order and disorder

Georges Braque (1882–1963), Bottle, Glass and Pipe, 1914.


Notes on the dilemma of the Armed Forces in the face of Bolsonarism.

We know that the motto “Ordem e Progresso” on our flag was proposed by the positivists of the 2003th century, mainly by Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, based on the work of the Frenchman Auguste Comte. The motto, however, was a reduction of the positivist ideal, as it hid a third term, Love, which was also in Comte's original saying: “Love as a principle and Order as a basis; Progress at last”. Deputy Chico Alencar, in XNUMX, launched a Bill to include the missing term on the flag, but the PL did not go ahead.

The Armed Forces, responsible for the Proclamation of the Republic, set up the first republican government and have always accepted the positivist ideology of our flag. But, at the same time, they felt they were heirs to the idea of ​​Moderating Power, which was extinguished by the first Republican Constitution. The idea of ​​an unofficial Moderating Power, in fact, should be that of a Power that mediates between Order and Progress. But that's not what happened.

Any Marxist knows that the positivist motto, in its ideological nature, obscures the perception that, under a capitalist regime, order and progress are antagonistic. After all, capitalism is the system where “Everything solid melts into air”. It is not necessary, however, to be a reader of the Communist Manifesto, or even to agree with Marx, to understand that the capitalist system fundamentally disrupts society. As the liberal Joseph Schumpeter wrote, capitalism is the system of “creative destruction”. Thus, the correct motto would rather be “Order OR Progress”, because either we have order or we have capitalist progress.

It is clear that the Armed Forces see themselves above all as ordering forces and, therefore, that throughout republican history they have aligned themselves with non-progressive, regressive or retrograde forces. Progressive forces, on the other hand, were recognized as causing disorder and identified with the left, and even with communism, however moderate they were. The role of Moderating Power of the Armed Forces would have to fatally fall to the side of the Order, which could only be together with the most reactionary sectors of the country.

The reactionary attitude of the Armed Forces is so obvious that there is no need to prove it here. The Brazilian Armed Forces were never on the side of the popular classes and, in the absence of external enemies, or in the inability to fight them, our FFAA kept for themselves the beloved function of repressive apparatus of the internal, nationalist working classes. This is abundantly proven in our history.

However, the relationship between order and disorder in capitalism has always been very muddled. The Lava Jato judicial operation once again reignited this contradiction. Its operators saw themselves as defenders of order and corruption as the ultimate symptom of institutional disorder. However, the disorder produced by Lava Jato, challenging all the limits of our judicial system, had a devastating effect, unparalleled in the destruction of all Brazilian history. Defender of their provincial vision of order, the lavajatistas could only consider themselves as staunch enemies of the progressives, against whom they invested without restraint in the “lawfare”, in the war of the Criminal Law of the Enemy.

Operation Lava Jato failed completely because it pursued a cognitive self-deception. Corruption has never been a symptom of institutional disorder. In fact, corruption has always been on the side of order. Indeed, corruption is an attribute of the true Moderating Power of our post-redemocratization Republic, the so-called “Centrão”. This Centrão is a legitimate heir of the one who effectively exercised the Moderating Power at the time of the Military Dictatorship, the MDB. Not by chance, the philosopher Marcos Nobre defended that the post-1988 New Republic was dominated by “pemedebism”. This PMDB party, the main one in the Centrão, exerted a dampening and diluting influence not exactly between left and right, but rather between order and progress. In this respect, corruption is a smoothing oil for the rough edges and friction between the regressive order and the “disruptive” progress of the capitalist economy. Corruption has therefore always been an ordering factor.

By disorganizing the established Brazilian political system, Lava Jato dismantled the moderating capacity of the Brazilian Centrão, throwing the country into the biggest institutional disorder in its history, even greater than that witnessed during the military dictatorship. Thus, the Lava Jatista heroes of the order were the main causes of national disorder. One of the consequences of the illegitimate action of the operation was to transform the Centrão into a “Righteous Party”, and with that completely lose its ability to anchor the political system. This transformism was undoubtedly one of the main factors for the emergence and growth of Bolsonarism.

On the other hand, the Lava Jatistas were right to see the PT as their mortal enemy, not because it was the guarantor of corruption, as they believed, but because it was the lever of economic progressivism, and because it boosted the disruptive forces of productive capitalism, or simply of the development of the productive forces. In particular, with the new wage valuation of work, mainly with the policy of real gain of the minimum wage. As a defender of order, Operation Lava Jato would have to oppose the developmentalist progressivism of PT governments, which destabilized class relations, but did not then have a correct diagnosis of the situation.

The Armed Forces, in turn, since 2014, with the defeat of Aécio Neves, have established their goal of returning to politics, again under the cover of Moderating Power of the Republic, and with that encouraged their high ranks to go to the cultural war in the networks supported by Orvil's Olavist and "anti-Gramscist" ideology, as Professor João César de Castro Rocha demonstrates in a recent release, and openly supported Lava Jato's legal war against the PT, including acting decisively for the conviction and imprisonment of Luiz Ignatius da Silva.

And then comes Bolsonaro. Since before the 2016 Coup, and his spectacular performance in the impeachment session in Congress, when he launched his presidential campaign in the public arena, Bolsonaro was already the favorite of the barracks to be the vanguard of the military’s return to power. With the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro during the last year of the Temer government, under the direction of General Braga Netto, the path of support for the Bolsonarista campaign was paved. General Villas-Boas's twitter, on the eve of the trial of habeas corpus of Lula, ensured the departure and silence of the main protagonist that impeded the project, as well as guaranteed the cowardice of the Judiciary in its Supreme Court.

Several experts and historians, such as Piero Leirner, have insisted that it was not the military who took a ride on the Bolsonarist campaign, but Bolsonaro who jumped into a military project to return to power. I prefer to see it rather as a convergence of interests that are not exactly identical, to which were added the interests of the Brazilian bourgeois class to consolidate a new period of super-exploitation of work and withdrawal of social rights, guaranteed by the Ceiling Law and by the labor and social security reforms.

What is certain is that the victory of Jair Messias Bolsonaro had absolutely crystalline and unequivocal support from the Armed Forces. Interestingly, in the congratulatory message from the same General Villas-Boas, after taking office, there is praise for three public men who then ascended to power: Bolsonaro, Judge Moro and General Braga Netto. The other strong man, Paulo Guedes, was overlooked.

However, the former judge from Maringá turned out to be a failure and Bolsonaro himself from the beginning sabotaged his performance, fulfilling his commitments to the base of the “Direitão” that was supporting his government. It is exactly after the fall of Moro, in mid-2020, that Bolsonaro makes the great pact with the “Direitão”, secured at the time by Rodrigo Maia, purging what was laundering in his government. Despite this, the military remained uncompromising in its support for the project.

Perhaps because the military saw the opportunity, with the “pactão das boiadas” (Ricardo Salles’ term), to assume once and for all the coveted post of Moderator Power of the New Bolsonarista Regime. But with that, they returned to the fateful contradiction of our history, between Order and Progress.

Bolsonarism can be understood as a movement of disorder, disorganization, which can only survive as a parasite of the political system while it is defunctionalized. Bolsonarism never aims to be a Party of Order, much less a Moderating Power. It is for no other reason that Sérgio Moro fell and Paulo Guedes is still standing. For Paulo Guedes' ultraliberalism is the most disorganizing and aggressive edge of capitalism, in its “shock doctrine”, learned from the minister's Pinochet experience. If Bolsonaro is functional for the neoliberal system of financial banking, guedista ultraliberalism is functional for Bolsonarism because it contributes to permanently corroding institutions. Therefore, by allying with Bolsonarism, the Armed Forces no longer have the means to feed their project, neither to be a new Moderating Power, nor to promote the peacekeeping mission of the internal order, with which they believe they are imbued.

For example, now at a time when Bolsonarism sees its support base being eroded, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, headed by General Bento Alburquerque, launches by Provisional Measure (1031) a kind of “Boiada das Boiadas”, docilely obeying the neoliberal plan to privatize one of Brazil's biggest assets, the energy company ELETROBRÁS. Now, the immense interconnected Brazilian hydroelectric system, which includes the flows of the main Brazilian hydrographic basins, is based on a system that functions as a technological stabilizer of the Brazilian economy like no other system is, not even that connected to the oil and gas sector. Thus, the military, in the name of an ideology that no other country in the world is following, will privatize this system, compromising the country's energy security and generating more social instability with the expected increase in tariffs, which will add to the desperate increase in cost of cooking gas. Therein lies the trigger for yet another tsunami of revolts and popular uprisings.

Cleverly, Bolsonarism has entangled the Armed Forces with its (mis)government. The episode involving the general and former Minister of Health, Pazuello, was an example of Bolsonarist cunning in entangling the future of the Armed Forces with that of his government. Bolsonarism still manages to maneuver the tragic episode of the coronavirus pandemic to produce a kind of sui generis of “eugenic ethnic cleansing” on the “dangerous classes” of precarious workers. This operation, in which the political and cultural war is transmuted into biological warfare against the Brazilian people, makes society vulnerable and decisively corrodes all institutions, including the Brazilian Army itself, stained by the ridiculous and embarrassing direction of its general de " logistics”, Eduardo Pazuello. Some thinkers, such as Eduardo Costa Pinto, have called the coronavirus pandemic “the Malvinas of the Brazilian Army”, due to its potentially delegitimizing nature of the Armed Forces’ actions vis-à-vis the Brazilian People.

The neo-fascist and grotesque episode of the motocada and Pazuello's rise to the Bolsonarist electric trio were the coup de grace in the militarist project of becoming a Moderating Power of the New Republic. By embracing Bolsonarism without restraint, the Armed Forces threw in the trash not only the reasonable popular approval of its actions, but also the possibility of mediating between Order and Progress. In the future, the small gains in bureaucratic sinecures will seem small and negligible in the face of the democratic questioning of historical privileges. Along with Bolsonaro, the best that the military can defend at the moment is to change the motto of our banner to “Disorder and Return”.

Ironically, it is the progressives who are fighting for social peace today. It is not merely a case of defending the return of order against disorder. The mediation between Order and Progress needs to recover the originality of Comte's phrase, which included the triadic principle of Love. The absolute lack of respect in the Bolsonarist grotesque spectacle and the complete lack of sensitivity of the Armed Forces for the suffering of the People, evident in the contempt for what the loss of 500.000 Brazilians carried away by the pandemic means, can only be faced by a new principle of compassion. Instead of Order and Progress, perhaps the time has come for progressives to stand up for Peace, Compassion and Development together.

* William Preger He holds a PhD in Theory of Literature from UERJ. author of Fables of Science (Gramma Publisher).


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