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Stop Bolsonaro, the Brazilian Trump

There are still electoral uncertainties in Brazil, some of which will be cleared in this first round of elections on October 7. Taking them into account, there is already a certainty: the installation on the national scene of the Brazilian Trump that has features like the ultra-rights that have appeared in the world in this period. Bolsonaro is part of the worldwide process of growth of the ultra-right that has its main exponent in Trump but has spread in Europe and other countries. The danger for Brazil and Latin America is in place.

Bolsonaro is more than an electoral phenomenon; it is a consequence of Brazil’s serious crisis (social, economic and political regime crisis). This situation is consolidating this character that can be defined as proto-fascist, or far-right. He is even more dangerous than some of his peers in the world. He is a “strong man” raised by a sector of the people as a myth or savior of the country that brings a strong hand to confront the crisis.

He has a social base of masses and fanatical sectors that mobilize behind his figure, but, the most dangerous is that his most addicted circle is a sector of the army, of the police, of all the security forces including private ones. Their “populars”, very possibly linked to those sectors, have already become threatening public ostentation in the elections. The picture is contemplated with the support of a sector of the bourgeoisie, which for now for this first round is not a majority; the most consolidated with its candidacy is the rural bourgeoisie and that its policy of liberation from the authorization of arms pleases this sector of the bourgeoisie.

To show that the elections in Brazil have become a center of world attention, Brazil is the cover of The Economist with Bolsonaro’s photo with the legend “The Threat to Latin America,” alerting the markets to what it would mean to support that candidate. Along the same lines as The Economist have been Le Monde, The Guardian El País, etc. It is not a coincidence; it shows the danger that there is in Brazil, the biggest country in Latin America for what it would mean as an impact on the whole continent.

The rupture with the “values” of bourgeois democracy

For some time now, we have been writing about the crisis of bourgeois democratic regimes and the emergence of authoritarianism as a relevant aspect of the world situation. The chronic economic crisis opened in 2007-2008 also accelerated the crisis of the already eroded bourgeois democratic regimes, which has been the predominant form used by bourgeois domination and the traditional parties that shape it. The endemic corruption of politicians associated with the big capitalists completes this picture. In his book Ruptura, Manuel Castells, an important specialist in new network communication, calls this rupture “self-destruction of institutional legitimacy by the political process and crisis of legitimacy” installed between the people and the institutions of this “liberal democracy”. “Therefore, it can be affirmed that it is representative as long as the citizens think they are represented. (…) If the subjective link between what citizens think and want and the actions of those who choose, and pay is broken, what we call the crisis of political legitimacy occurs: that is, the majority feeling that the actors of the political system do not represent them.”


The advance of the far-right has fertile ground in this rupture which is a serious threat to the workers and the people. However, we must avoid a unilateral reading of the world and Brazil. Because the gap opened by this rupture also means that there is another pole that cannot be ignored when it comes to making a rigorous analysis of reality, as Lenin called for. The democratic mobilizations, of social struggles that confront both the extreme right and the social war carried out by the bourgeoisie in all countries have not stopped. If we look at the planet there is a rise in the struggle of women, there are mass democratic mobilizations (Nicaragua is one of the last expressions). And if we look at Brazil, we see the 2013 June, and the democratic mobilization of women that was fundamental to pull the architect of the impeachment of Dilma from the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies. And now the #EleNao (#NotHim), a spontaneous women’s movement, in which Juntas plays an important vanguard role that became a great national and world call against the subject. And because we cannot fail to see that through the cracks that were opened not only ultra-right figures but also Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn arise, to cite the most outstanding cases of world politics.

We can not but analyze that there is a wing of imperialism dissatisfied with Donald Trump’s nationalist and protectionist economic policy. The “America First” policy has been breaking the fragile global consensus and increasing geopolitical chaos and trade wars. It was not by chance that his speech at the UN General Assembly was laughable.

A very dangerous proto-fascism

If we want to make a rigorous political analysis, we can not classify the pro-Bolsonaro movement as fascism. Evidently, the phenomenon presents common elements with fascism, but the most adequate definition is proto-fascism.

What are the similarities and differences of this proto-fascism with the fascism of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco? One element that unites them is the populist character, the affirmation of the firm hand of a popular leader in a serious moment of crisis, anti-communism, the defense of religious values, the denial of democratic principles, antisystemic feeling that gathers support from battered social sectors by the crisis.

However, there is a fundamental difference with classical fascism. In the 1930s, fascism imposed itself through historical defeats of the labor movement: after revolutionary or pre-revolutionary situations, counterrevolutionary triumphs were won by the far-right. owever, there is a fundamental difference with classical fascism. In the 1930s, it was imposed by historical defeats of the labor movement: after revolutionary or pre-revolutionary situations, counterrevolutionary triumphs were obtained by the extreme direct. In Germany, the sectarian policy of the third period of the Third International, under Stalin, wasted the open revolutionary situation; the subsequent refusal of the Communist Party to make a united front with the Social Democratic Party enabled the victory of Nazism. In Italy, Mussolini ascended after the revolutionary situation opened in 1921 and 1922 with the massive occupations of factories having been crushed. In Spain, Franco won the Civil War against the antifascist front. In the world of 2018, we can not identify a historic defeat of the mass movement. There are partial defeats, many of them for lack of combat in uncontested battles, but the mass movement is not beaten as in those countries. Returning to Brazil, brazilian dependence on imperialism can not create a protectionist leader, like Trump, or a nationalist leader, like Hitler. Bolsonaro combines his fascistic features with an extremely liberal economic policy of total submission of the country to imperialism. Neither in Brazil nor in the world, the handful of corporations that dominate the world economy embarked on such a project.

In the characterization of proto-fascism, we can not forget the problem of the absence of an anternative direction in the face of the crisis of capitalism, as well as the inadequacies of the labor movement as an international class. This undermines the unity of the working classes as an international class in the struggle against far-right. This division contributes to the middle-class and working class sectors moving into the orbit of these proto-fascist movements.

Differentiating proto-fascism from fascism is necessary to carry out a policy against this great enemy of ours. First, this clarity shows us that there are accumulated reserves in the fight against this danger, not confusing the mass movement, showing their real strengths to fight it and determining the best weapons in this fight. The biggest proof of this is that #NotHim is much more than a defensive move.

The Brazilian Trump

It is also useful to compare Bolsonaro with other world far-right characters, especially with Trump, except for the huge differences between the world’s greatest power and a country that claimed to be a subpower.

There are points common to both processes. In the USA, the conservative reaction was against the background of the economic crisis, terrorism and immigration, which are also determining factors in the growth of far-right in Europe.

In Brazil, apart from the economic crisis and the depletion of the New Republic regime, another decisive factor was insecurity (read the article by Israel Dutra), which has provoked a huge increase in the number of civilian killings, reaching a higher number than many wars .

Why is proto-fascism in Brazil apparently becoming very dangerous and can crystallize? If we compare with the US, Brazil has less economic fat and democratic reserves (which in the US are conquests of two bourgeois-democratic revolutions). Brazil is in a very strong crisis and has fewer democratic reserves. It is worth adding that, unlike the rest of the Southern Cone, the end of the military regime was negotiated and the military were not tried. Hence, the accumulated reserves of democratic struggles in the mass movement are not the same as in these countries. In Uruguay and Argentina, torturers and apologists of the dictatorship have no place in public opinion. Although there is a broad democratic feeling in Brazil, it does not have the strength of other countries. Not by chance, the military and Bolsonaro can defend the dictatorship and the security forces still have remnants of the military period.

There are conditions to stop Bolsonaro

The result of the elections will be important to solve some uncertainties. But in any case, win or lose Bolsonaro in the second round, this character and the movement that accompanies him will survive for quite as it does in all countries where authoritarian ideas grow. In Brazil, good conditions were created to face Bolsonaro. The spearhead of this democratic movement lies in the multitudinous demonstration called by the feminist movement that is gaining strength every day. In the second round, this democratic movement will mean the vote in Haddad; we must be part of this unity of action in defense of democracy without placing any confidence in the PT’s government’s ability to stop or defeat it. Permanent mobilization will continue to be our main weapon against proto-fascism.

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  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder