The political crisis and the “desiring thought”

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Conjuncture analyzes should not be therapeutic mechanisms, nor should they be aimed at emulating militancy. Criticism of the article “The weakness of the left”.

I really like and always follow the publications of Luis Felipe Miguel. I will dare, however, to make some critical comments on your article published on March 23, in the website the earth is round. I think that the fundamentals (mistaken, in my opinion) of the political scientist's reasoning when analyzing the current conjuncture are shared by an important part of the cadres and militancy of the Brazilian left today.

At the outset, I confess my usual a priori implication with any and all formulations by progressive intellectuals who speak of ourselves in the third person – LFM's article declares the weakness of “the left”. I immediately think of the image of wise men in an “ivory tower” and the concept of praxis. I make an effort to minimize the ingrained feeling that the writing to be read will carry a bit of arrogance and a lot of detachment. LFM opens his article by stating the obvious: the weakness of the Brazilian left in the current historical period. OK, gunpowder has been discovered.

Afterwards, the author tries to pull the ear of the progressive camp, which should be presenting “concrete and viable proposals”, in a movement to “establish a dialogue with decision makers that allows the adoption of measures that protect the most vulnerable majorities and mobilize in their favor as much pressure as possible.

Very correct. But all this is already being done, and done well, as far as possible. The PT and the progressive camp have been elaborating, proposing and forcing the approval of a set of measures since, at least, March 16th. One of them, basic income (“quarantine insurance”), was approved in Congress on the 26th, after much pressure and forceful action by the Workers’ Party and the entire center-left together with the so-called “centrão”.

LFM makes a mistake when trying to teach little things that are already being done by the weak left. The article falls into the common sense trap. He qualifies Bolsonaro’s actions as “ostensive irrationality”. It is an understandable feeling, very present in our social base, in the less formed militancy. Bolsonaro and those around him are not crazy or psychopaths (by the way, we are not psychiatrists to make diagnoses, are we?). They are political agents with a neo-fascist and ultra-liberal program and have great support from Donald Trump, they articulate internationally. We need to stop pathologizing, or using moral adjectives to qualify (swear) the former captain and his gang.

However, the author himself later realizes that “Bolsonaro’s irrationality has a method”. There seems to be tension in the professor's reasoning, opposing his feelings to analytical coldness. This tension runs through the entire article. For example, LFM records: “research released today shows that a significant minority – 35% of those consulted – approve of his [Bolsonaro's] actions”. Immediately, he falls into a shallow moral judgment, but he is forced to recognize that “Bolsonarism” is strong and has a method: “the data shows that Bolsonaro, who still has the support of the unscrupulous leaders of some of the largest Christian sects in the country, knows to which audience he is speaking”.

In the following paragraph, the pole of desire, the heart of the author, once again predominates in the text: “it is even more urgent to remove him from office”. I ask: and when was it not? Bolsonaro's election was the result of a coup. The problem is not our will to remove him from office, but the concrete conditions, the disposition of the masses, the correlation of forces.

After two more passages intended to criticize the leaderships of the PT-PC do B and the PSOL, Luis Felipe Miguel enters the most swampy terrain of his analysis, in my opinion. He adheres, lightly, to what I provocatively call #leftMourão. See what the Unb professor says: “opposition to the idea of impeachment is based on the risk of granting the presidency to General Mourão, at a time when circumstances may justify the adoption of exceptional measures. However, this risk is a given of reality, which is not removed by a mere act of will. Is it better to keep Bolsonaro in government? Clearly not. So the question is: are there any viable alternatives?”

Well, first I ask: is impeachment really “feasible”? What is the position of the bourgeoisie and its fractions, of the Trump administration, of the Armed Forces? Would Bolsonaro fall like this, without reaction? The LFM itself claims that Bolsonaro has support. A lot of will, little reason. Second: why should the left advocate impeachment and not, for example, general elections? What is the evidence that it is immediately feasible to overthrow Bolsonaro via the National Congress? And more: should the criteria to guide the action of the progressive camp really be these (supposed facilities for a supposed presidential impeachment)? Will we be – would we be condemned to be – a mere “auxiliary force” of a possible Mourão-Maia government?

LFM recognizes a “freezing of the political struggle”. He states that there will be no change in the correlation of forces that is compatible with the “urgency to remove Bolsonaro from office”. It is a pity that the columnist does not reveal his assumptions or does not point out the consequences of what he propagates. It is, strictly speaking, a desperate appeal for a kind of “government of national salvation”, led by the “liberal” non-fascist bourgeoisie. All power to Maia and Globo. It's a political position, okay, but it would be better to spell it out.

By waving the possibility of “social chaos” that would lead us to “a government of law and order”, Luis Felipe Miguel's reasoning becomes clearer. To me, it sounds as strong as a desperate cry: “Better Mourão than the disorder that can facilitate a coup”. He seems to fear the reaction of the masses more than an upstairs arrangement. By the way, more or less radical slogans, by themselves, do not solve our problems, much less magically change the political landscape.

Returning to the tension that permeates the entire article – between rational analysis and the reproduction of common sense – it is said: “with him [Bolsonaro] in the presidency, the initial dividing line is between sanity and insanity”. Jeez! What an almost uncontrollable impulse to bring to the field of mental health what is program, tactic, strategy and ideology!!

LFM ends this way: “We are often constrained to remain in the same field as Maia, Dória and Witzel. Without it, the obvious issues are lost and we can focus the debate on the most important issues: how to face the crisis (...) with clear and realistic proposals in defense of the most vulnerable, the left can win important victories”.

Apart from the fact that the left already has clear and relevant proposals that are being widely disseminated and becoming laws (minimum income), the author's conclusion exposes the fundamental mistake of his analysis. There is no overall incompatibility between neo-fascism and ultraliberalism. Bolsonaro needs the “clean” elites and they need him, despite the growing noise and contradictions.

The basic question is: why should the popular field choose between neoliberals and neofascists? Why not present our joint proposals and dispute power, trying to mobilize the working class, winning the people over to our ideas? The second big mistake is to underestimate “Bolsonarism”. The ship is crippled, but it's still flying. Two things: there is no “united order” to bring down Bolsonaro. And who said it's easy to take the guy down? That just press a button?

Analyzes such as FAW, unfortunately, are increasingly common in our midst. Something understandable, due to the degree of disorientation, anguish, sadness and the complexity of the scenario. But this bias needs to be overcome. Explanations like this reek of idealism and impressionism. Analyzes of this type make it clear that a correct slogan, a good political line, would be enough to guide our “all wrong” left. It seems that only the “critical intellectuals” are always right (despite, however, not leading any organization or party from the popular-democratic field). As if a mere change of slogan or left-wing posture would determine Bolsonaro’s downfall or not, immediately, right now.

We are very distressed, angry, sad, perplexed. Hence, it becomes more difficult to resist the temptation of sheltering ourselves in the “desiring thought”. Conjuncture analyzes are not, however, therapeutic mechanisms, nor are they intended to emulate militancy.

*Julian Rodrigues is a journalist, PT activist and LTBTI and Human Rights activist.

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