Thu Feb 22, 2024
February 22, 2024

The Lula Government, Privatizations, and the Far Right

By Editorial Socialist Opinion n.° 665, PSTU Brazil

The election of the far-right candidate Javier Milei in Argentina has generated concern among Brazilan workers. It is not for nothing. After all, he is part of the world’s rising far-right phenomenon which, in spite of country-specific differences, has many common characteristics.

This sector defends a scorched earth understanding of governance, as it has ruthlessly accelerated and deepened attacks on the working class, the oppressed, the environment, sovereignty, as well as democratic freedoms. They do this all in the name of capitalist profits. To this end, they also promote hatred against black people, women, LGBTQI+ people, and immigrants.

The project Milei defends includes the general privatization of Argentine state enterprises, the dollarization of the economy, and he has a vice-president who denies the deaths perpetrated by the country’s military dictatorship.

The Reformist and Neo-liberal “Left” Paved the Way for the Far Right

The Argentine situation gives us two warnings. The first is that the far right is not dead, rather it is awaiting its return to power. The second is that it makes no sense for capitalist governments, which claim to be left wing, to govern capitalism in a slower neoliberal way, since this does not prevent the strengthening of the far right.

In fact, the road to the right is paved by “left governments” who defend measures that are in the interests of the capitalist monopolies. As a result, they end up worsening the peoples’ living conditions and making work more precarious. They also neglect to confront the plunder of multinationals and the country’s subordination to imperialism. At the same time, they are unable to meet the peoples’ most basic needs.

And this creates fertile ground on which the far right thrives. Milei won the elections after the collapse of the “leftist government” of Peronist Alberto Fernandez.

There is No “Lesser Evil”

Right now, this lesson is very important. A large part of the left still maintains that, in order to defeat the far right, it is necessary to support and defend Lula’s government. But when we see what the far right and the Federal Government are doing, we see how this position, in truth, has lead to the strengthening of the far right’s agendas and demands.

There is, for example, an ongoing struggle against privatizations that is being promoted by the state governments of São Paulo and Minas Gerais in the hands of the Republicans and Novo respectively. The mobilizations against privatizations, scheduled for November 28 in São Paulo, and on the 21 and 22, in Minas Gerais, are important. With struggle it is possible to defeat state governments’ privatization plans and, also, to demand from Lula the reversal of privatizations that have already been carried out, such as that of Eletrobras, and to prevent new privatizations.

It turns out that Lula’s government is not a counterpoint to the privatization processes of the far-right state governments. On the contrary, it has collaborated with the privatizations promoted in those states, as evidenced by the financing that the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) will provide for the privatization of schools in São Paulo.

They want to induce a supposed development of the country by injecting public money into the private sector. Therefore, the government has announced a Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), full of public resources and based on the proliferation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), which are nothing more than a kind of privatization, with the difference that the costs and risks are insured by the state, while the profits are private. Multinationals are given all kinds of incentives and benefits to buy companies, set up shop in the country, and send their profits abroad.

There are right-wing sectors that openly advocate privatizing everything, cutting public spending, and creating a “minimal state.” And there are those who call themselves leftists, but who in practice also privatize, only in a different way. Instead of selling, they do PPPs. They also advocate a neoliberal fiscal policy, but instead of cutting public spending directly, as Temer did, they do it through the new fiscal framework. They even advocate a slight increase in spending, but to try to generate some economic growth by paying the capitalists with the public budget.

These are two sides of the same coin. Although they are different, and they have different rhythms, they arrive at the same place: a country that is more subordinated, denationalized, privatized, and with precarious work and some minimal income.

They offer the lesser evil: liberalism in homeopathic doses, with small concessions to retail. But they play the same game as capitalism and defend the interests and the private profits of Brazilian and international billionaires. But those who call themselves leftists are still playing the game of the bourgeoisie and capitalism, and in this way they feed the far right!

The Revolutionary, Class and Socialist Alternative

To put an end to social inequality in Brazil, it is necessary to confront the big capitalist groups. This is a historical problem that goes back to the country’s origins.

Even the fact that the Banco do Brasil was a central actor in slavery, which allowed it to accumulate profits and capital, is only the expression of the responsibility that Brazilian capitalists and the state itself must bear. At the same time, they are subject to imperialism. In fact, there can be no reparation for Black Brazilians that does not involve confronting the interests of the rich and expropriating the wealth that has been stolen from us.

The domination of the imperialist countries in Brazil is the basis of our condition of poverty, technological backwardness, and social inequality. It is responsible for our condition of underdevelopment, and economic, political, and social subalternity.

That is why the struggle in defense of the Palestinian people is so important. Lula should break diplomatic, economic, and military relations with Israel, which promotes genocide and apartheid. What prevents him from doing this is not a tactical measure to repatriate Brazilians. In fact, this episode demonstrates Brazil’s subordination to the interests of the imperialists. This struggle is also part of the liberation of Brazil itself from the domination of imperialism.

The political challenge of our time is to bury once and for all the danger of the Mileis, Bolsonaros, and Trumps. And to accomplish this, it is necessary to overcome the program, strategy, and tactics of the capitalist left, who are the liberal defenders of the bourgeois order that have dominated the political scene until now.

It is necessary to build an alternative that truly represents workers, and that goes to the root of the problem, which is capitalism. This requires not only a change in government, but also a change in the system. As long as the left remains hostage to a bourgeois camp and the defense of that order, the possibility of capitalizing on this sentiment will fall into the hands of the far right, even though it is the most perverse part of this system.

Article published in, 11/22/2023.

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