Israel Dutra and Thiago Aguiar
After Lula’s conviction for the TRF-4 and with the diminution of the chances of his candidacy being validated, the debate over the 2018 presidential election intensified. Our current manifested itself at various times in favor of the right to apply for Lula and contrary to the fact that his judicial processes are instrumentalized to fraud the decision of the people in the election, once several accused and indicted in Lava Jato, such as Temer, Aécio Neves, Geraldo Alckmin, José Serra, Moreira Franco, Rodrigo Maia, Eliseo Padilha, Eunício Oliveira, among many others, continue to occupy positions of command in power and with their political rights preserved. This political position, independent of any substantive evaluation of the accusations against Lula, at no time meant support for his candidacy, much less defense of the legacy of the PT governments, against which we were opposed from the first hour – a definition without which PSOL would not exist.
Faced with the crisis and the political impasse experienced in Brazil, with an illegitimate and corrupt government that daily attacks the rights of the people and the working class, deepening inequality and threatening the country’s future, we are convinced that political and programmatic accumulation built by PSOL throughout its history is fundamental for the construction of a new left in Brazil.
We urgently need to build a left alternative to the bankruptcy of this rotten political regime and the main partisan actors who support it. This alternative will be built in the struggles against adjustment and attacks on the working class. Outside of mass action there is not this possibility. We have the duty to present what we also accumulate in the elections of 2018. Otherwise, the people will find in the October dispute a left clinging to the past that is confused – by the explicit defense or by ashamed complicity – with the corrupt schemes of the bourgeoisie and its political agents. The absence of this independent, anticapitalist and anti-ruler alternative opens up space for the channeling of popular indignation by reactionary projects such as Bolsonaro’s or by the regime’s attempts to recycle itself with an “outsider” like Luciano Huck.
The debate on PSOL’s presidential candidacy
We, from the MES, defend that the best names to represent PSOL in the electoral dispute would be those of Luciana Genro or Marcelo Freixo. Luciana for being the founder of the party, for accumulating strength of this period of courageous confrontation and embodying the party program with strength in 2014. Also for being a combative woman in a period of struggle of women. The other option would be Freixo, which showed its strength in 2012 and 2016, when it went to the second round of the Rio elections. Unfortunately, Freixo did not accept to lead this task. However, due to political differences with the positions of the MES, the name of Luciana was opposed by the US, not accepting that the brand of the fight against corruption was the PSOL brand. It is not the first time that this block of forces inside the PSOL acts disarming the party.
In 2013, when the US obtained a majority in a party congress thanks to the distortions of the plenary sessions in Amapá, the election of Randolfe Rodrigues was made as a candidate. The senator ended up desisting under the pressure of militancy and openly assumed his policy of conciliation of classes leaving the party to maintain their alliances with bourgeois sectors, including DEM.
Luciana Genro ended up being the representative of PSOL in 2014 and made a victorious campaign, despite the short time of previous preparation and the almost total absence of resources. Now, it would be much stronger. Unfortunately, the left of the PSOL remained fragmented, which prevented the fight for this possibility of being realized. In this way, at the 2017 congress, the US was able to continue giving the letters with confidence, also relying on independent leadership from PSOL and above all -as we of the MES and other currents denounced in the opportunity- relying on the same maneuvers of Amapá , along with Randolfe and Clécio (prefect of Macapá), even after the rupture of both with the party.
The new congress, however, was the possibility of a PSOL alliance with some social movements, particularly with housing movements that were strengthened after June 2013. Specifically, MTST. As we are a current that claimed and actively participated in June 2013, we always value this hypothesis. The independent leaders, in particular Marcelo Freixo, presented their intention that Guilherme Boulos was PSOL candidate.
On the Boulos hypothesis
The congress ended without the election of a name or a debate on a program, but authorized the presidential candidacy of PSOL to Guilherme Boulos. Although we had signed support for the name of Plínio Sampaio Jr., a serious Marxist economist and PSOL militant since 2005, MES resolved, based on this decision, even without the commitment to support it, to work on the possibility that Boulos develop this hypothesis and, if the positions get closer, bet on a solid commitment for the elections and after them. Our current did it for obvious reasons: Boulos has a respectable trajectory as the leader of an important social movement, with which we already share diverse struggles. It is a leader with many qualities: young, with extensive combat experience, and with ample capacity for dialogue, over the past 15 years, with various sectors of the Brazilian socialist left.
A candidacy of Guilherme Boulos to the presidency by PSOL could then mean the combination of the accumulation of our party – which confronted the pro-capital economic policy of PT governments and the corruption of the political caste – with the powerful idea that only the struggle of the people can stop the adjustment of the bourgeoisie and obtain conquests. Undoubtedly, a candidacy of Boulos by PSOL, with a profile clearly independent of Lulismo, could recover the dialogue established by the Luciana campaign in 2014 with the example of June 2013. Recover and go further, since it would add the component of direct action with much more force. In the end, for us, June continues to be a compass for the construction of a new left in Brazil, based on the idea of popular mobilization and the fight against the failed regime of the New Republic, whose institutions are at the service, in every way more open time, interests of the bourgeoisie, self-preservation and the business of its political agents.
MES vindicates its meetings with Boulos and with MTST in the streets of São Paulo in June 2013 and in the mobilizations for housing. For that reason, our current, even, would understand that Boulos expressed particular positions, of hard critics to the judicial power and even to the Operation Lava Jato. We would accept because our current is critical and combats this judicial power that persecutes the poor, the young, the blacks, the social movements. Then, about this, it would not even be a concession, but the expression of our conviction. But MES would also accept concessions. This is the case of the Lava Jato, considering that we offer our support to the fight against the corrupt and corrupting, and we defend in this sense its role in the dismantling of partisan gangs, such as that of PMDB de Río. Even reaffirming our line, our current would accept that Boulos was separated from the Lava Jato and even presented criticism, because we are not unconditional supporters of an operation that is diverted by political interests and today is being harder with some to the detriment of others, although influence of higher instances of Justice.
But, unfortunately, Boulos has gone much further. We regret that in the last period Boulos’s positions are increasingly closer to PT. The policy he has defended is not the policy voted by PSOL in its congresses, since the party always defined itself as opposition to PT governments. Boulos has vindicated the governments of Lula and Dilma as progressives, seeking a dialogue with a position of dispute over the “legacy of Lulism.” It is far from saying what PSOL has affirmed throughout its history: that the governments of PT were at the service of the capitalists, of the bankers, big businessmen and even of the latifundio. Thus, they became involved in corruption. The PT governments were enemies of the workers. At no time, Boulos has made this definition. It is not about making PT or Lula the center of our campaign. That would not make sense. It is no longer PT that governs. Then, it is clear that it does not make sense from the point of view of the interests of the workers to make PT the main enemy. This is the position of MES. The main enemy is the government, the parties that support it and the coup leaders. But we do not accept that the PT be acquitted. And Boulos went further: he said that Brazilian people acquitted Lula. For our part, although we defend the right of Lula to be a candidate and we are against his prison, we do not absolve him as representative of the people.
Therefore, MES went on to discard the hypothesis that Boulos’s candidacy is independent of Lulism. For the current, this hypothesis lost strength by Boulos take as its axis the defense of Lula. By tying up the defense of the former president’s right to be a candidate for the political defense of the PTP governments, Boulos ends up approaching and reproducing positions formulated by the PT national summit.
Currently, the party arrives on the eve of the electoral conference without a name in the polls, without appearing before the press and the people with a candidate. In these acute circumstances, the absence of PSOL from the national debate is a serious problem.
Uniting the left of the PSOL and fighting for an independent candidacy of Lulism
It is necessary that the party adjust its course. There is still time to avoid diluting our profile in favor of the survival strategy of Lula and PT. For this, we need immediately to build a presidential candidacy that reflects the political accumulation of PSOL and its independent profile of Lulism – what Boulos’s current positions do not allow.
The party must deepen its programmatic debate, offering an analysis of the Brazilian crisis and a policy capable of facing adjustment, the dismantling of public patrimony and the bankruptcy of bourgeois institutions, demoralized by corruption. In addition to building a program, PSOL needs a broader debate to define its candidate and for it to be legitimized by the party base.
Finally, we need a name that unifies the left party and represents this programmatic accumulation. During the PSOL congress, we support the name of partner Plínio Sampaio Jr., respecting the nominations of other names. We are allies to follow this debate with those and those who agree with the need for an independent candidacy of Lulismo for PSOL. For this, it is necessary to look for the unit around a name to represent the collective accumulation of our party.
Israel Dutra is a sociologist and member of the National Directorate of PSOL and the Esquerda Socialista Movement (MES)
Thiago Aguiar is a PhD student in Sociology (USP) and director of Movimento Magazine.