Autocratic regime and fascist bias: an exploratory script



Considerations about the way in which Jair Bolsonaro sought to change institutions and about the type of social mobilization that he provoked

“Italy, fascist or not, remained my country” (Primo Levi).


movement and regime

The true nature of the phenomenon that upset Brazilian democracy between 2019 and 2021 will only be truly understood when the government of Jair Bolsonaro has completed the path that fits him and is properly placed in the world context that, to a certain extent, explains it. According to political scientist Larry Diamond, global democratic indicators have been in decline since 2006. crash financial year of 2008, the situation worsened and, in the five-year period after 2016, it acquired an urgent nature, directly reflecting in Brazil.

The facts are known. Declared victorious on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump became, ahead of the USA, diffuser, as well as the Brexit, of a “post-factual” era that would quickly spread across the world map, entering the priority agenda of political science. Since Jair Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper captain in the Army and an obscure federal deputy for thirty years, was elected President of the Republic, Brazil has been submerged by the wave coming from the north, becoming a relevant case to be deciphered. Writing before the presidential election, Diamond already identified “a decline in the quality and stability of democracy” in Brazil and Stanley (2018), called Bolsonaro a “tropical Trump”.

Steve Bannon, the main ideologue of Trumpism, articulated figures from different backgrounds in a kind of comintern rightist (BBC, 2018), including Bolsonaro in the basket. The Englishman Nigel Farage, promoter of the Brexit in 2016, the French Marine Le Pen, runner-up in the 2017 presidential race, and the Italian Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy in 2018, were connected by the White House adviser. As Trump continued to command a portion of the US electorate, even after leaving the presidency, Bannon's activities continued in a complementary way, with the Brazilian gaining prominence in them. Bannon went so far as to say that Bolsonaro and Salvini had become “the most important politicians in the world” and that the 2022 election in Brazil had become “the most important in the history of South America”.

Was the country struck by an intercontinental neo-fascist lightning strike? Like any emerging fact in society, it is rare to understand it when it is embryonic and uncertain. Leon Trotsky records that the Italians did not glimpse “the particular traits of fascism” when it appeared for the first time on the face of the earth, precisely in the homeland of Dante Alighieri, in 1921. “Except for Gramsci”, an exceptional analyst, the compatriots did not even admit “ the possibility of the fascists taking power” and were unaware that there was “a new phenomenon that was still in the process of being formed”. Gramsci, among other contributions, noted the Caesarist aspect of the monster, with the personality of Benito Mussolini (18831945-2021) centering attention (Antonini, XNUMX). Trotsky was a pioneer in diagnosing the tear bottom-up of Nazism, unheard of in the reactionary camp.

Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, two German thinkers of Marxist inspiration, but incorporating ideas from psychoanalysis, realized that the Nazi capacity to mobilize from below was related to the activation of unconscious layers of individuals, which transcended classes, although in a different way. somehow eliminate them. Seven decades later, philosopher Jason Stanley, from Yale University, observing Trump, talks about the use of fascist tactics, which have specific techniques, including conspiracy theories, to destroy information spaces and break with reality.

In the same vein, a second philosopher, Peter E. Gordon, from Harvard University, underlines in Trumpism the fascist method of stimulating anger against those who supposedly usurped the former greatness of the people. It is the strategy ofscapegoating”, that is, turning a specific group, in this case immigrants, into a scapegoat. In composing the script undertaken here, we will adopt these two markers as guides – the tactic of breaking with reality and the scapegoat strategy – without intending that they exhaust a definition of fascism. It is only a question of highlighting traits that, perhaps, shed light on current procedures in Brazil.

The eventual use of certain means of agitation and propaganda, however, does not solve the problem of knowing what kind of regime they lead to. According to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, still thinking with Marxist categories, “without defining a theoretical space for a theory of regimes, one ends up running the risk of confusing [...] class domination with the control of parts of the bureaucratic apparatus”. According to Przeworski, the current erosion of democracy – incremental, within the law and driven by elected leaders – can result in either “autocracy, dictatorship or authoritarianism”. The lack of definition explains the number of neologisms that have emerged in recent times: “illiberal democracy”, “democracy” and “neodictatorship”, for example.

Bolsonaro’s actions at the regime level led us to rescue a passage by Norberto Bobbio, in which the Italian philosopher points out that, for Marx, the representative institutions of France, after 1848, resulted in “personal government, that is, in a autocracy". Referring to the collapse of the National Assembly, Marx points out that “in the person of Louis Bonaparte”, the Executive pushed Parliament “out”, establishing the Second Empire, a regime that Napoleon's nephew embodied for two decades.

Autocracy, understood as a form of authoritarianism that is characterized by “personal government”, seemed to us to correspond to the north of Jair Bolsonaro between 2019 and 2021, a period that we analyze in the following lines. Unlike the regimes resulting from the military coups of the 1960s and 1970s, in which the state apparatus "could also be in the hands of a group", the present project seems to focus on an individual who, at the apex of the public machine, replaces a " convention”, “assembly” or “revolutionary party”.

If once, eventually victorious, such a regime would acquire fascist connotations, with the emergence of a “single, hierarchically organized mass party”, of an imperialist orientation and of an “attempt to integrate into the control structures of the party or the State […] the totality of economic, social, political and cultural relations”, only time, perhaps, will tell. For now, the evidence seems to us to be sufficient to speak of autocratism, which coincides with international studies that identified a third “autocratization wave”, starting in 2017 – the first would have occurred between 1926 and 1942, and the second, between  1961 and 1977. But it is clear that, by using fascist techniques of mobilization, the chances of conversion to types of government that update those of the 1930s justifiably turn on the historical warning signs.

This work suggests that, in the Brazilian experience between 2019 and 2021, there was a combination of autocratic pressure and fascist mobilization. Researched and written while Jair Bolsonaro's term was in progress, we sought to extract possible meanings from the events, taken as an empirical basis, knowing that a true interpretative scheme will have to be a collective work. The necessary comparison with competing hypotheses is left for further research. The exploratory script referred to in the title, therefore, does not necessarily exclude others.


An autocrat among the powers

On the morning of Friday, May 22, 2020, the President of the Republic met with two key generals of the ministry: Walter Braga Netto, from the Civil House, a kind of informal prime minister, and Luiz Eduardo Ramos, from the Secretariat of Government, seen as a longtime friend of the president. To both he would have expressed the decision to intervene in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), which had assumed the forefront of resistance to autocratization. He considered sending troops and dismissing the 11 members of the court, who would be replaced by presidential appointments.

After hours of debate, the head of the executive branch seems to have convinced himself that the classic coups were out of fashion. A note was then issued, signed by a third minister general, Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, from the Institutional Security Office (GSI). In it, the former commander of the national detachment in Haiti warned the supreme that his attitudes could “have unforeseeable consequences for national stability”.

It was the closest we got to a knock down in the struggle between the Executive and the Judiciary. The fact that the episode ended in “pizza” is typical of the permanent “back and forth” that Fraser identified in the worldwide Gramscian interregnum. In the midst of countless speeches by the president, family members and supporters about activating the Armed Forces (FFAA) through Article 142 of the Constitution or editing a version updated of Institutional Act n.o. 5, Helenus' text sounded like those ancient pronouncements of the generals, warning the recalcitrant that the constitutional checks were off the board.

At this point, it should be noted that “creeping authoritarianism, in which the elected ruler gradually empties political pluralism and institutional checks and balances” can also, in our view, involve elements of violence or threat of violence – military, police, militia etc. – depending on the circumstances. Written in the midst of a sequence of mass demonstrations favorable to the closure of the STF, and even of Congress – emboldened by the president himself, sometimes arriving on horseback or in a helicopter –, Heleno’s piece exposed the support of the uniforms of the Planalto to the head of the Executive in the fight with the Judiciary. Two years later, in the midst of organizing the electoral process, the Minister of Defense, Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, would reaffirm the “permanent state of readiness of the Armed Forces”, in what was understood as reinforcement of the presidential threat to intervene in the election.

In 2020, the dean of the STF, Celso de Mello, responded to the Hellenistic challenge, saying that “the pronouncement conveyed a statement impregnated with unusual (and inadmissible) warning content clearly infringing the principle of separation of powers”. Translation: 59 military personnel – most of them reserve, but some active duty – threatened to break the legal framework, created to limit the President of the Republic. In the next section we will return to the topic of barracks.

For now, it is worth noting that the center of the conflict at that time was the control of the Federal Police (PF). Post-Fernando Collor de Mello presidents, although not required by law, treated the powerful PF as a state rather than a government agency. It is worth remembering that, in August 1990, during the execution of the Collor Plan, there was an invasion of Folha de S. Paul under the command of a Federal Police delegate, in intimidating use of the institution. After Collor was banned in 1992, the PF's shield, now made up of 11 civil servants spread across the vast national territory, was respected by Fernando Henrique, Lula and Dilma Rousseff. Voluntary abstinence removed for two decades the fear that citizens could be subject to the arbitration of the head of state.

Bolsonaro, in a clear autocratic maneuver, decided to reverse the practice and put the feds under his will, which was evident at the ministerial meeting on April 22, 2020, publicized by Celso de Mello as a truco to the statement from Helenus. The video, in vulgar tones, projected the shadow of a crude tyranny over the nation and confirmed Sergio Moro's implicit warning when resigning from the Ministry of Justice, a month earlier: the president was willing to do anything to increase his own power, starting with by taking the PF. The Chamber's hesitation to institute the impeachment at that moment, when the House table was not yet allied with the Presidency, it would later exact a high price.

In the change of command of Congress, in February 2021, el president he would make a lasting agreement with the “old policy”, which he had promised to fight in the 2018 campaign. He obtained, in exchange, the centrão’s blocking of the impeachment process, even in the face of the escalation of attacks on democracy. On the other hand, the President of the House of the people gained unprecedented power, creating an ambiguity in the Executive-Legislative relationship, which defined part of the subsequent events.

Armored by the Legislature, Jair Bolsonaro went up to the Federal Police. “The Bolsonarist machine within the PF is not limited to putting pressure on the summit, but goes so far as to change regional directorates and even delegates and agents. It is a broad view of the structure”, described journalist Allan de Abreu. Still, pockets of resistance arose. With each authoritarian advance, a gibberish of democratic state sectors, civil society and the press tried to contain the autocratizing impetus. In September 2021, a thousand federal police officers signed a manifesto in support of the delegate who headed the inquiry launched to investigate presidential interference in the PF. In the end, however, the official was removed and concluded there was "no consistent evidence" of intervention.

In different situations, the fight had better results. When the persecution of public servants and citizens engaged in the defense of human rights, “recorded” by the Ministry of Justice as “anti-fascists”, in August 2020, protests by civil organizations, congressional nuclei and requests for explanation by the STF, widely disseminated by the press, forced to paralyze the prosecution mechanism. In the trench warfare, verified from 2019 to 2021, two investigations about Bolsonaro still survived in the PF when this text was concluded (May 2022): one that investigated his participation in the digital militias, unified by Moraes with that of the attacks on the Superior Court Electoral Court (TSE), and what deals with a alive, October 2021, in which the representative associated the Covid vaccine with AIDS.

On the other hand, the advance on the PF was just one of many initiatives to expand presidential powers. The appointment of Augusto Aras, chosen in 2019 and reappointed in 2021, as Attorney General of the Republic, who, incidentally, must determine that the PF investigate the complaints that reach the STF, followed a similar pattern. Bolsonaro, when appointing Aras, unlike post-1988 Constitution presidents, disregarded the triple list presented by the category, which aimed to guarantee the independence of the function. The PGR, with Aras, excelled in not performing or delaying acts in such a way as to “favor the person of the President of the Republic”.

Aras, however, sought to do so without breaking with “the STF, politicians and public opinion”. That is, he did it relatively subtly. In support of the thesis, Kerche cites the survey of the digital militias, in which the prosecutor was in favor of the investigation. Six months later, however, he asked for the searches to be suspended, meeting, albeit belatedly, Planalto's objectives. Despite the retreat, the case continued, being the most relevant of the inquiries against the president.

Without intending to list the set of initiatives to extend presidential power, which would require at least a book, we will also mention, by way of illustration, the pressure on the university community, whose critical thinking irritated Bolsonaro since the beginning of the government. We will also allude to the offensive against the press, which has been the gateway, according to international research, to the third wave of autocratization.

With Bolsonaro taking office, the University and public research became a systematic target of budget cuts. At the same time, there were lawsuits against teachers and weakening of the “channels of deliberation and negotiation”. By July 2021, breaking with the tradition followed since the late 1990s at the 69 federal universities, Bolsonaro had appointed twenty deans who had not been the most voted by the community. Some of those chosen went on to form an association of Bolsonarist rectors.

Freedom of expression and information, a fundamental civil right, was attacked through restrictions on the exercise of journalism. According to the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj), “assaults on journalists and press vehicles” rose 50% in 2019 and almost doubled between 2020 and 2021. directly by Bolsonaro – censorship and physical violence. For the Associação Brasileira de Rádio e Televisão (Abert), that year there was an episode of this type every three days.

At the same time, public resources were spent to misinform through social networks. It was the systematic use of the internet to lie, slander, threaten and provoke, in addition to interfering in the electoral process, that became the object of the inquiry of the digital militias, also known as the fake news, led by Minister Alexandre de Moraes, who even suspended the operation of Telegram in the national territory. There were also parliamentary actions: a Surveillance Bill on the use of networks was approved by the Senate in 2020 and, in March 2022, sought to open the way in the Chamber. The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) of the Pandemic, conducted by the Senate between April and October 2021, concluded that Bolsonaro commanded the “hate office”, a central digital militia that, as we will see below, used fascist communication techniques.

But according to law professor Frederico Franco Alvim, in a work carried out for the TSE, it was the offensive to mitigate “the reach of the supervisory bodies as a way of facilitating, in the future, the capture of political institutions” that mobilized the main energy of the “forces authoritarian vocation”. According to international precedents, “most of the time, the authoritarian needs to be re-elected at least once to manage to sink the democratic system”, says the political scientist Oliver Stuenkel. In several situations, “it was from the second [mandate] that authoritarianism took off the kid glove and showed its claws”. In a convergent direction, a study on Africa confirms that the new autocrats operate primarily by electoral majorities (appealing to fraud in case of defeat). The attempt, in turn, to “correct results” is a resource whose success depends on the charisma of the “strong man”, who needs to be competitive at the polls even in the case of circumventing the rules.


Excursus: the role of the military

In a text like this, it is necessary to include at least two words about the barracks, because if Jair Bolsonaro's performance in the elections is one of the legs of autocratization, military intervention is the second. Having chosen the Academia Militar de Agulhas Negras (Aman), where Army officers are prepared, to run for president in November 2014, Bolsonaro always intended to be the representative of the corporation. When, in April 2018, the STF had to decide whether or not former President Lula could run for that election, the then commander of the ground force, Eduardo Villas Bôas, tweeted that “the Brazilian Army” shared “the yearning of all good citizens of repudiation of impunity”. For a good connoisseur, it was a veto to the PT candidacy, leaving the way open to the former captain, who since mid-2017 supported Lula in the polls of voting intentions.

Later, in a memoir, Villas Bôas revealed that the demonstration had been approved by the High Command. A graduate of Aman in 1977, Bolsonaro became president when professors, friends and freshmen at the time reached the top of their careers. Once the colleague was elected, the “class” went to the center of events, with a deputy and several ministers on the Esplanade. Formed between 1969 and 1980, until recently known only within the walls, generals such as Hamilton Mourão, Fernando de Azevedo e Silva, Edson Pujol, Joaquim Silva e Luna, Octávio Rêgo Barros, Carlos Alberto Santos Cruz, Eduardo Pazzuello, Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira, in addition to the aforementioned Heleno, Villas Bôas, Braga Netto and Ramos became mandarins of the Republic.

The fact that the young Bolsonaro, considered “turbulent” to say the least, was expelled from the Army in 1988 was absorbed by post-2015 fame. Pujol, who completed Aman the same year as Bolsonaro, and was commander of the Army between January 2019 and March 2021, said that the class was proud of the former student, despite his “picturesque” character. The group was united, it seems, around the conviction that it was necessary to restore the role of the military regime (1964-1985) in the history of Brazil. In 2018, Deputy Mourão praised Colonel Brilhante Ustra, a recognized torturer, as Deputy Bolsonaro had done on the occasion of the impeachment by Dilma Rousseff. In 2019, Pujol said that it would be necessary to “thank” those who promoted 1964, as they prevented “a communist dictatorship from being implemented here in Brazil”. Braga Netto, on the anniversary of the coup, stated that it was a “historic milestone of Brazilian political evolution”.

Reserve Colonel Marcelo Pimentel, knowledgeable about the environment, defends the thesis that an aspiration for power also moved the high officials to approach Bolsonaro. Perhaps he is right, because despite the dissidence of Santos Cruz, Azevedo e Silva and Rêgo Barros, the largest contingent remained installed in the public machine, despite the autocratizing character of the government. In addition to doubling the number of civilian posts held by members of the Armed Forces, compared to the previous period, Bolsonaro ensured that the military were “the only public service career to have a guaranteed salary increase for 2020, while the freeze was the general rule.” for all other categories”, not to mention the specific benefits granted to generals who are part of the first echelon.

The “dissident” generals, in turn, such as Santos Cruz, former government secretary, criticize the “strictly personal power project” embraced by Bolsonaro and speak of “gross errors” in the management of his colleague, as did the former spokesman. voice Rego Barros. Upon being dismissed as Minister of Defense in February 2021, Azevedo e Silva stressed having preserved “the Armed Forces as State institutions”, the same point of view of the former spokesperson, according to which, “the institution reaffirms itself as an organ of state”.

According to political scientist João Roberto Martins Filho, the episode in March 2021 of replacement in Defense, in which Pujol was also removed from command, caused an upheaval in Bolsonaro’s military base. However, as far as can be seen, the substitute Defense Ministers and Army commander, Braga Netto and Nogueira de Oliveira, respectively, naturally followed the guidelines coming from the presidency. They exempted from punishment the active general Eduardo Pazuello, former Minister of Health, who participated in a Bolsonarist rally (which is prohibited by the force statute), in June 2021; in July, supported by the commanders of the Navy and Air Force, they issued a note against the CPI on the Pandemic; On the morning of August 10, 2021, the date of the decision on the vote printed in the Chamber, they authorized a military parade with tanks and armored cars in Praça dos Três Poderes, which Minister Barroso considered “an episode with intimidating intent”.

Perhaps there are, as some think, two currents within the Army: the one that prefers to keep the force independent of Bolsonarism, according to the aforementioned “dissidents”, and the one that closed with the president. According to journalist Merval Pereira, “the project of creating an environment that could lead to a popular uprising similar to the one that happened in the United States after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election is being carefully woven by President Bolsonaro and his supporters. more radical supporters” and “includes even high ranks of the Armed Forces, especially the Army”. For Martins Filho, the problem is knowing who will win the duel between the factions. Hence, the justified fear of what one analyst called the “Pakistanization of Brazil”.


Fascist marches on Brasília and São Paulo

On Thursday, April 15, 2021, the STF plenary annulled Lula's convictions in Lava Jato, enabling him to compete with Bolsonaro in 2022. crush the truth and build scapegoats strategy has been activated at full speed by the Cabinet of Hatred to prevent the return of Lulism to power. Bolsonaro denounced a conspiracy between ministers of the supreme that would have the objective of criminally replacing Lula in the presidency of the Republic. The center of the plot would be Luís Roberto Barroso, Edson Fachin and Alexandre de Moraes who, by directing the TSE from that moment until the October 2022 election, would be in charge of rigging the result in favor of the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate.

The Bolsonarist agitation and propaganda campaign that began in May, and which culminated in the demonstrations in Brasília and São Paulo on September 7, 2021, used resources that, according to the premises we adopted, have fascist characteristics.

As in the previous topics, several empirical elements could be listed, but, for textual economy, we will focus on this one.

The climb was summarized by a report on the website Power 360. The president began by stating, in April, that he would only recognize a possible Lula victory if there was an “audible vote”, that is, a printed one. Less than a month later, when the Chamber created a commission to study the matter, he threatened that, if the proposal was not approved, there would be no election. Then, he assured that the PT would only win if there was theft and that, in fact, the falsification of the results had already prevented the victory of Aécio Neves (PSDB) in 2014 and, of himself, in the first round of 2018.

Urged by the TSE to present evidence to substantiate such allegations, Bolsonaro starred in July 2021 in a long television program with what he called “evidence” of alleged adulterations. As a result, he was accused in the STF of a crime against the integrity of the electoral process. The PF delegate responsible for investigating the matter also concluded that Bolsonaro was guilty of disseminating confidential data, with a view to compromising the TSE's security protocols.

Despite evidence to the contrary, “trolling” on the networks, a type of communication that is half serious and half jocular, has incessantly multiplied Bolsonaro’s fantasy construction. In trolling, the alleged conspiracy was even scarier. According to Gajus et al., in the Bolsonarist circuits of social media it was shared that Lula was being “prepared by 'communist China' to be replaced in the presidency through a fraud that would transform Brazil into a Chinese colony, with the main objective to enslave the Brazilian people”. To the fake news they also realized that STF ministers and deputies were being blackmailed with money from China “in order not to approve the auditable vote”.

The philosopher Rodrigo Nunes explained that the alternative right, which Trump and Bolsonaro allied with, had discovered “the advantages of assuming the position of one of the central figures of contemporary culture: the troll". I'm trolling it's throwing bait to catch muggles that surf the internet unsuspectingly. The specificity of trolling is “to introduce 'polemical and 'controversial' ideas into the public debate in an ironic, humorous way or with a certain critical distance, always keeping in doubt about whether it is a joke or for real”.

As a result, the fascist disregard for truth and the equally fascist construction of scapegoats appear in trolling as if they were part of a game.. Post-truth, which corresponds to disregarding facts in favor of versions, is protected in the troll, because, at any time, the author will say that it was just a joke. Pro-memory: the buffoonery invented by Mussolini also made it difficult to assess whether the threats were serious or pure cannatricity, which confused opponents, demoralized politics and advanced, little by little, authoritarianism.

Post-truth is nourished by the absence of absolute objectivity. There is always uncertainty as to what happens. However, approximations to the truth are viable, that is, there are degrees of objectivity possible, as learned by journalists committed to the ethics of the field in which they operate. This is why would-be autocrats wage particular war against the mainstream press, which deals with standards of objectivity control.

Fascist technique operates by creating a parallel reality, with which there is no chance of dialogue. The QAnon craze in the US illustrates the extent to which a “delusional system” can reach (Adorno, 2020). The public who followed the absurd messages of the enigmatic “being” who transmitted cryptic instructions through social media, ended up pushing about 25 thousand people to Washington, when Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 6, 2021. The attack on the Capitol, with five dead, was the end of the delirium.

In Brazil, the propaganda that spoke of a “system”, bringing together the STF and China, to organize the return of Lula underground, had the same fascist bias and was able to sensitize a considerable mass on September 7, 2021. Medeiros (2021), who systematically followed protests on Avenida Paulista, Bolsonaro’s was the first in which “we were unable to get through the middle of the demonstration”, since the giant meetings in March 2015 and 2016 for the impeachment of Dilma, which gathered, respectively, about 200 and 500 thousand people.

In passing, it is worth pointing out that the class base of the March on Rome (1922) by Tupiniquim also recalled that of historical fascism. When analyzing Nazism, Trotsky saw that fear made the neighborhood trader madly believe in a plot by big business, Jewish finance, parliamentary democracy, social democratic governments, communism and Marxism to ruin him. Adorno, in turn, found that capitalism had taken this “fear of the consequences of general developments in society” to the most diverse corners. While local producers feared bankruptcy caused by competition from macro-companies, workers feared technological unemployment.

In the late 1980s, philosopher Robert Kurz detected "openly reactionary tendencies" in the "old industrial working class". According to Kurz, although the “waves of right-wing radicalism” followed “the pace of economic recessions”, since the end of the 1960s, the narrowing of the labor market, now determined by the arrival of microelectronics, gave rise to an “exclusionary hatred racist” among young workers.

Fear, in turn, legitimizes resentment against the establishment, which, by propagating an egalitarian morality, would provide ideological protection to populations made vulnerable by capitalism. Anger then turns against those who, supposedly protected, defend the rights of needy populations, which would threaten the privileges, disguised as rights, of established citizens in the middle classes. Bearing in mind that, in different formations, workers became part of the intermediate sector of society. Not by chance, Moraes, a man from the establishment, was converted into the scapegoat of September 7, 2021.

In the Bolsonarist march on São Paulo, available data indicated a very low presence of poor voters. However, there was a wide diversity of intermediate ranges. Referring to 2018, political scientist Armando Boito noted that “the movement of the upper middle class” had been “thickened” by the adherence “of Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches to Bolsonaro’s neo-fascist candidacy”, which opened the door to lesser segments. acquitted. In 2021, the electorate then obtained was still partially sensitive to the Bolsonarist appeal.

Moraes was chosen as scapegoat, since, at the head of the inquiry into the digital militias, he had ordered the arrest of deputy Daniel Silveira (PTBRJ) and former deputy Roberto Jefferson, national president of the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB).

When, in February 2021, Villas Bôas revealed that his 2018 twitter against Lula had been written with the High Command, Fachin retroactively protested, stating that it was “intolerable and unacceptable any form or form of injurious pressure on the Judiciary” . Silveira then made a video in which, in addition to physically threatening members of the STF and defending the intervention of the FFAA in court, he referred to Fachin in the following terms: “Today you feel offended […], come on, arrest Villas Good. Be a man once in your life”. In mid-August, Roberto Jefferson posted a video in which he appeared armed, asking the FFAA to support the intervention in the STF. Arrested on the eve of the marches, Jefferson and Silveira were used as "proof" of the "system's" authoritarianism, completely reversing reality, as it was Bolsonarist agitation that resorted to coercion.

Some elements collected in the news prove it. A colonel who commanded seven battalions of the Military Police (PM) in the interior of São Paulo, published a call to action on Facebook, stating that it was necessary, in order to “overthrow the leftist hegemony in Brazil”, to use “tank, not […] an ice cream cart ”. A PM major from Goiás, also on active duty, surrounded by policemen with long guns, proclaimed in the Record TV, linked to the Universal Church, the Bolsonarist motto: “Brazil above all and God above all”. Another São Paulo PM colonel, this one from the reserve, called for facing the “slow” entry of communism in the country. A third colonel, a reservist of the Ceará firefighters, called for the organization of groups to invade the STF and Congress.

In addition, the provision of weapons and ammunition to shooters, hunters and collectors, which was aimed at resistance in favor of “freedom”, as the president made clear at the ministerial meeting on April 22, 2020, had resulted. Through what specialists call “authoritarian infralegalism”, the government had, in practice, increased the circulation of weapons through “15 presidential decrees, 19 ordinances and 2 resolutions that make the rules more flexible”. According to the Brazilian Public Security Forum (2021), gun registration jumped from 637 in 2017 to 1,2 million in 2020.

If armed civilian groups, such as those that terrorized the Legislature of Michigan, in the USA, during the pandemic, did not appear on September 7, despite Bolsonarists having broken through the security blockade in the Federal District and invaded the Esplanada dos Ministérios the night before, perhaps it is due to an assessment of the situation. As the philosopher Marcos Nobre noted, the objective was only to prepare the “invasion of the Capitol”, not to invade.

In short, while the autocratic project took steps to overthrow democracy from within the institutions, the fascist technique mobilized the mass to intimidate them from the outside. The pretext was to take revenge for a supposed oppression of the “system”, seeking to isolate its “commander”, Alexandre de Moraes. On the platform on Avenida Paulista, Bolsonaro called Moraes a “scoundrel” and stated that he would no longer respect his determinations. Forty-eight hours later, he called Moraes and issued a note to the contrary, saying he had spoken in the “heat of the moment”.

It is known that fascist leaders project an image that is both weak and strong: “a mixture of suburban barbers and King Kong”. They appear as victims before the “system” to, the next moment, emerge strong, capable of facing the same system. The identification of the oppressed is produced, which becomes, projectively, the oppressor.

One may rightly ask whether Bolsonaro's use of fascist tactics and strategy does not herald the installation of a fascist regime in the event of his triumph. Given the available elements – in which the current government did not organize a party, did not pursue an imperialist project or build means to control social relations through party or state channels – we believe it is more prudent to speak of “autocratism with a fascist bias”. With this, the really existing fascist component is indicated, without advancing on other aspects of the autocratizing regime that threatens us, whose contours are not clear.

* André Singer He is a professor at the Department of Political Science at USP. Author, among other books, of The meanings of Lulism (Company of Letters).

Originally published in the magazine New Moon, No. 116.


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  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • The melancholic end of Estadãoabandoned cars 17/06/2024 By JULIAN RODRIGUES: Bad news: the almost sesquicentennial daily newspaper in São Paulo (and the best Brazilian newspaper) is rapidly declining