In Brazil there were 58 million Bolsonaro voters but there are not 58 million fascists or even reactionaries. Bolsonarism as a counter-revolutionary project for society has been able to rely on a great deal of ignorance and prejudices of all types created and fueled by the extreme right itself, but above all by the bourgeois class that governs the country. It is this reactionary and deeply bourgeois ideological influence that has allowed it to become a real mass phenomenon, affecting, beyond the layers of the wealthy white middle classes traditionally very right, important sectors of the workers, the popular classes and the oppressed sections of society. This rotten ideological base is very fertile ground for the spread of “fake news” and fears.
The most reactionary sectors of the Brazilian bourgeoisie convey nationalist discourses, favor the strengthening of ultra-religious and conservative sentiments. At the same time, they carry out in-depth ideological work to convince the oppressed of the fact that they would not be oppressed. For a long time the big speech of the Brazilian capitalists was to affirm that in Brazil there was no racism. And this despite the fact that the Brazilian state itself was built on the basis of slavery and racial oppression of blacks but also of indigenous populations. In this sense, they push entire layers of the working class and popular sectors to follow racist leaders who are also macho, LGBTphobic and deeply contemptuous of the poor.
Thus, if in the collective imagination of millions of workers, young people, blacks and LGBTs Lula embodied their “representative” in this electoral dispute, millions of others voted for Bolsonaro. These voters are sometimes part of the most exploited and oppressed layers of society but also very little aware of their class interests to the point of voting for a leader who openly advocates positions against their interests. And today we continue to lie to them openly. Thus, videos are circulating showing crowds celebrating fake fraud announcements, imaginary prisons of political rivals and more recently (for now) fanciful “military interventions”. In the same vein, this ideological operation has been incredibly successful in portraying Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) as a party wanting to bring communism to Brazil. Not only is this idea stupid given the compromises and compromises of the PT with the right and sectors of the Brazilian dominant classes, but it contributes to establishing the idea among whole sections of the working class that communism is something bad, as something to be feared, to be avoided like the plague.
Precisely, Bolsonarism (and it is not the only one) also uses the repeated corruption scandals of the PT governments, including under Lula, to attract supporters who denounce the traditional kleptocracy of the Brazilian “political class”. What is quite incredible is that he managed to do it despite all the corruption cases that Bolsonaro and his family have been dragging on for years. This is the result of a well-rehearsed speech which consists in victimizing Bolsonaro who would be fighting against “a whole system”. The accusations (and even the proofs) presented by justice or the media, become “relentlessness”, “fake news”; in other words, a big “conspiracy”. But it would be a mistake to think that the attraction to Bolsonarism would be based only on ideological elements. Indeed, for many workers the last years of the government of Dilma Rousseff of the PT rhyme with austerity measures, an economy in deep recession, mass unemployment.
And from this point of view, Lula’s campaign promises looked like nothing more than a kind of nostalgic throwback to the good old days. Because, as we said, the new government of the PT will be signed by alliances with the corrupt neoliberal right and widely hated among the popular classes. In this way, Bolsonarism appears to carry a radically alternative social project to the “system” represented by the PT (which would at the same time be “communist”) and its allies on the right, the media, institutions such as Justice.
Thus, the exploited and the oppressed find themselves divided, totally polarized, entire working families torn around these lines of delimitation and polemics which do not reflect their true social, political and economic class interests. There is not a family in Brazil that is not torn around endless debates around two bourgeois social projects.
Some might be tempted to scoff at expressions of sadness from part of the Bolsonarian base. Others see in this real mass only “fachos”. But the reality is much more complex, including among sectors very close to Bolsonarism such as the faithful evangelists (who are themselves more politically divided than one might think). The reality is that beyond the most consciously reactionary activists and supporters, there are a whole host of workers, precarious workers, young people, people from minorities who are deceived, ripped off, for lack of conscience and/or by too many prejudices of all types.
For any organization that claims to be of the working class, of the revolution and of communism, it would be a tragic mistake to renounce the dispute of these sectors of the working class and the popular classes against Bolsonarism. Revolutionaries must find ways to extricate these sectors from the clutches of the extreme right. And that could go through the organization of the fight against Bolsonaro but also and above all against the big bosses who support him in the streets, in the factories, in places of study, in working-class neighborhoods. If the working class rises up to fight for its interests, the proletarians influenced by the reactionary ideas of the far-right bourgeoisie will be in a better position to free themselves and move away from this influence. In this sense, when Lula and the PT choose to ally themselves with the right and to center their political strategy on the institutions of the bourgeois and corrupt Brazilian regime to the detriment of the mobilization of the masses and particularly of the workers, this ultimately constitutes an obstacle in the real fight against Bolsonaro and Bolsonarism.