Brazil: Again The Alternative Is Between “Socialism Or Barbarism”
Above Photo: Victor Moriyama
Jair Bolsonaro, the extreme right wing candidate, ended up with 46%, almost winning victory in the first round. Fernando Haddad, of the Workers Party received 28.9%, a distant second. That looks like a very challenging gap to make up by the second vote on October 28th .
Immediately after the election, the third place finisher, Ciro Games, said he would not support Bolsonaro. He received 12.5% of the vote. Guilherme Boulos from the Socialism and Liberty Party also endorsed Haddad. He received .6% of the vote. Combining those three the races makes it 46% to 42% — seems a lot less daunting but will Games and Boulos votes go to Haddad? And, what about the others who include some business-friendly candidates.
The Guardian reports that Haddad must create a grand coalition of the center-left with a focus on preserving democracy. Commentators told the Guardian that Haddad “has a mountain almost as high as Brazil’s Pico da Neblina to climb if he is to scupper the right-wing populist’s dramatic political ascent.”
Polls before the first round vote showed Haddad defeating Bolsonaro in a head-to-head race in the second round. Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, describes how far-off the polls were before the first round vote. He also describes the tremendous risks to democracy and freedom as well as the risk of a return to military rule if Bolsonaro wins the election But, in the first round Bolsonaro showed he had wide support not limited to a ceiling which many thought could not break 30%. It is now evident he could win 51% or more in the second round, so alarm bells should be ringing in Brazil. The election is certainly not over, but it is going to be difficult to stop Bolsonaro.
The impact of Bolsonaro’s right wing government will not be limited to Brazil. He is already working to prevent Evo Morales of Bolivia from running for president for a fourth term. Telesur reports that he has expressed support for the right wing opposition in Bolivia with members of his party “calling for massive protests against Morales’ running for a presidential term.” KZ
The most feared, but foreseeable at the same time, has already happened. Jair Bolsonaro almost won the presidency of Brazil in the first round and thanks to the consequent vote of the poor people of the Northeast, he has to go to a second round. I emphasize the word “consequent” since there were an abundance of peripheral neighborhoods in the great cities and towns of different States, that in this so called “democracy”, supported the Latin American Hitler. These neighborhoods not only experience the most stranded and plundered of the people of Brazil but also an ample amount are from afro-descendant sectors.
There are multiple aspects and causes that have influenced the conformation of this scenario, which although it is not definitive (it cannot be definitive until the votes of the second round is counted on October 28) forces us to turn on all possible red warning lights.
In the first place, as is happening in other countries of the continent and the Third World, the main reason continues to be this sickly attachment to sustaining bourgeois “democracies” that only serve to ambush and push back any possibility of constructing a liberating alternative. These false options with which we do not eat, do not educate, do not cure and even less do we grow in a framework of a certain dignity for our peoples, are the fundamental restriction to “entertain” us in the best of cases and divide us from the left, in order to domesticate us by the right.
How many more times are we going to test the formula imposed on us by this system that slowly resembles the oppressive dynasties of the Middle Ages? It is precisely in this framework that they emerge first as peripheral players and then they become institutionalized little by little, the most declaredly fascist exponents in the style of Jair Bolsonaro or Donald Trump. There are also the Macri or the Piñera who are not left behind in the methods they apply, even if they try to disguise their closeness from being extreme right. They launch into speeches where they replace the word “change” with “order”, and thus very easily convince important sectors of the population who believe that the problems of insecurity are solved with more police or by expelling immigrants. Many of them believe that in order to keep themselves pure and unpolluted it is necessary to hunt (first discursively, and then in deeds, as happened Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco) for sexual dissidences, Afro-Brazilian men and women, or anyone who does not comply with their practices with a clear patriarchal root. That is why popular feminism, which opposes them and denounces them in the streets, is also the target of their hatred.
Obviously, in order for this ideological poisoning operation to have greater significance, the majority of those who commune with authoritarian practices have been simmered in the preaching of the hegemonic media.
Thus, characters like Bolsonaro, who almost always when they burst in are underestimated by the left, don’t have hair on their tongue to express any kind of threatening proposals, and to be received with fanatical acceptance by their interlocutors. I emphasize, not all of Bolsonaro’s audience are white, upper-middle-class men.
In this way, the first link in the construction of fascism emerges in a social body that is sick and conveniently disillusioned by “politics”. In reality, it is no different from what happened in pre-Hitler Germany or pre-Mussolini Italy, and we already know how that history ended.
It is also necessary to understand that the Bolsonaro, Macri and other similar ones are pieces of a plan of continental recolonization promoted by U.S. imperialism, which no longer aspires to keep the “backyard” but exploit it for all the building and the wealth it contains.
The other great factor that makes these rapid ascents of the extreme right possible are the errors (or horrors) that were committed in the very field of the progressive left. In the special case of Brazil, it is obligatory to name the Workers’ Party, which governed for so many years and which, although it opened up a wide range of freedoms and imposed important social changes (many of them of a purely welfare nature), did not want to break the mold of capitalism, and gradually abandoned the original idea (with which Lula himself originally shook the metalworkers) of the option for socialism, remaining stuck only in “progressivism”. Here comes another substantial issue and it is a matter of understanding that this ideological matrix has very concrete limits and in order to arrive at and then sustain itself in a government, it generates alliances that then cost it its life, euphemistically speaking. It is not the same to aspire to a progressive practice as to have a strong aspiration to follow a revolutionary course. In this sense, it is no coincidence that the vast map of governments with popular characteristics that until recently remained standing on the continent, only Cuba (as always, an indispensable lighthouse), Bolivarian Venezuela and the plurinational Bolivia of Evo Morales remain erect.
The third factor to take into account in the difficult Brazilian situation is that beyond the effort and sacrifice assumed in the streets throughout the country by some of the most important social movements such as the Landless and the Homeless, both aligned on fronts that vindicate the popular and socialist left, the mobilization of the masses did not rise to the occasion in all these months, and especially since Lula’s unjust detention. This fact, the imprisonment of a popular leader and the former president who offered the most possibilities to the most humble, should have triggered an important social revolt, with hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. This did not happen, and in this aspect weighs again the mistaken idea that all problems are solved with “democracy” and the ballot boxes it offers as an instrument, when it is in the street struggle, where the people have historically achieved their highest conquests. This was well understood by the militants of the MST and their leaderships, when in addition to constantly mobilizing and even maintaining almost alone the camp in front of the prison where Lula was imprisoned, they launched a message for the future, pointing out that if the left represented by Haddad-Lula wins the elections, the government that would result from it should abandon any hint of “class conciliation” and undertake profound changes in a radical turn toward the left and socialism.
Now, let’s agree that the scenario that has been opened this past Sunday is of extreme gravity, and that what happens on October 28 will not only affect Brazil but the entire Latin American region. In this sense, knowing that luck will have to be played again in the enemy’s field, it is indispensable to find the mechanisms to make an enormous effort to stop the rise of fascism represented by Bolsonaro. On the one hand, the unity of all the left and the popular camp must be imposed, which, abandoning on this occasion the “politically correct” language and any hint of “goodism” that usually surrounds some sectors, express themselves and act radically. It is indispensable to generate confidence that if Fernando Haddad obtains the victory (which is not impossible at all) they will finally realize and fulfill all the demands that the popular movement has been demanding for years, and that go through agrarian reform, nationalization of foreign trade, ending the dictatorship of the “big media” and other demands of a revolutionary character. Because fascism is not defeated with speeches or moderate practices but with all the force imposed by the circumstances of being between life and death. This is important to take into account when making a campaign of just a few days where all the factual powers will have to be confronted, from the governmental-business and ecclesiastical apparatus (above all the evangelical Pentecostal) to the brainless barrage of the mass media.
The differentiated discourse between one candidate and another should not be simply an expression of language, but rather an attempt to convince that, as on other occasions in history, the alternative is “socialism or barbarism”. And that if the latter triumphs, those who will be harmed, as always, will be the humble and not a few sectors of the Brazilian middle class. The challenge is now posed, the slogan is as well-known as necessary: “They will not pass”.