On the Brazilian Elections

We share here a translation of an article from MovAut (short for Movimento Autogestionário – Movement for Self-Management, in English) in Brazil about the results of the recent presidential election, which, we think, throws some much needed light upon an issue that has been subject to so much distortion, from the left as well as the right-wing of capital, both of whom have thrown their whole ideological and political apparatus behind supporting their preferred candidate to represent the capitalist system in Brazil.
Aside from these “usual suspects” on the left and right, who have behaved as obnoxious cheerleaders and eager spectators, simultaneously, for the raucous contest between different factions of the ruling class, there is also the proletariat, who, in the past few months leading up to the big election, have been exposed to a relentless ideological assault from all sides, not only in the form of ever ubiquitous “Fake News”, but through the distortion or outright falsification of the real circumstances for the benefit of politicians who depend on their vote and the specific capitalist class fractions aligned with these.
Insofar as there is a constructive criticism to be made of the article, it is on the matter of history. Contrary to some claims made in this article, which mirror anarchist and councilist criticisms of the same, the October Revolution did not instantly put an end to the proletarian revolution. For the first six months after October, the Bolsheviks extended the number of soviets and introduced for the first time recall of delegates, and all kinds of workers’ initiatives sprang up. However, a devastating economic crisis led hundreds of thousands of workers to abandon the cities by March 1918. And as the lifeblood of the revolution drained away it was militarily attacked by both counter-revolutionaries and Allied Entente imperialism. The subsequent struggle led to the rise of a new state (headed by a Red Army and a Cheka) in which the soviets played less and less of a role. That the Bolsheviks (Communists) had by this time substituted themselves for the power of the working class—exercised by and through the soviets, or workers’ councils—is undeniable, but we reject that this came about through some ideological plan or Machiavellian plot. Rather, the Bolsheviks, were compelled, by the same conditions of internal civil war, imperialist encirclement, and political isolation that had caused soviet power to perish in the summer of 1918, to assume control of the state apparatus, and once in that position, they were not only inclined to behave as managers of capitalism, but also to conceive a productionist vision of “socialism” which the capitalist left upholds to this day. The significance for our own time is that those with a superficial idea that it was all the Bolshevik’s fault would deprive the working class of one of its weapons in the fight to overthrow capitalism – an internationalist communist organization. The revolution comes from below and real socialism can only be built by the mass of the class, but without a political guide the anti-capitalist revolution will once again just burn itself out. By concluding that all party forms are bourgeois, our councilists and autonomist friends unwittingly help to ensure the continuity of class rule.

The Brazilian Elections of 2022 and the Misery of Institutional Politics

The elections for the next president of Brazil come to an end next Sunday, October 30th. It is important to start this brief text remembering that whoever wins, nothing changes inside factories, schools, workshops, stores, and offices: only forms of self-organization of the proletariat and other protesting sectors, together with a project of radical overcoming of capitalism, express the real alternative before the current barbarism that is bourgeois society worldwide.

Even so, the presidential elections in Brazil in 2022 motivate irrationality, are based on moralism and, to make matters worse, the predominant opinion currents are founded on polarizations that are ever more distant from a serious, rigorous, and effectively critical analysis of the Brazilian social reality. We are facing an extremely miserable scenario of institutional (bourgeois) politics: the two main candidacies collect cases of electoral harassment, fake news, a typically Manichean good and evil opposition, and an absence of basic political education.

Given the limits of space, we will highlight one side of this sorry scenario: the so-called communism of the Workers’ Party (PT) and the supposed fascism of Bolsonaro. On the extreme conservative side, there are those who say that Lula and the PT will install a communist dictatorship in the country. For the most fanatical progressives, Bolsonaro and the Liberal Party (PL) will lead Brazil towards fascism – or we are already facing it, for some even more imaginative... This time, we will answer the following two questions in big letters:


No. Brazilian society is capitalist, founded on relations of exploitation and class domination and on the hidden dictatorship of capital. Communism is not an ideal to be implanted, forcibly and by decree, into reality. Communism is the product of the real movement of the proletarian class (and its allies) expressing its historical interests, linked to the radical overcoming of capitalist relations of production, whose dynamics tend to abolish the set of bourgeois social relations, and its premise is the autonomization of the proletariat. Moreover, it is important to differentiate that Marx's communism means the self-government of the producers, the self-emancipation of the proletariat that through the generalization of revolutionary associations abolishes its radical chains; such a process implies the overcoming of alienated labor, the salariat, the State, the social division of labor, etc., resulting in a new society, radically distinct and based on the overcoming of the social division of labor, the end of social classes and, consequently, of all relations of exploitation and class domination. The term communism is embedded in the class struggle and is subject to misrepresentation and appropriation by classes other than the proletariat. Besides the bourgeois deformation, communism was historically appropriated by Russian Bolshevism, whose bureaucratic counterrevolution of 1917 destroyed the authentic revolutionary experience of the soviets (workers' councils, in Russian), which had already been constituted in 1905 as forms of self-organization of the proletariat and other protesting sectors. Lenin and the Bolsheviks introduced Taylorism in the factories, single person management in production, and militarization of labor, besides persecuting, exterminating and abolishing all antagonistic struggles and oppositions of proletarian expression (inside and outside the party: from the crushing of the Kronstadt and Guliai Pole revolutionaries to Kollontai's Workers Opposition and Myasnikov’s Workers Group). The USSR was a state capitalism, in which the bureaucratic bourgeoisie is the ruling class and at the same time extracts surplus value from the proletariat (capitalism's fundamental social relation of production) and has total control of the state apparatus (the main form of regularization of bourgeois social relations) and this is what, with local specificities, exists in Cuba and North Korea. In the case of Venezuela (cited by progressives and by extreme conservatives) there is not even an advance in nationalizations, but a private capitalism with elements of nationalization: the latter do not modify the capitalist relations of property and production. On the contrary, the legal metamorphosis of property reinforces the capitalist class character of the statist measures. Marx already stated in The Communist Manifesto that the capitalist state was nothing more than a common committee to manage the common business of the bourgeoisie, the main association of this class. Added to this, in The Civil War in France, Marx realizes in the historical experience of the Commune proved that it is not enough for the working class to take possession of the State and manage it: it must be destroyed. The pseudo-communism attributed to progressives by those conservatives most distant from reality has never been of interest to the PT, the former spawn of social democracy and the current neo-populist version of Brazilian neo-liberalism.


Also no. Fascism can be defined as a political movement based on expansionist/imperialist nationalism (it needs to expand its domains, because Italy's victory in WWI was not accompanied by territorial conquests), integralist (it seeks the integral adherence of individuals) and totalitarian (the fascist party seeks to conquer state power and then seeks to destroy political parties in general, with the state dominating all of life in society). Moreover, it is a political and doctrinal expression of the capitalist class in alliance with the bureaucracy, its auxiliary class. Fascism manifests itself through several organizations: the fascist party, fascist unions, the fascist social movement, fascist ideological doctrine, and emerges in a specific context of the retreat of the labor movement in Italy. Therefore, we are facing a specific historical phenomenon of countries with imperialist capitalism. The premises (expansionism, imperialism, single party, doctrine, totalitarian state, syndicalism) of fascism are unrealizable in countries like Brazil, marked by subordinated capitalist development and by the alternation between open bourgeois dictatorship (dictatorship, plain and simple, as it was during 1964-1985 and seems to be of interest to Bolsonaro, other PL bureaucrats and their allies) and hidden bourgeois dictatorship (founded on bourgeois democracy, which is of vital interest to the PT and its allies). The pseudo-fascism vaunted by the progressives furthest from reality might succeed in shaking, at best, the structures of bourgeois democracy, and, above all, their interests in returning to the government and managing the state machine, guaranteeing capitalist accumulation and preventing any broader political struggles. But Bolsonaro's dictatorial impulses are of no interest to national and transnational capital, because in contemporary capitalist society the democracy of capital better conceals the bourgeois dictatorship in the whole of social life.

The truth is that we are living, under the aegis of bourgeois democracy in a neo-liberal state, the most naked dictatorship of the capitalist class. The neo-liberal state is the adequate state form for contemporary capitalism, founded on the regime of integral accumulation. A dictatorship that conceals the relations of exploitation and class domination that seem eternal and natural. This is especially true during election periods, in which democratic illusions are strengthened and irrationality and the channeling of political struggles towards bourgeois institutionalism set the tone of the inter-bureaucratic dispute between parties. The latter, it is never too much to remember, have only one objective: to conquer power and exercise it, guaranteeing the political and economic conditions necessary for the reproduction of capitalist society.

The alternative, finally, and the only real way to confront capitalist barbarism, is the struggle for a self-managed society. The search for the autonomization of the proletariat, groups and contesting sectors, allied to the self-managed project (linked to the development of self-formation, of the cultural struggle for the predominance of communist ideas and revolutionary consciousness, so that the process of self-organization does not yield to other objectives, linked to the maintenance of capitalist society), marked by the rejection of all bureaucratic organizations and the struggle for the constitution of revolutionary forms of self-organization, which presupposes simultaneously the radical combat against capitalist relations of production (surplus value, social division of labor, alienation, wage labor) and the affirmation of a new set of social relations. The struggle is a class struggle and cannot be confused with a dispute between parties. Neither progressivism nor conservatism: generalized self-management!

Rubens Vinícius da Silva
MovAut (Brazil)


Image: Manuela d'Ávila, flickr.com

Friday, November 25, 2022