Four decades with Lula

Andrej Jemec, dark red, 1979


Commentary on Clara Ant's Newly Released Book

Clara Ant just released Four decades with Lula: the power of walking together (Authentic). It is a journey through the political history of Brazil, where the figure of Lula acquires centrality. The testimony addresses the trajectory of a “Jewish, Bolivian and divorced woman”, who from an early age opted for “socialism with freedom” under the influence of Trotskyism. The architect places herself in the position of supporting the master of ceremonies, in the forty years that parade through the pages of the book. One reads places, situations, characters, defeats, victories – existences in cross. To face the memorialistic challenge, the writer proceeds like Cecília Meireles in the poem Tour: “I am thinking what I thought / at that time my life / … ancient itineraries, / that even God never takes again”.

In the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, love, the couple and the family were at the forefront. Friendship was valued, however, it was not in evidence. The twentieth century, with world wars and the Holocaust, wars of national liberation, cold, hot, hybrid and manual torture, bloody dictatorships and disappearances, has shown that the values ​​of friendship are even more invoked when injunctions of the political atmosphere limit the possibility of expression. of affection, in interpersonal bonds. Clara Ant lists adversities faced in the student and union movement, in the women's struggle and in the construction of the Workers' Party (PT). Courage and tenderness build her dreams.

The relationship with the trade unionist Luiz Inácio da Silva, who would later incorporate the nickname Lula into his baptismal name, began under the military regime that had eclipsed the nation in the barracks, and was put to the test by the countless obstacles encountered in the struggles and caravans to get to know Brazil , which does not appear on TV. That of the landless, homeless, without water, without food and without dignity, which is found on the urban outskirts, in the fields, in the sertões, on the banks of rivers, in the forests – and traffic lights.

The account weaves the relationship into a new dialectic. It is situated in the environment of “deformalization of private rituals” typical of contemporary society, as observed by the German sociologist Norbert Elias, on the one hand. On the other hand, it refers to the plot of the formalization of the gestures that accompany the acts of a true statesman. The cover of the book in question, designed by Diogo Droschi on an image by photographer Ricardo Stuckert, is very emblematic. It sums up the spirit of the bold writing, and makes explicit the place of each one under the lens of the future. All with relevant roles.

The cover illustration shows Clara Ant with her face covered, whispering in Lula's ear, already in the Presidency. Brings the world map to the background. There, in black and white, are the private and public dimensions in the daily exercise of the peculiar friendship between combatants united by the force of utopian ideals, although in different trenches of praxis in favor of the people. Loyalty, trust, commitment and affection stand out. Simultaneously, the framing highlights the enormous importance of Lula – an exponential actor in the national and international political theater. The photo talks.


there are no formulas

From the 1982 slogan, “Vote for the three that the rest is bourgeois”, to the 2002 social pact that sought to unite work and productive capital, there were twenty years of learning, which made Lula and the PT symbols of a society with more equality and social justice. Those who preached linearity, with the illusion of the Enlightenment (or “enlightened”), bumped into ruptures and communions that brought alternative paths, beyond the fossilized schemes about sociopolitical transformations.

“There are no formulas for political success. What applies to one historical moment may not apply to another. Building a democratic country depends on the willingness and perception of its actors to lead the country, the lives of the population and institutions. It also depends on the ammunition of the opponents”, points out Clara Ant. This was the advantage of the PT, as it did not reproduce oligarchic models of organization. “The PT is a new type of party”, as defined by French-Brazilian sociologist Michael Löwy, shortly after its promising and celebrated foundation (1980).

In the eyes of Clara Ant, Lula reeks of “cunning” in the sense of the American historian John D. French, author of the contextual biography of the leader. See the episode between the son of Dona Lindu and the “Cavaleiro da Esperança”, Luís Carlos Prestes. In a debate at the Sindicato dos Químicos/SP, in which both participated, the legendary communist took time to describe how to organize a political party. After the explanation, Lula asked him: “If you know so well what a 'workers' party' should be, why don't you make one?” The practice of the fearless metallurgist demanded mechanistic theoretical abstractions, with no organic correspondence with the working classes.

Another episode occurred when Tarso Genro was sworn in as Minister of Education and asked to introduce his team. As they entered the presidential office, Lula carefully observed each adviser, then provoked: “In a category of workers with a predominance of women, do you, Tarso, only have male advisers?”. Once again, Lulista's sensibility imposed itself for a concatenation, first in party-political terms, now in terms of gender.

Yet. In one of the first openings of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida program, Lula showed irritation when he found that the apartments did not have a balcony: “What if the couple fights? You have to have a little place to isolate yourself. Or even if you need to fart.” At all times, everyday life sought an intersection with ongoing achievements, without presumption. Clara Ant attributes this to what Australian aborigines call dadirri, a “deep listening” to the needs of others. Traditional, demagogic politicians do not tend to cultivate this virtue.

At the opening of the 350st century, with the PT & allies under Lula's dialogical command in the Executive, Clara Ant focuses on government actions developed in the midst of media attacks, in the service of finance. It was difficult for a nation with more than XNUMX years of slavery behind it to accept a worker at the Planalto Palace other than to paint the walls and make repairs. “Each government action was directly or indirectly marked by the experience and scars that Lula accumulated along the way”. Although passages like this sound like a “cult of personality”, reading them as a whole emphasizes collectives, and “the power of walking together” as a promoter of change.

Without sectarianism and without any party boasting, the contributions of the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso are recognized. “Few, dispersed in some Ministries and small in scope, but not negligible. Bolsa Escola, Vale Gás and the start of financing family farming were some of the most important, but they were insufficient to constitute a broad and consistent network of social protection, limited in advance by the fiscal adjustment imposed by liberalism”.

Special mention should be made of the expectations aroused by the discovery of the pre-salt layer, which could generate resources for health, education, technology, workforce qualification and the country's industrialization. “The construction of refineries would make fuel cheaper, and the preservation of a portion of national content would allow the multiplication of companies and jobs in Brazil”. This gives a pale idea of ​​the evil lese-patria after the betrayal of the decorative deputy, the impeachment of an honest president and the slicing of Petrobras and the pre-salt layer itself, deepened by the genocide.


Ecce Homo

The more Clara Ant advances in the exploits coordinated by Lula, the more she retreats to the wings. She intentionally shifts the spotlight from the stage to the president. On occasions, the tone is one of official balance, for example, when listing the National Conferences encouraged by social participation, responsible for setting forth guidelines for democratic and inclusive public policies. Reading that flows like a novel, rich in information.

After leaving the presidency, with 87% of popular approval, Lula received thousands of invitations to public activities and hundreds of titles honoris causa from renowned Brazilian and foreign universities. He had refused to receive honors during his mandates. Opponents propagated a prejudice. Because he did not have a university degree, it was said that he would be unable to govern. He proved capable, first, and then authorized the awards in an impressive cascade – Ecce Homo.

At the end, lines appear about unfair imprisonment and the transcription of a note to Lula: “Dear friend. Ironically, today we are geographically distant. But I want you to know that today is also the day I feel closer to you than I have in all the decades we've known each other. Feel strongly hugged. Clara Ant”. In pain, friendship grew in souls. It was April 7, 2018. The date of an ignominy: the arrest of the greatest president in the history of the Republic.

The speech given at the Metalworkers' Union, in São Bernardo, is a piece of oratory that enters the minutes of great statesmen, such as Pericles (Athens), Churchill (United Kingdom), Gandhi (India), Evita (Argentina), Havel ( Czechoslovakia), Mandela (South Africa). A silent crowd stopped to listen to him amidst tears, sighs, hugs, nonconformities and resilience.

“It's no use trying to put an end to my ideas, they're already hanging in the air and there's no way to arrest them. It's no use trying to stop my dreams because when I stop dreaming, I'll dream through your heads. It's no use thinking that everything will stop the day Lula has a heart attack. It's silly because my heart will beat for your hearts, and there are millions of hearts. It's no use for them to think they're going to make me stop. I will not stop because I am no longer a human being. I'm an idea. An idea mixed with your idea”. The 580-day vigil, in front of the Federal Police building, in Curitiba, was an unparalleled epic. It was the insistent, uncomfortable reminder that justice had died by condemning an innocent man. Power came into the cell.

“Dear Clara. The longing is immense. Hope to be back soon. I will be a candidate, and Brazil will be happy again. Kisses, Lula”. She fulfilled her promise on October 30th of the current year by defeating the representative of neo-fascist and neo-liberal backwardness, who had taken root in the Brazil land. “The world needs President Lula da Silva”, commented the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, with relief, expressing the satisfaction of democrats in the North and South hemispheres. We overcome the darkness.

Clara Ant's book re-updates Sartre's notion of engagement, which is not to be confused with the voluntarism of subjective attitudes in the face of the structures of reality, in the concrete conditions of the class struggle. The realization processes presuppose organized action subjects in society, to promote the synthesis between the social sphere and the political sphere.

To change the fate of the Brazilian people, who elected Lula for a third quadrennium in the Presidency, the author revisits the transformation project – in many hands and minds – with the strength of empathy, experience and a program to break the shackles of oppression and exploitation, financialization and deindustrialization, with democratic control of the social surplus. Towards socialism with freedom. Together.

*Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


Clara Ant. Four decades with Lula: the power of walking together. Belo /horizonte, Autêntica, 2022, 400 pages.


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