Elections and class politics

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By OSVALDO COGGIOLA*

A minimum and basic class program should be defended in unions and social movements and also in the field of municipal elections

Just as the North American elections of next November have a directly international scope, in which a good part of the political future of Brazil is at stake, the Brazilian municipal elections of the same month transcend their territorial landmarks, to reach a federal scope. The attempt to turn them into plebiscitary elections by Bolsonaro's fascist government failed, as the retired captain and his clan of militiamen and thieves lack their own political apparatus, and intervene in them through a disparate system (or anti-system) of alliances with the most diverse colors and political formations. For the working class and the fighting popular sectors, the electoral terrain is an arena, which can become central, to favor the development of an independent, class program and political organization, to separate the working class from the bourgeoisie and its petty-bourgeois substitutes, as a preparatory phase to transform itself into a political alternative for all the oppressed masses and for the country.

In this context and with this premise, the immense majority of the Brazilian left is outside and against this objective, since it does not present a class program (it proposes, at most, a tax program) nor independent candidacies, since it presents itself in coalition with politicians and bourgeois formations, sometimes openly reactionary, reaching the height of presenting themselves with candidacies directly coming from the repressive State apparatuses, in a country where these have their own judicial forum and where social, ethnic and even sexual orientation repression reaches the verge of genocide . The strengthening of the PSOL to the detriment of the PT, especially in the two largest capitals in the country, as a “natural” outlet for the “left” vote (it would be better to say “progressive”, since it is based more on the middle class and the student movement than on the working class). The tiny but active PCB is, in general, tied to PSOL politics.

Of the political parties with electoral participation, only the PSTU partially escapes the exposed norm. Partially, because it advertises more the ethnic and gender origin of its candidates (propaganda centrally being the party with the highest percentage of black and female candidacies) than its origin and class performance, and a program consistent with them. That is, it makes enormous concessions to anti-classist policies known as “identity”, not to mention a program that, although defined as classist, makes significant concessions to populism, defending that “the rich” [a category referring to income, not value obtained through capitalist exploitation], not big capital, “pay for the crisis”.

Even so, the vote for the PSTU in the first round is justified by its active relationship (mainly via CSP-Conlutas) with the combatant workers' vanguard, in spite of its programmatic and political limitations, some of which are simply enormous, such as its de facto support for the military coup parliamentary 2016, and its abstention in the conflicts that oppose imperialism to the decadent Latin American nationalism, especially in Venezuela, a conflict that has direct and geographical repercussions in Brazil, which is why it cannot be considered as a matter of “foreign policy”, that would only affect the country indirectly – the drama of Venezuelan refugees in the north-northeast of our country is there to prove the opposite. Relative as they may be, the classist merits of the PSTU candidacies are giving them between 2% and 3% of the voting intentions in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, well ahead of all the candidacies of the “acronyms for rent”, that is, that these candidacies manage to be a partial channel of interest and political movement of the working and youth vanguard that fights.

Although it is practically unnecessary, as it is almost unknown, it is worth mentioning the PCO (which presents some squalid candidates), a tiny political formation – which would be of minor importance – which is a ridiculous and reactionary satellite of the PT, whose past and present policies it supports beyond that the PT itself dares to enunciate, going so far as to define the unfortunate and starving Venezuelan refugees, savagely attacked by Bolsonarian gangs in the border regions, as “agents of imperialism” (because they flee the misery of the Maduro regime), which reveals a medullary reactionaryism, regrettably postulated in the name of “the Fourth International”, without it moving a muscle in the face of the other members of the fraternity that shelters itself under that denomination, scattered in different parties and apparently willing to accept these infamies in their mini- agape, if you pay the entrance fee. The fight in defense of the heritage and the revolutionary program bequeathed by Leon Trotsky, the “transition program”, therefore, is not alien to political debates on electoral issues.

About PSOL, it is worth quoting here the words of Renata Souza, PSOL candidate for mayor of Rio de Janeiro, where the party consummated its most scandalous and reactionary electoral alliance: “Marcelo Freixo, with whom I worked for almost 10 years and whose work I gave continuity as a state deputy on the Human Rights Commission of the Rio Assembly, she always remembers that the left field has avoided making central debates, such as the issue of public security, today largely dominated by conservative sectors... It is time to fight for institutions and not abandon them. Democracy is at risk and we will not give it up. In this sense, betting on the renewal of political cadres, as I mentioned, helps Rio to gain plurality. Plurality is also betting on a broad process of participation by grassroots movements, strengthening councils and guaranteeing a voice for historically marginalized sectors” (in Citizenship Mail). It goes without saying that among these “institutions” that must be preserved there is nothing less than the Military Police (in RJ!), legally endowed with a “license to kill”, one of whose commanders is postulated as a candidate for vice-president. mayor of Rio by the party, that is, that although presenting (some) candidacies from barbarously oppressed sectors, the PSOL program and policy cannot even be considered consequently democratic.

At times when, against all the difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic, various sectors of workers (Post Office, Mint, Embraer, health workers, universities, telemarketing workers, app delivery people) react against layoffs and reactionary, super-exploitative and privatizing policies, against the generalization of the scourge of unemployment, with class methods (strikes, street demonstrations, occupation of public places, blockades), a classist electoral campaign should be the political terrain of projection of these struggles, and of others in preparation. This is not what happens with the campaigns of the majority and the largest of the “leftist” formations (PT and PSOL). And, also, to call into question the class conciliation policies put into practice by the majority leaderships of the workers' movement, defending proposals policies alternatives, as axes of the general political struggle.

The directors of the trade union centrals in the Deliberative Council of the Worker's Support Fund (Codefat) had the initiative to present a proposal for the extension of the unemployment insurance in two installments, on an exceptional basis, for insured workers dismissed in the period from March of this year until December 31, 2020. Estimates made by Dieese indicate that this measure would serve about six million workers and would cost R$ 16 billion, considering an average of 1,27 minimum wages per installment. of workers since 2015, when it increased again, reaching around 2017 million people in 13.

The Covid-19 health crisis has made the unemployment problem even more dramatic, as in March – immediately – around 12 million people were out of work, 20 million were removed from work due to social isolation and the stoppage of productive activities, and more than 8 million started working from home. The “social protection” promoted by emergency aid of R$ 600 reached 70 million workers who had no protection against unemployment. The “wage protection” policy, suspension of work or reduced working hours, covered another 15 million workers. But these policies end in December (after the elections). We must defend a permanent progressive tax on big capital, taxing, in the first place, and in an expropriatory way, the scandalous record profits of big financial capital, ignoring the public debt to the money sharks, to guarantee survival and, through a vast public works plan, essential to reactivate the national economy, dignified and socially useful work for all Brazilians, preserved through popular control to measures aimed at containing the pandemic while waiting for the vaccine.

Because the disease, which has returned to its levels of contagion and death (more than a thousand deaths per day, in a total that is already approaching 150 thousand), is the other scourge to be fought with methods class, because the social inequality before it is more and more evident. Just one example: since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Goiás until August, 136 people have died in line for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed exclusively for the disease. More than half of these deaths occurred in July. Among the reasons are the delay in the first consultation, the lack of a bed with the necessary specialty, the worsening of the health condition, which makes it impossible to transport the patient, and the cancellation of the transfer by family members when the first option for a vacancy is for a hospital considered too far away. No more unnecessary deaths, due to the absence of doctors, places of care or basic equipment. Nationalization and democratic centralization of all health resources in the country, under popular control that prevents rampant corruption, severe punishment for this corruption (Witzel and his cronies should be imprisoned under maximum security, not procrastinating the consequences of their disgusting corruption in court), immediate hiring permanent training of doctors and health professionals, free and public training for them (in public schools and universities).

This is a minimum and basic class program, which should be defended in trade unions and social movements, and also in the field of municipal elections, by class candidacies and class organizations, with or without candidates.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Trotsky yesterday and today (Our time).

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