Where is Brazil going?



Brazil is not Argentina in “slow motion”.


Trump's recent defeat will have immense repercussions, due to the weight of US imperialism, in particular, an increase in the international isolation of the Bolsonaro government. Many wonder where Brazil is going in this new situation. MAS won elections in Bolivia last year. At the end of 2019, the Alberto Fernandes/Cristina Kirchner ticket won in Argentina. In the recent first round of elections in Ecuador, a political heir to Rafael Correa won the first round. Is the far-right government's fate sealed? Is the hypothesis of Lula's electoral victory, if he can be a candidate, or another leftist candidacy the most likely?

The argument of this text is that the outcome of the fight against Bolsonaro remains, for the time being, undefined. The central issue is the social relationship of reactionary forces, therefore, very different from those in neighboring countries. The level of popular resistance against Bolsonaro is much lower than that achieved by the working class and the women's movement in Argentina against Macri, from popular and indigenous movements in Chile against Sebastián Piñera and in Ecuador against Lenín Moreno, and from indigenous peasants in Bolivia against the military coup.


The counterrevolutionary danger or threat of a historic defeat since the 2016 coup represented by the Bolsonaro government is different and much greater, qualitatively, than that represented by Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Lenín Moreno in Ecuador, Sebastián Piñera in Chile or, now, Luis Lacalle in Uruguay. Underestimating the impact of the accumulated defeats since the 2016 coup would be myopic. Building the conditions to defeat Bolsonaro in 2021 or in the 2022 elections, the most decisive battle since the end of the dictatorship, to pave the way for a left-wing government, will be much more difficult than it was in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. But it is possible. Decisive variables such as the evolution of the pandemic and the economic recession are in dispute, and may evolve favorably.


Brazil and Argentina, but also Uruguay, despite their specificities, experienced a succession of four relatively synchronized political cycles in the last half century. This alignment of cycles in the class struggle is impressive:

(a) the stage of military dictatorships in the sixties and seventies, (Brazil between 1964/84, Argentina in a sequence, first 1962, a second barracks in 1966 and, finally, the terror 1976/82, Chile 1973/1990 and Uruguay between 1973/1983), after the victory of the Cuban revolution, and the historic defeats that sacrificed a generation;

(b) the stage of liberal centre-right governments in the eighties and nineties, Alfonsín and Sarney in the transition to democratic-presidential regimes focused on the need to control the rising wave;

(c) the stage of the neoliberal center-right governments with Menem and FHC, which assumed neoliberal adjustments and dollarization to control superinflation with privatizations;

(d) the stage of so-called progressive governments in the first decade of the 2003s, Kirchnerism and Lulism, the Kirchnerist decade between 2014/2003, the thirteen years of coalition governments led by the PT (2016/2005) in Brazil, and the sequence of Frente Ampla governments (20/XNUMX) in Uruguay;

(e) the fifth and final stage was opened by the legal-parliamentary institutional coups in Paraguay against Lugo, in Brazil against Dilma Rousseff, in addition to the coup in Bolivia against the re-election of Evo Morales, and went through the election, but in a very different process, of Macri and Lacalle's recent one in Uruguay, so it is dangerous to disregard that a bifurcation occurred with the 2016 coup in Brazil.


There are international conjunctures that unfold in regional cycles, but they must be considered with the unavoidable mediations. What defines the cycles are determinations imposed by the dominance of the center over the periphery or the pressures of world capitalism on its peripheries. The relationship of the imperialist order, structured by the power of the triad under US leadership in partnership with the United Kingdom, associated with the European Union and Japan, with the southern cone is different from the relationship with Mexico, with Central America, or with the Andean countries.


The Southern Cone of Latin America is a specific scenario that deserves to be considered, encompassing Brazil and Argentina, the two nations with the greatest economic and political weight, but also Uruguay, Paraguay and, albeit with some specificities, the relationship with Peru and the Andean world, also Chile. Argentina experienced an incomparably deeper process of rupture when the dictatorship fell. In Brazil, the military-police apparatus remained intact.

But the greater radicalism of the class struggle process in Argentina, when compared to Brazil, rests, in the first place, on many objective differences. The social and political weight of what the construction of the PT meant also explains the intertwined, however, peculiar destinies. Brazil is not only bigger and more complex or complicated. The two main differences are the degree of social inequality, which has historical roots in slavery, and the socio-political strength of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. The cycles deserve recognition, but they do not support the conclusion that the evolution of the socio-political struggle in Brazil is similar to that of Argentina, only in slow motion.


The fate of the struggle for socialism in Brazil is indivisible from the evolution of the situation in the southern cone of Latin America. What happens in Argentina or Uruguay has immense objective importance and should have intense repercussions in Brazil and, of course, vice versa. It just isn't like that. The Brazilian left likes to think that it is internationalist, but it is not. In fact, the many and varied peculiar conditions of the class struggle in Brazil favored other qualities when compared with the left of neighboring countries, especially Argentina. We are not among the most sectarian, perhaps.

The left welcomed very aggressive militants, with great agitation skills, but controversial rhetorical excesses are not admired. We avoid frontality. The public sphere of debates is small, and the culture of discussion, in particular the theoretical one, is rudimentary. Perhaps this explains why any dissension can easily degenerate into a cacophony. Therefore, asperities are avoided. These are largely the “benefits of delay”. We are, also for this reason, very provincial. Brazil is, in different dimensions, a country concentrated on itself. But that did not prevent some Trotskyists from reactively developing what we can describe as an ultra-internationalism. Ultra-internationalism is almost a mentality. A form of determinism that diminishes or disregards Brazilian specificities.

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

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