The right in power

Image: Kushnir


Unlike the left, the right does not need a strong and skilled social leader to advance its agenda and win political battles, just any puppet

The current downfall of Jair Bolsonaro and former members of his government can also be understood as a demonstration of the former president's smallness compared to the size of the Brazilian right. We should not understand the right as composed of right-wing parties or politicians, but of the concrete social forces that make it up.

It is a fact that, in practice, the right has always been in power in Brazil, including during the government of Dilma Rousseff. Even though PT governments have alleviated poverty in Brazil, without affecting inequality, economic and social structures have remained intact. It is clear, however, that this reality is not the result of a lack of desire to change the country of Lula, Dilma or the PT leadership, the reality is that elections give a ruler very restricted power.

Bourgeois democracy, without a strong trade union movement, strikes and social movements that impose popular agendas, has never emancipated the working class in any region of the planet. The PT, as a party linked to labor and originally opposed to capital, saw in trade unionism, social movements such as the MST and left-wing intellectuals the social forces capable of changing Brazil. However, currently, Brazil's largest mass party is limited to electoral and parliamentary disputes.

In contemporary Brazil, we can summarize the right as being basically composed of the tripod: military, landowners and bankers. Understanding here landowners as agribusiness in general and bankers as large owners of the financial market. In Jair Bolsonaro's government, the handover of the economy to Paulo Guedes, the environment to Ricardo Salles and multiple positions linked to security, defense and intelligence to the military made this thesis evident. Jair fulfilled a role of winning votes and entertaining his followers, while any important decision was taken by the real right, that is, by bankers, landowners and military personnel, through their representatives in the Executive and Legislative branches.

Regardless of whether the candidate is Jair Bolsonaro, Aécio Neves, José Serra or anyone else, the right in Brazil maintains the same interests and ideas as decades ago, and will remain so. Unlike the left, the right does not need a strong and skilled social leader to advance its agenda and win political battles, just any puppet. On the other hand, the left has a much more difficult game to play and win. Since it faces an entire secular system.

On the other hand, the left in Brazil can be summarized as a tripod made up of social movements, unions and intellectuals. It is worth remembering that Lula throughout his political career was a representative of the union movement with strong support from social movements and great intellectuals at universities. However, unlike Jair Bolsonaro who handed the State over to banks, landowners and the military; Lula has only in an almost symbolic way been empowering unions, social movements and intellectuals in his current government.

Despite often making a speech against capital, against imperialism and strongly defending workers and minorities, in real politics, Lula only seeks to manage and alleviate the suffering of the working people of Brazil. It is clear that such action has a lot of value and makes a difference, however, it has a ceiling for action that is too low for the size of Brazilian social problems.

In an interview, Lula said that the MST will not need to invade land, as his government will carry out agrarian reform. No one in social movements believes in agrarian reform without a fight. Mainly in a government handed over to the so-called centrão (which is nothing more than an arm of agriculture and banks). The defense of the return of the union tax, despite strengthening current unions, will keep Brazilian unionism in the inertia it already was and should keep it in the usual electoral perspective.

The large Brazilian unions have a history of struggles and social achievements that cannot be underestimated. However, the legal limitations on union formation and the low participation of workers in the private sector have worsened the weakening of Brazilian unions. Not to mention, of course, the changes in the world of work that have left workers increasingly isolated and dispersed.

In this way, we can say that the Brazilian right, conceptualized in these terms, remained in power even though it lost the elections in 2022. Fernando Haddad pleases the banks more than the unions, becoming more like Paulo Guedes every day. José Múcio at the Ministry of Defense keeps the military in the space they already occupied. And the handing over of the State to the “Centrão” (which has nothing as a center) only strengthens agribusiness even further.

It is important to value Lula's history as a trade unionist and political leader, there is no doubt that if he had the support of the people on the streets, Lula would create a government on the left, completely different from the current one. However, there is not even an attempt by the PT government to seek popular support and strengthen unions, social movements and expand the voices of Brazilian intellectuals to carry out a government with a socialist orientation. Lula's long career in politics and all the difficulties he faced seem to have made the current president give up fighting for a fairer country and be content with containing the tragedy that is Brazil's material reality.

Lula's political strategy in the XNUMXst century is to win votes and elect deputies to have power in the Executive and Legislative branches to gradually implement structural changes in Brazil. The power that is contained in the three powers of the Republic, however, comes not from an abstract formalization, but from the real powers contained in the economic power of banks and agriculture, the military power of the Brazilian Armed Forces and the political power of the masses ( the latter being the most fragile in Brazil and the only one that the Brazilian left can count on).

The arrival of the left to power in Brazil does not depend on Lula's mind, nor that of any other candidate, but depends on the strength of social movements, unions and other workers' organizations and the ability of intellectuals to reach the masses. In the same way that Jair Bolsonaro represented the right, Lula can represent the left. However, without the conquest of real power, we will continue to win, but not take.

*Bruno Machado is an engineer.

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