PT's immediate future

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By Valerio Arcary*

Going back is better than getting lost on the way.
Russian folk wisdom
The tongue resists because it is soft; the teeth give way because they are hard.
Tibetan folk wisdom

We need to learn from history if we want to defeat Bolsonaro. There is a danger of committing sectarian errors, but the opposite danger cannot be ignored. In fact, he is the greatest at this point. But there is still time. The National Congress of the PT must decide on the tactic against Bolsonaro. In this context, a little perspective from your own history may be helpful.

What was the tactic debate on the left in the final phase of the struggle against the military dictatorship? Who was right in 1978/79? What was the tactic that passed the test in the laboratory of history? How did the PT conquer the hegemonic position on the left?

Was the moderate left – PCB, PCdB and MR-8 – right, which remained within an MDB that explicitly negotiated a slow, gradual and safe transition, awaiting the 1982 elections, and the Electoral College? It was correct to accept the leadership of the MDB, which represented a fraction of the ruling class that wanted to guarantee a controlled transition, within the institutions of the regime, to avoid, at any cost, the danger of a new coup attempt like that of Frota in 1977 ? Was the “don't provoke” tactic right or wrong? Was the quietist tactic, of waiting “quietly” for the rhythm of the transition organized by the dictatorship itself, to be the best path?

Or is it not true that the MDB leadership only accepted to lead the campaign for Diretas Já, from January 25, 1984, because: (a) it feared that the initiative would remain in the hands of the PT; (b) feared Maluf's victory against Andreazza inside the Arena/PDS; (c) bet on the division of the dictatorship party and the formation of the PFL led by Sarney; (d) and why did Ulysses Guimarães pressure Tancredo and Montoro to the maximum limit?

Or was it correct to bet, after the wave of strikes in 1978/79, on a mass struggle to overthrow the dictatorship? Was the PT leadership right or wrong when it understood that the bourgeoisie was divided, that the middle class was moving towards opposition to the dictatorship, and that a new working class, in a more urbanized country, had the social strength to overthrow the regime? Was she right in saying that the greatest danger was not “not provoking”, it was “not collaborating”? How was the Brazilian left reconstructed after twenty years of military dictatorship?

If the most lucid and combative sectors of the left had not founded the PT in 1980, if the PT had not launched Lula as a candidate for governor, running against Franco Montoro, in 1982, when there was not even a second round, if the PT had not taken the initiative of the Diretas campaign already at the Pacaembu rally in 1983, Lula would not have been able to occupy the place he had in the streets in 1984. The PT would not have gained authority to not participate in the Electoral College that elected Tancredo Neves. It would not have positioned itself coherently to be in opposition to José Sarney. As a result, Lula would not have made it to the second round in 1989.

The PT's tactics between 1980/89 have passed the test of history. The PCB/PCdB and MR-8 tactic proved to be wrong. They overestimated the strength of the dictatorship, and underestimated the potency of the mass mobilization of the working class. One of the reasons why the ruling class managed to reduce the damage in the transition, and preserve the military-police apparatus intact, was that a portion of the left, the majority in those years, served as a screen in protecting the leadership of Tancredo's MDB, and the negotiation for he led.

The leadership of the PCB, still the largest left-wing organization in 1978/79, finally went to the limit of attempting to destroy its own party. The leadership of the PC do B repositioned itself, correctly, and allied itself with the PT and Lula in time for the 1989 dispute.

The 2019 PT must decide at its next National Congress, this month, whether it intends to renounce the lessons of its own history or not.

A left for the XNUMXst century has to be useful to fight Bolsonaro. The neo-fascist nature of the Bolsonarist current that maintains hegemony within the far-right government is a factor that forces a very serene reflection on the tactic. One of the central objectives of Bolsonarism is to destroy the Brazilian left.

Any leftist party whose position is perceived as an obstacle in the fight to defeat Bolsonaro, whether in the mobilizations or in the elections, will be seriously frowned upon, and may suffer more than an electoral defeat, a political defeat.

The most serious thing, however, is that, if the current conditions of “temperature and pressure” are maintained, defeating Bolsonarism’s candidacies will be a very tough fight. There are at least four variables to be considered.

The greater or lesser degradation of the economic and social scenario, and the perception that the popular masses will have of the government's responsibility; the strength of political and social resistance in the face of Bolsonarism's offensive with administrative and fiscal reforms and privatizations; the future of investigations into Bolsonarism's relations with the militias; Bolsonarism’s ability to improvise candidacies, and a party or Front that defends them and, reciprocally, the left’s ability to take a stand without making serious mistakes as in 2018.

If the only criterion to be considered is the opinion prevailing at that moment in the broad left vanguard, the Frente Ampla tactic has already won. It turns out that the Broad Front is only possible under the lowest common denominator. It is good to know that a Frente Ampla with the PDT and the PSB will only be possible with a center-left program or candidacy. This, by the way, was already the debate last year around a Front with Ciro Gomes, albeit in another context.

The issue is therefore complicated. Parties are not an end in themselves. They must be instruments of collective struggle. But "one plus one" is only two in arithmetic. In politics there are alliances in which the allied forces are strengthened, and others in which they cancel each other out. This is the type of dilemma that opens up around Lula's suggestion that Marta Suplicy join the PT. Which would not be much different from supporting Márcio França and, equally, a disaster.

The fundamental question, at that moment, in the place that Haddad intends to dispute, and where the fate of the PT is decided, is whether or not Lula recovers his political rights. Because if it recovers, it will be the PT's candidacy in 2022. It will have the difficulty of trying to reinvent itself a la Corbyn of the PT, having been, twelve years earlier, himself, the Blair of the PT. It won't be simple, though not impossible.

However, the Lula enigma remains. No one knows what place he wants to occupy in history. Will he be willing to be an arsonist in the fight to overthrow Bolsonaro? Or will we see “Lulinha Paz e Amor” again trying to negotiate a painless electoral transition?

Fernando Haddad preserves himself, for now, because he can wait to decide. If the Lula Livre campaign wins the annulment of the Lava Jato judgments – which would be a huge political victory, not only for the PT, but for the entire left – Haddad will be a candidate for mayor. But, let's be objective, considering the current political relationship of forces, this hypothesis is unlikely. It depends on Celso de Melo's vote in the Second Panel of the STF. And that vow is a mystery.

On the other hand, if Lula remains without political rights, Haddad will not be a candidate for mayoralty, preserving himself for 2022. These are the dilemmas, and it is good to know. And these decisions have consequences for PSol, because Boulos will only be a pre-candidate for mayoralty by PSol, if Haddad decides not to be.

The United Front tactics of the left, in the elections, can be built in the first or in the second round. In 2018, it was carried out in the second round, and the Boulos candidacy was not an obstacle in the fight against Bolsonaro, on the contrary, it was a point of support.

In any case, the Psol must fight to keep – whatever the cost – well raised the banner of class independence.

*Valerio Arcary is a retired full professor at the Federal Institute of São Paulo

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