Tito Prado (Peru), Israel Dutra, Roberto Robaina, Pedro Fuentes (Brasil) (*)
By way of introduction and synthesis
This text is a contribution focused on the tasks facing socialists in the western hemisphere during the coming years. To this end we begin with some reflections on the global situation, which are critical for understanding Latin American politics.
Trump’s presidency is a reflection of the decline of US hegemony. His government has deepened political instability and intensified geopolitical chaos. But at the same time a strong resistance has emerged to confront him within the United States. The greatest world power (though in decline) has turned out in the last years to be a center of global contradictions, as well as one of the central fields of class struggle in the world.
This occurs in the middle of a global “long interregnum” (using Harvey’s expression) that is a consequence of the great contradiction that exists when capitalism faces a grave structural crisis, but when no socialist alternative has arisen in opposition to it. We see no revolutionary, mass-based socialist alternative on the near horizon that can resolve or overcome this contradiction conclusively.
In this context, the working class faces major difficulties transforming itself into a conscious, organized, international class. While objectively socialist politics should be on the political agenda during a period of severe economic crisis, this has not occurred during the present crisis because the working class has not developed a socialist consciousness. It has not developed a socialist consciousness because no organizations exist that in the short term are capable of developing into a revolutionary alternative adequate to the task of resolving this fundamental contradiction of our time.
As a consequence, we see few decisive triumphs against the bourgeoisie, particularly with respect to the expropriation and socialization of means of production. But nor do we see elites capable of implementing counterrevolutionary programs against the working class with impunity. These two facts explain the current interregnum. Yet this does not mean in any way that reality is static; to the contrary, everything is in flux. Global elites launch successive attacks on the livelihoods of workers and peoples around the world. The have embarked upon a permanent economic counterrevolution against the working class, the result of which is the globalization of misery. They do so at the cost of provoking still deeper crises and at the risk of their governments losing even more legitimacy among the masses, in response to which governments will employ increasingly authoritarian and repressive measures.
The movement of the masses, however, has not been paralyzed by these attacks. Around the world we see strong resistance to the economic counterrevolution among the working class, powerful movements against creeping authoritarianism, and strong movements in defense of hard-won democratic gains. To illustrate these three examples, in Europe we can look to the Catalan separatist rebellion; in Tunis massive mobilizations (primarily of the youth) recently arose against austerity, and in Iran the people once again took to the streets in defiance of the rule of Ayatollah Khamenai. Moving to Latin America, the Argentine we have recently seen massive protests against Macri’s proposed pension reforms, we have seen large scale resistance to the coup in Honduras and in Peru the shameful pardoning of ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori has generated huge protests calling for the resignation of current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Although serious mass socialist alternatives are yet to emerge, the present moment is characterized by new political processes guided by intermediary alternatives that oscillate between adaptation to and rupture with the status quo. Specifically, we are talking about the Bernie Sanders phenomenon and the growth of the DSA in the USA, of the renewal of Labor with Corbyn, the Left Bloc of Portugal, Podemos of Spain, the MNP of Peru, the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) of Chile and the PSOL of Brazil.
As revolutionaries we must continue participating in these movements. To take one instructive example: the capitulation of Podemos in the face of the Catalan separatist rebellion shows clearly that there are oscillations between adaptation and rupture within these intermediary processes and, consequently, that the participation of anti-capitalists and internationalists is crucial in defending both the radicalization of internal democracy within these movements, as well as promoting a program of fundamental rupture with the existing order. Our participation is essential to put these movements on an anti-capitalist track.
Latin America is part of this world situation, a world that from the perspective of the masses is more unified than ever, since misery and poverty are growing around the globe, and since the current ecological crisis affects all of humanity. The convergence of the North and the South of our continent is accelerating rapidly during the Trump Presidency.
In Latin America, we are witnessing the end of one political and economic cycle, and the beginning of another. The great mobilizations at the beginning of the century (from the water and gas wars in Bolivia to the Piqueteros in Argentina) brought down pro-imperial neoliberal governments across the regime and inaugurated a new political cycle dominated by the leaders of Bolivarianism and Lulism, which, despite often falling together under the broad umbrella of “the Pink Tide” were very different processes (one radical nationalist and the other neoliberalism with a human face). As these movements faltered, new neoliberal governments emerged (with Temer in Brazil, Macri in Argentina, etc.) that have been applying brutal structural adjustment plans upon their peoples. The frontal assault against these governments is a central feature of contemporary Latin American struggles.
At the same time, in South America we see new, broad-based political movements emerging, from among which we would highlight the MPN in Peru, the Broad Front in Chile, and the PSOL in Brazil. Each of these movements have very different roles and impacts in the politics and class struggles of their respective countries. As socialists or primary task is to be a part of the development of these movements, always defending an anticapitalist program, class struggle and internal democracy. Another critical tasks of internationalist socialists in Latin America is to build strong ties to the rich political process unfolding in the United States. We must link the resistance struggles on both sides of the Rio Grande by tearing down Trump’s wall and building in its place strong bonds of solidarity between anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists across the hemisphere.
The economic counterrevolution of the elites
In recent years have witnessed a partial economic recovery in the core countries of Europe and North America, and resumed economic growth in many Asian countries. This recovery exists within a secular decline in economic growth rates that began several decades ago started several decades ago. This partial recovery can be explained primarily by the advance of the economic counterrevolution that mercilessly squeezes the already low incomes of the working class and the poor, particularly in the global south. It is a partial recovery that has done nothing to address structural problems in the capitalist economy, and has served only to deepen the inequalities and contradictions of this historical stage.
Full scale recovery of previous rates of capitalist accumulation is impossible because no new modes of accumulation have emerged that would permit such a recovery. Capital accumulation is an increasingly deformed process, dominated more and more by financialization and by the destruction of society and nature, particularly in the global south. As François Chesnais, citing Marx, has written in his analysis of the world capitalist crisis, citing Marx, capitalism collides with its own insurmountable barriers.1
OXFAM data on the explosion of inequality around the globe are convincing. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco argues that “the unending inequality already pointed out by Piketty between the wealth of the rich, and the growth of GDP can explode earlier than expected. Innumerable charts demonstrate the high rate of wealth accumulation among the rich compared to GDP and wage growth. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the crisis is unequal between countries.
The global economic counterrevolution against the working class and most vulnerable sectors of society advances with three models of reform in the service of capital: labor reforms aimed at liquidating practically all the historical gains of the working class; pension reforms that pose a direct threat to workers’ incomes by transferring part of their income to capitalist profits, and tax reforms that exempt the big bourgeoisie from paying taxes, while penalizing the middle and working classes.
To the austerity plans we must add the neocolonialist policies carried out in the global south. This time the plundering imperialists are not just the old Western powers, but also China (economically more aggressive) and Russia (to a lesser extent), who seek to expand their economic spheres of influence.
Dependence on international financial capital translates into payments of insurmountable foreign debts. We must also add the aggressive policy of extractivist dispossession of natural resources (mining, agriculture, oil prospecting, etc.) carried out by neolcolonialist powers, in a process David Harvey identifies as a new form of primitive accumulation.
It is undeniable that capitalism works in an increasingly deformed manner, and with more contradictions. The sickness of the capitalist system can only mean greater agony, poverty and suffering workers and the poor, generating grave risks for the future on human life.
The worldwide exploitation of the working class and the poor, in addition to our shared experience of climate change, brings together the masses of all countries in an increasingly singular experience of global capitalism.
In this global context it would be a mistake to place China or Russia as a progressive field against imperialism; they are neo imperialisms, part of the global economic counterrevolution. The economic decline of the U.S, in addition to the protectionist policies of the Trump administration, have opened up space for China, which occupies an increasingly strong place in the world economy, and with its president XI Jinping has become the world’s greatest defender of globalization. Massive Chinese investments in our continent do not benefit Latin Americans in any way: the objective of these investments are as imperialistic as those of the United States, and the consequences are analogous for our countries: submission and economic dependence, appropriation of material resources through predatory extrativism, etc. The Chinese bureaucracy is part of world capitalism. It is organically associated with the big corporations that dominate the world.
Trump accelerates the geopolitical chaos as the US becomes an important political center of class struggle
The United States has become a political center for the world class struggle. That has occurred since wretched figure of Donald Trump fumbled his way into the White House. Scandalously, Trump’s government is the clearest expression of the period of American decline, a fact that accelerates geopolitical chaos, a point made nicely by Pierre Rousset. /2/. The current US president bears striking similarities to Rome’s leaders during the decline of that great empire. It is reminiscent of a deranged fireman who throws attempts to distinguish the fire by throwing more wood on it!
Trump’s international polices (such as his proposal to construct a Border Wall with Mexico, transfer the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, his childish exchange of threats with Kim Jong-Un, his attempts to break the nuclear agreement with Iran, etc.) are generating more conflicts, more unpredictability and contradictions within imperialism. Trump has made strong bets, some of which are mediated by the staff that surrounds him, perhaps the most important of which is the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem. This separated him from other key imperial powers, but at the same time it represented a major strengthening of the relationship between the U.S. government and Netanyahu/Zionism.
We see a similar divergence between U.S. foreign policy and that of the other imperial powers in the cases of both Iran and North Korea. In North Korea, the US has made its most dangerous gamble yet with Trump’s nuclear threat against Kim Jong-Un, which has also increased tensions between Washington and Beijing. In response China is strengthening its military capability and creating new spheres of influence in the Pacific region.
Beyond his arguably psychotic traits, Trump is the political expression of an exaggerated, extreme US nationalism known as “America First”. His electoral base, white supremacist and racist, exudes bitterness and hatred against immigrants, as well as semi-colonial countries pillaged by imperialism. The essence of his histrionics is racial hatred.
The xenophobia that drove Trump also gave birth to a similar brand “leaders” in Europe. There is a social sector in the imperialist countries that blames immigrants and refugees for their deteriorating living standards.
Trump has psychotic features, but let’s not fool ourselves, he is carrying out serious policies in the service of big capital and the American bourgeoisie. For evidence, look no further than the recent tax reform that disproportionately benefited the superrich at the expense of working class and poor Americans. The traditional Republican Party and the American bourgeoisie couldn’t be happier.
These policies, in addition to all the other measures that Trump has taken against immigrants, against African-Americans, against women, etc. also have the support of a significant sector of the American population. In addition, the US is experiencing a partial economic recovery (which began with Obama) which has produced a modest increased employment and consumption. / 3/,
Trump’s policies have produced an increasing polarization and politicization of American society. This has led a large sector of the U.S. population to reject Trump and his policies, among significant portion of whom we have witnessed increasing radicalization and politicization, which have congealed into an incipient resistance movement, democratic and bottom-up in character, and led by women, immigrants, and African-Americans, among others. Trump’s tax reform leaves no more room for a radical reform of the rich bourgeoisie cut, as Bernie Sanders has argued. It was no coincidence that Sanders emerged in the context of Donald Trump. For now the working class is behind all these processes.
Trump’s machista attacks are answered by the women’s movement and his white supremacism by the left and the black movement. The attempt to cut the DACA program, as well as its insistent policy of raising the Wall with Mexico, radicalizes the Hispanic population against Trump. His attempt to end the DACA program, as well as his insistence on building a wall between US and Mexico, has radicalized the Latine population against him.
The decadence and crisis of the bourgeois-democratic regimes; the crisis of representation of their political parties and the dangers of the new national-populism
Trump is the highest expression of the appearance of outsiders on the political stage that demonstrates the crisis of political representation facing the world bourgeoisie and bourgeois democratic regimes.
This crisis is expressed in the declining legitimacy of the two major U.S. political parties, which have lost contact with the needs of the masses and transformed into to managers for the big bourgeoisie. In this phase of neoliberal globalization, the welfare state recedes and states are increasingly co-opted by the big bourgeoisie, and serve more and more directly as managers of the big bourgeoisie.
The discrediting of the parties is linked to the fact that generalized corruption (an essential characteristic of capitalism) is unrelenting during this stage. /4/
Right-wing nationalisms are a great danger to humanity. They are sustained in racist sectors of the middle classes and in the desperation of a section of the working class who blame their lost jobs on immigrants. The anti-immigrant politics of right-wing nationalism centers its attacks upon the most vulnerable sector of workers and their claim to full democratic citizenship.
But right-wing nationalism is also a reaction to the advance of the democratic struggle of marginalized and oppressed groups, from the LGBTQ movement to Black Lives Matter.
It is necessary to distinguish right-wing nationalisms from progressive nationalisms that fight against imperialism, as is the case of Catalonia, and of the semi-colonial, colonial or dependent countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Right-wing nationalism is a new ideology also used by the neo-imperialism of China and Russia (who bury the revolutionary history of their peoples) with the aim of creating within their countries a chauvinist consciousness about their strength in the global order.
Differences within the politics of imperialism
The politics of world imperialism is not uniform. On the one hand, there are Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May. On the other side, there are sectors that differ from Trump and its expression in European countries, namely Angela Merkel in Germany.
Trump’s virulent racism conflicts with some sectors of the global bourgeoisie. For instance, the Democratic Party, Merkel, Macron in France and Pope Francis adapt to the rise of women’s struggles, the LGBTQ movement and other movements of the oppressed. They also reject Trump’s aggressive policy in the Middle East and Iran. These are real divisions of intra-imperialist contradictions. Let’s not deceive ourselves: more “progressive” sectors of the bourgeoisie seek to instrumentalize various struggles of the oppressed to defend their imperialist policy. These sectors adopt a whole series of very progressive democratic struggles without losing their organic link with the ruling classes, whose political essence is to carry forward economic counterrevolution. On this all leftists agree.
The growing resistance among, workers, women and communities fighting for basic democratic rights
The advance of the right and authoritarianism is real, but this does not mean that most of the masses have migrated to the right of the political spectrum. Trump means a return of Reaganism, though with its proto-fascist ideological traits more exacerbated and more dangerous by the increase in global instability. It is a growing danger if it is not stopped. However, Trumpism does not present the same stability and consistency that Thatcherism and Reaganism did. It happens in another economic context without the possibility of the expansion of capitalism that occurred with fall of socialist governments in Eastern Europe, and in a period of broader and more sustained grassroots resistance. Thus the consciousness of the masses is delayed in relation to the needs placed, there is resistance and a great democratic conscience.
In repressive authoritarian countries mobilizations are increasing all over the world, as can be seen in particularly courageous recent struggles in Tunisia, Iran, Argentina. The global working class continues to wage real battles against employers despite the weakness or lack of determination of bureaucratic union leaderships. In Europe, IGMetal brought together almost 4 million workers struggling to reduce the workweek from 35 to 28 hours, through a wave of work stoppages. In Greece, the hesitations of the Syriza government are almost weekly answered in the streets by Greek class organizations.
It is also worth mentioning Iran and Tunisia, where young workers flooded the streets of their respective countries, rejecting the austerity packages of their governments and pressing for more forceful criticism of these extremely corrupt political regimes. In Tunisia, the government was forced cede a series of social reforms to calm the collective anger that for more than a week reverberated across the Nation Tunisia and Iran confirm Gilbert Achcar’s prognosis that the Arab revolution was a long process and that the last chapters were not written with counterrevolutionary triumphs. /5/
It is worth noting the role of youth and women. Students have also been facing neoliberalism in different parts of the globe over preceding decades. From Canada to Argentina, practically all of America experienced strong university and student strikes against the commodification of education. In Catalonia, the movement for independence was constantly renewed by student mobilizations.
The strike was also the method used by women to further amplify feminist banners. I haven’t seen a March 8 so internationalized and class-focused for many years. A little earlier, in October 2016, the Poles defeated an anti-abortion project of the ultraconservative government unwilling the compromise. The new mobilizations of women in the US are announcing a new world strike on March 8 that will be a common internationalist action, something we have not seen for a long time.
The interconnection between North and South draws ever closer, mainly after the US with Trump became the political center of the international class struggle. This means that what happens in the US impacts politically and socially all over the world; and of course, in Latin America. Latin Americans have always tended to consider the US as a country that included its peoples. Now there are concrete allies and common demands, which are linked. The task of expelling imperialism from our countries is now also associated with the same struggle within the US. A large part of the group we call “gringos” are our strategic allies. /6/
Structurally, the US has become “Latin Americanized” because it is a country with a high rate of poverty and great social inequalities. In 2016, almost 41 million people, about 13% of the population, lived in poverty. And, because many of the “shortcomings” of our public services are present: first, the distressing problem of healthcare, dramatically underfunded public schools, as well as the soaring cost of higher education.
It has also been “Latin Americanized” by the increasing presence of Latino immigration that has meant that 40% of the US population speaks Spanish.
The Trump Wall is more than a physical construction to separate borders and prevent the passage of immigrants. For Latin Americans it means the persecution of the large Latine population in the USA. For Americans that is also true, since latinos makeup a significant part of the working class and poor in the United States. But also, for both sides (and especially for the workers and the poor of the USA) the wall is a symbol of the power of Trump’s right-wing new populism. Its fall will be a defeat of one of the symbols of right-wing populism and Trump’s authoritarianism.
Latin America closes an historic political cycle that dominated mass movements during the 2000s
The 2000s in South America were a period in which there was a change in the correlation of forces within imperialism in key countries of the subcontinent. The pro-imperialist neoliberal governments of Menem and then De la Rua was overthrown in Argentina; there were successive falls of governments in Ecuador until the rise of Correa in 2007; Lula replaced FHC in Brazil. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian process was deepened and affirmed after the defeat of the 2002 coup and the defeat of the 2003 lock out.
The greatest expression of this change was the defeat of the Free Trade of the Americas Act (FTAA), a plan of imperial neo-colonization with which the US tried to secure its backyard.
This change was produced by great insurrectional mobilizations and true popular-democratic revolutionary processes, where the working class did not act as such, but as part of the spontaneous popular mobilization- that began in Ecuador in 1998 and continued with the Argentinazo in 2001, then in the water and gas wars (2003/2005) and the defeat of Lozada (2005) in Bolivia and in 2002 with the historic defeat of the coup in Venezuela.
During much of this period Latin American economies enjoyed high commodity (for oil, meat, soy, minerals) thanks to the accelerated expansion of the Chinese economy.
Supported in this process of mobilization, three types of governments emerged in Latin America. First, the governments of radical nationalism: Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Correa in Ecuador carried out anti-imperialist measures and political rupture with the bourgeoisie. Second, the new governments of Kirchner, Lula and Mujica that were not of the traditional bourgeoisie of those countries but that did not produce any political rupture with the bourgeoisie (except Kirchner partially with the rural bourgeoisie to favor the industrial one). And third, traditional right-wing governments like Uribe’s in Colombia, part of this period in Chile, in Mexico, etc. In Peru (although with the mobilization of the “Cuatro Suyos” the Fujimori regime fell in 2000) Toledo rose as an exponent of the bourgeoisie and then Alan Garcia. These different types of government show how the 2000 process, although it has dominated the change with the correlation of forces, was far from uniform.
In the Bolivarian countries of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela we see not only changes in policy with respect imperialism and their national bourgeoisies, but also profound processes of democratic deepening through constituent processes that institutionalized new constitutions.
The most profound process was that of Bolivia, where it was a true democratic revolution that conquered the multi-ethnic State, giving democratic rights to the indigenous majority of the country for the first time.
Two directions emerged in this period and were poles of great continental influence: Chavez and Lula.
Lula and Chavez are products of this stage, but they were qualitatively different. The first was anti-imperialist, and with the fall of the FTAA, it promoted the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (or ALBA), which was a trade agreement between countries and which broke the isolation to which Cuba had been subjected for decades. The second made a close alliance with the banks, the agribusiness and the big construction companies that allowed Brazilian multinationals to play a sub-imperialist role in the region, taking advantage of the relative retreat of the US with the defeat of the FTAA.
The Lula government continued the policy of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Great exponents of the bourgeoisie (Henrique Meirelles, Luiz Fernando Furlan, Waldir Pires, Jose Alencar, etc.) were appointed ministers, privileging the relationship with the large infrastructure construction complexes (associated with petroleum, petrochemical etc.), agro-industries and the banks. Lula used the resources of the three large State Banks to favor these sectors in the country and its sub-imperialist expansion to the continent. /7/. This aspect of sub-imperialism, which was also made towards Africa, was facilitated by the withdrawal of the USA and because to a certain extent it knew how to “represent” it, playing a role of associated sub-power/.8/
Brazil was a cushion to prevent the Bolivarian process from becoming “continentalized”, meaning that ALBA and Bolivarian politics might develop on a continental scale. This was the task that was set for an independent development.
The governments of the PT and the Kirchnerism used the favorable economic conjuncture to make concessions and aid assistance, such as small education grants to poorest sectors of the population. With the favorable economic situation there was also a relative increase in purchasing power of working class and poor.
A commonality shared by these different processes is the fact after many years in government both developed strong state apparatuses that strengthened privileged bureaucracies. In the case of Brazil, PT was an organic agent of large bourgeois sectors. In Venezuela Chavez and the PSUV also formed a bureaucratic apparatus and a “boliburguesia” (Bolivarian Bourgeoisie) that accumulated capital from this apparatus and “boliburguesía” /9/. But Chavismo was independent of the traditional Venezuelan bourgeoisie.
The reactionary advance
This period of the class struggle changes course between 2012 and 2015 with several triumphs of the bourgeoisie. A precursor of this change had already occurred with the coup in Honduras (2009) and in Paraguay (2012) against Lugo.
But the most important advances of the right were the triumph of Macri in the Argentine elections of 2015 and then the parliamentary coup in Brazil (2016) against Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousssef. In her place arose former Vice President Michel Temer, who has accelerated neoliberal and austerity measures more rapidly and cruelly than Roussef could ever have achieved.
The general framework for understanding these reactionary advances centers around the crisis of 2008, which was delayed in South America, and caused a sharp drop in oil prices and commodities. That crisis forced the government of Dilma to make a drastic turn toward austerity after beginning her second term in 2014. The death of Chavez (a mass leader who kept the Bolivarian revolution in force) is another fundamental element that allowed for the strengthening of the right. It is worth noting that this process is not uniform and does not occur in a similar way throughout the continent.
Thus, the conditions are created for the opening of a stage of neoliberal reactionary governments (via elections or parliamentary coup) and the opening of a new stage. The turn to Bonapartism of the Maduro government is part of this process.
The wear and tear suffered by these governments was decisive for the bourgeoisie to advance with “characters” of the same class. In Brazil, PT suffered a major blow in its relationship with the mass movement in the big mobilization days of June 2013. Dilma tried manage her declining popular during the presidential elections of 2014 with a populist program. But when she began her second term she tried to take reactionary measures by making a 180 degree turn away from the rhetoric of her electoral campaign. Cristina Kirchner also had to take hard measures. The appearance of cases of corruption in Brazil and Argentina involving PT and Kirchnerism damaged the political legitimacy of these two political forces within mass movements. Both defeats (one electoral, one originated from a parliamentary coup) were facilitated by this weakening of popular support.
The preceding analysis shows that governments in Brazil and Argentina had not taken any major steps toward economic adjustment. When the bourgeoisie saw that the PT had neither the capacity to contain mass movements nor to apply more draconian adjustment policies, the reactionary blow of the impeachment rested on a sector of the middle class that turns to the right. Macri’s electoral triumph in Argentina can be explained in the same way.
If Maduro survives, it is because he made a clear turn to a reactionary Bonapartism, used harsh repression against demonstrations and negotiated great concessions with imperialism. All policies that aggravate the Venezuelan crisis.
The Bolivian indigenism
In Bolivia we have not seen an analogous resurgence of the right. Indigenous Bolivians achieved new political freedoms as well as majority representation in Brazil’s national political institutions. This in a country that was always governed by the white minority. Unlike Venezuela, the social movements that Brought Evo Morales to power have since been more independent and less attached to the state apparatus.
Evo achieved greater stability thanks to this policy and because he nationalized gas and oil. There was thus more capacity for an independent policy and also put an end to the permanent crisis of the white bourgeoisie /10/
The “new” neoliberal governments
The electoral triumph of the right in Argentina and the parliamentary coup in Brazil that brought Temer to power open the period or stage of reaction that had already been announced to some extent with the coup in Honduras and then in Paraguay. The neoliberal governments of this period (Temer, Macri, PPK in Peru, Nieto in Mexico, Santos in Colombia and others) do not have the strength of Menem or Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the 90s, in the same way that Trump does not have Reagan’s.
They are even more submissive than those and more malignant for the interests of the country because they have less pork to deliver. That is why they want to sell everything to corporations, extractives, etc. and promote even higher levels of poverty with their counter reforms.
They have all been openly pro-American, but they have had to read the pro-Yankee proxy discourse because it does not work so much with Trump’s protectionism. Now also the continent is disputed by the speculative capitals and the predators also of China, thus the military geopolitical dominion is of the American imperialism installed always with its military bases. 11
We cannot compare Maduro to Macri and Temer because they are of different origin. However, Maduro is part of this reactionary process. His government is not the continuity of Chavismo. Rather, politically speaking it is the Thermidorian reaction to Bolivarianism.
It is necessary to point out that this drastic reactionary turn to openly pro-imperialist neoliberal governments occurred in the absence of a serious and direct defeat of mass movements, be it counterrevolutionary or reactionary; we refer to defeats or counterrevolutionary triumphs such as the coup d’état of the 1980s; They enter a different world situation. That’s why they do not have the strength of those.
A great battle has begun against new neoliberal governments; new political directions are also emerging
It is a difficult struggle and of a different character from the struggles of the 2000s because although there are large mobilizations today they are not of the magnitude of struggles during the 2000s. But though mobilizations have been weaker they have not stopped, and now Peru has reached its highest point where the popular mobilization of youth and workers has been undermining the neoliberal model of Humala (son of Lula) and now PPK. In Argentina, where Macri’s pension reform has left much of Buenos Aires in a process of mobilization that has continued unabated since he took office. / 1 / We should also not forget Chile, where there is continuity from the struggle of students against privatized education several years ago. Neither June 2013 of Brazil. /12/
There is an accumulation of forces with the mobilizations, but nevertheless their triumph will be difficult. The Latin American bourgeoisie is determined to go forward with its economic counterrevolution. It has no other path in the face of the seriousness of the crisis. The policy of the governments requires severe measures to address mass challenges to their authority. This is what Macri is showing.
An important step to turn the balance in favor of popular movements will be if the Peruvian mobilization ends the PPK government; there then we would have the first fall of these new neoliberal regimes.
Peru is the country where neoliberalism is weakest and the possibility of a new left arising as a mass alternative is the strongest
The Peruvian situation requires a special highlight. In Peru there are several elements that make it a fundamental focus of the struggle against privatizing, predatory and extractive neoliberalism. The struggles can be traced back to the peasant and indigenous mobilizations of Bagualazo, the struggle against the mining extractivism in Conga and Tía María, the struggle of the young people who defeated the labor flexibilization plan or garbage jobs for young people, that of the workers with distinction special for the teachers’ strike in this case with a democratic revolution within the SUTEP union that made a new direction emerge; And now the popular democratic mobilizations against the pardon to Fujimori that have put in check the neoliberal government of the PKK. On the other hand, it was the country where the accountability measures were most effective and uncovered the corruption of all the governments of the last fifteen years.
The Movement for a New Peru (MNP) is becoming the party that channels popular mobilization towards a political solution that would mark a break with the old regime. It is a new political movement that has overcome the crisis of the old Peruvian left that was lost in the conciliation of classes with the bourgeoisie and in the ultra-leftist terrorist Sendero Luminoso. After emerging from the crisis of Humala’s nationalism, it demonstrated that it was a living party that relied on a political vanguard that has experience with the old processes.
Before the open crisis the MNP had hesitations but ended up affirming a policy of rupture with the old regime by raising the slogans against the pardon linked to the departure of PKK and a New Constitution. Every crisis of the regime is a test, and this time the NPM passed it. The agreements signed recently with the MAS of Gregorio Peral, a movement that has its center in Cajamarca, and that lead the Conga struggle, is another step that consolidates this political front that is becoming a pole for the mass movement.
In Brazil, forces accumulate during uncertainties unresolved of the conjuncture
Brazil is the country in which there is the most uncertainty at present. The recent conviction of Lula (for corruption) means that the Brazilian bourgeoisie affirms itself in its authoritarian turn. With this conviction, the chances of Lula (who is currently by far the favorite to win in 2018 presidential elections) being a candidate in the next elections are almost non-existent. Lula’s conviction was clearly a discriminatory measure in the service of the big Brazilian bourgeoisie that does not want the PT now in the government. It is no longer the instrument it needs for its policy of economic counterrevolution.
Temer’s government is fragile. He has had to overcome two requests for impeachment denouncing his corruption schemes. Several ministers have fallen for these same corruption schemes. /13/. The government has the lowest approval rating in the entire history of the country (6%).
During this crisis, however, the government can still apply policies of adjustment and austerity. The public stands strongly against these measures, as does a still weak but growing organized resistance movement, but the government retains significant power because there is confusion in the mass movement that essentially exists because the union leaderships and the PT itself have not been willing to confront the government by trying to broaden the resistance into a large-scale general strike. /14/
The Brazilian situation is confusing, because the workers and the people have not built a new alternative to replace the PT, one which reorganizes the entire vanguard and becomes a pole for the masses. But strategically the road is open. PSOL is not yet, but it exists and gains credibility in the mass movement.
The emergence of new alternatives in the fight against the advance of neoliberalism
These new movements and new political processes occur not only in Peru or Brazil. In Chile there is the Broad Front that became a political front with mass influence. In Venezuela, even if this is more difficult, the elections showed the cracks of madurism and the appearance of new electoral lists of critical chavismo. Mexico is a place of more unknowns. The upcoming Mexican elections can help to unleash the crisis in a more favorable way by the presence of independent candidates with a special emphasis on that of Zapatismo and if AMLO triumphs (which we do not consider a new process), since it is a bourgeois candidate it is not the same than Nieto or the PAN.
In this period, the old is dying, but the new cannot yet be born, as Gramsci said of his time.
In Honduras, resistance on the streets of the FNRP can revive a rejuvenated alternative political force in the fight against fraud. And in Argentina MST, long a great heritage and trajectory in the class struggle along with other Trotskyist organizations have reached significant objective political power, both in the elections and in the mobilizations. In Argentina, classism is growing with great force in the union organizations where the bureaucracy suffers a great loss of prestige. Regrettably, Trotskyist sectors are opposed to creating a joint pole for this process to advance and be a mass alternative to the old, corrupt and discredited bureaucracy.
The very interesting thing about this continental situation is that this phenomenon has also appeared with great force in the US Sanders maintains its presence and parallel to this process, but independently, the political organization DSA is advanced in geometric steps. (It is the socialist party that grew the most in the last period). It is a socialist organization with a militant structure and a democratic operation that is on the streets now campaigning for “Medicare for all”, and whose candidates for elected office in 2016 won more than a score of victories in city council races.
Unity of action, united front, and independent policy
These new processes and directions have a double task. On the one hand, a policy of unity of action or united front to promote mobilization against neoliberalism. This is to have a policy of agreement for the mobilization with the bureaucratic leaders or the old political leaders in specific matters. It is a tactic that global politics cannot be, since these directions demonstrate every day that they are not capable of mobilizing more than very partially and that they capitulate. Hence, it is fundamental to have an independent position, totally differentiated politically from the old directions.
We must be within the new processes defending a class-based, anti-capitalist, and internationalist program
The phenomenon of new alternatives is not only property of our continent; It exists in other parts of the world and will grow because of the crisis of the old directions. All the new political alternatives or rather the addresses of them, live at the crossroads between adapting to the old regime or breaking away from it. It is an objective pressure that is put to the test in acute moments of the class struggle. For example, “Nor … Neither” by Pablo Iglesias ended up being adapted to the post-Franco state /15/
In Peru, we saw that the MNP lived its first crossroads and surpassed it, even if others may come. In Brazil, PSOL has an internal political struggle against more adaptive positions, in this case the PT.
It is a grave error that the sectarian left commits, which already defined the sign, is adaptation, that is, the conciliation of classes. This false conclusion leads to their combat either from the outside or by making an entrist policy within them. Both are mistaken policies that isolate revolutionary currents from objective processes towards a revolutionary class consciousness for workers.
These processes are a fundamental place to move towards it. And that is why it is necessary to be part of them, a constructive part of them, defending an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist program and their internal democracy. So, there is a dispute inside.
The result is not predetermined (as the sectarian sector on the left says); It will depend not only on the intentions of the leaders, but also about the class struggle that promotes mobilizations as is happening in Peru and that the anti-capitalist left organize and develop inside. You must have the “firm hand”; defend internal democracy; an action program of anti-capitalist break with the regime; bet on the development of mobilization and unity with the living processes of the class struggle; dispute in the electoral and mobilization fields; defend an internationalist policy in its interior.
An internationalist challenge for the socialists in Latin America and the US
Precisely one of the greatest difficulties we face in carrying out this ant capitalist policy is avoiding national isolation and practicing a concrete internationalism. However, there is still no international real objective pole that is an alternative and that helps building this policy. That helps building this policy and makes a counterbalance to the logical national pressures.
It is a key task to advance this goal. In that sense the vanguard and organizations that are part of these processes would have to set the goal of having common tasks, campaigns, seminars to group these broad processes and within them consolidating the internationalists currents.
Our duty is to try to carry it forward on our continent and there’s room for it. The end of the cycle also meant the end of the Forum of São Paulo that grouped together the old left of Latin America and unhappily the end of “the social movements of ALBA, which today are nothing but an appendix to Maduro’s Bonapartist policy. They have left a void and the task is to fill it.
That means proposing these goals to MNP, PSOL, Frente Amplio of Chile, FNRP in Honduras, to quote the forces that today are having more impact on the social and political struggle of classes in their countries. And we must add to the Latin Americans the socialists from the US. They can also play an important role in overcoming the current void, opening a new perspective to strengthen the fight against Trump and neoliberalism. Because as we said, the task of fighting against Trump and building the antitrump front is ant capitalist and antiimperialist and must be made on both sides of Rio Bravo. It’s not only facing Trump’s wall, it’s about his destructive environment policy, his support for large extractivism corporations, his policy against racial discrimination and expulsion of immigrants.
It is Latin Americans’ task to build this meeting, to make a “silver bridge” to link our demands and struggles. Defeating imperialism in our countries is defeating the big corporations and financial capitals of which half are based in the US.
The task of a new international organization that is a real pole for the fight takes concrete steps. In America it is this one as in Europe it is to unite the movements and the ant capitalists whose common enemy is the troika. The IV (SU) can play a very important role for it. It should support this idea and take it in its hands.
Bet on the working class and internationalism
In all these processes our organizations must keep up the program of socialism. This is not defeated nor its historical subject which is the working class. This long interregnum or impasse requires more political awareness by the Socialists in the broader processes and in the intervention in the class struggle.
Against the opinion that the working class is asleep and will not wake up, it is worth it to look at the process from a strategic point of view. The capitalist crisis worsens and on the other hand the working class grows in number worldwide; just look at the development throughout Asia. Not coincidentally socialist comprehensions grow in the US and there was internal renewal in the English labor party held in one of the world’s most powerful working classes. We are talking about the first and the fifth most powerful countries in the world.
Socialism will be international, or it will not be at all. Socialism is based on this objective process that is far from dying, an international working class.
(*) Tito Prado member of the National Committee of MNP (Movimiento Nuevo Peru and Sumate
Israel Dutra International Secretary of PSOL and National Committee of MES
Roberto Robaina, Council in Porto Alegre, National Committee of PSOL and MES
Pedro Fuentes former International Secretary of PSOL and NC of MES
1“The unlimited exploitation of the labor force purchased and the exploitation without limits and even the exhaustion of natural resources -compared from the middle of the 20th century by modes of production and consumption that cause the exponential growth of gas emissions from greenhouse effect- they go together. They are contained in the notion of capital and in the inseparable production of commodities, a part of which is massive and socially useless. And its material production is devouring resources that are not or are difficult to renewables as well as strongly emitting greenhouse gases”. (Chesnais,2017). Read in Spanish: <http://vientosur.info/spip.php?article12231>
3 The economic recoveries that occur if on the one hand they strengthen the bourgeoisie, on the other hand by creating more work it gives security to the workers to fight for more rights and conquests. In the case of the USA the minimum of 15 dollars per hour.
4 The phenomenon of corruption is an organic issue of capitalism accentuated in this stage of crisis where the bourgeoisie increasingly seeks quick profits. As a whole, there is a lumpenization of the ruling classes that revolves around the easy and rapid gain, financial, speculative, short-term, drug trafficking, hiding their profits in tax havens (Panama papers). For this they have their agents that govern, the corrupt political castes that have an organic or almost organic link with these sectors. We refuse to say that corruption is only in what we call political castes. It begins in the big bourgeoisie as it showed in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, reached by the Lavajato and that is why fighting against it is also anti-capitalist.
5 What began in the Arab region in 2011 was, in fact, a long-lasting revolutionary process, from the outset impossible to predict whether it would take years, decades, whether or not to achieve a new period of sustained stability without the emergence of capable progressive leadership of guiding the Arab countries out of the insurmountable crisis in which they launched after decades decaying under despotism and corruption. (Achcar, 2017). Read in English: <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/25709/the-sixth-anniversary-of-the-start-of-the-arab-upr>
6 One issue is the international policy of the empire, and another is the relationship between the Latin American and American masses. The campism sees the country as a whole and is unable to separate the social classes that make them up and the contradictory superstrutures that represent them. This may change as the great Sanders phenomenon occurred. There is a strong polarization in the USA that is the result of growing inequalities, of the struggle for new social rights, and of workers’ struggles between them for the salary of $ 15 per hour. We must take this situation to have an anti-imperialist policy. We are in favor of the integration of America as a whole, also with the North. However, that is only possible with a continental unit against the large multinationals and financial capitals (those that have most plundered us).
7 This character of sub-imperialism is not new, since Brazil was the privileged Latin American bridge of the USA from World War II.
8 conflictive association, as defined by the Brazilian Marxist Ruy Marini.
9 In Brazil the process of unity with the bourgeoisie was very deep, PT leaders won astronomical fortunes, as was demonstrated now by Lavajato.
10 Bolivia registers about 130 coups in the last two centuries.
11 Not by chance, Temer has made three trips to China.
12 See the struggles of two by one, of the appearance of Maldonado and the teachers’ strikes in Argentina.
13 These same schemes of corruption are those that have reached the entire political caste of which the PT governments were part.
14 On April 28, 2017 there was an important step with a general strike, but then a strike marked on June 30 was canceled
15 You could not ask Iglesias to strongly support the independence movement, which has no agreement in the rest of Spain. But as Raventós and Buster observe very well, in the Sin Permiso, the after-Franco regime of 78 lives a crisis with no way out. And before this situation, Iglesias does not transcend the criticism of 155 when what is placed before the failure of the after-Franco regime is a new Constituent Process that achieves a new form of coexistence among nationalities in the Spanish State.