The return of the pendulum

Sergio Sister, 1970, ecoline and crayon on paper, pencil and felt-tip pen, 32x45 cm
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By TARSO GENRO*

The situation of lethargic division, in which a large part of the left finds itself, has not allowed us – until now – to have a common public voice

The vote in the Senate on the regulatory frameworks for “water and sanitation” opens the way for the re-establishment of the fascist-liberal political pact, after a succession of movements by the traditional leaders of the center-right and center, reopening the perspectives of the “civilized” permanence of the President Bolsonaro – certainly showered with a lot of Rivotril – until the end of his term.

FHC in his eternal pendulum – for which he presents himself as a right-wing social democrat abroad, but ultraliberal internally – has already retreated in his democratic oppositionism. He went as far as asking for the President's resignation and now he started asking for “tolerance”: with Lula? with Dilma? with the MST? with the MTST? with the University in the process of being destroyed? with the disunited left? No. With proto-fascism on the rise, whose first leadership in the country is the President of the Republic himself.

The same President who asks – under the bureaucratic beards of our Armed Forces – the “general armament of the people” to strengthen his palace militias. With other costumes, but essentially with discourses in the same totalitarian sense, similar processes have already occurred in other historical moments. Fascism is not the same, neither is the resistance capacity of the modern factory working class, the economy will also be different, but barbarism is reproduced in the same way, by the cult of death and by the uniformization of hatred against those who are different. Here fascism is united with ultraliberalism, spurred on by the rightward shift of social democracy in the political spectrum.

Liberal-democratism has always been ambiguous in relation to fascism in times of crisis, but we cannot be ambiguous in relation to this field, calling it to come and compose with us – however timid its adhesion may be – so that the serpent don't have the right to hatch your egg.

The situation becomes more serious when we conceive that the political formations that are placed on the left and center-left, do not even have a minimal identity regarding the treatment of a key issue, posed by financial globalization: what is the degree of inevitability of the liberal reforms that roam the world? Are at least some of these reforms avoidable in a non-revolutionary global context and geopolitical imbalance guided by the nationalism of rich countries? Or are these reforms avoidable, only starting from others, of a popular-democratic character, that recover the public functions of the state?

The absolute popular indifference, in relation to the privatization of “water and sanitation” and the fragmentation on the subject, among what would be “left or center-left” parties, shows that we are also very far from interfering in the correlation of forces between the unequal political fields, now in new formation, that reinforce the liberal-fascist restoration around Bolsonaro.

I think that at this moment it is not a matter of selecting what will separate us in the future, but, “the Portuguese way”, as Prime Minister António Costa did, valuing what unites us in the present, to defeat the threat of fascism. All those who believe or conclude that this threat is real and lurks us, cannot fail to place it at the center of political action, in any instance of opposition struggle against the Bolsonaro Government, however “moderate” it may be. A waiver of concrete spaces for the fight against Bolsonarism – even if they are sponsored with diffuse hegemony – could help Bolsonaro remain in power until 2022, already in a country torn apart by the pandemic and with its productive forces collapsing. A failed state, a fragmented society, the working classes beset by resentment and unemployment, an ideal historical situation for new right-wing totalitarian experiments.

Fascism, in addition to being a political regime, is a new way of life: it is a tendency to kill, animalizing life and transforming the human being into an instrument of unprocessed frustrations and clandestine repressions. Individuals are formed who not only expel strength to exploit, but also expand the necrophilic action of destruction of bodies that do not adhere to collective hatred. Thus, everyone who voted for Bolsonaro, aware that he shouted – in the “impeachment” vote – the homage to the chief torturer as “terror of Dilma Rousseff”, has the same murderous compulsions as the one who now chose him as leader.

These, however much they invoke a presumed God, speak in the name of a leader, who mirrors their inhumanity, now rooted in millions. Fascists in normal times may be few, but in present times they are many – across all classes – and they are confident that they can shed much blood and commit genocidal acts, in the name of greater value. This hidden greater value, however, is only known by those who have extinguished the last residues of compassion for human beings from their minds. It was like this in the German crisis of the twenties, it was like this in the “difficult choice” – in Italy – between fascism and the tottering liberal democracy besieged by the grudges of the War.

The “Manifesto in Defense of Democracy, Life and Social Protection”, promoted the virtual Forum “Direitos Já”, among many others convened in the country and abroad. Its base document called for “all democratic forces” to join together in a “necessary broad front”, to rule out the possibility of a democratic rupture – with “more democracy, not less democracy” – aiming to redefine the country’s course and protect life. and the freedom of future generations. The scope of the signatories, wide and surprising, increased and filtered throughout its publication.

It was certainly a democratic manifesto, though not without ambiguities. The rupture of the Pact of 88, which he mentions, already occurred when even some of those who adhered to that text, agreed or promoted the overthrow – without cause – of a legitimately elected President. This fact, however, does not reduce its importance, as one of the links of resistance to the Bolsonaro Government, which is the political head of the emerging fascism, already partially installed in the State. Opposition to Bolsonaro – extreme or moderate – weakens fascism’s policy of alliances. Its importance is also growing with the fragmentation of what is conventionally called the “left” in the country, still according to the criteria of the last century, which dilutes the power of our intervention in the conjuncture,

The Manifesto generated a reasonable amount of tension among what is formally designated as the “left”, probably reinforced by the superimposition of facts that recently emerged in the conjuncture, although its greater (or lesser) importance can only be gauged – positively or negatively – after breaking through the fog generated by recent political events. Some almost predictable, others bizarre – others still in the process of being defined – engendered by relations “inside and outside” the state apparatus.

The precedents of the fascist emergency have common traits in the various countries where fascism was victorious, and one of them was its ability to absorb – through fear and violence – liberal-democratic parties and party groups. The relationship between its organic leading groups and its armed squadrons, however, can take different forms. These relations are always linked to criminality, in the clandestinity of the instituted political powers, but their internal connections, with the organization of a party that becomes leader, is due both to its ability to understand and guide the sociopathy in progress, and to the nature of the social questions that the State must answer, with or without a war, that precedes its presence on the political scene.

Thus, it is normal for armed squadrons to anticipate the “party” of fascism, but these can also be an informal “product” of the fascist party, in the struggle to destabilize liberal democracy. The emergence of a fascism “henchman” of the neoliberal project, here in Brazil, begins with the bourgeois-media agreement for reforms and is now faced with a catastrophe as radical as a war: the universal Coronavirus, which will leave the state and society in chunks.

In 1921 in Italy, after the management of Prime Minister Giolliti – another member of the Italian liberal tree, Ivanoe Bonomi (1873-1951), took over the Government when fascism did not yet have full coercive power over the popular masses. Nor a solid ideological domination over the excluded and informal masses in a society in crisis. However, he already reigned over the demobilized from the 2nd. War and with the impoverished middle classes as a possibility of a new order, capable of quickly responding by force, to the yearnings for a return to a “new normality”, when democracy ceased to have any popular appreciation. It is the period when fascism “is still a heterogeneous aggregation of warriors who elect their leader and not (the set) of soldiers subject to orders.”

At this moment, General Asclepio Gandolfo publishes a document that speaks of the need to “merge” – in organizational terms – the paramilitary squadrons and the structures of the Fascist Party, now in accelerated organization, so that the Political Chief and the Warlord “be the same person". Bonomi, perhaps the Italian FHC, but with more courage, is still trying to react and his Government issues, belatedly,
a circular “for Province Governors, in which it equates the truncheon with weapons that require licenses and includes fascist paramilitary groups among illegal formations.”

His order, however, is respected for 24 hours, as Michele Bianchi, elected General Secretary of the National Fascist Party, fights back and consolidates an irreducible line of total challenge to the democratic legal order – formal, decreeing in parallel with the rule of law that the instances of the Party and the combat squadrons “formed an inseparable whole”. At this moment, the parallel powers of the armed criminals are already establishing another order that revokes, in the daily life of common life, the limits of the liberal State.

It is the epilogue of a procedural weakening, originating from a political siege – with street violence, selective assassinations, the death of unionized poor peasants and selective police violence – that corrodes the old State. And it generates a new “total” State, subsuming all its institutions – armed or not – in the core of a new coercive force, regulated exclusively by the Party that will come to the Government.

For my part, I welcomed the mentioned liberal-democratic document and hope that many others will appear from our left field. While acknowledging its limits and shyness, it is neither exclusionary nor sectarian. The situation of lethargic division, in which a large part of the left finds itself, has not allowed us – until now – to have a common public voice with authority for such a call.

I think the worst thing is to stay on the sidelines of the struggles that add up or can add up, with our intervention, against fascism and Bolsonarism in power. Scheduling Bolsonaro's defeat for the 22nd, in a country that he himself has been destroying and deforming from the State, could be a bet on chaos. And chaos – as we know – favors those who have weapons at hand. It was like that in Italy. It was like that in Germany. It was like this in Pinochet's Chile, which has here in Brazil an experienced agent to destroy what we have left of the economy, human solidarity and public instruments of social cohesion. And then, yes, we will lose, for a long and dark period of darkness.

*Tarsus in law he was Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil.

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