1956, young people wanted to change the world

Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Red Riots on Indian Paper, 1981
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By SAMUEL KILSZTAJN*

From 1956 onwards, young Brazilian socialists, indignant, refused to align themselves with either the Stalinists or the Soviet revisionists.

In the midst of the Cold War, after Stalin's death in 1953, at the end of the 1956th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - CPSU in XNUMX, Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's personality cult, his intolerance, brutality, abuse of power and crimes hideous, with emphasis on the purges of communist militants, the policy of controlling historical records and the memory of the Russian Revolution and the mystification of its own role during the Second World War.

Exposures of Stalin's crimes caused unrest, heart attacks, suicides, protests, mass defection of members of communist parties in several Western countries and the breakdown of political relations between China and the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. Members of the Brazilian Communist Party – PCB, at first, considered that the accusations of Stalin's crimes were fabricated by the United States and were only convinced that they were from the CPSU after being confirmed by European communist parties.

Stalin, at the head of the Soviets for 30 uninterrupted years, was cynically singled out as solely responsible for all the crimes perpetrated by the CPSU machine. In 1934, on the occasion of the 1.108th Congress, all Trotskyists, Zinovievists and Bukharinites had already been politically liquidated. Even so, 1.966 of the 98 delegates to the 139th Congress were arrested on charges of counter-revolutionary crimes; and 1937 of the 936.750 members of the Central Committee were shot. During 779.056, 353.074 people were arrested in the Soviet Union, XNUMX for counter-revolutionary crimes, XNUMX of whom were shot after trials that lasted no more than twenty minutes.

From 1956 onwards, young Brazilian socialists, the vast majority around their 20s, indignantly refused to align themselves with either the Stalinists or the Soviet revisionists, gathering together in some small associations, with the aim of changing the world. This restless group gathered together in the Independent Socialist League – LSI in São Paulo; PSB Socialist Youth in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo; PTB Labor Youth in Minas Gerais; and in a group of young socialists in Bahia. At the University of São Paulo, in the same period, a group was formed to study The capital by Karl Marx.

Below are the names of some of these irreverent young people who wanted to change the world, future renowned intellectuals, who were trained on the revolutionary barricades and trenches, turning their intellectual activity into activism (some of those listed participated in more than one of the groups). Alberto Luiz da Rocha Barros, Eder Sader, Emir Sader, Gabriel Cohn, Hermínio Sacchetta, Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, Michael Löwy, Milton Tacolini, Renato Caldas, Renato Pompeu and Rubens Glasberg participated from LSI.

From Socialist Youth/PSB, Aluizio Leite Filho, Artur Mota, Erich Sachs, Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, Mauricio Tragtenberg, Paul Singer, Piragibe de Castro and Ruy Mauro Marini. From Mocidade Trabalhista/PTB, Arnaldo Mourthé, Carlos Alberto Soares Freitas, Guido de Souza Rocha, Herbert de Sousa/Betinho, Inês Etiene Romeu, Jair Ferreira de Sá, Juarez Guimarães de Brito, Maria do Carmo de Brito, Otavino Alves da Silva, Simon Schwartzman, Theotônio dos Santos Junior, Vânia Bambirra and Vinícius Caldeira Brant. From Bahia, Amilcar Baiardi, Hermano Peralva, José Luís Pamponet Sampaio and Raimundo Aras.

From the Reading Group The capital/USP, Bento Prado Jr, Boris Fausto, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Fernando Novais, Francisco Weffort, José Arthur Giannotti, Juarez Brandão Lopes, Michael Löwy, Octavio Ianni, Paul Singer, Roberto Schwarz, Ruth Cardoso and Ruy Fausto.

In 1961, most of these young people from LSI, Juventude Socialista, Mocidade Trabalhista and socialists from Bahia founded the Revolutionary Marxist Political Workers Organization – ORM-Polop, object of study by Lineker Noberto. Polop defended the socialist revolution, in opposition to the PCB's policy, which defended the alliance of workers with the national bourgeoisie to confront latifundia and imperialism. In 1962, Ação Popular – AP was created; The PCB, aligned with the Soviet Union, lost part of its members who formed the Communist Party of Brazil – PCdoB, which allied itself with China.

The seizure of power by the Brazilian military on April 1, 1964, orchestrated by the United States in the midst of the Cold War, was a severe blow to the process of building democracy in Brazil after the Second World War. In 1966, several state dissents broke with the PCB leadership; in the same year, a dissent from the PCdoB formed the Red Wing. In 1967 Polop lost relevant staff who formed COLINA (by Dilma Rousseff) and VPR (by Carlos Lamarca).

Any and all forms of peaceful expression of opposition to the military dictatorship that illegally constituted themselves as authority, several contingents of the Brazilian left became radicalized and decided to take up arms. Alongside the dissidences of the PCB and PCdoB, swelled by new waves of militants who engaged in the fight against the Military Dictatorship, young people from the LSI, Juventude Socialista, Mocidade Trabalhista and socialists from Bahia, ten years older, armed intellectuals, gave origin of the numerous political organizations of the extreme left in the country that militarily confronted the dictatorship, intensified on December 13, 1968 with Institutional Act nº 5 – AI-5.

It was in 1968 that, at the age of seventeen, I came across Eder, Emir, Eric and Otavino, remaining founders of Polop, who joined the Leninist Dissent of the PCB of Rio Grande do Sul and formed the Communist Workers' Party – POC. A week after the start of the 1968 Osasco Strike, I had the feeling that years had passed since the beginning of the movement.

Literally, after experiencing and being infected by the spirit of solidarity and human generosity, I was no longer the same teenager I was the previous week. In 1970, Eder and Eric left POC and resumed the acronym “new Polop”. In 1971, as I was leaving the game, I was captured, entitled to penal leave. Then, by fate, wandering around the academy, I found myself a full professor in political economy, that is, Karl Marx.

There is no more exemplary way To understand the dynamics of the economy, supposedly capitalist, than reading The capital by Karl Marx. In the monetary standard of the XNUMXth century, the prices of goods, measured in money, effectively fell with the increase in productivity, hindering and stunting the process of capital accumulation. But, with the abandonment of the gold standard in the XNUMXth century, the law of tendency for the rate of profit to fall ceased to be in force and limited the development of the capitalist system, a disconcerting and very expensive issue for Marxist economists. Despite Engels, socialism remains more utopian than before, more utopian than ever.

Between struggles, prisons, torture, murders, defeats and victories that fade like shadows, today we are witnessing the unfolding of a savage and dystopian capitalism, which has been revoking the labor achievements of the XNUMXth century and continues to transform everything in its path into merchandise. Sell? The world is in the palm of your hand!

Regarding Marx's unfulfilled prophecies, one of the ones I resent most is the extinction of the petty bourgeoisie and the homogenization of the working class. Submitted to the realm of merchandise, the current multiple layers of the social structure flourish upstarts, each one of them stretching its neck to interfere with the layer immediately above, while stepping on the head of the one immediately below.

In the various moments of socialist joy, even if ephemeral, while everyone is seen as an equal, one can experience solidarity, justice, detachment, freedom and the joy of living. I continue to believe in human generosity, in the idea of ​​equality, with no place for vanity and snobbery, for greed, for hierarchy, power, privileges and servility. But this is a utopia, it is messianic, it is just a dream. Would it be better for me to get real, to be realistically apathetic, cynical, or just plain mean?

*Samuel Kilsztajn is a full professor of political economy at PUC-SP. Author, among other books, of 1968, dreams and nightmares. [https://amzn.to/46zWlyv]


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