Charles Rosa and Pedro Fuentes
The first week of September registered a political earthquake of degree five, whose name could be “Geddel’s suitcases / Palocci accusation”. If that wasn´t enough, there was still the revelation of new audios that culminated in the termination of the agreement that Joesley Batista made with juditiary as well as his trip to the jail. There continues to be a great crisis in the above; but despite it, the coup government (supported by the political caste) manages to process its neoliberalizing reforms and keeps worsening the social regression that Brazil is experiencing. Throughout the country, the daily increase in hunger, unemployment, violence and misery is noticeable. However, another situation would have been if the 30J mobilization had not been restrained; the suspension of the general strike was another blow against the people; and this time, those who applied the coup were the union leaders with the endorsement of a Lula desperate to recover the confidence of the bourgeoisie. The most dramatic consequence of this setback by the trade union bureaucracy was that by losing the streets, the workers and the people lost the possibility of moving on to a direct offensive. In the soccer slang, a counterattack was wasted. And that is why in the midst of its scrambled crisis, those from above can continue to maneuver and govern to the taste of the ‘market’.
This complex situation expresses a critical stalemate that does not mean, definitively, neither calm nor defeat. After all, it can also be the window of opportunity to come clear and put who is who in Brazilian politics, an essential condition for us to continue building the new alternatives of popular empowerment. The texts written lately by Roberto Robaina (goo.gl/SdFh1i), Luciana Genro (goo.gl/v855TJ) and Israel Dutra (goo.gl/CPWnJF), among others, have helped us to better understand the pandemonium we are in . In short, the photograph of the moment can be summarized as follows: 1-this coup government is our number one public enemy against which we must fight; 2 – the existence of this government is the result of an offensive of the ruling classes, part of a world politics of all bourgeois governments and of imperialism in order that the popular sectors pay for the crisis; 3 – at the same time, it is impossible to verify that this offensive unfolds with relative ease in Brazil, due to the fact that the PT and its politics – “electoral larceny”, parliamentary physiology, Levy’s adjustment, etc. – opened the doors and put back on the presidential table the right wing without disguises (or is it possible to forget that Michel Temer has already been cheered at a PT Congress?).
Intending to approach the truth to expose it in the most faithful way doesn’t mean to play the game of the right, as the most rotten wing of lulism seeks to mystify its opponents on the left. According to the texts we have written in recent months, we defend Lula’s democratic right to run in the next elections, since none of the other presidential candidates involved in Odebrecht’s schemes are likely to be prevented from running. It is the people (though we understand that it is not the PT that will solve their most felt needs, in line with what has just been indicated a study on the evolution of social inequalities of the country between 2001-2015 ) and not a ‘technocratic’ court, who must decide the name of the next president of the Republic. To say this is also something very different from even contemplating a support to the PT and / or being silent on the metamorphoses that this party has crossed in the last decades. Roberto Robaina has already expressed very well MES’ positions in several interventions, in affirming that the débacle of the petismo is for Brazil an event similar to what was the fall of the Wall of Berlin in 1989 for the world-wide left. The ‘star’ party not only governed the interests of large corporations and financial rentiers (which never accumulated as much capital, a fact evidenced in countless statistics and in the historic interview of the dictatorship’s “master economist”, Delfim Netto, in which he summed up in a phrase the elites’ satisfaction with the PT: “Lula saved Brazilian capitalism!”); PT’s path also meant a profound blow to the mass consciousness. More than ‘what-could-have-been-and-was-not’, the PT “was-what-it-always-denied-during-the-times-of-opposition.”
The labor party – which in the early years had among its cadres the murdered rubber-tapper Chico Mendes, for example – became today’s best friend of the ruralist Katia Abreu (who in truth has always been grateful for the gains that agribusiness has had since 2003, contrary to the Marinho Family from Globo Network). The once progressive party – which had Florestan Fernandes in its ranks – now finds it normal to walk beside Colonel Renan Calheiros in Alagoas. The ethical party – whose membership no. 1 was signed by the historic Trotskyist Mario Pedrosa – is presided over by a senator suspected of diverting money from retirees for her election campaign.
A deception like PT’s creates immense difficulties in the construction of a new alternative. Mass movement vision is hampered by the failure of a once-transforming project to the point where it is not easy to see the new alternative that PSOL and the left need to build and are building. For millions of people, it is as if the next cycle of the Brazilian left was condemned to repeat the PT steps. However, at least one positive element in this problem can be identified, since denial is a stage that precedes reflection and the search for the new, although this requires a certain amount of patience and increases the urgency of categorically reaffirming “that we are not all equal” and “there is another exit under construction”.
In this sense, it should be emphasized that our exit is being built with very solid cements, with foundations already setled in 2002, based on a Marxist analysis that was already capable of understanding the accelerated transmutation of the PT leadership as a key determinant of its course once having arrived at the government. The famous Letter to Brazilians (2002), signed by Lula and guaranteed by Odebrecht, which sought to assure the bourgeoisie that PT would not interfere in the economic structures of the country, could be considered the tip of the iceberg of PT’s capitulation. Now that the role of the actors of the Lullist tragedy is clearer (see the confessions of Palocci, Delcídio and the marketer João Santana, for example), it wouldn’t be a bad thing to go back to this subject to explain the “organic relationship” of the majority direction of the PT with the great Capital.
On the subject there are some very elucidating works and reflections, such as the book “The Bankruptcy of the PT” (2003) by Robaina and Luciana Genro, the article “The financialization of trade union bureaucracy in Brazil” (2011) by Ruy Braga and Alvaro Bianchi or even the essay “The Platypus” (2003) by the great sociologist Chico de Oliveira. In the latter case, it is appropriate to pay attention to his explanation for the emergence of a ‘new class’ (pension fund administrators). In a good summary of “The Platypus”, elaborated by Folha de SP newspaper in 2003, when PT tried to approve its Pension Reform, we find:
“What characterizes Brazil’s recent history is the fact that trade unionists have become capitalists without capital: they have ceased to be workers without having become entrepreneurs. They are not bourgeois because they do not own the property of the companies, but they control the public resources that capital needs to survive.
The evolution of the country ended thus in an anomalous nation, that is no longer underdeveloped, because it managed to industrialize, but was not developed, since it can only accumulate capital by drowning public resources. To explain the social creature resulting from this “truncated accumulation” Oliveira used the image of the platypus, a mammal with a duck’s beak which lays eggs. “
In an interview to a newspaper that same year, Chico de Oliveira developed better where he wanted to go:
“The goal of this new social class is not the expansion of labor rights, but good financial management, because ‘what is in play is their retirement.’ It is these fund managers who have defined the conservative economic policy of the Lula government. (…) The workers were transformed into operators of pension funds, PT’s hard core “.
Later, Oliveira added lucidly that in PT the syndicalist fraction acquired a greater predominance in the internal correlation of forces within the party and merged with the fraction properly called ‘political’ in its origins. The most visible exponents of this clique were Gushiken, Berzoini, Delúbio, Vaccari, Okamoto, Paulo Bernardo, Gilberto Carvalho, Lula, Palocci and Dirceu.
If existence determines consciousness, in this new social location of the PT direction, those who administer the millionaire pension funds, at the same time, argue that these funds logically maximize their profits, which will ultimately imply defending exploitative capital, and not the exploited worker – let alone the environment! It is therefore necessary to conclude that its interests are also the interests of the bourgeoisie, especially the most parasitic rentiers, with the added advantage that he does not need to wear down his cadres with the burden of the “political window”, combining ‘passive consensus’ guarateeing mechanisms from subaltern classes with the ‘active consensus’ of trade union bureaucracies.
Expanding this perspective, it is convenient to return to the concept of the ‘managerial class’ of Dumenil / Levy (developed in the book “The Crisis of Liberalism” 2011). These French economists mention the differentiation of a new managerial class, ‘high-ranking allies’ that operate to the benefit of the higher income strata, that is, the capitalist proprietors and the upper management fractions. The greater concentration of income will be the crucial achievement of the new social order. This analysis seemed very interesting and powerful for us to understand the managerial role that the old European social democracy, PT in Brazil, and other political groupings around the world started to play.
The political domains of the parties identified (more in rhetoric and symbology than in practice) with the working and popular sectors are so integrated into the reproduction of the capitalist metabolism that they gradually become alienated castes distanced from the interests of the medium and low classes of society, that is, their classes of origin. If they are not exactly bourgeois, since they are not the actual holders of the means of production, they attach their structural destiny to the structural success of the great bourgeoisie. Instead of being the gravediggers of Capital, they become their doctors, as Dr. Palocci evidences with its millionaire estate.
It is precisely this process that has contaminated PT’s apparatus. The majority of PT’s leadership (the pétit commité that expelled party radicals in 2003 and even would accept to substitute Babá by Geddel Vieira Lima in 2003!) celebrated its serious and unwavering commitment to the bourgeoisie through the aforementioned Letter to the Brazilians, clear evidence of its political transformation. It was the social change of this direction that explains what has happened on the political plane. The “blood pact” with the great vampire bourgeoisie of Brazil prevents the PT from harboring any minimally emancipatory project. Going back to the metaphor of the soccer fields, it is as if we expect a player to score goals for our team, even though he has already signed a contract with his opponent. And if there is one thing that PT has been able to do so far, is to respect the contracts … with the bourgeoisie!
This is the Marxist analysis we can not lose sight of now. Palocci, with his revelations, may have betrayed his old companion Lula; but, as Robaina points out, the ‘Italian’ did not lie or act against his new class interests. Likewise, the organic relations between Lula and Odebrecht are indisputable: ‘never before in the history of this country’, a politician of the size of Lula has acted as well as the sub-imperialist interests of the construction company as he did. And the connections of other big business owners (Walfrido Mares Guia, Luiz Fernando Furlan, Leo Pinheiro, etc.) with Lula are also organic.
Understanding this Marxist analysis was the correct starting point, and continues to be, to build with PSOL and other forces the new alternative against the social-liberalist and neoliberalist variants that dominated and dominate Brazil. For this, it is necessary to kill the tradeunionist-political creature engendered by the social formation of the Platypus, because it will not die by itself.
1 – For a very schematic summary of the economic orientation of the 13 years of Lulism in the government until the palace coup, we can say that the strategic options of PT governments were to guarantee firstly the survival of bilionaires’ privileges, through the super stability of the the financial sector and the massive bounties granted to the agro-extractive sectors, while they functionalizing poverty with the public policies developed by the World Bank and stimulated consumption with cheap credit from the workers who, absurdly, were called the ‘new middle class’. Accompanying the variations and oscillations of capitalism at the beginning of this century and especially the ‘Chinese winds’, the neoliberal orthodoxy of the early years of lulism (with Palocci, the Minister of Finance) was succeeded by the policy of national champions (with Mantega, and finally turned to neoliberal orthodoxy in the last acts of the Dilma government (with Joaquim Levy, on the Finance). Compensatory programs (which the government propaganda machine came to compare with the rights won by the workers’ struggle under the Vargas government or even the Constitution of 1988, making the kind of politics more subterranean than the hunger of millions of Brazilians) did not change Thomas Piketty Institute’s study: from 2001 to 2015, the parcels of appropriation of income by the 10% richest and the 10% poorest remained absolutely the same, with residual variation. Of all the economic growth registered in the period, the 10% richest had accumulated 61%, leaving the 10% poorest with slim 18%. In addition, it is important to remember the scandalous expansion of the precarious and outsourced jobs during the height of the lullismo, that now this illegitimate government tries to consolidate for good in the legal system of the country.