Revolutionaries participate in elections essentially to spread the socialist program. We do not believe that it will be through elections that we will change the country. But in a moment when workers place their hopes in bourgeois democracy, as is the case in Brazil today, it is crucial that we present an alternative to bourgeois politicians.
By Eduardo Almeida
Translated from the Spanish version published here
But at this moment there are other reasons: those arising from the material world and the national reality. It is worthwhile to list here four main reasons to present a socialist candidacy for the presidency in these elections.
The phrase “Socialism or barbarism” has never seemed so applicable
Among left-wing activists, the slogan “Socialism or barbarism” is very famous. It expresses the historical dilemma: either we reach the socialist revolution or capitalism takes us to the historical regression of barbarism.
This is often understood as a future and remote possibility. However, the delay of the socialist revolution is provoking the appearance of elements of barbarism even today. In other words, barbarism is already beginning to make itself present and will only expand.
This is the reality that the workers are living, with the loss of past wins, with wages lowered to subhuman levels, with unemployment growing strongly. We have 45 million people going hungry right now. We have 92 million unemployed and underemployed. These are barbaric material realities of workers today.
The pandemic has entered its third year and no one can say when it will end. Other strains may come, or other pandemics. It is an expression of barbarism stemming from the environment due to the aggression of the deforestation of forests, which generated the pandemic. And barbarism in public health, which has collapsed due to decades of neoliberal plans.
Capitalism’s aggression against the environment is also revealed with global warming already reaching 1.2ºC in relation to pre-industrial levels. Scientists foresee the possibility that we will exceed 1.5ºC of average increase in the earth’s temperature by 2030, which would already begin to cause irreversible damage to ecological systems. Here in Brazil, in addition to the tragedies of Mariana and Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, caused by Vale, the deforestation of the Amazon is very close to the point of no return. The consequences will be catastrophic.
Similarly, we have elements of barbarism in relation to oppression, with massacres of young blacks in poor neighborhoods, such as the invasions of Jacarezinho and Vila Cruzeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, or the cruel murder of Moïse. Feminicide and the murder of LBGTQIA+s are on the rise throughout the country.
These growing signs of barbarism are products of capitalism. Brazil is in decline because of its submission to imperialism, with degradation of its position in the world division of labor. It is increasingly shifting its industrial weight to agricultural and mining production.
This decline began before the current government. Bolsonaro is not only an active agent of this decline but also a result of it. He emerges as an expression of that same decadence, of the crisis of bourgeois democracy, as the first ultra-right government in the country.
Decadence and barbarism are products of capitalism and will continue and become more acute with whatever bourgeois government is elected in October, be it Bolsonaro or Lula. Either capitalist domination is broken with, or barbarism will expand.
The socialist program emerges from this reality, with more force than before. It is easier today to defend the need for a socialist revolution than in previous decades when the ideological campaign “socialism is over” still weighed heavily after the overthrow of the Stalinist dictatorships in Eastern Europe.
“Socialism or barbarism” has never been more topical. And, for this reason, to have a candidate in the elections that strongly presents the socialist program, of a rupture with capitalism, is of enormous importance.
It is of the utmost importance we defeat Bolsonaro. So, how do we do it?
“We have to defeat Bolsonaro.” That is the great argument by which the PT manages to win over the majority of workers and activists. And for that anything goes, including the Lula-Alckmin alliance.
Lula will probably count on the support of the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party), as well as of several right-wing parties. He could win the elections even in the first round. We understand this position, advocated by many honest socialist activists. After all, Bolsonaro is hated by the absolute majority of workers and youth.
Bolsonaro is a consequence of the crisis of bourgeois democracy. The ultra-right is here to stay. He has organized and armed groups all over the country, which did not exist a few years ago. But, is it true that the PT wants to defeat Bolsonaro? Yes and no. Yes, because it wants to defeat Bolsonaro in the October elections, but without breaking with bourgeois institutionalism.
The PT did not want and does not want to defeat Bolsonaro in the most important way, which is through the direct action of the masses. That is why it slowed down the development of the mobilizations for the “Bolsonaro Out.” This is a serious mistake and a consequence of the complete adherence of the PT to bourgeois institutionalism.
Bolsonaro may challenge the outcome of the elections, as Trump did in the U.S. And he may, even if electorally defeated, capitalize in the future on the inevitable wear and tear of a possible Lula government. We repeat that the decadence of the country and the elements of barbarism did not arise and will not end with Bolsonaro out of government.
Lula will have a different way of governing than Bolsonaro. It will be a government with a friendlier face. But, although different, it will still be the face of capitalism. Lula’s program, in essence, is the maintenance of neoliberal plans, with some social concessions. For example, Lula defended the “counter-reform” of the PSOE (socialist party) in Spain in relation to the labor reform of the previous right-wing government. But, in fact, the PSOE maintained the essence of the labor reform, with the precarization of labor and the right of the bourgeoisie to fire workers for any economic need.
Lula will face an international economic situation more serious than that of 2003, which will not allow for economic growth as in the first PT governments. Multinationals will demand even more attacks on workers. And then there are the advances in 5G internet technology, industry 4.0, and artificial intelligence, which will generate even more unemployment.
By continuing to implement neoliberal plans, Lula will attack workers and youth, ending up wearing himself out as well. The ultra-right could end up strengthening again if it capitalizes on this wear and tear. This is happening, for example, in the USA, with Trump. If the elections were held today, Trump would win with 46% against 40% for Joe Biden. The right-wing is getting stronger again in Argentina against the government of Alberto Fernández as it capitalizes on the attrition of Lopez Obrador in Mexico, and of Pedro Castillo in Peru.
Lula will try to confront the extreme right from within the institutional framework. But the Armed Forces and the police are divided, with a strong pro-Bolsonaro sector. The bourgeois justice system cannot be trusted. We do not see how this can be victorious.
That is why we say that the ultra-right can only be truly defeated with the direct action of the masses, with the movement actively preparing itself, through its organizations, for self-defense. Bourgeois democracy is incapable of defeating the ultra-right.
Lula only wants to defeat Bolsonaro in the elections for the sake of bourgeois democracy. He can defeat him in October but also make it possible for Bolsonaro to strengthen himself again later. This reaffirms the need for a socialist candidacy in the next elections. It cannot be that the “left” is Lula in the October elections when he inevitably defends a right-wing program.
It is necessary to have a left-wing candidacy with a socialist program. We do not believe that we will have a big vote, since the illusion in Lula is very big, and the “useful vote” will weigh a lot.
But to affirm a candidacy for the presidency with a socialist program in these elections will be very important for now and, even more so, for the future. When the experience of the workers and youth with a possible Lula government begins, a small reference to a socialist alternative will already have been built. We cannot allow the extreme right -or any other bourgeois alternative- to capitalize once again on the wear and tear of the PT governments.
Against the regime, a socialist candidate with a profile outside the bourgeois democracy is necessary
Bolsonaro’s election was an expression of the crisis of bourgeois democracy, and the PT holds a large part of the responsibility for his victory. Bolsonaro was elected because of the workers’ rejection of the PT governments.
Bolsonaro was also elected because of his distrust in bourgeois democracy itself, although he had been a deputy for the “centrão” for decades. Not by chance, he also took advantage of the distrust towards the “usual politicians,” the mainstream media, the Congress, etc.
The crisis of the current bourgeois democracy has its origin in the large and spontaneous popular mobilization of 2013, which clashed against all government institutions, including Dilma’s government. The impoverished youth demanded through mobilizations better access to healthcare, education and transportation “padrón FIFA” (for all the money spent on the soccer tournaments). But the PT turned its back on the people in the streets.
There began a massive rupture of the base with the PT, which was deepening. The crisis of bourgeois democracy also began.
It was because of this erosion of the PT, for having implemented neoliberal plans, that the bourgeoisie, after using the PT for 14 years, was able to carry out a parliamentary maneuver with the impeachment of Dilma and the inauguration of Temer. The PT was so worn out that it could not make any mass mobilization in defense of Dilma, not even in the ABC [industrial cordon of Sao Paulo, the cradle of the PT].
The PSTU, correctly, opposed the parliamentary maneuver that led to Temer’s inauguration. We defended the “All Out,” including Dilma, Temer, and the Congress. The PT invented the “coup against Dilma” narrative to justify itself, as if there had been a coup that changed the country’s regime. This narrative convinced a generation of activists. But now the PT allies itself with the “coup perpetrators,” disarming its own narrative.
To this day, the PT demonizes the 2013 mobilizations, as if the masses in the streets, and not the PT itself, were responsible for Bolsonaro’s rise. In fact, Bolsonaro took advantage of the attrition of the PT, as well as the crisis of bourgeois democracy.
Now, the PT wants to repeat the same mess. The alliance in 2022 is not with Temer. It is even further to the right, with Alckmin, a traditional cadre of the bourgeoisie, founder of the PSDB (the Brazilian Social Democracy Party of the center-right). A future Lula government, contrary to the expectations of the activists, will end anew in great frustration.
We do not say that there will be “another 2013.” But the combination of the new elements of the concrete reality makes it possible. We do not know how long it will take for a future PT government to wear out, nor its concrete consequences in relation to the mass movement. But we affirm that there will be another wearing out of the PT government, as well as of bourgeois democracy. And that is why it is necessary to present now a socialist candidacy categorically different from the PT, the PSOL and the other parties of the regime. Not as a program marked by limited reforms, but one of rupture with capitalism and in defense of the socialist revolution.
PSOL’s likely support to Lula and Alckmin is a road of no return
The PSOL, which previously presented itself to activists as a party to the left of the PT, will announce its definitive position in April. It will most likely end up supporting Lula. It may then go a step further and enter Lula’s government.
This is something new in the history of this reformist party. It may thus be following the path of Podemos, which supported the PSOE government in Spain and entered into a major crisis. Or the Bloco de Esquerda [BE] in Portugal, which supported the government of the Socialist Party and is going through a major crisis after its defeat in the last elections.
The launching of a revolutionary socialist candidacy in these elections can help to occupy a part of this space to the left of the PT for an alternative that is not reformist, but socialist and revolutionary. The Socialist and Revolutionary Pole should launch a candidacy for the Presidency.
The Pole, formed in 2021, currently counts on the militants of the PSTU; a sector of the PSOL headed by Plínio de Arruda Sampaio; the Socialist Workers Current (CST), of the PSOL; the Workers Revolutionary Movement (MRT); as well as important activist groups and collectives.
Currently, the Pole is discussing what to do in the 2022 elections. In our opinion, it should present candidates for the Presidency of the Republic, as well as for the state governments and the Parliament.
It seems fundamental to us that these candidacies defend a socialist and revolutionary program, one of class independence. A candidate that is an alternative to class collaboration that the bourgeois program of the Lula-Alckmin alliance represents. For this, the PSTU proposes comrade Vera, worker, black and socialist.
The PT is preparing a government more to the right than its previous ones. The subsequent attrition is inevitable and can again be capitalized by the extreme right.
Article published originally in www.pstu.br on 2/15/2022
Translated to English by Dolores Underwood