Lulism: unity and criticism

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Progressive and revolutionary forces must accept the possibility of supporting Lula, under the condition that he defends a minimum anti-neoliberal program

With the latest political events, new dilemmas have opened up, some are relatively easy to face, others not so much. With the annulment of Lula's judgments and the recovery of his political rights, the possibility reappears in the conjuncture of having a candidate capable of facing and defeating Bolsonaro in 2022, and of being a vocalizer of the interests of the popular classes at that moment. However, for those who militate in favor of the Brazilian Revolution and also fight for a new strategy for the left, it is known that this novelty also brings its challenges.

Lula at this moment is undeniably the best candidate and the one with the best conditions to face Bolsonaro in an electoral process. All progressive and revolutionary forces must accept the possibility of supporting him right away, under the condition that he defends a minimum anti-neoliberal program and that he confronts the current policy of fiscal adjustment. However, for those who militate for the Brazilian revolution, it is known that Lulismo and Petismo have already had the opportunity to present the contours of their limits, but it is never too tiring or inconvenient to reiterate that the PT's strategy is crossed by a reformism that does not intends to take power and not carry out profound structuring reforms. And that is why it was a defeated strategy, unable to face the offensive that was launched in mid-2015.

That said, it should be said that before those who recognize the limits of Petismo and Lulismo, there is the perception that unity is necessary and that today it also involves electoral support for Lula, at the same time that this position does not may represent a waiver of the right to criticize and dispute the political leadership with Petismo. Unity as a political phenomenon in the history of the left is always crossed by a coexistence between left forces, which combine actions and tasks among themselves, but it is also marked by disputes between these forces.

Divergences, evaluations and clashes are never “kept away in a drawer”, these elements are a constant, since each political organization brings its own strategic and political convictions. Always trying, conveniently and in a timely manner, to bring out its political line in order to dispute society. This constant certainly brings risks to eventual unitary tasks, as the role of diverging, disagreeing and demarcating can be delegated, a more relevant function than that of building unity around a specific task in a concrete context. Which can be extremely harmful, as the story of the invasion of Constantinople tells us, in which soldiers discussed the sexes of angels while the capital was being sacked and destroyed.

I believe that this danger does not present itself today. For two reasons. The first is that the PT as an organization and Lula as a political leader have enough strength to establish a force vector and influence most of the organizations of the Brazilian left, we must take into account that the hegemonic policy in the PT is reformist and that the current generation of militants in Brazil is greatly influenced by this set of ideas, therefore, our doctrine about the state, social classes, power and the roles of working class organizations is contaminated by new paradigms that, above all, do not aim to break with the capitalism and not face foreign domination head-on.

The second point is that the day-to-day reflections of the PT's defeated strategy are constantly presented and have already proven to be ineffective in the clashes against the offensive that we find ourselves. These concrete reflections have been coming since the beginning of 2015 and both as government leadership, candidacy and currently opposition, the PT strategy tried to make mistakes and sin several times.

To illustrate this second point, it would be enough to recall that between 2015-2016 there was a vast belief that the problem of the political coup we were facing could be solved by an agreement, a programmatic retreat, the appointment of a new ministry, a lawsuit before the STF . After the 2016 coup, there was an expectation that in the 2018 elections, with Lula, we would have the opportunity to win and reverse the scenario already in place.

And finally, nowadays, the new reflections and manifestations of this strategy are presented in the subordination of the left to representations of the traditional right, in an attempt to build a broad front against Bolsonaro, which has led us to at least two disastrous fateful episodes. One being the breakdown of the left's unity on May 1, 2020, when they opened space for speech for Rodrigo Maia, Wiltzel, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and João Dória. And being the other, the recent support in the 1st round of the majority of the electoral left for the candidacy of Baleia Rossi, renouncing the right to dispute and deepen the complaint against Bolsonaro. What was demonstrated in that specific case was a miscalculation and conception, since there were already enough elements to realize that the center-right had no commitment and agreement with our basic tasks: impeachment, general vaccination and emergency aid.

Therefore, at the end of this illustration and the presentation of these two points, it is worth stating that yes, we should not renounce the right and criticisms that we have already accumulated. Since, the renunciation of criticism and combat of these conceptions is nothing more than accepting blind 'following'. Therefore, the great risk today that runs through the lives of several militants is precisely that of rehabilitating a defeated strategic conception, rather than breaking up a unity around the name of Lula.

The problem of coexistence with Lulism at that time also pervades the influence that this leadership exerts on the left. It is already extremely harmful and illusory to believe that an individual has the capacity to change the correlation of forces in which we are immersed and that, by himself, he could reverse the entire dismemberment of the Brazilian State and the rights of the people, in an eventual victory in 2022 A somewhat curious thesis, since Lula was freed and cleared (at least for now) by the hands of the STF, and not by the hands of the Brazilian people, which is quite symptomatic. And that a probable Lula election would have to be based on broad popular mobilization, which we haven't had for some time.

The great task of the moment is to stop the bleeding and the records of deaths that are taking place, through general vaccination and the return of emergency aid. But another task is also interposed at this moment: that of rebuilding the capacity of the trade union, popular and student movement, in order to represent and actually vocalize the interests of their bases and of the working class. That is, to resume the lost bond. Lula's return to the political game via the reestablishment of his political rights could certainly help in this task, but it could also hinder.

The dynamics of this is that the 'positive' side of Lula is that he is a leader linked to income distribution processes and the implementation of a neo-developmentalist program, keeping to this day a certain connection and memory with the Brazilian people. Its negative side appears in its development as a leadership that exercises paternalism, that places the state as a neutral apparatus and provider of social policies and that, above all, as leadership, is not willing to be an organizer.

Today, one of the most noticeable shortcomings of the Lula and Dilma governments is the lack of an element of organization and participation of workers, as well as the lack of politicization (constant instruction about which class interests are at stake in each political clash) of those who were its beneficiaries. Which culminated in the current subject, unfortunately identified by some, as “poor on the right”. That is, that person belonging to the working class, who has often benefited from Prouni, Minha Casa Minha Vida, Bolsa Família and others, but who always maintains an anti-left and anti-PT stance, when not aligning with Bolsonarism.

It's that old story, if you plant beans you won't be able to harvest corn. Therefore, even though many workers benefiting from PT programs turn against the entire legacy of these governments, and it is not possible to blame them for this posture, the bourgeois and neoliberal ideology is dominant, it was up to the left to organize these people and have heightened their class consciousness.

For this, there is no easy recipe or shortcut, only basic work and patient recruitment will allow us to rebuild this body. It is a general assumption for the formation of a new generation of militants the presence of a program and a strategy that are capable of demonstrating their ability to face the Brazilian bourgeois order and develop these clashes in favor of the working class.

The left will have to fight against neo-fascism and debate on a daily basis, in the trenches of this war, the effectiveness and fairness of the strategy that guides us in this confrontation. And the ability to keep fighting and developing new, truly fair and just solutions will be sorely needed.

Unfortunately, we still do not have an environment constituted by an Antifascist Popular Front. Two plenary meetings between centrals, fronts and collectives were held in 2021, but none of these meetings established a position around a minimum emergency program and organizational dealings regarding the functioning of this articulation. Everything is still very artisanal, which only serves to delay a superior articulation of the struggles and the dispute against neo-fascism. It is extremely urgent for the left to regroup in an Antifascist Popular Front, which is committed to combating neoliberalism, imperialism and Bolsonarism. Without this environment, we lose part of our capacity for action, discussion and referral. We disperse the forces in fractional initiatives and the opportunities are gone.

Lastly, Lula's return is no guarantee of his candidacy, as it seems that the STF, obeying the interests of part of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and under a new correlation of forces, is using the annulment of the condemnatory sentences to force a retreat from Bolsonarism, not because the STF has a deep commitment to democracy, etc. and such. But, why did the lack of vaccination and interventions in two of the main publicly traded companies -Petrobrás and Eletrobrás- give Bolsonaro a great deal of wear and tear with his main guarantor, Financial Capital. Therefore, in order to have Lula as a candidate, the first thing that the Brazilian left will have to give up will be its illusions, since the 2018 elections demonstrated that we have no guarantee that he will actually be able to run. From now until then, Lula's role must be to vocalize the tasks and slogans of an anti-liberal, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist program.

*Durval Siqueira Sobral He is a member of the Popular Consultation.



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