History of the PCB

Ivor Abrahams, Garden Suite III, 1970


Presentation by the organizers of the newly published book

The Communist Party played a prominent role in several moments of contemporary Brazilian history, both for the right (since it was the preferred object of anti-communism for decades, although the discourse against communism predates the founding of the party and the Russian Revolution itself, persisting until today), as for the left, the political importance of the PCB being undeniable, which guided the debate in the progressive field over a few decades. Almost all ideological currents were related to him: anarchists, Trotskyists, Maoists, labor, PT, as well as feminist militants, trade unionists and black, LGBT, environmentalist, student, etc.

Periodization is always a controversial topic. In 1919, in the year of the founding of the Communist International, a Communist Party of Brazil emerged with an anarchist rather than a Marxist character, which lasted a few months and soon disappeared. However, there is a broad consensus that it was in 1922 that, in fact, the organization was founded that achieved historical continuity under the name of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCB) and, since 1961, the Brazilian Communist Party (keeping the same acronym).

The association was disbanded at the end of the 1930s; it began to recover from 1942; it grew a lot until the end of the Estado Novo; then managed to elect a senator and several federal deputies (who, after the party's registration was withdrawn, lost their mandates); it went through long periods of illegality and programmatic changes; resisted the military dictatorship; continued in the period of redemocratization and the New Republic; and it lasted until 1992 (shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union), when there was a split that led to the creation of two quite distinct groups.

One of them abandoned the legend, the name, the program, the principles and the Marxist theory itself, resulting in the emergence of the PPS (later Citizenship), which is located in the “centre-right” spectrum, which defends a neoliberal program and “democratic”, and which keeps the Astrojildo Pereira Foundation in its hands. The other, the National Movement in Defense of the PCB, reorganized itself to the left and preserved its acronym and Marxist-Leninist principles. The Instituto Astrojildo Pereira (IAP), in turn, continues to be administered by communists and Marxist intellectuals (with or without party affiliation).

From there, a story unfolds that is not the object of this work. Today, different associations dispute the legacy of communism in Brazil, including the PCdoB, which since 1962 claims to be the legitimate heir of the party founded in 1922 and is portrayed in one of the articles in this anthology. In the 1980s, this party had around fifty thousand members and elected a constituency of six deputies.

This book seeks to resume some classic debates about the history of communism in our country, its decisive moments, divisions and disputes and, at the same time, reveal new lines of research. Thus, this collection was organized with the maximum thematic scope, involving well-known authors and young academics. Each contributor was free to establish their more or less critical reading of the trajectory of Brazilian communists, their impact on political and cultural life and their international relations. For this very reason, contradictions between the approaches, theoretical divergences and overlapping of analyzed periods are to be expected.

We are sure that this is a unique work, as it chronicles the main moments of the Communist Party from different points of view and with thematic range, including youth, women, blacks, artists, graphics, editors, military, etc.

*Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Studio).

*Luiz Bernardo Pericas He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Caio Prado Júnior: a political biography (Boitempo).


Lincoln Secco & Luiz Bernardo Pericás (eds.). History of the PCB. Cotia, Ateliê Editorial, 2022, 432 pages (https://amzn.to/3sdAKNF).

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