A Left for the XNUMXst Century

Edward Berliner


Excerpt, selected by the author, from the Introduction of the newly released book

It is impossible not to recognize that Brazil has entered a downward spiral in recent years, from which there seems to be no way out. Politics in the hands of the extreme right, the economy captured by a crude neoliberalism inspired by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. At the same time, the left has, after years of mistakes, defeats and powerful underlying social transformations, enormous difficulty in opposing what a few years ago was merely folklore, in the worst sense of the term, and mobilizing society against this right-wing tide. , with its project of a restricted future, its retrograde vision and its sad and destructive affections.

The coronavirus crisis, which hit the Bolsonaro government hard, could have returned political initiative to the left, but that is far from happening. In fact, the problems of the Brazilian Republic date back a long time. For its part, its left has shown enormous fragility over the last few years, becoming involved in deep mistakes.

Based on these painful initial observations, this book basically sets itself two objectives. It begins by situating the current Brazilian situation, highly transformed in recent years and in which the right and the extreme right predominate, as well as thinking about how to get out of the hole in which that spiral is increasingly burying us. But its objective is above all to think about the left in a very broad and at the same time specific way, in which the search for socialism and its binomial communism, whatever they meant yesterday and mean today, is reinstated.

In another publication I focus on the so-called “real socialism”. I deal briefly with this issue here, since my objective is above all to think about the left politically, in terms of its action, in strategic terms. That is, its objectives go far beyond the conjuncture, of elections and candidacies that are placed in the field of the left and center-left in this dramatic hour of our history, even when it touches on issues that are directly related to the conjuncture.

The book consists of seven chapters. The volume opens with an assessment of the situation and the Bolsonaro government, against the backdrop of a discussion of political regimes and the evolution of liberal democracy. The following chapters delve into some central aspects of the trajectory of the global left, but always looking at Latin America and Brazil in some way.

It discusses in particular how to open the horizon of unprecedented possibilities, a task of extreme urgency in our present, dealing with questions of strategy, as well as the question of philosophical “consequentialism” – in short, the idea that the means justify the ends – which is so deeply ingrained in the left. Finally, how to translate the policy of a socialist left into practice and radically, without ceasing to weave alliances that face the problems of the here and now, crosses and concludes the discussion of this book.

The book is part of and opens the collection “Esquerda em Movimento”, by publisher Mauad, aiming to mobilize the discussion in particular on the left in Rio de Janeiro. The collection is based on the premise that critical and left-wing thinking around the world, and in Brazil in particular, is currently facing profound impasses. It is consensus, or at least agreement among many, that needs to be renewed. It is plural and the dialogue between its different aspects has to be part of this renewal.

Many of the discussions on this subject have focused, however, on more immediate or conjuncture issues, or even on a sometimes exegetical, sometimes rhetorical repetition of the Marxist classics. The defeats of the XNUMXth century and the questions that arise for the XNUMXst century need to be faced systematically and creatively by a critical reflection capable of also justifying its foundations and existence.

Some themes stand out as fundamental and this collection will focus on them, without prejudice to other themes that they pose. The idea of ​​critical theory as such and in its broadest sense is one of them, as well as socialism, which is gradually being discussed and perhaps gaining centrality.

Added to these are the environmental and climate change issues, sometimes converging on ecosocial transitions and ecosocialism. Other issues include capitalism and anti-capitalism, the future of work and the state, racism and anti-racism, sexism and feminism, social movements and political contestation more generally. Proposals that deal with these issues in themselves or contemplate their intersection, from a plurality of aspects, will be welcome.

*José Mauricio Domingues He is a professor at the Institute of Social and Political Studies at UERJ. Author, among other books, of Emancipation and history: o return of social theory (Brazilian Civilization).


José Mauricio Domingues. A left for the XNUMXst century. Horizons, strategies and identities. Rio de Janeiro, Mauad, 2021, 168 pages.


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