Lula's repositioning

Marina Gusmão, Progresso, watercolor.


A narrow passage to the left and its radical reform policies

“Will the hours and moments be counted?
Will they meet in a moment many years?
Will they speak with the birds and with the winds?”
(Luis Vaz de Camões. Sonnets)

The world is experiencing a major regression in relation to the achievements that, with contradictions and reactions, humanity consolidated after the defeat of Nazi-Fascism in the Second World War. In Brazil, this regressive wave, invested against Getulist and Lula legacy of expansion of social and labor rights, reaching the apex of its destructive capacity at the end of the 2010s. Between appalled and cornered, the progressive field and the left experienced a process of political expansion of reactionaryism and the great wave of deconstitution of the difficult conquests of fundamental rights and of some dimension of a protective State conquered in the country.

This expansion took place through a right-wing “frontist” movement, bringing together neo-fascists, religious fundamentalists, denialists, moralists and traditionalist conservatives, out-of-date aristocrats, petty and lumpen bourgeoisie in a strong convergence with the ruling class fractions of the neoliberal field. This reactionary front was unified around conservative, authoritarian and neoliberal postulates, marked by austerity, protection of profit and property, militarism, punitivism and penal and police inflexibility; anticommunism and antipetism; international alignment with the leading countries of this bloc, such as the United States and Israel; adherence to conservative Christianity and the moral values ​​of the traditional family, combating “gender ideology”; right-wing nationalism; a strong rejection of “enlightenment”, knowledge and scientific rationalism, political liberalism and modernity. Ultimately in opposition to the very premises of representative democracy.

The 2016/2018 coup operation was decisive for the configuration of this correlation of forces. This process materialized in the impeachment operation of Dilma Rousseff and in the arrest of Lula to remove him from the presidential elections. Creating the conditions for the emergence of the extreme right based on conservative anti-crisis, anti-democracy and anti-political rhetoric. The traditional right was swallowed up by the rising force of reactionaryism and became secondary and auxiliary in this bloc. The extreme right has become the active defender of the rentier interest. This new bloc in power destroyed the labor protection legislation, protected speculative capital, autonomized economic policy, cut social resources and salaries of the mass of essential civil servants and obstructed any initiative to tax the rich in the country.

This emergence, in this XNUMXst century, is based on the narrative that democracy and the left, as its subject, broke with the traditional values, harmony and order of the Brazilian past, which would be racial democracy and peace. This process can be understood as the organized emergence of resistance to changes in modern society and a reaffirmation of traditionalism.

Bolsonarism is the political expression of this extreme right in Brazil, based on the alliance of various factions of the right – such as fascists, authoritarians, high state bureaucracy, military, police, traditional conservatives – with religious fundamentalism, the petty bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie of the agribusiness. Which led him to Bolsonaro's electoral victory in 2018. His strategy is to keep his political base mobilized and on the offensive based on a reactionary agenda in customs and anti-democratic in politics. Alongside this “permanent mobilization”, it outsourced economic and financial policy to the banks and distributed positions to middle and senior officers of the armed forces. With this, he formed a conservative majority in Congress, albeit unstable, and served the interests of the big bourgeoisie.

However, the inability to reverse the economic crisis, unemployment and invest in a genocidal and austericidal policy with which it intended to cross the Covid pandemic eroded much of its support, including in Congress, and the relevant signs of fissures in the bloc in the power are emerging. Financial capital interlocutors such as Armínio Franga, Gustavo Loyola or Mark Mobius openly criticize Bolsonaro's policy and make gestures towards a new arc of alliances that could generate a new bloc in power. Obviously with them as the hegemonic fraction.

In this context, the political conditions were created for the reversal, albeit partial, of the coup process. The recent decisions in the STF, recognizing the politicization of Lula's trials, open the perspective of Bolsonaro's isolation and, with him, of the extreme right field, by opening the conditions for Lula to be the leader of a wide arc of alliance, with character of an “anti-fascist united front”.

However, the extreme right and Bolsonarism, specifically, still have enough political strength to try to maintain the cohesion of this bloc in power through extra-democratic movements, seeking to reverse the trend of condemning Moro and acquitting Lula, expanding coup threats with support of the fascist fractions of the armed forces and the base of the police and militiamen. Just as they can keep Bolsonaro alive politically to try his own re-election.

Lula's repositioning at the head of opposition politics and as the most viable anti-Bolsonaro candidate can establish the movement of sectors of the bourgeoisie around a government plan of national salvation, to face the health crisis, to recover jobs and country's economic stability and join an electoral alliance around Lula. The tradition of Lula's politics indicates a great tendency and ability to lead an arc of center and center-left alliances in the country. With impeachment or in the 2022 electoral calendar.

The left, however, if it wants to be a hegemonic field or, at least influence, in this bloc, it will need to produce a strategy of tension to the left based on a platform for overcoming neoliberal austericide and authoritarian elements, such as system reform. policy, communications, the tax system, agrarian reform, the transfer of value to the central economies through the overexploitation of the workforce, advances in regional relations and the development of science and technology, the suspension of BC autonomy, the reestablishment of the multilateralism in foreign policy, a large program to resume employment, guarantee a basic income, support sustainable peasant agriculture and strengthen public education and the unified health system, eliminate LSN and any form of political persecution. All in the sense of distributing power, property and income.

If the contradictions and paradoxes of capitalism are material and concrete, it is also necessary to understand that this advance in the alliance between reactionaryism and neoliberalism took place in a context of immense strategic doubts and crises on the left. The left, once again, is facing a crossroads with regard to the program, strategy, tactics and, above all, the construction of the subject of revolutionary action. One of the most relevant theoretical debates that took place on the left in this cycle of neoliberal hegemony is that of democracy. This continues to be central, but, at this moment, this debate must be carried out with two simultaneous and connected self-critical meanings: to overcome the bureaucratic idea of ​​the avant-garde tradition, for which it would be enough to replace the ruling faction for the State to change its character, and to overcome the merely procedural view, as in the social-liberal tradition for which there must be an eternal political separation between rulers and ruled. Two bear traps to a new left.

The idea of ​​democracy for a new leftist strategy must be linked, guaranteeing civil and fundamental rights, to the capacity for consultation, control and reforms of the State and the economy, that is, of overcoming the norms that restrict democracy to the electoral procedure and economic production to the rentier market.

For this, the left must walk a narrow path: participate in a broad front to defeat the great regression promoted by Bolsonaro's neo-fascist bloc and create the conditions to not see itself sidelined and defeated in the political leadership of the new bloc led by Lula. It will have to know how to carry out the necessary tactical mediation to defeat Bolsonarismo but to accumulate strength to lead this bloc to carry out policies of structural reforms of an egalitarian character whose some of the obstacles to democratic reforms will be within the field of anti-Bolsonarist allies.

*Jorge Branco is a doctoral student in Political Science at UFRGS.


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