Still about June 2013

Image: Evan Velez Saxer


For an honest and victorious bludger from a cycle of defeats (2013-2023)

A Pink Magazine published, in September 2023, a dossier on June 2013 [available here]. I read all the articles carefully, in general, very interesting. But as someone who has followed the debate about 2013 since the beginning, the truth is I didn't need to go beyond the index to realize that the magazine chose to limit the debate to its own field, namely: that of purely laudatory views of 2013 and, at the same time and for this very reason, deeply critical of the PT.

To be fair, the organizers warn, in the Introduction, that the original idea was to organize a broader debate, however, “after some setbacks”, the dossier was “smaller than expected”. Nothing indicates, however, that this breadth would go beyond more “regional representation” and “identity”, as explained below.

Thus, despite recognizing (in my opinion, correctly[I]) that the debate about 2013 is divided between three main positions – a critical view of the institutional left, generally closer to PTism; a positive vision of the Junista left, generally closer to autonomism; and a more mediated and, according to them, more “independent” vision – the fact is that the magazine barely contemplated mediation, bet everything on the odes and completely banned criticism of the 2013 movements.

In this, justice be done again, Pink She was not alone. Completely ignoring the need to reflect on the data that indicate that memory, support and pride in relation to June 2013 are not only minority in the Brazilian population, but also crossed by class and regional hierarchies,[ii] Most of the left-wing debates on “June” were restricted to those who celebrate its historical significance and, in the same movement, exalt a critical perspective on the PT which, ultimately, prohibits the political field of PT from being part of the debates of the “legitimate” left. ”.

The few exceptions did not fail to confirm the rule. This was the case, for example, of the interesting cycle “visions of June: texts and contexts”, organized by the postgraduate program in Philosophy at FFLCH-USP, which confined the “PT” perspective to a table, making this perspective a “ absent-presence” – participating, but circumscribed and, therefore, not exactly debating[iii] on “equal footing” with other positions.

And I would have overlooked, once again, this logical-political circumscription that marked the celebration of the 10th anniversary of June 2013, if it weren't for two “details” that, together, mobilized me to write this text.

The first “detail” has to do with the history of the Pink Magazine, whose title barely disguises the fact that it is an editorial project that was born from the interdiction of the PT left and points to an attempt, in my opinion stillborn, to rebuild the Brazilian left without the PT.

The second “detail”, deeply connected to this, is that one of the texts in the dossier of Pink – the important “The reconstruction of a counterpublic of the left opposition (2013, 2023 and beyond)”, by Jonas Medeiros – finally decided to openly defend this interdiction, explaining the project of an “anti-PT” left and thus opening up the possibility, for a more frank debate of ideas within this field.

As the devil is in the details, I thought these two were reasons enough to outline this critical assessment.

The debate and its nature: who speaks and who remains silent?

We are not far wrong in saying that 2013 opened a new cycle in Brazilian politics. Without needing to concede anything to the serpent's egg teleology, which I have already harshly criticized in debates internal and external to the PT,[iv] It is possible to say that 2013 was a watershed for Brazilian politics in general and for the left in particular. Especially if we compare this last decade to the previous one, inaugurated in 2003, it is difficult to deny that, from the point of view of the consolidation and advancement of historical agendas on the left, 2013 inaugurated a cycle of defeats.

In this sense, and going beyond a purely electoral political vision, it is necessary to recognize that, even the election of Dilma Rousseff in 2014 and the election of Lula in 2022, took place in a context of strong offensive from the right and extreme right, which makes understandable – although not necessarily correct – the choice to lower the agenda, to the point of not going much further than slogans such as “union and reconstruction”.

That said, there is not much future for the Brazilian left without a critical assessment of this cycle of defeats which, to be a “victorious” bludger, must first be honest. This applies to “PTismo”, which I join and with which I debate in various spaces, inside and outside the party. But it also applies to non-PT sectors – or rather, anti-PT sectors – of the Brazilian left who, in my opinion, are still in need of criticism and self-criticism of their position over these 10 years.

And it is in this sense that I consider it important to begin by specifying that the Pink Magazine emerged from the rubble of another magazine, the February. Although on the editorial board of February There had always been tensions and divergences of various kinds, the magazine's project became unviable precisely in the wake of the critical assessment of one of the toughest periods of this cycle that begins in 2013: the four-year period 2015-2018.

In essence, the “insurmountable” wedge that was placed in the Revista's editorial board concerned the future of the left and the PT in light of Operation Lava-Jato, the coup against Dilma, Lula's arrest and the imminent rise of Jair Bolsonaro.

To be more precise: while a section of the magazine considered the investigation into corruption, under the aegis of Lava Jato, a “gain”, focusing the balance on the PT’s mistakes and thus pointing to the need to overcome it, leaving the PT along the way, another group, to which I belonged, defended the need to incorporate, in this critical assessment and in a central way, the denunciation of the car wash and the condemnation of the 2016 coup, focusing fire on the dispute over the direction of the PT, in defending Lula's innocence and, therefore, his right to be a candidate, if he wanted, in 2018.

Regarding my specific position in this clash, despite joining the second position, I understood that the assessment that needed to be made did not spare the PT from criticism, which included, including, the party's (mistaken) position in relation to 2013 , whose incomprehension, as I argued in a text published in February Even in 2013, it would exact a high price on PTism.[v] I just didn't agree that the PT's main mistake was linked to corruption, as they pointed out, together at the time, Globo, the Lava Jato prosecutors, a large part of the “there won’t be a World Cup” Movement and other important sectors of the right and the left itself.

This analysis of positions simplifies a little, but not much, the debate that took place in the February. In short, a clash took place there, which continues to this day in many contexts and with different themes, between a position that understands that the reconstruction of the Brazilian left involves critically overcoming the PT, seen as an obstacle, and another that understands that the PT, due to its size and popular roots, is an unavoidable part of this reconstruction and, as such, needs not only to be contested but, at least, to integrate, with its different internal positions, these debates about the future of the left.

In this sense, the problem is not that there are at least two positions: one PT and one, so to speak, “non-PT”. The PT never completely hegemonized the Brazilian left and always coexisted with other important traditions and parties. The problem is that, in the context of the Brazilian crisis opened in 2013, the non-PT position unfolded, covertly or openly, into anti-PTism – which is evident in the decision of sectors of the left to ban the participation of the PT and PT members, including critical PT members, in the debates about the balance of the 2013-2023 historical cycle and the future of the left from then on.

This is what happened in the specific case of February Magazine, where the clash over the future of the left and the place of the PT was particularly difficult, especially for me, who was not only the only woman in the magazine's political editor, but also the “youngest” and the only “sociologist” in a body dense with “philosophers”, some of them “weighty”.

Still, and I think this is important information, I was not the one who wanted to end the debate and the magazine. On the contrary: I insisted until the end on the importance of keeping the channels of dialogue about the future of the left open, without interdictions, which presupposed moving forward with the project of February Magazine, as it was then, amplifying its internal divergences. In the end, however, it was not this position, “open to open conflict”, that predominated and, in 2018, the February Magazine was unilaterally terminated.

From its rubble, “purified” of “PTism”, the Pink. In this sense, although the name of the magazine alludes to a fair tribute to the giant Rosa Luxemburg, for me, it is impossible to dissociate its “colorism” from the unspoken prohibitions against the PT which, in the wake of the cycle that opened in 2013, gained strength not only general public debate as, even and more seriously, in the left-wing public debate. This when it did not produce a complicit reinforcement between the two, in a process in which the anti-PT left is explicitly or implicitly “rewarded” with prominence, openness and positions in the broader political debate, especially in the mainstream press and academia.

Petismo and antipetismo on the Brazilian left or the demophobia of others

Regarding this scenario, I think it is important to make some considerations. The first is that reducing, today, the protests of June 2013 to this broth of anti-PT culture, as sectors of PT do, is deeply anachronistic and, therefore, politically mistaken and unproductive. As some critics point out, myself included, this position lends itself comfortably to the defense of a position, strong today in the PT, of building the governability of the Lula III government only within the order, that is, exclusively through a very broad front and cold negotiations. with the National Congress, to the detriment of a “hot” tactic and strategy that favors popular mobilization and, through it, expands the political horizons of the Brazilian left. It is in this specific sense that the argument that institutional PTism, here, flirts with a certain “demophobia” is not completely absurd.

The problem, which has to do with the second consideration, is that, in light of everything that happened in the 2013-2023 cycle, it is surprising that this left marginal to the PT, which increasingly adheres to “anti-PTism”, continues without presenting any criticism or self-criticism in relation to their own positions, still operating today and in a renewed way, within the same prohibitions that marked the cycle opened ten years ago.

And that's not just because of everything that proved to be the car wash, the fight against corruption and the legal-political persecution of Lula, Dilma, the PT and the PT members. But, above all, due to the resilience and popular strength that the PT camp demonstrated in this process, explaining how essential it is, not only to contain the threat from the extreme right, being this key in the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro and the attempt to coup of January 8th, as well as to rebuild the Brazilian left in general. In this case, it is not absurd to say that demophobia is present in others, especially in anti-PT supporters, incapable of recognizing the democratic and popular character of the PT experience, with all its contradictions.

And it is in the light of this broad context that I found Jonas Medeiros' text entitled “The reconstruction of a counterpublic of the left opposition (2013, 2023 and beyond)” to be extremely important. Following an ethnographic vein that is peculiar to him, Jonas Medeiros opens the text with a report: “All the events, in-person or virtual, over the ten years of June that I participated in during the intense month of June 2023 (whether as a listener, whether as a speaker) had two characteristics in common, in terms of trying to: (1) rescue and intensify the circulation of an alternative memory about June 2013 (alternative in relation to the “snake’s egg” common sense, about which I will not lose time here; and (2) rebuild a counterpublic that I would call the left opposition.”

Next, after defining what a counterpublic is, he states: “It is 'left opposition' to the PT, obviously. And today, as ten years ago (sic), it is a broad front, which brings together people and institutions with countless differences, but who come together, in one way or another, by attributing a positive meaning to the revolt ( which can go by different names: uprising, rebellion, insurrection, insurgency, etc.). The PT majority, in turn, is repulsed and horrified by the revolt, for reasons that it is not important to develop here, just to state (which can be summarized in the term “left of order”); However, I emphasize that in the organization of events and collections in this 2013 celebration there is a minority aspect of the left of the PT itself that accepts debating, coexisting and collaborating with anarchists, autonomists, socialists and communists, as it does not attribute a negative meaning to the revolt”.

I think it is important to clarify that Jonas Medeiros not only recognizes that there is a ban on the debate, but also attributes it to the PT majority, therefore exempting himself from responsibility. Immediately, Jonas Medeiros also recognizes that the PT is a complex party and, as such, has different positions, which throws stones in the mill of its position. In this sense, it is worth highlighting that the long excerpt cited above ends with a note that makes reference precisely to the book I edited with Breno Altman, about June 2013, highlighting and condemning it in these terms: “The following collection is an example outside the curve of common sense that took hold among Lulista audiences: Breno Altman and Maria Carlotto (eds.). June 2013: The Phantom Rebellion. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2023. However, the notion of a broad front underlying the diversity of interpretations about June 2013 in this book itself implies such breadth as to give public visibility to the infamous hybrid war and color revolution thesis applied to the 2013 uprisings in one of its chapters. In my opinion, the diversity of opinions to be debated on the left should follow the limit that separates, on the one hand, theses and arguments with scientific aspirations (articulating theoretical-conceptual systems and empirical evidence) and, on the other, theses based on conspiracism. I wrote a review that reveals the background of the 'hybrid war theory' both in Russian Christian right audiences and in the propaganda legitimizing Putin's foreign policy, not to mention its harmful and intrinsically authoritarian consequences for the freedom of expression exercised. through direct action and civil disobedience: Jonas Medeiros. “'Hybrid Wars', a pro-Putin and demophobic pamphlet”. PassaWord, January 28, 2020.”

And I could spend a long time analyzing the choice of the term “broad front” to describe the effort Breno Altman and I made to contemplate different positions of the Brazilian left regarding June 2013. This is not only because we are publicly recognized as part of the minority sectors of the PT who criticized and criticize the broad front tactic adopted by the party in 2022, including against non-PT and anti-PT sectors that today seem to be on our left, but also because what we did there was anything but a broad front, in the strict sense of term, of uniting positions from different political camps.

What justifies, in my opinion, the use of the term broad front in this specific sense is what comes next and which contradicts, to a large extent, the argument that the debate is banned, above all, by majority sectors of PT itself. . What Jonas Medeiros explicitly defends in this critical commentary on the book The Phantom Rebellion is that we should have banned the position that he himself claims to be the majority in PTism, that of the “serpent's egg” and “hybrid war”.

This makes no sense either academically, much less politically. The hypothesis, with which I disagree, that June 2013 was part of a broader international cycle, linked to a fourth generation war tactic, is not only rooted in broad sectors of the Brazilian left, as the author himself recognizes, as It is supported by academic studies in the field of international relations and international political economy, if not as an empirically proven thesis, at least as a theoretically constructed hypothesis.

In any scenario, it would not make any sense to exclude one of the most widespread positions within the left from the debate on June 2013, unless we are tacitly legitimizing the political logic of the ban that has become commonplace. This bet on the ban is, from my perspective, completely wrong, especially if, from a critical left perspective, we want to overcome the PT's “errors” dialectically, that is, by incorporating its potential and overcoming its limits, in a big “step forward.” ” of the Brazilian left, of which the PT can only be part.

But based on the prevailing tone of the June 2013 debate and the general spirit of publications from the academic left such as Pink Magazine, the bet goes in another direction: instead of incorporating PTism, in its different currents, into the public debate about the future of the left, the bet is to silence it, tacitly, but even so, violently, in the worst tradition of the Brazilian elite , this one is undeniably demophobic and anti-PT.

In a remarkable book, which gave rise to an equally remarkable film – Memories of underdevelopment by Edmundo Desnoes and Tomaz Gutiérrez Alea, author of the book and director of the film, respectively – there is a phrase that could characterize an era: underdevelopment is the inability to accumulate experiences. The protagonist, refractory in his own class, repeats the phrase and perhaps the class itself when repeating it, against the backdrop of the missile crisis of 1961 and the radicalization of the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

In the film and book, the appeal to memory has a critical inspiration, linked to the spirit of the time, of overcoming underdevelopment. Here, memory serves less decisive or certain purposes: it is not a question of remembering to avoid making mistakes, of remembering to learn, but, very modestly, of remembering to know how much the error is repeated and, with that, who knows, “ accumulate experiences” and open paths to produce something “new”.

*Maria Caramez Carlotto is a professor of the International Relations course at the Federal University of ABC, author, among other books, of Paths of change in Brazilian science. Ed. 34, São Paulo: 2013. []


[I] It should be noted that I have emphasized, in all my publications about 2013, the importance of recognizing the existence of these three positions, highlighting that I identify with the third of them. See: CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. “June 2013: coup and revolution”. In. CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. & ALTMAN, Breno. June 2013: The Phantom Rebellion. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2023; CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. “June 2013 in January 2023”. Esquerda PT, n.14, p. 74-79, 2023.

[ii] View:

[iii] The panel took place on August 10th, and was composed of me and professor Marilena Chauí who, truth be told, is a fundamental figure in understanding this game of complicity between left-wing anti-PTism and the broader public political debate in Brazil in prohibition of positions properly.

[iv] See: CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. “June 2013: coup and revolution”. In. CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. & ALTMAN, Breno. June 2013: The Phantom Rebellion. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2023; CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. “June 2013 in January 2023”. Esquerda PT, n.14, p. 74-79, 2023.

[v] View: CARLOTTO, Maria Caramez. Decipher me or I will devour you. The June riddle. February Magazine, v. 6, pnp, 2013.


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