EN 40 years – more necessary than ever

Image: Elyeser Szturm
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By Flávio Aguiar*

Despite all the difficulties and the concentrated offensive of the extreme right, orchestrated by the United States, Latin America is still the space where an anti-neoliberal sowing can flourish, and there is a commitment of resistance in this sense.

I have constantly read discouraging comments about the situation. They are those who systematically repeat the litany: “the left is over”; “the PT has expired”; “the opposition does nothing”; “it is necessary to refound the PT”; “it is necessary to found another left”, etc. A variant of this type of comment is the one that denies, deep down, that the PT trajectory has had any importance.

The other day I attended some academic panels on the Brazilian situation at the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin. One of the Brazilian speakers stated, among other things, that it was better for the right to remain in government for the moment, “because the left is not prepared for that”. He completed by saying that the left (the PT) “never had a geopolitical and strategic vision of what is happening in the world”.

The impression that remains from all of this is that the 40 years of the PT passed unnoticed in Brazilian history. There was no social protagonism, neither national nor international. Celso Amorim (I beg your permission to mention his name, as an example) was not, at one point, considered the best chancellor in the world. Brazil was not a leader in the environmental issue and in the Paris agreement, now reneged on by Donald Trump and his disciples.

Let's not just stick with the PT: Brazilian leadership in environmental terms began during Fernando Henrique's government. Itamaraty was once, among the institutions of international politics, one of the most respected in the world, something that comes from the time and tradition of Rio Branco (even before), a tradition that is today sullied by ideological fundamentalism, mediocrity and doormat complex that have taken over our foreign policy.

Another impression that is left from these comments is that a political party is like a rabbit that is pulled out of a hat, something that is founded with a sleight of hand or snapping a finger. Now, what one sees, looking at previous history, is that the creation and trajectory of the political parties of the Brazilian left have always been connected to profound tectonic movements in the Brazilian world of work and also to broad international articulations.

It was like this with the Communist Parties, the Brazilian and the Brazilian (and their dissidents and later complements). It was like this with the old PTB, for example. They were carried by the creation, existence and movement of an urban proletariat. So strong was this wave that at one point it even dragged a conservative politician like Getúlio Vargas to the left, who ended up dying as a martyr of the Brazilian people. And this too is just an example.

In the case of the PT, and also its later dissidences, it is impossible to separate it from new transformations in the organization of the Brazilian world of work, during and after the 1964 dictatorship. It is also impossible to separate it from the creation of the CUT (and also from his later dissent) and the MST. And today, the winds of renewal that hit the Psol (also for example) are inseparable from new facets of the social universe, such as the Movimento dos Sem Roto, and from changes in the Brazilian student landscape, largely due to inclusive policies developed by PT governments. at the federal, state and municipal levels.

Within this extremely complex framework, the PT had an exceptional trajectory, becoming, in its 40 years of existence, not only a national historical reference, but also an international one. And it has always had, in and out of government, strong international connections – and leadership in tune with that.

Brizola and his PDT articulated, at a certain point, with the Socialist International. The PSDB, in fact, had a constant engagement with the United States Democratic Party. The PT and Lula's leadership managed to maintain an organic link with European social democracy. If today this connection is frayed, this is less due to a lack of geopolitical vision by the PT leaders and Lula himself, and much more to the fact that most of the parties of socialism and European social democracy either melted (Germany, France, United Kingdom Kingdom) or veered to the right (Scandinavia). The Greens are usually split between center-left and center-right. Portugal and Spain are today rare and honorable exceptions in the scenario of the European continent, as well as the social democratic leadership (surprisingly!) of Pope Francis!

It is obvious that in its trajectory the PT had failures, gaps and even major mistakes. I give some examples. The party's communication policy and that of the Lula and Dilma governments, usually, tended to disaster, also with rare exceptions. Neither the party nor the governments faced the challenge of democratizing the world of communications in Brazil. This ended up happening partially due to the numerous initiatives of the alternative media, which did not always have the deserved and due support on the part of the party and the governments (which should, in this particular, follow UNESCO's orientation in favor of media diversification).

Another example: over these 40 years, the PT ended up taking a path similar to that of its European social democratic counterparts: it became a party with a “geriatric” inclination, closed to renewal. It failed to maintain a consistent policy aimed at youth. And this is a serious shortcoming, because, as Father Antonio Vieira said in the XNUMXth century, for reasons different from ours today, “the most important story is the story of the future”.

At the same time, the PT committed, alongside its affirmative policies (which include the Participatory Budget), perhaps its greatest success: by extraordinarily expanding a mark of the last Vargas (from 1951-1954), it created conditions for millions of Brazilians had access to the main of all social rights, which is the concept that each and every citizen “has the right to have rights”. It is no small thing, in a country so unequal and with an economic “elite” so sold abroad, so anti-people and so inclined to see rights as privileges of cradle and class like ours.

We live in a very difficult time around the world. In Europe, the hegemony prevails – albeit lame – of austerity plans and neoliberal inspiration. In the United States, alongside the evangelist, Pentecostal, and gorilla politics of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo, the Democratic establishment doesn't promise much better for us. And it tenaciously resists Bernie Sanders. Asia struggles between Narendra Modi's prejudiced and right-wing politics, Chinese authoritarianism, and Japan's ingrained conservatism.

In Oceania the progressive voice of Jacinda Ardern is an isolated voice. In Africa, authoritarianism and pandemonium reign. The Middle East is a permanent catastrophe. Russia orchestrates its neo-Czarism into a world state. Despite all the difficulties and the concentrated offensive of the extreme right, orchestrated by the United States, Latin America is still the space where an anti-neoliberal sowing can flourish, and there is a commitment of resistance in this sense, as happened in the decades that preceded the coup 2016 in Brazil. To this end, the PT's presence and leadership remain fundamental.

* Flavio Aguiar is a journalist, writer, and retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP.

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