The best government in Brazilian history

Image: Lucas Vinícius Pontes


Lula's third term has everything to be the most progressive, innovative and popular ever in Brazil

No, the title above is not the result of naivety or excessive optimism. The very few people who follow my artiguetes know that – not even remotely – I am a silly PT or uncritical Lula. It happens that in many situations the healthy pessimism of reason – an essential tool for any leftist militant – ends up clouding our reading too much. And we underestimated the size of the victory that was to elect Lula or even the beauty of this avenue open before us now.

The victory that the Brazilian people imposed on neo-fascism was not trivial. In what other country has there been such a rapid turnaround? You hermanos Argentines got rid of Mauricio Macri, it's true. However, the former president of Boca Juniors was not exactly a neofax – perhaps could best be classified as almost far-right neoliberal. But it didn't prosper. Argentina is another story.

The PT is the biggest party in Brazil. Since the first post-dictatorship direct elections (in 1989) it has won or placed second in all presidential races. And Mr. Luiz Inácio is simply the greatest popular leader (reformist, yes) in our history. Lulão's “life and work” will be a reference for decades – the object of research, studies, admiration and controversy.

PT will remain strong and rooted even after Lula (perhaps a little less transformative). Lulism will be a claimed and disputed political force from right to left segments of all stripes. A kind of Brazilian Peronism. Who lives will see.

The third government of the ex-worker is the result of an extraordinary victory. Very unlikely. We have overcome the 2016 coup plus Lula's arbitrary arrest. It looks like a fictional script – including the perfection of the design of the hero's narrative arc. The guy comes from below, wins, becomes president. Afterwards he falls from grace, and is arrested. He gets out of jail unexpectedly. Redeemed, he defeats the fascist villain and becomes president again. Glorious redemption, classic epic type.

It will not be easy. In 2003 Lula took office in a difficult scenario, after the neoliberal avalanche, with a weaker State. Looking back, it's safe to say: I miss FHC. There were no threats to democracy.

Succeeding a liberal-democratic government, we have now learned, is totally different from taking over a country ravaged by ultraliberal neo-fascism. Just compare an elegant intellectual banker like Pedro Malan to a braggart speculator like Paulo Guedes.

Before someone in a hurry comes to label me as a petista-friend-of-toucan, I reiterate: the PSDB opened the doors to Bolsonarism and created elitist and anti-popular governments in São Paulo and Brazil.

However, it is necessary to put things in historical perspective. The advent of Bolsonarism reconfigured the parameters of Brazilian politics. In comparison with neo-fascism, our old malufism becomes an almost sympathetic demagogic rightism. The centrão becomes a mere moderate, even reasonable and very pragmatic representation of the old oligarchies (they sustain the political system). The neoliberals, a bunch of liberal-democratic yuppies in order to make a lot of money, diminish the state, shine in the media and academia.

Lula knows all of this. She built a popular candidacy – at the same time radically anti-neoliberal and anti-neo-fascist – but with a breadth that allowed her to obtain support from broad liberal sectors dissatisfied with Bolsonarism.

Notice: Lula did not turn the program to the right. But, with Geraldo Alckmin as deputy, she signaled to segments that wanted to defeat Bolsonarism, but historically are opponents of the left. A genius thing, let's agree (I say this as someone who criticized Geraldo Alckmin's nomination as vice-president).

Our task is to fight and help this government to be as “leftist” as possible. I repeat: it is a privilege to have Lulão to save us from neo-fascism. But Brazil needs much more than “moderate reformism”. We have to defend a lot and push our third government to the left.

Fernando Haddad in place of Paulo Guedes. Anielle Franco, Silvio Almeida, Sonia Guajajara and Cida Gonçalves replacing Damares. How about Margareth Menezes instead of Mário Frias or Regina Duarte? It's all antagonistic. It is no exaggeration to speak of a government of good and enlightenment succeeding an evil, dark regime.

I remembered a classic episode of the series He-Man (the group that was a child or teenager in the 1980s will like it). That's when the planet Eternia, turned into a dark, cursed place. That's when little Gorpo – the clumsy little sorcerer – and his girlfriend Driele sing together the lyrics of an old song: “good overcomes evil / scares away the storm / the blue, the yellow / everything is very beautiful / good overcomes evil / the weak gets strong / and wins to death / that's what he does”.

Who expected and demanded a Lulinha and, too he's been pretty nervous so far. That anthropomorphic being that is distressed, suffers, cries, is happy or gets angry, the so-called “market” is a little stressed. (My dream was to one day find out who really is big boss, oracle, spokesperson, representative, press officer, boss, interpreter, true god incarnate, that market – the most spoiled child in the world.)

The paradox: Lula inherits devastated land in an international situation of crisis, but he is a giant leader and a much more experienced manager.

In short: it was a great victory; de-fascistization is a lengthy and complex process; the economic crisis is there; we received a shattered country, with 20% right-wing extremists; the opposition will be relentless. But we have the strength of social movements, youth, women, fighters for the people, universities, poor people, black people, LGBT people, all people of good will.

We got out of hell. Now it's work. Let's roll up our sleeves with Lulão because the one who stands still is the pole.

*Julian Rodrigues, journalist and professor, he is an activist in the LGBTI and human rights movement.


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