reformist communism

Clara Figueiredo, Izmailovsky Market, Lenin_ 2067,60 rubles, Moscow, 2016


Considerations based on controversies between members of the PCB and the PC do B

The problem with social media polemics is that they tend to take on a so-and-so tone, which often obscures what is essential: the political content behind the exchanges of verbal barbs. See the case of this controversy within the world of digital Brazilian communism, between members of the PCB and Elias Jabbour. It seems that the origin of a resides in a text, in a polemical and assertive tone, which is typical of his very own style, of the PC do B intellectual, stating that the “maximum program” of the left would consist of that PT list that caused controversy in the press. That is, our strategic horizon should be the reversal of liberal reforms and the consolidation of a policy of economic induction by the State, returning to the more developmental aspects of the second Lula administration.

I particularly disagree with this conception, as I believe that this should be the minimum program of any left-wing government. If we assume that the maximum we want is something so limited, we will probably reap much smaller things, since the maximum is never reached.

In any case, “maximum program” is always an expression that refers not only to particular conjunctures, but to distinct temporal scales. For example, if we strictly follow Marx, Engels and Lenin, our maximum program is not even the conquest of power to socialize the means of production. This would only be a transition to advanced communism, in which there is not even a State as a coercive apparatus external to “civil society” and internationalism thrives above national divisions, since there is not even a capitalist market and inter-state disputes.

We would also have the “polymorphous worker” described in poetic tones by Marx, overcoming the essential antagonisms of the division of labor: countryside and city; manual and intellectual work. Evidently, however, no one, with the exception of ultra-left groupings, carries out politics with this ultimate horizon as a close objective.

In the case of Elias Jabbour, I think it makes sense and coherence to see the PT program – which is probably much more advanced than what Lula concretely intends – as our horizon, because the strategic coordinates that guide his vision are not the same as those of the young intellectuals of the PCB . We need to understand the policy of PC do B in general, and Elias, in particular. Personal traits, personality characteristics and individual psychology are, in my view, totally insignificant, if the intention is to wage a quality polemic.

The maximum objective of the PC do B, at least for the historical stage in which we live, is not to destroy the bourgeois State and fight Brazilian capitalism in its entirety, only its “spoiled” parts – the financial parasitism that imposes austerity policies, under economic growth, etc. On the contrary: in this view, the objective of the communists is to defend democracy and “politics” in the abstract (this includes even defending traditional politicians and the usual parliamentarism) and the most developed and important national capitalist sectors for growth.

This sounds very strange at first glance, but it has a long historical lineage, going back at least to the communist movement of the second half of the last century. Since the 1950s, but already with trials in the period of the popular fronts of the 1930s and in the policies of national-democratic union in the 1940s, interrupted by the harshest moment of the Cold War in the immediate post-war period, the communist parties that claim the of the Third International and the alignment with the Soviet Union, in general, followed a reformist path, even when revolution was kept in the vocabulary.

The strategy of the western CPs, in general, was not to accumulate forces for an antagonistic clash between capitalism and socialism, but to take advantage of unprecedented democratic freedoms to create an “advanced democracy” (in the vocabulary of the French CP, for example) and to make the French “State monopoly capitalism” (let us remember that in this period even the automobile industry was state-owned) to become a kind of socialism, just changing its color and its class content, or carrying out “structural reforms” (in the language of the Italian CP, the larger, more relevant and influential) but within a consensual political framework, established by the Constitution.

That is why, at one time or another, all these parties had to revise fundamental elements of the classic vision of the socialist transition, in order to adapt them to the context in which bourgeois democracy had become an insurmountable landmark. No wonder, classic concepts such as “dictatorship of the proletariat” came to be seen more as a problem, to be hidden or simply thrown away, than a solution.

In Brazil it was no different, with the particularity that here democracy was much more limited, excluding in advance the possibility of any electoral victory for the communists, in addition to capitalism having archaic aspects (read as “semi-feudal” and “semi-feudal”). colonialisms”, in the lexicon of the formulations of the Third International and the Chinese Revolution) that led to the hypothesis that, in the Brazilian case, capitalism was not a problem, but something to be developed and defended.

These two characteristics conditioned the native communists to be a kind of left wing of national-developmentalism and of the so-called populist currents, both in the trade union movement and in politics in general, which even influenced the vision of the State and national capitalism. It is not random that Jabbour uses Ignácio Rangel, an intellectual from ISEB, the nucleus of Brazilian national-developmentalist thought, to formulate his vision of socialism, nor that Celso Furtado has been for so many years, and until today, the great reference of Brazilian thought. left in economics.

Overkill? Read the March 1958 document, the most important one to understand the orientation of the PCB in its period of greatest social and political influence. Even an alliance with sectors of landowners not subordinated to US policy is considered a possibility, since the objective was to combat imperialism, especially US imperialism, and the most backward sectors of land ownership, in order to finally have capitalist development. progressive.

The historical irony is that the PC do B, which was born as a split fighting this political line, read as a rightist, today is the most faithful representative of this typical subjectivity of what I would call the “reformist communism” of the PCs after World War II. But he is not the only one: there are countless, including extremely worthy, brave and fair people (as I said, it is not a matter of personal valuation), in the most diverse social movements and leftist parties. It is a very characteristic subjective type, predominant in the real history of this political current.

I would say that the “reformist communist” is guided by two axioms: “the expansion of alliances is always better than isolation” and “the road to socialism is economic development led by a democratic State of law”. Both very logical and coherent for those who fought for democracy (in a context of extreme repression directed by the military dictatorship) and the development of “good” capitalism (income generator, internal market and productive investments) against the most backward elements of Brazilian society.

Anyone who really wants to settle accounts with this past necessarily ends up treating the “reformist communist” as an obstacle, which also makes criticisms of Elias Jabbour logical. This was exactly what Luiz Carlos Prestes did, in his famous “Letter to the Communists”, scrutinizing the whole history of the party of which he was the top leader for so long, or what the refounded PCB does after the liquidationism of its more opportunistic elements at the end of the Cold War.

In fact, the PT already did this, albeit partially, in the so-called “popular-democratic” strategy of the famous V Meeting of 1987, supposedly overcoming the experience of defeat of Brazilian communism. However, historically the party has not done anything much different than repeating the habits and antics of the old Party, in a very different ideological, cultural and political context.

I write all this to try to contribute to the precise and fair demarcation of the lines of contact, but also of the friction zones between those who claim the Brazilian communist tradition. If the fight against the main enemy unites us, that is, the fight against liberalism (which is nothing more than the spontaneous ideology of capitalism freed from its collective and social ties), currently hegemonized by a current of neo-fascist bias, it is necessary to make it clear that ideological clashes will and must occur between those who believe that the rebirth of communism implies a break with classic “reformist communism” – which implies a revaluation of the most radical aspects of Marxism that were left aside in the last century – and those who it is faithful to a continuity with the classic parameters of the Brazilian left.

In short. In common, the fight against liberalism (including the very strong, actually hegemonic, social-liberals within the left); in dispute and permanent tension, the strategic principles (if we should consider the revolution and the transition to communism a concrete objective, of our time, or not). Here is the mark drawn by the chalk line. And may the best win – those most able to lead and conduct historical demands of the Brazilian proletariat.

* Diogo Fagundes is studying law at USP.

See this link for all articles


  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • João Cândido and the Revolt of the Whipwhip revolt 23/06/2024 By PETRÔNIO DOMINGUES: In the current context, in which there is so much discussion about State reparations for the black population, the name of João Cândido cannot be forgotten
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Fear and HopeJoao_Carlos_Salles 24/06/2024 By JOÃO CARLOS SALLES: Against the destruction of the public university
  • The collapse of Zionismfree palestine 80 23/06/2024 By ILAN PAPPÉ: Whether people welcome the idea or fear it, Israel's collapse has become predictable. This possibility should inform the long-term conversation about the future of the region
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Return to the path of hopelate afternoon 21/06/2024 By JUAREZ GUIMARÃES & MARILANE TEIXEIRA: Five initiatives that can allow the Brazilian left and center-left to resume dialogue with the majority hope of Brazilians
  • Theological manual of neoliberal neo-PentecostalismJesus saves 22/06/2024 By LEONARDO SACRAMENTO: Theology has become coaching or encouraging disputes between workers in the world of work