The fracture of the ruling class

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By VALERIO ARCARY*

Why was it possible to recover Lula's political rights?

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest way to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat” (Sun Tsu).

There are three different assessments on the left regarding the STF's decisions on the annulment of Lula's convictions. The theme is of great importance, because it is central to the interpretation of the new moment in the conjuncture. Lula tops the preference in all available opinion polls. Maintaining the current conditions, which is, of course, unpredictable, Lula would be in a second round against Bolsonaro.

It is unpredictable because no one can know what the situation will be in mid-2022. What will be the outcome of the CPI on the pandemic in the Senate? What will be the evolution of the Bolsonaro government and, perhaps, even its destiny? What will be the context of the pandemic a year from now? What will be the economic situation? How will unemployment rates evolve? What will the inflation rate be? What will be the evolution of the average salary? What will be the social impacts of the privatizations of Eletrobrás, Correios, Cedae/RJ planned for the second half of 2021, if they are not detained? And most importantly, what will be the social and political relationship of forces?

These and many other variables, today, unthinkable, because “shit happens” requires maximum prudence. But they do not lessen the need to draw lessons from the Lula Livre campaign, because it was the greatest democratic victory in the last five years, and anyone who diminishes its significance is completely wrong.

The first is naive and circular: we won because the cause was just and justice was done. Many just causes are not recognized by justice. We must have neither illusions nor high expectations in justice. Let us remember that the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff was endorsed by the courts. Political judgments are decided according to political interests, that is, the struggle for power.

This interpretation refers, therefore, to the outcome of the vote on the incompetence of the 13th Court of Curitiba and Moro's suspicion of the strength of the national and international campaign. To the talent of legal defense by Lula's lawyers. To the unity achieved in the majority of the left for the organization of the Meetings and, above all, the Vigil in front of the Federal Police building. The tireless activity of the network of jurists organized in the ABJD, the support of great popular artists who influenced the world of culture, the solidarity of the most left wing of the Catholic Church, which opened the doors of the Vatican, in addition to other religious.

It also refers to the stability in the formation of the National Free Lula Committee and its capillarity in many cities, the regularity of the information bulletins, the quality of the agitation and propaganda materials, the initiative of the Festivals, the persistence of the mutirões, the street activities and, also, the strength of Lula's own commitment, which fearlessly persevered. There are many grains of truth in this balance sheet, but it is one-sided. In its most extreme version, it disregards the division between hostile or even enemy social forces, an illusory version of voluntarism.

The second is the one that argues that a fraction of the ruling class started to defend Lula's freedom, as a response to a new political situation precipitated by the health, economic, social and political crisis over the last year, due to the disasters of the government of extreme right. Bolsonaro's isolation ended up favoring Lula. Bourgeois pressure on the STF would respond, preventively, to concerns about the danger of a social explosion, or the need to rely on Lula and the PT to preserve institutional stability in the event of an impeachment.

In the most sectarian currents flourish dangerous ideas and even, curiously, contradictory, if not paranoid inspiration. Some suggest that the most powerful fraction of the bourgeoisie pressed for Lula's freedom to weaken Bolsonaro, others that Lula would have an interest in preserving Bolsonaro, because he would lose favoritism in the 2022 elections, if Bolsonaro were displaced. There is also a grain of truth here, but no more than that. In its most extreme version this view flirts with conspiracy theories.

The third is much more complex. The Lula Livre campaign began under very adverse conditions. When Lula was arrested in April 2018, it was impossible to predict that in November 2019 he would be released, let alone that in March 2020 he would have regained his political rights. The evolution was very fast. Similar campaigns such as Mandela's freedom struggle were incomparably longer and more difficult. Processes like this can only be explained by considering many factors.

Of course, it is educational to begin the evaluation by underlining the importance of the left's unitary campaign for his release. It left an inspiring lesson for the dangers of the future. At the time of defeats, being able to keep your head up is essential. Nothing replaces firmness and dignity. And those left-wing currents and groups that refused to defend Lula Livre were very bad in the face of history.

Without the MST's tireless engagement in building the campaign, everything would have been much more difficult. Without the bet that prevailed in the PT that Lula's influence allowed the campaign to have a mass audience, it would not have been possible. But the unity of the two biggest parties of the Brazilian left in addition to PT, PSol and PCdB was fundamental, too. It was never just a PT fight. Lula's struggle for freedom engaged, to a greater or lesser extent, the vast majority of the Brazilian left, fortunately.

But it would be naive to attribute the outcome of the STF votes to the strength of the campaign. It was not possible to organize mass demonstrations for Lula Livre. All the acts were, to a greater or lesser extent, avant-garde acts. Let's be honest: acts of militancy. That is, they grouped together the most conscious or, ideologically, politicized activism, in particular, the “stainless ones”, the “old guard” of the Brazilian left that came from the eighties and nineties.

Other factors weighed heavily on the outcome of the STF votes. Lula's trial was always, from the beginning, a political process, indivisible from the 2016 institutional coup that displaced Dilma Rousseff from the presidency. This was the Achilles' heel of the operation that culminated in Lula's arrest: no important sector of the bourgeoisie took a stand against the coup. A coup similar to what happened in Honduras and Paraguay. A coup that paved the way for Bolsonaro to reach the presidency.

Political persecution masked by judicialization was a very dangerous operation, because it established a serious precedent, the legitimation of lawfare. When Sergio Moro shamelessly accepted the position of Minister of Justice in the far-right government led by a neo-fascist like Bolsonaro, the turmoil began, above all, abroad.

The division of the legal world between the so-called “guarantors” and “lavajatistas” existed, therefore, throughout the process. The model of accusations built on plea bargains without evidence other than the testimonies of defendants interested in amnesty was a scandal.

But everything accelerated as the manipulation carried out by Lava-Jato was unmasked by the publication by The Intercept of the exchange of messages between Sergio Moro and prosecutors, and confirmed by the files of the spoofing operation. parliamentary support and was fully incorporated into the government, the conflicts with the Lava-Jato operation began to be expressed within the government. There are not few parliamentarians from the center, but also from the MDB, Democrats and even the PSDB, none other than Aécio Neves, presidential candidate defeated in 2014, historic parties of bourgeois representation since the end of the dictatorship, which were under investigation.

No less important was the slow change in the situation due to the health disaster caused by the pandemic. Bolsonaro's obtuse denialism in the face of the human tragedy of mass contagion and the collapse of the SUS, disregarding the emergency of contracting vaccines, defending imaginary remedies, denouncing the need for quarantines and constantly threatening self-coup resulted in social and political weakening . Trump's defeat changed the place of the Bolsonaro government in the world in a qualitative way.

Even though Bolsonaro maintains majority support in the “bourgeoisie mass”, when we consider the six million businessmen as a whole, the ongoing disaster has produced fissures in the hard core of the ruling class. No sector defends impeachment, but the 500 manifesto was a yellow alert. The majority of the big bourgeoisie, a few thousand billionaires, still bet on the preservation of the electoral-democratic regime. Bolsonaro's Bonapartist threats fracture the ruling class. And a liberal-democratic regime is not possible without the left in legality.

We won because we fought, but also because our enemies were divided.

And the class struggle is never in vain.

Valerio Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).

 

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