This article was written in cooperation with a companion from the Aldeia Rexiste collective.
Brazil has turned into a global topic. Presented with the possible election of the fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro, the debate on the left focuses on the “lesser evil”. In such a scenario, here are some considerations that demonstrate the structural and racist violence that Brazil lives with and which has the State at its service. Bolsonaro is just the cherry on top of the cake.
Considering that the State becomes a political instrument of capitalism, which establishes over the population a domination “(…) whoever speaks of the State, necessarily says domination and, in consequence, slavery; a State without slavery, declared or disguised, is inconceivable (…)” (Bakunin, 1990). The State is thus used to give an appearance of legality and law to the damage caused by a few to the majority. Constitutionalism and democracy thus become modern forms of a supposed consent of the governed.
The last few decades of Anti-Drug Laws, Criminal Organization Law and Anti-Terrorist Law have intensified the highly repressive state of exception created by successive Brazilian governments. Supported by the narrative of the war on drugs and crime, it did nothing but attack, criminalize and imprison social movements along with the black and peripheral populations. For example, if we look at the numbers regarding population incarceration in Brazil, the data for 2016 shows that over 64% of imprisoned people are black. The documentary “News of a Particular War” demonstrates quite well what the drug war policy in Brazil has become and what its real interests are.
Several cases attained national notoriety in the last few years as symbols of the struggle against a repressive State that doesn’t accept popular insurgency. The 6 of Porto Alegre, Rafael Braga or the 23 of Rio de Janeiro are synonymous with what Brazil has turned into.
“Whatever its form or tendency, the State is by nature conservative, static, intolerant and against change (…)” (Goldman, 2015). Through the monopoly on violence – the more intense the greater the contestation – the State seeks to perpetuate itself as hegemonic power.
Rafael Braga is a young black can picker from the periphery. He became the first political prisoner of the June 2013 protest days. Rafael Braga’s “crime” – transporting plastic bottles of Pinho Sol and sanitary water, supposed incendiary ingredients. An imprisonment surrounded with contradictions and evidence forgery, in which the only testimonies are from Military Police falsifications.
In Porto Alegre, the persecution and criminalization of protests ended with six activists of the Struggle Block being accused of “forming an armed criminal association to carry out qualified damage to patrimony, explosion, theft, in a crossing area of people and goods and committing bodily damage to a military policeman.” Their “crime” was to dare fight against the illegal increase in public transportation fares in Porto Alegre.
Brazilian society now faces the fear elections. The supposed “left parties” hide their ever deepening adherence to a neoliberal and developmentalist political program and present themselves as the “saviors” of society in the face of the right-wing ascension. The idea of the “(…) neoliberal state is based on strong individual property rights, subjugating people to the rules of law, and on the idea of free market institutions (…)” (Harvey, 2005). They also accuse their non-electorate or those who turn in blank votes and abstain of being guilty if fascist candidates are elected. They thus feed the atmosphere of fear and reflect the anti-terrorist politics that only serve to maintain the interests of the ruling class.
Whomsoever is elected, we are certain that fascism is bigger than them. Social movements must continue to organize to face a developmentalist government or a fascist one. Either will threaten the black quilombola, indigenous and favela slum populations. For them, police violence will continue to be a daily routine.
Bakunin, M. A., & Shatz, M. (1990). Bakunin: Statism and Anarchy. Cambridge University Press.
Goldman, E. (2015). O indivíduo, a sociedade e o estado e outros ensaios. Hedra.
Harvey, David (2005): A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press.
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