Listen to the Episode — 42 min



Welcome back to the Ex-Worker! In this episode, we’re looking south to Brazil, where an emboldened far right movement has grown exponentially over the past several years, inspired by the authoritarian president Jair Bolsonaro. In October, he was defeated in a very close election by the left wing candidate Lula da Silva; inspired by the example of Trump’s defenders in the US, however, a popular right-wing movement has emerged to contest the election results, culminating in a protest in which Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings in the capital of Brasilia. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Our comrades in Brazil have been following the situation closely and participating in anti-fascist resistance to the right-wing mobilization. The two articles we’re sharing today offer a detailed report on the three-way contest between the far right in the streets, the institutional electoral left, and autonomous radical movements caught between them. The first article, published in October shortly after the election, assesses the limits of electoral strategies as pathways to social transformation or checks to fascist power; the second, published just after the storming of government buildings in January, analyzes the similarities and differences between the events in the US and in Brazil, and argues for the urgent necessity of autonomous direct action to counter both the limits of the left and the threat of the right. Despite the many differences in context, we in the United States (and elsewhere in the world) have an enormous amount we can learn from our Brazilian comrades as we consider how to push back against rising fascism in our own contexts.

These articles make reference to a lot of context and backstory to popular resistance in Brazil over the past decade, including the fare hike protests of 2013 and the organizing against the FIFA World Cup in 2014. If you’re interested in learning more about these and other upheavals, check out the links we’ve posted on our site,; under Episode 88, you’ll find links to CrimethInc. articles and Ex-Worker episodes that cover resistance movements in Brazil, plus additional links to learn more about some of the people, groups, and events that come up in the episode. If you yourself speak Portuguese or have comrades who do, we’d also encourage you to check out, where you’ll find a Portuguese language version of our site including links to hundreds of articles and zines in translation.

We hope you’ve been enjoying all the new audio content! As we mentioned in our announcement on the CrimethInc. blog, we’re aiming to make release audio versions of all of the new articles we publish, as well as making audio zines of our back catalog of classic zines and articles from past years. If you’ve got feedback for us, or there’s a CrimethInc. text you’d like us to make into an audio zine, drop us a line to podcast at crimethinc dot com.

Thanks for listening!


Published on November 6th, 2022

The 2022 elections pitted the authoritarian nationalism of Jair Bolsonaro against the institutional leftism of Workers Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Each of these rival strategies for governance presented itself as the only possible salvation for democracy. The entire campaign was marked by acts of violence, and not just from voters: at various points, parliamentarians allied with Bolsonaro exchanged gunfire with police officers and chased opponents in the streets with guns in hand.

On October 30, the second round of the election took place to determine the president and governors, and Bolsonaro lost to former president Lula. But Lula won by only 1.8%, setting the stage for strife that will continue to divide Brazil, just as the 2020 elections in the United States did not mark the end of political polarization.

After the result was released on Sunday night, Bolsonaro supporters began blocking roads. The institutional left and its grassroots movements did not respond; it was left to autonomous anti-fascists, football fans, and residents of the periphery to unblock the roads. This offers a glimpse of the conflicts we will see in the coming years of Workers Party government as the extreme right reorganizes itself while the institutional left continues to bet on a social order that is slowly collapsing.

You Don’t Defeat Fascism at the Polls

On Sunday, October 30, immediately upon the announcement of the election results, a Bolsonaro supporter in Belo Horizonte killed two people who were celebrating Lula’s victory and shot several more people from the same family. In the early hours of Monday, there were already roadblocks at 221 points on roads in half of the states in the country; within two days, Bolsonaristas were blocking roads in all but one of the states in Brazil, reaching a peak of almost 900 blockades or demonstrations. The blockades in Brazil did not come out of nowhere. Over the past few years, truck blockades have played a significant role in far-right agitation throughout the Americas. In Chile, the CIA financed trucker strikes in 1972 and 1973 in order to disrupt the administration of Salvador Allende; more recently, in Chile, right-wing truckers have organized highway blockades, framing them as a response to Indigenous Mapuche activism. In Mexico, transport workers are often used as shock troops to exert pressure on behalf of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Institutional Revolutionary Party). Last winter, in Canada, far-right truckers set up blockades in protest against vaccine mandates. We’ll probably see more such truck blockades in the future. Bolsonaro took almost 48 hours to comment on the election results. In his two-minute speech, he did not openly acknowledge the result. He criticized the movement blocking roads and recommended that they make other forms of “peaceful protest,” but used ambiguous phrasing to keep his base motivated while avoiding legal implications. Bolsonaro’s allies won the most positions in the Senate and half of the elections for governor—thirteen out of twenty-seven. Bolsonaro himself, who worked to aggravate the pandemic that killed more than 700,000 people in Brazil, still retains the support of half the electorate—nearly 60 million people. A considerable part of this base is prepared to continue to take action in pursuit of this agenda. The millions who voted for Bolsonaro will not change their minds overnight. As the blockades show, they will continue to act—with or without Bolsonaro. The president’s silence following the election set the stage for a wave of reactionary action that unfolded without a central call from the leader, his children, or his well-known supporters. The calls appeared in the same Whatsapp and Telegram groups via which fake news and conspiracy theories have spread for years now. Unlike the truck drivers’ strikes during the Temer government and those of 2018, this strike did not involve drivers as a whole, but some employers and a relatively few radicalized militants. It doesn’t take much to close the roads—just a vehicle or two and a few people, provided the police do not wish to intervene. The police, for their part, were supportive of the blockades. On October 30, during the election, the PRF (the Federal Highway Police) carried out an illegal mega-operation setting up checkpoints and seizing vehicles; this prevented thousands of voters from reaching the polling stations, especially in regions where Lula is popular. By contrast, for the first two days, the PRF did nothing whatsoever to respond to Bolsonaristas blockades. On November 1, PRF agents were filmed breaking through the fences to enable Bolsonaro’s supporters to blockade Guarulhos International Airport, the main airport in the city of São Paulo. Bolsonaro himself repeated several times that he feared he would have the same “fate as Jeanine Añez”, who took over the government of Bolivia after a coup d’état promoted by police. (Añez ended up sentenced to prison.) The fact that the PRF apparently sought to delay voters on Sunday and actively supported the Bolsonarista blockades suggests that the Bolivian case served as an inspiration for their plans.

In some cities, such as the state of Santa Catarina, protesters adopted an openly fascist discourse, with Nazi salutes and racist phrases. The gains that fascists have made will not disappear with the blockades themselves.

In the course of four years of popular resistance including the George Floyd uprising, Donald Trump retained the unwavering support of the police and the Department of Homeland Security, but he lost the support of much of the US military hierarchy. By contrast, Bolsonaro can still count on the allegiance of a considerable part of the Brazilian military. After Bolsonaro’s announcement on November 2, many of pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators addressed their demands to the military, demanding “federal intervention”—in other words, a military coup. In Trump’s United States and Bolsonaro’s Brazil, elections do not end with the announcement of the results at the polls; they are ultimately determined by the balance of power within the state.

Without Bolsonaro, his base, may now be adrift and looking for a new leader. This leader may well come from the military. Bolsnaro gave positions in the government to 6000 people from the military—three times more than the military dictatorship of 1964–1985.

This was the reward Bolsonaro offered for being placed as a representative of this informal “military party” that predates Bolsonarism and will outlast it. Another representative of this class is the recently elected governor of the state of São Paulo, Tarcísio de Freitas. The most populous state in the country—the one with the largest public budget—will now be under the management of a former military officer who participated in the operations that the governments of Lula and Dilma Rouseff carried out in Haiti. Members of the security forces won elections for many positions in Congress, advancing a “politicization of the police,” even using collective candidacies imitating those created by activists from street movements who hoped to “renew democracy.”

Autonomous and Anti-Fascist Resistance

During the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-fascists and anarchists and favela residents organized networks of mutual support and demonstrated to demand access to housing, health, supplies, and vaccines. Many of them called for counter-demonstrations to stop motorcades and actions by Bolsonaro supporters in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte.

By contrast, the institutional left made “stay at home” a commandment for its political practice, opposing street actions on the grounds that they would give Bolsonaro a “pretext” for repression. Before the elections, they claimed that their strategy was to let Bolsonaro’s government melt down on its own. Now it has become clear that this policy of passivity is a permanent strategy, because even with the election over, the institutional left and the movements under Workers Party influence have refused to call for demonstrations. For example, when the MSTS (the Homeless Workers Movement) called on its militants to open up the roads, the MST (the Landless Workers Movement) objected, maintaining that clearing the highways was the role of the state.

It’s worth pointing out here that even the New York Times, among the most vehement advocates of passivity in the United States ahead of the 2020 elections, reported that the George Floyd uprising actually contributed to mobilizing a significant proportion of the voters who enabled Joseph Biden to win the 2020 election. The real reason that the New York Times editorial board, the leadership of the Workers Party, and other left and liberal authorities discourage street mobilizations is not that they believe that these will cost them elections, but rather because they desire to retain complete control of events at every level in society and they are prepared to risk losing power for that sake. If the left argued for staying out of the streets as an electoral strategy, with Lula in office it seems that they will stay home forever, waiting for the state and the police to solve all their problems, including fascist mobilizations in the streets. The problem is that the same fascists are mobilizing within the police and the state itself.

Fortunately, not everyone was committed to passivity.

On November 1, members of the Galoucura soccer fans association took the BR-318 highway that connects Belo Horizonte to São Paulo to watch a football match. In the process, they broke through the Bolsonarista blockades, dispersing the far-right protesters. The next day, fans from the Gaviões association did the same on an important road in São Paulo, throwing fireworks and chasing cars belonging to the coup plotters. In São Paulo, anti-fascists dealt harshly with Bolsonarista militants leaving the street mobilizations.

Elsewhere, on November 2, anti-fascist activists in Rio de Janeiro called for a counter-demonstration. Without any support from the largest movements or parties, only 50 people responded to face more than 50,000 protesters calling for a military coup in the center of the city. Nonetheless, concerned chiefly about the security of the extreme right, the Military Police harassed and searched the anti-fascists.

Direct action should never have been Plan B. The authorities have no interest in stopping the resurgence of fascism—and by the time this becomes clear to Lula’s supporters, it will be too late to build a grassroots street movement from scratch. When anarchists and anti-fascists lose the struggle for the narrative and accept the strategy of the hegemonic left, we cede the streets to the far right as a stage for action and recruiting. Any resistance to the extreme right and the continuity of capitalist exploitation under the new Workers Party government must grant a central role to street mobilization and grassroots organization.

Shine the Light of a Dead Star

Rather than the defeat of fascism from the left, the Brazilian election signifies the reconstitution of the center—a return to a 2013 without hope of positive change, in which all radical opposition will be treated as if it were aiding the far right. It remains to be seen whether anyone will be satisfied with this new management, the most radical aspects of which is a nostalgia for moderate advances that occurred over a decade ago.

The 2022 electoral campaign highlighted something that was already evident in the 2018 election that brought Bolsonaro into office: the Workers Party and its militants and electoral base can only promise an image of the past, from the years 2003 to 2012, when Lula and Dilma ruled a new extractive phase of Latin capitalism, offsetting the impact of the violent extraction of resources such as ore, cellulose, meat, grain, and oil with social benefits. This policy was necessary to maintain the support of the newly dispossessed classes, impoverished by forced urbanization and the increasing precaritization of work, who had been displaced from their homes and homelands to make way for agribusiness, dams, and mills. Now, this transition is complete and an emboldened far right is assisting a new left-center coalition in disciplining its electoral base into giving up their ambitions for a more egalitarian society, on the grounds that social movements like the 2013 uprising will only aid the far right.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro and his supporters promise a supposedly revolutionary future, a “break with the system,” against the “old politics” (despite the fact that Bolsonaro served as a representative in the government for three decades already). The future they propose is a repackaging of the same proposal other far-right projects around the world have popularized. Associated with Bolsonaro, the flag of the Brazilian empire is roughly equivalent to the Confederate flag in the United States, resurrecting a bandeirante narrative about the conquest of the West and a time when there were no laws to regulate colonial power. [FYI: the “bandeirantes”, or flag carriers, were colonial era adventurers who expanded Brazil’s control over territory by capturing slaves and hunting for gold; they play a role in Brazilian nationalist mythology something like Columbus or native-fighting pioneers in the US.] Fundamentally, Bolsonaro’s supporters want a monopoly on the use of force against Black and Indigenous people, women, and other adversaries in order to maximize their profits at the expense of workers, the Amazon, and all other living things.

In 2008, Latin America experienced a “Pink Tide” of progressive electoral victories, in which the momentum built up across decades of popular uprisings—starting with the 1989 Caracazo uprising in Venezuela and the reintroduction of democracy in Brazil—enabled left parties to win at the polls with the discourse of “changing the world from top to bottom.” Ultimately, however, these politicians simply became the new managers of neoliberalism. Today, it has been a long time since the Workers Party strategy for class conciliation succeeded in including the poor or satisfying the rich. At the same time, the middle classes—especially white men—are starting to feel threatened by the gains poor people, Black and Indigenous people, and women have made in access to the job market, especially as the entire economy contracts. This already served to enable reactionaries to topple a Workers Party government years ago—and the situation has only become worse since then.

Unlike liberals and the old-fashioned right wing, Bolsonaro and his allies don’t really seek to govern or manage Brazil, just to rule it. Over the past half decade, the extreme right has governed Brazil for their own benefit and the benefit of their allies, with little concern for everyone else. Rather than buying vaccines, demanding vaccine passports, and controlling people’s movement in the name of public health, for example, he simply let people die in order to keep the economy running. Like Trump, Bolsonaro failed to win reelection: the pendulum of democracy swung back to the progressive side. But this time, the Workers Party has neither the mandate nor the ambitious proposals that it came to power with in 2002. It is only a matter of time before it once again disappoints the exploited and excluded—and this time, fascists will be all the more ready to recruit.

A left opposition that counts on the institutions, on the legitimacy of a discourse of human rights, on judgments in the Hague Court, that is committed to peace and democratic rituals, is not prepared to face an enemy eager to murder in the name of God and country. Counting on the state to prevent blockades and fascist violence, especially with rhetoric that paves the way for criminalizing protest in general, will only give more weapons and legitimacy to the police who will ultimately take the side of the far right. If we empower the institutions of the state now, we will pay the price when we are on the streets protesting for housing, food, and the protection of the land we depend on.

Likewise, while media sensationalism may have helped to counter Bolsonarist propaganda in the final stretch of the campaign, in the long run, feeding the disinformation machine controlled by corporations like Meta and Google means setting up a fight that we are bound to lose. The far right has a fundamental advantage in media sensationalism in that they have no compunction whatsoever about lying and confusion generally serves their agenda.

As they did in the years that led up to the uprising of 2013, the institutional left has once again opted for a government allied with the center and the center right. This time, we can expect even worse results in a much less favorable context. Either we take back the streets and organize on a basis of neighborhoods, occupations, cooperatives, quilombos, villages, settlements, and social centers, or we will eventually find that we are forced to fight on enemy terrain, whether virtual or institutional, when it is too late.

No change will come from above. No one is coming to save us. It’s up to us.


Published on January 10th, 2023

On January 8, 2023, far-right supporters of defeated former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasília, apparently in grotesque imitation of the fiasco in which Donald Trump’s supporters did the same thing in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. In the following report, our comrades in Brazil detail the trajectory leading up to these events and discuss the conundrums that opponents of fascism face in Brazil as a consequence.

Yesterday’s far-right incursion poses questions that anarchists and other anti-fascists must confront around the world.

Who is driving far-right efforts to escalate civil conflict and transform state institutions into a battlefield? While many in the United States have suggested the involvement of Steve Bannon, Brazil and Latin America in general have a long history of coups led by local military and right-wing forces and supported by centrists as well as conservatives within the United States government. Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro himself was absent from Brazil during the storming of the buildings, having fled before his presidential term ended. It is probably a mistake to reduce these events to the machinations of few autocrats.

Whoever was behind the incursion, why was the debacle of January 6, 2021 deemed successful enough to be worth repeating? Was the goal of the participants to seize power, to exert pressure on the incoming administration or provoke it into overreacting, to legitimize extra-legal tactics as a step toward building a fascist movement? Or is there no rational goal here, only the side effects of the campaign strategies of far-right demagogues, the increasing polarization of a fragmenting society, and the irresistible pull of memetic tactics?

How can the marginalized populations that are targeted by fascist movements mobilize to defend themselves without legitimizing the same institutions of state that both fascists and centrists employ against them? How can anarchists and others who are invested in profound social change prevent far-right “rebels” from monopolizing the way that the general public sees tactics that we, too, will need to use, albeit in pursuit of liberation?

We hope the following contribution will help our comrades to think through these questions.

Elections Do Not Stop Fascism

Since the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro and the victory of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva by a margin of less than 2% in the Brazilian presidential elections of October 30, 2022, the mobilizations of the extreme right have been escalating in both scale and violence. Soon after the announcement of Lula’s victory, demonstrators camped out around army barracks and blockaded roads, contesting the election results and calling for military intervention. Many of these camps were equipped with chemical toilets, tents, and kitchens; they were financed by businessmen and politicians aligned with Bolsonarism and the extreme right. In November, the Federal Superior Court ordered that the accounts of some of the funders should be blocked, signing search and seizure warrants.

As we previously documented, truck drivers organized by employers’ groups blocked hundreds of roads across the country, benefitting from the indulgence of the Federal Highway Police (PRF). When these blockades were defeated, the momentum shifted to urban Bolsonarist movements, especially the encampments in front of military barracks. The camps that had begun with a more diverse character, including elderly people and children, became predominantly male, with the participants more willing to use force. Lynchings of people attempting to cross the blockades, kidnappings, and even torture of those who disagreed with their tactics or views became commonplace.

On the night of December 12, during the formal recognition of President Lula and his vice president Geraldo Alckmin as the winners of the election, the radicalized street base of Bolsonarism advanced one step further in a general rehearsal for the events of January 8. Groups that were camped in Brasília attacked a police station and the headquarters of the Federal Police. Bolsonaro supporters set fire to five buses and three cars in response to the arrest of an Indigenous man named Serere Xavante, an evangelical pastor and Bolsonarist. Xavante was accused of organizing towards a coup, making threats, and promoting attacks on the democratic rule of law; the Minister of the Federal Supreme Court ordered his arrest.

The Federal Supreme Court ordered the arrests of dozens of people involved in the pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations and in the financing of the camps. The left continued to bet that institutional repression would suffice to rein in the Bolsonaristas. Counting on laws and institutions that had done nothing to diminish the momentum of the far right left the streets open to fascist organizing. In general, despite the aforementioned arrests, the police and other authorities continued to treat the Bolsonarist movement permissively.

The image of a bus in flames—formerly a symbol of the fight against state repression and capitalist exploitation, seen in protests against the bus fare increase in 2013, the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and police violence in the urban periphery—is now associated with “right-wing terrorism.” The legalist and institutional left, represented by the incoming government, is adopting the role of “defender of law and order.”

Unable to bear electoral defeat, Bolsonaro left his supporters to fight on their own for his dream of a coup. On December 30, he departed for Orlando, Florida in the presidential plane with his entourage and family members; public money paid for everything. His vice-president, General Hamilton Mourão, became acting president, making a statement praising “the alternation of power in a democracy.”

The extreme right now sees both Bolsonaro and Mourão as traitors. But without Bolsonaro, Bolsonaristas only became more enraged and volatile.

On Christmas Eve 2022, the driver of a fuel truck found an explosive device in the vehicle and alerted the police. The author of the attempted attack, George Washington de Sousa, was arrested and confessed to intending to blow up the vehicle near the Brasília airport before Lula’s inauguration, in hopes of forcing still-president Bolsonaro to establish a state of siege. The authorities discovered a considerable stock of weapons in Washington de Sousa’s apartment; he claimed to have acquired these over the years, motivated by Bolsonaro’s speeches. This drew the attention of the authorities, including Lula’s incoming administration, to the ways that the Bolsonarist occupations were recruiting and radicalizing the far right.

On January 1, 2023, Lula was sworn in under tight security. This made him the only president elected three times by democratic vote in Brazil—and Bolsonaro the first president to fail to be re-elected, as well as the first president in the democratic era to refuse to pass on the presidential sash at an inauguration ceremony. The images of representatives of Indigenous peoples, workers, Black people, the disabled, and the excluded passing the banner to Lula circulated worldwide, signifying optimism—though palliative measures for a capitalist society in obvious decline will probably not offer much more than a brief superficial improvement before the collapse.

In any case, the feeling of calm after the “defeat of fascism at the polls” did not last even a week.

The Revolt of Those Escorted by Cops

Although participation diminished after Lula assumed power, far-right protests and encampments continued. In the first days of January, Bolsonaro supporters called a demonstration for Sunday, January 8. Approximately 4000 people who had been protesting at the gates of the barracks in several cities around Brazil took chartered buses to the capital city of Brasília, joining forces for a mass demonstration repudiating Lula’s inauguration as president. The crowd included a large number of civil servants, employees of parliamentary representatives, and even deputy mayors of smaller cities. They claimed that the elections were rigged and that Lula was the head of a criminal gang seeking to embezzle money from Brazil to finance “communism.”

When the buses to the capital arrived, fascists dressed in the T-shirts of the Brazilian soccer team marched in the early afternoon, experiencing no interference or police harassment in a place that is usually heavily policed and difficult to access. They approached the buildings of the National Congress, the Federal Supreme Court, and the Palácio do Planalto (the presidential palace). These are the seats of the three federal powers of Brazil: legislative, judiciary, and executive. The demonstrators stormed the buildings, destroying windows, equipment, and furniture and damaging and stealing historic objects and rare works of art valued at millions of dollars. They stole documents and weapons from the Institutional Security Office on the ground floor of the Planalto Palace; this suggests the possibility that some of them had prior access to information about the location of these.

As in the events at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the protesters filmed everything they did themselves, showing their faces and posting the footage live on social media without any concern about risk. Ironically, they carried off an action defying the very powers that many people had trusted would suffice to rid society of fascism after the election of a left-wing progressive government.

The invaders benefitted from the tacit support of the Military Police of the Federal District; they experienced no opposition or police repression for at least three hours. Police permitted them to enter the buildings. Only at 6 pm did the police manage to take some initiative and surround the buildings. Several videos show police officers taking selfies and laughing as protesters invaded Congress; others show police officers fraternizing with the Bolsonaristas inside the invaded buildings.

Only after 8 pm did police including the National Force—who are usually so eager to attack teachers, students, and Indigenous peoples—manage to peacefully “contain” the protest, arresting about 200 people. In videos, we see the police removing Bolsonaristas peacefully, with no injuries or deaths, despite the Brazilian police being arguably the most lethal in the world.

This institutional reaction only began when Lula, who was in a city in the interior of São Paulo, issued a decree of Federal Intervention in Public Security of the Federal District, naming the Secretary of Public Security of the Ministry of Justice, Ricardo Cappelli, as intervenor until January 31, 2023. In practice, this means removing the government police from the case (the Military Police and Civil Police) and handing the case over to the federal government police (the National Security Force and Federal Police). In the evening of January 8, the Minister of Justice and Public Security made a statement saying that investigations had been opened, the financiers of the buses had been identified, and that around 200 people had been arrested.

The Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, a former judge and former governor of the state of Maranhão, also spoke, making a measured speech in which he tried to safeguard the legitimacy of the institutions of government, depicting the participants in the pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations as isolated radicals who would be treated as criminals, thereby emptying the event of political content while describing it as an attempted coup d’état. The Minister of the Supreme Court, Alexandre de Moraes, who had been active throughout Bolsonaro’s administration as a “guardian of the democratic institutional order,” also ordered the removal of the governor of the Federal District, a well-known supporter of Bolsonarism. Today, the day after the events, the situation remains perplexing for the press and the authorities, despite the fact that the demonstration had been announced long ahead of time on Bolsonarist networks.

A Local Manifestation of a Global Fascist Wave

There are many similarities between the events of January 8, 2023 in Brazil and the events of January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. But there are also significant differences, starting with the political leadership of the fascists.

Jair Bolsonaro has always positioned himself as a supporter of Donald Trump, aligning himself with global far-right movements like those in Poland and Hungary. Bolsonaro has connections to Steve Bannon, who mentored Bolsonaro’s sons for the 2018 presidential campaign and claimed last year that Bolsonaro’s election was the second most important for his movement. After the defeat, Bannon and Trump advised Bolsonaro to contest the election result. Even so, it is not possible to say that there is direct interference from Bannon or the international extreme right.

The motivation for the two invasions of government buildings is also similar in the content of the supposed conspiracy: Bolsonaro supporters allege that the elections were rigged in favor of a globalist elite sympathetic to communism and China, with the objective of destabilizing nationalist governments in order to disseminate what they call “gender ideology,” encourage drug use, and promote the interests of international criminal cartels. Following the example of the alt-right elsewhere around the globe, they declare themselves liberal in their economic program and conservative in their cultural program. Thus, they claim to defend the traditional Christian family as a means to spread white supremacy, hatred of LGBTQI+ people, and anxiety about a supposed communist threat.

On both January 6, 2021 and January 8, 2023, a fascist mob claiming to be the true representatives of the people and refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process that defeated their candidate invaded the physical headquarters of the constituted powers to generate chaos in hopes of suspending the result of the elections.

After decades of democratic management, during which practically all parties accepted that as the only possible form of politics in the era of capitalist globalization, the extreme right has placed politics back in the field of dispute and confrontation. It is increasingly clear that the consensus built in the post-World War II period around the formula capitalism + liberal democracy + human rights, which ignored the contradictions and inequalities inherent in the capitalist and state system, has been broken. Significantly, it is the right that is betting on this rupture, explicitly endorsing civil war, while most of the left still cling to democratic institutions and the management of an increasingly precarious peace.

The events in Brazil differ from the events in the United States in that the Bolsonarists cohered around something older than the Trump cult, something that is specific to Brazilian political history: nostalgia for the dictatorship that was installed by a civil-military coup with the assistance of the United States in 1964 and allegiance to all the aspects of the dictatorship that persist in Brazilian society. In the formulation of the psychoanalyst Tales Ab’Sáber: “What remains of the dictatorship in Brazil? Everything, except the dictatorship.”

Unlike what happened in the United States after the election of Biden, the Brazilian Armed Forces—comprised of officers trained in military schools permeated by the anti-communist discourse of the Cold War context and by the historical revisionism that calls the military civil coup the “‘64 revolution”—are a fundamental part of the coup movements. Social and electoral Bolsonarism involves numerous reserve officers from the army, navy, and air force. Active-duty officers barely disguise their support for the pro-Bolsonaro protesters; since 2014, they have made public statements expressing opposition to leftist parties and candidates. The most obvious proof of the support of the Armed Forces for the coup movements is their tolerance of the camps outside their barracks, which would certainly not have been accepted if the content of the demonstrations had been different.

In hopes of brokering a rapprochement within the institutions, the coalition led by the institutional left that won the elections of October appointed José Múcio to the Ministry of Defense—a right-wing politician who is a friend of the military, whose party (the Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro) used the motto “God, Family, Homeland, and Liberty.” In his statement on the demonstrations, Lula admitted that the Minister of Defense had not acted to evict the occupations around the barracks.

What is happening today in Brazil shows the strength that the extreme right has gained over the past decade, capitalizing on a diffuse social fascism that has always existed in Brazilian society. The democratic institutions that were introduced with the 1988 Constitution of Brazil did not know how to defend themselves against this—or else did not desire to. We can see this from the very beginning, in the participation of the military in the process of reintroducing democratic elections in the 1980s and the “constitutional role” of the military as guarantors of state power.

The biggest shame for the left as a whole—and especially for those who consider themselves radicals—is that the government of Jair Bolsonaro and his militias has reorganized the entire state structure, dismantling public health, education, and environmental protections while targeting Black and Indigenous people, women, and LGBTQI+ people, all in the midst of a global pandemic that killed more people in Brazil than the per capita average worldwide. Yet we were unable to respond throughout those events—neither with a general strike, nor by shutting down cities and highways, nor by invading the president’s palace.

Now all of those actions, which we should have taken to defend ourselves against the far right, are associated with the far right. This contributes to a discourse that will paralyze us, rendering it impossible to wield the leverage we need to against fascists both outside and inside state institutions, not to mention the other parties that will also use the institutions of government to continue imposing the worst effects of capitalism on us.

We need to foment popular revolt that includes all the disenfranchised sectors of society, everyone who is targeted by fascists, everyone who suffers under capitalism even when it is managed by a progressive government. We must not delegitimize insurrection when the state apparatus is in the hands of the center-left while the streets remain in the hands of fascists and security forces. We must find ways to resist, rejecting the blackmail of those who claim that the most important thing is to maintain order, with their eternal moralism in defense of private property and state power.