About the situation and something else

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By TADEU VALADARES*

What is the strategic goal of the PT and the left in the long term, the generational one?

At the outset, it should be noted that perhaps my text does not correspond to what is generally expected from a conjuncture analysis. But, given what was asked of me, I will try to explain a strictly personal view on the opportunities and dangers that will mark the time that, in political-electoral terms, goes until the end of 2022, but that extend far beyond it.

I also recognize: my analysis is limited and incomplete, even more so because it does not result from collective reflection, carried out within the scope of an organization, a party or a movement. Therefore, my approach to the theme has something of a solo flight, the sociological solitude of someone who is neither a leader nor a militant, but a citizen.

In this exercise, it is also important to point out, there is something heterodox. Even so, or for that very reason, what I present can have its positive side, the negation that determines, the negation that encourages thinking a little out of line, a style of thinking that sometimes raises fruitful doubts.

The analysis establishes an arbitrary cutoff. It does not return to the coup against Dilma, it does not return to the subsequent systematic persecution unleashed against Lula, the PT and the entire left. Nor does it deal in depth with the “Bridge to the Future”, nor with the Temer government. It does not even focus on the process that brought Bolsonaro to the head of the executive.

The cut line, made up of two events that took place last March. Why establish last March 8th and 10th as a cutoff in the timeline? Because in that very short period there were two surprising interventions, carried out by powerful actors and whose consequences are still with us.

The first, on the 8th, was mainly of a legal nature. The second, inscribed in the much broader register that closely articulates the political, the social, the economic and the ideological. Together, the two events changed the course of the successive conjunctures that the left has experienced since the speech of the coup leader Aécio Neves was pronounced, in 2015, in the federal senate, the door, at least as oratory, that led us to a series of tactical and strategic defeats.

On March 8, with the aim of protecting Sergio Moro and Operation Lava Jato, and maintaining the strength of the moralizing ideology of the Republic of Curitiba, which refers to the udenism of Carlos Lacerda, Minister Edson Fachin, in a text of little more than 40 pages, transformed and upset, in a clumsy and irreversible way, the Brazilian political scene.

Two days later, at the Metallurgists Union, Lula returned to full political life with a speech that immediately became, for all of us and also for our opponents and enemies, a major reference. Lula's speech, manifesto more than manifestation. His strength indelibly nailed the moment when the electoral equation, until then largely unfavorable to the left, began to expire, an expiration that since then has only been confirmed. All the main electoral polls indicate that Lula has already become the main candidate, although the candidacy is still formally 'in pectore', succeeding Bolsonaro as head of state. That's right, if the election scheduled for the almost end of 2022 is not emptied by chicanes of all kinds.

On the other hand, if we focus on the extremist camp, Fachin's monocratic decision and Lula's resurgence produced, within this den, a fratricidal struggle. On the one hand, Bolsonaro and Bolsonarism; on the other, Moro and his associates, the provincials and others. The internal polarization towards extremism remains, although Moro, weakened, has opted for golden exile in Washington.

But if we expand our angle of vision and observe the field of the right that sells itself as traditional, despite being oligarchic, it is clear that this other set of coup plotters, who had already been frustrated with the poor electoral results of the toucan candidate in the last presidential election, since March he has dedicated himself obsessively to a project to reconstitute the center which is right wing, the traditional right wing which is oligarchic. This alchemy, a true Lázaro operation, magnetized by the desperate desire to discover or invent a candidate who can stand up to Lula and Bolsonaro, with a chance of victory.

Lazarus will hardly revive; miracles don't happen every day. But, if he is resurrected, Lázaro will have to, on the one hand, face the neo-fascist neoliberal right and, on the other, have to deal with the biggest leftist party in Brazilian history. Even worse for Lázaro, he will have to find the philosopher's stone that will allow him to exorcise the charisma and biography of our greatest popular leader since Getúlio Vargas. Realistically, in this group of disorganized personalities and parties, there is no name capable of embodying, with high electoral density, the interests of the party of the traditional oligarchic order.

By traditional-oligarchic party of order I mean this amalgamation of various party associations with seats in the legislature, all of them in permanent dialogue with their other, with the party of order which, formally outside parliament, brings together and articulates, in the so-called civil society , the interests of the large Brazilian and international business community. Simply put: there doesn't seem to be anyone, coming from the elite, who could beat Bolsonaro in the first round and Lula in the second round.

Ciro Gomes, completely dedicated to fishing in these murky waters of the 'imbroglio'. In his case, fisherman and fishing have the shameful flight to Paris as their origin of desire. Ciro is probably realizing, as far as his pathological egotism allows, how many holes there are in that canoe whose destiny seems to be shipwreck.

Let us proceed, having made the introduction, to consider an important element in this equation, which until now has been centered on the electoral dimension.

From the perspective of the absolute majority of the left, the one that in practice, if not also in theory, sees the political-electoral game and its municipal, state and federal calendars as the north of great art, the immediate future, which extends to the elections next year, is the bearer of great hopes. This, evidently, despite the many points of concern marking the agendas of professional left-wing politicians. All terribly concerned about the outcome that the Bolsonaro government may have. All evaluating on a daily basis whether the end will be something similar to Trump's failed insurrectionary attempt, or something closer to Louis Bonaparte's victorious 18th Brumaire. In the midst of concerns, daily assessments and permanent suspense, they keep the encouraging electoral prospects in their hearts and minds.

Nothing is more logical, natural and expected, therefore, for those who defend this somewhat routine way of doing politics, than defining what, in the current situation, would be the most important: the most important thing is not to rock the boat beyond the minimum necessary, that which minimum that meets the hopes of the average militancy, that minimum that confirms the diffuse desires of the leftist electorate in general.

In practical terms, this means being open, from now on, to the exploration, in the parliamentary sphere, of all types of attempts aimed at the composition of electoral interests, and for the assumption of commitments of which beforehand only hopelessly neo-fascist deputies and senators would be excluded. By doing so, this apparently majority fraction on the left, majority both in parliament and outside it, with exemplary good conscience and notable republican virtue would be weakening the authoritarian tendency of the government, the Bolsonarist temptation to launch a militia-military coup or, even worse, civic-military.

If that is the case, and it seems that it is, then, in the light of a certain logic of electoral probabilities, the return of Lula and the PT to the Planalto Palace appears as something almost assured. Payback would crucially depend on efforts to make the next election saga a model campaign.

But why so it seems to be; maybe this is also the opportune moment for uncomfortable, heterodox questions. Questions like: (1) is the strategy so far signaled by Lula and the PT essentially restorative? (2) in what matters most, the majority discourse within the party, among parliamentarians and in a good part of social movements, is it a simple desire to take us back to the golden years? (3) if so, what is the logical-empirical chain and what is the historical basis that sustain this projected restoration, when the first experience ended in such a disastrous way? (4) ultimately, is a return to the past an essential condition for, in a second moment, the PT government to be able to ensure the future we want? (5) Is this future rather or wholly undefined? (6) what is the future we want? (7) what is the strategic goal of the PT and the left in the long term, the generational one?

Asked these questions; it is worth recognizing and underlining that, at least as an intention, whatever comes to be done as the first moment of the restorative movement will aim to reconstitute the driving force broken in 2016, in order to ensure that the future stands out, even if under the ambiguous figure from the repeal, from the past of the PT, Lula and Lulism, since at least 2002. There will therefore be much more to this turning back than mere repetition. What will be done from January 2023 onwards will be finely calibrated, it will constitute a much better structured whole. Everything will be reviewed, everything will be updated, everything will pass through a more than demanding analytical scrutiny, itself enriched by the opposition experience of the PT and the entire left. Bitter wealth, yes, but wealth indisputably accumulated over the past five years.

It is also necessary to emphasize something almost existential: both Lula and the PT and the left that will adhere to this project at some point in the next year are seasoned by the sufferings, repressions and injustices of all, by the hardships that we have all had to suffer since the coup against Dilma until last March. In biblical terms, the desert seems to be ending, the people recreating themselves during the crossing. Canaan in sight…

Even so, it should not be forgotten: the shared experience and internal critical reflections accumulated since 2016 alone do not guarantee that, at the end of the labyrinth, we will have a sufficiently robust and flexible political construction, capable of sustaining the government and making it move forward. , but also agile in detecting and overcoming immense dangers, some of them already fully discernible. Of these, perhaps the most challenging is the persistence of what André Singer calls weak reformism.

These reflections lead me to another question, perhaps even more untimely.

Since 2016, has the PT been restructured in depth, with a view to being up to the challenges that await it on the path that leads to the next elections and beyond? This profound restructuring – if it occurred – did not reach the general public. Ancillary measures, say those on the PT's left, were taken. Nothing much beyond that.

And in terms of mobilizing ideas; which ones are already being defended and operationalized, beyond electoral rhetoric, as foreshadowing sketches of the economic and social policies of the future government? This is what would allow us, I believe, to perceive with some clarity, from the party's formulations, what are, for the PT and for the left in general, the new obstacles created by our recent history and, in each case, how to overcome them. them.

New obstacles? The destruction of the material and intellectual means of the developmental State; the neoliberal compulsion that began with Ponte para o Futuro, but which has been boosted by the conjunction of Bolsonaro's neofascism with Guedes' neoliberalism; the weakening of social solidarity bonds in favor of possessive individualism; the establishment of a certain social Darwinism that translates into everyday necropolitics. The list is not exhaustive.

So many questions that call for answers, but answers that necessarily have to go beyond moralizing discourse, abstract humanism, edifying speeches, everything that, as a whole, tends, at the limit, to be fully situated in the void. Unemployment, the increase in extreme poverty, the return of hunger as a scourge, the weakening of the proletariat as the core of the working classes, the strong growth of the precariat and overexploitation, so many other names and categories that point to this same reality, that of the new challenges posed to us .

This internal problem is articulated, in the internal-external plan that is Brazil in the world, the moment, disconcerting for some, predictable for others, that marks the planetary geopolitical and geoeconomic scene. Scene characterized from the outset by the persistence of the crisis that broke out in 2007-2008, and which has not yet been overcome. Far from it, obviously, and even more so because this crisis is general, not just economic in the strict sense, a crisis that weaves together unequal and combined elements, a crisis that no serious economist says is coming to an end.

On the socio-environmental level, the crisis is potentiated by the growing damage, some already irreversible, that megacapital, the great beneficiary of the capitalocene, produces uninterruptedly by exploring, with the blindness and greed that are characteristic of it, the nature of which, they forget, we are part. The process, which began with the first industrial revolution, has accelerated enormously over the last 50 years and is set to continue. The recent report on climate change, the most up-to-date illustration of a path that runs out, and that wears us out.

In terms of health, the pandemic reinforces the teratological traits of capitalism in its neoliberal-planetary stage, with no deadline for closure. When one takes into account that just over 2% of the African population is vaccinated, it becomes even more evident that Covid-19 will take time to be contained. Meanwhile, the current profile of capitalist accumulation on a world scale calls for necropolitics, a demand that is being met differently here, in Haiti, in Africa, in the Global South, in all peripheries, including those located in countries classified as advanced capitalists. .

And not even after the Joe Biden government has begun, the international panorama tends to become structurally even more turbulent, as a new cold war, conceived, conceptualized and operationalized by Washington, is in full gestation. A direct military clash between the declining and rising powers is unlikely to occur in the coming years, barring colossal miscalculations. But tensions will necessarily increase, disputes will escalate, and wars over proxies, in which the United States is an expert – China, apparently, not so much – will remain cards in the deck of the dispute for wealth, power, resources and territories in the broadest sense, in which both contenders are engaged on a global scale. In this context, the clamorous failure of the United States and NATO, after 20 years of occupation of Afghanistan, the 'tomb of empires', will have consequences that are still very indeterminable. But it can already be said that the complete Western fiasco will lead to a significant loss of influence by the United States in Asia, to disagreements and mistrust, however secondary they may be, between Washington and its partners in NATO and to increased internal difficulties for the Biden government. that stakes its fate in the midterm elections at the end of next year.

With the indiscreet questions answered and the external panorama sketched out in a precarious way, let's return to Brazil.

Over the past five years, marked by so many of our defeats, I believe that at least we managed to reach some 'islands of clarity' in the midst of the 'sea of ​​darkness'. They are interpretation gains that seem to me to be of indispensable use if we want to understand the country realistically, and at the same time renew our leftist perspectives. That, or perish.

For me: (1) Brazil remains trapped in the barbarism that has submerged us since the constitution of the colonial-slave society under the dominion of the colonialist state; (2) racism continues to mark us with iron and fire. This original monster is capable of updating itself in each era. Racism, racisms. Colonial, imperial, republican racisms. Modern and postmodern racism; (3) religious conservatism predominates in all churches, which ultimately guarantees, barring a huge historical surprise, that popular religion will continue to be decisively influenced by a certain clerical hegemony, between conservative and reactionary, whose effects ultimately permeate the vision and the sense of the world of the majority of the believing population, regardless of class affiliation; (4) the illusion that the majority of the middle class would be willing to assume a minimally progressive role in the construction of an indeterminate democratic society was, once again, down the drain; (5) the idea that we could count on a national bourgeoisie, nationalist left, in the extreme plan something neoenlightenment, proved to be, more than a mirage, a hallucination. Even so, many continue to wait for a Godot who never appears for the always rescheduled ghostly encounter; (6) Big business decidedly assumed its minor destiny, that of subordinate associates of imperialism, whatever that might be. It lives in a world isolated from us, and has become, to a greater extent, what it always was: more cosmopolitan, more bourgeois, less of a citizen, as the young Marx would say. Its industrial fraction, today definitively intertwined with the financial fraction of big capital, is an important partner, along with the agribusiness, commercial and media fractions. An important, albeit minor, partner in this alliance that dominates the country under the aegis of unproductive capital and both parties of order; (7) the high state bureaucracy and the high technocracy share, for the most part, a pendular worldview. They oscillate between the pole of assumed neoliberalism and the other, much more ambiguous one, of vaguely social democratic aspirations. This side, when it appears, babbles ideas that, after due analysis, end up proving unrealizable, despite the fact that, in certain cases, its methodological sophistication is remarkable. It is impossible to move from theoretical abstraction and the empirical richness of understanding to the realization, here and now, of these proposals. Against them, it is enough to take into account our social reality, of maximum inequality, and the genetic map of Brazilian capitalism, a predator among predators, which governs us. This wing, after all, is not even a social democrat; (8) the judiciary also spreads out along a gradient in which the shades go from the usual legal conservative thinking to frankly reactionary conceptions. Rare are the liberals who, in this set, ring the sound of another bell. And the critical jurists all refuse to wallow in this great lake of cave-like mediocrity; (9) the mainstream media? oh, the mainstream media…. Every day she condemns herself to her abject double role as courtesan and queen. The two faces of staging, both sordid. And the journalists and critical analysts who work there tend, for the most part, to change their view, to a degree or much more than that, as the wind blows. Few, very few, who valiantly cultivate consistency. Despite this, keeping up with the mainstream media is our duty. First, because it allows for a daily exercise in ideological deconstruction. Second, because this media is one of the most accurate indicators of the feeling of the world and the world of feelings of the business community that counts. Thirdly, because relevant information can always be found there; (10) what about the armed forces and police? No matter how much you want, no matter how hard you try, it's difficult, a difficulty bordering on the impossible, to find an intact needle in that haystack. When we meet her, the greatest feeling is one of surprise. Eppur si muove“… The leaderships are, all, invariably crude, despite the fact that their ideological environment of social reproduction signals the existence of some distinctions. Essentially, what unites them is the combination of full and shallow corporatism with a biased conception of the country, the people, the nation, the world and history. Furthermore, its most expensive values ​​manifest the cheapest elective affinities with raw authoritarianism. Its greatest point of internal convergence is the lack of thought, a trait that is largely compensated for, however, by the wealth of carefully cultivated prejudices, and by the uncritical reception, of the kind that leads to blindness and deafness, of ideas about armed forces, state and society generated mostly by the Empire for massive consumption by the provinces. That is why they ended up, so long ago, constructing a dazzling discursive universe in which Bonapartist ideas, patriotic speeches or manifestations of “illustrated” reactionary conservatism predominate. The fancy name for this regressive complex is moderating power; (11) and, finally, the congress. Of him, what can be said with certainty? Only that it is partially renewed at each election; sometimes more, sometimes less. But under this constant renewing, growing decay. The degeneration began in 1988, but it worsened spectacularly after the election that brought Bolsonaro to the presidency. In my view, this process denotes above all the resilience of modern-archaic Brazil, which is also archaic-modern. A Brazil that, if it depends on the congress that formally represents us, is a country with no medicine, no direction, no solution. The 'central' every so often shows that it is – for some as a certainty, for others as a revelation – the only real vocation of the legislature.

Hence, it is not surprising that the parliamentary left was never able to make its own mark as a sign of congressional hegemony. It never stopped, it does not and, as far as the eye can see, it will not be able to establish this hegemony. In reality, the most he achieves are small victories, sometimes proclaimed as big ones. From time to time, tactical successes or topical gains that do not change the strategic course because they cannot, even superficially, affect the internal correlation of forces. From time to time, through painful articulations, he manages to stop the most unsustainable absurdities. Or you are forced to choose between one of them.

I know that I carry a little or a lot in the paints when painting this picture. But I think this is far from obscuring the effective, paradoxical and profound reality: Brazil as a country of dynamic barbarism, which knows how to take on so many faces. Some of them are very modern.

As a result of all that has been said: if the reality that Lula, the PT and their allies will face from January 2023 onwards is anything remotely close to what I present to you, a decisive question still arises: how the Should the PT government act in such a way as to, at first, relive the good times, and then take the promised qualitative leap forward? In other words: how to recover the socially positive side of the return to the 'redistributive' past, for that purpose using the entire arsenal of weak reformism, without falling back into the previous economic dynamics, based on the alliances that allowed, for a certain time, to count on the support of good part of the big business community, this actor who, when the moment of truth came, turned out to be an enthusiastic coup plotter? In other words: how to escape this iron cage?

Let's celebrate, though. Yes, let's celebrate. Let's celebrate because there is something to celebrate.

The victory of Lula and the left will create the conditions to expel neo-fascism back to the periphery of the political system. That, of course, if the process is boldly conducted, and if it starts as soon as the new government is installed. It's either that or nothing, especially since, to boost anti-fascism, the government will necessarily have to go beyond mere defensive tactics and strategies. To use terms that guided the strategy of the United States during the Cold War, it will be necessary to combine 'containment' with 'rollback', containment with the set of offensive actions that will make the enemy retreat to his original sewer.

But let's not fool ourselves. The dismantling of Bolsonarism, a phenomenon that certainly goes far beyond Bolsonaro, is a project of democratic self-defense at the feasible limit. Something qualitatively different, because the animal is of another species and of another size, is to face neoliberalism. Defeated Bolsonaro, the left will have to turn to the greater evil, the evil that precedes the current government and that, ultimately, will only be scratched by the electoral defeat of an occasional ally. The strongest enemy is and always has been neoliberalism, whose most recent birth certificate is Ponte para o Futuro. Without this precise definition of a strategic enemy, and the resulting practices, any attempt to carry out a leftist program that does not exhaust itself in transforming everything that is secondary will risk being reduced to a mere pious vote. And we all know well that in the conflict between the votes of the heart and the highly concentrated power that guides the real course of the world, the victory invariably confirms the validity of the dominant material interests.

I conclude with subjective certainty: if the future PT government continues to be guided by an updated version of weak reformism, which even tends to become very weak, we will certainly be heading towards another failure, probably at a more accelerated pace. Without breaking the neoliberal bolt, almost nothing historically relevant can be done. And the little that is done, however immense it may seem when contrasted with the misery of our situation and the situation of our misery, will lead us to a dead end. In respecting the bolt, one of the two, one: if the operation appears successful, it will essentially guarantee the interests of both parties of the order. Otherwise, it will be a pretext for another coup. So, as in João Cabral’s verse, “the feat was done for no one”.

The neoliberal bolt, metaphor, symbol and synthetic formulation of the current political strategy of all fractions of the ruling class. Its continued validity enshrines bourgeois domination over the working classes, over all sectors and popular movements, over the immense majority of the Brazilian people deposited in cities and their peripheries, while, also every day, landless workers, small landowners, quilombola communities, Pantanal people, forest peoples and indigenous peoples continue, against wind and tide, exercising forms of resistance that ensure more than mere survival.

* Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.

Lecture delivered at a meeting of the Political Observatory of the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace.

 

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