Who took fascism off the leash?

Leon Gol, Dog, 2004
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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

It is no coincidence that, after periods of more acute economic crises, the extreme right registers a vertiginous growth

Bertolt Brecht – playwright, poet and German director of the last century – in the epilogue of his play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui brought the following reflection: “The bitch of fascism is always in heat”. This means that certain obscurantist ideas, linked to the extreme right, however dormant they may be at a given time, will never be completely eliminated, as there will always be conditions for fascism to reproduce in different types of human organization.

According to Marxist thought, fascism can be understood as an alternative to which the ruling class resorts when the so-called “bourgeois democracy” is no longer able to maintain the profits of big capital. After all, the game cannot stop! Thus, it is not by chance that, after periods of more acute economic crises, the extreme right registers a vertiginous growth.

Unfortunately, at the current moment in Brazilian history, the “fascist bitch” is not only in heat, but also feels free to reproduce its hate speeches and “bite” all those whom it considers its “enemies”. Given this, it is important to reflect on “who”, “when” and “why” fascism was taken out of the leash around here, given that, according to Bertolt Brecht, it is a bitch that “is always in heat ”; however, certain conditions are necessary for it to manifest itself.

In this sense, there is no way to approach the current fascist wave in Brazil without mentioning anti-PTism and, mainly, the “June 2013 Journeys” (more precisely the appropriation of these movements by the conservative sectors of society, which had the participation decisive role of the hegemonic media).

As everyone knows, the June 2013 Journeys began as legitimate popular movements, against the increase in public transport fares (among other demands linked to urban issues), but which, gradually, were captured by the traditional right (especially by through media discourses) and began to adopt guidelines of conservative thought, such as the moralist and hypocritical fight against corruption (only the state, not the market), the end of political parties, the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility and the impeachment of then President Dilma Rousseff.

As well explained by Jesse Souza, in his book The X-Ray of the Scam: Understand How and Why You Were Fooled, the Brazilian media, notably the National Journal, took advantage of the large popular mobilization that took place throughout Brazil in June 2013 to “federalize” the demonstrations that, until then, were centered on municipal issues. Thus, these movements, which previously claimed historic demands of the Brazilian people, turned into major acts against the government of Dilma Rousseff.

To swell these anti-PT mobilizations, the bitch of fascism, “always in heat”, was summoned. Consequently, all kinds of obscurantism could finally come out of the closet. Dictatorship widows were no longer intimidated to take to the streets to ask for a military coup. Hate speech against the poor has become increasingly common on social media. Racists, homophobes and misogynists felt free to reverberate their prejudiced ideas. Finally, the darkest part of the human personality, designated by Jung as the “shadow”, came to the surface. Remembering one of the slogans of the June Days: the “giant woke up”, but he was authoritarian, exclusive, homophobic, sexist, racist and moralistic. It would be better if he stayed asleep!

Meanwhile – either out of political naivety or mere electoral opportunism (because it believed that it would occupy the PT’s place as the main organization of the progressive field) – a good part of the left sided with the anti-PTism propagated by the right and did not denounce the dangers that were already announced in this authoritarian shift in Brazilian society (with another coup d'état on the horizon). Indirectly, from Trojan Horses such as the “Não vai ter Copa” movement, this left contributed to the current rise of fascism in Brazil.

Undoubtedly, the politician who raised the most dividends with anti-PTism, with June 2013 and the subsequent Coup of 2016 was Jair Bolsonaro (until then a lower-clergy parliamentarian, best known for his controversial appearances on popular television programs, where, in a caricature, propagated his extremist ideas). However, this was not something planned. The objective of the campaign against the PT was the return of the traditional right to power (PSDB, for example). Ex-president Lula summed it up well: “They planted Aécio and reaped Bolsonaro, the by-product of hatred against the PT”.

Released to “bite” the left, the bitch of fascism doesn't want to go back on a leash; nor be a supporting player in the national political scene. Its purpose is to dictate the course of the nation. In the face of this, those same individuals who helped free the bitch from fascism, today pretend to have nothing to do with it. But, remembering a popular expression, it is necessary to “name the oxen”. The hegemonic press (spokesperson for the “traditional right”), in its news, seeks to demonstrate a false indignation against the misogynistic speeches of Jair Bolsonaro; but, if necessary, he will support him in a possible second round against the PT (as he did in 2018). The anti-PT left, in order not to admit acting as a maneuvering mass of conservative forces, reverberates the fallacious hypothesis that the June 2013 Journeys were not responsible for the recent fascist rise in Brazil.

The fact is that, even though Jair Bolsonaro is defeated in the elections, Bolsonarism will continue as an obscurantist specter that haunts Brazilian society; whether sharing fake news in WhatsApp groups, intolerance of African-derived religions, refusing to give food to PT voters, pointing weapons at opponents or eliminating those who think differently. Sadly, the fascist Pandora's box is among us. Opening it was easy; closing it, on the other hand, is much more complex.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral candidate in geography at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (CRV).

 

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