Editors’ note: The following is an unofficial translation of the weekly editorial from Brazilian people’s newspaper A Nova Democracia published on June 24. Tribune has added two footnotes to clarify terms.
By the Editorial Board of A Nova Democracia
Last Saturday, June 19, the country witnessed the biggest street demonstrations in recent years. In all capitals, in several other cities, and abroad, hundreds of thousands of people protested against Bolsonaro’s genocidal military government. This is, in fact, of enormous importance, penetrating into national political life. The awakening of the mass movement, which breaks the straitjacket of immobilizing leadership, promises to expand as the proportion of vaccinated people grows and with the return to a worsened normality in terms of hunger, famine, and unemployment.
For the time being, it is above all the middle sectors of society, alongside the more organized categories of the proletariat, that are in motion. The vast majority of those who mobilize are undoubtedly the most active part of those who, increasing year after year, boycott the electoral farce and yearn for a new path. This does not mean that, among the poorest strata of urban workers and the peasantry, there is less repudiation of the government in power. It so happens that, there, the struggle for survival is so dramatic that there is little time and interest left for the political struggle in defense of generic democratic freedoms, which have never been more than a mirage for these sections of the population, often dragged into the illusion of electoral farce by liberalism and by the opportunist and electoralist false left. Without supporting and expanding the tireless and bloody struggle of the peasants for land and without adding to the repudiation of the Bolsonaro government to the very concrete defense of the material interests of these disinherited from the land, it will be difficult to involve them in the mobilizations and tip the balance favorably to the side of the masses.
It so happens that the bourgeois leadership is not interested in such an expansion. The press monopolies, which shamelessly censored the May 29 demonstrations, took a turn and sought to highlight and guide those of last Saturday. These people, supported by their petty-bourgeois socialist acolytes, want to turn the mass movement into a mere appendage to the increasingly fragile semblance of liberal democracy that exists here. They refuse to extend the critique of Bolsonaro’s fascism to the radical critique of the landlord-bourgeois, pro-imperialist economic order, which he embodies and defends. And this is for a reason: on the traditional right, the economic interests they defend are strictly the same, in essence, those defended by Bolsonaro; while the opportunists of the false electoral left are too accommodating to see that the constitutional institutes and procedures, in which they have all the hope of stopping the ongoing preventive counter-revolutionary offensive, no longer operate with “normalcy,” as they are led by the cold tips of bayonets. Ultimately, they defend their own electoral goals, already stillborn.
But we’ll go back to those first ones, the ones who paint themselves as liberal democrats. They criticize Bolsonaro’s environmental policy, but applaud the criminal concentration of land and the reprimarization1 of the country’s economy in favor of large estates, whether traditional or productive, responsible for the chronic inflation and hunger of millions of Brazilians. They say they are in favor of the “Rule of Law,” but remain silent in the face of the genocide practiced by police and paramilitary forces in the countryside and in the favelas. They condemn the Bolsonarist social Darwinism in public health, but they applaud this same social Darwinism regarding labor and social security relations, where the most elementary rights are mercilessly vandalized, in the name of a brutal laissez-faire dating back to the 19th century. They rage against the notary-bureaucratic nature of the Brazilian State, but cannot admit that it is the corresponding and necessary guardian of their old semi-colonial/semi-feudal order of exploitation and oppression, and even less that it can only be overcome by the pending and delayed democratic revolution, feared and sabotaged for centuries.
In part, this contradiction of liberal opposition feeds Bolsonaro himself, who cynically exploits the legitimate anti-system feeling present in the poorest sectors of the population, speaking half-truths about the nefarious role of “sacrosanct institutions” and revealing their cowardice and capitulation to military guardianship. Note that, after the massacre of Jacarezinho, which explicitly defied the decisions of the Supreme Federal Court (and threw open the doors of hell for other similar actions), the “Distinguished Court” was silent. From these so-called liberal, reactionary bourgeois forces, therefore, nothing but vacillation and betrayal is to be expected. Anyone who says otherwise is just throwing sand in the eyes of the masses, whatever their intention.
One thing is certain: there is, in the bowels of Brazilian society, vast flammable material accumulated, but still piled up on the sidelines. These millions, thrown to the brink of pauperism, are like a reserve of fresh forces, capable of deciding the political struggle at the decisive moment. The future of the country depends on the capacity to attract them to the historical turmoil. It is not decided in advance with which forces these masses will align: history proves that they can be as much the shock troops of the coup movement as of the revolutionary popular struggle. It also proves that only through the revolutionary, hard, and prolonged way, will they be able to free themselves from the condition of maneuvering masses2 and exert their immense transforming force. In the last 70 years of our history they have been swept along, first by corporatist populism, second by the patriotic pride of the fascist military regime of 1964, third by social-democratic “neoliberalism,” fourth by the neopopulism of the false opportunist left, and most recently by obscurantist reaction. All of them, to a greater or lesser degree, anti-worker and homeland-selling regimes … This is a decisive question.
Therefore, as important as the mass demonstrations are, as a fundamental component for the political education of workers, they alone cannot stop the coup launched by the High Command of the Armed Forces with a preventive counterrevolutionary offensive since the massive and violent 2013 rebellions. The coup hopes to win by force, and it is ultimately by force that it will be defeated. In fact, the great historical ruptures are, in general, preceded by a period of intense mobilization and democratism, when none of the contending forces dares to take the next step, until conscious action or even a fortuitous event breaks the balance, demolishing the previous stage with incredible speed and violence.
From this platform, we salute the young masses of students and workers who have taken to the streets, and we insist that it is necessary to persist in mobilizing and summoning the oppressed. Nothing has been decided yet. In fact, it’s just getting started.
1. Reprimarization refers to returning the economy to the production of raw commodities as the main source of export revenues, for example oil, cattle, soy, or mining. Brazil for a period was increasing its export of manufactured goods, but is shifting back towards raw production to serve imperialist interests.
2. Maneuvering Masses is a Portuguese idiom referring to a mass of people manipulated to support the interests of another, powerful force.
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