Centenary of the Birth of Jacob Gorender

Ceri Richards, Piano Arrangement, 1949


Considerations on the life and work of the communist militant

Formation and trajectory of a communist militant

Jacob Gorender was born on January 20, 1923, in Salvador, where he lived in the humble neighborhoods of the capital of Bahia. He was the son of a Marxist Ukrainian Jewish worker who landed in Bahia after the defeat of the 1905 Revolution. In 1942, during the Estado Novo, he entered the Faculty of Law and, in the following year, was co-opted for the communist university cell by Mário Alves, his co-worker. In those years, he worked as a reporter for newspapers in Salvador. After the German invasion of the USSR, he participated in the student mobilization for Brazil's entry into World War II, joining the FEB, as a volunteer, at the age of 21. He landed in Naples in 1944, participating in the campaign until the defeat of Nazism in 1945.

Back in Brazil, he abandoned the law course to become a professional soldier in the PCB, legalized in 1945 and illegalized at the beginning of the Cold War (1947-1991), when he adopted a semi-insurrectional line, without abandoning the proposal of an alliance with the so-called industrialist sectors of the ruling classes, to carry out a democratic and anti-imperialist revolution. He directed pecebist magazines and newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. He rose to positions of increasing responsibility in the PCB, being elected, in 1954, as an alternate member of the Central Committee. [MAESTRI, 2005.].

In 1955, Jacob Gorender participated in the second group sent to the higher school for training PCURS staff, which allowed him to learn Russian and meet the companion of his life, Idealina Fernandes. In Moscow, he read the reserved edition of N. Khrushchev's report on Stalin, a denunciation that led the Pebebists into confusion. [DAYS: 1993, p. 190.] In 1958, by order of Prestes, Giocondo Dias, Alberto Passos Guimarães, Mário Alves, Armênio Guedes and Jacob Gorender wrote the adaptation to the new Moscow line, outside the Central Committee and the Executive Commission, against the hard Stalinist wing – Amazon, Pomar, Grabois, etc.

March Statement

The “March Declaration” put an end to post-Cold War leftist rhetoric, proposing an explicit alliance with the so-called national and progressive bourgeoisie and the possibility of a peaceful conquest of power, a worldwide orientation of the USSR bureaucracy in search of peaceful coexistence and good business with the capitalist world. The Brazilian revolution would be anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, national and democratic. Socialism would be for a later period. [MAESTRI, 2005.]

In September 1960, at the V Congress of the PCB, in semi-legality, Jacob Gorender, aged 37, was elected a full member of the Central Committee and Mário Alves and Carlos Marighella, of the Executive Committee. With the resignation of Jânio and the inauguration of Goulart [1961-1964], the linkage of the Prestista PCB deepened. A sector of the left – Apolônio de Carvalho, Carlos Marighella, Jacob Gorender, Joaquim Câmara Ferreira, Manuel Jover Telles, Mário Alves, Miguel Batista do Santos, without breaking with class collaborationism, proposed breaking the government with the conservatives in order to assume a nationalist and democratic bias.

In 1959-61, the Cuban revolution galvanized the Latin American left with the proposal of immediate conquest of power through the guerrilla focus, to be implemented under any conditions. [DEBREY, 1967.] In the same year, the change in the designation of the Communist Party of Brazil to the Brazilian Communist Party, to facilitate its legalization, made it possible for Amazonas, Pomar and Grabois, etc. founding the PC do B. In those years and after, J. Gorender published articles in pecebist newspapers and magazines and translated from Russian, in partnership with Mario Alves, manuals and treatises on Stalinist Marxism. [MAESTRI, 2005.]

defeat without resistance

The demoralization of the PCB leadership with the victory of the 1964 coup, without resistance, strengthened the left-wing opposition within it. In 1965-6, prestismo, linked to the CPSU, won the dispute for control of the party, expelling the opposition in 1967. , worker. The PCB split, favoring the role of groups influenced by the Cuban and Chinese revolutions, above all. In April 1968, in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Revolutionary Communist Party was founded, under the direction of Mário Alves, Apolônio de Carvalho, Jacob Gorender, etc. [VIEIRA, SD]

The PCBR rejected the alliance with the bourgeoisie but denied the direct struggle for socialism and defended the social and union struggle, associated with the armed struggle in the countryside. Its hybrid character facilitated its rapid repression. On January 12, 1970, Mário Alves was arrested and tortured to death. On the 20th, Jacob Gorender “fell” in São Paulo. The falls continued and a new student leadership accentuated the militaristic character of the organization, which was soon repressed and disjointed.

Jacob Gorender diverged from the guerrilla orientation, supported by Mário Alves, proposing that the militarist policy accelerated the loss of cadres, which were not replaced. When he was arrested, he was already dedicated to investigating the social formation and the Brazilian revolution, dissatisfied with an overcoming in practice without theoretical questioning of Peceba's reformism. [SODRÉ, 1964; PRADO JÚNIOR, 1966.] In prison, he presented, in progress, a reading outline that defended the transition of Brazilian society, from slavery to capitalism, without going through feudalism, and the relevance of the socialist program. In October 1971, he completed his two-year prison sentence and, freed, devoted himself to theoretical research without ever returning to the military organically.

Neither feudal nor capitalist

In the late 1970s, Gorender would stand out in the national political scene, not as a leader and intellectual of the PCB and founder of the PCBR, but as the author of colonial slavery. This and the works that followed constitute the indisputable record of the solid and broad erudition of this Marxist intellectual with an incomplete university course. The singularity of this man with a wrinkled body and sharp reflection was born of the importance he gave to his theoretical training, enhanced by his admirable intelligence and memory.

Repeating the proposed trajectory of the genesis of Marxism, he deepened the study of classical philosophy, political economy and historiography, when possible, in the original texts, since he mastered German, English, Yiddish, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian. A training that was plastered and castrated for many years by the Stalinist reduction of the Marxist method, as he himself recognized, which forced him to make an enormous political, ideological and cultural effort to overcome it.

The limits of Caio Prado Júnior's questioning of the Stalinist PCB's interpretations of Brazil, on the one hand, and, after 1964, the understanding that the break with PCEB collaborationism and pacifism would not be overcome with the mere armed option, led him to in order to undertake a long research on the roots and development of the Brazilian social formation, as we have seen. Gorender continued his research in freedom, in 1971, to, in 1978, see his thesis published Colonial slavery. [GORENDER: 2016.]

The scientific success and academic impact of the dense work, presented at the beginning of the so-called “slow, gradual and safe opening”, were enormous. Contradictorily, the voluminous treatise did not have the same reception among the avant-garde of the Brazilian left, who were surprised and perplexed by the singularity of the theme, when they were looking for practical guidelines for the resumption of militancy, after the failures of the 1960s and 1970s. In a categorical-systematic interpretation , Jacob Gorender proposed overcoming the contradictions that not only Marxist readings had been struggling with for decades. That is, the controversy between the proposal of a feudal or capitalist past of Brazilian societies and that of most of the Americas.

Jacob Gorender undertook the Copernican revolution. In the sphere of political economy, he structurally interpreted pre-Abolition Brazil based on the categories of mode of production and social formation, placing the enslaved worker – the sociological ancestor of the contemporary Brazilian worker – as a demiurge of the country's past. It raised to a refined level of epistemological insight the more or less developed proposals and suggestions of previous analysts such as Benjamin Péret, Clóvis Moura, Ciro Flamarión Cardoso, Décio Freitas, Emília Viotti da Costa, Manuel Querino, Robert E. Conrad, Stanley J. Stein, Suely Robles Reis de Queiroz.

The production and reception of colonial slavery they were also products of their time. Those were the years of the Chilean, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Nicaraguan, Angolan Revolutions, etc. In Brazil, after the social ebb of the years 1968-9 and the consolidation of the dictatorial order, the workers resumed, since the years 1976, the initiative that led them to the great strikes of 1979 and to the foundation, later, of the CUT, PT, MST, MNU, then classist and anti-capitalist. For some years, workers tended to occupy a central and autonomous position in Brazilian society. In the world and in Brazil, spaces were opened for representations that expressed the interests and historical needs of workers and oppressed people. [MAESTRI, 2019.]

understand to revolutionize

Em colonial slavery, having as a model The capital, of Marx, Jacob Gorender, discussed the political economy of the colonial slave mode of production, seen as historically new in relation to ancient slavery. In his thesis, he defined the tendential laws of this dominant mode of production in the old pre-1888 Brazilian social formation, the unique basis of the country's transition towards capitalist production. They would be: “law of monetary income”; the “initial reversal of the acquisition of the enslaved worker”; the “rigidity of enslaved labor”; the “correlation between the mercantile economy and the natural economy” in the slave plantation; law of the “enslaved population”.

The work also presents a systematic critique of the great interpretations of Brazilian society. Its main objective was to understand the deep structure of the hegemonic mode of production in pre-Abolition, to reveal the internal secrets of the constitution of the genesis of capitalist production in Brazil from that particular socio-economic environment. Product of the author's long and distinguished militancy, the book was the preamble and the foundation for a general critique of the genesis and development of capitalist society, with a view to boosting the Brazilian Revolution.

The imbalance and displacement caused by colonial slavery in the hegemony of dominant conservative representations of Brazilian society. In response to that unexpected fracture, a vast operation of criticism, deconstruction and delegitimization of the readings, proposals and suggestions advanced by the revolutionary Marxist thinker and militant was established. A restoration movement that would be facilitated by the rapid and growing national harmony with the pathological social, political and ideological orientation that was then experienced worldwide. [MAESTRI, 2005.]

a general critique

In those years, world society was increasingly engulfed in the downward spiral that would lead to the victory of the neoliberal counter-revolution, culminating in the dissolution of the USSR and the planned economy states, in the years 1989-91. Jacob Gorender's need to respond to the attacks launched against his greater interpretation of the Brazilian past, despite the methodological and pedagogical value of his responses, constituted a defensive movement, which diverted the author from the continuation project, also in the form of a thesis, of his general critique of Brazilian society.

A critique outlined in two synthetic essays – the “Genesis and development of capitalism in the Brazilian countryside”, a 1979 conference, and the Brazilian bourgeoisie, published in 1981 in the Tudo é História collection by Brasiliense. [GORENDER, 1986.] In 1987, Gorender published Combat in the Darkness: The Brazilian Left: From Illusionsyou are lost to armed struggle, to this day the main contribution to the struggle of the left in those years. [GORENDER, 1987.] In 1990, he released slavery rehabilitated, broad and systematic critique of the neopatriarchal restorationist movement of slavery.[GORENDER: 1990.]

Genesis and development of capitalism in the Brazilian countryside

Roughly speaking, in “Genesis and development of capitalism in the Brazilian countryside”, Jacob Gorender defines the category of capitalism, according to Marx, as also proper to the countryside, when agriculture is organized as an industrial branch, singularized by the necessary use of limited resources, the land, which gives rise to capitalist land rent, is part of the surplus value produced. [GORENDER: 1987.] It defends the precedence of capital over capitalism and the original accumulation of capital [pre-capitalist] in Brazil, weak, from the slave production, overcome through the abolitionist revolution, in 1888. A unique origin, in relation to Europe as defined by Marx and Engels. He rejects, once again, the theses of a feudal, semi-feudal or capitalist past since the beginning of colonization.

It argues that Abolition, in 1888, would have produced “free workers” - settlers, residents, partners, etc. – and “non-salaried workers”, not establishing capitalism in the countryside, but only in the city, in a subordinated form. It would have been the planting – coffee, sugar, tobacco, etc. – that dominated the post-Abolition Brazilian social formation. It points to the development during slavery of the “colonial slave mode of production” and the “small non-slave cultivators” -farmers, colonists, households, residents, etc.

With the Abolition, the “buying of labor” would have ceased. Since then, the economic dominance of the labor force was given by the control of the land. Especially in the coffee region, without capital for the total monetary remuneration of family labor and without a rural reserve army, the remuneration of the direct producer, which should be fixed to production, took place, in part, with the concession to the direct producer of the use land, fields, housing, firewood, etc. and an annual salary. That is, this worker, unlike the proletarian, controlled his means of production. It proposes, as a hypothesis, that, in the post-Abolition period, a “landowner plantation mode of production, supported by dependent peasant forms, with an incipient capitalist development” dominated in the countryside.

Two development paths

It also highlights two major paths in the development of capitalism in the countryside in Brazil. The first, through the transformation into capitalist production of the “latifundian mode of production, supported by dependent peasant forms”, dominant mainly in coffee growing, after the Abolition, through the overcoming of dependent peasant relations, allowed by the genesis of a rural reserve army, in part due to the immigration of European workers. The second, through the development-overcoming of independent family peasant production, that is, farmers, squatters, small tenants, autonomous partners, etc. which, with the development of the market, increase the commodification of their production.

These two paths would have determined non-essential contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the landlords and, therefore, the lack of interest of the former in agrarian reform. He recalls that no sector of the bourgeoisie has a considerable interest in agrarian reform. The consolidation of capitalism in the countryside as an industrial branch took place through the use of salaried workers and capital investments in machines, seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, electrification, etc., leading to the production of relative surplus value, with more and more profit from the capital on the profit of the land. A whole process supported by the State.

With regard to agrarian reform, he proposed the need, on the one hand, to respect the rural worker's expectation of ownership of the lot, and recalled that family farming was crucial and essential for the production of subsistence foodstuffs and, on the other hand, the struggle for “transformation of large agrarian, plantation and livestock companies, already technically unified, into large collectivized holdings: cooperative or state-owned.”

The Brazilian bourgeoisie

in rehearsal The Brazilian bourgeoisie, from 1981, Jacob Gorender presents, in a very concise form, an outline of the genesis and development of industrialization and the formation of the bourgeoisie in Brazil, based on original accumulation based mainly on colonial slavery, accelerated by the Opening of the Ports, in 1808, and for Independence, in 1822. It highlights colonial slavery as the main obstacle to the development of capitalist production, overcome by the “abolitionist revolution”, in 1888, which spared the latifundium, in the absence of peasant struggle claiming the land and due to the mobilization of enslaved people, especially for civil liberty.

In the Old Republic (1889-1930), Jacob Gorender proposes that capitalist production and relations, and, consequently, the industrial bourgeoisie, were subordinated to landowning agro-pastoral production and to the exporting and hegemonic agro-pastoral classes. Industrialization, through the production of non-durable consumer goods, with an initially regional scope, would fail in the Northeast, due to lack of a market; settled in the South, based on the colonial-peasant family economy; dominated in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, due to the larger market, the more intense accumulation of capital, etc.

Jacob Gorender argues that, in the 1920s, the coffee-growing economy had begun to be overcome by the industrialization process and proposes that there was no “bourgeois revolution” in 1930, a category for him “inapplicable to the history of Brazil”, where “bourgeois domination” would have occurred. . The latter had been facilitated since the recessive crisis of 1929-33, which accelerated the process of import substitution, by the Estado Novo [1937-1945] and Getulismo, political expressions of the industrial bourgeoisie.

He points out that industrialization, already strong in the 1950s, was born of internal capital, since external productive capital produced a tendency to decapitalize, even though it could dynamize the market and production. He recalls that, in the 1960s, capitalist production and the bourgeoisie already dominated in the country and that the coup, in 1964, directed by the latter, aimed above all at deepening its form of accumulation. He proposes that, at the time he was writing, the Brazilian economy was based on the tripod of state capital, national private capital, foreign private capital and that the departments of production of intermediate goods and production commanded the dominant industrial expansion.

He points out that bank capital had already been consolidated but there would not yet be national financial capital per se. During this period, the capitalization of the countryside and the non-anti-imperialist middle bourgeoisie had grown. In this synthetic work, Jacob Gorender criticizes traditional thesis of historiography – coffee growers promoting Abolition and industrialization; industrial enrichment through work; essential contradictions between industrial bourgeoisie and landlordism; State capitalism in Brazil, etc.

combat in the dark

Combat in the Darkness: The Brazilian Left: From Lost Illusions to Armed Struggle was released in 1987, two years after the end of the dictatorship. Its rapid and enormous success is understandable. For the first time, a synthetic structural interpretation of the 1964 military coup was carried out and, what was completely new, an organic presentation of the emergence and agony of the armed leftist organizations, until the ultimate resistance in Araguaia, in early 1974. The objective of the book was to overcome the merely genealogical descriptions of the emergence and dissolution of armed organizations, from the crumbling of the PCB, the POLOP, the radicalized petty-bourgeois nationalism.

The opening chapters cover the years that preceded the 1964 military coup. Next, the reasons for a huge portion of the left to opt for militarism and remain indifferent to the working classes and the resumption of economic expansion are discussed. The text favors the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro axis and is based on the author's experiences, without falling into biographicalism. The book undertakes a self-critical evaluation of the pecebist left which, influenced by the worldwide advance of the class struggle and struck by the inglorious defeat of collaborationism and stageism, on March 31, 1964, launched an unconditional armed struggle.

Jacob Gorender does not reject the armed struggle for power, criticizing only the conditions and the moment in which it took place, after the defeat of 1964. “The economic miracle and the isolation of the mass movement made victory impossible”. He should have, according to him, fought, in armed form, in March 1964, when there was a “possibility of victory”. He denies that the “CGT and the unions were powerless.” [MAESTRI, interview, 9/10/1987]. He proposes that Brazil had lived, in the 1960s, a “pre-revolutionary period” that led to a “revolutionary situation”, confronting the bourgeois counter-revolution and the revolution of the working and popular classes.

Reasons pdeep

Without neglecting the role of excellent historical protagonists, it seeks to describe and define the deep reasons for the development and outcome of the successes in question, never pre-established. For him, the victory of the big landowners was ensured by the abandonment of the struggle by the subaltern classes. “I defend [...] that the defeat of 64 was due to the fact that the Party [PCB] handed over the leadership of the movement to Jango”. [MAESTRI, interview, 9/10/1987] Proposing the dominantly bourgeois character of the coup, it overcomes later polemics about its characterization as military, civic-military, first civic-military and then just military, etc.

The coup materialized the final rupture of the “close association between labor and the industrialization project”, supported by capital and the internal market. An alliance developed in the context of the political-ideological hegemony of populism, which guaranteed the Brazilian bourgeoisie the conquest, “to a high degree, of the consensus of the working class for the construction of a bourgeois nation”. A populism, strongly authoritarian during the Estado Novo [1937-45], dialectically undermined by the impulse that industrialization initiated in the weight and tendential autonomy of workers. The leadership of the PCB would have collaborated to the depression of the conscience of the workers, defending the class collaboration and the revolution by stages, before and after the coup. [GORENDER: 2014, 27]

The workers had been strengthened with the Strike of the 300 thousand, in March-April 1953, with the defeat of the military coup, in 1961, knowing the moment of greatest strength in the history of Brazil. In the context of the recessive crisis of 1962-65, the coup responded to the deep needs of the bourgeoisie to abandon bourgeois-democratic institutions and populism, for the extreme coercive control of the workers. The propertied classes, led by the industrial bourgeoisie, renounced the direct administration of the country, granting corporatist privileges to the military. [GORENDER: 2014, 18, 48, 81].

The book presents a defense of the political action of the Pecebist left, especially in the years before the coup, defeated in the struggle against the Prestista team for control of the PCB leadership. Failure that led some of those militants to embrace semi-militarism -PCBR- or extreme militarism - ALN. Jacob Gorender criticizes the calaboracionismo, the towism and the stepism of the PeceBists, but he values ​​the program of alliance with the populist-bourgeois leadership, that is, the fight for “basic reforms”, which would have guaranteed the popular advance and the growth of the PCB in the 1960s. It does not explain why workers in 1964 found themselves, in every sense, unarmed when following those guidelines. He recognizes that the Pecebist left, on the eve of the coup, had proposed a greater radicalization of the João Goulart government, without overcoming collaborationism.

nationalism and iinternationalism

The author condemns the imitation of alternative models of obedience to the leadership of the USSR. And he harshly criticizes POLOP and the “workerist narrowness of Trotskyism” for its inability to “express itself skillfully in concrete politics”. POLOP and the Trotskyites had always defended the socialist program and workers' autonomy, which Gorender proposed as major deficits in the PCB's action before the coup. And they faced the prestige of the PCB on the left and in the labor movement, due to the USSR.

Em combat in the dark, the influence in Brazil, in the 1960s and 1970s, of the world class struggle is practically not addressed, with the exception of what concerns the Cuban leadership and, a little, that of China in the PC do B and in the AP. In a way, the visions of the “revolution in one country” are maintained. The serious political hiatuses of the PCB – collaborationism, pacifism, stageism – are presented as illusions, mistakes, national errors, without consolidated roots in class alliances, at the margin of their political, ideological and social roots based on the Stalinization and bureaucratization of the “communist movement”. International".

The fragile approach to the international situation at the time makes it difficult for the contemporary reader to understand militarist actions carried out, in Brazil and in many other countries, in the context of the general worldwide advance of the revolution at the time, which met multiple receptions, among them, that of the radicalized petty bourgeoisie . In a way, for Jacob Gorender, the organized left arises from a subjective, intellectual, etc. interpretation. of the working classes. It is not, therefore, the theoretical result of objectification, practical and contradictory, of the needs expressed by the oppressed.

combat in the dark constitutes an attempt at a political balance of the two defeats, that of 1964 and that of the armed struggle, from the perspective of the oppressed and the revolution, in order to arm and prepare for an eventual victory, albeit distant. Jacob Gorender began to prepare Combat in the Darkness, seen as his contribution to the “history of the Brazilian left” in the “post-64”, after his release and, above all, after the publication of his greatest work, colonial slavery, in 1979.

Slavery renabled

In 1988, the federal government, with the Ministry of Culture under the direction of Celso Furtado, promoted wide celebrations of the 1990st Centenary of the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil. In multiple meetings, in which Jacob Gorender participated with prominence, the strong dominance of the neo-patriarchalist revisionist movement over the slavery past was registered, supported by the overwhelming strength of the dominant social segments that it interpreted. In XNUMX, Jacob Gorender published slavery rehabilitateda general and systematic response to the academic restorationist movement, at a time when the neoliberal counter-revolution was reaching its peak, with the dissolution of the USSR and the flat-economy states of Eastern Europe. Historical catastrophe that, in the medium term, ended up profoundly marking the author himself and his later intellectual production, as we will see.

Em slavery rehabilitated, Gorender attempts to criticize and define the class roots and ideological orientations of neo-patriarchal and neo-conservative thought, especially on Brazilian slavery. For him, it was not about an erudite polemic about the past, but about a clash, in the world of representations, about the old Brazilian social formation, between explorers and exploited, with decisive repercussions in the present, not only cultural and ideological. He would propose: “[…] if it was possible and viable to conciliate classes between masters and slaves […] much more possible and viable would be the conciliation between capitalists and wage-earners”.

In the process, he nominated and criticized a huge number of the then most prominent national scholars who embraced neo-patriarchalist and irrationalist proposals on slavery. In slavery rehabilitated, points out as a reference work in the neo-patriarchalist inflection in Brazil the translation into Portuguese, in 1981, of the book by the Greek-French historian Kátia de Queiroz Matoso, Being a slave in Brazil, received as a new paradigm by the Academy, despite its lapses, stumbles and creeping inconsistencies. A work that presented “on the one hand, the gentle, generous gentleman; on the other, the docile slave, albeit malicious and subtly resistant”.

the happy bondage

The multiple themes of the neo-patriarchal restoration of slavery criticized were: the objectification and absolute autonomy of enslaved workers; the denial of the captive's opposition to his exploitation and the transformation of slavery, to his own advantage, through accommodation and negotiation with the exploiters; the exceptional conditions of existence of the captives – little work, a lot of food, rare punishment; the law of slaveholders as a guarantee of the world of enslaved people; the general existence of stable enslaved families; the benignity of the slave trade; the transmutation of the captive into a peasant, still under the yoke of the enslaver; the indetermination of internal phenomena by external processes and exploitation by economic structure; the scarce social mobility of the captive; the non-class character of slave revolts, etc.

In masterful synthetic pages Jacob Gorender criticizes the main authors who proposed, directly or indirectly, the revision, overcoming or death of Marxism, as a method: Louis Althusser, Michel Vovelle, Paul Veyne, Cornelius Castoriadis, Eugene Genovese, Robert William Fogel, Stanley L Engerman, &c. He develops the discussion of the “possible consciousness” of the enslaved worker. In the chapters “The abolitionist revolution” and “Post-Abolition Brazil and blacks”, he discusses the character of the abolition of slavery. Jacob Gorender presents his vision of those successes, based on the previous definition of the dominant character of the colonial slave mode of production and on the necessary intermodal transition towards post-slavery forms of production. He presents a broad and accurate historical reconstruction of the successes when discussing the “abolitionist revolution”.

It points out the pragmatic and conjunctural political bias of the non-methodological denial, by the Black Movement, of the importance of the abolition of slavery, during the celebrations of the XNUMXst Centenary. It marks the radical struggle for the end of the institution, with a central role of the radicalized abolitionist movement and, above all, of the enslaved mass. Hits masterfully presented in Robert E. Conrad's classic, The last years of slavery in Brazil, 1975. [CONRAD: 1975.] He recalls that, with the denial of the referential meaning of the “abolitionist revolution”, the action of the struggle for freedom of enslaved workers is denied.

Revolution abolitionist

It discusses the determinations that led to the enormous longevity and solidity of slavery in Brazil and its growing crisis, since the 1850s. free. A process that had a terminal moment in the institutional abolition of slavery, when it was in its final agony, due to the abandonment by the captives of the coffee plantations, mainly in São Paulo.

It proposes that the “abolitionist revolution” would have made “the times of the bourgeois revolution in Brazil” opening the way for “capitalism [then] possible” at the time. The so-called Revolution of 1930 would play a “complementary” role in a process that would not have developed under the clear and limpid aegis of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and factory workers.

when it was published slavery rehabilitated, the neoliberal tide was already impelling capitalist restoration in the planned economy states of Eastern Europe and the worldwide privatization and destruction of conquests, institutions and workers' and social parties. The book did not give rise to discussion and debate. It was received with stones in their hands, by not a few of the authors that Jacob Gorender had criticized, ensconced in strategic academic positions. The attack was not on the theses of the book, it was ad homin – against the author, then the main representative of revolutionary Marxism in historiography.

O fim da hhistory

During the 1980s, the liberal tide globally pushed back the world of work, dissolving its workers' parties, trade unions, demoralizing tens of thousands of politicians, intellectuals, social fighters. The apex of that moment was reached with the dissolution of the USSR and capitalist restoration in the so-called socialist countries, dissolving achievements achieved by the world of work in very hard struggles in the last seventy years, in an epochal historical drama.

Jacob Gorender had made an immense effort to overcome the vulgate of dogmatic, sclerotic and Stalinist counter-revolutionary Marxism, in which he had been formed and remained for practically twenty years. Its break was partial in some deep structures of the Stalinist creed – revolution in one country; exacerbated confidence in the party; etc. Even after his break with Stalinism, Gorender resisted reading and studying the works of León Trotsky.

Approaching the age of 70, under the terrible pressure of the rapidly advancing world counter-revolution, like so many other historical intellectuals and militants, Jacob Gorender, strategically disbelieving of the defeated workers, began a social-democratic inflection and essential dissympathy of his production on the Brazilian social formation and a new production of his translated into essays on the crisis of the world of work, of socialism, of the USSR.

A ddestruction of the USSR

Jacob Gorender, who embraced the hopes awakened by M. Gorbachev's social-democratic reformism, turned to ongoing successes in the USSR in two essays: Perestroika: origin, projects and impasses, published in 1991, which received a concluding chapter, "The Origin and Failure of Perestroika", written under the influence of the final dissolution of the USSR, which he had witnessed in Moscow. [GORENDER: 1991.] The book reached several editions but caused little repercussion, due to the limits of an interpretation already written according to the dominant views. Jacob Gorender refers to the negative handicaps known by the construction of the USSR, in the first years after 1917, without referring to the destruction of the productive apparatus and decimation of the proletariat, after the Civil War [1919-1922] which, associated with the retreat of the German Revolution , in 1923, gave rise to the bureaucratic assault on power.

It embraces N. Bukharin's advocacy of a slow tortoise build of socialism in the USSR, supported by the peasantry. He attacks L. Trotsky for proposing accelerated industrialization as a way of defending the USSR and recomposing the proletariat, power and Soviet democracy. It does not see the worldwide fight to the death between the capitalist mode of production and that of the planned and planned economy. [BUKHARIN, &. PREOBRAZENSKIJ: 1973.] For him, the crisis in the USSR was an internal issue, isolated from the crisis of the world revolution, favored by the bureaucratic leadership, on which he only focuses.

Jacob Gorender does not foresee the bureaucratic crisis in the management of the economy due to the marginalization of the population from decisions and the construction of socialism in “one country”, even though the USSR was the result of the union of several “countries”. For him, the only solution to the crisis that the USSR was going through would come from above, and never from democratization and the action of direct producers. He never discusses the proposal of a “political revolution” advanced by Leon Trotsky, as a way to reestablish workers' power in the USSR. [TROTSKY, 1963.] He embraces the language of capitalist and imperialist ideologues and propagandists by defining as “conservatives” those who fought against capitalist restoration and “renovators”, “progressives”, etc., those who fought in favor of it. In summary, he supported a controlled capitalist restoration, with the maintenance of some social conquests.

A conversation that never happened

In 1992, Jacob Gorender published Marcino and Liberatore: dialogues on Marxism, social democracy and liberalism, book with almost no repercussions and little sales, which intends to present a synthesis of the confrontation between socialism and capitalism in the 1992th century and the reasons for the dissolution of the USSR. [GORENDER: XNUMX.] The work concludes with a “New socialist project as an alternative to the barbarism of capitalism”, with a utopian-conservative bias. The book presents itself as an imaginary dialogue, in Moscow, between Liberatore, a Brazilian, educated liberal, and Marcino, a “Marxist”, with whom he confesses to have some rapprochement.

In the dialogue, Gorender is unable to build a full opposition between the spokesmen of liberalism and Marxism, certainly registering the author's indisputable confusion and theoretical-ideological laceration, in transition from Marxism to social democracy and liberalism. He criticizes Stalinism almost as a philosophy of history, dissociated from the class struggle in the USSR and in the world. In the “Third Dialogue”, he proposes nothing less than the material impossibility of building socialism in the USSR, with the only way out in the institutionalization of the New Economic Policy [NEP] and a return to the market and mercantile production.

Paradoxically, this thesis is based on L. Trotsky, even remembering that he saw the USSR led by workers and supported by the world revolution as the only possibility of overcoming the proposal to build “socialism in one country”, in which M. Gorender supports his entire interpretation. Jacob Gorender was an anti-Trotskyist even after his break with Stalinism. He quibbled several times when I asked him his opinion on Trotsky's works. And it took a few years for me to have the courage to ask myself, embarrassed, if I was really, as they said, a “Trotskyist”. [MAESTRI: 2020, 137.] Upon possibly reading León Trotsky for the first time, which was strictly forbidden in the PCB, Jacob Gorender was enraptured by the radicalism of the theoretical production of the builder of the Red Army, even when he was already in a visceral position against her and against the socialist revolution. Defines the Revolution betrayed, as an “extraordinary work of economic and political science”. He recognizes, finally, that Perestroika was a project to eliminate socialism, not to reform it. In his proposal for a new socialism, he proposes a market-driven, unplanned society with a few large state-owned enterprises. In other words, a utopian social-liberal solution when the world counter-revolution was already pushing social-democratic organizations towards social-liberalism. And he proposes that his proposal would have been advanced by Trotsky.


In 1999, at the age of 75, Gorender wrote the article “The proletariat and its historical mission”, in a book celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Russian Revolution, registering the total break with the revolutionary Marxism already proposed in previous works. In the article, he proposes the ontologically reformist character of the proletariat, which he would try to present in a more finished work, Marxism without utopia, published the following year. [GORENDER: 1999.] The book received reasoned criticism from Marxist authors, systematically pointing out its multiple logical-historical gaps. Despite the late surrender, in relation to so many other defections, the book received praise from the great bourgeois media, being awarded by him, to the author, the Juca Pato prize, of “intellectual of the year”. Jacob Gorender wrote some other minor essays, in the context of the academic cancellation process, especially of his fundamental work on colonial slavery.

A revolutionary Marxist cannot live on the sidelines of utopia, understood as an iron commitment, with a rational and objectively founded ideal, but in general of distant, difficult and painful materialization. Strongly influenced by the social struggle, this individual psychological instance is put under increasing tension, especially in moments of triumph of the oppressors. A triumph that certainly never reached the dimension it knew today, with the growing dominance of capitalist barbarism. From this contradiction arises the permanent conflict between perseverance, accommodation and surrender, which materializes in the form of belief or disbelief in the possibility and extreme necessity of radically overcoming capitalist social exploitation.

Dilaceration that arguably swallowed in his late age this who was, in my opinion, the most creative Brazilian revolutionary Marxist.

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Sons of Ham, sons of the dog. The enslaved worker in Brazilian historiography (FCM Editora).


BUKHARIN, N. PREOBRAZENSKIJ, E. THEsocialist accunulazione. Rome: Riuniti, 1973; DAY, Richard B. Trotsky and Stalin: Lo scontro sull´economia. Rome: Riuniti, 1979.

CONRAD, Robert. The last years of slavery in Brazil: 1850-1888. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization; Brasília, INL, 1975.

DEBREY, Reg. Revolution dans la révolution1? Lutte armée et lutte politique en Amérique Latine. Paris: Francois Maspero, 1967.

DIAS, Giocondo. The Life of a Revolutionary: half a century of political history in Brazil. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro: Agir, 1993. p. 190.

GORENDER, Jacob. Colonial slavery. 6 ed.São Paulo: Perseu Abramo; Popular Expression, 2016. https://fpabramo.org.br/publicacoes/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2021/11/Escravismo-Colonial-Web.pdf

GORENDER, Jacob. Fight in the dark. 5 ed. Ver., enlarged and updated. São Paulo: Ática, 1998. [GORENDER, 1998.]

GORENDER. Genesis and development of capitalism in the Brazilian countryside. Porto Alegre: Mercado Aberto, 1987. http://coral.ufsm.br/enev/docs/genese.pdf

GORENDER, Jacob. Slavery rehabilitated. 2nd ed. Sao Paulo: Attica, 1990.

GORENDER, Jacob. The end of the USSR. Origins and failure of perestroika. São Paulo: Atual, 1991.

GORENDER, Jacob. Marcino and Liberatore: Dialogues on Marxism, Social Democracy and Liberalism. Sao Paulo: Attica, 1992.

GORENDER, Jacob. Marxism without utopia. Sao Paulo: Attica, 1999.

GORENDER. The Brazilian bourgeoisie. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986.

MAESTRI, Mario. “Colonial Slavery: Jacob Gorender's Copernican Revolution Genesis, Recognition, Delegitimization”. IHU Notebooks. Year 3 – No 13 – 2005.

MAESTRI, M. “Maestri, may I ask you a personal question?” MAESTRI, M. Domenico Losurdo, a faker in the land of parrots : essays on Stalinism and Neo-Stalinism in Brazil. 2 ed. Porto Alegre: FCM Editora, 2020.

MAESTRI, Mario. From Europe, a critical look at Brazil. Interview given by J. Gorender. Southern Diary. Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, October 9, 1987.

MAESTRI, Mário, Interview held on 7 Dec. 2003, at J. Gorender's residence, in São Paulo.

“Mário Alves de Souza Vieira. General Secretary of the Revolutionary Brazilian Communist Party (PCBR). www.torturanuncamais. org.br/ mtnm _mor/mor_desaparecidos/mor_mario_vieira.htm.

PRADO JUNIOR, Caio. The Brazilian Revolution. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1966.

SODRÉ, Nelson Werneck. Historical formation of Brazil. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1964;

TROTSKY, Leon. L. The Revolution Défigurée; The Revolution Trahie. TROTSKY, Leon. From the Revolution. Paris: Minuit, 1963.

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