Challenges of the next decade

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For Brazil to return to the path of development, there is no option but to assume its role in South America and the world and create the conditions for a social revolution with national unity

It is impossible to talk about challenges facing the left and Brazil without taking into consideration that we live in a moment of international hegemony of the extreme right and conservatism. The consequences of financial globalization and the deregulation of capitalism were the dismantling of welfare states and the resurgence of the extreme right, which today governs Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden; it is a real alternative in France; consolidates in Poland and Hungary; can take back the US government; it is a threat in Germany; and, having been defeated in Brazil, it has just won in Argentina.

The crises of 2008-9 and 2011-12, Covid-19 and the breakdown of production chains and logistics networks opened up opportunities for countries like Brazil, at the same time that the climate crisis aggravated the need for each nation to seek environmental security, energy, food and technology. Industrial policies and subsidies have become part of the choices made by the US and Europe, alongside protectionism and an open commercial and technological war against China, which increasingly threatens North American hegemony.

In Brazil, the years Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro saw the dismantling of the State and the social and income policies specific to the 1988 Constitution, the PT governments and the developmental cycle – which is in itself a contradiction with developed countries, where the presence of the State and industrial and social policies is increasing. After winning four elections and only losing the fifth due to Lula's illegal arrest, the PT and the left returned to government, but in minority conditions in the Chamber and Senate. This return came with a challenge: how to govern and resume the thread of development history without national unity or without an alliance between the left and business sectors?

I explain. The left, alone, does not have a majority to carry out structural reforms. It also cannot, alone, build a national development project that resolves the bottlenecks in growth – interest rates and income concentration, fed back by the tax structure based on consumption and production. The conservative, right-wing and banking groups block the instruments that could overcome national impasses: low savings, investment and productivity. Revealed in the pandemic and the War in Ukraine, our dependence on chips, fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and chemicals is almost total. Brazil can and must overcome this dependence, which is in the national interest, not just of the left.

The condition lies in our ability to build a social bloc that promotes reforms that enable development with income distribution. Our ability to mobilize society for these reforms finds limits in the parties and the hegemony of the conservative right, which is why the PT and the left need to change the correlation of forces in Congress and in the electoral, political and cultural dispute. Without this, it will be impossible.

The extreme right took advantage of technological advances and cultural wars and imposed political and electoral defeats on us thanks to the alliance with the economic interests of the financial and agrarian elites and with neo-Pentecostals. To face the challenges of the next decade, the PT and the left need renewal in order to deal with this new situation, a condition to be instruments of mobilization that guarantees a parliamentary base and social support for the necessary reforms.

Brazil needs to turn 100 in 10. With education and innovation, tax reform that reverses the concentrated tax structure, interest reduction, political-institutional reform and the redefinition of the role of the State. We also need to regain our sovereignty in development policy. The assumption that Brazil can solve its problems either through austerity or supported by adding value from agriculture and mining, associated with the denial of the State and industrial policies, is a historical mistake. The consequences are known: growth that benefits the elites and poverty with loss of national sovereignty.

So that we can resume the path of development, there is no option for Brazil but to assume its role in South America and in the world and create the conditions for a social revolution with national unity.

* Jose Dirceu he was Minister of the Civil House in the first Lula government. Author, among other books, of Memories – Vol. 1 (editorial generation). []

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.

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