Note on ultra-leftism



Exaggerations tend to favor unfounded expectations, and are the prelude to future demoralization.

“With regard to Austria, before the Nazi invasion, Trotsky said that it was a crime that the CP had opposed the slogan of dictatorship of the proletariat to Nazism, when the Austrian social democrats and masses were only willing to fight for bourgeois democracy. The PC's motto should have been to fight together for democracy, demanding that the PS be consistent in this struggle and mobilize the masses. With that, Austrian fascism could be defeated (…) Trotskyist policy, the authentic Trotskyist policy, not the delusions provoked by marginality, always seeks the easiest, most understandable slogan for the working class and the masses to mobilize and fight. Trotsky's writings are a chair on how to pursue these slogans. For us, a slogan is “reasonable”, if it is “easy”, if it is understandable by the workers' movement and serves to mobilize” (Nahuel Moreno) [1].

Last Sunday a giant banner was raised on Avenida Paulista in defense of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The repercussion in the media was immense and completely disproportionate to the episode. Some television channels highlighted that the anti-bolsonarist demonstrations were attended by extremist left-wing groups that have as little appreciation for democracy as the fascist groups that call for military intervention, equating the two.

It is evidently a maneuver, a demagogic operation: denouncing extremism on the right and left, as if they were symmetrical. They are not. The lane on Paulista was a minority initiative and parallel to the objective of the Ato organized by Fora Bolsonaro. In the demonstrations driven by Bolsonarism, the calls for military intervention are the organizing axis of the mobilization around “All power to Bolsonaro”.

But as we can learn from the June 2013 episodes, it is good to remember how important, if not decisive, for the reactionary counter-offensive, was the criminalization of the blackblocs after the tragic death of the Band cameraman at Central do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro in February from 2014.

The banner on Paulista looks naive, but it is not harmless. There are several groups on the Brazilian left that are opposed to the campaign for Bolsonaro to be out and, in particular, are hostile to the defense of impeachment tactics. The parliamentary tactic of using the constitutional resource of impeachment bets on the unity of action with bourgeois dissidents, and obeys the need to divide the field of the class enemy. In a defensive situation, especially in conditions of confinement, in which we cannot express the social strength of the working class and the oppressed in the streets, taking advantage of all the cracks, exploiting all the gaps, pushing all conflicts into the enemy's camp is central.

The approval of the impeachment is only possible if an important part of the majority of Congress, which approved most of the government's projects, shifts. This is not impossible, but the conditions are not yet met. It turns out that a national crisis of major proportions is looming over the horizon of the next three months with the simultaneous occurrence of: (a) a health cataclysm with the spread of the pandemic reaching the dimensions of a humanitarian tragedy; (b) an unprecedented social crisis with unemployment close to 20% of the EAP (economically active population), and the suspension of emergency aid; (c) a political crisis in the Bolsonaro government due to investigations at the STF and TSE; (d) the likely start of large-scale mass mobilizations when conditions for going to the streets become safer. How these four factors will develop is not predictable today, depending a lot on the impact of events on class consciousness. There are several hypotheses, not for lack of causality, but for excess.

But the defense of impeachment is condemned by ultra-left groups because it would be an initiative from within the institutions of the regime. They consider the impeachment a directly reactionary way out, because Mourão is expected to take office. Yes, it is a democratic demand, therefore, compatible with the regime, but it is not reactionary. It's very limited. It would be much better, even within the limits of the outputs provided for by the Constitution, a favorable outcome in the TSE that would annul the 2018 electoral result, and would condition the calling of early presidential elections. Only in revolutionary situations are exits from outside the regime possible. And we are, unfortunately, in a reactionary situation.

Some argue that the fight for impeachment would only serve to favor an “agreement” that would stabilize a regime that was already “tottering”, giving way to a Mourão government stronger than the Bolsonaro government. This kind of prognosis sounds Marxist, but it is not. All three ideas are exaggerated and therefore wrong. The regime is not in terminal crisis; the fall of Bolsonaro would be a terrible defeat for the neo-fascists; a Mourão government would not be stronger, but weaker; the “agreement” involves, for the time being, the support of a guardianship over Bolsonaro; and the campaign for impeachment plays an exactly opposite, destabilizing role.

It is not by chance that some ultra-leftists are quick to add the slogan of a General Strike to that of impeachment Now, an anarchist-inspired mantra. The trivialization of the general strike, at the height of the pandemic, is an absurd fantasy, first of all because it is impossible. But the general strike is a method of struggle, not a program. What is the way out if not early direct elections? Calling for “the people in power”, or “All power to the popular councils”, when the workers and the people do not even remotely pose the task of insurrection is an anarchist-inspired strategy.

This unrealistic position is based on an overestimated, therefore, imaginary appreciation of the social and political relationship of forces that maintains little contact with reality, and results in a propagandist formula, therefore, impotent, innocuous, innocent. Because exaggerations tend to favor unfounded expectations, and are the prelude to future demoralization. They argue that the Bolsonaro government is in crisis and weak.

Yes, the Bolsonaro government is increasingly isolated. But this type of analysis commits at least three serious errors: (a) Bolsonaro’s weakening does not mean that he will “fall from mature”, because he reacts, expands support in Congress via the integration of Centrão, seeks to fascistize his current in the middle layers, and maintains a relationship with the Armed Forces; (b) ignores the strengthening of the political regime, the Congress, the Justice, the commercial media, which bet on tutelage of the presidency to avoid a second impeachment in a short term, and maintains the support of the dominant class; (c) ignores the difficulties of popular mobilization.

Unfortunately, an important portion of the Brazilian anti-capitalist left has diminished the importance of the fight to get Bolsonaro out, Diretas already for the presidency. But they are the flags that can help build a Left Front that is able to mobilize the most advanced sectors of youth and workers and, in this framework, unity in action with bourgeois dissidences. Would this possible development favor the PT and Lula in the short term? Yes, it would. It is for no other reason that the bourgeois sectors that are in opposition to Bolsonaro, starting with FHC and the PSDB, are against impeachment.

But, much more important, it would be the way to defeat Bolsonaro and neo-fascism. They are the “easiest” slogan to put millions in motion and, therefore, can play a revolutionary role. A socialist left worthy of the future will not be able to strengthen itself if it does not know where to open the way.

*Valerio Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of The Dangerous Corners of History (Shaman).


[1] MORENO, Nahuel. Conversations with Nahuel Moreno.


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