market reserve

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Marcelo Phintener*

Bolsonarism, as a form of political action, proves to be “incapable of anything that is not hate”

“Nothing in politics is free” (Mauricio Tragtenberg)

Bolsonaro is a far-right politician prone to intimidating, threatening and violent measures as a way to solve political and economic problems. His way of governing, which is based on confrontation, has revealed, as João Bernardo says, the “irrationalism of this politician in the ideological field” and his “totalitarianism in the political field” (labyrinths of fascism).

The grammar of Bolsonarism, the basis for the narrative of its followers and supporters, especially those linked to virtual gangs, religious militias and bandit militias, is all built on the basis of intimidation, offence, verbal abuse, threats, insinuations, intolerance of what is different, the “acting that turns lies into truth”, the desire for punishment and the desire for the criminalization of social issues.

Bolsonarism wants to convert its supporters/supporters into agents that guarantee order, giving them the illusion of power and, what is worse, giving them legitimacy to frame their opponents through violence. This is your real mode of existence. It is a type of fascism that is circulating through the webs of social relations; by the workplaces, by the spaces where the class that lives off work is produced and reproduced; Bolsonarism “reveals itself incapable of anything that is not hate” as a way of doing politics (João Bernardo, labyrinths of fascism).

This fascism is even articulated with the mainstream media, but with a moderate guise, especially when Bolsonaro is tolerated, because they ignore the fact that this government has been aggravating social and economic barbarism. When not, the mainstream press is delighted when the government directs its aggressive obsession at social movements and the left, threatening to liquidate them; or when he threatens workers with the suppression of social rights, which would further degrade their standard of living.

This has inspired not only the sympathy, but also the confidence of certain economic sectors in the government of the truculent extreme right, which has led many of them to use the policy of intimidation to force their workers to vote for this candidate. Most are capitalists who need to transfer their economic and social resentments to the terrain of irrational anti-PTism, as a way to hide their technological lag, their archaism, their inability to innovate and, above all, their authoritarianism.

Bolsonarism is a type of “market reserve” of archaic and authoritarian capitalists, in the terms of historian João Bernardo; type of “capitalist incapable of exporting and importing capital”, because he is negligent with questions related to the sophistication of the productive structure. He is the practical expression of the boss of the worst jobs and the worst working environments; its rationale is the low cost of the workforce and low productivity.

It employs low-skilled workers and, therefore, does not consider, according to the aforementioned historian, “profitable as much as it does not feel pressured to invest in work safety measures”, because it does not matter if the worker dies. Here's the point: environmental degradation begins in the work environment, and workers, before fauna and flora, are the first to feel its effects. This is the clue to understanding the anti-ecological component of Bolsonarism.

At this moment of stagnant economy, due to the blocked productivity [1], any obstacle to capital accumulation ends up having to be removed to compensate for the profit that is not obtained through increased productivity. It should be remembered that on this occasion the capitalist classes do not usually act in a very democratic way in order to impose their interests. It is in this context that Bolsonaro must be understood – a way to take the austerity policy to the last consequences as a possibility to reinvigorate capitalism without making concessions to workers. It is the way out to take neoliberal MMA to the extreme.

Save yourself who can!

*Marcelo Phintener He is a Researcher at the Contemporary Political Philosophy Study Group at PUC-SP/CNPq.


BERNARDO, Joao Bernardo. Labyrinths of fascism: at the crossroads of order and revolt. Lisbon, Confrontation, 2018.


[1] Worker's standard of living deteriorating; 12,5 million unemployed (11,8% of the workforce); 93,8 million people employed, of which 43% work informally; 28,4 million underutilized workers; 4,7 million disheartened. (PNAD/Continues/IBGE, 3o quarter/2019).

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