Lula government's responses

Clara Figueiredo, series_ Brasília_ fungi and simulacra, national congress, 2018


The crisis of liberal democracy and the responses that the Lula government is giving to adverse internal and global situations

As I write this article I listen to Lula's speech at the UN. I do not change the script of my text, rather I confirm it in its strategic sense. The due legal processes opened to investigate the January 8th coup attempt have not yet reached those most responsible for that perverse adventure.

They are certainly not the original individuals from the barracks, nor the multitude of hysterics and criminals who occupied public buildings, destroyed part of the most symbolic heritage of our republican history and showed what they offer to the Brazilian people: they defecated in front of the world to show their degree of hatred and savagery. Those responsible were the very few high-ranking officials who accepted the coup proposal, the civil leaders of the extreme right of all stripes and hierarchies and the lumpen-bourgeoisie of various origins, eager to assault the State, without the slightest obstacles to the legality of democracy. liberal can impose discretion.

The Philadelphia Convention (1787), which began the organization of the essential elements of the American State, as it is today, had extraordinarily important debates, which dealt with numerous topics, including how to organize the Federation, whether based on the predominant presence of individual citizens of the entire American territory or, in another alternative, from the unitary representation of the federated states, as the primary unit of “proportionality”, to shape the political majorities or minorities in the nation in formation.

Within that Convention, historians recall, “both Madison and Yates” criticized their opponents for their speeches, which were very vehement and had little content, whose claims led to the belief that the “general government should be formed for the States, not for individuals ” (…) whose arguments “would have been more effective if they had been presented in a more concise and timely manner”.[I]

The main moments of crisis of all liberal democracy, at its origins, are based on the crisis of forms of representation, because as they are products of modern individualism, the democratic regime is already aging when it becomes a “mass democracy”, without reforming the its institutions forged more than two hundred years ago to welcome this historical “newness”.

In fact, in the American Convention, it was about seeking a balance between the centralization of power in the hands of a President, on the one hand, and, on the other, maintaining the autonomy of the states (…) as basic entities of the new idea of nation, “where the Executive Power should be restricted by laws that prevent it from turning the government into a tyranny.[ii]

President Lula's third government faces a much more difficult internal and external panorama than that found in his first government, which I called (and I do not regret) – at the opportunity – the “Palocci era”. My observation, poorly understood at the time, was not related to a possible lack of authority on the part of the president, but to the objective conditions that besieged his first government (rising inflation, explosive social debt and stratospheric interest rates) that forced, due to the absence of another viable alternative, to govern with realism at the economic level, without unbalancing what remained of the confidence of the most significant economic and political actors of that time, when Bush presided over the USA, the USSR had already sunk and social democracy was beginning to move towards the center. right.

I understand this third government of President Lula as more difficult than his first government, due to the difficulties in foreign policy – ​​resulting from the fragmentation of global power centers – and general economic conditions that are even worse than those left by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, worsened at maximum power due to the government of Jair Bolsonaro and the increase in financial (and social) debt, as well as the dizzying increase in political physiologism in the National Congress, already present in the forms of political representation of our distorted federalism.

Everything takes place in the context of a global situation of rebirth of fascism and the orphanhood of the left, with regard to the death of the utopias of social equality of the last century, which was not responded to by a new doctrine of a democratic socialist character, nor by the organization of a new system of unity of political forces, a situation that was combined with a certain traditionalization of the PT as an exclusively “government” party, whose national political influence occurs exclusively through Lula's authorized voice.

Our advantage in relation to more traditional parties is that Lula unifies and politicizes the PT, at a time when common forms of party organization are no longer able to captivate its bases, and our disadvantage is that we are, thus, victims of a certain fainting of our creativity. This problem is combined with a radical transformation that the “democratic question” has acquired in present times, squeezed – on the one hand – by the scarcity of new alternatives for the deepening of political democracy and, on the other, by the fixation of political representation in forms that do not they capture the diversity of identity movements of all types and their new forms of organization.

In the introduction to Era of rights, written in October 1990, Norberto Bobbio asserts that third generation rights, “such as the right to live in an unpolluted environment, could not have even been imagined when second generation rights were proposed” (“social rights”) judgment by Norberto Bobbio who supported his point of view “that human rights, however fundamental they may be, are historical rights; that is, born in certain circumstances, characterized by struggles in defense of new freedoms against old powers, and born gradually, not all at once”.[iii]

They will follow, he thinks - in historical sequence, certainly the rights of the fourth generation, linked to the right to information, to political pluralism in a democratic socialist regime, and those of the “fifth” generation, the most difficult and complex of all: the “right to peace”, a special concern of Kantian theory, alive to this day, not taken into account even by the most enlightened sectors of left-wing politics.

Political democracy is thus, on the one hand, “political will” and, on the other, “legal reason”, with its motivations[iv] and laws that formally come from the majority of the constituent power. And it is also the “minority rights” that begin mainly with each individual who makes up collective citizenship. However, the formula that democracy cannot commit suicide is well known, becoming so elastic as to provide opportunities for its perversion when fascists – normally stray individuals who become a fanaticized mass – reappear in profusion to try to implement their totalitarian order. , triggered through illegitimate violence.

The three major responses that the Lula government is giving to this adverse internal and global situation, composed of a foreign policy of sovereignty, proposition and composition with the different sources of global power; the fight against hunger – immediate and direct – by the Social State, which was paralyzed during the years of the Bolsonaro Government; and the “Fiscal Framework”, as a moment of transit towards a social market economy that aims, at least, to reduce inequalities.

It's all very fragile, but it's all very strong: fragile because the dominance of financial capital over indebted States operates with different strategies and different sources of power. But everything is very strong, because yesterday we went through a terrible period, in which our soldiers were called up for a Coup by the “head of the nation” and were absent. The situation was overcome without civil war and within political democracy, which is no small feat in our Latin America tortured by violence and death, by long and dark dictatorial winters.

*Tarsus in law He was governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil. Author, among other books, of possible utopia (Arts & Crafts).


[I] FARRAND, Max (Author), CUNHA, Bruno Santos (Translator), PINTO, Lucas Pieczarcka Guedes (Translator). The creation of the constitution: the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 and the formation of the United States of America. São Paulo: Editora Contracurrent, 2023, p.91 (

[ii] BEZERRA, Juliana. American Constitution. All Matter. Available here:

[iii] Bobbio, Norberto; translation COUTINHO, Carlos Nelson. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier Editora Ltda, 2004, p.25-28.

[iv] CLAVERO, Bartolomé. Los rights and jueces. Madrid (Spain): Editora Civitas,SA 1988, p. 86.

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