Sun Dec 04, 2022
December 04, 2022

Brazil | Lula’s program: neoliberalism or developmentalism?

The PT speaks of “adopting a national strategy of fair, solidarity-based, sustainable, sovereign and creative development, seeking to overcome the neoliberal model that led the country to backwardness.” The core of this project is to increase state expenditures in supposed investments to boost Brazilian and foreign entrepreneurs, with the aim of increasing production and reindustrializing the country.


By: Júlio Anselmo

But is it possible, within the framework of capitalism, to develop the country, solve the everyday problems of working men and women, and put an end to our underdevelopment and chronic social inequalities?


Bolsonaro’s government is neoliberal, the main cause of the social and economic tragedy of the country today. What is conventionally called neoliberalism is the capitalist economic policy, promoted since the 1970s, which ranges from privatization and denationalization of the economies of peripheral countries to the requirement of a fiscal policy that limits investments in social areas, thus meaning a dismantling of public services.


All this is based on a tripod formed by a floating exchange rate, an inflation target, and a primary surplus used to guarantee the returns of capitalists through the depletion of the public budget.


The PT will not break with neoliberal logic


The PT governments in the past did not break with these neoliberal measures. Nor will they do so now. For example, one of the clearest expressions of neoliberalism in recent years is the Expenditure Ceiling Law. And Lula, while criticizing this law, reaffirms that he will respect the spending ceiling, only stating that, as he respects fiscal responsibility, he will not need to use this law.


In its previous governments, while continuing with neoliberalism, the PT tried to promote special sectors of the bourgeoisie through state incentives. This is what they call “developmentalism”.


What happened? After the “boom” in commodity prices and the exhaustion of the world economic growth cycle, the policy proved incapable of moving the country forward, generating only the “reprimarization” of the economy (focus on primary products, including the export of agricultural and mineral resources) and more dependence on imperialism. In other words, we continue to lag behind, limiting ourselves to mere commodity producers.


Even this alternation (between more or less state expenditures) corresponds to the normal functioning of capitalism. It is the alternation of economic cycles and the needs of capital itself. In fact, no matter how much they say the contrary, there is no contraposition between this supposed “developmentalism” of the PT and neoliberalism.


Partner of imperialism: There is no “developmentalist” bourgeoisie


Obviously, there are conflicts of interests between bourgeois sectors. But this does not mean that reality can be explained, as the PT sees it, through the struggle between a neo-liberal sector of the bourgeoisie against another supposedly developmentalist sector. Or between a financial sector against the productive sector; or, even, between the national bourgeoisie and the foreign bourgeoisie. Much less does it mean that there is some progressive sector that serves the interests of the workers against another reactionary one.


Firstly, because in the present phase the capitalist sectors are interconnected and dominated by finance capital, which dominates not only finance but also industries, the commercial sector, and the countryside. Just look at the dominance of the multi-billionaire investment funds and banks that control large industrial conglomerates. So, this division between the productive and speculative sectors is not sustainable. They are all interconnected.


Secondly, there is no national bourgeoisie opposed to the imperialist bourgeoisie. But there is a national bourgeoisie associated with imperialism. A bourgeoisie that was born tied to the international bourgeoisie, an umbilical connection. Imperialism exploits the country directly with its own companies and indirectly through its links with Brazilian companies. In such a way that liberation from imperialism presupposes the defeat of the national bourgeoisie itself.


A reactionary and parasitic bourgeoisie


And third, in Brazil the bourgeoisie became parasitic and financial before having completed several aspects of the capitalist industrial development seen in other countries. The country was built on the coattails of capitalism from the beginning, associating archaic social and productive forms with modern ones in such a way that our bourgeoisie became reactionary before it had even been progressive in any moment of history.


Therefore, the aim of the PT is, in truth, to justify its thesis of supporting and running capitalism. Thus, it tries to dissolve the real struggle (which is between the interests of the workers and the bourgeoisie) into a dispute between bourgeois sectors, leading the workers to submission to a supposed “developmentalist” bourgeois sector.


But the history of the country shows the opposite. There is no possibility of economic and social development without breaking with imperialism, without expropriating the bourgeoisie, and without taking measures of transition to socialism. That is why we say that to defeat neo-liberalism we must defeat capitalism, and confront the super-rich and the 100 largest companies that control more than 60% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

First Published on www.pstu.org.br – 09/09/2022
Translation: John Joseph

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