On April 30, PSOL (Socialism & Liberty Party) made official its support for Lula and Alckmin’s candidacy. This decision was made not only by the majority wing of PSOL, composed of Guilherme Boulos’ Revolução Solidária and Primavera, of Juliano Medeiros, president of the party. It also had the decisive support of the Resistencia and Insurgencia currents. All affirm that this is a purely tactical decision. What is at stake is just a simple political positioning based on the need to defeat Bolsonaro electorally.
By: Júlio Anselmo
What they cannot explain is with what criteria they made this decision. They like to repeat that the PSOL should help in Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat. But if that were the only reason, it would be enough to call for a vote in the second round and maintain a PSOL candidacy. But the option they took was not just a decision to vote critically in a second round. Instead, they resigned their candidacy, integrated the Lula-Alckmin formula, and set up the coordination of the campaign, all already in the first round.
Even considering only the electoral aspects, i.e., the vote count, this is not justified. There will be a second round. Moreover, polls indicate that any candidate wins against Bolsonaro. We aren’t claiming it is impossible that Bolsonaro wins or decree that he has already lost or anything of the sort. But, rather, it is about questioning the central justification to simply opt for the vote against the current president.
Would they adhere to some more viable candidate against Bolsonaro, or is it only justified because this candidate is Lula? The hypothetical in politics is always limited, but it shows that it has much more to do with being in favor of Lula than being against Bolsonaro.
The tactic is to have unity of action in the mobilization to defeat Bolsonaro. In 2018, the PSTU (United Socialist Workers’ Party) had a different tactic: they voted critically in the second round against this government. These tactics are valid in certain conjunctures since they help the organization of the workers, particularly if they were connected with a policy of class independence, a socialist program, and the unmasking of the bourgeois sectors.
Here, something else is going on. It is the PSOL’s outright endorsement of the Lula-Alckmin candidacy.
How to defeat the far right?
The strange thing about the whole argument is that they justify this support with the weight of the far right, with the fact that it is here to stay and that it will not be defeated in the elections. But that is precisely why it is not enough to join a candidacy allied with the bourgeoisie and who advocates for governing alongside the rich. It is not by allying with Alckmin that we will be better prepared to defeat Bolsonaro, much less to bury the far right.
If the idea is to defeat Bolsonaro, and also the entire far right, it does not make much sense to ally with another part of the right. If defeating Bolsonaro means stopping the attacks that the capitalists are promoting against the workers, we won’t achieve this by allying with other capitalists who want to attack the workers. The fact that the capitalist groups in question are different does not make them less capitalist. It is no use talking about defeating Bolsonaro while ignoring that the capitalist system is fertile ground for the proliferation of the far right.
To combat the armed bands of the far-right, it is necessary to mobilize, organize, and advance the consciousness of the workers. Telling the workers that the way out is this formula of Lula in alliance with the bourgeoisie does not help in this task, neither tactically, and much less strategically. On the contrary, it contributes to disorganize, demoralize, and delay the working-class consciousness.
Defeating Bolsonaro is urgent. Task number one of the election and of the struggles. But nothing defeats Bolsonaro and the far right more than the strengthening of a socialist, working-class, and revolutionary alternative in Brazil, because it confronts the system and helps the organization of the workers. To present this way out in the first round is a duty of those who consider themselves leftists.
Beyond support, hope in Lula’s new government
We cannot forget that it was the experience, betrayal, and hopelessness of the “left” government of the PT (Workers’ Party) together with the bourgeoisie that catalyzed the rise and strengthening of Bolsonaro himself. Today Lula’s candidacy is more to the right than 20 years ago. Even after the bourgeoisie discarded the PT when it lost popularity, the PT did not discard the bourgeoisie. In fact, it embraced it even more with Alckmin, and the PSOL knows it.
The event announcing PSOL’s endorsement of Lula was a rally without criticisms or differentiations, no matter how small they were. It focused solely on programmatic points, by presenting PT and Lula, and celebrating that such points were accepted.
But not only will Lula not reverse the “neoliberal policies” to which the PSOL swears to have committed itself, but he will actually improve them for the capitalists. In fact, Gleisi Hoffmann said that Bolsonaro’s current Central Bank president will be kept.
Worse than joining a unity campaign with the bourgeoisie is to believe that they intervened in any part of the program, or even that it would be possible for this formula to defend, to some extent, a program in the interest of the workers. This would only be possible if Alckmin were the first bourgeois in history to commit class suicide.
With this move, PSOL is saying that the candidates’ program is also PSOL’s. Isn’t that in itself sowing hope in a future Lula government?
We can only conclude that it is not only a question of endorsement of the candidacy but also of the policy, the program, and the project of the PT. It is no coincidence that, although the decision on the PSOL forming the eventual new Lula government was left until after the elections, there is this elephant in the room.
Tactics for tactics’ sake or the curious case of MES
Another sector of PSOL, headed by the MES (Movimento de Esquerda Socialista), was against joining Lula’s campaign, but once approved, it accepts it and understands it just as a tactical debate, where it would not be a polemic about voting for Lula, but rather when to do this. The PSOL leadership argues that it should be in the first round. The MES argued for the second round, and that this should be defined from now on. For them, what would be more serious is the possibility of entering the government. And given the degree of alert in their reports, the probability of this happening seems high.
The curious thing is that the MES was one of the main defenders of the federation with the Red [Rede Sustentabilidade], saying that alignment with Rede was likewise a tactic to overcome the barrier clause. They argued that this support would not do away with PSOL as a left-wing party or change its class character. For its part, Resistencia says that voting for Lula in the first round is tactical, but that federation with Rede is not. Therefore, it is likely that someone next year will say that joining the government is tactical, and so on.
Without a clear class criterion, who defines the rule of what is tactical or not? To govern, to unify parties, or to make a common program with the bourgeoisie is not tactical. To treat tactical discussions detached from their relation to program and strategy leads to a murky vision of reality and subjective choices about how far to go with the bourgeoisie, which always ends in capitulation.
The public polemic between MES and Resistencia is a demonstration of this. One defends adherence to Lula and the other defends federation with Rede, that is, each one defends its type of alliance with the bourgeois sector it likes best, without class criteria.
The Polo Socialista Revolucionario is at your service
Another sector further to the left of PSOL opposes the decision of the leadership. Some have handed in their resignations and say they do not accept the decision. Organizations like CST (Socialist Workers’ Current) and SoB (Socialism or Barbarism) are already building with us the Polo Socialista Revolucionario and we are in earnest debates about the elections. We only want to reinforce that the Polo is open to all those who do not agree with the decision taken by PSOL.
With all the respect and esteem that we have for these comrades, there is among us an interesting debate since some sectors have been defending as a policy the return of the original PSOL. We do not see that the way out is through there, because the current problems of PSOL are directly linked to the limits of its own origin as a party that sought to unite reformists and revolutionaries, with a merely electoral strategy and without programmatic clarity. It is no coincidence that the movement of affiliation to the PT and the Rede has been preceded by long years of political rapprochement between the two parties since 2016, as Medeiros said, and also by the departure of several PSOL parliamentarians to the PT, the PCdoB, the PDT and the PSB.
However, this is a great debate that we can always do with leisure but that in no way prevents us from being together building a revolutionary and socialist alternative with independence from the bourgeoisie in these elections.
Article published at www.pstu.org.br
Translation: John Joseph