The extreme right took root in our societies

By: Raúl Zibechi

If anyone has the illusion that the extreme right is a passing phenomenon, the first round of the Brazilian elections should convince us otherwise. It’s here to stay, as happens in Italy, the United States, Chile, Colombia and increasingly in countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, where it did not have a solid tradition.

The Liberal Party (PL, Partido Liberal) of Jair Bolsonaro, became the primary political force by getting 99 Deputies and considerably increasing its representation, as well as in the Senate, where it obtained 13 seats. The PT elected 68 deputies who, together with their allies, total 80, and only nine senators.

The Parliament is as rightwing as it was since the 2018 election that Bolsonaro won. Adding the allied parties, Bolsonaro reaches 198 deputies, while Lula could reach 223, if he reaches agreements with some center-right parties. There are 92 seats left out of a total of 513 that, according to the survey of Folha de Sao Paulo, can lean towards whoever offers better positions or facilities to do business.

If the Parliament will be a thorny space that will make Lula, if elected, a centrist president, the ultra-right also took over most of the governments of the states, which play a key role in governability, since they influence the federal and state chambers.

What seems unusual is that after four years of deterioration of the economy, the terrible handling of the pandemic and permanent anti-democratic attitudes, Bolsonaro obtains more than 50 million votes that show a country divided into two halves, a division that will continue after the second round on October 30.

Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, sometimes compared to Donald Trump.

The strong roots of the ultra-right, both in Brazil and in other countries, should make us reflect on its root causes, to operate more efficiently and try to stop this wave.

The first thing to consider is the global systemic crisis that is dismantling the international system of states and the alliances between them. In each region and country, tendencies towards ungovernability and chaos are generated. The dispute between the declining power, the United States, and the ascendant one, China, is a destabilizing factor that favors the generalization of wars between nations.

In this climate, political, social and cultural polarization between classes, skin colors, sexes and generations has grown. Top-down violence is the way in which the ruling classes seek to reshape societies according to their interests, increasingly abandoning any tendency to the integration of popular sectors and peoples. This is an unprecedented challenge for the anti-systemic forces that we are not succeeding in debating and acting accordingly.

The second thing is the tremendous depoliticization existing in societies, the remarkable expansion of consumerism with its burden of alienation and paralysis in the face of the challenges represented by the ongoing crisis/storm. The new capabilities of domination through the most advanced technologies (from social and cellular networks, to artificial intelligence) are not finding answers to the height of the threats posed to humanity.

It’s true that at this point the left has its share of responsibility for having abandoned all anti-systemic attitudes. But if we refine our gaze, we will find that in other periods the left reflected the resistances from below, but did not create them. No one taught the working classes to neutralize Fordism and Taylorism, just as no one taught indigenous and black peoples to confront colonialism, nor did women to confront patriarchy.

In Brazil, Lula da Silva is in a run-off election against Bolsonaro for the presidency. Da Silva, a former president, is considered “progressive.”

Although I wish to be wrong, I believe that it is rebellion itself, a characteristic that has always nested in poor and violated humanity, that today is being neutralized by the ruling classes. Perhaps it is just an urban phenomenon, where exposure to the mechanisms of domination is considerably greater. Perhaps for this reason, our journeys in search of spaces in resistance are mostly towards rural areas, far from the mundane media noise.

Finally, I think that our analyses are too skewed towards ideologies, as if they were the key to explain the growing roots of the extreme-right. But human beings move by issues more linked to real life, although not necessarily by an instrumental rationality. Ideologies come after having taken a position, as a way of justifying and giving flight to what has already been decided.

The powerful spirituality that nests in the peoples who resist, cannot be a coincidence. Sharing spaces and times of celebrations is the mortar of communities, without whose emotional and mystical cohesion it would not be possible to resist or dream of a world different from the one that oppresses us. Spirituality is the common primary of life; but by not feeling it, we are shipwrecked in pure solitude.

Originally Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, October 7, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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