EN 40 years: Crisis and defeat

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By Tarso Genro*

Bolsonaro's victory falls on the shoulders of our generation as the most significant defeat in the last 50 years. It was also generated by our inability to defend democracy, republican ethics and the values ​​of a democratic socialist utopia.

In the transition from post-war economic globalization to a liberal-rentier economy, the effects tending to greater social inequality in countries outside the organic nucleus of the world-system accelerated.

The breaking of the social-democratic contract had particularly perverse effects in countries with late experiences in combating poverty and inequality, as in Brazil. Both in the governments of President Lula and in the governments of President Dilma, the socialist and developmentalist social-democratic left was not prepared to lead new alternatives of political and “technical” management that would block these inhibitions in a lasting way.

In this context, for various reasons – both nationally and internationally – the system of party alliances in Brazil, if it is true that it gave rise to some important alliances to promote certain policies to reduce social and regional inequalities, also showed its Limits.

Mainly the governments of President Lula, supported by the prices of commodities, consecrated a cycle of successes in the fight against misery and absolute poverty, even without carrying out structural reforms. Tax reform and political reform, which could undermine – at least on the surface – the power system of regional oligarchies and big capital, could not be implemented due to lack of support in the Legislative Power and in participatory and/or bureaucratic institutions of the State Social.

The “historic bloc” remained the same and the country's integration project into the global system, based on interdependent cooperation with sovereignty (which had already started in an expressive way in the first Lula administration) was unable to redefine internal power relations and did not give rise to political conditions. favorable to give greater effectiveness to the fundamental rights of the 1988 pact. The result was the maintenance, not only of the old bourgeois-oligarchic system of governance, but also – in ideological terms – the survival of historical conservative and anti-democratic values, present both in the origin slavery as in the authoritarian tradition of the Brazilian State.

This system has always worked shaped by a conservative and right-wing political elite that, in critical moments – even when only partially removed from Governments – knew how to promote situations of ungovernability to increase their real positions of strength in the next period of domination. The current period, for example, was recycled according to the advice and planning of think tanks American and national, financed by big national and global businessmen, implicitly agreed with a new aggressive and ultra-reactionary right.

In the framework of the ongoing coup, the new and old subjects – including some originating from the “lulopetista” model of governance – promoted a “crusade” of manipulated political content, through two widely disseminated traditional narratives: (a) the fight against corruption , which would be a fundamental characteristic of the Welfare State, PTism and the left; (b) the fight against “communism”, in the form of a war against “cultural Marxism”, which would be represented by the left and by the PT, in academia, in the area of ​​education and in institutions that fight for rights in civil society.

The political impossibility of the PT governments to carry out structural reforms of a democratic and social nature, even if partial, left intact the nuclei of autonomous power (including within the State), which were articulated from June 2013 to overthrow the Dilma government. The campaign orchestrated by the media oligopoly, anointed with the condition of internal affairs of good political customs - articulated with the political right of all stripes (including supported by several mistakes committed by our governments) allowed a group of insane and medievalists to reach the National Government and the Planalto Palace.

The Dilma Government was crossed by ambiguities originating both from the political-electoral and party system, as well as coming from the flagrant difficulties of dealing with the fiscal crisis, to face a regressive tax system, historically maintained in Brazil. The political difficulties of governing in this situation were added to the characteristics of the President herself – as a political leader – with her notorious difficulties in forming an operative and cohesive leadership nucleus in her surroundings.

By imposing taxes on the poorest and with the lowest average income, the coercive state apparatus (bureaucratized and crossed by corporate struggles) kept –thus– fully intact the old structures of power. They gave vent to the activism of the Judiciary and the politicization (by the right) of the Public Ministry, which, in fact, started – through the Lava-jato operation located in the Court of Curitiba – to control the political agenda of the country and to personify with its Magistrates and Attorneys, the guiding pole of the right and privatist conservatism, opening a new stage of political struggle at the national level.

The media oligopoly, the think tanks of liberal-rentismo and the conservative (or simply reactionary) politicians of the various traditional parties thus formed a formidable arc of alliances destined to expunge –by any means– the remnants of what was a moderate social democratic left present in the State’s management.

The old parties of the liberal and neoliberal camp were neutralized or framed in this historic movement, in which proto-fascist Bolsonarism came to occupy a prominent role and become, in the elections – with its new liberal parties – a “reserve of value” for the majority of the business community, whose objective was to prevent the return of the PT to the Government, at a time when its social and educational policies were already beginning to have a reasonable effect in terms of implementing the Welfare State.

The insufficiencies of President Dilma's government in terms of state management and the political limitations of the President herself, an honest woman who never bowed to corruption - but who did not know how to set up or coordinate a "leading group" around her - aggravated the situation already tension in the economy, due to the global crisis.

 This aggravation occurred, both due to the underestimation of the corrosive nature of the 2013 crisis, and due to the inability of the government to recognize that – in the course of the demonstrations that year – the relationship networks of the right-wing coup leader and the conditions of infamy and manipulation of opinion were being finalized. public, for the acceptance of the “exception”. The democratic regression and renewal (by the right) of the conservative and ultra-liberal political elite was already in full flight.

All these facts converged to a political disarmament of the PT and to the arbitrary arrest of President Lula (through “exception” processes), as well as to the electoral difficulties that led us to defeat in the presidential elections. The majority of the same society that enshrined Lula with 83% support at the end of his second term began to reject the PT and its candidate, electing an obtuse military man, with a dubious career and neo-fascist tendencies, eight years later.

Immersed in the dogmatics of the traditional power system, the PT was unable to assess the corrosive dimension of the issue of corruption (which made it incapable of conceiving a strategy for social mobilization and dispute over values) because it did not pay attention to what was already under debate, at the beginning of the Dilma Government: it was not, again, who did more or less for the poor; or who created more or less jobs. These answers were already clear in the daily lives of the people, who had absorbed their conquests and moved on to other agendas, hammered by the media oligopoly: the agenda that subliminally romanticized the “clean” past of Brazil, as if the PT were the “founder” of corruption and he idealized the future, as if the fight against corruption was only effective after the demonization of Lula and the rigging of State institutions by right-wing dogmas.

Since the “mensalão” crisis, the guidelines to be answered at the political level had the following meanings, which were gradually infiltrated into popular consciousness: who had corrupted itself and the State? And who would be the moralizer of a nation that had been pure (which existed only as imaginary) and was tainted by an indifferent State, now measured in terms of exclusively moral values, the same ones that the PT itself had awakened as hope and myth!

alliance policy

The difficulties in reforming the political system, attempted by President Lula in his second government – ​​a reform that was rejected by the majority of the base of the Government and even by the PT majority – posed a difficult dilemma at the end of the second Government to be resolved: trying to carry out the reform policy dispensing with the Government's support base, which supported income and social inclusion policies and which led Lula to full public acceptance in all social strata; or: not to force any reforms on the subject and keep the “base” together, turning even more to the physiological center to maintain stability and thus elect Dilma as successor (chosen directly by the President) with the same system of alliances?

The option for maintaining the same system of alliances, measured only by the possibility of re-election of the “project” was correct in terms of its immediate result, but it was a disaster in its strategic pretensions. As it turned out, in June 2013 what was being set up – from the outside to the inside of the Government (and from this to the “outside”) – would produce the coup and the suffocating electoral defeat that followed.

Those same alliances that provided the ability to govern with stability, now became the makers of a government hostage to its immediate effectiveness. And they also proved incapable of stimulating the construction of support – inside and outside parliament – ​​through a new frentist form, which considered governability not only based on the moods of the financial market and the opinions of media “experts”, but sustained itself in a new power bloc.

The majority of the people, who in 2013 were already experiencing a certain disenchantment with their Government – ​​which, in their view, did not provide answers to the fundamental question at hand (corruption and its tentacles at all levels of power) – concluded that if it was historic and reiterated had to have been quelled by the PT. That was what the common citizen thought, implicitly accepting that, at the very least, it had been greatly increased by PT governments.

Economic crisis

The basic concept that began to guide the “reforms” that spread across the globe (in the context in which the US government started to demand solidarity with bankrupt banks – 2009) intended to guarantee funds for the payment of the debt rollover of national States . The situation in Greece had become exemplary in this regard, a “case” that ruthlessly indicated that the reforms of liberal-rentism would soon become universally imperative. As several studies by the most serious economists have shown, the world economic crisis had “shortened” the space for capital accumulation of the international financial bourgeoisie, which would require – according to the neoliberal idea – a finer control of the process of “overaccumulation” and the transfer of damage to public accounts around the world.

The Lula government bet on the opposite path. It developed countercyclical policies with massive investments in public works, increased credit for investment and consumption, and created a virtuous dynamic for the growth of the internal mass market. The manipulated drop in commodity prices in general and the manipulation of oil prices, in particular, undermined the ability to maintain this strategy, reducing the public investment potential of the National State. The option to “secure” this economic and fiscal situation, in the Dilma government, was the recessive and neoliberal exit, with the presence of Joaquim Levy in the Ministry of Finance, the maximum expression of our global financial “surrender to objectivity”.

More than a depressing act by a beleaguered government without a convincing economic strategy, Levy's nomination was an implicit declaration of surrender to the “single path”. The Dilma government tried to apply the same orthodox liberal recipe as the conservative groups that lost the election, without being able (as in the Lula governments) to allow “all of them to win”. In these conditions, therefore, the “glorious” moments in which salaried workers and the poor in general improved their living conditions – consumption and enjoyment of basic necessities – were not recreated, with the “rich” being partners of the “rich”. poor”.

Security policy

The issue of security was and is deeply integrated into the political dispute in Brazil and on it, during the Lula Government, the perception was developed that it would be fundamental to “enter” this agenda. By ending a successful and still “young” Public Security program, Pronasci, the Dilma Government ended an organized and productive dialogue that had been initiated with the states and municipalities on the subject.

With the other federated entities, the Federal Government had begun to share solutions for this serious problem of the State, through a new experience that was consolidated after an exhaustive negotiation with the National Congress, which then gave the green light almost unanimously to it! Pronasci was a program that acquired international prestige and that broke through the barriers of ideological and partisan prejudices.

The seriousness of the public security situation in Brazil was already showing itself as a universal agenda and thus endowed with a high possibility of institutional concertation to face it. The closure of the answers given by the Lula Government in this area – in a later context of betting on fiscal adjustment as a way out of the crisis – was what most evidenced the manifest political difficulties of the Dilma Government for an adequate reading of the complicated situation of the coup that would come.

With the Pronasci proposal, the Lula government began to offer strong institutional support and financial support for the development of a national public security policy, which combined preventive social protection policies with selective repression, focused on organized crime; fight against militias through agreements between the Federal Police and State Security, in the most sensitive local territories; forwarding a rigorous prison building program for young adults (aimed at separating them from the old schools of crime in the current penal system); equipping the Police through a counterpart in weapons and equipment for the availability of personnel to the National Force; deployment, agreed with the states, of 5.000 Community Policing posts; establishment of a permanent staff of the National Force with high-level equipment; continuing and remunerated training of police officers in all states; introduction of Laboratories to repress money laundering; increase the criminal investigation capacity of the Federal Police.

Everything had been done with the aim of “cutting” the link between crime – especially organized crime, dominant in many territories – and youth, children and teenagers, women, precarious workers, the unemployed and semi-employed.

The withdrawal of the federal government from this agenda reduced the effectiveness of the fight against crime, strangled the UPPs in Rio de Janeiro, dried up their preventive programs and allowed the responsibility for the public security crisis to fall on the PT and its candidates. This “withdrawal” from the Union – in carrying out the security agenda – was important for Bolsonaro’s victory, who brandished this issue as relevant “for poor people to live better”, authorizing the Police – he promised demagogically – to “kill bandits”, making irrational violence a state policy.

Bolsonaro's victory in Brazil – beyond the media manipulations and sinister simplifications that were made by the right about the PT's mistakes – falls on the shoulders of our generation as the most significant defeat in the last 50 years. It was also generated by our inability to defend democracy, republican ethics and the values ​​of a democratic socialist utopia.

We lacked the energy, heroism and intelligence bequeathed by our best examples – such as Allende, Mujica and Mandela – to change the course of our struggles, without changing the principles and emancipatory essence of our ideals. May the times ahead bring much effort, intelligence and energy, to reaffirm the memory and examples of these heroes.

*Tarsus in law he was governor of Rio Grande do Sul and Minister of Justice in the Lula government;

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