To those who will come after us

Vasili Vereschagin, Burlarki, 1866.
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By MIGUEL ENRIQUE STEDILE*

Comment on the book “Nobody said it would be easy” by Valério Arcary

The last six years have been among the toughest faced by the Brazilian left. The combination of political defeats, the rise of a neo-fascist government and the emergence of a global pandemic produced one of the most complex and delicate scenarios for the political struggle. Palmiro Togliatti's motto, “who makes a mistake in analysis, makes a mistake in action”, constituted a constant warning that demanded from organizations and leaders the utmost care and precision in tactical elaboration.

Fortunately, Valério Arcary's reflections, now compiled in the book No one said it would be Easy, cannot be confused or lost in the tsunami of texts and evaluations, many produced in the heat of the moment by the very demands of the struggle, others more due to the demand to satisfy the algorithms of social networks, which the period produced.

Although it was not the historian's original motivation, Valério Arcary's effort resulted in the historical record of the tensions, contradictions and anxieties of militancy in this period. Not the pandemic period or Bolsonarism, but what military means in a counterrevolutionary period when the horizon of the socialist project seems distant. There were many who succumbed to discouragement, depression, individual projects, discouragement. To them, the experienced leader responds, without ever being corny, with the reaffirmation of hope and commitment to the emancipation of the working class.

The set of small, but dense and assertive, texts reviews a set of themes that the left traditionally ignores or pejoratively relegates to “subjectivism”, such as friendship or loving partnerships; but it also puts its fingers in the wounds of organizational issues, such as finances, bureaucracy, professionalism; combat deviations such as paranoia and conspiracy theories; and reaffirms pillars of political organization, sometimes absent in new popular manifestations, such as grassroots work and collective action.

Therefore, his book is also an invitation to reflect on the practice of the current generation of militants, calling attention to dimensions of the political struggle that our previous traditions relegated or treated as taboo. Issues such as sacrifice, lifestyle, anti-intellectualism or electoral opportunism are dealt with without squeamishness or beating around the bush. Without resorting to moralistic tones or setting aside these tensions. Without falling into the scorched earth, nor into pride, Valério Arcary writes in the right measure of self-criticism.

Do not expect an index or collection of entries on contemporary dilemmas – many others could be included. And, although each text is independent, its random reading is not recommended, because in the end, they form a cohesive and unified set of the meaning of the profession of faith to socialism in this century.

Without adopting a professorial tone, the book is also a legacy for the new and future generations of militants so that they do not make the mistakes we have made, do not get lost in the multiplicity of identities, without denying them, nor become discouraged in the face of a politically unfavorable. After all, as the poet Roque Dalton wrote at the end, “we guard for them the time that touches us".

But to them, Valério Arcary recalls that “the audacity of transforming ourselves into the struggle for political change in society is the opposite of accommodation. It requires, in the first place, a connection with reality and a lot of willingness to participate in struggles, thus maintaining healthy links with the left militancy of other currents, because fortunately we are not the only revolutionaries; second, it requires an open mind, intense curiosity, and a sincere desire for learning, hence an appreciation for theory and an ability to admit mistakes without over-dramatizing; finally, it demands a lively internationalism, from one who understands that the destiny of the socialist cause has no borders. And it demands the appreciation of fraternity among us”.

To them and to us, Valério Arcary warns, however, that the renewal of cadres on the left depends essentially on “a new wave of great mass struggles”. The new generation needs to be trained “hot” and not “cold”, in a reactionary and defensive situation. Building this new wave of mass struggles is the real challenge that runs between the lines of his book. Your way, No one said it would be Easy echoes the verses of Fernando Brant: “If what has already been done is worth much\ What will be is worth more”. Yeah, other Octobers will come.

*Miguel Enrique Stedile is a doctor in history from UFRGS and member of the coordination of the Tricontinental Institute of Social Research.

Reference


Valerio Arcary. No one said it would be Easy. São Paulo, Boitempo, 2022, 160 pages (https://amzn.to/3OWSRAc).

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