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June 13, 2024

Brazil | The Lula-Alckmin ticket is a bitter pill for workers

Faced with the current Bolsonaro government which imposes hunger, genocide and misery, it is natural that workers want to vote for anyone who will remove Bolsonaro. The problem is that with the current scenario of electoral polls, many consider that this necessarily means voting for Lula in the first round. But what does Lula stand for and plan to do if elected?

By: Júlio Anselmo

To answer this question, nothing could be more enlightening than the meeting held on August 9 at the Federation of State Industries of São Paulo (Fiesp), where Lula, accompanied by his running mate, Alckmin the wet mop, Aloísio Mercadante, and the main representatives of Brazilian business leaders were present.

Lula said, for example, that he would repeat the same promise he made to businessmen in Spain: “You know what I will guarantee you? Market. What they want is to invest in Brazil to make money. That will be guaranteed.”

With this speech, the former president managed to demonstrate, at the same time, his servility to the rich countries and the capitalist character of his program, defending the bourgeoisie and guaranteeing profits for the rich.

He defends the reforms and the spending ceiling

When he criticized Temer’s spending ceiling it was to defend the spending ceiling itself, saying that those who have fiscal responsibility do not need the “ceiling law.” That is, the logic is that he would be more faithful to the ceiling than its creator and, therefore, would not need to establish a ceiling. He reiterated ad nauseam that his government had a surplus and fiscal responsibility and will continue to do so. He even erroneously cited this reason, together with the Pension Reform, as the cause of the emergence of the PSTU.

He also guaranteed that he would carry out an Administrative Reform which, of course, would mean more attacks on public employees and not on the high salaries of the top echelons of power. The same can be said about his Tax Reform proposal. He already made it clear that he would do it to please businessmen and introduce tax breaks on “production”, that is, the rich. And as he also defends a Tax Reform “agreed” upon by everyone, with the participation of the FIESP and other bourgeois sectors, this obviously cannot be beneficial for the workers.

Selling off the country and guaranteeing profits for the wealthy

During the meeting, Lula guaranteed that his government will provide “credibility, stability and predictability” for the country, which means guaranteeing a good environment for capitalist business. He also repeated countless times that the president’s role is to sell the country and open the doors to capitalist businesses. At one point he mentioned that during his government he took several businessmen and went around the world selling the country and even stated: “you, businessmen, will be respected again, you will be treated with respect, and you have to be treated within international relations.”

He added, with rhetorical questions about what businessmen need to make money, arguing that, in addition to a more flexible regulation, a Tax Reform that pleases everyone is also necessary. Likewise, he defended a Labor Reform, in which “what is negotiated prevails over what is legislated” and that nobody wants to return to the rights of 1943. He also said that he does not know any trade unionist who wants to recover what was lost.

Lula’s statements at FIESP are a confirmation that his government program is at the service of the interests of the capitalists. This is the essence of his alliance with Alckmin. Just as the electoral fronts that the PT is forming in the states with other sectors of the bourgeoisie (and even with Bolsonaro’s party) are only further demonstrations of this same commitment.

To the right: Lula says Bolsonaro did little for agribusiness

Obviously, Lula and Bolsonaro are not the same. There are enormous differences, for example, with respect to the political regime, since Bolsonaro supports a dictatorship and makes permanent threats of a coup d’état and authoritarianism. But, in the economic field, what criticisms did Lula make of Bolsonaro at FIESP? With his own words, he referred to a Provisional Measure in which he, at the height of an election year, allowed the advance of a loan to ranchers that amounted to R$ 89 billion at the time.

“In recent days I had a meeting with businessmen. I wanted to know why agribusiness likes Bolsonaro and I asked this question. I wanted to know what Bolsonaro did well. Nothing! I doubt anyone can say what Bolsonaro did for agribusiness. The last big measure for agribusiness was made by us, a temporary measure in 2008, when we paid off the debt of the ranchers. If we did not do that, the whole sector would have gone bankrupt.”

That Bolsonaro’s government is a complete disaster is evident. But not only because it does not know what it is doing, but also because it was a government that guaranteed the interests of the big capitalists. Of this, Lula does not speak. In fact, Lula’s criticism goes in the opposite direction. He says that the bad thing about Bolsonaro is that he did little for the big agribusiness entrepreneurs. In other words, Lula’s great criticism of Bolsonaro is his inefficiency or ineptitude in the management of Brazilian capitalism. For this reason, he concludes by affirming that his government would be a return to normality.

The left that the right likes, governs for the bourgeoisie

Lula starts from the old idea, already reproduced in his previous governments, that it is possible to guarantee the interests of the capitalists together with the interests of the workers. He even equates the interests. Or, as he himself said: “No worker wants the employer to go bankrupt. Because he is the first victim when the entrepreneur goes bankrupt. We want Brazil to evolve. It is with this spirit that we want to govern this country.”

The problem is that it is not possible to serve the interests of the workers and those of the capitalists at the same time, for the simple fact that they are opposites. Any worker who has ever participated in a strike or wage negotiation knows this. The company breaks profit records, but wages remain tight. Why? Because it is not true that the more the boss earns, the better off the worker is, and that it is enough to work oneself to death to be rewarded.

It is also a lie that it is enough to grow or inject public money into the economy for employers to hire more and pay better wages. The Labor Reform, for example, meant the suppression of workers’ rights and did not generate any jobs. The same can be said about Dilma’s statement when she affirmed that businessmen pocketed the tax exemptions granted during her government.

This is precisely because, under capitalism, business owners aim only to increase productivity: to produce more and more, paying less and less. Not only to increase their wealth at all costs but also to survive in competition with other capitalists.

The leaky ship of the alliance with the rich

Thus, the permanent degradation of the living conditions of the workers, on the one hand, and the growth of the profits of the big businessmen, on the other, are conditions that will always be present as long as capitalism exists. The fact that this may be attenuated a little at certain moments, mainly by workers’ union struggles, does not change this logic. At most, it postpones it for another time.

Therefore, Lula’s speech falls flat when he refers, for example, to the fight against poverty and the end of hunger for some 33 million Brazilians. As does his defense of the Unified Health System (SUS) and Public Education, which during his governments were in fact highly profitable for private health and education plans. His plan, as he told businessmen, is to have the “poor consume”, which, according to him, would heat up the economy and everyone would be a winner. This is completely absurd, considering the millions of Brazilians who do not even have the resources to consume the basics. And even in this matter, any policy is limited by the fiscal responsibility demanded by the bankers.

What is necessary would be to guarantee and expand the Auxílio-Brasil (or Bolsa Família), in addition to investing more in public education and health, freezing prices and putting an end to poverty, and guaranteeing jobs and decent wages for working men and women. It is not possible to put the poor in the budget without breaking with the domination of the bankers and big businessmen.

The road for the working class does not go through supporting Lula, but through strengthening its self-organization, its consciousness, and its struggles. That is why it is also regrettable to see the role played by other sectors that for many years were opponents of the PT government, embarking today on this new leaky ship, like the PSOL, which endorses and celebrates Lula’s current electoral program.

For Brazil to develop and end poverty, it is necessary to expropriate the 100 largest companies and the billionaires

To sustain their argument, Lula and the PT present an economic project that proposes to develop capitalism and increase international production and competition. And they do so without questioning imperialist domination in the country or our subordinate location in the international division of labor.
But, at the end of the day, it is curious that the former president calls his project “reindustrialization”: “We need to discuss new industrial niches to make investments. What are we going to compete in? Many times we talk about commodities, especially in agribusiness, as if it were a minor thing, without taking into account how much engineering, investment in technology there is today in a soybean, without taking into account the investments in genetics in the creation of our flock. A hen that took 90 days to kill, today you kill it in 35 days. A cow that took 48 months to be slaughtered, today is slaughtered in 18,” argued Lula at the FIESP.

In other words, what Lula defends is the deepening of our economic role in the world, as if the perfecting of raw materials would put Brazil on a higher level in the world. The problem is that the supposed capitalist development clashes with the parasitic character of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, rentier (that is, living exclusively on rents and profits) and servant of imperialism. In addition, the PT seems to forget that capitalism itself is in crisis, even in the central countries. Even so, Lula does not intend to break with this submission.

Any bourgeois or capitalist would say that this is not possible. They would say that Brazilian development clashes with the lack of capital, of technology and of conditions for that to happen. And this only proves the pressing need to expropriate the big capitalist groups, in such a way as to place in the hands of the people such a large volume of capital and wealth that will make possible not only the development of the country but also a guarantee of salaries and a dignified life for the people. It is enough to do the math to conclude that in a planned economy this would be perfectly possible, without the parasitism of the profits of half a dozen billionaires.

Article first published on, 17/8/2022.

Translated by: John Joseph

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