quinta-feira, 1 de novembro de 2018

Is Brazil's Bolsonaro a Pinochet or a populist?

 George Galloway

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He
presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a
renowned orator.

The victory of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Latin America's most
populous country and co-founder of the BRICS bloc, has understandably caused
much fluttering in the dovecotes of leftists and liberals around the globe.

But what the Bolsonaro victory shows is not so much the strength of far-right
ideas as the weakness of the left.
First, though, a word about fascism.
It has become in vogue for left wing people to brand everyone to the right of
them 'a fascist'. This is not just wrong it is entirely self-defeating. As the
famous 'Boy who cried Wolf' found out, it can end up with one being eaten when
folks conclude that if everybody is a fascist then, for practical purposes,
nobody is.
Ontology is important.
Some fools describe Theresa May as a fascist, and think Britain lives under a
fascist government. Others (with a little more justification) think Donald Trump
is a fascist. Neither are of course – both could, may well be brought down by
the existing institutions of the Bourgeois state even before they are forced to
go to the universal adult suffrage of scheduled elections.

Neither, yet at any rate, is the new president of Brazil a fascist. Having
hateful opinions about gays – he'd rather his son was dead than gay, or vile
views on women does not make him a fascist. Actually it makes him, like Trump, a
vulgar knuckle dragging reactionary. It does not make Brazil 2018 a replica of
Chile in 1973. Bolsonaro is not Pinochet. Not yet.
The president-elect IS a nostalgist for the former, actual, fascist military
rule in Brazil in which mass murder, torture, ethnic cleansing, environmental
disaster and white-supremacy were the rules. But that doesn't mean he will, or
can return to dictatorship even if he'd like to.
Moreover a substantial number of poor, black and minority ethnic voters cast
their ballots for him and against the Workers Party (PT) which on paper defended
As Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool football manager, once said "football
isn't played on paper, it's played on grass."
On grass, the record of the PT was found wanting by the nation's poorest and a
section of the working class, thus the defeat.
And as fear of the right grew, Fernando Haddad, the PT candidate shifted – to
the right!
Fear of crime – the kind of crime that's in voters faces, climbing through their
windows as opposed to white-collar grand larceny – was a major driver. A
left-wing movement, especially when it holds state power, which cannot protect
its people from such crime, as the Bolsheviks did, as the Cuban revolution did,
as the Irish Republicans did, will not retain support for long no matter how red
their flags.
A left-wing movement which accepts neo-liberal orthodoxies of austerity and
which fails to dramatically redistribute wealth to the masses, and in a country
like Brazil which does not mobilize, even militarize, the advanced sections of
the workers in defense of an actual (as opposed to a rhetorical) transformation
will be overthrown. And they have been.
More than 30 years ago I lent the then impoverished Brazilian trade union leader
Lula the grand sum of $200. It was a fine investment. As the heroic leader of
what became the PT government of Brazil Lula had the right stuff. Despite
disadvantageous changes to the international balance of forces he became the
undefeatable leader of a working class, ethnic minority, lower middle class
coalition. Which is why they came for him on trumped-up corruption charges –
rather than politics – without the slightest basis in truth.
That was the moment when the movement if it had been armed with the wherewithal
should have made its stand. Instead a long dance to defeat took place, accepting
the legitimacy of fascist-era courts, bent policemen and an oligarchy
parliament, all of them the enemies of the workers and their party.
Ironically if this legitimacy had been contested it would, even if it had
failed, have ineluctably led to a boycott of last weekend's farce once the
candidacy of Lula had been judicially murdered by the courts. In those
circumstances Bolsonaro wouldn't have even been the candidate of the right, the
oligarchy wouldn't have needed such an ugly brute.
It may be that Bolsonaro will turn out to be "merely" a "business-friendly"
deforesting bigot of no great lasting historical moment. On the other hand, the
left in Brazil urgently need to start preparing themselves to fight him in the
case he turns out to be more Pinochet than Populist.

30 Oct, 2018.

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