Bolsonaro will not step down from his soapbox

Do not expect rationality and political pragmatism from a government based on Christian fundamentalism and neofascism. Do not expect democratic governability and republicanism from those who promise to exterminate their opponents.

by Marcelo Zero

It is touching to see the anxious expectation with which the press and certain political sectors expect some conciliatory, republican gesture of democratic commitment – or even a minimal sign of civility – from Jair Bolsonaro.

Even after they were treated like pigs in a pigsty during the inauguration, there are media outlets and journalists who say that they are rooting for the “success” of the neofascist government, who candidly predict that Bolsonaro will “govern for all”, that he will make concessions “in the name of governability”, that he will have to “live with the democratic institutions”, that the “economic perspectives are good”, and that the “markets are optimistic”.

They point out that, in having to govern, Bolsonaro will be a democratic president like any other and will eventually have to step down and abandon his bellicose and intolerant rhetoric. This prediction is shared even by sectors of the opposition that have made the PT their main enemy and believe that Bolsonaro does not represent a danger to democracy.

However, this will never happen. Bolsonaro will not step down from his soapbox. Fascists never step down from their soapboxes. To the contrary, fascists build immense soapboxes and, from there, send democracy to the beans.

Fascists come to power and hold onto it by the ideological tool of war against an enemy. They rise to power and hold onto it by destroying democracy, its rights and its institutions.

Under conditions of democratic normalcy, Hitler, a former corporal, would not have risen from a pathetic individual who made hysterical speeches in Munich’s beer halls. Under conditions of democratic normalcy, Hitler would not have convinced the German population that Jews and “Bolsheviks” were their great enemies and that he could free them from these “threats” by sending “such filth” to the gas chambers.

Under conditions of democratic normalcy, Bolsonaro, a former captain, would not have risen above what he always was, a member of the Lower House whose speeches were not even capable motivating the drunken audience of a Munich beer hall.

But we no longer live in a democracy and bolsonarism is a form of fascism. Anyone who doesn’t understand this yet doesn’t understand anything.

Bolsonaro is the direct result of a process that, in the name of the desire to remove the PT from the government, destroyed the democratic pact established by the 1988 Constitution and ended the political cycle of the New Republic.

This is not a new government like any other but a new political regime – a brave new world in which democracy is a simulacrum and governability is not exercised through negotiation but through relentless warfare against the “enemy.”

That is why Bolsonaro and his ministers made angry hate speeches during the inauguration. They made no gestures of conciliation, republicanism, or civilization. To the contrary, they attacked the PT, “cultural Marxism,” and the “politically correct.” They threatened to finish, destroy and drive out the “enemies”. They promised an endless war against those who want the “Brazilian flag to be red” and “shed blood” for those who oppose the new “Christian”, “clean” and “ideologically free” Brazil that has taken power.

This new Brazil does not allow dialogue and democratic conciliation of differences. Love it, leave it or die. After all, it’s the Brazil of the militias which is now in power.

That is why the government is now passing a fine comb through its civil servants to identify “enemies.” Anyone who ever paid homage to slain city councilwoman Marielle Franco will be immediately fired, as will anyone who ever criticized Bolsonaro.

It does not matter whether the enemy is imaginary or nonexistent. The new Presidential Chief of Staff took office promising to remove the PT from the machine and compared PT members to insects, as the Hutus did with the Tutsis. He knows very well that all members of the PT have long been driven from the government. He is well aware that the PT stopped governing in mid-2015 when Eduardo Cunha started running things in Brazil.

But he also knows that it is necessary to keep antipetism alive. He knows that this is the ideological crutch of bolsonarism. He knows that without the “enemies” of the PT, “cultural Marxism”, “politically correct”, “Bolivarianism”, “environmentalism”, and “feminism”, bolsonarism can not stand. Brazilian fascism has nothing new and concrete to propose, it has only an idyllic and chimerical past to restore.

That is why Bolsonaro talks about making Brazil go back to what it was 50 years ago. More ambitious, his foreign affairs minister speaks eagerly of a pre-enlightenment past, when the Earth was flat and the Sun, contrary to the “cultural Marxism” of Copernicus and Galileo, orbited it.

The wild ultraneoliberal agenda which destroys rights and the social pacts embodied in the Constitution will be a complicating factor, even a hindrance, to traditional democratic governance.

In an internal context of class confrontation and in a probable external scenario of new financial collapse, perhaps it is better for the great internal and external interests that support Bolsonaro, to bet on the governability of neofacist war.

In this sense, I believe that the ruin of our democracy and our system of representation, which gave rise to the current political quagmire, was not a mere accident, as some claim. This would explain why they treat an entirely abnormal political phenomenon as if it were part of “democratic normality”

Certainly, the external interests articulated in Steve Bannon’s new international far-right, which have made Brazil a mere geopolitical pawn in the service of restoring US hegemony around the world, are betting on the warlike governance of Brazilian neofascism. For such interests, there is nothing more functional than a government that despises sovereignty and transforms the people’s interests into enemies to be beaten.

As a corollary, this type of government may also try to assert itself and legitimize itself against “common external enemies.” Thus, an intervention in Venezuela, even if restricted to the economic and diplomatic dimension, could be useful to the warlike governance of bolsonarism.

Do not expect rationality and political pragmatism from a government based on Christian fundamentalism and neofascism. Do not expect democratic governability and republicanism from those who praise dictatorship and torture and from those who promise to exterminate their opponents.

Bolsonaro is not stepping down from his soapbox. He has built an immense political and digital soapbox of hate, propaganda and fake news from which he will govern by persecuting his adversaries, from where he will govern persecuting his main “enemy”: the Brazilian people.

Bolsonaro knows that if he stops peddling his bicycle of hate and intolerance, he will fall.


By Marcelo Zero

Marcelo Zero is a sociologist, international relations specialist and technical adviser to the PT Senatorial leadership.