Original Post – November 15, 2018 ISKRA
The elections in Brazil finally led to the victory of the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro (former military and fierce defender of the armed forces). Far from being a surprise, the results of this election are part of the new context in which alliances between capitalist states are called upon to transform themselves because of the modification of contradictions in the world, which, in turn, forces changes in the bourgeois system of domination. Indeed, some capitalist states fare relatively better in the new circumstances (for example, the Canadian bourgeoisie) while others face, at the domestic level, an unstable social situation, as is the case in Brazil where growing social inequalities, resulting from capitalist exploitation, are combined with an archaic economic, political and social structure, which favours the formation of small independent kingdoms, elite corruption and endemic violence.
The new international situation is characterized by a certain questioning of the policy of relative understanding between States that was in force during the previous period (globalization), which pushes States to withdraw into themselves and encourages the re-emergence of a nationalism of an openly reactionary nature. Although the economic situation has changed, it is nevertheless part of the long and difficult decline of the capitalist system. That said, the particularity of the period is that this decline is characterized by the weakening of the main bourgeois institutions (governments, markets, democracy, culture, etc.), starting with the bourgeois system of domination over society, that is, the State, and more particularly the State in its liberal democratic form incapable of countering the effects of the crisis of the capitalist system. This weakening takes the form of a questioning by the bourgeoisie of the old alliances established between the bourgeois parties and the intermediate social forces responsible for supervising the proletarian and popular masses (broadly speaking, the social democracy and the head of the trade union bureaucracy) with the help of which the bourgeoisie was able, in many countries, to maintain its power over society throughout the period of the development of capitalism (broadly, the thirty glorious years, i. e. 1945-1975).
If the bourgeoisie can now do without its left flank and openly expose itself by putting forward its reactionary elements, it is because its left flank has completely discredited itself among the masses. Indeed, by presenting themselves as champions of reforms (against revolution) and gradual progress (against progress resulting from proletarian revolution), social-democratic parties turned out to be, in the end, only pale copies of bourgeois parties, that is, to be corrupt parties incapable of sustainably reforming anything of importance under capitalism, and therefore, in the end, to be only corrupt parties of reformists without reforms, thus losing all their usefulness in the mass control system found under capitalism.
Of course, the ejection of the left flank is not a proven fact everywhere. However, this is a major trend. Thus, we can observe, almost everywhere in the advanced capitalist world, according to the advance of class struggle, that the bourgeoisie has engaged in operations aimed more or less openly at ridding itself of traditional parties in general and reformist parties in particular, which have become undesirable allies, unstable and incapable, and now, for all practical purposes, useless for maintaining bourgeois power. The idea is simple: the bourgeoisie’s political staff must be renewed for the coming period. In fact, we can see today that in several States, the bourgeoisies tend to expose themselves more and more and that they favour alternative policies based on “outsiders” capable of channelling the population’s strong resentment towards the traditional political class (think of Trump, but also of several countries of the European Union such as Italy with the 5-star movement, Poland and Hungary). The recent example of Brazil with the election of Bolsonaro also testifies to this.
On the side of the bourgeoisie, the reactionary mobilization
When the presidential elections were launched, it was already clear that the Workers’ Party (PT) was already largely discredited. In fact, the great personal popularity of its historical leader, Lula, should not obscure the fact that the PT establishment proved to be more bourgeois than the bourgeoisie by using power to try to fill its pockets. The great misfortune for the PT is that this personal enrichment of the main monks of the party has been too rapid by bourgeois standards themselves. Indeed, what normally takes decades to achieve in bourgeois politics, i.e. to install a system of corruption and stable clientelism, the PT has sought to achieve it in a few years. This has resulted in many cases of fraud and corruption.
It was in this context that the replacement candidate and new champion of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, Jair Bolsonaro, came in first place in the first round of the elections, ahead of the PT candidate Fernando Haddad. It should be recalled here that Haddad’s candidacy is an alternative and that he had to stand in place of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was convicted of corruption (as were many PT dignitaries) and sentenced to prison.
The first round of elections was mainly marked by a major boycott by the Brazilian masses and by the collapse of traditional bourgeois parties compromised by numerous scandals and widespread corruption among all political staff. This last fact explains the rise of Bolsonaro who is presented as a representative of the extreme right-wing anti-establishment. However, in addition to the strong statements against women, gays, etc., it appears that the economic programme that Bolsonaro wants to implement is directly aligned with the recent bourgeoisie’s main orientations, i.e. privatising public companies, deregulating the financial sector, reducing the size of the State, introducing measures to make the workforce more flexible, reducing the corporate tax rate and increasing income tax.
Now it remains to be explained why a Bolsonaro can succeed in getting elected with such an anti-population program. In other words, who are the people who voted for him? The conditions under which this kind of reactionary character can develop and come to power are those of a long-lasting economic and social crisis deep enough to weaken bourgeois democracy, which is considered incapable of solving it. This questioning of bourgeois democracy, and in the first place of the political staff who are responsible for organizing its functioning, affects not only traditional parties (liberal or conservative), but also reformist parties.
To the economic and social crisis that undermines the credibility of bourgeois parties, it must be added that it is the middle classes (the petty-bourgeoisie) that are numerous in capitalist countries and are attached to the idea of an efficient and cheap state that comes behind authoritarian policies. This is because these segments of society are severely affected by the polarization of society and see their dream of a secure society gradually disappearing, which for them constitutes a barrier that threatens opportunities for social advancement and therefore increases the risks of downgrading. It can therefore be seen that these petty-bourgeois layers tend to turn their rage against the bourgeois democratic system considered ineffective in solving problems and stopping violence. In fact, the petty-bourgeois masses are deluded and do not realize that the inefficiency of the state in resolving the crisis as well as the violence stems from the capitalist system itself. Moreover, this phenomenon becomes more widespread when the system proves impotent and corrupt, as in Brazil. Thus, the emergence of a Bolsonaro expresses the active politicization of these social strata, which have been particularly won over by the idea of a “strong” State. These social strata are shifting from reformism, which has been shown to be too slow and above all powerless, to a form of authoritarianism that is supposed to be able to correct the situation (restore the normal conditions for the exploitation of capitalism).
Finally, in addition to the crisis and the mobilization of the petty-bourgeois masses, there is a particular element in Brazil, namely the occult role played by the armed forces. Indeed, the armed forces in Brazil represent an important military force, it is a fact, but also a significant political force that maintains a certain nostalgia for the period when it exercised dictatorship over the country in the name of the bourgeoisie (1964-1985). In fact, several former soldiers have now retrained as ministers of the new government.
On the side of the masses, the revolutionary mobilization
The proletarian and popular masses did not stand idly by while the bourgeoisie manoeuvred. Indeed, during the two rounds of elections, more than 40 million people boycotted the elections (in a country where everyone is legally obliged to vote) while more than 11 million people voted blank (cancelled their vote). As the newspaper Nouvelle démocratie (A Nova Democracia) pointed out, this was a massive boycott of the electoral farce. Moreover, this boycott proved to be more massive than the official figures suggest, considering that several people were deprived of the right to vote because they had not participated in other previous elections. In addition, the boycott of the elections affected not only the presidential elections, but also the elections for the governorships of the various states and the municipal elections. For example, the boycott rate has reached 42% in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
In addition to boycotting the vote, the masses actively engaged in numerous actions aimed at exposing the electoral farce, including attacking the army that had been deployed to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections, but whose role was clearly to intimidate the masses. Elsewhere, others attacked at the Molotov cocktail of electoral offices. Let us note that one case is the case of a worker who destroyed a voting machine with a massacre in the city of Morro da Fumaça. Moreover, several voting machines were destroyed during the elections. In doing so, the exploited masses of Brazil fully assumed that the boycott of the elections should not be limited to abstaining from voting, but should reveal the political perspectives of the proletarians, the peasantry and the popular masses.
What about tomorrow?
The mobilization of the masses against the elections has caused the bourgeoisie enough concern to carry out a major militarization of society, in particular by increasingly involving the armed forces against popular demonstrations, on university campuses, etc. It should be stressed that this demonstration of the bourgeoisie’s strength is not the prerogative of the new “fascist” government. Indeed, it has been ordered and implemented by the rule of law itself. This shows that bourgeois justice is still essentially reactionary.
By using the army, the old oligarchic clique that dominates the country has, by the same token, intensified the level of reactionary civil war against the poor. This intensification has been accompanied by an increase in the level of violence deemed acceptable by the bourgeoisie against the exploited and the poor, particularly in the favelas – where there is a population without rights and with indecent living conditions. But as the history of class struggle teaches us, where there is exploitation there is also resistance, and day after day, the indignation and resistance of the masses are called upon to transform themselves into a powerful revolutionary mobilization to abolish the system that generates exploitation and misery. The demonstrations of anger expressed by the masses announce that the time is approaching when they will free themselves from the protection of the bourgeoisie, and that with the help of the Maoist forces, they will conquer political power through revolution and put an end to exploitation forever by starting the work of building a socialist, then communist Brazil!
People’s war yes!