Brazil: concerning left fronts

Versión en castellano

The intensifying of the capitalist crisis in Brazil –with its catastrophes in the healthcare field and the social and economic situation- is developing growing political crises and the threat of an irruption of strong popular protests.

The attacks and provocations against the working people advance at the same pace as political polarization against Bolsonaro. Within the left there is a debate underway about the fronts which are necessary to build and/or promote in order to confront Bolsonaro and remove him from power.

Broad Front: fascism or democracy

There is a campaign underway to form a Broad Front, joining forces in the name of the struggle for democracy against Bolsonaro’s pseudo-fascist authoritarianism. Leaders of bourgeois opposition are taking part of this operation, such as the ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the ex-presidential candidate Ciro Gomes or even the ex-president Michel Temer, who replaced Dilma Rousseff by a coup. The justification for calling to build this Board Front is the consideration of the imminence of a fascist takeover with Bolsonaro. Denouncing this fascist threat, they launched a call to all political sectors, from left, including center-left, right and even extreme right to build up a great Board Front in defense of democracy. Its main slogan is “Fascism o Democracy”. The method they are willing to use to depose him is an impeachment. In order for the impeachment to be discussed in Congress, it must be authorized by the president of the House of Representatives, Rodrigo Maia. He already announced he would not do this. At least until the pandemic is over… Then, it should go through a series of previous “constitutional” procedures. Finally, for the deposing of Bolsonaro to be effective it should get a two third majority. In that case, constitutionally, the vice president should take office, general Hamilton Mourao. An anti-fascist democrat?

It is necessary to highlight that in the front desk of the Congress there are 32 requests for impeachment!!! With all sorts of accusations, ranging from the personal corruption of Bolsonaro and his offspring to their incompetence in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the left, MES, a member of the Psol (it was the sister organization of the Argentinian MST for years, until a few months ago), has been one of the main promoters of this initiative. With the argument that in order to confront Bolsonaro it is necessary to ally “even with the devil and his grandmother” it has been one of the most important promoters of these impeachments and of the need of a Broad Front. Meaning a popular front with no limit to the right, which could be integrated by the Brazilian right. The great majority of the members of Parliament that support the request for impeachment have been accomplices in the coup against Dilma Rousseff, the arrest and electoral disqualification of Lula as candidate of PT and, significantly, of the main legislative reforms against the working class (labor, pensions, etc.).

The MES misuses a phrase of Trotsky’s which says that he was willing to conclude an agreement even with the devil himself –towards the struggle for democratic conquests against the fascist advance- through mobilization and direct action. Mobilization against fascist threats: not signing documents that present right-wing, bourgeois repressors and exploiters as “democrats”.

The bourgeoisie that promotes the constitution of this Broad Front run like hell from protests and mass struggle. They fear mass mobilization because its radicalization could question not only Bolsonaro’s pseudo-fascist authoritarianism but the bourgeois regime as a whole. Democracy is just a form that the bourgeois state adopts. Under democracy the state is still controlled by the ruling classes, that have the monopoly of the means of production, against the exploited majority who’s lives depend on a salary (when they are not immersed in misery because of capitalist unemployment).

Why Lula does not support the call for the Broad Front

Some time ago, Lula made statements against an impeachment to Bolsonaro, saying that he should be allowed to hold office till the end of his term. It is necessary to highlight that, despite the number of requests for impeachment it is unlikely that any of them progress, for the time being. They are blocked, because most of the members of parliament (the so called “centrao”) have been corrupted and will not vote for it.

There are leaders in the PT that supported the initiatives towards the formation of a Broad Front but Lula isn’t one of them.

Lula is not only trying to show “maturity” in the presence of the armed forces and big capital which still support Bolsonaro but he is also suspicious that there is an operation going on to promote, as a unifying element, for the 2022 presidential elections, one of the right-wing opposition leaders. Lula is still facing trial, and although he is free, he’s unable to stand as a candidate.

Anti-Bolsonaro Democratic Front (not that broad?)

One of the impeachment requests delivered in the House of Representatives, at the end of May, was signed by Partido do Trabalhadores (PT), Partido Comunista do Brasil (PCdoB), Partido Socialismo e Libertade (Psol), Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado  (PSTU), Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB), Partido Causa Operária (PCO) and Unidade Popular (UP).

All these organizations were part of the Frente Popular Brasil that took Lula to the presidency in 2003, acted as subsidiaries of the PT and were part of all kinds of operations with it. The only exception and new addition is signature of the PSTU (which is part of the LIT-CI) and has always expressed their opposition to the formation of a Popular Front for class conciliation. Although the PSTU claims that they have demanded a plan of action, this is just a formality. The PT and PCdoB are responsible for enabling anti-workers laws such as the labor and pension reforms to pass without struggle despite controlling the union center (CUT) and centers of mass organizations. Some have described this as a front of the left parties, a generous description which does not highlight that they are not parties of the working class, but in fact channels for different business groups. The PT – first with Lula and then with Dilma – ruled the country for 12 years preserving the dependent capitalist structure of Brazil.

Fora Bolsonaro and his political regime

The impeachment method chosen by the right-wing opposition, the popular front-ist related to bourgeois nationalism and its satellites, virtually restrain the mass struggles which are fighting to make their way in the catastrophic Brazilian reality. This method is to leave in the hands of a bourgeois parliament (and to top it off a highly corrupted one) the deposing of the “head” of the state.

The slogan Fora Bolsonaro has been prevailing on the streets and mobilizations. But this will not be achieved by parliamentarian means, but through direct action. Therefore this slogan must be related to the demands of mass struggles (anti-capitalist actions to stop pandemic expansion, reincorporation of the laid-off, non-payment of foreign debt and a public work plan under workers control, etc). These emergency actions are rejected not only by Bolsonaro, but by the whole regime. Bolsonaro’s deposal must be followed by that of vice president Mourao and the whole political regime including the corrupted judicial and legislative powers, courtesans of the right-wing against working people. Otherwise, we will be facing gatopardist maneuvers of replacing figures, surely as a product of the threat a popular uprising, as an attempt to maintain the “conquests” of Bolsonaro, Temer and company against workers.

Psol, collateral of the PT

The Psol has accentuated its subordination to the PT. It has become, objectively, a dam to avoid the right course of Lula and the PT to enable the formation and development of a real revolutionary left, supported by the radicalization of mass sectors.

Psol is a center-left party which has accompanied all of the PT’s swerves. This has nothing to do with a revolutionary left party that makes an effort to organize the exploited independently. As it couldn’t be no other way, it doesn’t stand for a workers and peasants government. It has defined itself as a “broad party” in which different organic trends can coexist, even ones with opposing positions. It doesn’t have the intention to penetrate and organize working masses, it doesn’t have a militant structure for that task. It is an electoralist apparatus –bureaucratic and anti-democratic. Elections are –pretty much- the only campaign they do together for a few months every two years.

Psol’s Left Block

The call for municipal elections in Brazil accelerated the formation of a left “radical” block within the Psol to go to primaries to elect candidates. This block is formed by most of the trends which consider themselves trotskist (two of which are part of FIT-U in Argentina: MST and IS) and that for over a decade have been part of the Psol, which is characterized by them as a step towards the militant structuring of the workers’ revolutionary vanguard of Brazil. This block lost party primaries against the pro-PT “majority” (which has won after strong complaints over its anti-democratic, fraudulent procedures).

The Psol leadership has a firm policy of “front orientations” regarding electoral agreements with PT and beyond.

Some members of the radical left block have declared to be against the formation of electoral fronts with PT, because it is a bourgeois party which accompanied all anti-worker actions and stopped all attempts to organize mass resistance.

But… even taking all this into account, they are still part of the Psol. This is an evident electoralist position of the trotskyist left. They don’t split because, even with the knowledge that they are feeding an apparatus which tends to integrate a popular front, they defend the candidacies they have on these ballots.

The front proposition of the MRT (PTS in Argentina) has nothing to do with the FIT-U

The MRT posed the formation of a Left Front – similar, they say, to the Argentinian FIT-U- between the Radical Left Block of Psol, the PSTU which is not part of Psol and them, which are also not part of the Psol.

But this doesn’t include them splitting with the Psol and its policy. Instead, this Left Front would be formed while the radical block remains in the Psol. They wouldn’t want their members to lose their candidatures. This MRT-PTS position is not posed by chance. The MRT-PTS has long requested to be part of Psol (and its leadership has denied that request). Still, MRT-PTS has got Psol leadership to authorize them to nominate “democratic” candidates. This is to say, to present candidates for city council on the Psol ballot. They act as a tributary ballot, contributing with their votes to de nomination of Psol’s official ballot. The most emblematic example is in São Paulo. In that state, the Psol ballot is headed by Guillermo Boulos as Mayor and Erundina as vice. The first candidate is a confessed Lulist (There is a strong version that says he has requested –with the Psol National Committee’s consent- to resign his position and go as a candidate with Lula’s PT, if polls give him low ballot results). Erundina has a long pro-bourgeois history which includes the repression of workers’ struggles during a former mandate in the same office.

¿Left United Front… with the PT?

At the end of July there was a Manifesto published which called the constitution of a Left United Front. It is supported by Boletim Classista (edited by Professor Osvaldo Coggiola), the comrades of Luta Pelo Socialismo (LPS) and some public figures and unionist organizations.

This Manifesto characterizes that the ones who contributed to the rise of Bolsonaro and his “proto-fascism, feel threatened because capitalist crisis generates internal disputes” and this is why they put forward theses on “national unity”, “democratic” and “broad” fronts (with FHC, Ciro Gomes, Rodrigo Maia, etc. as its exponents – the “Somos Juntos”, “Somos 700” movement). They characterize that their intention is to dissolve political independence of the working class.

What really surprises is that the PT doesn’t appear in the list of the ones who want to remove workers’ independency. The main bourgeois organization that works implacably to contain and block any trace of independent mobilization and is desperate to represent the interests of broad sectors of the national bourgeoisie and financial capital. Twelve full years of government and three years of “opposition” prove it.

The Manifesto calls for “the formation of a block of all working class parties and organizations against the bourgeoisie, committed to giving concrete solutions to workers”. It is necessary to give a clear position on the PT. Is it a working class Party or an apparatus taken by arrivistes, which is a vehicle for the policy and interests of capitalist class?

This is not a scholastic concern. We highlight this because the Manifesto calls to “unify political forces which play a decisive role within workers organizations opposed to the opportunist policy of the bureaucratic sectors, which only want to consolidate their privileged position”. But the main organization – which plays a decisive role – is the PT, its allies (PCdoB and company) and CUT bureaucracies and the unions. And what a decisive – negative and pro-bourgeoisie – role! This a key issue, a determining issue to Brazil, strikingly this call omits this issue.

It is fair to demand that workers organizations split with a pro-bourgeoisie policy developed by its bureaucratic leaderships and adopt the path of struggle. If this happens it would be a progressive step forward towards an independent development of class struggle. On the contrary, it would work to show more clearly that the opportunist leaders have completely abandoned the camp of workers’ struggle to go to the camp of the bourgeoisie. We are talking about our class organizations. But it is a very different issue to demand a change of course and regeneration of the PT. This was – let’s remember – the position of the Psol, whose founding platform was the return to the “PT of the beginnings”. The starting point of any front which hoists political independence must start with a delimitation with bourgeoisie nationalism and progressives. The origin and development of the Left Front of Argentina is supported, precisely, in an implacable and systematic delimitation with Kirchnerism… A revolutionary horizon for the Argentinian working class necessitates separating the masses from Peronist control. Most of the left in Argentina, but the example could be extended to Latin America, has supported bourgeois nationalism. This is sharper in moments in which bourgeois nationalism is in the opposition, because in the name of the struggle against the right, political combinations presented as within the “popular camp” for a common struggle are encouraged and promoted, when in fact they are nothing but a loincloth for class collaboration and the rescue of the politics of capitalist social order. We have had a recent experience in Argentina with the “anti-macista front” which dragged left sectors that, currently, are part of Alberto Fernández’s government.

The challenge in Brazil is for workers to overcome the PT and Lulism. The Manifesto poses that “we must pressure reformists in the bourgeois parliament in order for them to assume the inflexible defense of workers’ interests”. But these so called “reformists” are accomplices to the capitalist offensive, either enabling or supporting anti-popular laws. Parliament has revealed itself as a “den of thieves” and corruption which officiated as a channel of bourgeois policy. It is indispensable to make public the treacherous ties that the members of the Parliament have with those interests and their attempt to distract the workers from organizing against them. It is necessary to oppose direct action to parlamentarism. We must call the workers not to trust Parliament and organize action plans and the general strike to struggle against anti-workers reforms. Finally, it surprises the strategic formula posed in the call for United Left Front, it says: “for a workers government with no capital representatives”. To revolutionaries the workers government slogan, is a “popular” formulation of proletarian dictatorship. Therefore, we should ask ourselves. To whom is the slogan aimed? To the PT? Let’s remember that this kind of formula was used by morenism to promote a convergence with bourgeoisie nationalist sectors which were placed, according to them, in the popular ranks and even in the revolutionary camp. An example of that policy was their assimilation to Chavism. Another example of this orientation was the PTS’s call to form a “party with no bosses” in Bolivia which was only a superstructure creation, opportunist and top-down, promoted by splits in the union leadership organized in the COB.

The “damned fact” of bourgeois nationalism

Given all the experiences that we’ve described, the most important problem faced by the Brazilian left which considers itself as revolutionary, is its independence from bourgeois nationalism. We have experienced – and are still experiencing – this problem in Argentina for decades. Morenoist trends and an endless number of left trends (Maoísm, Chavism, etc.) have considered bourgeois nationalism as formally anti-imperialist and “national socialist”, therefore they always sought an approximation to it. Peronism in Argentina – and also Evo Morales in Bolivia and Lula in Brasil – have made the left resign its task to build up an independent, working class and socialist political alternative. This necessitates a policy which does not lead to the democratizing and “gorila” [right-wing, oligarchical anti-peronist] camp of the liberal or pseudo-fascist bourgeoisie. The merit of the formation and development of the Argentinian FIT comes, precisely, from the tenacity of becoming a class-struggle alternative, to the left of bourgeois nationalism in its current Kirchnerist version. It is not about uniting the left, but with what policy this unity Is made. In order to fight for a class independent front, it is important to have a support point in the existence and formation of a revolutionary workers party, independent from bourgeoisie.

We hope these poses help to develop a productive militant debate between all tendencies. This a task that was strongly outlined by the Left Conference of Latin America. The PO participated in it with the purpose of clarifying differences and moving forward to the formation of a continental united front to confront the attacks from the IMF and help to pave a revolutionary path for the rebellions that will be inevitably coming.