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Lula knows perfectly well that he was summoned to manage the barbarism of a mock national society in frank neocolonial reversal

The annulment of Lula's conviction in the arbitrary processes presided over by Sergio Moro belatedly repairs a resounding injustice, but it does nothing to overcome the political and institutional bankruptcy generated by the terminal crisis of the New Republic. Free Lula to contest elections does not reverse the disastrous consequences of the Lava Jato operation on the credibility of the Brazilian political system, nor the cumulative violations of the Constitution that resulted.

The surprising turnaround in the position of Justice Edson Fachin – who goes from being the main champion of Lava Jato in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) to certifying the aberrant illegalities of the Paraná gang against the former president – ​​exposes the advanced degree of putrefaction of the Brazilian judicial system . Lula's redemption had as its counterpart the total demoralization of the STF as guardian of the law. The false moralist crusade was just a smokescreen to pursue political disaffections and boost an overwhelming reactionary offensive.

If Lava Jato revealed to society the gut of the Brazilian political system – systemic corruption as a form of control of parties and politicians –, the STF’s comings and goings exposed the innards of the judicial system – political, military and business pressure as a form of manipulation shameless from the judges. Beneath the toga that should symbolize the reason of independent and impeccable magistrates, subordinated to the dictates of the law, there are prevaricators, who traffic with the interests of the people.

The positive reception of the ex-president's reintegration into the electoral race by a significant portion of the mainstream media – the same one that mocked Lula on a daily basis – reveals that the operation “return Lula” goes far beyond changing the party of a judge who manipulates the interpretation of the law . Lula's rehabilitation was not an achievement of the workers' struggle, but a maneuver by the state's high oligarchy, concerned with providing a minimum of stability to national political life in the face of the growing risk of social upheaval, in the context of a colossal historical impasse, in which the old (the 1988 Constitution) can no longer be restored and the new (the institutionalization of the neocolonial situation) does not have the strength to fully assert itself.

In the vacuum generated by the absence of popular counter-pressure, State agents – politicians, judges, prosecutors and the military – function as true puppets of capital. Politics becomes a marked card game. When it is convenient to clear the way for a virulent offensive against workers, social policies, national sovereignty and the environment, the left of order is unceremoniously removed from the scene so that the dirty work is done with the brutality and speed demanded by the capital imperatives. When the risk of a social crisis threatens to get out of control, given the impossibility of an openly authoritarian solution, the sensible left, duly re-educated to understand the new limits of the possible, is summoned again to center stage, with the task of legitimizing the consummated evils and appease the population, in order to avoid the emergence of a left against order. The fundamental thing is that all social discontent be channeled into the electoral circus.

Lula knows perfectly well that he was summoned to administer the barbarism of a national society in frank neocolonial reversal, which gropes along a path with no north, on the razor's edge between open authoritarianism and veiled authoritarianism, in search of an unlikely institutionalization of the counterrevolution reactionary. In his first speech after the annulment of his sentences, the former president presented himself as the peacemaker of the Nation. From what he said – he doesn’t hurt anyone – and from what he didn’t say – not a word about the repeal of Temer’s and Bolsonaro’s reforms – one can imagine with relative safety how he intends to conduct his eventual third term.

After mitigating the damage caused by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula offers the bourgeoisie his still immense electoral clout to carry out the aftermath of the unprecedented destruction of Jair Bolsonaro. As long as his presence is functional for the owners of wealth, the former president will be exalted as a great wronged statesman. As soon as he becomes dysfunctional, he is immediately discarded and vilified. What goes for Lula, by the way, goes for everyone.

In a context of absolute lack of perspective in relation to the future, Lula's rehabilitation can give a breath of hope to those who hope that democracy can be rescued by the action of a providential man, but objectively does not have, and could not have, the power to ward off the specter of authoritarianism. It's impossible to pull yourself out of the swamp by your own hair. The pattern of accumulation of an economy in neocolonial reversal, based on the systematic lowering of the traditional standard of living of workers, the destruction of public policies and the accelerated depredation of the environment, necessarily corresponds to a pattern of authoritarian domination. Without modifying the first, it is impossible to avoid the second.

Lula's return to national politics gives the bourgeoisie the possibility of gaining time, but, as long as the illusions of a Lulist Sebastianism persist, it deprives workers of any possibility of interrupting the neocolonial reversal. Whoever is the next president, his radius of maneuver to restore social peace will be minimal. In the conditions of a deep health, economic and social, national and international crisis, the polarization of the class struggle makes even a simulacrum of conciliation between capital and work unfeasible.

Before betting all the chips on a redemption of Lulism under impossible conditions, the socialist left should be concerned with opening up new horizons for facing the colossal crisis that threatens Brazilians. Without disputing the future, there is no way to defeat the reactionary counterrevolution. The starting point must be a careful reading of reality and an implacable critique of the responsibilities of Lulismo itself in the national tragedy.

The only effective antidote against the rise of authoritarianism is social mobilization and the entry of the working class into the picture. More than ever, the priority task of the socialist left is to build a political program, rooted in the concrete struggles of the workers, which places the urgency of “rights now” and its necessary consequence: “the end of privileges now” on the agenda. The democratic revolution, based on the self-organization of workers, with a socialist horizon, is the only alternative capable of stopping the barbarism of capital in Brazil.

* Plinio de Arruda Sampaio Jr. is a retired professor at the Institute of Economics at Unicamp and editor of Contrapoder website. Author, among other books, of Between nation and barbarism – dilemmas of dependent capitalism (Voices).



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