a hostage democracy

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By OSVALDO COGGIOLA*

The fascist essay opened up that we have not a political crisis, but an institutional crisis, of the State

In recent days, Brazil has experienced an attempted coup d'état, aimed at changing its political regime. That the attempt was not successful does not mean that it did not exist, and even less that it does not continue. The blockade or interdiction, at more than 600 points, of roads across the country, carried out in less than 24 hours, was far from being a spontaneous reaction or an improvised movement. Quite the contrary, few times has such organization been seen in a supposedly “civil” movement. The trucks that carried out the blockades, for the most part, belonged to large transport companies. The movement was not the work of self-employed workers, transport workers or anything like that. All the truck drivers' class entities rejected the “truck drivers” blockades.

The logistics and coordination of movements revealed a very well organized and, above all, well financed apparatus. The supply of blocking points by businessmen was reported on TV. The participation of “radicalized” Bolsonaristas was made possible through these means. They were not “political” or “popular demonstrations”, but intimidation actions perfectly directed and with clear objectives: obstructing the movement of people, damaging the supply of essential goods, cowardly attacking health and education centers, including fundamental education (“aggression happened when the bus carrying the students passed in front of the 12th Campaign Artillery Group, where an anti-democratic act was taking place in favor of President Jair Bolsonaro”, reported a São Paulo school) and medicine manufacturing, in sum, attacking and sowing the fear in Brazilian society as a whole, especially its popular classes.

The same can be said of the second step of the movement, the enclosure of barracks, on All Souls' Day in the most diverse states, claiming an immediate federal military intervention, the movement's only demand or agenda. For those who doubted (or denied) the existence of fascism in Brazil, because uniformed militias similar to the Hitlerian SA or the sqadristi of Mussolini, here is overwhelming proof to the contrary, uniforms (obviously tropical) included. It is not, however, a “Brazilian-style fascism”, green-yellow, cordial and samba. In the execution of the National Anthem in Santa Catarina, the “protesters” (?) reacted with the salute of the German Nazism, the arm raised forward. Not realizing, and even less concerned about, the incongruity of mixing a national symbol with that of a country and a movement that were fought by Brazil in a world war, in the name of freedom.

There was even an “academic” touch: the Bolsonarist rector-intervener of the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys filed a document with the commander of the 3rd Battalion of the Military Police of Minas Gerais asking for support to block the roads. In the midst of this flood, both the two-minute speech of the President in office (in solidarity with the blockades and criminal actions), as well as the manifestation of his vice-elect senator, is “interpreted”, if the word fits, as evidence of the their democratic alignment, made it clear that this was just a first act.

Hamilton Mourão described the blockade movement as “orderly” (when it provoked a wave of shortages and aggression), as a vehicle for “just indignation” by “good people” (against their “evil” enemies, an allegory full of consequences implied), and ruled out an immediate military coup because, today, it "would leave us in a difficult position with the international community". Tomorrow who knows.

The mood of communities, including international ones, tends to change. For the time being, it would be up to him to limit himself to “blocking leftist agendas” in parliament, preparing for the future. Nor is it worth remembering that the rise of historic fascism and Nazism was paved by a good few years of “parliamentary work”, after which, of course, the parliament (and the trade unions and political parties) closed down.

The fascist essay opened wide, there is not a political crisis, but an institutional crisis, of the State. State powers, such as the Federal Highway Police, to cite the most obvious case, openly acted contrary to the orders, attributions and fields of action of other powers, or simply against the grain of their primary functions, blocking buses of Northeastern voters on the 30th of October or condoning federal roadblocks on succeeding days.

Not to mention the parallel vote count of the Armed Forces – whose one-month deadline was informed to Bolsonaro during the 45 hours he was silent – ​​in competition and declared opposition to the Superior Electoral Court. In the speech of Jair Bolsonaro, as Eugênio Bucci noted, the self-declared “leader of the right” announced “that he will fulfill 'all the commandments' of the Constitution. Could he be referring to Article 142, which provides for the use of the Armed Forces to guarantee law and order? Everything points to yes. The strategy is to mobilize the fanatics, creating chaos in the country, so that the Presidency of the Republic can enact some form of rupture. If it's not the coup, it's the rehearsal for the future coup”.

The political basis for the continuity of the coup movement is in place. On October 2, Lula won by six percentage points, but did not win in the first round, as his propaganda insisted (hence an electoral percentage close to 50% was seen… as a defeat). The victory of the Lula-Alckmin ticket in the second round was achieved with a smaller percentage difference, with Bolsonarism gaining a much larger number of new votes (the outpouring of public money was obviously not unrelated to this). Lula's lead of six million votes fell to two million.

In addition, in the first round, the Liberal Party (PL) of Jair Bolsonaro won the largest bench in Congress, in 2023 it will have 99 seats in the Chamber, while the alliance led by the PT will have 80 deputies. The election of state governments showed a similar balance of forces, with a Bolsonaro ally conquering São Paulo. In Congress, once again the key will be negotiation (physiological and political) with Centrão, which will have 246 deputies (48% of the total). Left, center-left and distant relatives will have a bench of around 135 to 145 parliamentarians, if we count PSOL, PT, PC do B, PSB, PDT, REDE and parliamentarians who “transit”.

As for the “shock troops” of Bolsonarist direct action, Igor Mello, present at the street movements of the coup, reported that “these people were completely captured by the Bolsonarists’ closed communication system. Articulate messaging apps, YouTube and etc. You cannot read the newspaper or watch TV… This network not only sells itself as enough for the public to be 'well informed', but also demonizes any information that comes from outside – the press, influencers not aligned. All. We see in groups that any independent thought is repressed, often even expelled.

It's typical cult behavior: participants form a pact of silence and are compelled to shut themselves off from the world. At the same time, it is clearly an articulated, centrally commanded movement. Otherwise, the messages would not be as consistent with each other. The summons messages had very direct instructions: no mention of Bolsonaro, just calling the coup a 'federal intervention', not expressing openly coup agendas”. It was, therefore, a preparatory movement.

Preparing for a movement that has firm and clear foundations. According to Jean Marc von der Weid, “700 of them are armed and organized in shooting clubs. It had a strong following among military police officers in all states, those who roared 'skull' every time the madman visited their barracks. It had the support of the PRF and part of the PF. It had the support of commanders of the navy and air force, including explicit and irregular demonstrations on social networks. It had the support of troop commanders, brigade generals, colonels, captains and lieutenants, many manifesting themselves on social networks, following the example of their superiors”. All this, however, is less solid than it seems: it is not enough to have weapons, it is necessary to have a policy to use them.

The Bolsonarist political front appeared divided and broken in the face of events. He faltered, in his own head, at the roadblocks, with Bolsonaro remaining silent until the legal limit of 48 hours to pronounce on the election results. The Armed Forces, directly questioned by the coup appeal, remained silent (however, it is already known that “whoever is silent, concedes”) and their internal situation is far from clear. CNN reported that Bolsonaro consulted the military about the possibility of judicializing the elections on the grounds that the president-elect could be considered ineligible due to the convictions in Lava Jato: “Members of the Armed Forces, however, did not support the president to continue in this onslaught. Military sources heard by CNN said that the suggestion even received the endorsement of one of the Forces and denied by another, in addition to the Army, the balance sheet that did not endorse the president's attempt ".

To make things worse, the neo-Paulista Tarcísio, Damares, Carla Zambelli, Arthur Lira, Romeu Zema, former ministers, the vice president, recognized the defeat of “their” candidate in the presidential elections. Edir Macedo, main arm of Bolsonarist evangelism in the last four years, recognized Lula's victory, qualifying it as "God's design" (Silas Malafaia was also part of the divine choir). In these conditions of political crisis, a direct popular intervention against the coup d'état was perfectly possible, there were initiatives by some groups, actions by the population neighboring the blockades to unblock the highways, expelling the bolsominions; the most important or spectacular was reported in a very expressive way by the Globe (G1): “After the arrival of Corinthians, Bolsonaristas flee and clear a stretch of Marginal Tietê”. We underline the word “flee”: one of the terrified Bolsonarist escapees forgot his motorbike, with the ignition key in its proper place (the motorbike was not stolen…). The Corinthian fans not only lifted the blockade on the Marginal, they also ripped the coup banners off the bridge. One of its leaders claimed, for the Folha de S. Paul, the political character of the action.

In the most important union-popular pronouncement during the coup blockades, the “Manifesto in defense of Democracy and against attempts at a Coup” lacked the signature of the union centrals, which remained silent during the events (but the signature, among others, of the MST was registered ). The Manifesto defended “Democracy, which was built with great difficulty and with the blood and sweat of Brazilian men and women who did not remain inert in the face of authoritarianism. Democracy won and must be embraced by all, who wins and who loses, the next day what matters is Brazil's greatest interest, its union in one country, the majority's decision creates the moment”. Without a call to class mobilization against the coup, since it was the immense majority of the working class, urban and rural, that gave victory to the ticket headed by Lula, the call to “union Brazil” can, and will, reveal itself. a pitiful and demobilizing illusion.

In the absence of an organized popular intervention, the Judiciary took the credit for dismantling the blockades and interdictions, in particular Judge Alexandre de Moraes, just as, there is a good gloss, Judge Sérgio Moro became a national anti-corruption champion, completing the coup 2016, started with a request for the impeachment of two jurists. We live in a “judicialized democracy”, protected by the only power of the State not subject to popular scrutiny. The lifting of the “hundred-year secrecy” and the predictable prosecution of Jair Bolsonaro, already outside the “privileged forum”, in the common court, where six processes (just to start), for serious crimes against the Brazilian population, await him, will probably reinforce this condition.

Will it be negotiated, in the “transition” commanded (not only) by Geraldo Alckmin, the dismantling of the “militarized democracy” set up by Bolsonaro, with six thousand members of the Armed Forces occupying state functions? Will the use of government cash to finance the Bolsonarist electoral campaign be left in the shade, or “secrecy”,? Henrique Meirelles has already informed those elected that the fiscal hole that Bolsonarism leaves in next year's budget is R$ 400 billion, three times more than declared. Money was spent (criminally) on account of next year's income.

Leaving the state bankrupt is the basis for economic chaos and future coup, remake from that of 2016 or “civic-military”, worsened and fascist version of 1964. This measures the reactionary of the Estadão (3/11), commenting in an editorial on Lula's promise to keep the Brazil Aid at R$600 (in the Budget project it is set at R$405): “For this and other commitments, candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, elected, contributed to making next year's fiscal picture insecure”. That the poor pay the bill for the excesses of the fascist, anointed with open support from the business community in 2018, is the watchword.

Urgencies are serious. Brazil currently has 33,1 million people without food, 14 million more Brazilians in serious food insecurity, in 2022 alone. The administrative reform, which aims to make the State a subsidiary of the private system, with the destruction public service, the vote on PEC 32 in 2021 was barred, but the mayor, Arthur Lira, announced the return of its procedure. Temer's labor reform, which sent wages and job stability to the hole in the private sector, is still standing and in good health.

The “secret budget”, known as Bolsolão, withdrew tens of millions from the areas of Education, Health, Science and Technology, and other working class rights, to inject resources into a corruption scheme that, in the case of CODEVASF alone, already adds up to more than one billion reais. Will their “secret” be broken? The dock could turn the size of a cathedral ship.

Fraud in bids, diversion of funds, purchase of deputies, cuts in the budgets of universities and public schools are part of a policy articulated not only by Bolsonaro, but, above all, by the Centrão, with which Lula is now negotiating his “governability”, starting for the agreements to provide a parliamentary base with the PSD, União Brasil and MDB.

Faced with the serious national crisis, it is necessary that the working class, producer of the country's wealth, assert its political weight, preserving its class autonomy and providing itself with all the means of debate and political deliberation that are necessary, to forge a exit according to the interests of the nation and those who really work in it.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Marxist economic theory: an introduction (boitempo).

 

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