27 January 2019

Hoist By Their Own Petard - The Zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty

The sad, sorry story of a ‘Trotskyist’ group that believes in a ‘socialist’ imperialism and supports Apartheid Israel  

Having spent much of my life on the far-left it is clear to me that the biggest enemy of the left isn’t the capitalist class or agents of the state, it is the left itself. I refer in particular to the scattered debris of left sects that see themselves as the embodiment of the future revolution.
Sean Matgamna - the AWL's guru
Possibly the worst example was the Workers Revolutionary Party led by Gerry Healey, whose Labour Party acolytes included former Lambeth leader, Ted Knight. It still manages to produce a daily newspaper, Newsline, that no one reads. For most of its existence it was led by Gerry Healey whose serial rape of young female members was revealed 30 years ago. When he was eventually brought to book Corin Redgrave defended him in the name of a higher morality. Citing his many ‘achievements’ Redgrave told fellow comrades that ‘If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.”  [The break-up of the WRP – from the horse’s mouth,, Simon Pirani].
Alone on the Left the AWL support the reactionary IHRA that Theresa May and Eric Pickles and Viktor Orban support
The WRP itself was funded by a variety of reactionary and corrupt Arab regimes such as the Iraqi Baathists. Healey earned his money by for example spying on Iraqi communist exiles in London. No doubt his entrance ticket to these Arab potentates was provided by the film stars Corin and Vanessa Redgraves, who stood by him through thick and thin when the WRP expelled him. [For a background to the split see Bob Pitt the Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy, and  Biographical sketch].
The AWL campaign against 'left anti-semitism was taken up by the Right when attacking Corbyn and the Left
The Socialist Workers Party also came a cropper over the question of rape when a female member complained she’d been raped by former National Secretary, Martin Smith. Rather than suspending Smith and conducting a thorough and impartial investigation, or alternatively deciding it was a Police matter, the Disputes Committee consisting of Smith’s mates decided that it was the woman who at fault, questioning her about previous partners and her drinking habits.  Interestingly the defence of the SWP’s behaviour by Alex Callinicos included accusing his opponents of ‘bourgeois morality’ – which was also Corin Redgrave’s defence of Gerry Healey. [For a background to the split see Bob Pitt the Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy, and  Biographical sketch].
The AWL prefer a fantasy version of Israel to the reality
As far as is known rape wasn’t a feature of the Revolutionary Communist Party’s lurch to the right. In many ways it was far worse. They became genocide deniers or what Ed Vulliamy called tinpot Holocaust deniers’. [Poison in the Well of History, Guardian, 15.3.2000, 
Its magazine, Living Marxism or LM alleged, in 1992, that an ITN report on the Serbian concentration camps of Trnopolje and Omarska in Bosnia was faked.
Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel's report of an AWL/Progress love-in
In ‘The Picture that Fooled the World’ it was alleged that the photograph of emaciated concentration camp inmate Fikret Alic was bogus and the barbed wire surrounding the camp was trick photography which actually was surrounding the reporters. One libel action later and LM was out of business. ITN in £375,000 libel victory, Guardian, 15.3.2000.
The AWL's solidarity is with the colonialists not the colonised
The RCP, which had been steadily jettisoning socialist politics for a long time, disappeared and Spiked was reborn as an Internet journal of the corporate, anti-environmental, racist Right. Their belief in free speech is limited to those who agree with them! [Spiked by Spiked, Socialist Unity, 13.3.09]
And of course the list of socialist renegades would not be complete without mention of Socialist Action whose John Ross masquerades these days as PR man for the Chinese regime in all its horrors. [No secrets to China's success, Guardian, 18.8.09.] 
The AWL is vehemently opposed to any solidarity with the Palestinians such as BDS
But pride of place is reserved for a small group inside the Labour Party, the Alliance for Workers Liberty. I’m sure no one has been raped or otherwise abused, but the organisation’s claim to be on the left would be the subject of a trading standards investigation if they were trying to sell you anything other than their shop worn paper.
This is an organisation which believes that socialism in Britain will be achieved by supporting imperialism policy abroad. In Afghanistan they supported the Mujahideen against the Soviet backed regime. 
Today they are decidedly opposed to Islamic fundamentalism. In Ireland they supported a variant of Partition and were hostile to Irish Republicanism.
When Tony Blair and George Bush launched the invasion of Iraq the AWL distinguished themselves by refusing to call for the withdrawal of western troops. The ostensible grounds were that they were protecting the incipient labour movement in Iraq!
But it is over Israel that the AWL have distinguished themselves. They are open supporters of the Israeli state in the guise of supporting a two state solution. They can claim to have virtually invented the concept of ‘left anti-Semitism’ as a means of undermining support for the Palestinians.
My attention was drawn to an article ‘No way to fight the witchhunt in the current edition of Workers Liberty.
It is an attack on Labour Against the Witchhunt.  According to the AWL’s Dale Street the main motion from the Steering Committee ‘sums up the core elements of left anti-Semitism.’
What you might ask does Dale mean? Is someone arguing that Jews are racially inferior to non-Jews? Perhaps we are peddling the stereotype that Jews are mean, cosmopolitans who owe no loyalty to anyone or anything (apart from our purse).  But no, that is what Israel’s best friend Viktor Orban said when he made George Soros the demonic figure of hate in the Hungarian general election last year.
In a speech commemorating the 170th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution Orban gave a speech littered with anti-Semitic  tropes:
“They do not fight directly, but by stealth; they are not honourable, but unprincipled; they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs. They are not generous, but vengeful, and always attack the heart – especially if it is red, white and green [the colours of the Hungarian flag].” Viktor Orban’s war on George Soros and Hungary’sJews, The Globe and Mail, 1.6.18.
Yet last July Orban was guest of honour in Israel visiting his old friend Benjamin Netanyahu.  As part of his visit to Israel Orban paid homage to the dead of the Holocaust at Israel’s Holocaust propaganda museum, Yad Vashem. Quite uniquely his visit was the subject of a picket by, amongst others Holocaust survivors. [Livid protesters block Hungarian PM Orban as heleaves Yad Vashem, The Times of Israel, 19.7.18.
This is the same Orban who described Admiral Horthy as an ‘exceptional statesman’ 
Horthy, who instituted Hungary’s White Terror in 1920 formed an alliance with Nazi Germany in the war and presided over the deportation of nearly half a million Jews to Auschwitz. Yet when Israel’s Ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, issued a mild rebuke to Orban last July for a blatantly anti-Semitic poster campaign against Soros, Netanyahu quickly overruled him. Israel Overrules its Ambassador to Hungary on Anti-Soros Ads.
Soros is also a hate figure in Israel for funding human rights groups. A week later Netanyahu paid a state visit to Hungary.
I mention this because the Israeli state has embraced virtually every anti-Semitic regime in Europe and not just Europe. Bolsonaro of Brazil is another friend of Israel yet the AWL insist on seeing Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state, the embodiment of world Jewry. Brazil applauds Netanyahu-Bolsonaro bromance, new ties with Jewish state, Times of Israel, 3.1.19.
LAW’s crime is that it is
not focused on the many hundreds of socialists expelled from the Labour Party, without notification of charges, hearing, or appeal, since 2015, on grounds of association (however loose) with left-wing groups such as Workers’ Liberty, Socialist Appeal, or Left Unity. Its prime concern is with Labour Party members charged with antisemitism.
What the AWL really mean is they would rather LAW ignores disciplinary action where the allegations involve accusations of anti-Semitism. Of course these allegations aren’t true. LAW’s Honorary President Moshe Machover was expelled and then reinstated because of his alleged membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Our proposed Constitution, under Aims, states that:
·         The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.
We have fought against all exclusions, whether they are on the grounds of support for another political organisation, anti-Semitism or indeed any other political grounds such as transphobia. Our proposed Constitution is quite clear:
·         All those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated.
The main motion to the conference is entitled ‘The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn.’  Dale Street takes exception to an analysis which says that Corbyn has been attacked because he is seen as a threat to the strategic alliance with the US” because of his “critical attitude towards Israel”. Is the AWL seriously denying that Israel, which receives over $4 billion in aid each year from the USA, the largest of any country, is not in alliance with the USA? Why then would the USA give such large amounts of aid to Israel?
Equally objectionable to the AWL is our statement that the Israeli state and the Zionist lobby is conducting ‘a “war of attrition” against Corbyn. Apparently all these headlines in the Zionist press saying that Corbyn is an ‘existentialist threat’ to the Jewish community are just friendly banter. [Three Jewish papers take the unprecedented stepof publishing the same page on Labour antisemitism], Jewish Chronicle 25.7.18. 
The Al Jazeera programme The Lobby showing Israeli agent Shai Masot at work helping fan the flames of false ‘anti-Semitism’ are another example of ‘left’ anti-Semitism. 
Naturally our description of Corbyn’s ‘“policy of appeasement” (which has) culminated in the Labour Party’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism’ is anti-Semitic as is the suggestion that ‘This has “massively expanded” the scope for “false allegations of antisemitism”.
Of course the AWL see nothing wrong in a definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ which conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Most people in the Labour Party (and outside) have no problem distinguishing between criticism of Israel or Zionism and hostility to Jews as Jews. The AWL however has swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the Zionist fable that to oppose Zionism is to be anti-Semitic.
Our suggestion that the anti-Semitism witch-hunt is fabricated and that the Jewish Labour Movement, the British wing of the racist Israeli Labour Party is orchestrating the attacks on Corbyn via its MP patrons such as Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger and Ian Austin is seen as yet more evidence of ‘left anti-Semitism’.  
Ironically, Owen Smith MP, when challenging Corbyn, accused the AWL of 'antisemitism' because in the eyes of the Right,  anti-semitism= the left!
However this has not always been the case. Cast your minds back to the summer of 2016. At that time Owen Smith challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour Party. In the course of the campaign Owen Smith made the allegation, on BBC Question Time, that the AWL was themselves anti-Semitic. As a result of this Peter Radcliffe and Daniel Randall were expelled by Iain McNicol for ‘anti-Semitism’. 
Around this time I happened to do a debate with Daniel Randall on the subject Is there such a thing as ‘left anti-Semitism’? I couldn’t therefore help but put it to Daniel that he and Peter had been bitten by the very dog that had attacked so many of us. There was a rich irony in the AWL being attacked by Labour’s Right as ‘anti-Semites’. Of course they failed to see the irony in the situation but it should have been crystal clear. To the Right all socialists are automatically ‘anti-Semites’. Indeed ‘anti-Semitism’ is a catch-all charge for the Right. Daniel was therefore forced to concede the truth of what I was saying:
I do want to say from the outset that it is undeniably the case that the issue of anti-Semitism has been instrumentalised and manipulated by some on the Labour Right and their supporters in the press in order to undermine Corbyn and the Left.  As Tony mentioned, last week Owen Smith accused us of anti-Semitism on national television, so it is very clear that there is a certain process going on there, a certain instrumentalisation and manipulation of an issue for cynical factional ends.  It has to be understood and opposed on its own terms. [Debate Between Tony Greenstein & Daniel Randall of the Alliance for Workers Liberty
But as Dale said ‘All the main themes of left antisemitism are there’. And what are these themes?
Our statement that Zionism is a form of racism. (‘so the very existence of Israel, above and beyond any particular policy, is “racist”). An ethno-nationalist state which calls itself Jewish, which declares that it is a state of only part of its inhabitants, is inherently racist. Just like a White ethno-nationalist state in South Africa or a Protestant Supremacist statelet in Northern Ireland was racist.
Does this mean we deny the right of Israeli Jews to live in Israel? No of course not.  What we do deny is the right of a racist state to exist, whether it is South Africa Israel or Nazi Germany.
Dale objects in particular to our description of ‘Palestinian Arabs who are born outside the territory now Israel’ as natives ‘whereas Jews born there are “settler-colonialists”. But this is a political description of the function of Israeli Jews, who to this very day see themselves as a privileged community. It is Israeli Jews who are dispossessing and removing Palestinian Arabs from their lands.  Settler colonialism is an ongoing process and Israeli Jews are without doubt a settler population politically.
Dale concludes by saying that ‘No viable campaign against the expulsion of socialists from the Labour Party can be built by tying it to these conspiracy theories.’ Which is somewhat rich coming from the AWL. It was the AWL’s Jill Mountjoy and AWL sympathiser Michael Chessum who voted to remove Jackie Walker as Vice-Chair of Momentum at the instigation of Jon Lansman. Of course Lansman almost immediately turned round and attacked the AWL.
To describe the expulsion of myself as part of the false anti-Semitism campaign is apparently anti-Semitic. That perhaps is why the AWL and Progress have conducted almost a love-in on the question of ‘anti-Semitism’. The AWL’s ‘Stop the Purge’ campaign has disappeared and the reason why is you cannot support, as the AWL have done, the expulsion of Ken Livingstone for daring to mention Zionist-Nazi collaboration (a fact), you cannot support or justify the expulsion of other ‘left anti-Semites’ and then complain about your own expulsions. You have to be consistent but unfortunately AWL been consistent racists, supporting the ‘right’ of the world’s only apartheid state, Israel, to discriminate against its Palestinian citizens in the name of a ‘Jewish’ state.
Israel is not racist because of particular policies but because racism is in the DNA of the Israeli state. To take but one example 93% of Israel is state land or belongs to the Jewish National Fund. It is off limits to Israeli Arabs. Over the summer there were demonstrations by Jewish residents of the northern city of Afula because an Israeli Arab had managed to buy a house in a hitherto all-Jewish city. Is this simply a racist policy of Netanyahu? The situation of hundreds of Jewish only communities has been a feature of Israel since 1948.  The 1950 Law of Return, which allowed any Jew to emigrate to Israel whilst denying the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees, cemented Israel’s racist and colonial nature.
In what other country would you get a situation where the Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu, issues an edict that Jews must not rent property to Arabs.  Eliyahu is a paid state official yet the state is silent and when he is criticised dozens of Israeli rabbis back him up and issue similar rulings. [Dozens of Top Israeli Rabbis Sign Ruling toForbid Rental of Homes to Arabs], Ha’aretz 7.12.10.,  
Yet the AWL deny that this and dozens more examples of the most vicious and murderous racism suggest anything is amiss or strange in the State of Israel. For example when an Israeli soldier Elor Azaria murdered in cold blood a Palestinian lying on the floor he received a 9 month prison sentence. Elor Azaria released from prison after 9 months, YNet  5.8.18.
Contrast this with 16 year old Ahed Tamimi who received a sentence of 8 months for slapping an Israeli soldier who entered the grounds of her house. Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian Teen, Gets 8 Months in Prison for Slapping Israeli Soldier, New York Times, 21.3.18., 
The politics of the AWL are not new. There is nothing that they do which hasn’t been done in the past. They are the inheritors of the tradition laid down by Henry Hyndman of the Social Democratic Federation.  
Militancy at home and support for the Empire overseas. The SDF metamorphosed into the British Socialist Party and then the unfortunately named National Socialist Party. Unlike the SDF the AWL is but a fragment politically.
I copy below an excellent response to the AWL’s guru, Sean Matgamna by Jim Higgins, who was formerly National Secretary of the International Socialists (now the SWP) and an eclectic revolutionary. It is well worth reading.
Tony Greenstein

Jim Higgins

The arrogance of the long distance Zionist [1*]

(March 1998)

From Workers’ Liberty, No.38, March 1998.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

This will be the third time I have ventured to disagree with Sean Matgamna on the vexed question of Zionism. I do so with some trepidation because, or so it seems, even when I am right I am in reality exposing myself as fundamentally wrong and mischievously so. In my first article I attempted to lighten the subject with a few mildly humourous quips. I was sternly rebuked for this failure of seriousness. Chastened, in part two I adopted a serious tone. Sean responded by regretting my humour had been replaced by “choler, rodomontade, unleavened abuse, some of it purely personal ...” Did I really do all of that? I feel particularly cheered to hear that I was guilty of choler and rodomontade, rather like the man who discovered at an advanced age that he had been speaking prose all his life. Normally, of course, I only use unleavened abuse during Passover. Sorry about that.
Having reviewed Sean’s articles I can see that they fit quite nicely into the Matgamna mode of polemic. First and foremost, his views are lumped together in such a way that they will sharply divide him from other socialists. This is what Al Richardson calls “consumer socialism” and Marx calls “sectarianism.” In practice this means that since Bernard Dix died, there have been no adherents of the Shachtmanite school of bureaucratic collectivism on these shores and if Sean were to occupy this vacant franchise he would acquire a whole slew of politics to differentiate himself from everybody else. All you need is a file of New International (published monthly between 1936 and 1958) and you can start to kid yourself you are writing with all the style and eloquence of Max Shachtman. Along with all the clever nonsense about Russia you will also inherit the Workers’ Party-International Socialist League line on Israel.
A comparison of Sean’s article with a sampling of the WP-ISL texts shows that whatever Sean lacks in originality he has made up for in the diligence of his researches into the New International. In the September issue of Workers’ Liberty we have Sean as follows: “Cliff’s 1946 pamphlet does not deal at all with the political questions in the Middle East, having more to say about the price of oil than about the rights of national minorities. Where politics should have been there is a vacuum ...” Now here is Al Gates in the New International in September 1947: “T. Cliff’s competent analytical work on Palestine, and here too we observed a fine study of the economic growth and problems of the Middle East and the place of Palestine in that situation. Yet the whole work was outstanding for its studious evasion of the political questions of the class and national struggles taking place there.” Gates is more polite than Sean, but that will probably surprise no one.
Another standard feature of Sean’s method is the one where he complains bitterly that he is being abused unfairly as a prelude to unleashing a little of his own venom into the argument. For example, I raised the case of Deir Yassin because it took place in April 1948 and set in motion the Arab refugees, countering Sean said they only fled in May 1948 when the Arab armies started their offensive. In so doing I neglected to mention the killing of 60 Jews by Arabs in the bloody attacks of 1929. For this I was accused of hypocrisy. Perhaps now I should go on to apologise for failing to condemn the similar outrages of 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1938. In the interests of balance perhaps I should also throw in the massacres of Sabra and Chatila, because I condemn them as well. In the same vein, Sean insists that he does not believe that I, or the SWP, are racist, but in virtually breath he repeats his accusation that we are anti-semitic. This does not come from the WP-ISL. I have nowhere in the pro-Israel polemics of Al Gates and the rest seen them accuse their socialist opponents of anti-semitism. For that we must look to official Zionist spokesmen and Sean Matgamna. It is, I suppose, always nice to have two sources of inspiration.
Let us now turn to Sean’s predilection for discovering sinister and malign purposes in the motives of others and constructing a sort of retrospective amalgam. About a quarter of his piece is devoted to a partial and not very informative trawl through Cliff’s works on the Middle East. On the strength of his 1948 pamphlet Middle East at the Crossroads, this apparently made Cliff, along with Abram Leon, one of the Fourth International’s two experts on the Jewish question. Unfortunately, Leon was killed by the Nazis, so after 1946 Cliff must have stood pre-eminent, although Sean assigns a subordinate role to Ernest Mandel. Thus we have the sinister Cliff leading the FI along the road of “anti-semitic anti-Zionism.” Unfortunately, by the time Sean got round to this particular fantasy he had forgotten what he had written on the previous page: “In 1967, after the Six Day War, Cliff wrote a pamphlet which is closer in its political conclusions and implied conclusions to what Workers’ Liberty says than to what the SWP or Jim Higgins say now. The decisive shift came after 1967 and was brought to the present level of nonsense after the Yom Kippur war of 1973. The ‘honour’ of having established the post 1973 IS/SWP line belongs, I think, to none other than Jim Higgins (in an article in IS Journal).” There you have it comrade readers, Cliff set the style for the FI and especially the American SWP, except that until 1973 his views were not much different from those of Workers’ Liberty, which I assume are the same as Sean’s. Far from Cliff being the deus ex machina of anti-Zionist anti-semitism, I am. In International Socialism No. 64 in 1973, I wrote this seminal offending piece, Background to the Middle East Crisis. At the same time, the ground-breaking significance of the article passed without a murmur. Nobody, including the author, was aware that it was any more than a short explanation of the IS Group’s attitude to the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, which I had reported for Socialist Worker. In the 23 years since it was written probably only Sean Matgamna has read it, now that Sean, with Holmes-like skill, has unmasked me as the eminence grise of “non-racist anti-semitic anti-Zionism” I too have read it, and regret that it has no claims, subliminal or otherwise, to trend-setting originality.
Delving further into the Matgamna polemical method we find encounter that special form of arrogance that insists on setting all the terms of any debate and finding significance in a failure to follow him up any logical blind alley he may choose. Let us then consider his “serious and not entirely rhetorical question, why the Jewish minority, a third of the population in the 1940s, did not have national rights there.” Let us leave aside the fact that rhetorical questions are precisely the ones that are not looking for answers, and think about this one. First, in those terms of realpolitik to which Sean is so addicted, who was to afford them national determination in the 1930s and 1940s. Was it the Arab majority? Not a bit of it, the very notion of any kind of accommodation with the Arab majority was totally anathema to the Zionist leadership. Should they have addressed themselves to the British? Actually they did and were turned down. The fact is that there were no rights for self-determination for anyone in Palestine. British policy had been to utilize Zionism as a force to divide and discipline the Arab masses. That is how the Jewish population rose from fewer than 100,000 in 1917 to over 400,000 in 1939 (a third of the total population). The plan was for eventually a Jewish homeland under strictly British tutelage. The turning off of Jewish immigration in 1939 was because the British were concerned to pacify the Arab majority to safeguard Palestine as a British controlled Middle East hub, especially the oil pipeline, in the war.
The question of self-determination for the Zionists had nothing to do with democracy, because any solution, while the Jewish population remained a minority, would under democratic norms have to be cast in such a way that came to terms with the Arab majority. It is for this reason that the Zionist leadership fought so hard for unrestricted immigration and why the Arabs were against it. It is for the same reasons that the Zionists while demanding Jewish immigration were opposed to Arab immigration. It is the same reason why Zionist policy was bitterly opposed to the idea of a constituent assembly. This vexed question of population arithmetic is what distorted the political agenda of Palestine.
With two thirds of the population the Arabs would seem to have a fairly safe majority. In fact, they had a plurality of only 400,000. For the Zionist leadership this was the magic number and to overhaul it took precedence over all other considerations. Such a number might just, with massive difficulty and at the expense mainly of the Arabs, be accommodated. This was the emphasis of Zionist propaganda, despite that Palestine, assuming a complete disregard for the Arabs, could take only a small proportion of the Jews threatened and eventually murdered by Hitler. The massive propaganda effort was expended on altering Palestine’s population statistics, instead of demanding asylum from the US and Britain (who were infinitely better able to provide for it) for these and many, many more Jews who were to be lost in Himmler’s ovens. This was not a matter of emphasis, shouting louder about Jerusalem than New York, it was a positive opposition to Jews going anywhere other than Palestine. If the intention had been to save Jewish lives at all costs, the argument should have been: “If you will not let Jews into British-mandated Palestine, then you have an urgent and absolute moral responsibility to give them asylum elsewhere.” no such campaign was mounted.
Nevertheless, comrades might ask, is not the hallmark of socialist internationalism the free, unfettered flow of all people throughout the world? Why should Palestine be different? The short answer is that immigration as part of a concerted plan that will take over the country, expropriating, expelling and exploiting the native masses, is less immigration and more a long drawn out and aggressive invasion. For socialists, the reactionary character of Zionism is defined by its racist ideology, imbued with the spirit of separation and exclusion, the very reverse of socialist solidarity. It was prepared totally itself with every reactionary force that might help its purposes. It lobbied such figures as the Kaiser, the Sultan of Turkey, for twenty years it cosied up to British imperialism, finally snuggling into the embrace of the biggest imperial power of them all, the United States. In the process, it has treated the Arab population as a species of untermensch and has effectively driven a large portion of the Arab masses into the hands of Islamic obscurantists and bigots. It stands in the way of any socialist advance in the Arab world, operating as imperialism’s gendarme in the region, a far more effective force for imperialism than, for example, the feeble Saudi royal family or the Hashemites. If Zionism has had one redeeming feature over the years, it is that it never bothered to conceal its intentions, but it is difficult to commend a man for his honesty in telling you that he is going to beat your brains out, especially if he then delivers the mortal blow.
As Sean indicates, the development of ideas on Zionism in the Trotskyist movement is quite interesting. So Sean says, Cliff in his New International article of June 1939, was for Jewish immigration into Palestine and for the sale of land to the Jewish population, both points vigorously opposed by the Palestinian CP. His argument for this, and it is a thin one, is: “Yet from the negation of Zionism does not follow the negation of the right to existence and extension of the Jewish population in Palestine. This would only be justified if an objectively necessary identity existed between the population and nothing more.” Like a lot of Cliff, this takes a bit of time to get your head around. With perseverance one is, however, struck by how abstract it is as a serious formulation. Whether this is a reaction against the Arab chauvinism of the PCP I cannot say, but it clearly suggests that unless Zionism is 100% in the pocket of British imperialism it is OK to augment its forces. But as we well know, nationalist movements are not wedded to any particular sponsor, and their interests are never seen as identical and often antithetical. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem could make overtures to Hitler, Jabotinsky, the founder of revisionist Zionism, was a great admirer of Mussolini, and, during the war, Chandra Bose, the leftist Indian nationalist, worked with the Japanese, building an Indian national army. In the same way, the Jewish population were not 100% identified with Zionism, Cliff and the handful of Jewish Trotskyists were not and neither was the PCP, but in the absence of anything of consequence, Zionism certainly had at least the tacit support of an overwhelming majority of the Jews. After the war and the holocaust, that support became far more active.
I have a suspicion that it is from this 1939 article that Sean acquired his idea that the Comintern were not opposed to Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1920s. In truth Cliff, as is his wont, is being a bit economical with the actualité here. He says: “The members of the Comintern in Palestine ... while absolutely opposed to Zionism (against the national boycott [of Arab goods and Arab labour - JH], against slogans like the Jewish majority and the Jewish state and the alliance with England, etc.), declared at the same time that the Jewish population is not to be identified with Zionism and hence demanded the maximum freedom of movement for Jewish immigration into Palestine ...” You will notice the odd usage of the “members of the Comintern in Palestine”. He is trying not to refer to the PCP, which he excoriated earlier in his piece, and also neglects to say that the PCP was formed of resignées from the Zionist Poale Zion in 1922. Whatever the PCP’s policy may have been, up to 1926-27, it was not the Comintern’s.
Cliff’s article concludes by proclaiming that the only solution is socialism, but in the meanwhile calls for a secular, unitary state in a parliamentary democracy. The suggested programme included: compulsory education for all, pensions, minimum wage and all the other appurtenances of the welfare state. All of this seemed to have a familiar ring about it, especially when taken with the call for Jewish immigration. Then it struck me, Cliff’s 1939 policy was the same as that of the WP-ISL, as set out in various resolutions of that party. Shachtman never acknowledged this fact, but then he always denied that the theory of bureaucratic collectivism came from Bruno Rizzi. We are now left with a terrible problem. We have it on no less authority than Sean Matgamna that Cliff, in 1946, had set the political line for the Fourth International, especially of the Cannonite SWP. Now I find that such is the dastardly cunning of T. Cliff, he had previously masterminded the opposing Shachtmanite WP-ISL policy. With the brain reeling, one realises the full horror of it all. The Cliff-inspired Shachtman variant has now been taken up by Sean Matgamna. When one recalls that for some years there was no greater fan of the US-SWP and James P. Cannon than Sean Matgamna (he endorsed their defencism, violent anti-Shachtmanism as well as their anti-Zionism), we might describe this phenomenon as “deviated apostolic succession.”
In all this chopping and exchanging of opinions, we can confidently affirm that Sean’s “two states for two peoples” formulation did not come from Lenin, Trotsky, Cliff (pre- or post-1946), Shachtman, Cannon or any other international socialist source. In Sean’s thesis it seems that if most Jews support a Zionist state, although the overwhelming majority of them do not and would not live there, then socialists must support them regardless of the democracy of numbers or the rights of others. By the same token, presumably, the rural Afrikaaners who want their own state must have it because they represent a significant minority.
It is possible to argue that after the war the people who suffered the ultimate barbarism of the holocaust deserved special treatment from the world that bore no little responsibility for that horror. It is a persuasive argument and one that struck the heartstrings of many in the aftermath of 1945. It was that public sympathy at the condition of the Jews, who had endured so much, languishing in displaced persons camps, that put pressure on the Allied governments to solve this humanitarian problem. What none of them were going to do was open their own doors to a flood of immigrants. Not least of their calculations concerned the fact that there were also hundreds of thousands of displaced people and prisoners of war who might have claimed similar privileges. Their attitude was rather like that of Kaiser Wilhelm II who thought of a Jewish homeland as “at least somewhere to get rid of our Yids.” The people’s conscience about the Jews was salved at little cost to the world but at the expense of the Palestinians. Many of the other refugees were herded callously to their deaths behind the Iron Curtain. In both instances, a cheap and easy solution for the Allies, but not one that readily commends itself to international socialists. It is ironic that the displaced persons camps in Europe emptied as the displaced persons in the Middle East were filling with Arabs. Why should the world’s debts be paid by the poorest people?
Of a piece with this affectation for the accomplished fact and his perverse inability to fight for it, is his sneering response to the suggestion that the answer is revolutionary socialism. For Sean, the fight must be for the maintenance of Israel. The socialist Matgamna is the eager partisan of this robustly capitalist state, this proud possessor of an arsenal of atomic bombs, this outpost of imperialism that enshrines the expropriation and exploitation of its Arab citizens and finds its justification in the notion of the exclusive and superior character of its Jewish people. Sean might condemn (but not too loud) the denial of human and democratic rights, the legal theft of property and land, the arbitrary arrests, the rigorous application of collective guilt, the deportations and curfews, but he draws no political conclusions other than to excuse this on the grounds of the right of Israel to be secure. For my part, I believe that so long as Israel exists as a Zionist state, then Jews and Arabs will continue to die needlessly and to no good purpose, as they are dying while we conduct this argument. There will be no peace. I further believe that only under socialism can the national question be solved for both peoples, because only then can there be any chance of fairness and equity. The history of the last 50 years is the negative affirmation of that fact.
Scattered throughout Sean’s text are four footnotes. Footnote 3 is quite charming, because it bangs on at length abusing the leadership of IS, during Sean’s recruiting raid within its ranks from 1968 to 1971. As part of the leadership during that time I was overjoyed to discover that, along with Cliff, Duncan Hallas, Chris Harman and Nigel Harris, I had displayed “Malvolio-like snobbery, self-satisfaction, and brain-pickling conceit, built on small achievement ...” As Malvolio said: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust on them.” I have to say that, since he transferred his loyalty from Cannon to Shachtman, Sean has acquired an entirely better class of vituperation, although he still has some way to go before he is in the same street as Max Shachtman for his high-grade abuse. Probably better to get the politics right, Sean, especially the WP-ISL’s opposition to Zionism and two nations theory.
The disconnected footnote 4 concerns an anecdote told to Sean by James D. Young, concerning a discussion about Israel, in the late 1950s between Cliff and Hal Draper, witnessed by James. According to Sean: “Suddenly Draper turns on Cliff in irritation and repudiation, and accuses him: “You want to destroy Israeli Jews! I don’t!” leaving aside the “irritation” and “repudiation” - this is Sean spicing up the story - this little anecdote is actually more revealing of Sean’s method than of Cliff’s. We hear what Hal Draper said, as recalled by James, forty years after the event. But what did Cliff respond to this accusation of his wanting a pogrom of holocaust proportions? Did Sean ask James for this information and he could not remember? Or is it that Sean, having acquired the evidence for the prosecution, did not want to confuse matters with any defence? Or did Cliff have no explanation and confess that he, along with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, wanted to drive all the Israeli Jews into the sea? If the answer to this last question is “yes”, then he should have been scandalised out of the movement. Or is this just something that Sean has failed to check properly with James D. Young? What we do know, however, is that Draper was against the Zionist state and wanted to replace it with an Arab-Jewish socialist state. And so say all of us, including Cliff, I think.
Throughout Sean’s reply there runs an accusatory thread that I am conducting this argument as some way of making my apologies to Cliff. If I defend his line on Palestine in Workers’ Liberty it is to cover my “social embarrassment before [my] SWP friends and former comrades.” Which ones are those, pray? Paul Foot, Chris Harman, Jim Nichol? I think not. I do not defend Cliff’s line on the permanent arms economy, because I no longer agree with it. I no longer defend his line on Russia, because I no longer agree with it. I defend his line on Zionism, because I agree with it. I defend the IS line on the Minority Movement that both of us held and he abandoned. It may come as a surprise to Sean but there are those of us who can disagree on fundamentals with Cliff without consigning everything he has said or done to the dustbin of history. At the same time, I do feel a degree of bitterness that what I saw as the best hope for the revolutionary movement in Britain since the 1920s, that I spent some time in helping to build, should have been diverted down various blind alleys at the behest of Cliff’s impressionism and caprice. Most of all, my real complain is not that Cliff has maintained his position on various matters, it is that he is capable of jettisoning almost any of those positions for at worst imaginary and at best transitory benefit. All of this and a great deal more, I have set out in a recently completed book on the IS group. [2] At the end of it I do not think anybody, including Cliff, will think that I am apologizing, or wonder why I, and many others, are a touch bitter.
Finally, I would like to apologize to those Workers’ Liberty readers who have got this far, for taking up so much of their time, but they really should blame Sean. He started it.

25 January 2019

By Their Friends Shall Ye Know them – Netanyahu and Brazil's Bolsonaro Embrace

The ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ finds Fascist Brazil congenial company 

It has become a familiar routine.  No sooner than is some far-Right madman elected to office in some far-away country than Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is creating a cloud of dust in his haste to embrace his latest fascist friend.  Why? Because Israel itself is a country whose Jewish population is on the far-Right. Netanyahu receives virtually no domestic criticism of his alliances and is tipped to win the forthcoming General Election easily.
Demonstrators hold posters comparing Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro to Adolf Hitler. Sao Paulo, Brazil, on October 20,
After Viktor Orban of Hungary, Mateusz, Morawiecki of Poland, Matteo Salvini of Italy and Heinz-Christian Strache of France it was predictable that the newly elected ruler of Brazil, Yair Bolisonara was the object of Netanyahu’s love.  He even has the same first name as Netanyahu’s son. Below are two articles from Ha’aretz, including a satirical article by Daniel Gouri de Lima on the new Brazilian Hitler. 

‘We have no better friends in the world than the Evangelical community, and the Evangelical community has no better friend in the world than the State of Israel.’ Netanyahu 
Bolsonaro and Mike Pompeo - US Secretary of State

The strange thing is that Israeli hasbara (propaganda) portrays it as an oasis of tolerance for gays in the Middle East yet here is Netanyahu cuddling up to someone who said that if he saw 2 men kissing in the street he’d hit them?  Pinkwashing or what? Here is a short article from Canary on Brazil after just 1 week of Bolsonaro.

Hitler in Brasilia: The U.S. Evangelicals and Nazi Political Theory Behind Brazil's President-in-waiting

Mix up fascist geopolitics, Pat Robertson's LGBT hate, Bannon's nationalism and Putin's shills and you get Jair Bolsonaro, who's nostalgic for the U.S.-backed dictatorship that tortured and killed thousands of leftists - and he's about to come to power

Alexander Reid Ross, Oct 28, 2018 2:09 PM

We are the majority. We are the real Brazil. Together, we will build a new nation…These red [leftist] criminals will be banished from our homeland. Either they go overseas, or they go to jail. It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history. Jair Bolsonaro, 21 October 2018  

Unbelievable: A presidential candidate asks the people to conform to what he thinks or pay the price: Jail or exile. Reminiscent of other [past] times. Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 23 October 2018  

By the time it ended in 1985, Brazil’s military dictatorship was a last remnant of a once-rampant political ideology rife with fascist influences. The recent success of Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, predicted to win the second and final round on 28 October, indicates that South America's biggest country is on the cusp of joining a global backslide towards those ugly decades.   
It is also a sign of the return of a repressive and nationalistic understanding of the state and its foreign policies that came to a head in pre-war Nazi Germany, spread west to the United States, and was pushed by successive U.S. administrations as a strategic necessity for South America.
Netanyahu with his anti-semitic friend Viktor Orban of Hungary
First gaining prominence as a staunch defender of the legacy of Brazil’s military dictatorship, which gained power in a 1964 coup, Bolsonaro’s anti-LGBQT, racist, and misogynistic platform is part of his general disdain for democracy. He has advocated sterilization for the poor to stave off "chaos."
Less than 15 years after the end of the U.S.-supported dictatorship that tortured and killed thousands of leftists, the then-Congressman declared in a public interview that, if ever elected president, he would "begin the coup" on his first day in office.
In 2015, Bolsonaro ran afoul of more controversy after posing for a photo with a Nazi sympathizer dressed as Hitler who had been invited to speak at a Rio de Janeiro City Council session by his son, Carlos.  
When another of Bolsonaro's  sons, Eduardo, tweeted out a photo of himself posing with the ubiquitous Steve Bannon this August, declaring that the two share the same "worldview," people started asking questions about how far the interconnected revivals of the international far right would go.  
Bannon, Bolsonaro’s son said, is "an enthusiast of Bolsonaro's campaign and we are certainly in touch to join forces, especially against cultural marxism." Strangely, weakly, Bolsonaro Sr later denied Bannon’s connection to the campaign.
But Bolsonaro’s implacable opposition to the political left is not the only critical fuel for his worldview. One other key strand, for which Bannon is a key evangelizer, is the role of geopolitics and its use by far-right movements throughout the twentieth century.
While most people do not give a second thought to the term "geopolitics," perhaps no idea has greater explanatory value, nor had a greater historical impact, on the region’s political climate. To fully grasp how the culture wars are playing out today in Brazil, it helps to gain perspective on geopolitics itself.
The term "geopolitics" was coined by the Swedish geographer Rudolf Kjellén in 1899. It was intended to reflect the understanding of political geography developed by his German peer, Friedrich Ratzel, who embraced the conservative nationalism of his day. A veteran of the Franco-Prussian War, Ratzel understood the state as an organic collective of national culture and civilization, spreading naturally - as an empire and as an expression of inner greatness - into larger territories, usually on their border regions and beyond.  
Ratzel’s understanding of those "Grosßraum" (large spaces) influenced Karl Haushofer, a friend's son, who joined the military and took an observational post in Japan. After serving as an officer during WWI, Haushofer came to identify with the populist far right, took Nazi Rudolf Hess under his wing, and tutored Hess and Adolf Hitler, himself, in geopolitics during the time they were incarcerated at Landsberg after the failed 1923 Beerhall Putsch.
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro celebrate after polls closed during the first round of presidential elections in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct. 7, 2018. Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
Haushofer introduced Hitler to Ratzel’s books, and to geopolitics in general, influencing the Nazis’ turn toward the desire to conquer "Lebensraum" ("Living space") in the East. He further helped develop the Nazis’ pact with Japan and smooth over the Munich Agreement that facilitated Germany’s expansion into the Sudetenland. He was delighted when the Nazis ironed out the infamous non-belligerence pact with Russia, producing the Eurasian space that he believed could defeat North Atlantic hegemony.  
Intoxicated by his own success, Haushofer flamboyantly signed his name, "L’inventeur du ‘Lebensraum’!" anointing Hitler and Hess the heirs of Valhalla, and calling for the resettling of Baltic Germans. Yet his plans fell apart when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. At the end of the war, his legacy in ruins, Haushofer and his wife committed suicide together.
Opposed as a pseudoscience by prominent geographers in academia like Richard Hartshorne and Isaiah Bowman, geopolitics was all but abandoned after the war - but it did not die out completely.  
While escaped Nazi war criminals found shelter in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina, the South American military establishment openly embraced the ideas of Ratzel and Haushofer and relied on them for some of their most oppressive policies.
Golbery de Couto e Silva, the strategist behind the 1964 military coup in Brazil, outlined the ideas put into effect through the feared National Security Doctrine in his 1966 book, "Geopolítica do Brasil." Then-Professor of Geopolitics at the Chilean War Academy, Augusto Pinochet, studied Golbery’s text closely and applied its teachings to his own government after leading the U.S.-supported Chilean coup of 1973.  
Supporters of Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro take part in a rally along Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo Brazil on October 21 2018AFP
Geopolitics had gained some currency in the U.S. during the 1960s through the Cold War strategizing of Saul Cohen, but it was Henry Kissinger who brought the term back into vogue with his 1979 tome, "The White House Years."
It should come as no surprise, then, that the same U.S. state department wonks who adamantly supported the Latin American dictatorships, as part of a continent-wide strategy of anti-leftist counter-insurgency known as Operation Condor, would help bring about the return of geopolitics.
The next year, the leading U.S. scholar on Latin American geopolitics, Lewis Tambs, helped draft the Santa Fe Document, a 1980s Latin America strategy for the Reagan administration that explicitly advocated geopolitical positions.
The "War on Drugs" and involvement in bloody civil wars - from Guatemala to El Salvador to Nicaragua - would follow, with the full support of Evangelicals like Pat Robertson, whose American Center for Law and Justice helped spread the far-right gospel in Brazil after the dictatorship.  
Later, Tambs would pen the forward for one of the only Haushofer texts translated into English - a 1939 edition of a book on the Asia-Pacific region that extolls the Nazi Party.
Banners reading "Not him" and "No to Fascism" at a protest against the Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro outside the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 20, 2018\ AGUSTIN MARCARIAN/ REUTERS
Soon, the International Institute of Geopolitics would open in France, boasting an English-language journal supported by the likes of Zbigniew Brzezinski, William F. Buckley, Jr, and Samuel Huntington. Geopolitics was back, and while its advocates converged around debates between "Realists" and "Idealists," amid the growth of the neoconservative movement, the advocacy of geopolitical thought provided valuable oxygen for the rehabilitation of Haushofer and Ratzel by more radical forces.
The return of geopolitics in the 1980's and ’90s accompanying the dissolution of the Soviet Union, became part of the triumphal narrative of North Atlantic supremacy, but its advocates rarely examined its roots in radical conservatism.  
While the renascent geopolitics accommodated geo-strategy and more liberal understandings of international relations, those who proclaimed geopolitics in its original form largely came from the so-called Nouvelle Droite, a network of far-right ideologues committed to reproducing the conditions for the re-emergence of fascism in Europe.
It was in these circles that the Russian fascist, Alexander Dugin, learned about geopolitics while residing in Western Europe, injecting its fundamental precepts into Russia’s chaotic political environment through his 1997 text, "Foundations of Geopolitics." In his strange book that advances occult myths of an Aryan super-race, Dugin concluded that geopolitics tended toward his own brand of fascism.
Happy to turn a blind eye to its fascist core, Dugin’s ideology was spread with the aid of his numerous connections, from the General Staff of the Russian Armed Services to "Orthodox oligarch" Konstantin Malofeev, one of the major backers of the international far-right Christian network, the World Congress of Families.
A supporter of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the right-wing Social Liberal Party, carries a rosary during a campaign rally in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018Eraldo Peres,AP
While Steve Bannon’s notorious 2014 speech to far-right zealots held in the Vatican associated with the World Congress of Families did not name Dugin, it outlined his fascist worldview - a fixation on geopolitics that Bannon claims to have studied "intensively." Last year, a magazine supported by the Vatican presciently accused Bannon of "apocalyptic geopolitics."  
Brazil's Bolsonaro, who is Catholic but attends Baptist services, has made a populist effort to span denominations, and receives broad support from Brazil’s growing, urban evangelical movement, including boosters associated with the World Congress of Families.  
Bolsonaro was baptized in the Jordan River into the Assemblies of God, which has been pouring money into far-right politics in Brazil and around the world. The Assemblies of God are deep drivers of the U.S. Evangelical movement, including some of the most important partners of the World Congress of Families.
Bolsonaro’s richest Evangelical supporters, like the Assembly of God’s head and Pentecostal televangelist Silas Malafaia, have partnered up with WCF allies at the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, and at the Brazilian Center for Law and Justice, which promotes – as does WCF - a transnational movement against LGBT rights.
Adjusting traditional far-right politics to the characteristics of Brazil’s middle-class, Bolsonaro has become a fighter in the global culture wars, seeking to deliver on a patriarchal mandate that has gained the support of conservative U.S. publications like the Wall Street Journal (for being a "Brazilian Swamp Drainer"), in a country that has, ironically, for the last 15 years, has helped anchor a region-wide leftist movement with its own strong ties to Russia.  
Bolsonaro’s candidacy and likely ascendance to the presidency is a sign of a growing geopolitical union of far-right forces forming the backlash against liberalism and the left, and the rehabilitation and glamorizing of military power and authoritarianism. It's a symptom of a greater crisis of democracy that is both producing - and the product of - a system-wide transformation of international relations.
Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in Geography at Portland State University. He is the author of Against the Fascist Creep (AK Press, 2017). Twitter: @areidross
A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro wears a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 22, 2018.\ Ricardo Moraes/ REUTERS
After Trump, Duterte, Orban and Salvini, Israel's PM packs his hug-a-fascist club with Bolsonaro. And Israel can offer plenty of experience on how to tame Brazil's streets, from border riots to full-blown intifada
Dec 31, 2018 3:31 AM

It has by now become somewhat of a Hollywood legend that prior to his successful election as President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro auditioned for the role of Lord Voldemort in the pubescent Harry Potter film series. As the story goes, relayed to me by a reliable source I invented, the former army captain and fascism fanboy was turned down for the part after producers found him to be "disturbingly suitable."
Alas, instead of going for the miraculous snake man, they opted for Ralph Fiennes in a bald cap, doing an impression of a belligerent jazz orchestra conductor. But as my Safta once told me: "The shattered dreams of yesterday bear the jagged fruits that tear your mouth to shreds tomorrow." Then she asked me if I wanted a bite from her apple. I declined.
Until very recently, Jair Bolsonaro was a big player in domestic Brazilian politics. For years he’d been projectile-vomiting baleful rhetoric at minorities like a soused uncle at the dinner table, sparking little outrage. Wiser Brazilians considered him a buffoon, not unlike the manner in which Israelis perceive Likud MK and fuzzy man-hog Oren Hazan.
It took for Bolsonaro to become a potential head-of-state for the citizens of Brazil to raise their heads and say, "I like him, he should run a country." It’s a tale as old as Jesus.
There were those who did not rejoice. They saw Bolsonaro for what he truly was: A sentient pimple, angry and white, prepared to erupt at a moment’s notice. All he needed was the right brand of pressure, the kind a nation-spanning corruption scandal and years of abject poverty provide.
Bolsonaro may lack the charisma and poetic precision of Rodrigo Duterte, the supple fascism of Viktor Orban, or the inescapable feeling you get that Matteo Salvini is, in fact, Count Dracula, but he makes up for it with the sheer, unabashed passion for making people shit their pants. A true fearmongerer extraordinaire. It allowed him to gracefully join the chorus of populist strongmen fitfully sprouting around the potato of the world.
As vultures of a feather flock together, Bolsonaro’s been joined this week by none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Minister of Everything But The Kitchen Sink, who’s making an unprecedented five-day visit in honor of Jair’s inauguration.
Bolsonaro will surely be looking forward to a close hug with Bibi’s son, Yair, with whom he shares a name and a gaping hole where a soul should be. One can only hope that the universe does not implode as a result of the embrace.
The visit obviously erects evangelical nipples worldwide - and gives the Left something to rattle the newspaper about - but does it actually mean anything? Does it hold diplomatic merit?
Promises were made that by simply being in Brazil, Netanyahu would be driving a scimitar through the old alliances the South American giant holds with the Arab world - perhaps even its former chumminess with Iran. 
A local Jewish Brazilian and fan of the Bruiser from Balfour even told me he believes Netanyahu can intercept Iranian missiles using the wisps of his silvery combover. "Iran is like Goliath, and Bibi is like David being investigated for bribery and fraud. I love him." Among the Zionists of the tropic, he is a hero, greater even than their newly elected Voldemort.
Bolsnoaro's sons wearing t-shirts bearing the logos of the Mossad and IDF
Deeply entrenched in opposition to the Bibolsonaro union are Brazil’s embattled progressive Jews - Conservatives, Reform, revisionists, seculars and even Orthodox - comprising an unknown percentage of the country’s 120,000-strong community. They believe the dynamic duo pose a risk not only to democracy, but also life on earth as we know it. 
"Bolsonaro is definitely not a human being. He’s either from a lizard planet or a circle of hell. Bibi is human, but very sneaky and shaped like an onion," I was told by Paula, a woman whose family reads the Passover Haggadah up until the food part.
Netanyahu and Bolsonaro in Brazil. Credit Leo Correa/אי־פי

"The way they paint their political rivals is similar, but Bolsonaro is more scary, because he’s a moron. He’s less afraid to say things like 'The Left is communist and gay, it will sodomize everyone with women’s rights,' and people listen because they are afraid of crime and sick of corruption."
Paula thinks Bibi is more savvy, "because he says the Left is terrorist and people believe him because Israel has terrorists. It’s less of a leap. It’s not that Brazilians are dumb, they were just sodomized by politicians one too many times, so they’ll take anything that’s different. It’s very sad."
But how powerful truly is the marriage of Brasilia and Jerusalem? It surely won’t expedite the Brazilian Embassy’s move to Jerusalem, a move Netanyahu believes will make the world suddenly wonder, "What is a Palestinian, really?"
Brazil’s economic woes are plenty, and the country sells far too much halal meat to Arab countries to risk kicking that Kraken in the gonads.
A supporter of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro poses for a photo with a mock rifle as she celebrates the election runoff results in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Oct. 28, 2018 Silvia Izquierdo, AP
Perhaps a strong defense contract, then? Some advice on handling domestic dissidents? A little light clean-up of leftists? Some Israeli assistance in taming Brazil’s ungovernable streets? Jerusalem can offer plenty of experience, from small border riots to full-blown intifada.

One must remember that Gaza and the Brazilian favelas are similar: Both are under the ruthless dominion of power-hungry sociopaths. They differ in that Hamas are Islamists, and the lords of the favela are drug barons. The other thing they have, which Hamas does not, is tanks, also known as cars-with-cannons and a major game-changer.
Since Bolsonaro can’t carpet-bomb Rio, perhaps Netanyahu could teach him to how to funnel Qatari funds through Venezuela as a way to make nice? It is my understanding that drug dealers, not unlike terror organizations, enjoy money. Plus, you don’t want to solve the problems that get you elected, unless, of course, you plan on creating new ones.

Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses

Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is a threat to Brazilian democracy — and a model for authoritarianism that leaders around the world will follow.

Huffington Post
Bolsonaro supporters rally and pray in Brasília ahead of a New Year’s Day inauguration ceremony that will make him Brazil’s 38th president. , AP

RIO DE JANEIRO — The tanks began to roll into Rio de Janeiro on the morning of April 1, 1964, some of them from the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, others from São Paulo. The Brazilian capital had moved to Brasília, the new planned city in the country’s interior, a few years prior, but Rio remained the effective center of power, and somewhere in the city, President João Goulart was clinging to power.
Goulart, a leftist who became president in 1961, had spent the days prior on the phone with a top military officer, Gen. Amaury Kruel. The general was hoping to prevent the collapse of Brazil’s government by urging Jango, as Goulart was known to Brazilians, to fire prominent leftist officials and institute a slate of reforms that would please both the military and the centrist establishment in Congress that opposed Goulart’s shifts to the left.
Goulart refused. The military marched.
By the next morning, Goulart had fled to Porto Alegre. A few days later, he was in Uruguay. Brazil’s democracy had collapsed.
Five decades later, on the evening of Oct. 28, 2018, members of the Brazilian military were parading through the streets of Rio again. Green Army jeeps honked their horns and flashed their lights; soldiers standing atop them waved Brazilian flags as adoring crowds cheered their arrival.
This time, though, the military was not coming to depose a president, but to celebrate him. Jair Bolsonaro, a federal congressman and former Army captain, had just won the election to become Brazil’s 38th president.
“What a nightmare,” Argentine journalist Diego Iglesias tweeted in Spanish of the scene.
Bolsonaro, whose presidency will begin with a New Year’s Day inaugural ceremony in Brasília, has routinely praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, which gave way to the return of democratic governance in 1985. And his rise to power shares many similarities with the military regime’s: Bolsonaro has seized on widespread discontent and fatigue with an incapable and corrupt political establishment, on fervid opposition to a leftist party that had spent more than a decade in power, on an economic collapse that Brazil has only slowly begun to escape, and on rising levels of violent crime.
And while he has pitched his surge to power as the result of a “populist” revolt, his base of support mirrors that of the old coup masters: wealthy financial elites, segments of the population willing to trade the rights and lives of the poor and marginalized for their own safety and economic prosperity, and traditional parties and politicians who refuse to acknowledge their own roles in creating the monster before folding themselves into his arms.
Much like the military once did, Bolsonaro has threatened his leftist political opponents with violence and imprisonment. He has promised to deliver a political “cleansing never seen before in Brazil,” and threatened media outlets that report news unfavorable to him. His vice president is a former Army general who, in an interview with HuffPost Brazil, refused to rule out a return to military rule, and who has posited — over Bolsonaro’s unconvincing objections — that the new administration could rewrite the country’s constitution.
This is not exclusively a Brazilian phenomenon. Countries around the world, from Hungary to Turkey to the Philippines, have turned to noisy leaders who promise instant renewals and silver-bullet solutions under the banner of a right-wing, nativist “populism” ― the preferred term of news outlets, even though the key constituencies backing these candidates tend to comprise the nations’ elite.
Each major election has become, in part, a referendum on the state of global democracy as a whole. And each victory for a right-wing, anti-democratic figure has paved the way for a similar candidate in the next major election somewhere else.
Of the bunch, though, Bolsonaro might be the most pressing threat to a major democracy. Brazil’s is the fourth-largest in the world, and the largest by population in Latin America. If it dies, this time, it won’t be at the hands of the armed forces. It will be self-inflicted.
“There have been very, very few military coups in Latin America over the last 35 years,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist and author of How Democracies Die. “So I think that while increased public support for a military coup is troubling, it’s much more likely Brazilian democracy will die at the hands of an elected leader.”
Brazil is about to show the world how a modern democracy falls apart.

Democracy Hasn’t Delivered

It was still too early for an afternoon beer when I passed the first vendor doling out ice-cold cervejas along São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista on a Brazilian summer day in late November.
Paulista, which splits one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, was closed thanks to a mid-week holiday, storefronts advertised Black Friday sales, and a giant Christmas tree outside one of the shopping malls gave away the approaching holiday season. Locals and tourists alike perused pop-up tents selling handcrafted wooden bowls and art, and loudspeakers blared a pop soundtrack for the people who’d come to do yoga in the street.
Aside from the occasional bit of political graffiti sprayed onto a lamp post or the sidewalk, there were barely any signs that throughout 2018, Brazilians had repeatedly swarmed Avenida Paulista to demonstrate in favor of and against Bolsonaro.
It was here, in July, that people in São Paulo joined the largest women-led protest in Brazilian history, as women and LGBTQ people who feared Bolsonaro’s history of racist, sexist and homophobic statements urged Brazilians to vote for anyone else. “Ele Nāo,” they yelled ― “Not Him.”
It was also here that Bolsonaro’s supporters gathered in mid-October for a rally meant to push him over the majority threshold he had fallen just short of in the first round of voting. At that demonstration, Bolsonaro, who had been stabbed on the campaign trail in September, told the crowd via a cell phone that, as president, he would target funding for the media and human rights groups. He vowed to give his opponent ― former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, of the leftist Workers’ Party ― and prominent leftist activists two options: “Leave, or go to jail.”
But by the end of November? “Everything feels normal,” a friend told me, “until you watch the news.”
Like Trump, Bolsonaro is a creature of the rot in his country’s democratic institutions that had set in years before he’d entered the picture, or that had been there all along.
Power in Brazil has always remained concentrated largely among a white and wealthy elite; literacy and education rates are still low, especially among the poor; an over-militarized and under-trained police force has continued to kill large numbers of poor (and mostly black) citizens; and the return to democracy was marked by more than a decade of economic instability and hyperinflation that perpetuated vast social, racial and income inequality. 
Still, Brazil has spent much of the last several decades fashioning itself into a shining example of what a democratic Latin America could one day look like. Former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso stabilized the economy in the early 2000s, then leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a working-class firebrand, presided over a period of rapid growth that had Brazil’s economy on pace to surpass those of France and the United Kingdom.
On da Silva’s watch, expanded social welfare programs helped some 30 million Brazilians rise out of poverty, and broader affirmative action policies increased educational, health and employment access for black Brazilians, women, the poor and the indigenous. Violent crime fell to its lowest levels in decades. When da Silva left office in 2010, his approval ratings neared 90 percent. Brazil, it seemed, was finally working.
Or was it? In 2010, Tiririca, a Brazilian clown, announced a run for a congressional seat in São Paulo and launched a campaign meant to parody the Brazilian political system. “Pior do que está não fica, vote no Tiririca,” he said: “It can’t get any worse, vote Tiririca.” He playfully satirized the corruption endemic in Brazilian politics, promising that he would “enrich every Brazilian family ― especially mine.”
Then he won, and that victory, in retrospect, might have been a sign of a lurking discontent that Bolsonaro would soon exploit.
Brazil was already one of the world’s most unequal countries in terms of income distribution, and while the poor unquestionably benefited from the Workers’ Party’s policies ― including a hike in the minimum wage ― the vast majority of the economic gains achieved under da Silva went to the richest 1 percent of Brazil’s population. So even as a new lower-middle class earned more than it ever had, Brazil’s obscene levels of income inequality likely expanded during the good years. Violent crime had been reduced, but not to levels befitting a developed democracy: Even before the economic collapse, Brazil was home to more than a dozen of the planet’s 50 most violent cities. 
Things got worse: The economy collapsed in 2013, plunging millions out of work and millions more back into poverty. In 2014, a money-laundering investigation turned into the world’s broadest political corruption investigation. Known as Operation Car Wash, or “Lava Jato” in Portuguese, it has implicated hundreds of Brazilian politicians, including da Silva and outgoing President Michel Temer, of the centrist Democratic Movement Party. Violent crime has surged ― there were more than 60,000 homicides in each of the last two years. President Dilma Rousseff, da Silva’s hand-picked successor, was impeached in 2016. Da Silva was convicted on money-laundering charges in 2017 and imprisoned this year; Temer has only narrowly escaped trial on bribery charges.
Compared with their counterparts across Latin America, Brazilians have always shown a low level of support for democracy. That support has eroded even further amid the crises: In 2017, just 32 percent of Brazilians agreed when Latinobarómetro, which conducts polls across the region, asked if they agreed that “democracy may have problems but is the best system of government.” No other Latin American nation showed less support for democracy, while other surveys found that nearly two-thirds of Brazilians had lost faith in political parties, the presidency and Congress. More than half of Brazilians said they would support a more authoritarian style of government if it “solved problems.”
“If you ask people on the street if they’re worried about what Bolsonaro may mean for democracy, it’s not like people are particularly concerned,” said Oliver Stuenkel, a political scientist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo.
“Democracy,” he said, “hasn’t delivered what many of us have expected.”
The PT, as the Workers’ Party is known by its initials in Portuguese, has received much of the blame for the backlash that fueled Bolsonaro’s rise. A great deal of this criticism is legitimate: Da Silva and the Workers’ Party had risen to power on something resembling revolutionary hope ― a belief “that it could use the established order in Brazil to benefit the poor, without harm – indeed with help – to the rich,” as the British essayist Perry Anderson wrote in 2016.
By the time Rousseff was impeached in 2016, to the delight of millions of mostly middle-class and wealthy Brazilians who had marched in the streets demanding her ouster, the party had embraced a brand of economic austerity and engaged in the sort of corruption that alienated many of its own working-class supporters.
In addition to its usual base of elites, the counter-revolution in Brazil could now count on winning at least some support from the PT’s natural constituency. Bolsonaro drew support from across the political and social spectrum, even from poor and black voters whom some of his most repressive policy goals will surely target. Polls ahead of the election showed that Bolsonaro led Haddad among black and mixed-race voters and women ― and that he also earned a surprisingly large share of the vote from LGBTQ Brazilians ― despite his racism, sexism and homophobia.
“Even if he were a racist, I would still vote for him,” Marcelo Amador Pereira, a black man who lives in São Paulo and lost his job during the Rousseff administration, told HuffPost Brazil before the election. “Because he is running against the PT, and I will not accept any part in what the PT did to Brazil.”

Elite Failure ― And Acquiescence 

The problem with pitching Bolsonaro’s rise to power as a purely populist revolt, though, is that the main source of his support was not the poor and working classes that had once fervently backed the Workers’ Party, but the same elites Bolsonaro constantly railed against, who have taken almost no responsibility for their role in creating the circumstances that made his ascent possible.
Healthy democracy relies on mutual support for a basic set of rules, but in the aftermath of the 2014 presidential election, Brazil’s center-right establishment began to disregard the old consensus. The center-right Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, questioned the results of Rousseff’s narrow re-election that fall, giving oxygen to fringe social media conspiracy theories that the Workers’ Party president had benefited from election fraud. 
Two years later, the centrist parties launched an effort to impeach her that looked less like an effort to hold Rousseff accountable than a chance for Brazil’s establishment to seize via goo-goo crusade the sort of power it couldn’t win at the ballot box — and protect itself from judicial and public scrutiny in the process. For others on the right, including Bolsonaro, it was merely an opportunity to rid Brazil of a leftist government that they claimed had waged a war on “God, family and the Brazilian people.” 
Operation Car Wash, meanwhile, has long been viewed as a positive development for Brazilian democracy, an effort to rid the country’s political system of the corruption that runs rampant through it. But it’s undeniable now, even for the investigation’s proponents, that it played a role in undermining democracy instead of bolstering it.
“One of the undesired results of the Lava Jato case ― this confrontation of corruption ― is a very extreme polarization of the public debate in Brazil,” said Bruno Brandão, the Brazil director of Transparency International. “It also discredited the political system and the political class. And more worrisome, it discredited the democratic system itself.”
The polarization isn’t entirely the result of the corruption investigation ― on the left and the right, the parties of implicated politicians have spent years trying to discredit Car Wash. Temer repeatedly attempted to curtail it; Congress tried to kill new anti-corruption legislation in the middle of the night; da Silva and the PT decried it as an elite effort to destroy the left, which wasn’t entirely true, given that a rash of politicians from other parties were removed from office and sent to prison, too. 
But the investigators themselves helped undermine the credibility of their cause and, by extension, democracy. Judge Sergio Moro, who spearheaded the Car Wash investigation, was responsible for the conviction of da Silva, who had led presidential polls before he was banned from the race thanks to the corruption case.
Moro spent years positioning himself as apolitical, but his pursuit of da Silva took on an air of zealotry. The conviction was criticized as sloppy and legally questionable by independent Brazilian legal experts, and the timing of certain revelations from Moro — wiretapped phone calls between Rousseff and da Silva, released in 2016 in the midst of her impeachment; testimony accusing da Silva, Haddad and the PT of graft, unsealed the eve of the election — suggested the judge was putting a finger on the scales of the cases and, perhaps, the election. (In November, Moro agreed to serve as the head of the National Justice Ministry under Bolsonaro.)
Brazil’s elites and its media, meanwhile, underestimated the strength of the anti-establishment surge taking place under their feet, or the dynamics allowing it to fester. Over and over again throughout the last two years, Brazilian political observers and journalists assured me not just that Bolsonaro wouldn’t win, but that he couldn’t. When they didn’t ignore him outright, they treated him as a sideshow; surely his worst, most provocative statements would be enough to convince Brazilians he was too radical a reactionary.
Beneath the surface, Bolsonaro and his supporters took advantage of social media, amplifying his message across Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp ― Brazil’s most popular social network ― exploiting both the existing distrust of Brazil’s largest media outlets and the utility of those social networks for spreading news that was baseless and manufactured out of thin air.
Members of the media and political elite were sure that, with da Silva and the PT seemingly discredited, a moderate, establishment figure from the center-left or center-right would emerge. But Brazilians made their fatigue with the centrist establishment clear: Whereas the Workers’ Party still won more seats than any other party in congressional elections, the center-right was crushed in the first round of voting. Cynicism, corruption and the pursuit of unpopular economic policies under Temer had left a vacuum on the right, and along came Bolsonaro to fill the void.
Bolsonaro wielded corruption as a cudgel against the PT from the start, turning its links to Car Wash into an all-out attack on its legitimacy and right to exist. The left, Bolsonaro suggested on his website, wanted to “import ideologies that destroy our identity” as Brazilians. That appealed to growing evangelical and conservative movements, as well as segments of the middle classes that opposed the left’s social liberalism, and played on a backlash against efforts to advance the civil rights of the poor, LGBTQ people and black Brazilians. 
That Bolsonaro had adopted an anti-corruption posture merely as a campaign tactic ― much like Trump’s promise to “Drain the Swamp” ― was evident even before he took office. Bolsonaro’s son, Flávio, is already facing questions about potential corruption, and despite pledging that his government ministries would not include anyone convicted of corruption, Bolsonaro has appointed at least seven people who have been or currently are involved in such scandals, according to The Intercept. They include his chief of staff and his finance minister, Paulo Guedes ― the University of Chicago–educated economist and free marketeer whose close ties to Bolsonaro during the campaign gave Brazil’s business elite the assurances they needed to cozy up to the supposed “populist.”
As with Trump, Bolsonaro’s attack on corruption went beyond hypocrisy. It was a Herrenvolk appeal — spoils for the dominant class, banishment or marginalization for everyone else — and the tubthumping about corruption fit into larger themes about the contamination of Brazilian identity by the country’s underclasses. 
For the whole of history, as Hannah Arendt wrote, totalitarians have depended on a coalition between the elite and the mob. In Brazil, as elsewhere, the rise of a new authoritarian required the acquiescence of a patrician class unwilling to accept any of the blame for the systemic ills the country was facing. And while so much media attention was lavished on the ordinary folks who supported Bolsonaro, it was more significant that his levels of support rose with each step up the income ladder, thanks to elites who shared his disdain for the left and were happy to empower a fascist to thwart it.
The worst ills Bolsonaro would inflict would be reserved for the most vulnerable of Brazil’s populations, anyway. The elites, as always, are exempt from the pain they cause.
If this all seems to bear a striking resemblance to what happened in the United States, that’s no coincidence. Bolsonaro has modeled his ascent to power on the rise of Trump, whose own victory was built on years of democratic erosion.
Trump, too, was merely a symptom of a larger disease, a product of declining faith among Americans in their democratic institutions. And Bolsonaro adopted many of Trump’s strategies: He, too, encouraged violence against critics, appealed to nativist and racist fears, and suggested that if he lost, it would be the result of political rivals’ shenanigans. He also called for imprisoning not just his opponent, but activists who worked on the left. He targeted civil society, suggesting that nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups would be shut down. He promised to give law enforcement even more leeway to kill on sight and decried the media as agents of fake news who were simply protecting the corrupt establishment.
Bolsonaro’s campaign, like Trump’s, also made a habit of tossing out increasingly absurd and anti-democratic ideas, often filtered through his son Flávio, a congressman who served as Bolsonaro’s de facto social media guru. Flávio and vice presidential candidate Gen. Antonio Hamilton Mourão would suggest increasingly radical ideas ― like, say, closing Congress if necessary ― only for the elder Bolsonaro to gently walk them back if a reporter asked about them or if they generated too much scrutiny.
This strategy, deliberately or not, has the effect of making Bolsonaro look more moderate than he is while shifting the very grounds on which he is being evaluated. Now, a Bolsonaro who does everything short of closing Congress, rewriting the constitution or re-establishing military rule starts to resemble a committed democrat.
A key difference between Bolsonaro and Trump, though, is that the worst version of the former will have much more damaging effects on Brazilian democracy than the latter has had, or could have, in the United States.
“Bolsonaro can do things in Brazil, potentially, that Trump can’t do,” Levitsky said, “because Brazilian institutions ... are nowhere near as strong as they are in the United States.”
Bolsonaro’s ministerial appointments include more former military officers to serve at once in a civilian government than in any since the end of the dictatorship. He has appointed ministers who wield the same paranoid, anti-“globalist” rhetoric that became commonplace in the early days of the Trump administration.
Bolsonaro and his choice to head the education ministry, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, are supporters of the Escolas sem Partido (Schools Without Party) movement, a previously fringe effort to prevent public schools and universities from “indoctrinating” students with leftist political ideologies. There were reports in the days after the election that some universities had been raided to rid them of books on fascism, and that professors and other academics who opposed the new president and had described him as a fascist were targeted and harassed.
Bolsonaro, too, has sent early signals that he will follow through on his threats to seize indigenous lands to open them to mining and agricultural interests; he has said Brazil should “integrate” its indigenous tribes ― which include those living on protected reservations, as well as uncontacted peoples ― into Brazilian society against their wishes. 
It is possible Bolsonaro will govern as a true autocrat ― that he could take advantage of any small crisis to consolidate power and sweep aside democracy in a single act. He could close Congress; he could criminalize the Workers’ Party and other leftist opposition parties and movements; he could criminalize dissent, protest and the free press.
More likely is that he will govern in a manner similar to Trump, targeting the press, political opponents and democratic institutions with a constant barrage of criticism that further erodes their credibility among his supporters and the public writ large, and has a chilling effect on legitimate opposition. Bolsonaro refers to nearly everything to his political left as “communism,” and has said his movement is meant to keep “foreign ideologies” from making their way to Brazil. Rather than outright dictatorship, Bolsonaro’s reign could come to resemble the ugliest anti-left purge in American history.
“It sounds like McCarthyism,” Alexandre Padilha, a high-ranking member of the Workers’ Party who served in da Silva’s government, told me. “He hates everything that is left in Brazil, and thinks they should be eliminated, basically.”
To the right, these fears and the rhetoric that has inspired them are a source of humor. The day before the inauguration, Carlos Bolsonaro ― a Rio councilman and another of the new president’s sons ― posted a video on Twitter of his father celebrating police killings and calling his opponents “pussies.”
“The left is crying,” he said, mockingly.
In the U.S., Trump’s continued attacks have had negative effects on how Americans view their elections, the press and other democratic institutions, and his rhetoric has emboldened racists and white nationalists and potentially contributed to rises in violent crime against racial, ethnic and religious minorities. 
Political violence is already shockingly common in Brazil: In 2018, Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco was assassinated while leaving an event, and 28 candidates were killed during 2016 election cycle alone. Bolsonaro’s insistence that his supporters take aim at Workers’ Party politicians could have deadly consequences.
His people have taken their cues: In the days before the election, Bolsonaro supporters proudly destroyed memorials to Franco in Rio, and the symbols of American white nationalism ― including a flag of Kekistan, the mythical country created and worshipped by alt-right fanboys in online forums ― began to show up at Bolsonaro rallies. The night of the election, his supporters waved banners commemorating the former Army colonel who carried out the military dictatorship’s torture program.
LGBTQ Brazilians, who are already subject to high rates of violence, are also fearful that Bolsonaro’s aggressive opposition to their rights will give his supporters license to level even more attacks against them. And Bolsonaro’s rhetoric on policing and public security has only emboldened some of the hard-line officers within Brazil’s police forces, according to locals.
In São Paulo, a young black writer who lives in a favela on the city’s outskirts told me that he had been stopped by police five times in the first three weeks after the election, usually as he was returning to the neighborhood on the way home from work. In Rio, videos circulated last month of two men lying in the street, shot to death, before the police officers who killed them threw their bodies into the back of a pickup truck. Brazil’s police already killed more than 4,200 people last year ― in Rio, they were responsible for 1 in every 5 homicides across the state. Bolsonaro will likely make police forces even more deadly.
On this, he will have allies both in and out of politics. Brazilians overwhelmingly support aggressive stances on policing, and amid the violent crime epidemic, more politicians have adopted hard-line stances. Wilson Witzel, the incoming governor of Rio de Janeiro, has said the state will “dig graves” for the bodies of alleged criminals police kill. Newly elected São Paulo Gov. João Doria, a politician who aligned himself with Bolsonaro during the campaign, has adopted similar rhetoric when it comes to protecting police accused of killing.
Brazil’s institutions may shield its democracy as a whole. But even in the best-case scenario, Bolsonaro’s Brazil will almost certainly become even less democratic for the people who already suffer the vast majority of violence and oppression there, from the state and otherwise.

A Model For ‘Really Egregious Illiberalism’

“Where are you from?” a woman in São Paulo asked me as our hotel elevator hit the ground floor.
When I told her I lived in Washington, D.C., she smiled and turned to her child. In Portuguese, she told him that I was from the same place as Trump.
“Everyone here wants to go there,” she said. “They say all bad things about him, but everyone here wants to move there.”
To many Brazilians who support Bolsonaro, the chaos Trump has sown and the threats to the tenets of American democracy he poses are nothing to worry about. The U.S. economy, after all, is doing well, and Trump is, in their view, responsible. He’s an outsider who came in and shook up the system, and the establishment just hasn’t learned to cope with that yet.
Now, there are others looking to Bolsonaro. In Uruguay, an upstart presidential candidate is already modeling himself as his country’s version of Bolsonaro; in Argentina, which faces many of the same economic and corruption issues that have plagued Brazil, similar candidates could soon emerge.
“The political right has not done well in Latin America in the last few decades,” Levitsky, of Harvard, said. “So right-wing politicians are looking around for a new formula, and illiberalism ― really egregious illiberalism ― may be that formula. If he’s perceived to be successful, it will be reproduced.”
Bolsonaro wasn’t the first right-wing authoritarian to put a major democracy under threat. Neither will he be the last.
“We have Bolsonaro because we have Trump,” Stuenkel said. “We would not have seen the same dynamic here without what happened in the U.S. in 2016. I think that inspired a lot of people who basically learned from Trump.”
“And I think that same way,” he continued, “neighboring countries in Latin America will learn from Bolsonaro.”
HuffPost Brazil’s Diego Iraheta contributed reporting.
Travis Waldron is a reporter at The Huffington Post, based in Washington D.C. He covers the intersection of sports and politics, policy and cultural issues. Previously he covered politics, economics, and sports at ThinkProgress, and his work has appeared at The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review, and various newspapers. Travis can be reached at travis.waldron@huffingtonpost.com