Ruy Mauro Marini – defending the workers’ cause

Cecil King, Intrusion - Red, 1974


The precarious legacy of the popular struggle was the ruling class' greatest trophy as it petrified the idea of ​​combating subversion

Ruy Mauro Marini is undoubtedly one of the great intellectuals who thought about the economic and political condition of several Latin American countries. His entire life had been swallowed up by the political contexts of the countries where he lived, which forced him to go through three exiles, but which also gave him notoriety as a theorist, thinker, teacher and political figure. Ruy Mauro himself in his memoirs says how difficult it is to separate all these things given, once again, his great involvement and political commitment to the workers' cause.

Ruy Mauro Marini is from Barbacena, Minas Gerais, where he was born in 1932. In 1953 he began his studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Brazil, but later won a scholarship and went to study at FGV. It was in France, from 1958 onwards, that he began to study Marx and Lenin. It was also at this time that he approached CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), which inspired Latin American thought. On his return to Brazil he linked himself to Polop (Workers' Politics) and distanced himself from national-developmentalist thought.

It was in 1964, with the military coup, that Ruy Mauro Marini left for his first exile in Mexico, right at the moment he began his academic activities at UnB (University of Brasília). He lived in the country until 1969 where he worked as a contributor to several periodicals and professor at Unam (Autonomous University of Mexico) and at the Colegio de México. With the repression, which also increased after the publication of his text denouncing the massacre of students in Tlatelolco (1968), Ruy Mauro Marini went to Chile.

In Chile, from 1969 onwards, Marini joined the MIR (Revolutionary Left Movement) and the CESO (Center for Socio-Economic Studies) which was a major training reference across the continent. In 1972 he writes The dialectic of dependence, which would become a reference for the “school of dependency” in Latin America. With the Chilean coup, Ruy Mauro Marini goes to Panama and Mexico. In Mexico he took up the position of professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Unam where he worked until 1984, the year in which he returned to Brazil to take up the position of professor at UnB again.

A fundamental point of Ruy Mauro's works and interventions is taking Marx as a starting point, but not as a way of simply transposing Marx's thoughts and categories mechanically to Latin American reality. The intense political life in Chile, after a period of time in Mexico, placed Ruy Mauro Marini on various training fronts, one of which, and according to Ruy Mauro Marini the main one, was CESO. “The majority of Latin American, European and American intellectuals, mainly from the left, passed through there, participating in lectures, conferences, round tables and seminars.” CESO studied, for example, the socialist transition in the USSR with an emphasis on Lenin, coordinated by Martha Harnecker. The research theme proposed by Ruy Mauro in the CESO cell where he worked was “Marxist theory and Latin American reality”. According to Marini, the course begins with the reading of The capital.

Ruy Mauro states that in the case of the counter-insurgent State (1950), “the revolutionary movement is seen as a virus, an infiltrated agent in a way that causes a tumor in the social organism, a cancer, which must be extirpated, eliminated, suppressed, annihilated. It also resembles fascist doctrine.” He is thinking about a complicated historical moment, of intense disputes between two hegemonic economic blocs and conflicting political orientations, despite the fact that at this point in the post-war period the so-called communism does not represent a threat to capitalism.

We cannot fall into the illusion that the orientation of communist parties across the globe meant a complete break with the ways capitalism works. What can be seen, quite the opposite, is the conformity with a large part of the social framework already built by capital. The communists, let's say, were willing to reform capital by acting as a type of more radical social democracy with a merely nationalist and ultra-centralized character.

However, we must highlight here that the defense of so-called revolutionary nationalism certainly conflicted with bourgeois hegemony, mainly international, for the simple fact that this hegemony is absolutely based on the majority decisions and needs of North American imperialism. In this historical period, although very reluctantly, we can say that the counterinsurgent state made some sense and the always anticipated precaution of the intelligence services were aware of the social context not only in Congo, Vietnam and Algeria, but in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia that had within popular movements organizations and cells willing to engage in armed confrontation, but nothing that would put the hegemonic power of the bourgeois State in check.

The 1960s, for example, just began to rehearse combative movements and popular revolts. As much as bourgeois communication adopted the fixed idea that terrorists threatened Brazilian society as a whole, a few dozen professional militants could not remotely destroy the power of the bourgeoisie. The organization of the vanguards did not contaminate the mass of workers, who were still dependent on reformist leaders, as was the case with Chilean President Salvador Allende.

However, this precarious legacy of the popular struggle was the ruling class' greatest trophy as it petrified the idea of ​​combating subversion to the point where we don't know what time we are in. The fear of communism is more than a scarecrow.

We all know that scarecrows have no life, despite often deceiving the unwary. The sickening anti-communism vociferated by the bourgeoisie, military and liberals of all orders has life insofar as it mobilizes the bases, even if this mobilization is stimulated by the fear of an artificially constructed danger precisely to function as a kind of warning to workers who wish to demand rights or organize. By going through time maintaining the same social function (annihilating social movements), the national security doctrine shows its vitality by keeping alive something that only existed in an embryonic form.

We cannot be frivolous and say that the communist ideal never existed or that it never threatened the elites. History never allows us ultra-simplified readings at the risk of erasing or vulgarizing the processes of struggle. What actually ceased to exist in the first half of the 20th century was an organized revolutionary project taken up by the popular masses with the aim of reversing the power relations between workers and the bourgeoisie. On this subject, I recommend reading João Bernardo’s text “The Russian Revolution as a negative resolution of the new form of ambiguity in the labor movement.”

The period of civil-military dictatorship in Brazil, for example (but not only in Brazil but in practically all capitalist countries without exception), was transformed into a prosperous period, of immense industrial advancement and all this work carried out masterfully by the incorruptible military. .

If today we talk about a monopoly of virtues on the part of so-called leftists (an issue very present in the mouths of right-wing sub-intellectuals such as Luiz Felipe Pondé), we cannot fail to notice that this monopoly of all possible virtues belongs to the dominant sectors, including them the armed forces. It is no surprise that, from 2014 onwards, there has been a desperate attempt to turn police officers into heroes, whether on the right or the left.

The right loves the power of weapons as a symbol of freedom and combat against its enemies (the workers) and it is up to the armed forces as a whole to clean up the house (destroy and criminalize social organizations), make it habitable again and for that it is necessary to extirpate some sectors that hinder the health of capitalist society.

The left believes in the legalists, very optimistically and precariously called anti-fascists. If on the one hand Gabriel Monteiro is an idol of fascists, Leonel Radde is an idol of leftists. What do they both have in common (despite some specific differences)? The uncompromising defense of the State and, obviously, the indisputable maintenance of the entire Armed Forces. The God-state is the father of both. Therefore, both are virtuous: each in their own way. In both cases it also helps to produce the (false!) idea that there is no antagonism between them and the social and worker movements. Both serve capital. It is more than that. Returning to the central question, both produce the idea that our defense is necessary, mediated by the incorruptible men with the power of arms.

In this way, the police state is always present, making any break with the bourgeois order unfeasible (first through moralistic discourse, then through lethal violence). Both, finally, are defenders of order and function as part of current counterinsurgency mechanisms.

*Arthur Moura is a filmmaker and PhD student in Social History at UERJ.

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