Will pass

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By VALERIO ARCARY*

The current situation expresses a partial and temporary outcome of an inconclusive political struggle

Marx once commented that history could be stupidly slow. It is good to remember that the military dictatorship had a lot of popular support in the early 1970s, but then more than five million people took to the streets in Diretas Já in 1984; that the Sarney government was ultra-popular at the height of Plano Cruzado, but then millions joined the general strike in 1989, and Lula reached the second round; that the Collor government was super-popular while inflation didn't soar in 1991, but then again, a few million took to the streets to overthrow him; that the FHC government was mega popular in 1994, and was re-elected in the first round in 1998, but then in 1999 the Fora FHC campaign mobilized hundreds of thousands, and paved the way for Lula's election in 2002.

In fact, the current situation expresses a partial and temporary outcome of an inconclusive political struggle. It will pass, we just don't know when. Even after five months of the pandemic, in a context of humanitarian tragedy, and an unusually higher unemployment rate, probably at 20% , rejection of the Bolsonaro government has diminished.

The left is even more influential among contract workers, private sector CLTs, civil servants and youth, and opposition to Bolsonaro is majority among women and blacks, but popular confidence in the strength of the mobilizations remains low. We have been in a reactionary situation for five years, and the oscillation in the last month's conjuncture has been unfavorable.

We are all, to a greater or lesser degree, a little perplexed. Research in recent weeks confirms that the resilience of Bolsonarism has proved to be powerful. The influence of the neo-fascist current is the majority among businessmen, if we consider the Brazilian bourgeoisie as a whole, even if there are divisions; it still retains a majority in the middle layers, although it suffers from wear and tear; and it advances among informal workers, those who do not have an employment contract.

The paradox is that the experience with the far-right government, although developing, is slow. This slowness should not be exaggerated, but it is real. A good moment to remember Spinoza's maxim: “neither laughing nor crying, understand”. It's not a mystery. The objective and subjective factors that explain these fluctuations are varied and well known: impact of the R$ 200 billion injection of emergency aid, increased consumption, fatalistic adaptation to the long duration of the pandemic, partial reactivation of economic activity, isolation of the left from the space of networks, etc.

We want guilty. But understanding the reality that surrounds us requires thinking at different levels of abstraction. The blame for the XNUMX deaths is, of course, Bolsonaro's, because it was possible to prevent the calamity from turning into a cataclysm. But whose fault is it if, in the midst of a catastrophe, rejection of the government has diminished?

There are three simple, clear, obvious, evident and wrong answers. All are partial and therefore half-truths. Half truths are half lies. The first is that there are no culprits: Bolsonaro maintains positions because he won the public debate and we lost. It's a circular argument: we lost because the neo-fascists won. Yes, there is a grain of truth. But why do we lose?

The second answer is that it is the fault of the poor people who do not understand, and absolves the government from responsibility. It is an unfair and dangerous argument. The masses are not politically innocent, because nobody is. But blaming the masses for their fate is a reactionary and cruel argument. It is reactionary, because the blame for Bolsonaro's preservation lies with the bourgeoisie and the middle class that support him. It is cruel, because the broad masses are consumed in an atrocious struggle for survival.

Strictly speaking, we shouldn't be surprised. It's nothing exceptional. On the contrary, this is one of the most frequent historical regularities, and that is why history has such a high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. Workers, like all ascending social classes in the historical past, went through the cruel school of political-practical learning to build an experience and an awareness of where their class interests were located.

As if it were not common for the popular classes to act against their interests. Not only do they do so, within certain limits, and for a certain period of time, until the events themselves demonstrate, by the living force of their consequences, who is being benefited and who is being harmed, but they do it recurrently.

From this perspective, the responsibilities of leading organizations and their actions would be politically of little relevance. This is false. The responsibilities of social subjects cannot absolve the responsibilities of political subjects. In contemporary societies, we witness, in an uninterrupted way, a gap between the objective needs of the classes, and the degree of consciousness, that is, the state of mind, the mood, the spirit that the working class has about its interests.

In moments of sudden changes in the course of political situations, as in the pandemic, the phenomenon occurs with more intensity. This gap is more accentuated among workers than among the dominant classes, for the well-known reason that workers always have to overcome an enormous amount of material, cultural, political and ideological obstacles to assert themselves and constitute themselves as an independent class.

The third answer is that the leadership of the leftist parties is to blame for embracing the Fora Bolsonaro campaign, but not managing to weaken the government more quickly. Workers-based leftist parties are, historically, an instrument of organization and resistance, they are or should be a point of support for the class to defend itself: that would be their usefulness, and if they fail in this elementary purpose, they tend to lose authority, audience and respect.

There is an intransferable moral and political responsibility, in a sphere different from the responsibilities of the masses, which is proper to political organizations and their leaderships. In the case of leftist parties, this responsibility seems to be, historically, even greater, given the enormous difficulty for a class that is at the same time materially exploited, culturally oppressed and politically dominated to build its independence. But, if it is true that a part of the left hesitated to raise the tone, and it was difficult, for at least two months, to build a United Left Front for Outside Bolsonaro, it is not fair to conclude that this recovery of the government rests on its shoulders.

As always, in an evaluation from a historical perspective, it is necessary to consider where we came from, in order to have parameters for where we are going. We came from the stalemate of the 2013 mobilizations; the turn of the PT government with the appointment of Joaquim Levy and the fiscal adjustment in 2015; of division and demoralization among workers with mass unemployment; from middle-class dislocations to furious opposition fueled by the anti-corruption narrative; the triumph of the parliamentary coup; the PT's inability to lead the campaign for Fora Temer; Lula's conviction and imprisonment; and the electoral victory of a neo-fascist leadership in 2018.

Democracy is not a political regime of struggle between equals: the property-owning classes struggle to exercise and preserve dominion and control over material life, and also over the cultural and political life of workers, in conditions of superiority that are incomparable. The bourgeoisie, in other words, fights for hegemony over society as a whole, under the banner of its values ​​and interests, which are always presented as the interests of all: it does not only aspire to dominate, it wants to lead. But everything has historical limits. Will pass.

*Valério Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).

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