Rebellion in Brazil

André Singer

Social and Political Complexion of the June Events

Several days into the wave of protests that gripped Brazil in mid-2013, I began to hear people referring to the demonstrations—half-joking, half-seriously—as our ‘June Days’. Marx, of course, described the original June Days of 1848 as ‘the most colossal event in the history of European civil wars’, arguing in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that, though the proletariat’s uprising was crushed by General Cavaignac, ‘at least it was defeated with the honours attaching to a great world-historical struggle’; ‘not just France’, he wrote, ‘but the whole of Europe trembled in face of the June earthquake’. [1] The Brazilian June also produced a tremor, but I would not go so far as to call it an earthquake. Nobody seriously imagined that an attempt at revolution was taking place. Class and property were not at the heart of the demonstrations, and the basic framework of the country’s socio-economic order was not called into question. The political rules of the game, too, were only targeted in a diffuse way; proposals for a constituent assembly and a referendum came to nothing, and were forgotten before the month was out.

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