The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Bourgeoisie’s Two Masks

Oct 10, 2022

This article is translated from the October 7 issue #2827 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Brazil’s general election on October 2 showed the size of the country’s far-right vote. President Jair Bolsonaro ran for re-election with the Liberal Party, which now controls the leading group in the Senate and Assembly.

Claudio Castro, the Bolsonaro-linked candidate for governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, was elected in this first round. Numerous supporters of Bolsonaro were elected in all states, running under diverse political labels.

For the presidency, many supporters of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) hoped he would win by majority in the first round. But he only got 48.43% of the vote, which is roughly what the polls predicted. On the other hand, Bolsonaro got 43.20%, which was six to 10% more than predicted. A second round will decide between them on October 30. We can expect violent clashes in the four weeks between then and now….

Bolsonaro has a large voter base among evangelicals, gun fanatics, anti-Black and anti-Indian racists, people nostalgic for fascism and empire, members of the gangs controlling half of Rio’s favela slum neighborhoods, and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists. This hard core is estimated at 20—25% of the electorate. Add to this a number of people who are not unconditional supporters, but who have mobilized widely, as in 2018. Police and soldiers, also, whom Bolsonaro has favored, and who respond to his law-and-order demagoguery. Small landowners who are frightened by the alleged threat of communism represented by Lula. Those disappointed with previous Lula governments. Plus, workers and petty bourgeois for whom Lula’s Workers’ Party is nothing but a mafia of thieves and corrupt people. Bolsonaro also undoubtedly won votes last month by increasing the Brazil Aid subsidy for very poor people from 400 to 600 reais per month—around 120 dollars.

Many of these voters don’t blink an eye when they hear the president spouting blatant untruths. He boasts of so-called economic successes, an alleged increase in purchasing power, action in favor of the Amazon rainforest, and his victorious fight against Covid. But deforestation has progressed like never before. His active refusal of any epidemiological measures is partly responsible for Brazil’s more than 680,000 deaths from Covid. Meanwhile Lula’s supporters are presented as evil beasts and perverts, whom Bolsonaro often makes the gesture of shooting. Several were murdered during the weeks of campaigning. These murders are likely to increase.

On paper, Lula’s victory at the end of the month seems assured…. The Brazilian upper class clearly wants Lula and wants to get rid of Bolsonaro. The bosses see in Lula a man who has support among working people and can ease social tensions to better carry out their policies.

What this means is that, although Brazilian workers have a determined enemy in Bolsonaro, they will have won nothing if Lula wins on October 30. As during his two previous terms, a President Lula would be able—more than Bolsonaro, temporarily, at least—to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie during the crisis and to provide the rich with a smokescreen behind which to carry out their attacks on working people. And so, the working class will have to confront the ruling class.