A new lulism?

Image: Matt Hardy


Brazilian crises and the resurrection of Lulism

The fall of Lulism and the return of the “bourgeois paradise” in the Temer and Bolsonaro governments

On the first day of the new year, Caetano Veloso recorded on Instagram that “there is great beauty in the massive support for Lula”. Notice that the singer and composer, who voted for Ciro Gomes in the last election, foreshadowing a wave, speaks of the state of mind of the masses, and not of Lula or the PT. From north to south, the 2022 New Year's Eve celebrations were marked by an infinite number of popular statements - with emphasis on youth - energetic and spontaneous, in support of a healthy Sebastianist return of Lula, after the many sadnesses of the pandemic, as if it was a promise.

The unknown poet (the grace of prophecy often falls on the pen of poets) and young organic intellectual of the Pernambuco sugarocracy, Gilberto Freyre, wrote premonitorily in 1926 (in the “spirit of the time” of 1930), of an “Another Brazil that is coming” .[I] The test of nine will be the result of the 2022 election, the election that will define the Brazilian XNUMXst century.

The translation of the feeling of popular joy on New Year's Eve is not, in any way, that the “election is won” or that the “PT has put on high heels”. It is not about granting wishful thinking. But, the battles of a self-absorbed war are not won. The spontaneous popular attitude has a healthy engagement, due to what Lula represents in the country's history, as leader of the masses and as founder of an important party and, above all, to the memory of his government, in a subjectively perceived time, among the dispossessed, as of development and social affluence.

The opponents intended, in the unfair imprisonment decreed by Sérgio Moro, to erase Lula from the popular memory and make the PT a derisory party (the most radicalized voices intended to proscribe the party). The birds of prey seem on the verge of reaping a defeat, the political difficulties – which are far from signaling a defeat in advance – of the right and the extreme right cannot escape the most inattentive observer. The test of nine of the Brazilian political process will be the result of the 2022 elections. The elections are a point of arrival in the complex political cycle that opened in 2013 – the assault and the coup d'etat in the government of Dilma Rousseff.[ii] But, above all and most importantly, a starting point for the production of the new lines of force that will define the Brazilian XNUMXst century. The XNUMXst century begins to be decided now.

Through attitudes and actions, in his own way, as an observer, it seems to us that the martyrdom of unjust imprisonment matured in Lula the avatars of the complex executive experience of PT governments. If the elections are victorious, the challenge will be to build a favorable correlation of forces. The game will be full of stones along the way. However, in the event of a failure, it is no longer possible to claim errors made due to lack of experience or knowledge. It is permissible to make new mistakes, but not to reiterate and repeat old mistakes.

Lula's biographer, Fernando Morais, expressed, in a recent interview, an intimate conviction: “Lula came out of there [prison] with crystal clear clarity, transparent, of the tragedy that is the role of imperialism. And, above all, in the interest of imperialism, which is to destroy the sovereignty of a country that has 200 million inhabitants, that has natural riches that few people have, that has the pre-salt. Lula internalized this US role”.[iii]

Biographers can err in their judgments. In this case, so far, he seems to be getting the verdict right, because the deepest contradiction of an eventual fifth PT government (Lula's third), which a portion of the Brazilian left diligently takes care to sublimate and sweep under the rug, corresponds exactly to the lines of force of Brazil immersed in a world in rapid geopolitical transition. Projecting the dimension of an anti-imperialist leadership onto Lula does not even remotely suggest the figure of a pedantic intellectual reciting chapters from theses and books. It means taking the right pragmatic decisions, from the point of view of national sovereignty, when problems arise, in a diplomatic and conciliatory style, when that is the case, but more incisive when that is the case. Conflicts to come in the rapidly changing international arena are inevitable, especially in that backyard of the United States called Latin America.

Since his first public appearance, in his release from prison speeches (11/9/2019) and recovery of political rights (8/3/2021), Lula appears to have no personal grudge in resuming political relations with his tormentors that prove to be open to dialogue, especially the pulverized founding core of the PSDB (the emblematic name of this current is Geraldo Alckmin), marginalized by João Dória. Even bitter imprisonment and ostracism from the traditional media for years on end, those who intended to foresee, some turn of the former president, to compose, in the succession of Jair Bolsonaro, an alliance only with the nucleus of the political forces that resisted in the period of prison.

Lula at no time gave up on Lulism – a charismatic progressive diffuse movement whose penetration base goes beyond that of the PT –, catapulting a policy of broad front as far as possible the extension of the fishing rod in the river. In a recent interview with journalists from the independent press, Lula ratified, once again, his political ideal type: he intends to run and govern in an alliance… “wider than the PT, not more to the left, but to the center and, if necessary, , even with sectors of the center-right” (…) “Winning an election is easier than governing; That is why alliances must be made”.[iv]

Lulism, with its broad front, remains. It came back – updated by the profound transformations of the conjuncture since then –, not like the portrait on the wall of a recent historical relic. It was deeply submerged, it is true, when the country lived under the totality of the effects of a continuous coup in three acts – the impeachment without crime of responsibility of Dilma, the arrest of Lula himself and the election of Bolsonaro. Michel Temer, and Bolsonaro, in the method of their madness, imposed a deconstruction on the country at the speed of light. Bolsonaro never lacked sincerity. In the first year of his government, at a dinner in honor of Steve Bannon and Olavo de Carvalho, at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, he formulated the authentic program of his government: “Before building, it is necessary to deconstruct a lot”.[v]

First of all, in the socioeconomic structure, Temer deconstitutionalized the world of work, by approving, in Congress, the Labor Reform. In Brazil, the constitutionalization of work in Brazil (partial, since access to this world was to carry the Work Card, which excluded, in the first decades, rural workers and always the poorest) was the great civilizational achievement of the Era. Vargas. The Bolsonaro-Guedes duo continues the work of destroying the political economy of the world of work, once submerged in the terms of the political economy of capital (the semantic transformation of the precarious worker as “entrepreneur of himself”, which comes from before, proves the turn).

Thus, it annihilated the two-way relationship between labor rights, social rights and the strength of trade union representation – exactly the tripod of all social constitutions of the XNUMXth century, at least since the “social constitution” of the German Weimar Republic, in the post -First War. Result: Satanic mills grind the work. Unemployment, discouragement, intermittent employment and low earnings and wages became the structural reality of the labor market. A terrible economic constraint – simultaneously new and old – drives the current government's policies: unemployment may vary depending on conjunctural factors, but labor income is always lowered. [vi] Brazilian capitalism, more and more, became the social formation of work without forms, informal, a degraded reproduction floor of hunger and misery. This floor that regulates the wage rate and no longer as before the labor legislation.

Socio-political conditions were created to deepen the most atavistic Brazilian wound – inhibited to a certain extent by labor legislation and labor justice –, the underdeveloped consolidation of the political economy of exploitation and exorbitant profits. According to a survey by Consultora Economatica, “profits of non-financial publicly traded companies rose 245% in the first quarter of 2021”.[vii] The ruling classes are winning and not losing in the crisis by adopting the preferential path of increasing the mass of absolute and relative surplus value. In recession and pandemic, exorbitant profits are politically guaranteed by the radical attempt to impose a recolonizing order with pockets of primitive accumulation in the XNUMXst century.

Considering themselves victorious in the Temer government and in the election of Bolsonaro, at the limit, the business classes – just as loggers and prospectors did in the case of the lands of the original peoples – began to act, without any more reservations of modesty and the civilizing reins of good looks , for example, against the inspection of forms analogous to work. According to the “Forum da Liberdade”, entities of entrepreneurs more connected to retail, the “excesses” of regulation and inspection “drive away investments and jobs”.[viii]

In Brazil and around the world, billionaires concentrated more wealth during the pandemic. According to Folha de Sao Paulo, reverberating matter of Forbes of 17/4/2021, “20 Brazilians entered the list of the richest in the pandemic” (…) “in total, Brazilian billionaires have a joint equity of US$ 291,1 billion (R$ 1,6 trillion), against US$ 127 billion (R$ 710 billion) last year. Together, the R$1,6 trillion held by the 65 Brazilians together is equivalent to a fortune approximately equal to one fifth of the economic wealth generated in Brazil in a year. In 2020, Brazil's Gross Domestic Product was BRL 7,4 trillion.

This group of Brazilians was surveyed by the Brazilian edition of Forbes Magazine. In the American edition, many Brazilian billionaires appear as foreigners, as they have tax domicile abroad”. [ix] The rentier-financiers Paulo Guedes, Minister of the Economy, and Roberto Campos Neto, President of the Bank – everyone knows and thinks it is “normal” – make up the privileged list of holders of offshore companies export of Brazilian capital. On the other hand, Brazilian millionaires do not stand out in the technology area – eight, of the top ten millionaires on the list, are in the technology field and big techs. The first place among Brazilian billionaires, Jorge Paulo Lemann, occupies the 82nd place in the world list, in the “food sector”, a fortune of US$ 21,5 billion.[X]

In 1974, Florestan Fernandes wrote, in The bourgeois revolution in Brazil, that the Brazilian territory was, at that moment, the “bourgeois paradise”, of capital on land.[xi] The “bourgeois paradise” returned with the fall of Dilma and the crisis of Lulism. The profits on work earned by businessmen during the Temer and Bolsonaro governments made any calls for neo-Keynesian, developmentalist, productivist or distributive commitment anachronistic at the moment (the exceptions of support for a neo-Keynesian logic existing in some businessmen confirm the rule).

Really, it would be the best of ideal worlds to accept the basic slogan of class commitments, relatively simple and powerful, that the blessed governments develop economic policies to increase consumption, through the bet on the growth of the internal market, carrying out a development with well-being and income distribution and increasing capital profits. The (Panglossian?) phraseology seems tailored for a government program registered with the TSE.

There is certainly another way, if not to develop the economy, at least to obtain surpluses and profits. In the Brazilian case, it is preferred to adopt a pathological path, but with deep roots in our history: to produce exorbitant profits through precarious work, land rent and the destructive-extractive expansion of nature.


O New Deal lulista

The political economy of exorbitant profits and precarious work helps to explain Dilma's downfall. One of the most traditional debates in left-wing political culture refers to the inexhaustible theme of “class conciliation”. The Brazilian historical experience teaches that it is possible to emerge situations in which the bourgeoisie, for a limited time, form class alliances, or conditionally support political front governments, concerted or led by moderate popular governments, developmentalist or that operate on the social margins of a neoliberalism left.

The condition sine qua non is that this government collaborates or activates a conjuncture cycle of economic growth. Certain historical circumstances that occurred in the 2000s – especially the tree of commodities, which reversed, for a few years, Raúl Prebisch's axiom of the “deterioration of the terms of trade” in international trade to the benefit of industrialized countries to the detriment of raw material producers – opened up an internal convergence, which became known as “ win-win”, that is, a conjuncture of simultaneous growth of public and private investment, of capital profits and consumption of the formal working classes and the poorest. This juncture in the long run was not scheduled to last many years or yield lasting peace. Although divided earnings are advantageous for the business classes – those at the top gained much more and those at the bottom far less – this balance is always unstable.

The situation allowed the government a margin of spending and investment which, even though it did not break with the orthodox policies of the macroeconomic tripod and of annual production of primary deficits, adopted a policy of real increase in the minimum wage in line with GDP growth and more inflation (2005) and created income transfer programs. The basis of a novelty was created, “Lulism”. Lula cherished the dream for many years and invented the Lulism discourse when he came to government. The creation was not spontaneous, but an intuitive method creation.

Lula's victory speech on Avenida Paulista, in 2002, clearly reveals the intention of a “Lulismo”. The recently victorious candidate proclaimed: “if I finish my mandate and every Brazilian has had breakfast, lunch and dinner, I will have fulfilled the goal of my life”.[xii] in book ex post facto to the lulist practice of government– The senses of lulism (2012) –, the political scientist André Singer (not by chance, certainly, the president's spokesman in the first term), and other political scientists, formulated elements, not always in unison, of the theoretical statute of systematic thought of the concept.[xiii]

The Brazilian historical-social structure contains the essential mass of a multitude of semi-formal workers or informal services hired below the value, allowing the contractor profits above the average social profit rate. As this subject is already much discussed in Latin American and Brazilian social sciences (ECLAC, dependency theory, marginality theory, etc.), I will not delve into it in this space for too long. I only intend to emphasize that this relationship between formal workers and the popular mass, dialectically marginalized and integrated, prefigures a basic difference between Brazilian parties linked to work and the European social-democratic, labor and communist parties, traditional in post-war Europe (at today's price, very transformed or decadent in the matrix, which has been “Brazilian”). Paul Singer called this popular mass the “subproletariat”,[xiv] Armando Boito, of “marginal mass workers”,[xv] and other authors, more or less integrated, called them ascendant “Class C”, “New Middle Class” or “New Working Classes”.[xvi]

The terminologies have origins, theoretical consequences and serve different causes. Our intention is to clarify that, in his government, Lula did not rely, primarily, on the old base, more similar to that of the European parties. In some higher income strata, such as civil servants, there was disillusionment with the government, but also an increase, albeit passive, in terms of participation of the popular base. André Singer located this displacement of the poorest popular mass in the 2006 elections and called it an “[electoral] realignment of social bases”.[xvii] Underground, a structural phenomenon took place at the base of the society of adhesion of the poorest to the government, while in the political superstructure the crisis of the “mensalão” took place.

Those who think that the concept of Lulismo only includes the poorest are completely wrong, since there was also a concern with the social ascension of popular youth. The most important piece of marketing for the 2002 campaign shows the young man called “João”, from the favelas, a fighter, who wins in life through his own efforts. It is worth transcribing excerpts from the “Discourse of young João”: “(…) Nobody is born bad, nobody is born a criminal. It's all about opportunity. Opportunity! Young people from the favela also want new shoes, a new shirt and the right to dream like everyone else. This is everyone's country, everyone. My name is João, I'm Brazilian. Long live Brazil! Long live Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva!”[xviii]

Nine years ago, the mass mobilizations of 2013, which marked the beginning of the end of the first experience of Lulism, are remembered for the hybrid war against Brazil. Without disregarding this element, undoubtedly present, the seed of the hybrid war germinated in the splendid cradle of a fertile soil. The climate of affluence of the Lulista years – João's “opportunity” – was accepted among the popular classes more because of the values ​​of liberal individualism than the opportunities opened up by government policies. In this illusion of consciousness, recognition was more of self-recognition than of relationship.

Lula read and made an effort to understand Roosevelt and the New Deal: I read “a lot about Roosevelt and the New Deal (…) to this day, Democrats don't use Roosevelt as an example for anything. He is a figure that almost does not exist in the debates there ”.[xx] In the penultimate chapter of The senses of lulism, comparing the experiences of Brazil with the United States, André Singer telegraphically insinuates the possibility of the “Lula era” mimicking a kind of Brazilian “Rooseveltian moment”.[xx] Now, the dream of opportunity through personal effort in the exciting “young John” speech in the 2002 marketing slings typically Rooseveltian elements. [xxx]

There is a lot of myth and confusion about the true meaning of the experience of exiting the 1929 crisis. Many educated people confuse New Deal history and Keynesian theory. The confusion is wrong even factually: the New Deal begins with the reform measures in Roosevelt's first 100 days, and the General Theory - a magnum opus of Keynes – is from 1936 (Keynes visited Roosevelt in 1934).

Dates are secondary. It is more important to understand that the theory, however ingenious the author may be, acts as the Hegelian Owl of Minerva – it flies over, at night, the work of men during the day. Another famous nonsense asserts that the New Deal, quite simply, it pulled the United States out of the economic crisis. But what, in fact, took the United States out of the crisis was the Second World War. The new political economy of war, Roosevelt's alliance with the military, the state bureaucracy, the new monopoly bourgeoisie, the universal value currency and the Wilsonian human rights discourse ensured a situation of full employment and the achievement of a standard of living of the affluent society of the so-called “thirty glorious years”.[xxiii]

Keeping due proportions, there was an intention to New Deal, or something similar, in the governments of Lulism. First of all, because many people confuse it, it is necessary to clarify that the “spirit” of the New Deal does not mean setting up a welfare state Brazilian peripheral-dependent,[xxiii] however, the project of constituting a “regime of popular opportunities” (the quota policy, for example) in the Lula governments. By comparison, the translation into Brazil is something similar to a social idea (we don't appreciate the expressions social-liberalism or social-developmentalism) of the “American dream”, shown in Frank Carpa's films or John Steinbeck's novels.

There is, however, an important difference, in the catatau of other secondary schools, between the New Deal history and Lulism, in addition to the obvious room for maneuver of the imperialist power of the United States. In Brazil, although Lula legalized the union centrals (2008), an undoubtedly important measure, the centrals and the unions, a result of the effects of neoliberalism in the world of work, were nothing more than a pale image of what they once were. Perry Anderson is right in comparing and deferring the two experiences of social engagement: “Roosevelt's social reforms were implemented under pressure from below, in an explosive wave of strikes and unionization.

Organized labor became a formidable force from 1934 onwards, something he needed to control as much as he courted it.”[xxv] It should not be forgotten, however, that there was, in the days of Lulism in government, an important, but modest, strike assent and a distributive conflict of successful salary negotiations, which were enough to be an important component in the “bourgeois veto” of Dilma. [xxiv] “João's dream of opportunity” was the dream that one only dreams of – at most for his family. And nobody else had anything to do with it.

The reconfiguration of classical liberalism, sick in the United States in the 1929 crisis, went through mediation, in the project of New Deal, of a more collective layer and popular myth of the “American dream” of opportunity capitalism. Gramsci called this process, worldwide, contemporary with New Deal, of “passive revolution” of Americanism/Fordism.[xxv] Thus, in Roosevelt's time, formalized workers and unions played an essential role in negotiating the “new deal”.

After the initial phase of measures to reform the banking system, the abandonment of the British Pound monetary standard and the devaluation of the dollar, the company restructuring program, the creation of Development Agencies and, Last but not least, from the employment and income transfer programs, between 1935 and 1936, came the Social Security Law (1935) and the regulation of the labor market, the National Labor Relations Law (1935). These packages culminated in a popular victory for Roosevelt in the 1936 elections, over the silent distrust or open boycott of the plutocracy – although he had the support of some backward rural potentates in the South.[xxviii]


Brazilian crises and the resurrection of Lulism

A little highlighted aspect, but very important, was that Lula did not face the 2008 crisis by following with his head down the recessive manual dictated by the mainstream orthodox for the countries of the periphery. The president was discreet, pragmatic, empirical, but firm in the correct diagnosis. The 2008 crisis began as a home mortgage financial crisis in Wall Street. Providentially, Obama took advantage of selective heterodoxy and bailed out capital. He issued currency and dropped the money by helicopter, preventing the failure of banks, investment funds and traditional automobile industries, such as semi-bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler. However, the effects of 2008 continue to operate. The distinct recipes of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, each in their own way of syncretism, drink at the source of ideologies deeply marked in the history of the United States – (America First isolationist) And (New Keynesian Biden Plan).

Marx already said, 18th of Brumaire, that the French revolutionaries, unable to understand the poetry of the future, dressed in the costumes of the ancient Romans in the crisis of the Republic.[xxviii] The 2008 crisis is one of material and financial reproduction, in the US and in the rest of the developed world, of the exchange values ​​produced in China. See the situation of unprecedented industrial dependence, wide open in the pandemic. When ventilators were urgently needed, there was a concentration of production in China and Vietnam of industrial health inputs. The situation reached the point of embarrassment when the world hegemonic power, under orders from President Trump, practiced the confiscation, piracy and diversion of imported medical equipment that would go to Germany, France and Brazil.[xxix] Meanwhile, the American bourgeois-enlarged state, instead of tackling the nerve of the problem – in this respect, Trump and Biden are alike – buys monetary time.[xxx]

As soon as the crisis hit, in his second term, Lula adopted countercyclical measures to increase public investment, increase income transfers, reduce bank reserve requirements, etc. In the strategic area of ​​energy, there could be no more auspicious news: in 2006, the discovery of the pre-salt layer was announced, gigantic oil reserves such as had not been discovered worldwide for a long time. Definitively, without social awareness and geopolitical preparation of society to rise to the challenge, Brazil became an emerging character in the geopolitics of oil. The response to the measures arrived in the election year (2010): optimism in consumption and a strong return on foreign direct investment. Since the dictatorship, 14% (1973), and unlike the world recession, the Brazilian GDP (7,5%) has never grown so much in a single year.[xxxii]

In 2009, a left-wing critic of Lulism, Francisco de Oliveira, gave a brilliantly purposeful interview outside of his stubborn oppositionist line in those years: “Vargas redefined the country in the 30s crisis; the chance is that the PT will do the same in the first great crisis of globalization”. The author proposed a cycle of public investment in the economy. “Something like creating five Embraer's per year”.[xxxi] For the Brazilian bourgeoisie, the ultimate heresy consists of a government increasing public investment – ​​a macroeconomic variable that contains in nuce an obvious potential increase in government power. The distrustometer started to work at full speed.

Elected, Dilma took office in 2011. The government's attitudes revealed that the president never had the intention or imagination of activating State Capitalism, as she is often unjustly accused. In fact, Dilma's government sought an intermediate way out of the crisis (neither classic neoliberalism nor state capitalism), that is, to strengthen the class fraction of the private industrial bourgeoisie, especially the São Paulo one. It was intended to concert, to a certain extent, maintaining a reference, more sentimental and spectral than the actual theoretical reprise, in the old national-developmentalism (that of JK and not that of Jango), a closed-circuit alliance with private capital.

Dilma herself recognizes that, behind the government's actions, there was a wrong historical-political assessment of a central actor in the plot – the Brazilian bourgeoisie. In an interview with Marcos Piccin and Valter Pomar, the president evaluated: “I didn't realize what was their level of aversion to paying for any part of the crisis. And I never realized that they thought it was right to smash the state over any minimal national content policy. I thought they had an effective interest in a national development project”. [xxxii]

Thus, the advanced degree of integration of financial capital in relation to the other bourgeois fractions, embryonic in the times of national-developmentalism, was not correctly evaluated. The “industrialists” were expected to defend the government from the “financists”. The financiers and rentiers took the famous interest rate cut in the second half of the first term badly – ​​a modest 0,5% cut, with interest rates falling from 12,5% ​​to 12%.[xxxv] This drop in interest rates was aimed at an alliance, and not at a dirigiste or exclusivist control by the State. Along with the exchange rate devaluation, the intention of the drop in interest rates was to awaken the “animal spirit” of our private “entrepreneurs” from its dogmatic, financier and rentier sleep. The government's solution, at most, was, at the limit – and look there! – Schumpeterian. The State was not seen as a Chinese planner or even a State responsible for decisive innovations for productivity and accumulation, in the terms of Mariana Mazzucato, who does nothing more than describe the economic practices of the main capitalist states.[xxxiv]

Right at the beginning of the government, operated by Guido Mantega, Dilma carried out a fiscal adjustment in the budget that pleased the financial markets. “After a month of internal debate”, “the federal government announced (…) on Wednesday (9) a record cut of BRL 50 billion in the 2011 federal budget, equivalent to 1,2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) )”.[xxxiv] Lula had reduced the primary surplus and increased expenditures in order to overcome the effects of the 2008 crisis. The 2011 adjustment slowed down, at that moment, the trajectory of strengthening ongoing countercyclical policies of direct public investment, transfers from the treasury to the BNDES and agreements to invest in states and municipalities.

The Brazilian bourgeoisie is liberal, in a very specific sense, which does not originate from the letter of classical contractualist liberalism, nor even from recent neoliberalism, but from national historical-political practice. She is allergic to the whiff or glimpse of any co-ordinating or intervening State strengthening regime. Conducted by a party linked to the workers, so no way! The bourgeois class began to glimpse this possibility (ambition?) in Lula, already in the heat of facing the 2008 crisis.

In Brazil, businessmen are always keeping an eye on the possibilities of a corporate occupation of the State (participation in councils, economic ministries, Central Bank, institutes, etc.). However, such an occupation should not be confused, a priori, with membership or full class commitment. [xxxviii] In these terms, the passage of class itself for refined engagement class for yourself. In Brazil, even though a left-wing government moderates its discourse, it was not, is not and will not be the government for you of the bourgeoisie. As long as the bourgeoisie benefits from the incentives generated in the rising phase of the cycle, it will maintain conditional corporate support in itself, but soon he will present his helpful veto to any suspicion of glimpsing the possibility of a statist turnaround.[xxxviii]

In passing – as a critical review of the pertinent bibliography is not the objective of this article –, by disregarding or omitting this (macunaímic?) fundamental aspect of the bourgeoisie in our social formation, the analyzes of class conflict in our social formation are interesting, but insufficient. PT governments. Such analyzes detect the corporate moment of the seesaw as usual around the raw binomial “class interest or class fraction – benefit of the State”. However, they are fragile in detecting the passages and levels from structures to superstructures, the ethical-political moment and the political-military moment of the historic bloc and the bourgeois power bloc, within the scope of the enlarged bourgeois State (civil society + civil society). policy).

The condition of having formed a “secular” bourgeoisie through formation (in the sense of stripped of the credo of a “national project”) even helps the Brazilian bourgeoisie in the pragmatism of alliances. O seesaw tactic of conflict between classes and factions, however, never means ethical-political adherence to a popular project. The presence of figures like Henrique Meirelles, Luiz Roberto Furlan, Roberto Rodrigues, Katia Abreu or Joaquim Levy (restricting the list to the first echelon) should be seen as a political adherence, yes, but in the sense of a corporate representation of class. It must be understood that the relations of the bourgeoisie with the State, in any constitutional government, are permanent, whether on the right, left or center. Representatives of the Brazilian bourgeoisie invariably control the economic ministries and the Central Bank (now made “independent” under the Bolsonaro government), as well as the so-called “production ministries”, such as development and agriculture.

The unwary confuse presence in governments and in the commissioned state apparatus with adherence to a party project. Mistake. These ministerial representatives carry out, so to speak, a “corporate function”, that is, they are in place in the State apparatus so that government policies are in line with the principle of guaranteeing profit maximization. In this sense, there may be some confluence between the interests of the bourgeoisie and class coalition governments – including even some regulation – when the booming economic cycle guarantees profits. When the profitable economic cycle runs out, it's time to look for new directions. So, the bourgeoisie abandons the government ship and goes for new options – especially the coup ones. That modus operandi has been repeated throughout the contemporary history of Brazil.

Deciphering the labyrinths of what happened in 2015-2016, the economic crisis, from Dilma's inauguration to her deposition, is fundamental. In 2015, at the beginning of the crisis of the second Dilma government, businessman Abílio Diniz stated, showing an acute sense of class, that the nerve of the ongoing problems was political, not economic.[xxxix]

Everyone knows the tedious controversy of conventional wisdom among economists on the measurement of macroeconomic prices (exchange rates, interest rates, etc.) in the two terms of Dilma, as well as the hurricane of passage of the New Macroeconomic Matrix attributed to Guido Mantega (who coined this rhetorical expression, which became famous, was the Economic Policy Secretary Márcio Holland) to the abrupt neoliberal wooden horse of Joaquim Levy's economic policy. These are matters of crucial importance.

It should not be lost sight of, however, that the truly pivotal question coagulates in the political economy of work – that is, in the aspect in which the proportion of income from work in national income grew significantly in the governments of Lula and Dilma. According to Laura Carvalho, “with regard to alterations in the functional distribution of income, which measures how much of the income generated in the country remains with the capitalists and how much remains with the workers in the form of wages (…) it is noted that, between 2001 and 2004, the share of profits in national income grew (…), from 4,2% to 47,5%. Since then, the participation of earnings from work in total income has increased every year, with the exception of 2010, rising from 52,5% in 2004 to 57,4% in 2013”.[xl] There began to be a lot of complaints, in the press and at business conferences, that the increase in labor income came from union wage negotiations and not from an increase in productivity.

This type of complaint is frequent in the capitalist economy. For example, shortly before the historic cleavage of the election of Margaret Thatcher in England (1979) – the most paradigmatic conjunctural situation of the crisis of the European Fordist compromise – , as a result of a cycle of strikes and national institutional negotiation tables between businessmen and trade unions. promoted by labor cabinets (Harold Wilson, 1975; James Callaghan, 1976) and even conservatives (Eduard Heath, 1974), wage readjustments had temporarily outpaced productivity growth.[xi]

In such situations, capital turns on the red light of danger. The profit rate is always the seismograph of the crisis. During the period of Lulista governments, there was “a transition from the subproletariat to the proletariat [from the poorest to the new working classes], which put pressure on the conditions for reproducing Brazilian-style capitalism”. In short, the poor can even move away from poverty, but under the condition of an individual-meritocratic ascension process without ever moving up the collective class. This situation always makes it impossible at the outset the dreams of project evolution of a “productivist coalition” (André Singer)[xliii] or the related – despite the methodological differences and implications – “neo-developmentalist front” (Armando Boito).[xiii] In Brazilian class politics, colorful friendship always results in litigious divorce, with the bourgeoisie putting up the biggest shack, instead of a marriage “happy while eternal love lasts”. That is why, during the Dilma administrations, the tectonic plates of the “bourgeois veto” earthquake moved. This is the archimedical point of the structural and institutional dynamics of Dilma's impeachment crisis and what followed.

Thus, 2015 was a year of intense negotiations (including a neoliberal Brazil Agenda, led by the president of the senate, Renan Calheiros, which Dilma resisted accepting).[xiv] In December of the same year, the process ran towards the outcome. A decadent de-industrializing FIESP made the decisive gesture: it sealed the entity's adherence to the president's impeachment.[xlv] It was fundamental. The Yellow Duck took to the streets. A few months earlier, the vice president presented the economic plan for the coup, the designated Uma Ponte para o Futuro.[xlv] In the words of Temer himself, in a lecture to businessmen in New York: “we suggested that the government adopt the theses that we pointed out in that document called 'Bridge to the future'. And, as that did not work out, there was no adoption, a process was initiated that culminated now in my becoming president of the republic”.[xlv]

For 13 years, in the Lula era, opposition groups to the left of the Lula and Dilma governments insisted on the motto of a “betrayal” by the PT governments of their commitments to workers. In the end, the betrayal was not confirmed. The pudding proof of the mistake of the “betrayal” thesis is that such forces did not grow socially. Today, most of them are considering an alliance with Lula. The main reason for the bourgeois veto of Dilma's government stems from the fact that the president refused, at the end of her government, to a second, more radical economic adjustment, which would bend the whip on the back exclusively on the side of the workforce. This is the profound reason for the PT to be reborn in resistance and for Lula to rehearse the possibility of a comeback. But also the deep distrust of anything that smells of Lulism or PT among the holders of means of production (small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, and not just big capital or business entities). They are “entrepreneurs” measured in the Datafolha survey of December/21, the only segment that Lula (21%) loses to Bolsonaro (47%). [xlviii]

Entrepreneurs remain firm (to see to what extent) in the deconstruction agenda of "Ponte”… In other words, neoliberal blockbuster reforms of maximum temperature: labor reform (outsourcing, intermittent work, prevalence of negotiated over legislated), social security reform, privatizations, price policy and the decapitalization of Petrobrás, etc. . The “philosophy” of the coup’s economic plan continues to this day as Temer and Bolsonaro’s roadmap. It is fundamental to emphasize that, in the economic aspect, the differences between the two governments are of degree and not of essence. The “spending ceiling”, constitutionalized in the Temer government (a bizarre thing that does not exist anywhere else in the world) remains a dogma in economic policy discourse.

I mean, not so much. Spending ceiling is drunk talk. Millôr Fernandes already said, “my principles are inflexible; me, but not so much”. Bolsonaro’s “popularity-moment” came at the opportunity of 2020. The congress proposed, driven by the generous benches of the left parties, the exception of a “war budget”. In other words, a parallel spending budget in the pandemic, which enabled an Emergency Aid of 600 reais and the functioning of the SUS. The occasion argument for achieving Dilma’s impeachment – ​​the “fiscal pedaling” –, the pandemic proved the cavalry dose of stupidity of Brazilian neoliberalism and the criminalization of countercyclical policies.

Dribbling the ceiling was the salvation of the government's farming, as Paulo Guedes spent the first month of the shock of the pandemic stuttering, not knowing what to say or do. Result: the initial forecasts of a drop of 10% of GDP mitigated to 4,1%. In the first year of the pandemic, the income of the poorest half grew by 3,9%. The moral and economic philosophy of emergency action in crisis is not new. Although it was different, since it was a case of transfers to State assistance programs (the Brazilian Caixa Econômica abdicated the structure of social assistance in the municipalities), in any case, there was also an emergency aid, in the NewDeal. It was, in fact, one of Roosevelt's measures, in the famous emergency measures of the “100 first days of government”.[xlix]

The suspension of Emergency Aid was, so far, the great shaving of the Bolsonaro government’s political-economic strategy. Although other government disasters have been contributing to this, since the suspension of the Aid, the once resistant popularity indexes of the president and government began to plummet. Bolsonaro tested, and even managed in the first phase of the pandemic, to seduce the poorest segment that originally supported the base of Lulism, but did not know how to make it loyal through permanent programs and benefits. The Genial/Quaest face-to-face survey of January 22 found a slight improvement in the government's and Bolsonaro's popularity ratings among the poorest, especially in the Northeast areas, where Lula did not lose the majority, even in the most difficult moments, but far from foreshadow a Bolsonaro takeoff or consolidation.[l]

It is necessary to follow the next bids, however it seems that Bolsonaro is becoming a lost cause in the conquest of hegemony of the electoral base of the poorest, even if the majority are conservatives. Bolsonaro’s entry into this part of society remains active and operative through religion and the cultural war of values. The opportunity to gain a social base based on the State's social policies of addressing the poorest seems to have lost its way under Bolsonaro.

Many analysts in a hurry, when confusing desire with reality, have already, many times, considered Lulism dead and buried. Many others wanted to kill and salt the earth. At the moment, Lulism is experiencing a return, a resurrected and perhaps more overwhelming kind of “put the portrait of the old man again/put it in the same place” of Vargas’s return in the 1950 elections and inauguration in 1951.[li]

But which Lulism? In the perspective of 2023, the room for maneuver is smaller than 10 years ago, considering what happened in the economy, politics and, especially, in the structure of social classes in Brazil. In a complex problem, the difficulty of the margin is not so much from the macroeconomic point of view – this eternal debate of showing and hiding consequences. According to Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., “in the economic field, the external fragility of the economy was much greater in 2002, which gave the market greater power to blackmail the elected president. External accounts were in deficit, the economy depended on foreign capital and international reserves were low. Today, the external sector of the economy is much more robust. The trade surplus is high, the current account deficit low, the dependence on international financing small. And, more importantly, international reserves are comfortable, thanks to the accumulation efforts carried out by the Lula and Dilma governments”.[liiii]

Reversing the dialectic of deconstitutionalization in the world of work and the loss of dynamism in the processes of social ascension in the country, especially in the working classes and middle classes, is almost a categorical imperative of a program of leaders and parties of a new government. It is necessary to make the transition to a “new Lulism” of “medium reformism”.[iii] It does not come to be – although rapid evolutions in the political process are not ruled out –, the program and the strategy of strong reformism of the governments and almost centenary experiences of the United Fronts and the Popular Fronts.

Nor does it restart from an idyllic lost point: the first vintage of Lulismo, in 2003. The execution of the program must, in the same capsule, seek to negotiate, rebuild and transform, without creating barriers or unnecessary steps between the two phases. You cannot waste time. For example: emergency measures for the popular economy, repeal of the Spending Ceiling and Labor Reform, among others, must be presented in the campaign program for negotiation in the first days of an eventual government. Mobilize working people around these flags. Movement structures (Lula: my candidacy “will be a movement”)[book] activated in the campaign should not be demobilized, but activated with a view to transforming themselves into decentralized and permanent organizations of civil society.

* Cida Ramos is a professor at the Department of Social Service at UFPB and a state deputy (PT-PB).

*Jaldes Meneses He is a professor at the Department of History at UFPB..



[I] FREYRE, Gilberto. Maybe poetry. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1962, p. 12.

[ii] Dilma Rousseff's government was a continuation of Lulism, but it could not be otherwise, with its own seat, especially in managing the effects of the 2008 crisis, as will be seen in the third section of this article.

[iii] “Lula reinforced his anti-imperialist vision during his arrest, says Fernando Morais”. Available in: https://www.brasil247.com/brasil/lula-reforcou-visao-anti-imperialista-durante-a-prisao-diz-fernando-morais.

[iv] “Interview with Lula for Independent Sites”. Available in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7spAjKHnzbo

[v] “We have to deconstruct a lot of things, says Bolsonaro over dinner”. Available in: https://valor.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2019/03/18/nos-temos-e-que-desconstruir-muita-coisa-diz-bolsonaro-durante-jantar.ghtml

[vi] “Unemployment rate drops to 11,6%, but income drops again in Brazil”. Available in: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2022/01/taxa-de-desemprego-recua-para-116-mas-renda-volta-a-cair-no-brasil.shtml.

[vii] "Profit for publicly traded companies rises 245% for the first quarter of 2021". Available in: https://g1.globo.com/economia/noticia/2021/05/17/lucro-de-empresas-de-capital-aberto-sobe-245percent-para-o-primeiro-trimestre-em-2021.ghtml.

[viii] “Businessmen contest ordinance that warns about slave labor.” Available in:


[ix] “Forbes list of billionaires gains 20 Brazilians and has record growth in the pandemic.” Available in:


[X]“Billionaires Get $1 Trillion Richer in 2021 Amid Covid Crisis.” Available in: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2022/01/bilionarios-ficam-us-1-trilhao-mais-ricos-em-2021-em-meio-a-crise-da-covid.shtml?origin=uol.

[xi] FERNANDES, Florestan. The bourgeois revolution in Brazil – essay on sociological interpretation. São Paulo: Globo (5th ed.), 2005, p. 416.

[xii] SILVA, Luiz Inacio Lula. The truth will win - the people know why they condemn me. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2018, p. 27.

[xiii] SINGER, Andrew. The meanings of Lulism – gradual reform and conservative pact. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012.

[xiv] SINGER, Paul. Domination and inequality: Class structure and income distribution in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1981, p. 22.

[xv] BOITO Jr., Armando. Reform and political crisis in Brazil: class conflicts in PT governments. São Paulo: Unicamp/Unesp, 2018, p.

[xvi] See, POCHMANN, Marcio. New middle class? (Work at the base of the Brazilian social pyramid). São Paulo: Boitempo, 2012.; NERI, Marcelo. The new middle class (the bright side of the bottom of the pyramid). São Paulo: Saraiva, 2011.; SOUZA, Jesse. The Brazilian fighters (new middle class or new working class?). Belo Horizonte: UFMG (2nd. Ed.), 2012.

[xvii] SINGER, Andrew. The meanings of Lulism: gradual reform and a conservative pact. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2012, p. 51.

[xviii] “My name is João – Lula's campaign for president, 2002.” Available in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZGv6L7Cyjg.

[xx] LULA DA SILVA, Luiz Inacio. The truth will win: the people know why they condemn me. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2018, p. 53.

[xx] SINGER, Andrew. The meanings of Lulism: gradual reform and a conservative pact. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012, p. 125-168.

[xxx] It could be added that the debate on the New Deal recently returned, in the debates around the “Biden Plan”.

[xxiii] “Keynes would have saved capitalism by having President FD Roosevelt implement the New Deal, a set of public spending policies guided by a Keynesian interpretation of the causes of depression. Such a statement, however, is also false. CARVALHO, Fernando J. Cardin. "Keynes, FDR and the Great Depression". In: LIMOCIC, Flávio; MARTINHO, Francisco Carlos Palomares (Orgs.). The Great Depression (economics and politics in the 1930s – Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia). Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2009, p. 67-87.

[xxiii]Incidentally, the project of establishing a kind of Welfare peripheral-dependent Brazilian was enshrined in the social rights chapters of the 1988 Constitution. There the principles were enshrined, but the forms of financing were not clarified. In fact, the Lula governments operated on two pillars, the commitment to equal opportunities and the setting up of an infrastructure of social services, see the organization of the Unified Social Assistance System (SUAS), in 2003. Without generating antagonism between a pillar and another, the first pillar prevailed.

[xxv] ANDERSON, Perry. Brazil apart (1964-2019). São Paulo: Boitempo, 2020, p. 70.

[xxiv] The theme of the “bourgeois veto” conditions will be deepened in the next section.

[xxv] GRAMSCI, Antonio. Prison notebooks. Vol. two. Culture themes. Catholic Action. Americanism and Fordism. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2001.

[xxviii] LIMONCIC, Flavio. The inventors of the New Deal (State and unions in the fight against the Great Depressionão. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2009.

[xxviii] MARX, Carl. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2011.

[xxix] https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-52166245

[xxx] When in doubt between politics – “American” – and aesthetics – “American” –, we preferred to adopt aesthetics and linguistic custom, spelling the word “American” in the essay.

[xxxii] “Coronavirus: USA is accused of 'piracy' and 'diversion' of equipment that would go to Germany, France and Brazil.” Available in:https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2011/03/110303_pib_2010_rp.

[xxxi] “Chico de Oliveira: 'Vargas redefined the country in the 30s crisis; the chance is that the PT will do the same in the first great crisis of globalization'”. Available in: https://fpabramo.org.br/2009/01/09/chico-de-oliveira-vargas-redefiniu-o-pais-na-crise-de-30-a-chance-e-que-o-pt-faca-o-mesmo-na-primeira-grande-crise-da-globalizacao/

[xxxii] “Dilma: “We were naive in relation to the means of communication”. Available in: https://revistaforum.com.br/noticias/dilma-fomos-ingenuos-em-relacao-aos-meios-de-comunicacao/

[xxxv] “Interests fall for the 1st time in the Dilma government and go to 12%”. Available in: https://economia.uol.com.br/noticias/redacao/2011/08/31/juros-caem-pela-1-vez-no-governo-dilma-e-ficam-em-12.htm.

[xxxiv] MAZZUCATO, Mariana. The entrepreneurial state (debunking the myth of the public sector vs. the private sector. São Paulo: Penguin, 2014.

[xxxiv] “Government announces record cut of R$ 50 billion in the 2011 budget”. Available in: http://g1.globo.com/economia/noticia/2011/02/governo-anuncia-corte-recorde-de-r-50-bilhoes-no-orcamento-de-2011.html.

[xxxviii] Perhaps the Dilma government thought in terms of enduring class commitment during the period of successive working tables between trade union and business centrals (the CNI did not participate), which resulted in the common document Brazil of the dialogue, delivered in March 2011 to representative Michel Temer in Mooca. To consult the document, see: https://fsindical.org.br/midias/arquivo/0670ac3f7dda6ddd53187cd89e7d46ae1%5D.pdf.

[xxxviii] In Gramsci, a State or a “statolatrous” political regime means a State – of a progressive or regressive type – that organizes society from within the State apparatus. It is a different State from the “diplomatic” State of Risorgimento Italian, which did not organize the masses, contenting itself with exercising domination from above, but without concern for organizing it, except for the transformist and individual co-option of leaders or popular groups. See: GRAMSCI, Antonio. Prison Notebooks. Machiavelli. Vol. 3. Notes on the State and Politics. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 2000, p. 279-280.

[xxxix] “Abílio Diniz: 'crisis in Brazil is political and not economic'.” Available in: https://exame.com/negocios/abilio-diniz-crise-no-brasil-e-politica-e-nao-economica/.

[xl] CARVALHO, Laura. Brazilian waltz – from boom to economic chaos. São Paulo: However, 2018, p. 21.

[xi] CALLAGHAN, James. Time and chance. London: Collins/Fontana, 1987, p. 417-418.

[xliii] SINGER, Andrew. Lulism in crisis – a puzzle of the Dilma period (2011-2016). São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018, p. 21.

[xiii] BOITO Jr., Armando. Reform and political crisis in Brazil (class conflicts in PT governments). São Paulo: Unicamp/Unesp, 2018, p. 55-89.

[xiv] FARIAS, Lindbergh; MENESES, Jaldes. The missing word. Available in: https://www.cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/Economia/A-palavra-que-falta/7/34912.

[xlv] “Fiesp announces formal support for Dilma’s impeachment process.” Available in: https://g1.globo.com/economia/noticia/2015/12/fiesp-anuncia-apoio-formal-ao-processo-de-impeachment-de-dilma-20151214210007458825.html.

[xlv] FARIAS, Lindbergh. The economic plan of the coup. Available in: https://www.brasil247.com/blog/o-plano-economico-do-golpe.

[xlv] “Michel Temer says that impeachment happened because Dilma rejected 'Bridge to the Future'”. Available in: https://theintercept.com/2016/09/22/michel-temer-diz-que-impeachment-aconteceu-porque-dilma-rejeitou-ponte-para-o-futuro/.

[xlviii] “Lula leads the presidential race, and Bolsonaro is the most rejected.” Available in: https://datafolha.folha.uol.com.br/eleicoes/2021/12/1989357-lula-lidera-disputa-presidencial-e-tem-bolsonaro-como-adversario-mais-proximo.shtml.

[xlix] Act creating the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), administered by Harry Hopkins, a historic figure in the New Deal. The plutocracy was against it. The day after Hopkins was appointed, the headline of the The Washington Post: “Money flies”. SHERWOOD, Robert E. Roosevelt and Hopkins (A History of World War II). Rio de Janeiro/Brasília: UnB/Faculdade Cidade/Nova Fronteira, 1998, p. 61.

[l] Research Genial/Quaest January-2022. Available in: https://lp.genialinvestimentos.com.br/nas-eleicoes2022/.

[li] Marchinha by Haroldo Lobo and Marino Pinto, a 1950 carnival hit sung by Francisco Alves.

[liiii] BATISTA Jr., Paulo Nogueira. The electoral framework and the dispute for the Lula government. Available in: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-quadro-eleitoral-e-a-disputa-pelo-governo-lula/?doing_wp_cron=1643236452.5209329128265380859375.

[iii] We heard the expression “medium reformism” in a personal conversation over the internet, along with Lindbergh Farias, with professor Eduardo Costa Pinto. Neither of them are committed to our mistakes and misconceptions.

[book] “Lula says Bolsonaro is the most subservient president to Congress.” Available in: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2022/01/nunca-um-presidente-esteve-tao-subserviente-ao-congresso-diz-lula-sobre-bolsonaro.shtml.

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