Crisis in Brazil

I think Lula is going to lose, by a lot, because on the one hand people in Brazil are gulled by the 'respectable' promises of what we would call the right, and because on the other hand they know from experience that Lula's party is hardly the left, ie, committed to real social change, real equality and democracy. Worker Party hero and inspiration Paulo Freire ran the Sao Paulo education system for two years and related his experience in pathetic book, Pedagogy of Hope. Those who read that will notice the incredible timidity and opportunism that drives the Workers Party of Brazil, and those who lived with the schools are not likely to pour out to vote for more of it. In a sense, this is a universal metaphor, the left has been unable to articulate a new vision, and has a dubious history to point to as proof of the reasonableness to sacrifice. It also points to the need for revolutionary consciousness to strip ahead of material conditions at a certain point in capitalist development. Unfortunately, revolutionary consciousness has meant, in too many cases, consciousness for national economic development, which stood in contradiction to equality and democracy--and thus meant simply a new form of oppression for working people. Workers seem to know that. Ollman has done the nicest work (for a North American) that I know about in trying to probe the question of why it is so many people are so often willing to become instruments of their own oppression. (See his "Toward Class Consciousness in the Working Class").

On a more hopeful note, see the short article in today's NY Times regarding the students near S. Francisco striking against the prison system--which they identify as their future under capitalism....

All the best,

Rich Gibson


It is interesting that the 3 biggest Trotskyist formations were in the Workers party. Both the Lambert and Usec groups are still there. The Moreno group left/were kicked out (depends on who you read) I tend to agree with Lou that it is better to be in than be in the wilderness preaching to the already converted. Further they seem to have by and large avoided sectarianism and splittism such as wrecked the rather largish formation they lead with Blanco many moons ago in Peru. The other element seems to have been Left wing Catholics who took "Blessed are the poor" seriously. I suppose this would have resonances with Dorothy Day`s movement. This phenomenon is also in Ireland as traditional Catholicism dies and Catholics try and find a role for themselves. Bernadette McAliskey once said cynically that the church always has a few dissidents so whatever happens it comes out smelling roses.I paraphrase. Another friend says that Lefty priests are attracted to Stalinism as it appeals to their essentially dictatoral souls. In Indonesia the Left has to find itself as it`s predecessors were wiped out. In Brasil the lack of a determined Leftwing seems to be a problem. Perhaps the split between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks is a necessity. In Ireland our comprador Bourgeoisie are so confident/stupid that they think that the world recession is for other places. Maybe the Communist manifesto does have a contemporary ring to it.

--Jim Monaghan


That Lula is going to lose heavily to Cardoso, is due entirely to the common sense conservatism of human consciousness. People in Brazil, quite naturally, fear changing horses amid the stream, and that's human, all too human...But the fact is that Cardoso will have to announce readjustment measures after the elections, in order to qualify to IMF-sponsored credit, and if these are socially regressive enough- involving a heavy tax-increase, huge devaluation of the Real and consequent soaring prices of basic commodities, massive sacking of public employees- that would mean that Cardoso will begin his 2nd. term with all his legitimacy lost from the start, and that may create even an insurrectional situation, something that would be quite close to what happened in 1930, when the ruling oligarchy won the elections in March 1st. by electing presidential candidate Julio Prestes, only to have his sponsor, President Washington Luis, toppled from power by Vargas in October of the same year. Only this time we would have a much more confused and grim situation; there are no forces in the bourgeois camp that can offer an alternative, and only a petty-bourgeois far-right would be in condition to raise its ugly head. The left, by noe, is divided between a decomposing PT and some Trotskyist propaganda circles.

Carlos Rebello