What happened in Brazil and the history that explains it, from a practical materialist perspective (ie from the bottom up).
We will try to understand the current situation in Brazil from a practical materialist perspective: from the bottom up.
UNDER THE EMPIRE OF THE PHANTASMAGORIA?
At a superficial glance, we are under the omnipotent empire of irrational phantasmagorias. A flood of critical-critics attack them mercilessly as causes of the situation we are in. But in this way they take it for what they say of themselves, that is, that ideas, discourses and wills govern, determine and give form to matter (the praxis and the society) that they suppose amorphous.
No matter how much one attacks illusions, ghosts will certainly remain intact because they are not mere fruits of the mind or errors of the consciousness of proletarians. They are products of inhumane practical conditions that require the phantasmagorical illusion, "heart of a heartless world". It is these conditions that give substance to voluntary servitude - or more precisely: catexis, the libidinal charge invested - to bosses, military personnel, managers, policemen and politicians in fierce competition for exploit and sacrifice the proletarians on the altar of the sacred trinity of the economy, the nation and labor.
A CONDITION THAT NEEDS ILLUSIONS
This inhumane practical condition is no mystery: it is simply the fact that proletarians cannot find in their daily reality (the production of their conditions of existence) the strength of trust in each other, in the mutual communal potentiation of the needs and capacities of each one.
Only the community allows genuine individuality, which destroys the competition that forces them to submit to private property in all its forms: enterprise, employment, nation, identity, money, state, rank, ethnicity, family, merit, race, capital...
FORMATION OF CAPACITIES
We know from history that the subjective reliance of proletarians on their own autonomous capacity to act as a class and change the world is not formed from simple will, doctrines, organizations or ideas. Firstly, specific social circumstances trigger the development of concrete capacities. With the expansion of capacities, the hitherto dormant desire awakens and new needs develop. The expanded libido stimulates the imagination, and thus the thought of what they are capable of, the theory of the potency of their action. A collateral effect of the way capital disposes of them to operate the means of production in order to exploit them, it is an objective arrangement of forces that confirms the real power of subjective reliance on one another.
Only when capacities surpass a certain threshold does this become the autonomous protagonism of the proletarian class (the class struggle as such, in its full sense): when they are able to radically transform and generalize that arrangement of forces on which they initially relied to set themselves in motion (the very concrete conditions that capital initially imposed and which, collaterally, formed their common capacities). Their task is to change the nature of this arrangement by rapidly spreading their struggle against capital everywhere, through this material community without borders.
In this way, the proletariat, insofar as it tends to constitute itself as a world-historical class, carries the conscious project of affirming human desires, capacities and needs as ends in itself, imposing them against the dictatorship of capital (the power of the latter is constituted and reproduced by turning capacities and needs against themselves, depriving - private property - them of the means, the conditions of existence, the means of production). This is the genuine meaning of the word "communism": the self-abolition of the proletariat in the world human community.
However, if this expansion and generalization do not occur quickly to take over the entire world, the struggle is inexorably doomed to defeat. Unfortunately, this is what has happened so far.
To understand what is happening today, we will quickly need to go back a little bit to the past.
THE FEAR OF SOCIAL REVOLUTION AND THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
In history, this autonomous protagonism of the proletariat against the capital was never (and cannot be) part of the "normality" of capitalist society (if it were, it would have been abolished already in its beginning), but it was concretely affirmed on a world scale only in rare and exceptional moments (1848, 1871, 1917, 1968). These were revolutions that, by failing to generalize and establish from the beginning a new mode of production without borders (communism as such), were forced to negotiate some gains with the (old or new) rulling class in exchange for brutal repression (counter-revolutions).
Despite this rarity, the emergence of the proletariat as a world-historical class (i.e., communism) was a very evident potentiality in the concrete practical conditions of proletarians.
Faced with the constant fear of social revolution, the ruling class sought to build a permanent state of preventive counter-revolution: throughout the twentieth century, workers began to be treated as a specific legal category (labor rights), they were granted citizenship (right to vote, universal suffrage), systems of "social welfare" (social security, universal public health, unemployment insurance), right to strike (provided that the unions controlled it to negotiate with the bosses and to ensure its end)...
All this should be a "fair" compensation in exchange for the workers (now "responsible and productive patriotic citizens") being permanently willing to sacrifice themselves for "their" bosses in wars, in the frenzied competition for the productivity of companies and for the national development that would sustain this whole "social" structure. Thus, the aim was to ensure that the class struggle was continuously destroyed, channeling and transposing dissatisfaction into politics, in which various factions of capital, the left and right parties, compete for the management of the state and the accumulation of capital in the country, and for the administration of this great bureaucratic structure called "public policies" with which all this would be done.
THE ROLE OF THE LEFT HALF OF THIS SYSTEM
The left wing of capital - the unions and the various types of "workers' parties" (social democracy, "labor," "socialist" and "communist" parties 1 , etc.) - was (and still is) the cornerstone of this permanent preventive counter-revolution. The raison d'être of the left is to prevent and destroy the class struggle through continuous and capillary negotiation of its end, leaving the field free for repression, by leaving the proletarians continually atomised, powerless and unarmed. The result is the demoralization of the autonomous struggle of proletarians. They lose the practical perception of their own common class power as the increasingly capillary bargaining institutions of the left of capital prevent their praxis - and thus also their thoughts, imagination, ideas, and goals - from developing their expression as an autonomous class without boundaries (the communist program).
By destroying the class struggle, the left prepares an invariable result: when the period of economic crisis comes, the workers struggle for survival by competing with each other and attacking each other in order to voluntarily ally and submit to "their" ruling classes for economic, political and military protection against imaginary enemies (like migrants, minorities and foreigners) that the ruling class claims is threatening their survival. A process that takes place in the periods preceding both wars and fascism.
A OSCILLATORY MECHANISM
Thus, roughly speaking, perhaps we can say that this continuously counter-revolutionary mechanism established in the twentieth century was based on a periodic oscillation between the two halves of the capital, left and right. Its function is continuously to destroy the class struggle by denaturing and transducting its energies into the interior of this intra-capitalist polarization, reproducing indefinitely wage labor, that is, capital. This mechanism has worked well for decades, making the perspective of world social revolution disappear from the historical scene for a long time-span (social democracy, crisis of 1929, fascist and Stalinist world wave, second world war, post-war golden years, third world nationalism, cold war). This was until in the 1960s, when almost everyone was absolutely certain of the final integration of proletarians into capitalist society (e.g. Marcuse): May 1968 erupted as a world-historical event, rekindling the excruciating panic, the fear of social revolution in the ruling classes of the whole world.
AND IN BRAZIL...
In Brazil, the great wave of strikes in industry from the late 1970s to the late 1980s (which combined with a wave of social struggles in the city and countryside) made evident to the ruling class the need to end the military dictatorship 2 and restore democracy. It was necessary to give free rein to the left of capital (unions and parties) in the task of controlling, negotiating and ending the class struggle.
The 1988 constitution of Brazil stipulated a sophisticated public policy structure adapted to control these struggles and subject them to that process of permanent preventive counter-revolution to which we have previously referred (and that in Brazil had already started to function at least since the 1940s, for example, with the CLT [Consolidation of Labor Laws] and labor courts, in reaction to the class struggles of that time). The fear of social revolution was so great that a predominantly right-wing and centre-right constituent assembly, directly expressing the interests of the business community, drafted and voted a constitution which enacted in law a welfare state in the country. 3
However, in the 1990s, the struggles of the previous decade suffered a strong ebb. This time, however, it was not through these public policy structures stipulated by the 1988 constitution (which then did not even have time to be implemented), but mainly due to transformations, under the command of the bosses, that were taking place all over the world in the productive process, with the aim of attacking workers directly at the source of their power: the relations of production. 4
This modification consisted of:
- separation and dispersion of workers into a multitude of hierarchical layers of outsourcing and sub-outsourcing (destroying the sense of workers that all are fundamentally in the same condition of exploitation by businessmen);
- pulverization of industries around the world in small units of suppliers, sub-suppliers and assemblers (preventing agglomeration and contact between workers), which was made possible by the development of digital telecommunications systems that cover the whole world, enabling the connection, supervision, coordination and control of this entire production process pulverized over long distances,
- and the deindustrialization of entire regions (and the industrialization of others), made possible by the liberalization of financial capital to wander the globe freely in search of profit, that is, low costs of labor, inputs and infrastructure.
[Note: All these changes were called "Toyotism" (due to the superficial similarity with the model of enterprise administration adopted in post-war Japan) to contrast them with the "Fordism" that previously prevailed in the production process. And the workers who suffered this modification were called "precarious workers" because of the end of employment stability and the perpetually transient character of their occupations. We will use these terms - more metaphorical than exact - only to refer to these modifications without having to repeat all these explanations.]
Thus in Brazil in the 1990s, for the most part, strikes turned into defensive, conservative struggles (to keep jobs and not to become "precarious"). They had strong control by the union bureaucracy and tended to corporatism, very different from the universalist offensive of the previous decade that electrified society as a whole.
Once the objective capacities to act, think and desire beyond the status quo were reduced, there was nothing left to do in the struggles except to seek to rely on the inertia of this legal structure designed by the 1988 constitution. Precisely the structure whose raison d'être for the owner class - to control the struggle of workers with clear revolutionary potential in the 1980s - had disappeared soon after it had been promulgated. The form survived the content and the struggle was then to save it at all costs. The political rise of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores [Workers' Party]) surfed at the intersection between the inertia of this stillborn legal structure and those defensive struggles, through a vast union bureaucracy (the CUT, Central Única dos Trabalhadores [Unified Workers' Central]).
Still in the 1990s, under the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB, Partido Social Democrata Brasileiro, [Brazilian Social Democratic Party], center), a neoliberal policy led to a great privatization process and many defensive strikes in these sectors. However, despite neoliberalism, the basic structure stipulated by the 1988 constitution was not attacked, as long as it was largely maintained as a dead-letter. Although, in some extremely important aspects, such as the universal public health system (SUS, Sistema Único de Saúde), it has had some degree of implementation.
THE GOVERNMENTS OF PARTIDO DOS TRABALHADORES (PT)
It was then that, in the final half of Fernando Henrique Cardoso's (FHC) second government, a severe economic crisis occurred (1999-2002), leading to high unemployment rates.
The ruling class still remembered the struggles of proletarians in the 1980s, that is, it was afraid of social revolution, and feared that this new crisis might be the trigger for the emergence of another universalist offensive by the proletariat. At that time, there were street demonstrations, but not yet a wave of offensive strikes. 5
Preventively, they thought, it seemed better to let the left hand act.
It was in this context that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) was elected in 2002. In contrast to FHC, which only talked about austerity measures, Lula provoked enthusiasm with the promise to finally accomplish what is written in the constitution, that is, a welfare state in Brazil. At the same time, he promised to the owner class (in the "Carta ao Povo Brasileiro" [Letter to the Brazilian People]) to continue the neoliberal policies of the previous government.
With the struggles of the workers (of those who were not yet precarious, and who were increasingly becoming a minority seen as "privileged" by the other atomized proletarians) still remaining defensive and conservative, it was easy for the vast union bureaucracy linked to the PT (CUT) to control them on a short leash.
By an incredibly fortunate coincidence, from 2004 to 2014, there was a boom in international commodity prices - Brazil's main export items (iron ore, crude oil, sugarcane, soy, etc.). 6 This recovered the economy (making the owner class happy), reduced unemployment and made businessmen not opposed to increasing public spending on new social programs such as the bolsa família (which helped reduce hunger significantly). The financial crisis of 2008 was barely felt in Brazil, due to the continuity of commodity exports to China.
Of course, with the exception of a small implementation in public education (especially at technical secondary level and higher education level) and this reduction in hunger (the right to adequate food is in the constitution), the 1988 constitution practically continued only on paper.
In the government, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (the governments of Lula and Dilma, 2003-2016) avoided continuing direct privatizations, but instead did so indirectly or by half, by opening in the New York Stock Exchange the capital of the remaining state companies (such as Petrobras and Eletrobras), keeping the government as the majority shareholder. The government also proclaimed having a national-development policy, through public financing and tax exemptions for large Brazilian national and multinational companies such as Odebrecht and agribusiness.
IDENTITY POLITICS AND STRENGTHENING OF THE REPRESSIVE APPARATUS
Apart from these differences, it was a usual neoliberal government that further attacked the workers, who were extremely atomized due to the "toyotism" and "precarization" that were advancing more and more.
Since there was no longer any reason to continue using the old social democratic rhetoric of "defense of the working class" and "universal public services", the discourse of the PT began to propagate the particularist vision of so-called identity politics.
This policy seeks to translate under the form of private property (that is, under the State that guarantees it with its repressive apparatus) all psycho-social dissatisfaction that arises directly from the existence of private property itself, that is, from competition: the socially produced scarcity that forces everyone to exalt their most insignificant and ethereal exclusive particularities against others in order to pass them back and ensure for themselves the reward, from the owner class, of this scarce thing.
In this way, identity politics co-opts social dissatisfactions and struggles by framing them into a series of separate identities, stereotypes. Like real private property, these ethereal properties would need - in the competition and in everyday life brutalized by it - to be protected from the invasion of each of the other identities, through a proliferation of laws, compensatory penalties and identity debts to be paid with interest. This implies establishing a generalized judicialization and policialization in order to perpetually besiege the least signs of social dissatisfaction.
The result: an unbearable climate of denunciation, moralism and accusatory hysteria emerges among the co-opted oppressed, destroying the least solidarity capable of attacking the true cause of identity oppression - precisely private property. The latter, as we have seen, is defined first of all by imposing that each one compete to be materially subject to the identitarian and particular whims of others, the owners (the bosses: of the enterprises, families, rented house, governments and states), if they want to survive.
The PT governments also greatly strengthened the state's repressive apparatus under the pretext that the security of large international events (the Pan-American Games in 2007, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics) required updating the country's laws with the latest international security legal trends to combat terrorism. The Força Nacional de Segurança [National Security Force] was created, which was widely used, along with the military, to control protests and militarize favelas. And also the Federal Police was so strengthened that it became one of the main actors in the overthrow of the PT itself.
SUDDEN ERUPTION OF THE PROLETARIAT AND ITS FAILURE
From 2012 to 2014, when the economy reached its peak (accompanied by a large increase in the cost of living 7 ), a wave of proletarian struggles erupted and began to sketch an incipient, potentially universal, offensive tendency. Wildcat strikes by precarious workers have proliferated everywhere in construction, industry, and even commerce and the service sector. Particularly noteworthy are the huge wildcat strikes by workers in the construction of the Jirau, Santo Antônio and Belo Monte hydroelectric plants, who were repressed by the Força Nacional de Segurança under the orders of the PT government. 8
It was also in the midst of this wave of struggles that the 2013 demonstrations against the increase in public transport prices took place, which we have already analyzed in the article “What happened in June 2013 in Brazil? - From the incipient material community to its reactionary destruction in the ideological pseudo-community”
Unfortunately, in this wave of wildcat strikes, they remained localized and incommunicado (rarely was one strike aware of the others, and much less did society in general know what was happening).
In contrast, the street demonstrations of 2013 were exhaustively shown on TV, first to be condemned as intolerable vandalism and, a few days later, to be exalted, summoned and directed by the TV itself (along with employer unions, such as FIESP [Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo]). It was surreal. This happened because the street protests remained disconnected from the struggles that were taking place in the sphere of production. Consequently, with the demonstrations without a class perspective, and therefore entrenched in the sphere of circulation, where there can only be "free and equal citizens", part of the businessmen soon realized that it would be easy to make them pass from the initial perspective of the "citizen user of urban transport" (although most proletarians use this transport, it is not as "citizens" that they are revolutionaries) to trigger the going to the streets of "patriotic Brazilian citizen", starting point of the general fascisticizing of society that accompanied the economic crisis that came soon after.
LITTLE PARENTHESIS: A HYPOTHESIS ABOUT THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN THE CURRENT CONDITIONS
Our main thesis is that these new forms of struggle of the proletarian class, arising on the basis of the new conditions of production imposed by capital, cannot communicate with society or be unified by some organisation that brings them together externally, but rather by the materialist subversion of the highly socialised unity already existing on a world scale of the means of production itself.
Our practical proposition is to overcome the old strike tactic with that of free production which immediately establishes communism, from the struggles in the sphere of production to society as a whole, which will hardly be able, on seeing its capacities to act as a class expanding against the owner class, to repress the blooming of desires beyond the status quo and thus the formation of new needs which imply creating a new society. With this, the struggles are materially unified by the means of production themselves converted into direct expression (communication and effecting) of the satisfaction and development of human needs, desires and capacities as ends in themselves.
The rapid, exponential generalization of this new form of struggle, starting to be adopted by the proletariat of the whole world against "their" ruling classes (creating a new mode of production everywhere), is the minimum condition not only for the proletarian struggle to succeed for the first time in history, but also the minimum guarantee of not degenerating into one other private property in competition with other properties (it does not matter whether private property is collective or private, corporate or cooperative, local, regional or national),
destroying the internationalist class struggle and inevitably bringing about the restoration of wage labor, capital and the state, as occurred with the illusoriously victorious revolutions of the past (for example, Russia in 1917).
Let's go back to recent history:
END OF THE INCIPIENT CLASS OFFENSIVE AND BEGINNING OF THE REACTIONARY WAVE
The speed with which the events took place after the defeat of the offensive struggles of 2012-2014 was breathtaking.
[Note: while the history that precedes this event is clearer today than ever before, the closer our analysis gets to the present, the more we enter a clouded zone that raises more doubts than certainties...]
The way in which these struggles were defeated showed that the main factions of the ruling class abandoned the old mechanism of neutralization and destruction of the class struggle that was established in the 20th century (which we described earlier) and began to use another.
We have already seen that the left faction of the capital has come to be guided by identity politics (i.e., generalized judicialization and policialization of everyday life, propagating a repressive and hysterical puritanism that poisons the struggle of the oppressed by channeling it to the "protective care" of the repressive apparatus, that is, to private property). However, the businessmen found that this new (as well as the old) political orientation of the left did not pass the first test of fire, the first offensive class struggle after decades. In short, the left turned out to be useless.
It was clear that the new focus of the left on identity particularisms and the generalization of repression to protect them made no sense to the overwhelming majority of precarious workers. Nor did its constitutional ultra-legalism make sense to them, not to mention the the old union bureaucracy, given the temporary and transitory nature of their precarious occupations. In conclusion, the owner class had no other option but to abandon the left, which was incapable of fulfilling its role.
However, the right faction of capital has always been characterized by an aristocratic ideology that directly justifies the hierarchy and power of the rulling class over society. This is hardly popular at a time when class struggle is on the rise.
The first right-wing intervention to destroy class conflict, as we saw, took advantage of the fact that the June 2013 protests were disconnected from the struggles in the sphere of production, which in turn remained disconnected from each other. Thus, the struggles failed to develop a common perspective for a radical transformation of society.
Since in capitalist society only the sphere of the circulation of commodities is public, while that of production - the hell where exploitation and reification take place - is private and underground, it was easy for the right wing to redirect, through television command, the focus of demonstrations towards the very formal subject of the sphere of circulation: the free and equal citizen, buyer and seller of commodities who pays taxes.
The right wing of the capital proclaimed: "The struggle is not between employer and worker, but for the patriotic union of all citizens - employers or subordinates - against the corrupt powerful who live off our taxes." The demonstrators of the first protests, linked to the autonomist left, critical of the official left, became a tiny minority in the midst of a flood of "furious citizens against the corrupt left", and on several occasions the former were expelled from the demonstrations by the latter on a beating basis.
The left of capital, for its part, claimed: "Let us save the democratic rule of law, the law and order against fascism." In other words, everyone should struggle to maintain the status quo...
After that, from 2014 to 2016, the wave of street demonstrations bifurcated into huge right-wing demonstrations (supported by the police) and increasingly smaller left-wing demonstrations (always repressed by the police). They all affirmed the citizen's perspective (i.e., maintaining the State, wage labour and capital): left-wing protests, although generally organized by "anti-capitalist autonomists" who were against the official left, in practice claimed human and social rights and identity politics, while right-wing protests claimed that citizens no longer had their taxes "stolen" by the left to "defend bandits through human rights" and to "sustain idlers through social rights".
The repression was heavy against the "anti-capitalist autonomists" - targets both of the repressive apparatus of the left in power, of the persecution of the courts, and of the military police forces of the states. Many are still suffering judicial persecution.
In 2015 and 2016, there was also a wave of school occupations (a movement close to the "anti-capitalist autonomists") that spread throughout the country and that seemed to have the potential to create a channel of communication between the dispersed and unknown struggles of the workers (already in advanced ebb) and the needs of the community, possibly regalvanizing the struggles. Unfortunately, in the end, none of this has happened, and the energy of much of the occupations has been consumed in the drain of the internal accusatory moralism of identity politics.
The wave of offensive and wild struggles in production, remaining invisible, dispersed and without communication with society in general, lasted for some time until it ebbed away. Without having developed an autonomous class perspective of radical transformation of society as a whole, it was swallowed up by the intra-capitalist polarization between the two halves of the capital: between, on the one hand, the overwhelming "patriotic cry of national unity against the corrupt vagabonds," heard on television and in the huge demonstrations in city centers; and, on the other, the cry of the left at the power for "citizen defense of institutions against fascism."
ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THE OVERTHROW OF PARTIDO DOS TRABALHADORES
In the meantime, international commodity prices have fallen dramatically due to the slowdown in China's growth and the use of new oil extraction techniques in the world (shale gas). As a result, Brazil's GDP had successive annual declines from 2014 to 2017, totaling a shrinkage of 8.4%.
With profits falling, businessmen had to cut production costs to try to at least keep the profit rate at a level sufficient not to fail. This means making layoffs to increase the rate of exploitation of the remaining workers, who continue to earn the same wage while doing the work of all those who have been discarded. This is when they are not replaced by others who are forced to accept an even lower wage because of the intensification of competition resulting from the increase in unemployment.
This attack against the proletarians came precisely at the moment when the class struggle was demoralized because of the defeat of the offensive wave that occurred in the immediately preceding period and whose energies were recanneled into the spectacular left/right polarization.
That doesn't mean the workers didn't struggle. To this day, the number of strikes is much higher than before 2012 9 , but they have become predominantly defensive, desperate, conservative strikes, unable to put a perspective of universal transformation of society. Cognitive dissonance reigns supreme: while they fight baffled against the attacks of capital, the global perspective is that of the intra-capitalist left/right polarization that divides workers.
This polarization, which poisoned everyday life as never before (and continues to this day), was well described by the Iniciativa Revolução Universal group:
“The division between workers, and THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS ASPECT, is due to the politicization of private life: according to the preference of someone, real or assigned, for or against the government, personal relations are destroyed, relatives and neighbors do not talk to each other anymore, a storm of hatred and denunciations spreads in the virtual environments and in workplaces and schools. Lynchings and physical attacks are also occurring. It is a Venezuelan-type environment, where the false choice between being right-wing elitist or pro-government populist, with conspiracy and paranoia on both sides, is increasingly imposed in everyday life. The police of thought and ideological patrol, so useful to the state in fascism and democracy, show their usefulness. Electoral totalitarianism was able to achieve aspects of everyday life that seemed to be immune to it.” (On the current events in Brazil  - Iniciativa Revolução Universal group)
In the midst of all this polarization, Dilma (PT) was re-elected in October 2014. The owner class was divided. But as the economic crisis unfolded, the certainty about the uselessness of the left in power became overwhelmingly evident. They had proved in practice (in 2012-2014) that their costly "public policies" (both old and new) no longer fulfilled the function, which has now been done by the right (which directly represents business interests), of controlling and destroying the class struggle. It was the moment to ensure the profitability of the companies by directly attacking the workers and dismantling the juridical-political “social” structures (labor rights, social security, universal public health, unemployment insurance), which now no longer have the good "cost-benefit" they had in the past, considering the fear that the class struggle could not be controlled.
To overthrow Dilma in 2016 was simple. A series of legal, media and parliamentary manoeuvres have been used to condemn members of the PT and Dilma for routine procedures (including corruption) that every politician necessarily does to be able to govern anywhere in the world. "Corruption," "negotiation," "articulation," are simply the working principle, the mobile and the unifying link of all social relations in a society based on the exchange of commodities - wage labor, capital, profit as an end in itself....
THE MICHEL TEMER GOVERNMENT
From 2016 to 2018, the new president, Michel Temer, approved draconian reforms never seen before anywhere else in the world, such as freezing government spending on health and education for 20 years. A reform of the labor laws was approved, which made access to labor justice for workers extremely difficult, and which abolished the system of financing (mandatory union contribution) of the huge union bureaucracies that negotiate the collective agreements in companies. This reform also sought to advance precariousness, releasing the so-called "intermittent work." The law on outsourcing, which allows for the outsourcing of the end-activities of companies, was also approved. The privatizations are back. However, Temer failed to get a cruel social security reform approved, due to the parliamentarians' fear of not being re-elected in 2018 if they approved something so unpopular.
In October 2017, Temer also sanctioned a law that transfers from ordinary justice to military justice the murders committed by the military in operations against civilians. A strengthening of the repressive apparatus that is only equal to that of the time of the military dictatorship.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND GENERAL STRIKE
The demonstrations "against corruption" have disappeared, despite countless corruption scandals involving the new president.
On the other hand, against these reforms, there were many protests and a general strike in March 2017. Sadly, contrary to expressing the class struggle, most of the demonstrations were already born controlled, organized and directed by the left of the capital. Similarly, the general strike, which lasted only one day, took place under the strict control and direction of the union bureaucracy. They were simulacrums of class struggle to reinforce the intra-capitalist polarization between right and left of capital.
THE TRUCKERS' STRIKE/LOCKOUT
At the end of May 2018, a stoppage of the truckers occurred (lockout of the freight companies and strike of the autonomous truckers) that lasted ten days and paralyzed the entire country, causing food and fuel shortages. The reasons were the daily increases in fuel prices which, since 2017, as determined by the government with a view to privatization, came to be determined by the daily price of oil on the international market. The result was that the final price daily incorporated the blatant speculative variations in the global financial system. However, in the opinion of truckers, the cause of the increases was taxes (about 45% of the final price), which in reality did not vary either during this period of increase or before. Moreover, there was something strange: like the "anti-corruption" protests, this stoppage had the explicit support of television and the police.
When the demands were met, on the third day, the lockout of the companies was largely over. However, the autonomous truckers decided to continue, to demand the establishment of minimum prices for freight paid by the carriers and a reduction in the price of road tolls. The president met the demands and decided to use the military to clear the roads.
When all the demands were then met by the government, to everyone's surprise, the strike continued, but now with crazy demands from the militaristic and theocratic right - everywhere, in the trucks, there were banners demanding a military dictatorship "to eliminate the left of Brazil". As the military did not respond to their requests after a few days, they finally ended their strike.
No matter how much conservatism was expected in the petty bourgeoisie due to its condition of small ownership of means of production, no one suspected this immense influence of the extreme right, probably through an extensive network of underground canals. It was an indication of what was to come.
Compared to this huge demonstration of the strength of the petty bourgeoisie and commercial capital, the power of the general strike of the previous year, organized by the union bureaucracy, seemed miniscule. It was also unbelievably much more supported by the population than the general strike, even with a glimmer of enthusiasm (perhaps this is explained a lot by the support of television at the beginning).
Before the end of the strike, which finally revealed its ultra-reactionary orientation, the union bureaucracy tried to take advantage of the moment, calling for a strike of the oil workers for the sixth day. It sought to influence the movement in the direction of the struggle against the privatizations of the oil sector, and to guide it with the national-developmentalist vision of the left of the capital (demanding that the price of fuel be based on the costs of production and refining within Brazil). They hardly imagined, at that moment, that the truckers were already impervious, possessed of the most insane rightism.
WHY WAS BOLSONARO ELECTED?
In the following months, there were several evidences that allowed us to observe without much clarity that, even before this stoppage, there was an organized movement among the military (with apparent protagonism of the Clube Militar, a explicit defender of the military dictatorship of 1964 and of neoliberalism in the style of Pinochet), the judiciary (the president of the STF [Superior Federal Court] strangely placed as an advisor the head of the army's general staff 10 ), Michel Temer's government (clearly in the hands of the judiciary due to serious accusations of corruption; for the first time since the dictatorship, the military controlled the core of government, Abin and the Casa Civil, as well as various ministries 11 ), and part of the businessmen (later, it was revealed that they were funding a huge scheme to broadcast extreme right-wing "fake news" in the WhatsApp, similar to the Cambridge Analytica scheme that helped elect Trump in 2016). The left wing of the capital "went nuts" in the most delusional conspiracy theories, but the evidences were real. The question is what to do with them.
We have seen before that businessmen no longer saw any use for the left to remain in government. They had proven in practice (in 2012-2014) that their costly "public policies" (both old and new) no longer fulfilled the function of controlling and destroying the class struggle. On the other hand, they saw that the right wing (which directly, without roundabouts, represents business interests) was successful in this task. In addition, the several years of economic crisis forced them to fight to maintain profitability at all costs, that is, to dismantle the old and costly "social" structures of the State that favored the proletarians but no longer served to control them. A simple "cost-benefit calculation" indicated the obvious advantage of letting the right hand rise to power. This same calculation also indicated the obvious need to let the left of the capital act, but out of power. They know that maintaining spectacular polarization is fundamental to the continuous destruction of the class struggle, each proletarian seeing his equal as the embodiment of evil. This means maintaining the democratic and legal facade of the dictatorship of capital (left and right parties, elections, rule of law, etc.).
Evidently, contrary to conspiracy theories, far from being monolithic, the rulling class is a series of gangs in eternal competition with each other for private property and its direction, that is, for the maximum and most efficient exploitation of workers. Despite the fact that the gang of businessmen that most umbilically supported the left of the capital was removed from political gambling (the big contractors targeted by the washing machine operation), the businessmen were divided. Among them, the right wing was certainly close to unanimity, but which of the various rights?
Whatever it may have been, there are many evidences that there was actually that coordinated movement of the military with the judiciary and part of the businessmen, who sought, long before Bolsonaro's campaign, to ensure that the next government would continue what Temer was doing. But this time with the legitimacy of the ballot box ("the will of the people") to go much further and destroy that state structure of social control (the "social rights") that no longer had, for them, any function except to keep the costs for capital high in Brazil, which was still in crisis.
At the same time, there was a second movement: a part of the population (most of whom were from the "upper middle class") saw in Bolsonaro the perfect embodiment of the ultra-reactionism in which it had already been wallowed since 2013. This is the closest to a fascist movement in Brazil: they dream that they will be able to form paramilitary groups to assassinate the "communist bandits" when their "myth" (Bolsonaro) is elected, and fulfill the promise to release the possession of weapons and to release the extrajudicial executions against "bandits". Apparently, it was they who financed autonomously since that time the reach of advertisements on social networks and the diffusion of "fake news", but that would still not be enough, in isolation, to make Bolsonaro win an election.
The combination of the two movements (expressed in Bolsonaro's duo with Vice President General Hamilton Mourão, the military club's madman, plus the appointment, as Minister of Justice, of Judge Sergio Moro, directly responsible for the election of Bolsonaro through Lula's arrest, which prevented him from running even though he won all the electoral polls) is what would have made Bolsonaro seem like the ideal candidate to a proportion of businessmen (the other part clearly preferred the center-right PSDB) which grew as election day approached. In this hypothesis, they financed with slush fund what the second movement was already doing. This continuously flooded WhatsApp (which is the most used social network in Brazil) with "fake news".
In the October 2018 elections, while in the northeastern region Bolsonaro lost, in the all other regions he won by a wide margin. There is no doubt that the majority of those who voted for him did not know about his government program. The latter stated explicitly about ending, for example, labour rights and social security, and this is obviously unpopular among proletarians. Television sought to appear "impartial" by criticizing and exhibiting only his machismo, racism and homophobia, to systematically hide his government program against "social rights" as well as his bravado about "exterminating the leftists". Bolsonaro did not go to the TV debates either, and had the 'luck' to get stabbed to justify not going to the next debates. Thus, the majority of the population knew Bolsonaro (in addition to the massive television coverage about the stab wound he suffered) through a flood of alarming rumors in social networks, financed directly by this network of slush funds.
In a social condition in which the imposition, by private property, of competition at all costs - gangsterism, unemployment, violence and the war of all against all to ensure for themselves survival against their equals in work and daily life -, sign of the profound defeat of the proletarians in 2013, in this condition there was nothing left but to "entrust " above all in those who have the power in the ruling class, in a "messiah", a "gangster of the gangsters ", something so powerful that it has an almost divine status to act. In this existential, social and even physical misery, the truculent rumors, which appeal to the most primitive emotions, are felt as a celestial balm.
THE BOLSONARO GOVERNMENT
We are writing this text as early as the first few weeks of the Bolsonaro government. There is little to say, even because everything that Bolsonaro says is denied immediately afterwards by himself. And we're wary of predictions. 12 But, behind his scandalous and shocking speeches, the measures that have already been taken (the composition of ministries, the abolition of some and the creation of others) already allow us to see that the priority is to destroy labour rights (the Ministério do Trabalho [Ministry of Labour] has already been abolished, for example), to make a reform of social security even more cruel than that which Temer tried, and to increase the repressive apparatus by releasing extrajudicial killings under the pretext of fighting crime. Certainly, if these priorities are implemented, most of the proletarians who voted for them will be disappointed. The point is that the state will be more armed and powerful than ever before and ready to directly attack the proletarians, that is, "eliminate communism".
humanaesfera, January 2019
[Original version in Portuguese: As condições de existência de Bolsonaro
- 1Russia's nationalized capitalism, the result of a brutal counter-revolution that continued to use the words "communism" and "social revolution", desubstantialized the meaning of these words in society. Since the nationalization of capital that was carried out was called "communism", "real socialism", while the irruption of the autonomous proletariat without frontiers that we spoke of earlier and that can never be permanent (because it either generalizes quickly in the world or is defeated) has come to sound as something unreal, merely utopian compared to the "permanent example" of what socialism supposedly is. Thus, the ruling classes of the entire world found a tailored polarization to neutralize and channel the workers' struggle for the reproduction of class society and exploitation in one form or another. In addition, the "communist parties" in the world (with the Comintern) became, already during the beginning of the counter-revolution in Russia, diplomatic representatives of the interests of Russian national capital in various countries. These parties acted in two ways: while, on the one hand, in the already fully capitalist countries (Europe, and even Brazil...) they were parties of the social-democratic type, that is, they sought to carry out social reforms through elections (or they fought for democracy, to run in them), channeling, manoeuvring and destroying the workers' struggle to influence the governments of these countries towards a diplomacy favorable to the capital of the USSR, on the other hand, in countries still predominantly pre-capitalist or underdeveloped (like China, Vietnam, many countries in Africa, Cuba...), the "communist parties" were nationalists seeking to carry out political revolutions (neo-Jacobins, coups d'état) to implant wage labor (primitive accumulation of capital), develop national capital and align with the USSR, swelling the "Soviet" imperialist bloc.
- 2The military dictatorship in Brazil was established in 1964 within the framework of the conflict between the two imperialist blocs, the "cold war" between the so-called "socialist" bloc and the so-called "free world," which as we explained in the previous note, served to destroy and channel the class struggle for the reproduction of wage labour and capital in two polarized forms in competition, destroying the perspective of the internationalist struggle of the proletariat everywhere against "its" ruling class.
- 4This change in the productive process aimed at destroying the source of workers' power had already begun to take its first steps well before the 1990s. It was one of the aspects of the counter-revolution that followed the May of 1968. But it only became predominant in the 1990s because only then did the conditions for it to generalize emerge (large developments of telecommunications systems encompassing the entire world in conjunction with the liberalization of financial capital). 1968 had shown that the preventive counter-revolution mechanisms of that time (that immense structure of public policies, unions, parties...) were not only not enough to control the workers, but also, precisely because of this insufficiency, revealed to be costs that no longer seemed to compensate the benefits, especially in the face of the crisis of profitability of capital in the 1970s, which lasts until today. This implied the other aspect of this counter-revolution, the political ideology called neoliberalism, which sought above all to dismantle this same structure of public policies due to considering it an unproductive expense.
- 5Although the text below makes an interpretation that reverses the causes by the effects of the events (saying that the offensive waves of strikes are due to the direction of the unions and not the opposite, that is, the unions exist to isolate and contain them) and that it was the democratization at the end of the dictatorship that would have led to the wave of strikes of 1978-1984 and not the exact opposite), the text presents statistics of the strikes of that period: CICLO DE GREVES, TRANSIÇÃO POLÍTICA E ESTABILIZAÇÃO: BRASIL, 1978-2007 - Eduardo G. Noronha
- 6The international price of iron ore rose from $10 per ton in 2003 to $170 per ton in 2009. Oil rose from $30 in 2003 to $147 in 2008. The price of soybeans rose from $5 in 2004 to $16 in 2008.
- 7Especially the price of the rents suffered increases far above the official inflation as an effect of the real estate speculation, and also the prices of the public transport were readjusted every year far above it.
- 8On the countless wildcat strikes and the various struggles of 2012-2014, see the publications of that period on the Passapalavra website, which devoted itself to the very important work of disseminating and analyzing them. And specifically on the wildcat strikes of workers in the construction of new hydroelectric plants (curiously, the employers were the contractors Odebrecht, OAS and Camargo Correia, the main business faction that financed the PT elections), see (in portuguese): "As rebeliões trabalhistas nas obras do PAC: o caso das usinas hidrelétricas de Jirau, Santo Antônio e Belo Monte"[/url].
- 9Annual statistics can be found in the "balance of strikes" of each year, published by DIEESE (Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies): https://www.dieese.org.br/sitio/buscaDirigida?itemBusca=&comboBuscaDirigida=TIPO%7C1352135159121
- 12For very interesting predictions, see the Iniciativa Revolução Universal group's article (in portuguese): "Motivos pelos quais o sistema precisa de Bolsonaro."