, in favor of the overthrow of the government, had strong appeal in the capital of São Paulo. It was also like this in 1932 when São Paulo displayed its formidable economic and propagandistic capacity in favor of its conservative classes.

The strategic nature of its capital was revealed at different times. The center formed by Praça da Sé and the area dominated by the old triangle[ii] They filled up with protesters in 1932. Gradually it also spread throughout the new city and encompassed the surroundings of Praça da República and the straight streets that connected it to Chá, Teatro Municipal, Mappin and Largo do Paissandu. The 23rd of May took place between Praça do Patriarca and Rua Barão de Itapetininga.

In subsequent years, the Integralists tried to inscribe themselves in the ideological cartography of the city. Until one of their demonstrations was disrupted by anti-fascists in October 1934. The conservative classes returned to the charge and, on March 19, 1964, in Praça da Sé, they joined their supporters in favor of the military coup. On the other hand, one cannot forget the same Praça da Sé or Vale do Anhangabaú crowded in the campaign of “Diretas Já!” in 1984. In 1992, Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio and Consolação already served as a link between the historic center and the economic centrality of Avenida Paulista. On these roads there were mega-protests against President Fernando Collor de Mello.

In the protests of 2013, the extreme right appropriated demonstrations that radiated throughout Brazil. In São Paulo, the brand new left dispersed, lost in long walks along Marginal Tietê or Avenida Nove de Julho. That was not the story of the city. On the right, he was in the new center, on Avenida Paulista. Although the country's financial vein had already moved to Faria Lima.

In 2016, the campaign for a new coup d'état focused on Avenida Paulista. As in June 2013, there were individuals carrying symbols of São Paulo independence, while occasional celebrities and pretenders to the position of digital influencers posed alongside police officers for a Selfie.

Despite those marginal expressions, the separatist feeling has not the slightest impact on the practical politics of the State of São Paulo, but it represents the survival of an idea that dates back to the Empire and that reached its zenith in 1932. But even there, the independence of São Paulo Paulo was defended only occasionally, as the interest of the conservative classes in São Paulo was to regain control of national politics. Separatism was restricted to important intellectuals such as Monteiro Lobato, José Alcântara Machado, the bibliophile Rubens Borba de Morais and the historian Alfredo Ellis Júnior who edited the newspaper the separatist.

What's left of all that? The 1932 celebrations became limited over the years, reduced to a commemorative act by former combatants and the Military Police of São Paulo. The PM, although a new institution, created at the behest of the dictatorship in December 1969 by the appointed governor Roberto Abreu Sodré, inherited the heritage of the former Public Force, which he fought in 1932. .

The eclectic crowd at those shows was members of literary academies and staunch monarchists; Janista youth and TFP militants; the sodality of the Historical Institute and the Association of Veterans of 32; leather-jacketed motorcyclists with skull designs and weightlifters from Fonseca's Gang; gun club goers and suburban bald heads.

In the XNUMXst century other movements appeared, such as Paulista Liberty e São Paulo for the Paulistas. They are virtual and discontinuous organizations that hibernate in social networks and awaken in moments of densification of the extreme right. And behold, the historic opportunity arose with Bolsonarism.

Maybe Jair Bolsonaro doesn't even know what happened in 1932, although some of his supporters from São Paulo do. The 64 dictatorship was also not very interested in the subject due to the regionalist nature of the date. The father of the last dictator, General Figueiredo, was one of the commanders of the revolt in São Paulo and in the official version of the Armed Forces the conflict is treated as a fight in which combatants from both sides would have shown the value of the Brazilian soldier and the capacity to population work.

The power that São Paulo raised against the Dilma Rousseff government once again re-edited the revanchist spirit of 1932. However, it is necessary to go beyond the Vargas x São Paulo dichotomy, because if the conflict involved high politics and the trenches, it also required the working class the effort for a war that was not theirs. This does not mean equating the two sides or refusing the labor rights won after 1930.

It is always necessary to look at history from left to right, as the working class knows the abyss of social rights that separates one government from another; but we must also look from below to the upstairs where conservatives and progressives rehearse their contradance within an established order. Or we will be eternal spectators in the theater of constitutionalist illusions.

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Studio).



[I]Here understood by its conservative classes and other social groups mobilized by them.

[ii] XV de Novembro, São Bento and Direita streets.

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