The resentful generals

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By JORGE WHITE*

Tólstoy met different generals than Brazilian generals, at least the Brazilian generals who were in power in the 1964 dictatorship and now with Jair Bolsonaro in the presidency

Leon Tolstoy wove in 'War and Peace' a methodological fusion between the critical interpretation of history, objective and material, and the metaphysical vision of choosing a superior future, subjective and immaterial. He immersed himself in a tangle of economic, social class and moral values ​​symbols, to assert that despite all the evil and horror that make up history, civilization is leaving behind, little by little, its worst.

Guerra e Paz, in addition to being a literarily sophisticated novel, is the very search for discernment, based on philosophy and ethics, which makes it possible to distinguish between good and evil. This 'epistemology' is the basis of the complex structure of the main characters.

All knowledge, we know, is produced as an accumulation of other knowledge, therefore knowledge is dependent on its circumstances, on the universal reality and the particular reality that surrounds it, in a dialectical “fusion”. Some analysts understand it better than others, some philosophers project it better than others, however. We could thus say that Tolstoy was great because great were the circumstances and, also, great were the small people who built the history that he rationalizes in his literature.

But after all, based on what kind of subjects and what reality did Tolstoy build dazzling characters, lived in the harshness of the fields and death, but, however, so capable of expressing the strongly ethical projection of a future less filled with hate, such like General Kutuzov?

Certainly a different reality from our Brazilian reality. In order to elaborate Kutuzov's historical dimension and transform him into his character, Tólstoy certainly met different generals than Brazilian generals, at least the Brazilian generals who were in power during the 1964 dictatorship and now with Jair Bolsonaro in the presidency. Tólstoy's generals were turned to the future, moved by a utopia about a progressively less worse world, Bolsonaro's generals are turned to resentment, moved by the hatred of the past, and the projection can only be that of a worse world.

The symbolic construction that Bolsonaro's generals constituted a technical and professional fraction of the government, or even the self-narrative that they constituted a moderating force between the pressures of the communist evil and the coup forces, are also devoid of political and material evidence.

This moderating mission was not carried out in any of the interpretative aspects that could be given to it, institutional or political. As for the institutional aspect, the Federal Supreme Court has already consolidated the interpretation that there is no mention in the Brazilian Federal Constitution of institutional attribution. The Armed Forces are neither a power nor a moderator. This institutional figure of moderating power is nothing more than a restorative myth, borrowed from the Empire that they themselves ended in the XNUMXth century.

Second, they were not able to constitute themselves as moderators in the political aspect either. In an interview with Brasil de Fato, on April 20, 2020 (https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2020/04/30/gosto-pelo-poder-mantem-militares-passivos-a-bolsonaro-avalia-cientista-politico), political scientist João Roberto Martins Filho states that the generals set themselves the objective of “(…) controlling, protecting, rationalizing the Bolsonaro government a little. Helping Bolsonaro to be a different person than he is. But they didn't make it." Martins Filho goes further and claims that corporate and ideological-conservative factors were the keynote of the presence of the generals in the Bolsonaro government.

Strong corporate interests, successful through the consolidation of salary and social security privileges, established a subordinate link to the Bolsonaro government, imploding any possibility of an autonomous position that would allow them a position of strength within the government or in a direct relationship with Bolsonaro.

If it is true that maintaining the Bolsonaro government is closely related to the support of the military, in addition to the support of large local business entities, the opposite is also true. The military, who proved to be weaker than they imagined, found themselves dependent on the Bolsonaro government to re-enter the sphere of politics, removed since 1985. They became hostages of an idea of ​​restoring a status lost with the end of the dictatorship of 1964 and the Federal Constitution of 1988. A policy based much more on resentment than on a country project.

We cannot conclude much different from the idea that the role that the high-ranking military of the Armed Forces, notably the Army, play in the Bolsonaro government has no striking distinction from the role played by other categories of the high state bureaucracy, in the movements that allowed the election from Bolsonaro.

This high bureaucracy, even though it moves for corporate interests, objectives with pecuniary advantages and subjective ones like political prestige, demonstrated a strong conservative ideological formation and to the extreme right, in the political aspect. This last period marked the restoration of a certain “Bonapartist” sense of the high state bureaucracy, both civil and military, converging on an anti-communist, neoliberal, pro-United States and anti-China, moralist, religious and traditionalist rhetoric. These elements were the basis of the political movements of the bureaucrats who led Operation Lava Jato and the military who were fundamental to the impeachment of Dilma, the arrest and ineligibility of Lula and the election of Bolsonaro.

Fatally, if Tolstoy lived in Brazil or even in present-day Russia, Poland or Ukraine, his general would fulfill another role in his novel. Anyway, in addition to being one of the greatest writers of all time, we can also consider Leo Tolstoy lucky.

*Jorge Branco is a doctoral student in Political Science at UFRGS.

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