The Alliance Politics of the Left

Andy Warhol: Hammer and Sickle
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By Ricardo Gebrim*

Should the left take into account the possibility of attracting bourgeois fractions, especially the internal bourgeoisie, through a program of electoral conquest of the administrative apparatus along the lines of the previous neo-developmentalist experience?

I received numerous comments on the previous article, in which I questioned whether it is still possible to build a political alliance between popular forces and one of the fractions of the bourgeoisie to resume neo-developmentalism. Some have argued that asserting the impossibility of re-editing neo-developmentalism is premature. After all, as I recognized in the article itself, the Brazilian State is strong and has many structures that will not be easily deconstructed.

However, the political struggle requires prior definitions. The answer to this question has tactical and even strategic implications. Ultimately, it defines the character of the political alliances that popular forces seek to build and, consequently, the necessary program. Therefore, we cannot escape the question, under the risk that the very inertia of repeating the past will lead us to resume a process for which there are no longer any historical possibilities.

It is unquestionable that the political program of the ruling bloc, represented by the government of Jair Bolsonaro (without a party), invests its energies in dismantling economic mechanisms such as the National Bank for Economic Development (BNDES) and other public banks, reinforcing budget protection , complete the privatization of strategic sectors and grant autonomy to the Central Bank. This is an ongoing process and we really don't know if they will be able to complete it.

The most relevant dismantling of the state apparatus that made neo-developmentalism possible will be the autonomy of the Central Bank, whose project is advancing in the Senate, but has not yet been approved. In theory, such mechanisms could be reversed if there is a future correlation of forces sufficiently favorable to a project willing to re-edit neo-developmentalism.

As I asked in the previous article, in the hypothesis, for now quite remote, of popular forces counting on such favorable political conditions, should your program be limited to resuming neo-developmentalism in alliance with bourgeois factions? In any case, we admit, just as an argument, the possibility that an electoral victory could reverse the dismantling of state mechanisms, resuming the previous scenario.

Still, it wouldn't be possible. There are other structural factors, whose complex reversal requires a much more expressive historical time. Among them, deindustrialization is the main one. The set of factors that contributed to this trend was observed throughout Latin America, but Brazil, due to its size and relevance, is the most significant case of early dismantling of the industry. Without the impetus of import substitution and the rest of the developmental measures that were decisive until the beginning of the 80s, the process of industrial dismantling continues at an accelerated pace, even with the occasional stimulus measures attempted during the PT governments.

The efforts of neo-developmentalism to reverse deindustrialization collided with a floating exchange rate, scorching interest rates, high interest rates on the public debt. In other words, they were limited by the legal armor built during the first neoliberal offensive (1994 – 2002).

This had profound consequences. We know that technology, efficiency and productivity cannot be achieved in the short term.

Industrial capacity is the most important source of technological innovation. As if the consequences of the abrupt deindustrialization were not enough, the attacks on Petrobras, with the sale of its assets, destroyed the only pole in which we still played a competitive role. As a result, our technical progress is increasingly restricted to agriculture, livestock and mining.

In turn, industrial technology, in addition to long-term investments, requires an adequate education policy, compatible engineering services, training and qualification of the workforce. Factors that have also been intensely dismantled since the 2016 coup.

As if all this were not enough, regrettably, the attacks by the Bolsonaro government also profoundly affect research, making important centers of the public university unfeasible. The result is that our country ends up destined to be a mere platform for financial appreciation, export of ores and products derived from agribusiness. A configuration that by itself makes the role of the internal big bourgeoisie impotent and strengthens the hegemony of the bourgeoisie associated with international financial capital.

The conclusion is that even holding control of the administrative machine with the victory in presidential elections, even if the hypothesis of winning a parliamentary majority is admitted, the popular forces would face challenges of a structural nature that make it impossible to repeat the neo-developmentalist experience through an alliance with a bourgeois faction.

Given this, it is worth asking what are the real possibilities of continuing with a program that tries to attract bourgeois sectors that can no longer be attracted to a political alliance? Obviously, it is not a question of despising the contradictions within the bourgeois factions. They continue to exist and may expand in the face of the international economic aggravation. Having the capacity to influence them is part of the necessary political skill for a Popular Project.

We are faced with political phenomena of a very different nature. It is one thing to know how to influence the contradictions within the bourgeoisie, break its unity, remove the shaken internal bourgeoisie from the hegemonic control of the directly associated bourgeois fraction. Another, quite different, is to present the proposal to constitute a government of alliance with bourgeois factions, as was correctly done in 2002 and can no longer be reproduced.

Nor is it an a priori conception of denial of alliances with bourgeois factions. The revolutionary struggle in the XNUMXth century is full of examples that demonstrate the importance of such alliances, not only for the conquest of state power but also for advancing the experience of socialist construction.

The debate raised here is about the possibility of attracting bourgeois fractions, especially the internal bourgeoisie, through the electoral conquest of the administrative apparatus along the lines of the neodevelopmentalist experience. This question is decisive. It will have to be answered by the forces of the left, even without necessarily having research that proves the hypotheses we are debating.

We face a defeat of a strategic nature. New mistakes will cost the left forces dearly. The search for mass adherence to any political proposal implies clarity of objectives and means.

*Ricardo Gebrim He is a lawyer and member of the National Board of Popular Consultation.

Article originally published on the website Brazil in fact.

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