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Paulo Moreira Leite | On Fascism and Democracy


When I first visited Brazil ten years ago, I had with me a copy of Joseph A. Page, The Brazilians — a highly informative and sensitive source on what makes the Brazilians tick.

Almost immediately, however, I found a crucial term missing from the index.

That word is fascism, as in

“In Brazil, and especially in the big cities of the Southeast, you have a good chance of being socially introduced to persons espousing textbook fascist viewpoints.”

These are often accompanied by distinctly anarchocapitalist leanings.

It can come as quite a shock. The company you were keeping seemed so delightful up to that point.

Source: Paulo Moreira Leite | Brasilianas.Org.

It was Moreira Leite’s recent article in IstoÉ magazine that led to a DOS attack on the magazine’s servers.

Date: June 22, 2013

The semi-insurrection we are witnessing in Brazil today calls for careful reflection.

The demonstrations began as a  student movement in favor of  a cause that is more than just: the reduction of bus fares.

Given a boost  by the rigid posture of elected officials and the brutality of police , this local mobilization was transformed into a national struggle for democracy.

If the bus fare demonstration was victorious, the defense of democratic rights in general was also bolstered, to the extent that the State was obliged to stop using violence as its preferred method of imposing its policies.

Today, however, the mobilization wears another face.

Its anti-democratic traits  are distinctly visible. Even the MPL, the group that organized the mobilizations in their initial  phase,  decided to withdraw from the field of battle.

Some demonstrators deliberately attacked political parties, the most democratic method of political participation that exists.

And unions.

Their argument was typically fascist: “The people, united, don’t need political parties.”

  • O Povo, unido, não precisa de partido

Of course they need them.

In modern society, there is no other option. At one point, one person decides to join a party. At another, another person serves as mere cannon fodder and fails to realize it.

The creation of political parties is the democratic way for a society to debate and negotiate divergent interests, which are born not from politics, as some would pretend, but from social life and the social classes.

In São Paulo, and in Brasília, the protesters held up a banner with a coup-supporting message.

  • Enough with incompetent politicians! Military intervention now!

During the same rally, leftist militants, carrying banners with their programmatic demands, were beaten and driven away. A banner bearing the symbol of the black consciousness movement was torn to shreds.

The hooligan plays an essential role in the current situation.

This [“street fighting man”] reinforces the sense of chaos and creates a climate favorable to forceful countermeasures — conveniently, for those who sought to wear down the resistance of a bloc of protesters that occupied the Planalto for three successive nights.

This rioting is a provocation that seeks to embarrass the Dilma government by creating a no-win situation.

If she orders the repression of demonstrators, she is authoritarian.

If she does not, she is too lenient.

Another effect of this “ninja” activity is to confuse the political scenario, so that those who genuinely speak for the majority are mistaken for those merely pretend to do so.

Moral panic: All politicians are alienated

Moral panic: All politicians are alien(ated), all politics are foreign to day to day reality

We do well, however, to remember that the majority elect their government via the ballot, the most democratic method there is.

No Brazilian lives next door to paradise and we all have our legitimate complaints, which deserve a response.

We are also aware of the chaos inherent in a political system created to defend the preexisting order — through which,  with great difficulty and taking advantage of narrow loopholes, we are able to benefit the democratic majority.

If we examine the majority of Brazilians — the majority that were excluded from society for centuries — it is legitimate to ask, however: Our legislators are incompetent in whose interest, masked man?

Who emancipated the domestic servant from the vestiges of slavery?

Who assisted the 40 million who receive the Bolsa-Família family subsidy?

Who opened the way for millions of young people who would never have had a chance to attend college? Who helped black Brazilians? Who assists those who live on the minimum salary?

Or those who enter the job market and find a level of employment that is the envy of the world.

Masked provocateurs who smash display windows, burn buses and invade buildings are working against the democratic order, in which political parties are legitimate, people have equal rights, and power, which emanates from the people, is not won or lost in the bloody aftermath of a street skirmish, but in the exercise of the vote.

Clearly, at this point, the street fighters have no clear objectives or specific grievances. They are not looking to negotiate. They do not want democracy to function. They want to place roadblocks in its path.

Even when not committed to direct violence, these people will do whatever they can to create and promote vague demands that cannot be rationally evaluated or debated.

The object is to stimulate and maintain its audience in a state of rage, as a feverish, electrified multitude, [by any means necessary.]

It is insane to perceive what is happening in Brazil as a conflict between right and left. It is a much more significant struggle, as all those who have lived through or spent their lives studying the dark recesses of a dictatorship.

The issue here is the defense of democracy, a regime without which it would be impossible to create social welfare and economic progress.

The conflict comes down to this: democracy or fascism.

There is no alternative on the horizon.

Those who fail to realize this are condemned to following the black flag, employing misguided tactics and ending up getting nowhere.