About the Elections in Brazil: Did Fascism Fall on Us?

Guido Proaño Andrade

The worst thing has happened. Brazil chose Jair Bolsonaro (PSL [Social Liberal Party]) as its new president; Fernando Haddad (PT [Workers’ Party]) was ten points behind. There is concern about the implications that these results will have in that country and internationally.

In his first public presentation after his victory, Bolsonaro said he will respect the Constitution and head a democratic government. He has said this to curb the unease that his own contrary statements caused among the people. “We cannot continue to flirt with socialism, with communism, with populism and with leftist extremism,” he said, so that there is no doubt about his political position on the extreme right. A few days earlier he said he would “erase these red bandits from the map,” referring to his political opponents. He reaffirmed his neoliberal proposal to reduce the size of the central state and criticized the South-South politics of previous governments instead of the traditional alliance with the US and Europe.

When asked about his commitment to the rule of law, Bolsonaro gave an answer with connotations that go far beyond the meaning of words. He cited as an example the Duke of Caxias, leader of the Brazilian Army and head of the armed forces of that country in the Paraguayan War. “I am not Caxias, but I follow the example of that great Brazilian hero; we are going to pacify Brazil and under the Constitution and the laws we are going to build a great nation,” he said.

Luis Alves de Lima e Silva, the Duke of Caxias, was an officer of the Empire of Brazil, commander of the Army during the War of the Triple Alliance. His father was regent of the Empire of Brazil.

In 1831 he acted to repress the disorders that were produced by the abdication of Pedro I; in 1839 he commanded the imperial troops during the revolution known as balaiada, initiated by the ruin that the cotton crisis caused among the population. In 1842 he crushed two new uprisings against slavery in Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo. In 1851, as commander of the Army of the South, he invaded Uruguay.

During the Paraguayan War, as commander of the occupation forces, he sent a report to Pedro II in which he stated: “How long, how many men, how many lives and how many elements and resources will we need to end the war. To turn the Paraguayan population into smoke and dust, to kill the fetus in the womb of the mother.”

That is the example that Bolsonaro says inspires him and allows us to understand how far he could advance in his project, which does not mean that he will necessarily be able to do so.

The most reactionary right is returning to power in Brazil. It took advantage of a political scenario from which it is impossible to exclude the responsibility of the PT for what it did wrong, for what it said it would do but never did, and for what it said it never would do but did. The perspective of a radical economic-social transformation that, in general terms, the PT offered to the workers and peoples of Brazil since its emergence as a political organization and during its first administrations was fading. The people have given an answer to what they lived through in recent years; the gradual but constant abandonment by PT voters happened because of frustration and disenchantment, as we said in a previous article about these electoral results. This is a vote of punishment of the PT, a vote that shows the rejection of the main political forces of that country, but there is also a sector of the population that has voted in favour of the programme of the right, those who think that an aggressive neoliberal policy will resolve the country’s serious problems and praise the anti-communist discourse of the president-elect.

There is a strengthening of the right-wing positions in the world. The electoral results of recent years in Europe show the growth of the most conservative and even fascist parties in some countries. The main thing in their discourse is the fight against immigrants, the threats of terrorism and the lack of employment; through that, they gain followers among the poor people. Gabor Vona, leader of a far-right movement in Hungary that has been gaining ground, said that as soon as possible he will eliminate universal suffrage, although that is not the general policy of all those movements.

Donald Trump won the White House with a reactionary discourse and during his term in office we can see fascistic positions. Bolsonaro praised the US president, as did Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and President [of the National Council] of Austria until a year ago, who cited him as one of his sources of inspiration. Despite this and other examples, we cannot state that fascism has fallen on us, which does not mean that this cannot happen.

Practically everywhere, the rhetoric of the far right uses and legitimizes backward, racist, xenophobic, hateful criteria and discourse, etc. that are already in the minds of the people. They appeal to fear and anger.

Bolsonaro exploited popular dissatisfaction to the point of anger; He convinced people that the established moral values and beliefs (family, religion) were about to die out.

Fear and anger provoke changes in the behaviour of people, their manipulation is meant to dominate their will and undermine the ability of individuals to make decisions for their freedom. They are commonly used by groups in power as instruments of control, domination and mobilization. “Many have a price and others are afraid,” said Joseph Goebbels.

Polarization and dispersion

What will happen in Brazil does not depend only on the will and desires of Bolsonaro and the group that surrounds and supports him; there is a social and political scenario that must be taken into account.

Due to the way the campaign developed, emphasis has been placed on the existing polarization, but little attention has been given to the fragmentation of forces that also exists.

Thirty parties will be represented in the Congress. The Social Liberal Party of the new president will occupy 52 seats, representing 10% of the 513 total, and has become the second bloc. The PT lost 19% of its seats, but still has 56 seats. The Brazilian Social Democracy Party [PSDB] of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso fell from 54 to 29 legislators and the Brazilian Democratic Movement [MDB], of the current president Michel Temer, fell from 65 to 34. The Socialism and Freedom Party of Councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was recently assassinated, increased its bloc by 100% and will have ten seats.

Together all the right-wing parties that have expressed their support for Bolsonaro in one way or another would have 301 deputies, that is 59% of the total.

The Senate will have the greatest fragmentation in its history, with 21 parties present; until now, there have been 15 political formations represented. The MDB is still the largest party of the minority with 12 senators, having lost 7 seats; the PSL won 4 seats; the PT is now the fifth minority party, falling from 13 senators to 6; the PSDB lost 2 seats, leaving it with 9. Three out of every four senators who ran for re-election did not win.

This fragmentation is a major problem for the new government, because it will be forced to negotiate with various parties and movements in order to implement its proposals; this means concessions, blackmail, deferment of proposals etc. In other words, the ultra-reactionary right does not have hegemony in Congress and that limits what it can do. It is not good for some of these parties to show that they are surrendering to a president who shows off his right-wing extremism and, from that point of view, we cannot lose sight of the fact that over time actions of the bourgeois opposition will emerge

And there will be popular resistance and opposition. The people will not sit idly by when the new government begins, for example, to apply its neoliberal program, to privatize and affect the social security system, when it carries out its labor policies that will make work precarious and limit or do away with the rights of the workers, or when they begin the process of privatization of companies and mass layoffs. The Brazilian workers, the peasantry, the youth have a great tradition of struggle, they will know how to resist and win.

Let us not assume that a shadow of darkness has already fallen over the Brazilian people; this is what the ultra-reactionary and pro-fascist sectors want, but they do not have a clear path. What we can foresee is that there will be a period of sharpening of political and social confrontation, of the unity of the popular, democratic and left forces. International solidarity will encourage the people’s struggle.

Source: http://kaosenlared.net/nos-cayo-el-fascismo-encima/

Translated from the Spanish by George Gruenthal

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