Brazil: why no to Lula and yes to a Socialist Left Front?

By Alternativa Socialista/PSOL – ISL, Brazil

National elections are near and the debate on who should govern comes to the forefront. The need to remove Bolsonaro is unquestionable, but the question of who should be the presidential replacement opens tactical and strategic debates in the left in general and in the PSOL, the party we built, in particular.

Bolsonaro out, obviously

There is no doubt that throwing out this government is a priority for any organization that represents the interests of the working class and poor people. We understand that Bolsonaro’s government has been on the brink of the abyss for quite some time and that the possibilities for it to remain in power are more ephemeral every day. This is due to the loss of social base, caused mainly by the series of attacks on the working people who were not convinced by the speeches of austerity and dismantling of rights and conquests. From there, this government did not achieve the neoliberal agenda demanded by the local and international bourgeoisie, and which today they demand through publishers in the main newspapers of the country.

But that was not, and is not, enough to remove Bolsonaro. His weakness has not been combined with the emergence of a social force capable of mobilizing the masses against this government. The efforts of some sectors of the left so far have been overcome by the conciliatory policy of leaderships like the PT and Lula, who have the 2022 presidential elections on the horizon. Betting on mobilizations to confront this government of austerity, destruction and death, continues to be a priority for those who, like us, do not believe in conciliatory electoral solutions.

So, Lula-Alckmin are not the solution

Lula did not take the risk in the mobilizations and rallies that demanded “Bolsonaro Out” last year. Like the PT, the leadership of the CUT and other political sectors, like the PCdoB, did not want to build the general strike of state workers to confront the unpopular reforms. On the contrary, they isolated the workers of the Post Office, for example, who fought against the privatization of this strategic company in June 2021. Why? Because the objective of Lula and the PT is precisely to reach a new agreement with the traditional right in order to reach the presidency.

And this is where the great debates of the left arise: Is the electoral solution the way to defeat the war plan against the people by the economic power? Moreover, is a new government of class conciliation the one that will be able to respond to the demands of a people suffering from hunger? Our answer is no. To say otherwise is to lie and to create expectations in a Lula government that does not exist except in the pages and speeches of opportunist organizations or figures who seek shortcuts, or who have directly ceased to believe in the motor of history, the class struggle.

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We know that there is confusion in a large part of the population suffering from Bolsonaro’s government and the neoliberal project of dismantling the State, austerity and anti-popular reforms. There is the illusion that Lula is the only political tool to defeat him. We cannot fool ourselves. This illusion is understandable, but it is enough to see what the 12 years of PT governments were to confirm the opposite. Fundamentally, we must listen to what Lula and the PT are now saying about the “serious capitalism”[1] they intend to “rebuild” for the country. And, of course, the agreements they are weaving with the traditional right wing such as with the enemy of the working people and former governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, to become Lula’s vice-president, together with nefarious characters such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso himself.[2]

The reissue of a government of class conciliation will have another disastrous end.

The PT governments were responsible for the devastating advance of agribusiness and polluting production in the first two decades of this century (which they still defend as a productive model), causing what today is an unprecedented environmental crisis – no doubt, with a qualitative leap in its exacerbation by the Bolsonaro government. It is in their account the fabulous profits of financial speculation and private banks, in a decade of high commodity prices and that, even with the existence of social programs to fight extreme poverty and hunger, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few increased, widening the gap between rich and poor in Brazil. They were responsible for policies that encouraged private capital in university and basic education, through laws such as the PPP – Public-Private Partnership. The examples are many and all indicate that the PT governments, far from being an overcoming of liberal governments such as that of FHC, were a continuity.

The popular-front formula of the governments, with progressive discourses that dialogue with the working people and the poor, but govern for the capital, turned out to be a determining factor for the rise of the extreme right that reached the government. Bolsonaro is the expression of this process, emerging as a “political alternative” for the Brazilian masses that shortly before had placed their hopes in the “popular” government of the PT.

There is room to build a third alternative with class independence.

As is being demonstrated in Latin America, a political space is growing on the left of the progressive governments to confront the right. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party and Lula no longer have the solid social base of the 1990s and early 2000s. Lula is generating expectations in important sectors of society that place him in first place in the electoral polls, opening the possibility of his winning in the first round. But these expectations are fragile and walk the tightrope of a political leadership that chooses to conciliate with capital instead of confronting it as a possible alternative in times of a world capitalist crisis. The masses have already made the experience with the PT project and have broken away, this opens the space to build a third alternative on the left, as long as there are leaderships willing to do so.

The PSOL has the opportunity to be part of a pole of confluence of this vanguard that, today isolated and dispersed, tomorrow will be in the streets. It can be part of the political alternative of the socialist left in the face of the war plans of the right and the “patriotic austerity” of the left of order, being ready to challenge and not to fall for the siren songs of class conciliation. As well as being the party that summons and builds the true Socialist Left Front, calling the PSTU, the PCB, Popular Unity and all the organizations of the militant left to strengthen an alternative with class independence and a socialist program.

There is room for a project of all those who rebel against oppression and exploitation and know that there is no conciliation possible with capital, and that sooner or later they will return to the streets to confront any government, regardless of its pretty speeches or progressive promises. What is lacking is a political leadership to open this dispute, and for that we must prepare ourselves.

[1]Palavras de Lula no discurso feito o dia 10/03/2021 na sede do Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos do ABC, em São Bernardo do Campo, SP.