Patriotism, militarism and the gun lobby

Image: Collective Manifest


Emma Goldman's materialist and anarchist reading of the phenomenon of patriotism

“Lev Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our time, defines patriotism as the principle that justifies the training of murderers on a large scale; a business that requires the best equipment for the exercise of killing human beings […]; a business that guarantees better financial returns and much greater glory than in the case of an average worker” (Emma Goldman, Patriotism: a threat to freedom”, 1910).

“This is our flag, which will never be red. It will only be red if our blood is needed to keep it green and yellow” (Jair Messias Bolsonaro, 38th president of Brazil, in his inauguration speech, on January 1, 2019).

“If we lose this battle what do you think will happen?
Are you going to hand over the weapons? And then what are they going to say? Lost, man. […]
This flag may even be red, but with my own blood” (Bolsonarist Milton Baldin when calling, on November 26, 2022, “agribusiness”, businessmen and CACs to “show presence” at Lula’s diplomacy).

“This is the intention: to make you spend the last ammo that perchance (sic) have at home, restrict trade including inputs, breaking the sector and in the end still reserving the national market for some prostitute-type factory” (Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, demonstrating his dangerous concern with the “break in the sector”, in his Twitter profile, January 03, 2023”.


Precisely at this moment when Bolsonarism, which we imagined dying, transmuted into a self-appointed patriotic movement factually capable of invade and destroy the National Congress, the Planalto and the Federal Supreme Court and subsequently lead to the arrest in flagrante delicto, paradoxically, very orderly and respectful, of 1843 people[I] – among which, as we know, the most significant portion is not yet to be found, which is that of financiers, organizers and strategists (although investigations, arrests, requests for blocking the accounts of suspects and denouncements in newspapers and various media are in progress). excruciating course); what seems to have become, once again, the case of resuming the centrality of political science in the attempt to understand this movement, thus placing recourse to mass psychology in the background.

For if until January 08, 2023, the study of mass psychology could appear to be the most appropriate for a general (instead of specific) understanding of the “crazy” behaviors of our patriots – as if confirming the saying that only good old Freud explains –; The now inescapable fact is that regardless of the degree of delirium, moral perversion or stupidity, the movement effectively counted on to wallow in its self-televised, internal war hysteria, with nothing less than the blatant support of the police, the conniving "omission" of political authorities (such as the governor and secretary of public security of the DF and the Minister of Defense, to say the least), the active adherence, whether in speech, funding or physical presence, of journalists, influencers, religious, military, politicians, businessmen, farmers, etc.; and what is more serious: all of this, with simply nothing (save the determination of Minister Alexandre de Moraes for the dismantling of the camps)[ii] shake the continuity of the silent twilight game that has been the favorite of our Armed Forces institution.

That our crazy invaders arrived escorted and protected by the Military Police to Praça dos Três Poderes,[iii] when the same PM, hours after the attacks, in another apparently contradictory action, was prevented, this time, by the Army from entering the camp in front of its HQ, where part of the patriots had returned after the mission (or Selma party) had ended ), are variations of the already beaten gas lighting applied to the masses by the Armed Forces – which, it is always worth remembering, as the curious case of our patriotic George Washington proves, sheltered, at least until its dismantling on January 09th, a terrorist cell in front of its HQ in the capital of Brazil .[iv] This is to focus on a portrait, which is certainly quite limited, of the events that marked our fateful January 08, 2023.

Faced with such an immediate national reality, perhaps it would be interesting to turn, with due attention, to Emma Goldman's materialist and anarchist reading of this phenomenon of patriotism. For, as will be developed in the lines that follow, according to her, it would be a phenomenon that above all should be understood as a kind of artificial feeling (or ideology) deliberately incited in the masses not for the declared purposes of promoting of solidarity and mutual cooperation and collective effort (an incompatibility that we are even witnessing), but, yes, at least in the first layer, for the purposes of militarism itself.

It should be noted that with this, we already have here a first indication that the fact that our patriots were, until the day before yesterday, shouting at the doors of the barracks “Armed Forces save Brazil” or “Military Intervention” may represent an exaggeration in the break of propriety (which marks, in general, our time as a whole), but not exactly a historical novelty or, much less, mere chance; for, instead, the relation between patriotism and militarism is necessary. That is, unlike what our Minister of Defense and Public Security Flávio Dino declared, from the perspective adopted here, there is nothing unpatriotic about our patriots; that part of them has been converted into a specific type of terrorist, which we could call “orange” terrorists (although dressed in green and yellow) – no, by chance, among those arrested, a few hundred were released for “humanitarian issues”, and not only the elderly and people with health problems, but also those in street situations, in addition to mothers accompanied by their children –[v] it's just an adaptation to the current situation.

The present writing consists of applying the interpretative scheme offered by Emma Goldman – precisely in her texts “Patriotism: a threat to freedom” from 1910 and “Military preparation, the path to universal massacre” from 1915 – in ordering certain facts and data (taken from newspapers, magazines and various media) that make up the puzzle that has become our immediate national reality. A puzzle that, as in the case of our George Washington at the HQ in Brasília, is more like a bomb – which the most optimistic among us believe to have been self-imploding in the face of the international embarrassment of our Capitol Tabajara. That with the terrorist attacks on the 08th and the draft of the Coup d'état recently found in the house of the former Security Secretary of the DF and former Minister of Justice Anderson Torres (now arrested), Bolsonaro was politically and legally annihilated, and Lula still bigger and stronger, as the true bulwark of international democracy, it has become our newest utopia.

On the one hand, the use of mass psychology effectively serves to clarify the psychic movements that have led, in recent years, a significant part of the Brazilian adult population to subordinate, with an increasingly fervent devotion, their individuality and personality to a kind of patriotic megapersonality 5.0 under construction; but, on the other hand (and there are several sides), Goldman's role is to lead us by the hand to the material causes, or more properly, to the first material cause of patriotism. Thus, one of the pretensions of the lines that follow is to make explicit and develop the truism that, from Goldman's materialist and anarchist perspective, the ideology or psychology of the patriotic masses, far from being an end in itself, or a mere symptom of a collectivity of psychically ill individuals serves the material interests of a very restricted minority; since the fact that small and medium-sized businessmen are involved in financing direct action patriots, it is not proof, as we know, that they are the strategists, so that, perhaps, the hypothesis that there are orange terrorists is not so far-fetched , there are also orange financiers – many of whom, being so orange, are even able to take money out of their own pockets, although certainly not for the purposes of universal altruism, but rather, rather, almost as if paying a new species financial prosperity theology tithing now also patriotic.

To say that the methodology of these pages consists of applying the interpretative scheme presented by the anarchist to our facts and data from the frigid moment means emulating, at least to some extent, her argumentative strategy. It is a central characteristic of the pamphleteer genre carried out by her that her general conclusions are based, although not exclusively, on particular factual premises, that is, on a set of very specific information - such as historical events, statistics, economic policies, reports , laws etc. Thus, the exercise proposed here is to establish a relationship of analogy between some facts and data related to this political movement that hatched from the rotten egg of Bolsonarism (and that we effectively do not know how long it will last, whether it will take revenge or what it will turn into) and those offered by Goldman concerning his own time, in the texts selected here.

Secondly, the application of her interpretative scheme means, above all, assuming that the general conclusions she reached in these texts, or from which she departed, are equally likely to be concluded by us in the face of our immediate reality, both national and in a situation of intermittent civil war. , but also international with the threat of a nuclear war, the last of all wars.

Note that this assumption beforehand of Goldman's general conclusions about militarism and patriotism, implies, for example, assuming the two already summarized by her in the titles of the two texts mentioned, namely: that patriotism is possibly the most serious threat to freedom, and that that military preparation if increased (which is the case) will end up leading to universal massacre. It is worth noting that the anarchist reached such conclusions more than a hundred years ago, and therefore decades before the nuclear race that, shortly after her death, came to mark the character of a new type of war, the “cold” one; when, in the current context of the NATO-brokered Russian-Ukrainian war, we are once again faced with the imminent possibility of a universal massacre, which can no longer be minimized and disregarded as a hyperbolic and apocalyptic metaphor, as was still possible at the time when she who lived. This is not to get into the issue of current and announced environmental cataclysms, which according to political leader Davi Kopenawa should be understood as nothing more, nothing less than “revenge of the Earth”.[vi]

After all, maybe it wasn't really due to some excess of emotion that Emma Goldman, editor of the phenomenal anarchist newspaper Mother Earth (whose monthly publications lasted from early 1906 until her arrest in 1917), ironically named by the liberal newspapers of her time as the “High Priestess of anarchism”, was framed by the first director of the FBI as “the most dangerous woman in America ”. Far beyond eccentric propositions, because utopian and radical, about what should be the parameters and values ​​of the ideal society of an anarchist “festival of the future”, she effectively developed a method of denouncing, quite effective in her didacticism, the most urgent problems of her time ; with special emphasis precisely on the advance of militarism in the context that culminated in the First World War - beyond its condition of possibility: patriotism.

It is not a mere detail that his militancy was much more anti-militarist and anti-war rather than, as would be expected, his militancy, so to speak, pro-terrorist – because, it is worth emphasizing, it was part of a time when the radical left was the one who advocated violent direct action (such as the assassination of major economic and political “authorities”)[vii] –, which effectively made her a “traitor” of the State absolutely unworthy of any pardon.[viii] It is important to note that both texts, written when he lived in the USA and delivered in numerous public hearings, closely followed by police and detectives,[ix] manifest Goldman's adherence to the international anti-militarist movement initiated in 1905 by the Association Internationale Antimilitariste des Travailleurs (or AIA), a European antimilitarist group created in Amsterdam at the time conscription was established in France; and that in the first months of 1914, shortly before the European conflagration, she herself founded together with Alexander Berkman, and other radicals, the US Anti-Military League – in connection with the AIA and a whole wide network of organizations and individuals. By way of illustration of the dangers he faced when committing his anarchist militancy to the antimilitarist cause, it is sufficient to mention that while the first text cost, shall we say, the arrest of a soldier, William Bwalda, simply for attending one of his public hearings on patriotism,[X] the second, as a direct expression of the activities of the Antimilitarist League in the USA, became one more piece of documentary evidence to compose the report that culminated in his sentence to prison and, subsequently, deportation without return.[xi]

What for us, those nostalgic for a more aggressive left, is perhaps important to mark in our memory, with iron and fire, is that the subversive force of his denunciation is concentrated not in the moral invalidation of certain political or economic actors, and not even in the foresight of a libertarian future which, time and time again, she has presented us with, adorned with profound lyricism. The subversion, contravention of her discourse concerns more specifically the way in which she exposed, chained, informed and formed public opinion on elementary material, legal, social and economic factors. It is this strategy of historical (and, to a large extent, journalistic) argumentation that we will seek to emulate here, as if it were something new. Also because, it does not seem an exaggeration to suspect that one of the main strategies in our recent electoral political scene (now overcome with the direct action of the patriots) was to morally invalidate the opponents. A moral invalidation that, depending on the variation in the exchange of moral values ​​in our multicultural society, reached paroxysms, as we witnessed, from the psychiatric diagnosis of psychopathy to the epithet of incarnating the devil in person – which, let's face it, would be comical if it didn't was really tragic.

And at this point, it is perhaps important to draw a lesson from the far left from the past with an eye to a possible (and not yet ruled out) far right turn in the future. Because part of the methods of violent direct action (or terrorist) and even the flags, such as freedom of expression, are being stolen by the extreme right of our time from the extreme left of Goldman's time is more than enough theme for another writing and, moreover, would require research other than the one presented here.

In any case, it is important to bear in mind that the AIA, as well as the US Antimilitarist League, were not pacifist movements, as at first sight one might suppose, since they were, instead, internationalist. The refusal of the antimilitarist movement was therefore not against war as a whole, but against a certain type of war. As the anarchist declared: “if any war is justified, it is exclusively the war against economic dependence and political slavery”. We will return to this aspect later on, since this inexorability between the antimilitarist movement and internationalism (which it does not rule out, beforehand, tactics conventionally classified as terrorists, it is worth repeating), from which this section intends to remove a possibly important reminder of the past for our present, in which claims against the amnesty of civilian prisoners have become war cries in the mouths of our greatest libertarians, and in which collective enjoyments with “Discipline and Punish” embodied in the allegorical figure of Minister Alexandre de Moraes, the “Xandão”, came to be considered as one of the highest democratic expressions (which, however justifiable it may be , cannot help but sound somewhat paradoxical when taking into account the Lava Jatista lawfare that culminated in Lula's arrest without evidence).

It should be noted that bringing this possible reminder to light does not amount, in any way, to defending that orange and not-so-orange terrorists should not be monitored and punished according to the hard letter of the Law; nor is it the same as saying that the crimes orchestrated by a certain top leadership of the Armed Forces – either as “leaders” or as the highest intermediaries of other “leaders” – should be “pacified” via a French-style amnesty.

The reminder here is much more modest. It is only a matter of emphasizing that, in our eagerness to watch over and punish Bolsonaristas-patriots-terrorists, let us not forget to consider, in the case of the elaboration of legislative proposals that strengthen the institutional performance of the three Powers against “terrorist” actions , which can happen to be us, the now statist, legalist and institutionalist left – and also, certainly, humanist, environmentalist, anti-racist and feminist (although not anti-capitalist) – to be a few years later, subject to the same laws that we may have come to create now in the zeal of the moment. For certainly, as we all know, that same extreme right that is now screaming for human rights for its current more than a thousand “political prisoners”, as they call it, will not hesitate to subject us to conditions analogous to those of concentration camps and gulag who in delirium accuse of being subjected.

We cannot block with our democratic hands paths that, in the near or distant future, may need to be followed, in case the old, more fierce internationalist struggle becomes not exactly necessary (since it already is), but the only alternative in the face of an extreme right again in power – still embodied in the figure of a superficially more moderate and less clumsy Bolsonaro, be it to Mourão or Santos Cruz (not least because several analyzes suggest that the movement of patriots is already relatively independent of the figure of Jair Bolsonaro).

To present the reasons for such a reminder of concern, let us return to the history of the US Antimilitarist League founded by Goldaman and Berkman. For days after the US declared war on Germany, on April 18, 1917, as is known, in the name of defending democracy and the freedom and rights of citizens around the world, the law was enacted that made the military enlistment of men from 21 to 30 years old and framed labor strikes as an act of rebellion (sedition) against the production of war artifacts (Conscription Law) – which resulted in the transmutation of the Antimilitarist League into the Non-Conscription League.

Although in just over a month that it managed to last (precisely between May and June 1917),[xii] the Non-Conscription League has been successful in agitating at least three major mass events, the backlash came almost as fast as a missile. Already, on June 15, the then US president, Woodrow Wilson signed another law, the Espionage Act, which ranged from fines of US$10.000 to prison sentences of up to twenty years for, among other “offenses”, “obstructing enlistment in the Armed Forces or causing insubordination or disloyalty in the military or naval forces” (insubordination caused, in this case, by the action of the extreme left, instead of the extreme right, as is our case).[xiii]

The result was that Goldman, Berkman and many other activists, publishers, speakers, magazine distributors, printers or mere subscribers to the outlawed periodicals were arrested on the very day the law was signed and until Armistice Day in November 1918, all anarchist and socialist newspapers in the US were shut down, over 1800 people were sentenced to long sentences for protesting and resisting the war, and at least 6.000 war critics were jailed under federal law, “while state laws are often even harsher.” they incarcerated much more”.[xiv] The League of Non-Conscription was formed precisely to Amnesty League, whose efforts, despite the good results it managed to raise for many of the thousands of political prisoners on US soil, were unable to prevent the deportation of Goldman and Berkman along with 247 other radicals to Russia in December 1919.

By keeping in recent memory this brutal repression of the past operated by the US government, in the name of the war that would supposedly be able to save democracy, and experienced by the thinker and political activist whose general conclusions and argumentative structure will be used here – a repression, worth repeating, which resulted in the annihilation of the anarchist and unionist movement in the country –, it really is brain-deep, turning our eyes to the surreal Brazil of today, where the signs that conformed the left and right of yesteryear, are, in many aspects, more than exchanged, absolutely shuffled. That the Bolsonarist extreme right was effectively able to turn some of our greatest exponents of the more radical left into great defenders of law and order that ensure bourgeois institutions – could be the dawn of a warmed-up Habermasianism that this time is here to stay, but it could also be the harbinger of a new tragedy.

Although the hypotheses are endless, it is necessary to consider that the annulment of the fraudulent process that took Lula to prison and the country to convulsion, despite being incontestably fair and legitimate from a legal point of view, sets a precedent for it to be staged later as a farce. . Xandão as the new Moro, Bolsonaro or some variation as the new Lula! – as the popular saying teaches, while hoping for the best, it is necessary to prepare for the worst. If we were to take seriously what the journalist Glenn Greenwald and his friend Elon Musk (the greatest advertising boy among the darniks capitalists), are insinuating in the digital agora that is Twitter, we are literally experiencing a variation of our “if you stay, the animal will catch and if you run, the animal will eat”, since while on one side there would be a coup by the military & Co., on the other hand, another, there would be that of the judiciary & Co.

Regardless of which side the truth lies on, the fact is that the president deposed for the crime of tax pedaling and subsequently cleared, Dilma Rousseff, was certainly not naive (including given her history of being a political prisoner during the dictatorship) when, under his government, the anti-terrorism law (13.260/2016) enacted did not include political motivation in the list of motivations for acts classified as terrorist.[xv]

With that in mind – which is expected, in the name of optimism and hope, to be an exaggeration of the imagination – let's see where the present attempt (paradoxically non-specialized, at the same time excessively academic) to re-update the pamphleteer genre as elaborated by Goldman , and propagation of its general conclusions on the subject of patriotism and militarism can lead us, if minimally successful.

It is worth repeating that there is no naive pretense here of arriving at something like the first and last truth about the current state of things, but only that of fitting together, like someone playing with a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces keep arriving at excruciating speed. , some of the facts and data displayed in our magazines, newspapers and various media in a previously given interpretative scheme. That, after all, it is nothing more than a mere essayistic exercise (certainly incomplete), is not exactly a problem in view of the proposed objective and declared limits.



Before delving into the material causes of patriotism, it is interesting to point out that we are dealing here with a very assiduous reader of the psychological theories that flourished in the first half of the 1923th century (such as those of Freud); and, thus, very attentive to the importance of the role played by the psychology of the masses and not only in counter-revolutionary processes, but also in revolutionary ones. In one of her main reflections on the Russian revolution, Goldman directly declares that the most important factor in a social revolution, much more than the industrial question, is precisely “the psychology of the masses of a given historical period”. If this were not the case, he definitively points out in XNUMX, then a series of social revolutions would certainly have already occurred in the countries that had then reached “the degree of industrial development established by Marx as the culminating stage” – the case of the United States, France and Germany at the time; rather than in Russia, “a predominantly agrarian country”.[xvi]

It is interesting to observe his explanation, strategically didactic, about the composition of the “Slavic mass psychology” – whose ardent desire for freedom was, as we know, effectively able to simultaneously incarnate in 150 million people and lead them to direct action. If the preparation of a revolutionary mass psychology were something like a recipe for cake (as seems to be the case with counterrevolutionary mass psychology), it would certainly be an interesting option to take note of the essential ingredients listed by it.

In the first place, discriminates the anarchist, it is a psychology that was nourished by a century of revolutionary agitation that permeated all classes in Russia, later spreading, especially in the second half of the XNUMXth century, in an innumerable number of cells and political strands (until they were crushed by the Bolsheviks, the, according to her, true traitors of the revolution).[xvii]

In more detail, this means that for the nurturing of a revolutionary mass psychology – in addition to time and continuous effort – “mutual aid and libertarian cooperation” (theoretical and practical) between the intelligentsia humanist and the people, as well as between both and the intelligentsia technique ­– even though she recognizes that the latter, due to its strategic position for industrial and technological development, has always been, as a rule, associated with bourgeois interests.[xviii]

Perhaps it is worth the digression here. Because the need for this “reunion” between highly qualified and low qualified workers – which also includes artists – is considered, by Goldman, as nothing less than the “great lesson of debacle russian for the intelligentsia and for the workers”. After all, according to his diagnosis, what the “Russian Revolution made very clear” is “that both the brain and the muscles are indispensable to the work of social regeneration”, that “intellectual and physical work are intimately related in the inside the social body, like the brain and the hand, in a human organism”, that “one cannot function without the other”. And hence his postulate that only "to the extent that these two social forces learn to merge into a harmonious whole", "the tragic aspects of the Russian Revolution can be largely eliminated".[xx]

It is not by chance, therefore, that Goldman – who, since the time of Lenin, stood out for his tireless denunciation of the countless atrocities committed in post-revolutionary Russia – chose as the first “fatal error of the Bolsheviks” the adoption of a policy of “terror”. total against intelligentsia understood as a class, launching against it a campaign of hatred even more atrocious than was the persecution of the bourgeoisie itself”. Along with other factors (such as the fact that the Party authorities were quickly forced to recognize the dependence of the intelligentsia technique for industrial development), it was precisely this campaign of hatred and death, which labeled every intellectual counterrevolutionary and bourgeois, the factor responsible for creating, in Russia, “an abyss between the intelligentsia and the proletariat” and erect “a barrier against all truly constructive work”.

Obviously, Goldman recognized that the working class has the right to the education and qualifications it wants – and that, in no way, it should remain in a condition of dependence –; but late in the day, before the revolution takes place: “The scientist, the engineer, the specialist, the researcher, the educator and the creative artist, as well as the carpenter, the machinist and all other workers are part of the same collective force which will make the revolution the great architect of the new social building”.[xx]

It is equally obvious that the self-styled "woman without a country" knew only too well that not only in Bolshevik Russia, but "everywhere, demagogues manipulate the ignorance of the masses, teaching them that education and culture are bourgeois prejudices". , that workers can do without it, and that they alone are capable of rebuilding society”. A demagoguery that in our time and country is reminiscent of religious charlatans like Edir Macedo (until another day, the “true” King Solomon of mass communication), who in one of his recent services, in 2019, explained to the faithful, under the form of a sermon, because he did not allow his daughters (and heiresses) to attend higher education;[xxx] or even the secularized version of the financial prosperity pastors who are the coaches e influencers disseminated in the networks (and outside them); not to mention the systematic dismantling of federal institutes and universities carried out by the Bolsonaro government – ​​and, supposedly, “justified” before public opinion via a diffuse and continuous campaign of defamation of these institutions as dens of riot, sex, drugs and communist ideologization (a really perfidious strategy, but which, nevertheless, with the field already plowed by religious charlatanism, was astonishingly efficient – ​​just consider the absence of a truly worthy reaction on our part, the intelligentsia Brazilian).

Following the prescription offered by Goldman for the demolition of this “barrier against all truly constructive work”, on the one hand, it is necessary for the working class to cure itself of the “fallacious teaching” that it can achieve its emancipation without being in association with artists , intellectuals and qualified technical workers; but on the other hand, this being even more urgent, it is necessary that the intelligentsia recognizes, once and for all, its proletarian condition, that it understands, without hesitation, “that its true interests are identical to those of the masses” and puts an end to the foolishness of “considering itself a class apart and superior to that of the workers” . She even suggests as an “extremely important” strategy for creating this common bond, that the intelligentsia take on the task of “making clear to the workers” the “rapid proletarianization of intellectuals under way” –[xxiii] what in our immediate case (more than a hundred years later, it is always worth remembering) can be illustrated by the very low remuneration of postgraduate researchers and even researchers of recognized excellence, such as the so-called productivity fellows.[xxiii]

The second essential ingredient in the formation of “Slavic mass psychology”—which, whatever its later misrepresentation by the Bolsheviks actually resulted in nothing short of revolution—was, according to her, that this psychology was “ inspired and intensified during the February Revolution”, through “ultra-revolutionary slogans such as 'All Power to the Soviets' and 'Land to the Peasants, Factories to the Workers'” – which possessed the invaluable quality of expressing “the half-conscious, instinctual will of the people, and yet carry with it the meaning of a complete social, economic, and industrial reorganization of Russia”.[xxv] According to this activist, the power of slogans cannot be underestimated in terms of their importance for the psychology of the masses.

An observation that definitely makes one tremble when applied to understand ultra-reactionary slogans, such as “God, homeland and family”, which in our recent political scenario seem to have been able to, at least, accommodate themselves to the semi-conscious will of something like almost half of our electorate.

On the other hand, this consideration makes the Slogans excessively infantilized and somewhat detached from the national and international reality echoed by our current left, at least until the fateful day of January 08th, as “love won” celebrated in the “festival of the future” which, we now know, was about a future on the brink of civil war. In a world of wars, misery, pandemics, various forms of violence, an excruciating concentration of wealth, environmental cataclysms, etc. etc. the only thing around here that has recently won, which is certainly not a small amount, is in the presidential elections, not least because in the case of the Senate, not to mention the situation in the states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, as if you know, it is not possible to say the same.

Publicity for the so-called “possession of joy” in Brasilia, which reached the apex of disassociation in a video broadcast on the official Twitter of the Workers' Party of Brazil in which Lula's face appears within the Teletubbies sun,[xxiv] obliges, and despite adherence to the anarchist perspective that marks the present lines, to agree with something Lenin said in the last of his pamphlets published while he was still alive, Leftism, childhood disease of Communism; precisely with his diagnosis according to which it had already become evident, in 1920, that the “'leftists'” suffered from the disease of considering “their desires and political-ideological conceptions, an objective reality”.[xxv] In any case, although excessively moderate, certainly too insipid for the formation of something like a revolutionary psychology of the masses (although, as is obvious, this was not the objective of the Lula government), without a doubt, the slogan “Union and Reconstruction” gains in sobriety and seriousness, by suggesting a commitment to hard and tireless work to improve living conditions in our deeply divided and devastated country.

Although Goldman recognized the role played by mass psychology in reactionary processes, it seems that he foresaw in this “modality” much more the result of manipulation than of an instinctive expression. Hence, he relates progress and revolution to the “process of natural evolution”, as if it were the maximum social and collective expression of the life drive itself (and precisely in the Freudian sense);[xxviii] but do not, on the other hand, associate, at least not within a relationship of exclusivity or as a first cause, the counterrevolutionary movements with the death drive – which, in its later formulations, the father of psychoanalysis, as is known, rehearsed as supposedly as innate as the pulse of life. Currently, even in this recurrent application of mass psychology to understand Bolsonarism, it has become commonplace to invoke this mysterious and infamous death drive – which, according to Freud, in the most technical (and cold) biological sense, does not it passes from the psychic expression of a natural urge to bring living organisms back to the inanimate state, to decomposition; a kind of innate desire to return to the inorganic state, which “in the sense of the external world” comes to light as an instinct of aggressiveness and destructiveness”.[xxviii]

There is no doubt that “an instinct of aggressiveness and destructiveness” was under the light throughout the Bolsonaro government to later be incarnated, as if autonomously and organically, in the new patriots. As we know, however, it cannot be said that the destructiveness and aggressiveness of terrorists directed against public property have implied the demand, in the events of the 08th, for the self-sacrifice of one's own life. As was widely publicized in the newspapers and channels of the left, going to a peaceful demonstration by teachers for better wages implied, as a rule, a much greater risk to one's own life than wearing green and yellow to go out and destroy the National Congress, the Planalto and the Federal Supreme Court, burning cars and buses (as was the case with the events that marked the night of Lula's diplomacy) and closing highways – that, to say the least, and not go on in an endless list.

Moreover, it cannot be said that in the patriots' camps under the security of the Armed Forces, the expression of violence and aggressiveness that demands self-sacrifice or, in a more romantic version, heroism was at stake – as in Bolsonarist propaganda and even in official pages. of the Armed Forces has been inciting. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the “generosity” of the funders of the camps with kilos, kilos and more kilos of the picanha promised by Lula to those who are hungry – kilos and kilos that are amply documented in videos.

However, instead of considering this finding as sufficient to morally degrade the “instinct of aggressiveness and destructiveness” to the condition of barbarism and savagery – as if savagery was in itself something negative and civilization in itself something positive – and understanding it as exclusive, or circumscribed, to the psychology of the counterrevolutionary masses, it is worth considering one of the platitudes didactically developed by Goldman. For the anarchist knew with sufficient authority that, on the political level, revolution and progress invariably face resistance and armed opposition from bourgeois institutions, which makes violence and bloodshed, even on the part of revolutionaries, that indeed – instead of the degree of industrialization advocated by Marx –, the only inescapable step towards (as Álvaro de Campos would say) the true history of humanity. Hence his deep regret that the Russian revolution – which at the time of its outbreak, despite its industrial backwardness, had all the means to lead to social reconstruction– [xxix] had resulted in Statism and reformism in the hands of the Bolsheviks:

Lenin occupies the Romanov chair, the Imperial Cabinet is renamed the Soviet of People's Commissars, Trotsky is appointed Minister of War, and a worker becomes the military governor of Moscow [...] simple change of names and political personalities, then [the revolution] is simply not worth it. It's not worth all the struggle and sacrifice, the immeasurable loss of human lives and cultural values ​​that result from any revolution. And even if such a revolution brought greater social well-being to the general population (which, in any case, did not happen in Russia), it would not be worth the terrible price to be paid either; for improvements can be achieved without the inexorable bloodshed of the revolution. [xxx]

Even before the Freudian formulation, Goldman directly denied that a "natural" death drive was the first cause of patriotic mass psychology or, in a more general sense, denied that it was the first cause of any variation of counterrevolutionary mass psychology. It is really curious, as one can infer from a comparison between her texts on the USA and Russia, that among the different variations of counterrevolutionary mass psychology, she included not only patriotism (or patriotic mass psychology) but also the , apparently antagonistic, Bolshevik mass psychology or, if you prefer, the mass psychology of the communism that really was. According to his harsh diagnosis, the flower of communist youth that blossomed in the Stalinist era would basically be composed of two types: “blind, limited and intolerant fanatics, devoid of any glimmer of ethical sensitivity, of any sense of justice and fairness”, and the “social climbers and careerists”, “opportunists educated under the Bolshevik dogma 'the end justifies the means'”; even though there were also “a good number of profoundly sincere, heroic and idealistic young people” who would have already understood the betrayal of the masses by the Bolsheviks, and who, precisely because of this, if still alive and not exiled, for the most part inhabited political prisons Soviets and concentration camps.[xxxii]

In this sense, there is no risk of error in assuming that Goldman would have both agreed with President Lula's faulty act, when he established a relationship of analogy between patriot-terrorists and Stalinists, and with his correction, by restoring the analogy exclusively to the fascists. From the perspective presented by her, fascism must also be understood as one of the variations, perhaps the most essential, of counter-revolutionary mass psychology and, hence, in this aspect, her agreement with the president was greater than his agreement with himself. Even when he stated:These people, these vandals, which we could call fanatical Nazis, fanatical Stalinists… Or rather, not Stalinists, fanatical fascists, they did what has never been done in the history of this country”.[xxxi]

It is worth remembering that the two texts selected here as a guiding principle (“Patriotism: a threat to freedom” and “Military preparation, the path to universal massacre”) bring with them the testimony of a time when the patriotic psychology of the masses was popping up in several countries (while the revolutionary popped up in Russia) – being this time the context immediately before and during the First World War. To a large extent, they consist of first-hand testimony and denunciation of the “modernization” and radical transformation of American patriotism inherited from the founding countries – under the model, who would say?, Prussian! This is because, according to the anarchist genealogy, the Germans were the pioneers in coupling militarism to the patriotism of the masses, an innovation that, copied by other nations in Europe and by the USA, led, as is known, to the two Great Wars.

And here we finally arrive at the question that matters: if patriotism does not have a primitive and banished death drive as its first cause, what would be its cause? And with that, we also arrive at Goldman's answer, which could not be more direct: “The European masses were not driven to the trenches and battlefields by some secret, intimate and deep desire for war; the cause of this phenomenon must be sought in the frantic competition for the best military equipment, for more efficient armies, bigger warships, more powerful cannons”.[xxxii] That is: there is no naturalization of self-killing of the masses, known as war (whether internal or external). In a much more prosaic sense, his wager is that collective war hysteria – the height of patriotic mass psychology – was being deliberately propagated by certain interest groups (LOBBY of weapons) for the ultimate purpose of the international exploitation of industrial tycoons, through the excruciating sale of their increasingly deadly goods and which, therefore, required an ever-increasing slaughter, even to prove their effectiveness. This and no other is the first material cause of patriotic mass psychology.

Of course, Goldman recognized that the "emissaries" of this powerful LOBBY “work everywhere”, exerting direct influence on the press, school, church, politicians and military officials of the highest rank, as well as recognizing that, far from being exclusive, the interests of the LOBBY of weapons were directly associated with other capitalist interests. As he formulates in one of his most striking general conclusions: “militarism is the bulwark of capitalism”.[xxxv] A general conclusion that, with regard to our immediate national reality, directly refers to the “obvious conclusion” reached by journalist Breno Altman, in a recent article (January 12), for the newspaper Folha de S. Paul: “The coup leader’s hydra is housed in the Armed Forces, which have exercised tutelage over the State since the Paraguay War. […] In order to implement an ultraliberal program, redo the realignment with the United States and pocket fat privileges, senior officials were involved, directly or indirectly, in attacks on the Constitution”.[xxxiv] The difference of emphasis with this “obvious conclusion” presented by Altman would be that, from an anarchist perspective, our high officials involved in the implementation of an ultraliberal program are not as autonomous as they appear. Given that, as he teaches us, which will be deepened in the following sections, militarism acts as the bloodthirsty part of large economic interests “which do not care about patriotism or love for the people, but which uses both to incite war and pocket , in this terrible bargain, millionaire profits”.[xxxiv]

And note: that in our immediate national situation (at least, until Lula took office), this excruciating sale of deadly equipment favored the so-called militias and organized crime – as was the main line of denunciation against the Bolsonaro government until the fateful January 8th – is, from the perspective adopted here, neither the first cause nor the last end, but, so to speak, just part of the modus operandi for war, when internal. As for our patriots-terrorists in green and yellow from the encampments and attacks on the installations of the Three Powers (in their overwhelming majority unarmed, it is worth remembering), one possibility is that they consist solely and only in one of the fronts – the loudest and least dangerous. [xxxviii]

*Mariana Lins Costa is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS)








[vii] In his case, more than discursively defending violent direct action, Goldman had his name involved in some attacks, with emphasis on the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate industrial tycoon Henry Clay Frick, although sufficient evidence was never found to support it. incarcerated.

[viii] Barring a three-month visa and full of conditioning restrictions, in 1934, Goldman did not obtain the right to return to the United States.

[ix] Goldman, as is known, was born in a province of Lithuania then belonging to the Russian Empire, on June 27, 1869; and, at the age of sixteen, in 1885, he immigrated to the United States along with his sisters and parents. To a large extent, the Goldman family's immigration can be attributed to the attempt to escape the materially precarious and politically and socially oppressive conditions resulting from the Russian tsarist autocracy of the time, whose anti-Semitic policies (the family was Jewish) were especially aggravated with the wave of general repression that followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, by the “Will of the People” group, in 1881; group to which, by the way, she has always paid the highest tributes, recognizing herself as a representative of the same tradition, which is the so-called Russian populism.

[X] In 1908, soldier William Buwalda attended a Goldman conference in uniform, precisely on the theme of patriotism. The fact that, after the conference shook Goldman's hand, he was sentenced to a court-martial for the crime of treason and sentenced to five years of hard labor in the then military prison of Alcatraz - a sentence that was later reduced to three. years taken into account Buwalda's 15 years of exemplary work in the army. In any case, ten months after his imprisonment in Alcatraz, President Theodore Roosevelt granted Buwalda a pardon in order to avoid greater public support for the campaign for his release, then carried out by Goldman and other anarchists. Upon release from prison, Buwalda returned to the government the military medals received for his services in the Philippines and joined the anarchist movement.

[xi] In July 1917, Goldman was convicted of the crime of treason for her anti-war activities, in particular against the conscription made mandatory with the entry of the United States into the First War; and, in December 1919, already arrested, she was tried again and sentenced to deportation to the newly Bolshevik Russia – from which it is worth mentioning, she defected two years later.

[xii] Kathy E. Ferguson. “The anarchist anti-conscription movement in the USA”. In: Matthew S. Adams and Ruth Kinna (eds.). Anarchism, 1914–18: Internationalism, anti-militarism and war. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017.


[xiv] Ditto, p. 207.


[xvi] “Afterword of the book My new disillusionment with Russia". In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit. It should be mentioned that the title of his book My new disillusionment with Russia – whose “Afterword” is in the aforementioned collection – was not given by the author, but, without her knowledge, by the publisher Doubleday, Page & Co. (Garden City, NY) which first published the originals. As she relates in her autobiography, living my life Goldman feared that this modification, without his consent, would mislead the reader into believing that his disillusionment would be with the Russian revolution and not, as was the case, "with the pseudo-revolutionary methods of the communist state". As for the royal title chosen by her, My two years in Russia, — it should be noted that he only sought to indicate, and in the most prosaic way possible, that it was an account of his experience in Bolshevik Russia (from December 1919 to December 1921), after his deportation from the USA.

[xvii] In the “Introduction” to the translation of The individual, society and the state (in press) I develop the rationale for this assessment of Goldman.

[xviii] According to the anarchist, during the October Revolution, “the intelligentsia technique […] clung with all its strength – as in other countries – to the skirts of the bourgeoisie. Unable to understand the meaning of the revolutionary events, it tried to contain the revolutionary wave by practicing sabotage on a large scale” – and in this sense, it can even be blamed for the virulence with which it was persecuted by the Bolsheviks, although nothing justifies why the persecution took place. also turned to the intelligentsia humanist. (“Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.).

[xx] “Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.

[xx] Idem.


[xxiii] “Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.


[xxv] Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.


For more examples see:

(1) ;





[xxviii] Idem.

[xxviii] Freud, S. “The malaise in civilization”. In: S. Freud. Civilization and its Discontents: New Introductory Lectures and Other Texts. Trans. Paulo Cesar de Souza. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2010, p. 55.

[xxix] She even lists these available means that “could have moved mountains if they had been guided with intelligence”: “a network of labor organizations and cooperatives covered all of Russia, bridging the gap between town and country; soviets proliferated in response to the needs of the Russian people; and, on top of all that, there was the intelligentsia” (“Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.).

[xxx] “Afterword”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.

[xxxii] "There is no communism in Russia". In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.


[xxxii] “Military preparedness, the road to universal slaughter”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. quote

[xxxv] “Patriotism: A Threat to Liberty.” In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.


[xxxiv] “Military preparedness, the road to universal slaughter”. In: Emma Goldman. The individual, society and the state (in press), op. cit.

[xxxviii] This text is, in part, the result of the new translation (in press) of the collection The individual, society and the state organized by Plinio Augusto Coelho for the publisher Hedra (another translation, in circulation, was released by the same publisher in 2007). The main contributions of the new edition and translation carried out by me can be found especially in the historical contexts arranged in the footnotes and in the “Introduction”; and from which the present pamphlet is also, in part, a result. It is worth adding that one of the main principles that guided my translation work was that some knowledge of the historical context is a non-negotiable prerequisite for understanding Emma Goldman's texts, especially with regard to their subversive potential – learnable.

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