Communists in Brazil

Varvara Stepanova, The Results of the First Five Year Plan, 1932


Commentary on the book by José Reinaldo Carvalho & Wevergton Brito Lima

The emergence of the communist movement in Brazil was not the result of the transposition of an exotic plant to the national soil, as proclaimed by bourgeois propaganda over the decades. It was the result of the conjunction of three factors.

First, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was the epicenter of a worldwide political upheaval. Historiography has already amply demonstrated that the crisis of the system of imperialist States, the carnage of the European war and the economic transformations that ensued, produced uprisings, general strikes, riots, clashes and insurrections on all continents. Naturally, Brazil joined those struggles.

Second, the international character of those events led to the organization of a new type of movement, guided by the fusion of Marxism with the notable contribution of Lenin. The various socialisms of the Second International were overcome by a centralized organization, founded in 1919, which stimulated the creation of national sections: the Comintern.

Third, the appearance of a communist party became a national necessity of the Brazilian labor movement. Despite heroic struggles by anarchists and other social movements, strikes, street fights and resistance unions; the organization and theories available to libertarians had reached a strategic impasse. In response to this, the communists thus created the first national party association in the history of Brazil in 1922.

The importance of anarchists did not end there, overnight, but declined and, after the 1930s, it was reduced to small groups of study and propaganda. The communist party animated a true mass organization in 1935: the National Liberation Alliance (ANL).

The book by Reinaldo Carvalho and Wevergton Brito Lima revisits the tradition of the socialist internationals and shows the trajectory of the communists since 1922. It crosses major political battles such as the undefeated column of Luiz Carlos Prestes, the 1930 Revolution, the battle of Praça da Sé in 1934 , the ANL insurrection of 1935, the resistance in the Estado Novo and the tough electoral and union struggles of the communists.

Internally, the Mantiqueira Conference deserves mention. The book analyzes the 1946 Constituent Assembly, profiles the communist caucus, and continues the analysis of the party's internal struggles, particularly in the phase between the March 1958 Declaration, adopted after the 1962th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and what Based on official PCdoB documents, the authors name the “revolutionary reorganization of the Party” that took place in XNUMX.

The 1958 Declaration made a risky bet on bourgeois democracy as it was configured at that time. At the international level, China and the Soviet Union publicly revealed their differences during the Romanian party congress in 1960, and that year the Sino-Soviet split was confirmed. It also heralded two opposing conceptions of political strategy. The irony of history is that today, as this book demonstrates, “China and Russia are united in their efforts towards authentic multilateralism”.

The PC do B rebelled against the March declaration and rescued the former name of the PCB, which had been renamed the Brazilian Communist Party. The fact is that the PC do B overcame the tests of its history and remained firm, without letting itself be seduced by the Eurocommunist discourse in the 1970s, and liquidationist discourse at the time of the end of the Soviet Union. Suffice it to observe that the largest western communist party, the Italian one, simply disappeared.

The PC do B faced the dictatorship and actively inserted itself into the national picture, participated in governments at all levels, has importance in the trade union, popular and student arena and, although reduced at the beginning, it surpassed all other groupings that call themselves Marxists or Communists in number of members and influence in Brazilian society.

The book by José Reinaldo Carvalho and Wevergton Brito Lima does not follow a chronological order, but a thematic one. The portrait of the PCdoB from the 1970s onwards, presents resolutions, documents, conferences, congresses, declarations and political positions that enrich the work and make it a guide to delve deeper into each of the decisive moments of the party. There is also an appreciation of the international scenario, the new state forces that tend to create a multipolar world and the need for an anti-imperialist Brazilian policy and, as João Amazonas emphasized, anti-monopolist.

The special focus is, naturally, on the PC do B's analysis of the legacy of the Guerrilha do Araguaia. Without shying away from self-criticism, the party showed that at the time when the Brazilian people most needed resistance to the 1964 dictatorship, there were PC do B cadres. Like Canudos, Araguaia resisted more than one army campaign; like the supporters of Antonio Conselheiro, the communists represented another form of social life in action. They were militarily defeated, politically victorious. History is not concerned with the names of torturers and murderers. He dedicates words like Euclides da Cunha's to them: “it was, in the full meaning of the word, a crime. Let us denounce him.” Today we remember the party of Grabois, Helenira Resende and Osvaldão (and many others).

Communism, Marx and Engels said, is the real movement of the working class and not a chimera. It is a historical necessity inscribed in the very dynamics of the capitalist mode of production. The struggle to overcome the barbarism imposed by imperialism and its representatives in each country requires, however, subjective conditions. For this, theoretical training at all levels is indispensable.

Among the progressive parties, it is the communists who play the role of political educators. This is a militant and combat book; controversial as it has to be; it takes sides and does not hide under the cover of neutrality ideology; it is, above all, pedagogical because it teaches that there were struggles before us and defines the right side of each one of them. With this book, the authors pass the baton to young militants, because the story continues.

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Studio).



José Reinaldo Carvalho & Wevergton Brito Lima. Communists in Brazil: a centenary party for a new time. São Paulo, Kotter publishing house, 2022, 136 pages.


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