In the Siberian winter

Sculpture José Resende / Moca, São Paulo / photo: Christiana Carvalho


Wrong tactics, myopic strategy in five notes

“The virtues of men are like the flight of birds. Don't get hung up on inferior attractions. The bird that gets used to the low landscape loses its taste for height” (Indian folk wisdom).


Two years of Bolsonarist “Siberian winter” and the “passage of the cattle” of the reactionary counter-reforms and the balance is bleak. We had (a) the Brazilian “exceptionality”, that is, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic, more than two hundred thousand deaths, and the perspective that vaccination will be a process, at best, complicated; (b) official unemployment, above 14%, is the highest in history; self-employed persons dropped from 24,7 million to 21,7 million; workers without a formal contract, another part of the semi-proletariat, fell from 11,8 to 9 million; among those with a formal contract, the drop, between December 2019 and the end of the third quarter of 2020, went from 33,6 million to 29,3 million; (c) a national crisis of the public security system with the racist massacres of police violence and explosion of feminicides; (c) the biggest attack ever on Social Security, the main income distribution program of the last thirty years; (d) an increase in deforestation in the Amazon, the biggest fire in the history of the Pantanal, the end of land reform projects, attacks on the demarcation of indigenous lands; (e) constant threats to the rights of women, LGBT's, and the black population; (f) the expansion of military schools, and the intervention in the Universities; (f) if that wasn't enough, the end of emergency aid of R$ 600,00 for more than 65 million people; the end of salary supplementation for another ten million, in the context of an economic contraction of 4% to 5% of GDP suggest a scenario of serious social crisis for 2021, with the projection that fourteen million people could fall into absolute poverty.


Faced with this objective situation, we must consider the situation of the left. We spent the last ten months, due to the pandemic, with our fists clenched and our hands in our pockets. A largely inevitable context, almost a hibernation of the left. Hibernation is a very rare physiological state in nature. A form of adaptation to fasting in especially adverse conditions. Wakefulness is suspended and lethargy, stagnation, torpor, drowsiness and inaction prevail, in which the vital functions of the organism are reduced to the minimum essential for biological survival. It turns out that even revolutionary militants, trained to wait for inflections, find it difficult to do so. Changes in reality are always quantitative, and less noticeable, until the qualitative leap occurs. We react with delay. Because the human mind is vulnerable to confirmation bias in our preferences. This is how common sense is formed. But life and political struggle are not linear. There is no winter that lasts indefinitely. The most important thing is the ability to predict conflicts and ruptures, so that we are able to face the battles that will come without improvisation. The objective conditions will be dire in the coming year. But an aggravation of the social crisis will not be enough. The decisive issue will be the maturation of the subjective conditions to defeat Bolsonaro. But, also, the danger that is insinuated with the formation, to some extent surprising, of a position that divides the PT and PSol benches, and seems to be unanimous in the PCdB, which defends the support of Baleia Rossi, since the first round . Confusing the ultra-unfavorable political balance of power within the National Congress with the social balance of power in the field of class struggle is worrying.


There are clouds on the horizon that suggest turbulence. The division of the PT and PSol federal benches in relation to the tactics for the election of the President of the Chamber around two positions, unfortunately, signals a much more serious debate on strategy, albeit in an embryonic form. The theme is the path to defeat Bolsonaro, the mother of all battles. In form, the difference is tactical. In the last decades of stability of the regime, the negotiations around the election of the president of the Chamber, of the positions in the table, and distribution in the committees and rapporteurs were a minor theme, almost a subtactic of parliamentary routine. But we are in exceptional conditions under the far-right government of Bolsonaro, a neo-fascist president with a bonapartist project. The fact that the launch of a left-wing candidacy in the first round is so controversial when there is agreement on a critical vote against Artur Lira in the second round is the most disturbing thing. Why? There are three major political blocs in Brazil, not two. We must unite in timely action with class enemies in defense of democratic freedoms. But we cannot enter into a programmatic front with class enemies. Support in the second round is a vote against Artur Lira. Support in the first round is a vote in support of Baleia Rossi's platform, disregarding that anti-Bolsonaro speeches are a game of electoral dissimulation. The 2021 tactic is indivisible from the strategy for 2022. The defense of support for Baleia Rossi, still in the first round, indicates a dangerous trend, because it threatens the defense of class independence as the center of the strategy. Tactics and strategy are indivisible. If it's worth supporting Baleia Rossi in the first round for the mayoral election, why wouldn't it also be worth supporting the best-placed candidacy in 2022 to defeat Bolsonaro, anticipating the outcome of a possible second round for the first?


Baleia Rossi's program is that of the wing of the center that dreams of a Broad Front. When the left supports Baleia Rossi supports the right-wing liberal opposition program. But what prevailed in these last two years was the support of the liberal right-wing opposition to the majority of Bolsonarist projects. Rodrigo Maia, elevated to the position of “prime minister”, sewed a front that represents the project to guarantee Bolsonaro's governability until 2022. This project excludes impeachment unless something, at this moment, unpredictable, like a turn by Bolsonaro to self-strike happens. That the candidate is Temer's trusted man is no coincidence. It is about ensuring that the Chamber of Deputies fully assumes a co-management role already rehearsed in the last semester, diminishing Bolsonaro's place. The design of the regime, the type of balance of power between the institutions, would be displaced by the strengthening of Congress, immobilizing Bolsonaro's initiatives to the limits of what is consensual in the ruling class. This project has the support of the majority of the bourgeoisie. The support of the majority of the PT bench in the Chamber capitulates to this project, fencing the argument of the “imminent and real” danger of a self-coup: better governmentism without Bolsonarism. In the Senate election, the PT bench went further and decided to unanimously support the candidacy defended by the Palace itself: better Bolsonarism without the coup leaders, a kind of political hypochondria. But this is not the real and imminent danger. The real and imminent danger is the approval of the independence of the Central Bank, the administrative reform, the privatization of the Post Office, among others, but all with the support of Rodrigo Maia's bloc.


The danger of the Frente Ampla strategy does not only arise as a discussion of a unified opposition candidacy for 2022. It is now, from now on, in 2021, in the Chamber election. The line of the Frente Ampla, led by the hard core of the São Paulo bourgeoisie fraction, which is expressed by the Maia and Doria bloc, is to wear down Bolsonaro, but preserve his mandate, to remove the left from the 2022 second round. it is Bolsonaro's candidacy, but it is also pro-government, because it is the safety net of institutional stability. Therefore, a candidacy to protect the interests of the ruling class against Bolsonaro, which creates confusion in “appearances”, but does not hide the “essence”. We are facing a game of dissimulation. This discussion, therefore, is indivisible from the Frente Ampla line: the left cannot renounce the leadership dispute of the opposition to Bolsonaro. The left must fight, mercilessly and tirelessly, to try to overthrow Bolsonaro, force his impeachment and, if we fail, prevent the far right from reaching the second round in 2022.

*Valério Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).


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