Standoff in Rio Grande do Sul

Image: Robin Schreiner


It is necessary to avoid deviations that transform parties into sects or agents of an aseptic façade reformism

Why is it possible to celebrate the Party Federation that brought together the PT, the PC do B and the PV in Brazil and, in Rio Grande do Sul, although polls of voting intentions point to an electorate inclined towards the (extreme) right, unity with the PSB, the PSOL and the Network proves to be so complicated? The experience of unification of the left at the national level is not reproduced in the state. If there were a political-philosophical axiom for reticence, it would be understood. But there is not. Nationally, the PSOL closed the question around the candidacy of former President Lula da Silva and, the PSB, has Vice Geraldo Alckmin in the majority composition. The problem has a parochial specificity only.

Regarding the PSB's claim, the collective resistance to endorsing the caption in the head of the opposition ticket is explained. The acronym was at the base of the neoliberal and liquidationist PSDB government. It would be confusing to present yourself at the head of the opposition now. The PSOL, on the other hand, sided with the PT and the PC do B, in the quadrennium, in the fight against the unpopular policies of the toucan Eduardo Leite. It was to be expected that they would be together in the state dispute, here, as they are in the federal political sphere.

Friedrich Engels, in criticizing the program of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, approved at the Congress in Erfurt (1891), condemned “opportunism” in its guidelines. “Forgetting the great essential considerations, in the face of the passing interests of the day, can bring ephemeral successes in the struggle that abstracts the greater context, without worrying about the ulterior consequences. The abandonment of the becoming of the movement, which sacrifices itself in the name of the present, can count on honest motives; but it is still opportunism”. The word emerged in the context of theoretical polemics that relativized the class struggle and promoted a “revisionism” in Marxism. Therefore, the concept of opportunism was associated with the concept of revisionism, historically registers the Dictionnaire critique du marxisme (PUF), organized by Georges Labica and Gérard Bensussan.

Opportunism is a sign of “hostility to theory”, in the synthesis of Rosa Luxemburgo. It prioritizes immediate practical objectives, tactics over long-range strategy. Rescuing this debate among the left wing, at the international level, helps in decoding the difficulties experienced among us. The rationality of the programmatic obstacle to Erfurt's decisions, without which it would sound abstract, is found in the communist manifesto, written by Marx and also signed by Engels.

In it, one reads that the “communists”, etymologically, those who defend the common good: “Do not proclaim particular principles, according to which they would intend to model the labor movement. They are only distinguished from other parties (of the popular field) in two points: (1) In the various national struggles, they make the common interests (of the workers) prevail, regardless of nationality; (2) In the different phases through which the struggle between the proletarians and the bourgeoisie passes, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole”.

Today, the first point implies the rise of neo-fascism as a global phenomenon, with a strong presence in the United States (Tea Party movement), and in Europe where the last elections, in France, showed a division that progressives should not imitate in other countries. What was considered "the advantage of a clear understanding of the march and general aims of the proletarian movement" went down the drain. The emotional extension of political opportunism, which is not limited to the mere taking advantage of opportunities offered by circumstances, is called “sectarianism”. It gives the militant energy and subjective conviction to “miss” (ops) the target of indignation.

The second point warns of the mismatch of what is happening in the lands of Rio Grande do Sul, given the sectarian breaking of bridges to confront the fatherland's executioners. The “party boast”, in the Gramscian expression, loses sight of the shared interests in the battle which, it seems, is a war imposed by the militia standard of the Bolsonarist campaign with the intention of intimidating voters. Examples of violence multiply geometrically: Marcelo Arruda, present! To return to Karl Marx, club pride prevents the perception of “the real conditions of the existing class struggle, of the historical movement that develops under our eyes”. No one has the right to ignore the ongoing fascistization of the state and society. Nor to repeat the tragic blunders of the 1930s. Opportunism would exact a very high price, in lives and generous dreams.

The Brazilian situation is characterized by totalitarian authoritarianism, of a neo-fascist nature, which is based on denialism: cognitive (due to the rejection of knowledge and science), affective (due to the lack of empathy with people's suffering) and political (due to the concentration of power, contrary to the citizen's Constitution). Added to this is the economic anarchy caused by the hegemony of finance in driving the economy, which has once again placed the country on the United Nations (UN) Hunger Map. The objective, from impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, is to legitimize an illiberal State, under a cesarist governance with support from the Armed Forces (without a nationalist and developmentalist vision), the business community (with a neocolonialist and anti-labor vision) and agribusiness (without environmental commitment or with the internal market) . The militias are responsible for the physical and cowardly elimination of opponents in civil society (Marielle, Dom, Bruno).

The state conjuncture, eight years ago under the fiscal paradigm of the MDB / PSDB, is marked by the wage squeeze of the civil service and the sale of strategic state assets, such as the CEEE. All crowned in the formalization of the Fiscal Recovery Regime (RRF). Local translation of the “expense ceiling” inherited from coup leader Michel Temer, applied to other federated entities under the baton of Jair Bolsonaro / Paulo Guedes, with the consent of governors at the service of the bank. The logic consists of withdrawing any interference by the people over the budget of the Union, as well as the states of the Federation – whatever the result of the polls in the October elections. It is a political-economic fraud against the general will of the population, in favor of the greed of the ruling classes.

In this dramatic scenario, it is necessary to avoid the deviations that transform the parties into sects or agents of an aseptic façade reformism, socially based on the petty bourgeoisie and incapable of modifying what is there. At times, ultra-leftist phraseology covers up the unconfessable capitulation, the execrable desertion of concrete struggles for the refusal of alliances and the denial of unity. The inability to connect with the masses and win the majority of opinions, within the working classes themselves, throws emancipatory ideals into unjustified inaction, with a diversionary narrative. “Left doctrinalism” is more “doctrinarism” than “left”.

Opportunism is a disease that affects and prevents the discernment and combativeness of socialist parties and even anti-systemic movements. The righting of European social-democracy, under the impetus of the unique thought neoliberalism established in the Washington Consensus (1989), is the most recent illustration on a world scale of the serious opportunism that led to the ideological indifference of the left and the right in the old continent. Consequently, the feeling that “no party represents me” and the outburst that “in politics everyone is equal”. No one deserves this nihilism.

When the political vanguards adopt contradictory behaviors, in light of the historical and conjunctural needs experienced with pain and regret by the masses, distrust is created in relation to the discourses that propose profound changes in the order of things. Despair settles in the heart of the collective, sadness and depression in the soul of each one. A situation that separates the vanguards from the masses. Conservative and reactionary forces celebrate confusion on the left. And the expectation of qualifying individual and community existence becomes a dystopia.

In John Reed's account, in Ten Days That Shook the World (L&PM), the book that inaugurated reporting in modern journalism, Lenin and Trotsky are the top leaders of the movement that culminated in the Socialist Revolution of 1917. Stalin is not mentioned. With the authority conferred by the role played, it is worth quoting Vladimir Ulianov's reminder: “A revolutionary party is not a party that does not make mistakes, but a party that recognizes them in time to rectify them”. You can't insist on mistakes out of stubbornness or presumption, after knowing them. Obviously, the reflection is addressed to the PSOL, but equally to the PT which – for being older – has even less right to continue down the road, whistling, with a face of scenery. We are in overtime of the game. Sit down at the table!

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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