New Progressive International or Old Center-Left Project?

Various media portals have announced the launching of a new Progressive International, promoted by intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein, various well-known actors, activists and political leaders. In reality, the initiative is not new and, as we will see, neither are the proposals it raises or the characters that lead it.

By Alejandro Bodart

The creation of this vague organization dates back to December 2018 and its promoters were US Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and former Greek Syriza’s Minister of Economy Yannis Varoufakis.

Its stated objectives are “to promote the union, coordination and mobilization of activists, associations, unions, and social movements in the face of the advance of authoritarianism.” (1) And they say they aspire to a “democratic, decolonized, egalitarian, liberated, united, sustainable, ecological, peaceful, post-capitalist, prosperous and plural” world. (2) This compendium of good intentions serves as its programmatic foundations. Quite poor, considering how they pompously present themselves as a new international. For more precision, we will have to wait for their meeting next September in Iceland – if the pandemic allows them – where hosting Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is part of the movement. But I would recommend not to raising expectations.

The generality and superficiality of their objectives and proposals constitute a very important piece of information that shows the lack of originality this “new” organization´s discourse, which is identical to that of so many center-left projects that have come and gone unceremoniously in the recent past. And if this were insufficient to adopt a full characterization, it does suffice to analyze who are the members of its strategic leadership.

Tell Me Who Your Friends Are and I’ll Tell You Who You Are

Let’s start with Fernando Haddad, the Brazilian PT´s presidential candidate, former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and former Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera. All of them were part of “progressive governments” that did not provoke any fundamental change in their countries´ economic and social structures, which continued to be capitalist and dependent, with extremely high percentages of poverty, a growing deterioration of everything public and a retreat of workers´ fundamental rights, which led to their demise and opened the door for right-wingers like Jair Bolsonaro, Lenin Moreno and Jeanine Áñez to come to power in their countries. Some of them declare themselves defenders of the welfare state and claim to defend public health, but when they governed, they weakened public health care to pay external debts. Are we to believe that they defend ecology, when they maintained extractive and polluting models to guarantee corporations extraordinary profits?

Are we to trust that people like Congressman Giorgio Jackson, leader of Democratic Revolution and the Chilean Broad Front, aspire a more democratic world? When the Piñera government and the reactionary regime inherited from Pinochet was about to fall in a revolutionary way, Jackson and his party colluded with them and came to their defense, turning their backs on the mobilized people and the victims of Piñera´s brutal repression. Or how about Alicia Castro, union leader of the bureaucratic Argentine CGT and ex congresswoman of the Alianza that brought De la Rúa to power? That government killed dozens of peoples´ activists during its downfall.

We could speak of the Brazilian Celso Amorín, minister and ambassador of various neoliberal governments, of Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, current minister of Peronist Argentine president Alberto Fernández, who has paid more than 5 billion dollars in interests for an illegitimate and fraudulent debt since taking office last December, while the country lacks the resources to face the pandemic and respond to the most basic economic needs of the majority of the population.

The same can be said of Bernie Sanders, who generated great expectations by speaking of socialism in the heart of the empire and raising popular proposals, like universal health insurance in a country where you can die without medical attention if you don´t have money. His recent support for Joe Biden, a candidate for the US economic establishment, a racist and misogynist leader of the imperialist Democratic Party, exempts me from further comment.

No measure will come from this Progressive International to end external debts, nationalize banks and foreign trade under social control, reverse privatizations, carry out significant agrarian reforms, or impose permanent progressive taxes on the wealthy. They are defenders of the private property of businesses and banks and their model of liberty is limited to the farce of bourgeois democracy, which they propose to expand a bit, at most. They want to give a human face to a capitalist system that is impossible to humanize and is becoming ever more brutal. For these reasons, it will not be possible, beyond the good intentions of some, to eliminate poverty and achieve equality and prosperity for all with these people in the lead. To achieve this and much more, the only viable project is socialism on a world scale, as the ISL, our revolutionary international organization, peoposes.

  1. From its official website
  2. Ibid.