More needs to be done

Aaron Douglas (1899–1979), Let My People Go, 1935–39.
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By HERICK ARGOLO*

The act on May 29 was important, but we still have a lot to build before we start to get out of the defensive

No, the correlation of forces remains very unfavorable for the left. The May 29 act does not mean that we have started to get off the defensive.

One might ask, but weren't our acts much greater than Bolsonaro's? Yes, they were. It is natural that when the enemy is advancing on us, we manage to have enough strength, at some point, to react, without taking us off the defensive.

To give some examples, in the 21 years of dictatorship, there were moments of strong popular mobilization before the real popular counter-offensive of 1978, such as student demonstrations and strikes in Contagem and Osasco. Nowadays, after the coup we suffered in 2016, there have been moments of greater popular mobilization, such as the strike in April 2017, and student demonstrations against cuts in education in early 2019.

We are now having another such moment, of clashing with the advancing enemy. It is important that we enjoy these moments. They are resistance actions, which make it difficult for the enemy to advance further than he can in his offensive, and can serve to shorten the necessary time of our defense.

June 19 acts tend to be larger than May 29, attracting many who were hesitant at first call. However, the tendency is that this energy from the streets will not be sustained for a long time. Why? Because the proletarian and peasant struggle continues to decline.

The number of strikes, which is an indication of the workers' movement's ability to fight and organize, decreases year by year. DIEESE data show that the big jump in the number of strikes since 2011 has been ebbing since 2017, the year following the coup. In 2020, there were 649 strikes in the country, an almost half drop from the 1.118 strikes that took place in 2019. Which, in turn, is a long way from the peak of strikes between 2013 and 2016, which averaged over 2.000 strikes per year. There is an evident loss of proletarian fighting capacity.

Peasant mobilization also continues to decline, without the strength to carry out occupations, be it land, bank, fighting for credit, etc. According to data from DATALUTA, the number of land occupations has been falling since 2012. The year 2019 recorded the lowest rate in the last 34 years, since when data has been collected.

The mobilizations of the left are very concentrated in the middle class. The middle class, when it mobilizes, suffers much less risk of losing its livelihood or even its life than the proletariat and the poor peasant, hence its greater objective capacity to fight at this moment. Alone, the middle class helps a lot, but it does not define the beginning of a counter-offensive.

Another factor that puts us on the defensive, this one of a more subjective nature, is that the left continues to be fragmented and quite divided. In a recent text, Valério Arcary well outlined the three great tactical lines within which the parties have been divided internally and among themselves. He called the first the "quiet" or "broad front" tactic. The second as the “permanent offensive” tactic. And the third tactic of the “left front”.

What the first two have in common is the underestimation of fascism. The “broad front” tactic judges that the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and fascism, and consequently the possibilities of a favorable alliance for the left with big capital, are much greater than they actually are. With that, they prefer to be subordinated to the line of opposition imposed by the bourgeoisie, without a firm fight against anti-popular measures of the dominant classes. The “permanent offensive” tactic believes it is possible to overthrow Bolsonaro “from the left” only with the mobilization of the middle class. “Bolsonaro out” seems enough to win all the popular classes to the streets, incurring vanguardism. It is the third, the “left front” tactic, which allows us to progressively accumulate strength.

We still have a lot to build to start getting off the defensive. This implies that we have the wisdom to carry out street acts in a spaced manner, without wasting them. In, also, taking all health precautions and not summoning risk groups for a battle that will not yet be decisive.

It implies raising defensive slogans, building an orientation that is not only anti-fascist, but also anti-neoliberal, that does not leave acts vulnerable to spontaneity, and that are capable of disputing the popular classes. Not even the flags against privatizations and against administrative reform appeared in the May 29 summons. The latter even directly affects popular sectors that actively support Bolsonaro, such as the military police, and can create contradictions in their base.

Not including anti-neoliberal slogans may seem to make sense within the mistaken view of the “broad front” or the “permanent offensive”. But, by no means, for those who perceive the need to conquer the popular classes. In the act of June 19, to the protests for vaccine and emergency aid, we must add the slogans against privatizations and administrative reform.

Finally, in particular, we need to have as the central objective of this stage of the struggle to connect and merge with the proletariat, from which the left remains distant. What is not only done with middle-class street acts. But with a patient work of political education starting from, and from within, the economic struggles of the proletariat.

The defensive will probably still be long. But recent acts have the merit of showing that we can be victorious in the end.

*Herick Argolo He is a member of the Popular Consultation.

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