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Brazil’s Stagnant Revolution

 Brazil's Stagnant Revolution

The Left born in the
São Paulo ABC assumed Brazil’s presidency
with a project of power but with no project to utilize it. In these
17 months, we have not seen a new vocabulary arise in Brazil.
Zero Hunger is merely a goal, imported from old programs,
like those of the US and the United Nations for poor countries.
by: Cristovam
Buarque

Lula’s election was the greatest step towards Brazilian social revolution
since the abolition of slavery and the Proclamation of the Republic.

But, with a third of his
term now served, no gesture has yet been made to reorient the social structure
and the course of the country. Brazil continues with its aspect of a stagnated
revolution. And the reason is to be found in the characteristics of the Workers
Party (PT) and in the mentality of the President and his advisers.

The PT was born in the
most modern sector of unionism—that of the automotive industry and the
government employees—and grew without revolution, thanks to the concentration
of wealth, the indebtedness and the deviation of public resources from social
services to the infrastructure.

It dedicated itself to
channeling these workers’ demands, aligning itself to groups of the traditional
Left and to the poorer classes. But it did not bring a new utopia to Brazil.
This is why the expression "petism" (from PT) has never taken hold.

The PT came to power as
a party of demands, without a clear, unifying project to construct the Brazil
of the future, as if the future were merely full employment and better salaries.

Because of this, the Lula
government has concentrated upon monetary stability and foreign commerce policy,
hoping for a "show of growth" that would bring about a Brazil with
neither poverty nor inequality. One with social justice. One that was modern
and sovereign.

There is no systematic
mention of an alternative project, of a possible utopia for the nation. As
if the dreaming, irresponsible, and utopian Left of the past had become pragmatic,
responsible and imprisoned by short-term goals.

The Left born in the São
Paulo industrial belt towns of Santo André, São Bernardo do
Campo and São Caetano (ABC) assumed the presidency with a project of
power but with no project to utilize it.

One surprising proof of
the lack of transforming spirit is the absence of a new vocabulary, characteristic
of countries undergoing change, with new banners and proposals.

In these 17 months, we
have not seen a new vocabulary arise in Brazil. Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) is
merely a goal, imported from old programs, like those of the United States
and the United Nations for poor countries.

The Bolsa-Família
(Family Coupon), a program of benefits for poor families, was an administration
innovation that unified programs created by the former government, but it
receded in terms of social transformation when, in practice, it stopped making
school attendance a condition for the transfer of wealth.

The government argues
that its paralysis was inherited from previous administrations. In truth,
there is a profound ideological cause for that paralysis: the mentality, born
and bred in union struggles, that limits itself to day-to-day demands. Our
leaders have a mentality but they do not have an ideology.

The Left born in the São
Paulo industrial belt towns of Santo André, São Bernardo do
Campo and São Caetano (ABC) came into the presidency with a project
of power but no project to utilize it. Committed to the workers of the automotive
industry, the PT is part of a Left that works with the increase of demand,
and not with the end of necessities.

In poor countries, the
creation of demand calls for income concentration and deviation of public
resources to the infrastructure. The social services programs are complementary
and, as in rightwing regimes, they are welfare programs. They do not abolish
the needs or transform reality.

The government appears
perplexed and perceives that, in the global world, the public sector does
not influence the dynamic of the economy and cannot satisfy the needs of industry’s
employed and unemployed. With limited resources, it cannot meet the demands
of the state sector employees. All that remains for the poor are the welfare
programs.

The nucleus of power in
the Workers Party is not inspiring a new project for the country. A project
that would combine the pragmatism of short-term financial equilibrium with
historic long-term ideology. A project that would "unstagnate" the
revolution.

Never has it been so necessary
and so possible to change Brazil with a responsible, democratic revolution
that would combine economic growth with ecological equilibrium and would bring
about a social shock.

This is why President
Lula was elected—to unstagnate the revolution, invest in education and
in a new type of economic growth, one that would also meet the needs of the
masses and not only the demand of the consumers, one that would respect the
environment and would not bring future indebtedness.

This is possible; the
resources exist. All that is needed is transformative vigor. To carry the
plan forward, President Lula and his government need to be awakened and pressured.
And the instrument for that is the Workers Party. In spite of its birth as
a party of demands, and not one of revolution, no other party is closer to
offering the progressive political energy that Brazil needs.

The way to do this is
to break the silence. To stop confusing the party, which has an obligation
to history, with the government, a captive of the administration. Silence
in exchange for comradeship is an historical betrayal.

In its place it is necessary
to install a critical loyalty, to mobilize the base of the PT nation so that
it awakens the cupola of the PT "State." If this does not happen,
all that will be left for us to do is to root that other parties, perhaps
even the conservatives, might understand the need to redirect the history
of Brazil, to unstagnate its revolution. Not merely to administer it, but
to change it.


Cristovam Buarque – cristovam@senador.gov.br-,
60, has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT senator for the Federal District
and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education
(2003-04).

Translated
by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.

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