Brazil: 2021, out with Bolsonaro and the construction of an independent struggle alternative

By Alternativa Socialista/PSOL – ISL Brazil

2021 was particular in many aspects: the peak of the pandemic crisis, managed by a gang of negationists; the political isolation of the government; the rise of unemployment and hunger; the return of the struggles in the streets against the attacks of the Bolsonaro/Centrão government. Despite the pandemic, the struggles showed great strength, isolating and forcing the government to reposition itself to survive, but they also had limitations and betrayals, keeping Bolsonaro in the Planalto.

Unemployment, hunger and chronic crisis

Heartbreaking scenes of hungry people searching for scraps of food in boxes or garbage trucks (the forecast for 2021 was up to 75 million people in extreme poverty), sale of bones in supermarkets and, for those who were able to, increased consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods. Proteins disappeared from people’s plates and what was left was reduced: the price of the basic food basket consumes between 44 and 65% of the minimum wage. Brazilians tightened their belts while financial usurers made billions in profits: 23 billion in the third quarter, 32.3% more than in the same period of 2020 for the main banks. The minimum wage was pulverized by inflation, putting pressure on the cost of living. The adjustment for 2022, 1,210.44 reais (10.04%), is not even positive for 2021.

Evidently, a sector of the people has already realized that the ultraliberal project of labor reforms, since Temer, and of social security and privatizations in exchange for the improvement of life is nothing but a big lie. Unemployment, which the bourgeoisie hides in a fantasy percentage between 12-14%, without counting the unemployed (6 million) and the real number, visible in the streets, confirms daily how much worse life has become. There are no white-collar jobs and only precarious jobs, in humiliating regimes, have become the only way to survive.

In addition to the economic crisis, the political crisis was also the key. The main reforms propagated by the Government after the victory of Lira (PP) in the House of Representatives, in an agreement clouded by corruption, did not advance. The promise of the Administrative Reform, which eliminates the stability of civil servants and outsources State services, ended the year shelved by the crisis and the public administration workers’ campaign. Like the Administrative Reform, the Tax Reform was delayed until 2022 without a timetable. The promise in 2019 of a victorious government with the attacks that Temer did not implement, ended in 2021 with Bolsonaro affiliated to the PL and a government blackmailed by the most venal sector of the regime, the political Centrão.

The set of elements mentioned leads to the conclusion that Bolsonaro’s government lives, as we had already highlighted in previous articles, a chronic crisis. Not from 2021, with the return of the vanguard struggles in the streets, but since mid-2019, with the demonstrations against cuts in higher education and in defense of retirement. Part of the explanation about Bolsonaro’s election in 2018, with a considerable social base, lies in the phenomenon of disillusionment of massive sectors with the servile to capital Petista governments. But this social base supporting Bolsonaro entered a dynamic of loss in the first months.

The chronic crisis of Bolsonaro’s government is part of the process of deterioration of the regime since 2013 with the entry on the scene of the June Days. It is not possible to understand 2021, for example, only from the perspective of the disastrous decisions of a single subject, Bolsonaro, although he has considerably deepened the friction between the institutions of the 1988 regime, but from the crisis of legitimacy with the dominant institutions and the dispute, breaking the pact, between them for the political leadership of the country. The pact agreed in 1984-88, marked by the bourgeois-military transition, was interrupted. The big question is whether it will be resumed or definitively forgotten.

A year of struggles and betrayals

In the first semester, the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak with thousands of deaths, more than 600,000 in the cumulative, and daily figures that reached over 4,000 lives lost in the month of April. With the installation of the Covid-19 CPI in the Senate also in April, the country followed with astonishment the allegations of the attempted unscientific application of herd immunity from infection planned by the “parallel ministry”, frauds in contracts for the purchase of vaccines, inhumane experiments of “early treatment” made by the “medical assistance” company Prevent Senior and Bolsonaro accused of ten crimes, supported by the Penal Code, the Law of Responsibility and the Treaty of Rome – crimes against humanity, in the modalities extermination, persecution and other inhumane acts. With a duration of six months, the CPI (parliamentary commission of inquiry) of Covid showed the levels of corruption and crimes against human rights practiced by the Bolsonaro government, accusing, in addition to the President, 76 people and 2 private companies.

Contrary to what a part of the left has characterized, the ICC was not the main factor in changing the situation and the political isolation of the Bolsonaro government, but the demonstrations initiated on May 29 (29M) by Fora Bolsonaro. Initially called by Povo Na Rua, but driven autonomously, the return of the street demonstrations, even in one of the most critical moments of the pandemic, showed the will of the broad vanguard to defeat Bolsonaro once and for all. With a surprising presence and will, 29M was also marked by disproportionate repression by the PMs of the governments of the left of the order, PSB/PCdoB in Pernambuco and PT/PDT in Ceará, for example, serving as a Bolsonarist fifth column. Even with the repression, the struggles grew with thousands of people in the main streets of the capitals of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Pernambuco, other capitals, medium-sized cities, small towns and international solidarity demonstrations – more than 200 cities total.

Taking stock of the demonstrations (29M, 19J, 3J, 13J 24J, 11A, 7S, 2O, 23O, 20N), from peak to ebb, we can notice the direct action of the PT/CUT/Campanha Fora Bolsonaro in domesticating the acts, lengthening the period between one and another, 19J to 24J is an example, also ignoring the dates not directly called by CFB, 13J guaranteed by Povo Na Rua. Despite this, there were moments when the vanguard broke the barrier of bureaucratic hierarchies, July 3 (3J), which the CFB swallowed whole. From August-September, the skeptics of the defeatist left celebrated their self-fulfilling “theory”. Despite the pressure exerted by Povo Na Rua, a necessary classist space, the PT/CUT/CFB managed to demobilize on the one hand and, on the other, the launching of the candidacy of Lula, protagonist of the political betrayal, for the 2022 elections, with enormous possibilities of defeating Bolsonaro, is part of the channeling through the electoral route.

Unfortunately, the PSOL, led by the PSOL bloc of Todas las Lutas/PTL (Primavera, Solidary Revolution, Resistance, Insurgency, Subverta, etc. ), has behaved as a faithful doormat of Lulo-Petism, not denouncing the seriousness of the political betrayal, and thus prolonging the suffering of the working class at the hands of Bolsonaro/Centrão, not mobilizing for the reactivation of the struggles and ignoring important spaces of the classist left, such as Povo na Rua – built by part of the Left Opposition of PSOL, including us as the Radical Left Movement – in exchange for the right to be the last link in the broad front that Lula is building with bourgeois sectors for the elections of 2022.

PSOL: fireman of the regime or alternative?

There is no doubt that, faced with the attacks of a far-right government, today a specter of what it was, the main task is the complete unity of action in defense of the minimum democratic rights; but this task cannot be subordinated to the defense of the bourgeois regime, considering the far-right as one of the arms of the ruling class, but to the construction of an alternative to the crisis with the working class and the poor people in power. The extreme right can only be buried once and for all by the organized working class, not by frenteamplista shortcuts.

The PSOL has ignored all signals and preferred, under the leadership of the PSOL bloc of Todas as Lutas/PTL, to be the left advisor to Lula’s candidacy in 2022, an attempt at a deal from above to push the Fora Bolsonaro in the electoral calendar. In the most anti-democratic PSOL National Congress (Read more), the Left Opposition bravely defended the name of comrade Glauber Braga for President of the Republic. The PSOL, which was born as an attempt to be a left alternative to the PT, is losing itself in being the last wagon of the broad front, starring ridiculous scenes, such as the shameful request of Lula without Geraldo Alckmin (ex-PSDB), with “a Vice of the left”, made by the Resistance; or Juliano Medeiros, president of the PSOL, affirming that “the Alckmin element is an obstacle, but will not necessarily make this construction impossible”. The PTL bloc has thrown away class independence.

The political alternative to the extreme right is the unity of the social and political forces, in an anti-capitalist and socialist front with class independence. It is not possible to build any minimally classist alternative (front, bloc or coalition) with the PT/Lula. Any composition with the PT/Lula, umbilical part of the 1988 regime, will bring with it bourgeois sectors and parties. The PSOL must bet on a front with the class and independent parties and movements.

The PSOL will not be better placed by the apparently easier shortcut being the last to arrive of the broad front in the elections, or fireman of the regime in crisis, but by the construction of the class, feminist and ecosocialist front that demands and fights for the reactivation of the struggles for Fora Bolsonaro in the streets and denounces the betrayals of the PT/Lula/CUT. We, from Alternativa Socialista, part of the Radical Left Movement and the PSOL Left Opposition, fight for it. Join us!