[Marxism] What it means to ask if Bolsonaro is a fascist | lives; running

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Oct 29 14:47:12 MDT 2018

Louis Proyect wrote

So now it's Bolsonaro, the putative fascist. For years now, Brazil has 
had rife corruption under all versions of party government, they have 
had runaway inflation, declining competitiveness in the world market, 
falling rate of profit, and worsening conditions for labor.

So what historically happens under those circumstances? As Lewis Latham 
has said, some form of arrangement for a share of the spoils to pacify 
the poor has been part of the theory of government beginning with Plato, 
Aristotle, on to Hume, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and I would add Lord Keynes. 
Anyhow, long before Hitler, Mussolini, fascism or Bolsonaro - or even 
Trump or even capitalism.

That attempt at pacifying the deprived mass came to be called "liberal 
democracy" under the rule of capitalism. It's a very malleable pact with 
the working class that entails a flexible version of sharing of 
government, a pact subject to convenient constitutional escape clauses 
and recognition of force majeure (in law, "unforeseeable circumstances 
that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract"), when governments are 
unable to right the ship (even in hurricanes, earthquakes or natural 
disasters for which they are usually woefully unprepared), under a 
number of conditions in which that social contract is vitiated.

When things are going badly for the ruling class, and in the case of 
capitalism when things are getting so out of hand that profitable return 
on investment, competitive market position and uninterrupted expansion 
of capital are threatened by events sliding out of control and a 
"restive" working classthreatens the established order, then 
authoritarian governments, along with the military, take over power from 
the liberal regimes, and drastic repression ensues.

When the last workers have been forced back into their row houses and 
after a suitable period of calm and restoration, the ruling class and 
their military brass with a sigh of relief quaff a cup of good old 
Spanish sack, march the militia back into the barracks, declare the 
whole murderous episode to have been a regrettable one-off, which will 
certainly never happen again, and a new, suitable version of "liberal 
democracy" is restored.

Of course that democracy is welcome to workers, because otherwise, 
without some built-in protection such as a bill of rights there would be 
no latitude or breathing room for speech, press, assembly, or the right 
to organize, against the era's historic antagonist, capital.

At present nearly one-half of the world's population, more than three 
billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day, More than one and a third 
billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. One billion children are 
living in poverty. UNICEF reports that 22,000 children die daily from 
malnutrition due to poverty.

Trump is declaring before the midterms that under his brief period of 
administration America has restored jobs, the stock market is surging, 
the economy is great and in fact America itself is becoming great again. 
This overlooks the fact that trade restrictions, immigration restriction 
and rejection of multilateralism are not creating the prospect of 
sustained growth, while redistribution of income from workers to capital 
will of course drive the stock markets up, which is declared a success, 
but that's a measure of just the opposite. The same with huge tax cuts 
to corporations.

As Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps says, "There's no basis for thinking 
that Trump has opened up a basis for more rapid growth. There's no 
evidence so far for anything like that...employment is at unsustainable 
levels, and I think investment, after being buoyed up by a rush of 
confidence, is at levels that will not be sustained. " The benefits of 
what economic growth we see have gone overwhelmingly to shareholders and 
senior corporate managers, not to the poor and middle class.

As Financial Times columnist Rana Faroohar says, the temporarily tight 
working class and its effect on wages cannot last, as the Trumpists up 
the length of the working day, a lot of very big firms are producing 
fewer numbers of jobs, the most labor-heavy part of the economy, 
manufacturing, healthcare, education, lag way behind productivity gains, 
and there is no adequate investment in education and worker training. 
Instead of undertaking private and public expenditure which would not 
immediately, but over time, arguably allow industries to become more 
competitive and, eventually, wages to rise, capital has developed a very 
consumer-oriented, low-cost, outsource-the-jobs, reward-Wall-Street kind 
of approach, and we're more and more seeing the fruit of that. The Fed 
is out of ammo. The major central banks have been holding about $15 
trillion on their balance sheets, an amount of unprecedented 
proportions, and the ripple effects of that start play out with the 
trouble with the emerging markets recently.

There's a huge debt bubble in China. The political economy there may 
prevent it bursting in a Lehman Brothers way, but that's going to have a 
dampening effect on growth no matter what. So we're not getting out of 
this from all indications.

As economist Angus Deaton says, "the assault on democracy, and 
deregulation, and turning over the legal system to pro-corporate 
interests is going to make the people who voted for Trump way, way worse 
off. I hate to think what they will be doing in 10 years."

Meanwhile, Keynesian solutions haven't worked, quantitative easing has 
not worked, low interest rates have not worked, austerity is not 
working, nothing has restored growth of profitability which benefits 
anyone other than the very narrow ruling class, the global economy is 
essentially stagnant, slipping and about to get worse, the environment 
is collapsing, and the transnational corporate class hasn't a clue or a 

So watch for it at your local government.

This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

More information about the Marxism mailing list