Who is the main enemy?

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By SAVIO BONES*

On all sides, it is possible to hear warnings about the growth of militias, the advance of the extreme right, the weakening of the legal role played by public security forces, the multiplication of intolerant groups

The 1964 military coup interrupted the ongoing democratic process in the country, embodied in the basic reforms aimed at tackling some of the Gordian knots of Brazilian society. Several of these knots haunt the country until today, like the national, democratic, agrarian, urban, fiscal and educational issues.

The Armed Forces, led by the Army, established a united order, inside and outside the barracks, and imposed a dictatorial political regime. A new period in the class struggle in Brazil was inaugurated. The offensive of the workers-popular movement was reversed, social clashes adopted defensive lines and mass mobilizations were dammed up, until they were reborn in the fight against official excesses.

Persecuted, murdered, arrested, tortured, banished, exiled, impeached, censored and even prevented from speaking, resistance to the coup and later to the military regime, including that coming from the segments that initially supported them, was dismantled.

Asphyxiated, a part of the opposition followed the paths of group heroism, carrying out an armed struggle of small militarized organizations. The other opted for equally difficult paths: building a mass movement with a democratic character, to face dictatorial determinations. Both choices were made at a time haunted by state terrorism and are examples of the incalculable dedication of militants and activists to the fight for the return of suppressed freedoms and for the defense of rights wrested from the Brazilian people by the brute force of boots and rifles.

As long as it was possible, the dictatorial-military regime reorganized the internal productive forces in favor of nascent alliances with international monopoly-financial conglomerates – to the detriment of national interests and the popular classes. It also suppressed elementary democratic and civil freedoms – of assembly, expression, press, education, information and communication – as well as political rights, such as those of demonstration and expression, to vote and be voted for, to have democratically constituted and inviolable mandates, to free organization and functioning of popular and party organizations, among others.

By dismantling and hunting the trade union movement and its leaders, the dictatorial regime based its economic policy on the reduction of social rights and on wage tightening – the unions suffered intervention; mobilizations and strikes were criminalized. The violence meant that, between 1964 and 1968, workers had their wages reduced by more than 30%.

In the countryside, repression persecuted not only leaders, but all militants and activists, responsible for the struggle and advancement of agrarian reform. In November 1964, he imposed the Land Statute which, to stop the dissatisfaction of the peasants, contained draconian land rules, including land use and occupation, with a view to accelerating the concentration of land and the territorialization of capital, composing an adverse policy and hostile to the democratization of land tenure.

By outlawing student organizations, in addition to persecuting cultural activities and churches that they considered subversive, the generals tried to silence youth, intellectuals, artists and religious people from different backgrounds. The incipient struggles in defense of indigenous communities and populations, as well as natural resources in hitherto unexplored areas, such as the Pantanal Matogrossense and the Amazon, were equally suffocated.

The same was done with organizations and movements against racism – then strengthened by the Afonso Arinos Law, in 1951, which criminalized this form of discrimination –, which were mixed with the struggle for social justice and civil liberties.

Already blown by the feminist winds, the women's struggle, which challenged the Brazilian patriarchal and sexist tradition, was also silenced. Thus, the search for individual and collective conquests, such as the right to study, work, political participation, the use of contraceptives and others, was interrupted.

Thus, by pursuing its opponents, the military regime stopped multifaceted movements, of a reforming and progressive nature, which demanded changes in the directions of political and social life in Brazil, from the perspective of national, democratic, progressive and popular interests, imposing setbacks on them.

Even after the defeat of the armed confrontation with the despotic regime, the centrality of the democratic struggle remained. Important victories were achieved, such as the end of prior censorship of publications or shows, the repeal of AI-5, the retreat from open repression of strikes, the right to popular mobilizations, the return to multipartyism and the Amnesty Law, among others. .

With the conquests, new experiences accumulated in mass work, both in urban and rural areas, carried out from civil society and organized by militants of different political-ideological orientations. The demands revolved around the daily afflictions of the people, maintaining a permanent dialogue with the intelligentsia and with institutional actions, including legal parties and parliament.

The unfavorable international scenario, the contradictions between the various fractions of capital and the conflicts within the ruling bloc over the paths to overcoming the crises, as well as the sufferings, lessons learned and victories of popular mobilizations, promoted divisions at the top and at the base – inside and outside the government's hosts.

Licking their wounds and frustrations, as well as perceiving the gaps opened at the top, little by little the political forces, leaders, progressive personalities and democratic sectors began to realize the tactical centrality that the moment demanded and understanding each other in order to defeat each other. radically the dictatorial regime – moving forward towards the anti-imperialist, anti-landlordism and even anti-capitalist struggle – or at least re-establish the democratic political regime. In this conflicting construction, it was possible to organize a national will and a mass movement for political freedoms, in response to the crisis experienced by the economic-social project imposed in 1964 and now bankrupt.

The joint became the meeting space for first-time combatants and even dissidents or those who had just left the situationist camp in its various crises. Each, in their own way and with their limitations, contributed to isolating the dictatorial regime, its leaders and supporters, and adding energy to the democratic yearning that was being reborn.

The active participation and the disputes waged by the workers-popular movement within the democratic field that increasingly assumed the appearance of a broad front – comprising different ideological, social and political segments –, gave security to the great majorities, the plebeian air and the social soul that the moment demanded. Thus, the democratic struggle took on a mass character.

It was through the hands of this broad coalition that the new victories arrived: the resumption of the proletarian struggle, the recomposition of the trade union movement, the emergence of new parties, the return to the streets of red flags, the echoing of labor, socialist or communist voices, the enlargement of of democratic freedoms, criticism of the Brazilian economic and social formation, the return of structural reforms to the order of the day and the presentation of new proposals for the future.

It should be emphasized that the unified movement for the end of the military regime was never in unison and always kept different evaluations, opinions, tactics and particular reasons, as well as different proposals and slogans, in addition to a base and a polyclassist, multiparty and politically broad social composition. , which included all those willing to fight for freedom.

Even after reaching the synthesis “Diretas, Já!”, the fight contained several paths and developments: the defense of direct elections to establish a government aligned with the interests of the workers, passing through the National Constituent Assembly preceded by the complete end of repressive legislation, to the simple realization of suffrage, via approval of the constitutional amendment proposed by Deputy Dante de Oliveira.

All pretensions, however, had a common objective: to sweep away military tutelage from all dimensions of national life, although, contrary to national-popular sentiment, some sectors chose to criticize possible allies instead of centering and strengthening their attacks on the common enemy who, even weakened, remained standing.

The unity achieved around the campaign for “Diretas, Já!” at no time did it mask the stalemates of the class struggle and the internal conflicts surrounding the country's destinies. On the contrary, differences were dealt with frankly and often publicly, without, however, compromising the necessary unity.

In disputes over the course of overcoming it, the dictatorial-military regime had to coexist with a civilian government from April 1985, with the inauguration of the then vice president, replacing the president elected in the Electoral College, until the enactment of the new Constitution, in 1988. Through a transition from the top, conservative, tutored by the military and which went through indirect election, a passage without direct participation of the popular masses and under liberal hegemony, a new period in the class struggle was opened and reconstituted popular protagonism.

Under the aegis of the democratic impulse still on the rise, three years later, the works of the Constituent Assembly and the promulgation of the new Federal Constitution ended the conservative transition process and consolidated the democratic political regime – although the Transitional Justice has been abandoned and the governments that if they followed, they took care to forget the due reckoning with the dark past.

The growing accumulation of the democratic spirit, achieved in the days of mobilization against the dictatorial regime and, later, in the defense of social rights, reversed the correlation of forces in society. It passed through the Constituent Assembly and flooded, with comings and goings, the new national political period, until it received its first setback in August 2016, with the removal of President Dilma Rousseff.

It is always good to remember that, in addition to the 1988 Constitution and other democratic gains, this process was responsible for the election of four terms of social-liberal governments that, by rowing on the fringes of the countercurrent in the midst of neoliberal hegemony, represented important popular victories .

Articulating the interests of industrial-financial monopolies with those of the most impoverished popular layers and navigating a calmer international economic situation, such governments promoted important social protection policies, increased domestic consumption, strengthened the global insertion of national economic interests and bet on a haughty foreign policy.

Since the end of the conservative transition, Brazilian society has lived within the constitutional parameters of the current democratic political regime – with the election of representatives committed to its maintenance and who governed within their limits, freedoms and legal prerogatives. With more advances and fewer successes, Brazil has moved towards the better or, at least, has not retreated.

Even the persecutory actions of the juristocracy – inaugurated with Ação Penal 470 –, the political maneuvers that led to the impeachment of the then President Dilma and the tricks that culminated in the arrest of former President Lula, remained in the face of the necessary constitutional legitimacy and developed within of legality, even if they instrumentalized it.

It should be noted, therefore, that since the death throes of the 1964 regime, the extreme right remained isolated in national politics, until its public rebirth in 2018. With the election and inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro, a cycle of political life comes to an end. Brazilian society and a new period in the class struggle opens.

In Brazil, this period unfolds amid the advance of the world counterrevolution and in a cyclical international situation of economic stagnation, which has dragged on since 2013, as well as immersed in the failure of neoliberalism, the consolidation of multilateralism and the end of globalism. While the bourgeoisie seeks alternatives that reorganize the reproduction of capital, the international division of labor and the recomposition of profit rates, as well as manage tensions, contradictions and crises.

Here, the counterrevolution sat in the hands of Mr. Jair Bolsonaro. Since the electoral process, the far-right leader has been clearly announcing his greatest intentions: to strangle freedoms, suppress the rights of the people, destroy the democratic political regime and implement a dictatorial regime, to persecute and eliminate all democrats.

Aiming to carry out such intentions, his government attacks everything and everyone who challenges him. It throws gasoline on the fire of the institutional and political crises experienced by the country, arising from its own anti-democratic attempts. His project is present in the government's actions, in the legislative initiatives of its parliamentary base and in the manifestations of its most insane supporters.

In addition to the electoral results he obtained in the presidential election and the deformation traditionally existing in the federative form of the State – with the hypercentralization of powers in the Federal Executive and deformed representations –, Bolsonaro and his government rely on cadres coming from the Armed Forces and identified with the old dictatorship. Furthermore, they feed a reactionary mass base, boost proto-fascist militias – physical and virtual, civil and military –, have a messianic identity with hyperconservative religious sectors, use violence as a method of political struggle, replace dialogue with attempts at intimidation, attack reason , despise culture, deny science and keep the self-coupling sword of Damocles over the Nation.

The recession added to the health crisis, taking on an even more dramatic character. The responses to the liberation march sharpened the contradictions in state institutions and civil society, as expressions of the class struggle. From internal tensions to the extreme right and from the defeats or weariness accumulated in Congress, the elements that feed back the political and government crisis emerged.

The first movements of resistance to dictatorial aspirations originated mainly in civil society – in virtual activism, in embryonic popular demonstrations and even in monopoly-financial groups –, but also appeared in sectors of the state apparatus, in institutional-parliamentary conflicts, in state governments and at municipal levels. The debate on the need for progressives and democrats to unite gained momentum and brought discussions around the character, scope and objectives to be achieved in the current situation.

Along with the massification of the campaign aimed at deconstructing the presidential image, carried out by private communication monopolies, came the acceleration of police investigations, judicial processes, the multiplication of social initiatives and the assertion of the situation in the country.

The already degraded internal conditions have worsened in the face of the various intertwined dimensions of the current crises. In order to reverse them, equate institutional impasses, promote relative stability, guarantee the interests of big capital and avoid more radicalized conflicts, sectors of the state machine, political society and civil society, including the upper fraction of capital, articulate joined the liberal center and the right wing critical of Bolsonarism, inside and outside the Federal Government, seeking to stop the proto-fascist mobs.

In this context, the Falangist chief withdrew and began to dedicate himself more intensely to saving his mandate, preserving his name, his own impunity – and, by extension, that of his family and militia members –, maintaining his network of supporters and the creation of a stable parliamentary base in the National Congress. Thus, the President was forced to take his foot off the accelerator that measures the self-coup project.

Circumstances allowed the architecture of a pact to try to control and tame the palatial holder, who is impulsive and without limits. There was the possibility that the crisis, once again, would find a way out through the senile tradition of arrangements from above, without a popular pronouncement. However, the difficulties of this conciliation are evident, both due to the impasses that lie ahead, as well as the proto-fascist objectives, behaviors and practices.

Therefore, it is always necessary to bear in mind that, on the right and on the left, the vast majority of analyzes of the national political moment have points in common: the conception of Jair Bolsonaro – proto-fascist and, for some, fascist or neo-fascist – and the certainty that his restricted group, his government and his support base pursue a central objective, which is to destroy the freedoms and rights enshrined in the 1988 Constitution, to crush the democratic forces and reimplant the police-military regime in Brazil. All recognize that, from the first day of government, the president seeks to make it effective.

On all sides it is possible to hear warnings about the growth of militias, the advance of the extreme right, the weakening of the legal role played by public security forces, the multiplication of intolerant groups, Bolsonarist bet on popular despair, the permanent search for social chaos, disrespect for fundamental rights, threats to dissenters, restrictive measures to the plurality of ideas, strangulation of freedoms, violation of guarantees – collective and individual – and autocratic rage.

The period of class struggle, worldwide, is one of strategic defensiveness. This does not mean tactical inertia, on the contrary. In the country, proto-fascism urgently needs to be stopped, before the open possibility is complete and the worst happens. To do so, it is necessary to draw the necessary lessons from the struggles that won the military regime, as well as drink from the source of the clashes in each and every one of the countries where fascism managed to prevail and impose its horrors.

In the lead years, the democratic, national and progressive forces, including the communists, acted in common, lateralizing ideological differences and strategic projects for Brazil in the face of the immediate and burning need to put an end to the military regime and – as in the transition, the concrete conditions did not allow to go further – at least to open the doors for social tensions to be expressed in the light of fundamental freedoms.

When the correlation of forces was reversed and the days of the general-presidents were numbered, little by little the broad front – which prevailed, for example, in the struggles for amnesty, for direct presidential elections, for the registration of proscribed parties, for rights in the Constituent – was unraveling in new conflicts that arose, starting with the Electoral College, but the central objective, to end the military regime, remained standing until the last dictatorial breath.

Such a movement achieved great success, to the point of maintaining its air and many of its parameters until Bolsonaro's election, because it had in the most lucid and committed popular sectors its touchstone, its most dynamic pole and its most consequent builder. .

Already one of the outstanding militants of the anti-fascist struggle and war in Europe, Georgi Dimitrov, in August 1935, at the VII Congress of the Communist International, warned precisely that fascism is the “openly terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialists of finance capital.”

He also indicated the most appropriate way to face it: “the rise of fascism to Power is not a simple exchange of one bourgeois government for another, but the replacement of a state form of bourgeoisie domination, bourgeois democracy, by another: the declared terrorist dictatorship. To overlook this difference would be a serious mistake, which would prevent the revolutionary proletariat from mobilizing the broadest layers of workers in the city and countryside to fight against the threat of the fascist seizure of power, as well as from taking advantage of the existing contradictions in the countryside. of the bourgeoisie itself.

Following, the Bulgarian leader highlighted: “before the installation of the fascist dictatorship, the bourgeois governments habitually went through a series of preparatory stages and carried out a series of reactionary measures, which facilitated the access of fascism to Power. Anyone who does not fight in these preparatory stages against the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and against fascism on the rise will not be in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, will facilitate it.”

International tradition and recent national experience call on democratic and popular forces to act in line with the assessments they make. The situation requires the construction of a national salvation movement articulated around a broad front – democratic and progressive – in defense of the democratic political regime.

Several initiatives in this direction are being articulated in a dispersed and, apparently, contradictory way, but which add up and mutually strengthen each other, such as the National Antifascist Front, the joint Windows for Democracy and the movements for impeachment, of the Rights Now and We are 70% . All deserve to be strengthened and urged to overcome differences and move towards an increasingly substantial unity centered on a common objective.

A movement of this nature has the power to confront and isolate the Bolsonarist extreme right, as well as to polarize against anyone who intends, through silence or political narrowness, to collude with the proto-fascist rise, with the self-coup march and with the implementation of a new regime. dictatorial political in Brazil, as well as with the razia about everything remember social progress, individual freedoms, collective rights, attendance to popular claims and recognition of the needs of the world of work.

As in the past, it will be up to the popular-worker forces to assert themselves as the most motivating and dynamic pole of this movement, extracting from the broad front its most consequential and promising developments, with the aim of putting an end to the current government and opening a new period of class struggle.

Such impetus, far from weakening in the face of the small and provisional presidential precautions, must be strengthened by leftist, democratic and progressive forces. It is a question of assuming tactical daring and a broad stance in order to be a protagonist, preparing to face any self-coup attempt.

In this context, the democratic field has to draw consequences from the analyzes it makes. Therefore, you cannot avoid answering a key question: who is the enemy that threatens us? What forces need to be defeated in the current situation? Bolsonaro and his proto-fascism? Or the so-called centrist or conservative opposition? On whom should the hand of popular opposition weigh? Is this the moment of crumbling forces? Or unit? What should be the tactical center, to prevail over the other contradictions?

If Bolsonaro and his government are the central enemies, there is only one way to go: the broad, democratic and progressive front, against the self-coup and in defense of the democratic political regime.

*Savio Bones, a journalist, is director of the Sergio Miranda Institute (Isem) and of the Brazilian Trade Union Observatory Clodesmidt Riani (OSB-CR).

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