Fri Feb 03, 2023
February 03, 2023

Bolsonarism expresses the decadence of Brazilian capitalism

The sooner the Brazilian working class understands that Bolsonaro is not a historical accident but a necessity of Brazilian capitalism in decomposition, a blind instrument of the ruling class to destroy the country in the service of colonial plunder, the sooner we will see the pressing need to break with capitalism and save the country from ruin.

By: Nazareno Godeiro 

How international capital will orient itself toward Brazil

As we predicted, the elections caused political polarization in the country. Bolsonaro’s supporters blocked roadways and caused havoc across the country.

We are facing one of the greatest crises in Brazil’s history.

The tectonic plates of Brazilian society (which stabilized during the country’s industrialization phase between 1940 and 1970) shifted, causing substantial changes in the country’s economic, political and social relations. These transformations are reflected in qualitative changes in the bourgeoisie and the working class.

This substantial change is a product of the global crisis of capitalism and the new orientation of international capital towards Brazil (and Latin America) as the “breadbasket of the world,” as a supplier of food, energy, and raw materials for global capitalist development.

Therefore, it is the destruction of Brazil as an industrial sub-metropolis (once the fifth most industrialized country in the world) and its conversion into a semi-colony exporting primary products which leads to the deindustrialization of the country. This is coupled with environmental degradation and widespread unemployment.

We witness the destruction of the economic, social, and political relations that prevailed in Brazil after World War II.

The closure of thousands of industries, including the exit of multinationals from the country, reveals a new orientation of international capital to continue this process to deindustrialize Brazil, a direction opposite that which prevailed in the previous period.

Qualitative change in the bourgeoisie

The destruction of the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) as the party of the Brazilian industrial bourgeoisie and the investment banks revealed the decadence of this ruling class sector and the emergence of a new parasitic sector of the bourgeoisie. This is a sector that became political protagonists and even seized power in the country: agribusiness, mining, and energy, the most dynamic sectors of Brazilian capitalism today, are mostly owned by international capital.

The industrial sector in Brazil is gradually being replaced by a bourgeoisie that imports foreign industrial products. That is Bolsonaro’s economic base of sustenance, whose core is the colonial plunder of Brazil and the destruction of the economic-social relations of the previous period: formal employment, vacations, the extra month salary in December (called the “aguinaldo”), FGTS (an assistance fund for workers), trade union and political organization, etc. Curiously, this regression was built and deepened in the governments after the end of the military dictatorship.

Qualitative change in the working class

There has also been a change in the Brazilian working class: today, it is more informal, without formal contracts, labor rights, or legally established working hours, with temporary and odd jobs becoming the rule for the majority of the Brazilian working class.

Today, the working class is primarily black, female, and from the poor periphery of the big cities. That is why these oppressed and exploited sectors are at the forefront of working-class struggles here and around the world. A precarious working class is formed, without direct labor ties, and implicated in forms of modern semi-slavery. Precarity and a liberal offensive makes it so that workers do not recognize themselves as a class but as “entrepreneurs.” Therefore, in Brazil, we already have about 90 million workers in the industrial reserve army (the size of Germany or two Argentinas), which today is the majority of the working class.

This transformation, along with deindustrialization and the leap in imports, eroded the support base of the unions, trade union centers, and the PT, which originated from the industrialized working class. However, the PT adopted social liberalism in its governments, with some social politics against hunger and other evils of the system, while implicating itself in capitalist decadence. Indeed, the PT deepened capitalist decadence, providing the economic and social bases for Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes to enter the scene with accelerated ultra-liberalism, barbarism, and authoritarianism.

Faced with this situation, both Trump and Bolsonaro tried to stir up hatred towards blacks, women, indigenous people, LGBTQIA+, and immigrants, trying to attract the white and working-class sectors to their side. They did so by blaming unemployment, low wages, and the ruin or impoverishment of the petty bourgeoisie on the backs of the working class’s most exploited and oppressed sectors. Throwing one against the other is vital for the bourgeoisie, an insignificant minority in Brazil, composed of 3,950 large companies with more than 1,000 employees. Whichever way you look at it, the big bourgeoisie, under any circumstances, is numerically insignificant. Even if we count five owners per company and each owner has ten people in the family, the big bourgeois property would have about 200,000 people or 0.1% of the Brazilian population. That is why divide to rule is the slogan of the ruling class!

Bolsonaro is a genuine product of the putrefaction of Brazilian capitalism

These tectonic plates moving at the base of society have turned Bolsonaro into the future of decaying Brazilian capitalism, whose policy is to turn Brazil into a miserable colony. This same backward movement of social relations puts the PSDB/PT on the defensive and in retreat, symbolizing how the base of their past economic, political, and social relations being left behind.

The PSDB ended up being the depositary party of the majority of the bourgeoisie that thinks itself more “civilized,” based in industrialized sectors. A part of the bourgeoisie that built this industrial base abandoned it, migrating towards a parasitic colonial policy.

Thus, the PT is now the party of “Brazilian social democracy,” receiving the support of the historical cadres of the PSDB. This party believes in an “inclusive liberalism” that formally defends the status quo of Brazilian sub-metropolitan industrial capitalism. This is a bourgeois social-liberal program that is not afraid to chip away at the labor and social security [pension] reforms, and the accelerated privatization of Petrobras carried out by Bolsonaro.

The project advanced by Bolsonaro is an accelerated return to a colonial economy that brings the agribusiness, mining, and energy sectors of the bourgeoisie to State power. They are associated with a (parasitic) industrial goods-importing bourgeoisie.

It is no coincidence that the largest financial “donor” to Bolsonaro’s campaign is Rubens Ometto, owner of an agribusiness plant and Shell’s partner (in Raízen) to exploit Brazil. 

Among the thirty largest donors who contributed more than BRL 1.5 million (mostly from agribusiness), 63% went to parties that supported Bolsonaro and 14% to parties that supported Lula in the first round. The remaining 23% was donated to other parties.

The support of this new sector of the bourgeoisie empowers Bolsonaro, in addition to the support of a significant sector of imperialism headed by Trump. The Lula/Alckmin candidacy has the support of the majority sector of imperialism, with Biden at the head. Still, the bourgeois sector that supports Lula’s candidacy is in decline in Brazil and has no future to offer. This is what’s leading the PT to transform itself into a social-liberal party, and its government will have a character of national unity with a sector of the Brazilian bourgeoisie in decline. This declining sector is trying to return to the past of its government and those of FHC [Fernando Henrique Cardoso], in which they managed this structural regression, concealed by compensatory policies and economic growth. Dilma’s “neo-developmentalist” farce only strengthened this predatory, extractivist sector, which relies on plundering the country, super-exploitation, and environmental devastation. Thus, through the former presidencies of the PT, a new sector of the bourgeoisie was consolidated. It had time to gain a social base in the working class and middle class: the millions dissatisfied with the crisis today and disappointed with the fourteen years of PT governments.

The PSTU called on all workers, including an essential part of workers who disapprove of the PT, to vote critically for Lula on the 13th. What justified voting for Lula in the second round, without placing the least confidence in his government of unity with the bourgeoisie, was the possibility that the working class can organize itself to better fight against capitalism. Against the Lula/Alckmin government, it must prepare itself in better conditions to definitively defeat Bolsonaro’s authoritarian, Bonapartist, and semi-fascist project.

How do we defeat Bolsonaro’s authoritarian project?

So, even if Lula wins the elections, Bolsonaro’s semi-fascist authoritarian project will not retreat. Bolsonaro intends to continue ideologically organizing a sector of the masses and implement a dictatorship in Brazil, a Bonapartist regime supported by the Armed Forces, mafia militias, and paramilitaries. That means that, in the next ten years, there are many possibilities of clashes between revolution and counterrevolution in Brazil.

This project will only be defeated by the mobilization of the Brazilian working class. The higher courts condescend to this authoritarian current and end up capitulating, accepting its impositions, as was evidenced by the authorization to Army generals to carry out a scrutiny parallel to the SET [Superior Electoral Tribunal]. This task begins by developing the consciousness of the working class against all bourgeois sectors, both “democratic” and “fascist.” Even those who are with Lula, who as soon as they come to power, will reconcile with the Bolsonarist high command of the Armed Forces and with the Bolsonarist bourgeoisie; and, above all, they will not confront the capitalist and imperialist order. Because with Meireles and company, there will be continuity, albeit in a different way, of this ongoing recolonizing project, leading us to barbarism. The “lesser evil” has no limits. It is impossible to change the social and political bases that feed Bolsonarism, administering the capitalist order and the looting of the country that this entails, in alliance with bankers, landowners, merchants, and industrialists through democracy for the rich.

The counterrevolutionary character of the Brazilian bourgeoisie

No sector of the Brazilian bourgeoisie today is “progressive” or “nationalist.” No sector of the bourgeoisie is willing to confront the plundering of Brazil and its recolonization, nor has it confronted the destruction of jobs and the legal rights of the workers contained in the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws) and the 1988 Federal Constitution. Nor has it confronted deindustrialization, the denationalization of the economy, or the purchase of Brazilian companies by international capital on the stock exchange or through privatizations. This was demonstrated in the accelerated sale of Petrobras, the largest company in Latin America and the most profitable oil company in the world. No sector of the bourgeoisie confronted the destruction of the Amazon and all those defending nature carried out by Bolsonaro. They could only lament such destruction. No bourgeois party confronted the dollarization of prices and the scandalous contradiction that the country is one of the largest food producers in the world while its people go hungry, nor did could they oppose the increase in fuel prices, indexed to the dollar and remaining hostage to international speculators.

An alliance with a sector of the bourgeoisie, apparently “progressive” and “anti-fascist,” will end up with no change to the current trajectory of the country. This bourgeoisie is treacherous and has been so since they first emerged.

The Brazilian bourgeoisie did not carry out its democratic revolution

The Brazilian bourgeoisie did not achieve a democratic revolution. One of the most striking facts in the history of the Brazilian class struggle is the violence of bourgeois repression and its authoritarianism. This bourgeoisie was cowardly, vile, and servile to the foreign dominator, and was extremely ferocious and counterrevolutionary in confronting the people.

This bourgeoisie was always treacherous, besides being authoritarian. Every peace agreement it made with working-class movements was immediately betrayed. This betrayal happened thanks to the corruption of those within the movement who ultimately helped the bourgeoisie.

The furthest a bourgeois leader went in Brazil was Getúlio Vargas, a landowner from Rio Grande do Sul, who led the country’s industrialization process, although he was subordinate to the United States. When he tried to apply an independent orientation contrary to the interests of the United States, he was abandoned by the “national” bourgeoisie and had to commit suicide.

This is where guidance from the Brazilian Communist Party foundered: they instructed to form alliances with a supposedly “progressive and democratic” bourgeoisie, which did not exist in real life.

When this supposedly “national, democratic and popular” bourgeoisie had to choose between foreign domination or national sovereignty, as in 1964, it turned with arms to a military coup perpetrated by the military at the behest of the United States. In the same way, thecall of the PT to govern for and with the “democratic” bourgeoisie collapsed. This was demonstrated by the betrayal of Temer. But, the PT did not learn their lesson, and the same tragic mistake is repeated, now with Alckmin.

A transitional program to confront the destruction and plundering of Brazil

The entire historical trajectory of the Brazilian bourgeoisie has shown that only the working class, united with the city’s poor population and the countryside, can save Brazil from the destruction and plundering that international capital imposes on our country.

Therefore, the most conscious workers must equip themselves with a transitional program to raise the level of consciousness of the working class to break with the capitalist system and move towards socialism, nationalizing the property of the big bourgeoisie in Brazil and putting it under the control of the working people.

  1. Repeal the labor and pension reforms.
  2. Guarantee employment for all, reducing the working week to 30 hours without a salary reduction. This would make it possible to eliminate the industrial reserve army and even double the country’s annual production of wealth.
  3. Real wage increase and the guarantee of minimum wage employment for all.
  4. Stop environmental destruction immediately as a first step to regaining lost national sovereignty!
  5. Eradicate hunger, carrying out a true agrarian reform, which guarantees food at low prices for the Brazilian people. For this, it is necessary to nationalize agribusiness.
  6. To resume industrialization in Brazil in harmony with the environment, which guarantees full employment and can put an end to hunger. This is only possible with the re-establishment of the entire privatized industrial sectors: steel, electricity, petrochemical, telephone, mining, aerospace, high-tech, agriculture, banking, etc.

This simple plan could be financed through the nationalization of the banks and the formation of a single national bank, the end of tax benefits for big businessmen, and through the collection of the active debt of large companies under penalty of nationalization. This should be accompanied along with the suspension of remittance of profits for ten years and the suspension of payment to internal and external debt to big investors, a progressive tax on the profits and dividends of the 200 largest companies, and a progressive tax on the largest fortunes.

Only in this way would it be possible to halt the decadence of the country and the people. We are, then, facing a crisis of significant proportions in Brazil, which demands a general reorganization of society.

Conciliation or confrontation with the “national” bourgeoisie?

In this sense, a polemic has been opened with the parties that call themselves leftist, mainly the PT and the PSOL, that pretend to solve this crisis by carrying out economic and social “reforms,” trying to unite the working class with a sector of the “democratic” bourgeoisie. They hope to supposedly humanize the Brazilian capitalist system through an “inclusive neoliberalism,” practicing the liberal social policies of the World Bank and the previous governments of the PT and PSDB, deepening the Brazilian regression in a less accelerated way than Bolsonaro. However, it is not possible to return to the country of the commodity boom that favored Lula’s two terms in office.

Hunger is a product of capitalist exploitation and its colonial form, which it now assumes, as an exporter of primary products, as the world’s granary, which implies the destruction of nature and the spread of hunger in the country with inflation in dollars. To attack the hunger crisis, it is necessary to reorient Brazil’s production to feed its people and end the agro-export model. This is only possible by lodging a war against a multinational agribusiness. The same goes for the destruction of the environment. 

To put an end to unemployment and underemployment, which reaches 90 million Brazilians, it is necessary to stop the deindustrialization of the country. This begins with the re-establishment of all the industrial sectors that were privatized. That is only possible in a war with the entire Brazilian bourgeoisie, an accomplice of imperialism in the plans to plunder Brazil.

The path of the administration of capitalism in crisis will lead to maintaining a regressive route to the continuity of the dispossession and recolonization of the country: to new evils against the working class in favor of the endless “fiscal adjustment,”which maintains and deepens the precariousness and impoverishment of the working class and acts to destroy class consciousness, in favor of the capitalist order, subordinated to the barbaric imperialist plunder.

The crisis of the class collaboration project

The PT, PSOL, PCB, and UP, parties that call themselves leftist and whose strategy is class collaboration, will not be able to find any sector of the bourgeoisie willing to fight for such a program simply because they all agree with the plundering of the country.

Therefore, the only possibility for the development of the country and its people is to break with the Brazilian capitalist system dominated by international capital.

The PT and other so-called leftist parties will be able to find allies against Bolsonaro and who defend a minimum income since this is the policy of the “democratic” sector of imperialism headed by Biden. However, a minimum income, although necessary for the survival of the poorest in society, will not be able to solve the crisis installed in the country.

Those who believe that Marxists are against the PT because they defend compensatory social micro-reforms, such as the Bolsa Família (family basket), Minimum Income, Racial Quotas or Minha Casa, Minha Vida, are mistaken. Our criticism of the PT does not refer to the reforms it implemented. But to use these micro reforms for the poorest while simultaneously advancing counter-reforms through privatizing education and the Brazilian national health system, SUS, and handing over the management of public services to private companies. All this while using such reforms not to leverage the struggle against the system, but to embellish bourgeois democracy, perpetuate capitalism in decay and bet on the dampening of the struggles of the workers and their allies, eliminating all class independence. In addition we do not doubt they will use violence for social control, such as mass incarceration and the use of Operations for the Defense of Law and Order, used in the peripheries, using the Armed Forces for internal repression.

The complexity of Brazil’s situation with the recolonization of the country unites the past and present with indissoluble ties. We have pending both the bourgeois-democratic revolution never carried out in Brazil alongside the socialist revolution. We will, therefore, have to consider both the democratic tasks not achieved by the bourgeois-democratic revolution alongside the struggle for socialism. These tasks include national independence and imperialist oppression of the country, and the Black and indigenous struggle for historical reparation and to confront genocide, and the democratization of the land to end hunger).

There is no way to solve the tasks not carried out here by the Brazilian bourgeois-democratic revolution without entering the terrain of the expropriation of the big national and international monopolies because the bourgeoisie today plays a counterrevolutionary role. The great modern large estate of multinational agribusiness, based on the fourth industrial revolution, is there to demonstrate that the national democratic revolution was linked to the continental and world socialist revolution.

The alliances necessary to advance in the socialist and revolutionary struggle

A revolutionary alliance that unites the proletariat (headed by the industrial worker), allied to the urban and rural poor and small landowners -classes and class sectors that can only win by marching towards socialism- constitutes the vast majority of the Brazilian population. The big and middle bourgeoisie reaches a tiny 0.8% of the population, including all their relatives.

There is no possibility of democracy in a society that lives and works according to this 0.8% of the population: this is the numerical expression that bourgeois democracy is a false democracy; it is a democracy for a tiny minority of billionaires.

In order to have a true democracy, it is necessary to break with the capitalist system and to establish a direct democracy for the great majority of the population through popular councils.

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