Many left activists will be aware of the mass vote for the leader of the Brazilian Worker's party ('Lula' of the PT) which propelled him to the Brazilian presidency and the adoption by the party of a neo-liberal agenda, proposed by the International Monetary Fund, witch led immediately to savage attacks on the living standards of the workers who elected him.
We believe the evolution of Lula is of significance for the development of revolutionary strategy in Latin America and across the globe. We are especially concerned because a member of the Lula government is also a member of DS, the Brazilian Socialist Democracy linked to us through the Fourth International.
We have being discussing the situation in Brazil for some time. Below we reproduce a resolution of our membership. We hope very shortly to present a more detailed analysis.
Resolution on Brazil and the Fourth International
The following resolution was passed at a national meeting of Socialist Democracy in Dublin on 17th April 2004.
In October 2002 Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, leader of the Workers Party (PT), won the presidential election in Brazil; Lula and his coalition government took office in January 2003, and have since run a government which in essence has continued the neoliberal programme of the outgoing Cardoso government. Brazil has been a major issue of controversy in the Fourth International (FI) as Democracia Socialista, the Brazilian section of the FI, is not only one of the largest FI sections but has been an important element in the PT since the party’s founding. Miguel Rossetto, a member of DS, is minister of agrarian reform in the Lula cabinet and several other DS members hold political appointments in the government.
At the February 2004 International Committee (IC) of the FI, a number of delegates raised criticisms of DS’s participation in a bourgeois government. However, the IC voted not to take any official stance on Brazil. Many delegates were anxious not to cause a split in the FI, a prospect which had been raised by the representative of the DS majority.
1. After 15 months of the Lula government, the character of his administration is clear. Despite the hopes invested in Lula and the PT by the Brazilian masses, there has been no break with the neoliberal policies of the former Cardoso government nor with the dictates of the IMF. Both the Brazilian capitalist class and international capital are well satisfied with the performance of Lula, correctly described in the main political report to the International Committee of the Fourth International as the IMF’s most diligent pupil. It is worth remarking that not a single delegate at the IC disputed the characterisation of the Lula regime as a neoliberal bourgeois government.
2. The PT’s rightward course was confirmed by the 14 December 2003 expulsions of Senator Heloísa Helena and the federal deputies Genro, Baba and Fontes, for voting against a neoliberal pension “reform” which tore up manifesto commitments both they and Lula were elected on. We opposed the expulsions not merely because of their violation of democracy but because of the right-wing political direction they indicated.
3. The course of the Lula government represents a profound betrayal of the PT’s working-class supporters. The historic programme of the PT has been abandoned and changes in the composition of the party militate against any perspective of reclaiming the PT. It is clear that a firm socialist opposition to Lula is needed. The expulsions confirm that such opposition is increasingly incompatible with PT membership.
4. Democracia Socialista, the Brazilian section of the FI, is a large current in the PT and should be well placed to lead such an opposition. We regret that to date the DS majority has not provided the necessary lead, maintaining loyalty to PT party discipline, and has in fact provided cover for Lula through its participation in his capitalist government. We urge the DS comrades to withdraw all their cadres from governmental positions, and to take up the class struggle on behalf of the working class and exploited, whether or not this leads to disciplinary action by the PT leadership. If DS does not leave the government it stands condemned as an accomplice in the oppression and exploitation of Brazil’s working class and poor, a stance utterly incompatible with membership of the Fourth International.
5. The Brazilian situation also raises important questions for the Fourth International. The course of the Brazilian section has not been a bolt from the blue, but has simply thrown into sharper relief serious problems which have existed in the FI for many years and in many countries. Unfortunately the international majority has not shown an inclination to learn from the mistakes of the past, a tendency underlined by the failure of the IC to take any official stand on Brazil, in effect defending the DS leadership and its policy. It has become obvious that basic Marxist concepts such as the independence of the working class, permanent revolution and transitional politics which were once the property of the whole movement, have been forgotten in large swathes of the FI.
6. For these reasons we believe there is a need for an international opposition tendency within the FI. The split in the FI is real – the organisational split has been immediately avoided, but a political split already exists. The first steps for the membership of the FI is to recognise this and clarify its political basis and depth.
7. The PT experience most obviously calls
into question the political basis of the international leadership’s long-running
regroupment drive. We reject the widespread strategy in the FI that commits
to building undifferentiated “class struggle” or “anti-capitalist” parties,
of which the PT was the exemplar, which efface the distinction between
revolutionary, centrist and reformist parties. The bitter tragedies of
the workers movement in the last century, which weigh so heavily on the
new one, arose precisely from rejection of the revolutionary marxist programme.
Defense of this programme is the precondition for its creative development
through the class struggles of the 21st century. The Fourth International
is a revolutionary Marxist movement or it is nothing.