Ideological dispute and political struggle

Image: Alexander Zvir


It is indispensable that the left create its mass media

The beginning of the Lula government, with his forceful inauguration speech and the symbolic passage of the people's sash to the president, brought fresh air to the reconstruction of a country that has followed dark paths in the last four years. Even before we digest the celebration of the inauguration, there was an attempt at a coup d'état on January 08, by neo-fascists who supported former President Jair Bolsonaro. Although we do not deal with the coup action in this article, we will briefly consider one of the possible ways to strengthen the progressive field in Brazil, that is, the possibilities and perspectives of the ideological dispute in the country.

The reconstruction of the Brazilian State – a recurrent theme in the public debate – must be associated with a project for the reconstruction of civil society, since the strengthening of institutions cannot dispense with a dispute over values ​​within different classes. In addition to implementing social policies to fulfill the campaign's proposals, it will be necessary to dispute the social imaginary, not through a pre-formed discourse, but based on the needs of male and female workers who do not necessarily share the same horizon. ideology of the progressive parties. In other words, the ideological dispute must be accompanied by the ability to capture and understand the material needs of different fractions of the working class in order to translate them into concrete political projects.

Let us remember that the motto used by Lenin to summon the population during the Russian revolution was not “Long live socialism”, but “Peace, Bread and Land”. This was the motto chosen to summon individuals who were starving, experiencing the authoritarian abuses of the tsarist monarchy during the first world war and did not have a piece of land to live and produce. Discussing the societal dispute does not mean ignoring the need and urgency of strengthening institutions, but only marks the fact that, sometimes, the energy mobilized in public debate is placed in the latter to the detriment of the former.

In a recent interview, Guilherme Boulos comments on a case that illustrates the need not only to implement social policies, but also to dispute their meanings. His partner, Natália, graduated in law at a private university and only had access to higher education thanks to the Prouni policies of the PT governments. Almost half of Natália's classmates were in the same situation, entering universities through Prouni. Well, during Michel Temer's coup, in 2016, the same beneficiaries of this policy were, in the majority, in favor of Dilma's removal. Obviously, this is not about electoral clientelism through social programs, but about explaining which interests are being served by these government actions.

With regard to the direction of the State, the first six months of the Lula government should focus on a resumption of social policies, with the delivery of Minha Casa Minha Vida projects, job campaigns in the country's capitals, policies to combat hunger, resumption of stopped public works with the objective of generating employment and income and other policies that may signal changes in the living conditions of the “class that lives from work”. Introducing a legal regulation that can improve the employment conditions of app delivery people will also be essential to show that their interests will be defended and that the government will demarcate a position in the distributive conflict.

In interview with Public Agency, Gilberto Carvalho, former chief minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic during the first Lula governments, highlights some actions for the consolidation of a progressive popular engagement. Gilberto Carvalho states that the PT government acted and stimulated the participation of organized civil society, of mobilized groups and individuals with participation experience, but that engagement was negligible for the non-organized part of society: “We were not able to dialogue with the large pasta". For him, the engagement not only of groups with mobilization experience, but also of this large unorganized mass, will be essential for 2016 not to be repeated.

According to Gilberto Carvalho, one of the ways to fulfill this objective would be to create popular committees: “The idea is to create cells – they have already been created, but we want to create many – cells per neighborhood that seek to organize the population, more or less as the communities used to be. base ecclesiastical activities, but without the religious character. It's you creating a family environment in small groups to look at reality, analyze reality, in the old Paulo Freire method: education based on struggle and political life. We started this in several states, it caught on a lot in the campaign, we did the vote-turners, we had conversations with the people. But it is still a very small number compared to the need”.[I]

The creation of the Solidarity Kitchen project by the MTST – with 31 kitchens in several states distributing free meals – is one of the formats that can be used to structure these popular committees, as it creates an environment of sociability capable of meeting the material needs of the population and, at the same time, at the same time, critically dialogue about the political problems that cross these people's daily lives. This type of project is similar to the work of the Black Panthers in the USA, which, in addition to all the mobilization and struggle for self-defense, created assistance networks in black neighborhoods, providing medical care, primary schools, cafeterias for the distribution of breakfast and courses in political training.

If ideas, in certain situations, have the power to become a material force able to modify society, it is worth remembering that they are not scattered in the air or fall from the sky. According to Antonio Gramsci: “Ideas and opinions are not 'born' spontaneously in the brain of each individual: they had a center of formation, of irradiation, of diffusion, of persuasion, there was a group of men, or even an individuality that elaborated them and presented it in the current political form”.[ii]

According to Louis Althusser, the ideas that make up subjectivities are disseminated, in large part, by the State's Ideological Apparatuses, such as churches, newspapers, schools, media and cultural apparatuses, associations, among others. It is worth remembering that ideological apparatuses are not limited to those that have an eminently public character, but also other fields, even if they have a relatively private character.

As we know, most ideological devices – radios, television stations, newspapers, streams, churches, etc. – are in the hands of the ruling classes. Such apparatuses help in the creation of a consensus that naturalizes the relations of exploitation, the misery, the precarious conditions of work and propagates folkloric values ​​as meritocracy and entrepreneurship.

We can ask ourselves why male and female workers get up every morning and take a bus to go to work for eight hours in exchange for a salary that, for the vast majority, is not even able to guarantee basic living conditions. The formation of subjectivity by ideological apparatuses such as the school and the church are fundamental to this explanation, apart, obviously, from the need for material subsistence. In short, it is not enough to exploit individuals, but it is also necessary to create consent to exploitation.

Thus, it is indispensable that the left create its means of mass communication, be they the traditional ones, such as radio and broadcasters, or the more “modern” ones, such as social networks.[iii] If individuals become aware of class conflicts based on “juridical, political, religious, artistic and philosophical forms”,[iv] it is necessary to create environments of sociability that dialogue with the material needs of the population and, together, make explicit the conflicts and contradictions that cross the daily lives of the subjects and impose the misery of the majority in favor of the accumulation of wealth of a few.

*Matheus Silveira de Souza is a doctoral student in sociology at USP.


[I] Public Agency. “Gilberto Carvalho: Without dialoguing with the masses, the risk is to repeat 2013 and 2016”. On November 21, 2022.

[ii] GRAMSCI, Antonio. Prison Notebooks. Machiavelli. Notes on the State and Politics. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2016.

[iii] We are not ignoring the fact that the individuals who control big techs – such as Facebook, Youtube, Google, Twitter, Amazon – are members of the bourgeoisie and, consequently, defend and fight for their class interests and for the expansion of their profit rate. companies. Incidentally, there are several reports and surveys that show that YouTube, for example, encourages, through its algorithm, the dissemination of videos from the extreme right and fake news, as such content generates more engagement from Internet users.

[iv] MARX, Carl. Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2008.

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