confinement from the left

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The mainstream media offered a narrative that “stuck”, associating corruption with “the PT's economic crisis”. Without empirical evidence, and with a strong authoritarian appeal, it spread to various sectors of society

By Alexandre de Freitas Barbosa*

The left is confined, has been confined, has confined itself. In the midst of the tragedy we are experiencing, allow me to make a historical reflection on the role of the left in the recent history of the country. Confinement alludes to current facts, but has a metaphorical character, in the sense of revealing some hidden dimensions of reality.

Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that, considering the last forty years, the left is experiencing its moment of greatest irrelevance in the national political scene, in the sense of inability to interfere in the highest decision-making bodies. I do not want to say that the left in Brazil is over or that it does not have the ability to propose. Far from it. The problem is that she was already confined before the pandemic of the new coronavirus.

Since the end of the 1970s, excited by the ABC strikes, the creation of the PT and the rebirth of social movements, the left played a decisive role in formatting the 1988 Constitution, around which many of the conflicts and consensus of later history took place. .

The left was still present in the impeachment of Fernando Collor, in the ministry of the Itamar government and acted in a forceful and critical way during the FHC government. In the 1990s, it used to be said that “the Brazilian press was PT”, which is obviously an exaggeration. But if the FHC government found support and support in the mainstream media, there was no shortage of spaces for the various representatives of the left to expose their criticisms and alternative projects. Without this process of accumulating forces and establishing bridges with society, the PT would not have come to power.

During the 2000s, the left spread through every pore of national political life. There was the left in government – ​​not least because the PT governments were not exactly left-wing –, the left without positions that criticized “their” government, and the left that openly positioned itself against the government. The other forces of the ideological spectrum reorganized themselves and even elaborated a counter-offensive, in 2005, during the “mensalão”, to retreat during President Lula's second term. The less ideological segments of the center and the right, in practice, were inside the government.

What happened next? During the Dilma government, the social contradictions hitherto hidden began to manifest themselves in the light of day, especially in a context of economic slowdown, generating greater fragmentation – and later crumbling – of the broad and fragile base of political support.

During the Dilma government, a new Media-Finance-Congress-Public Ministry coalition was promoted, which had the growing support of the business community and the middle class. The impeachment was a constitutional expedient to condemn “the work as a whole”, with the support of the “Supreme, with everything”. Those who would never get it through the vote came to power. The coup is not a narrative, but a fact.

Who offered the new narrative that "stuck" was the mainstream media by associating corruption with "the PT's economic crisis". Without empirical evidence, and with a strong authoritarian appeal, the new “truth” spread to various sectors of society. The “social media” and the new “intellectuals” of the right, economists or not, created the conditions for the purge of the left from the national political scene. The icing on the cake was President Lula's confinement, bypassing all legal expedients.

The entrenched left played its last card in the 2018 presidential elections, marred by the fake news, by class hatred and the complete absence of debate. Nevertheless, the defeated accepted the result, collected their flags and headed towards the opposition. The left decided to respect the flawed election, which gave birth to the monster, embodied in the bestial man and his family clan full of militiamen.

The big media, Finance, FIESP, important segments of the Judiciary and the new leaders of Congress were overjoyed. It was time to destroy, to put an end to the “PT excesses” and “socialism”. In this society where classes behave like castes, “each one knows his place”. With each wave of reforms, approved despite the monster, and thanks to the endorsement and sewing of the presidents of the Chamber and of the Senate, the privileged asked for more. Without reforms, there is no growth, was the catchphrase. And the growth did not come.

The left demanded at most self-criticism, a practice imposed by the Stalin and Mao regimes on former allies. Meanwhile, the left, in its task of resistance, struggled in its various groups, ending up definitively breaking the bridges with the political society that had expurgated it.

Therefore, the left was already confined before the pandemic. As she cannot go to the streets, she joins the “fagots” during Dilma's deposition, during the successive televised pronouncements characterized by monstrous irrationality. The leaders of the left can at best ask for the captain's resignation. Even more symptomatic is Lula's press conference called by alternative media outlets. At the moment we live, the interview censored by the major media is a flash of rationality in the sea of ​​bestiality in which we live.

The coronavirus brought the total shuffling of the cards in the political game. Former adversaries stand united in the face of the approaching terror. It is enough to follow the movements of the leaders of the Senate and the Chamber, of ministers of the Supreme Court, of some non-crazy high-ranking military and of governors of all acronyms. They consume their energies trying to keep confined the one who no longer presides over anything.

The confinement of the left is serious. Like it or not, the left knows state institutions like no one else and knows how to develop public policies. Not only did it design Bolsa Família, built the SUS, expanded public universities and implemented a set of social policies with capillarity – based on empirical data and impact assessment methodologies – but it also knows how to operate the BNDES, Caixa Econômica Federal and the state companies. Knows how to dialogue and build consensus.

Its major flaw was not having conceived a development project and not having conquered important social segments for this task through long-term democratic planning.

In the crisis we live in, every minute is precious. It's time to stop playing with ideology and call those who understand things. “Time to call the PT” – not in the pejorative sense that the acronym assumed by those who turned the tables –, but from the broader left, beyond this and other political parties, linked to important social movements and which brings together what is better in terms of technical and scientific staff. The moment is to save lives, preserving employment and income.

*Alexandre de Freitas Barbosa Professor of Economic History and Brazilian Economy at the Institute of Brazilian Studies at the University of São Paulo (IEB/USP)

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