The 21st Century Left is Anti-Neoliberal

By Emir Sader on October 5, 2021

Out with Bolsonaro! photo: Elineudo Meira

Brazil today lives two levels of struggle at once. The first revolves around ending the Bolsonaro presidency and is a democratic struggle to which all those who today are against him belong – regardless of their positions in the past nor the degree of responsibility they had for Bolsonaro’s rise.

There is no need to establish any kind of formal agreement amongst us all, just walk forward separately as we hit Bolsonaro together. Any position that conditions us on past actions of others or attempts to exclude  – by using the physical gallows on those of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) for example – is sectarian. This does not exempt them from their responsibilities in the coup against Dilma, in the exclusion of Lula from the 2018 elections, in the election of Bolsonaro.

But it will take all those who are against Bolsonaro to defeat him and all those who are still with him, including a part of the business community and the military. It will not be an easy fight. They must be isolated while we build a very broad front that expresses the desire and interests of the vast majority of Brazilians.

We are fighting against an authoritarian regime, militarily armored, which needs to be defeated so that full democracy can be installed in Brazil. The military withdrew from the forefront of the political scene when the dictatorship they had installed was exhausted, but they did not suffer an open political defeat. This happened in Argentina, after the military attempt to use the Malvinas to regain prestige. It happened in Chile, when Pinochet was defeated in the 1988 referendum, when he wanted to run again. It happened in Uruguay, when two consultations of the military dictatorship to privatize public companies were defeated. But so far it has not happened in Brazil.

The restoration of democracy is the first plan of struggle. Overcome Bolsonaro, by impeachment or in elections. The return of a truly a democratic government in Brazil is a condition for the second level of the struggle.

The second level of struggles involves defeating and overcoming the neoliberal model. In the current historical moment, it is the model that capitalism has adhered to. This has been the case since “developmentalism” or whatever we want to call it was exhausted – in force since the end of World War II until around the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Neoliberalism is a profoundly regressive model. It concentrates income, promotes social inequalities, and is guided by a conception that society as a whole must be commodified. It operates as if everything has a price, everything can be sold, everything can be bought. It is the undisputed reign of money, monetary wealth, the absolute domination of private banks, financial capital and financial speculation.

That is why the left of the 21st century is first and foremost anti-neoliberal. At its forefront, it fights to defeat the neoliberal worldview and its policies of fiscal adjustment centrality instead of prioritizing social policies. The struggle is to defeat the weakening of State policies, defeat the privatization of public patrimonies, defeat the slashing of resources for social program and public service.

Today the struggle against neoliberalism is the way to fight against capitalism in its current historical stage, clearly neoliberal. This is now the fundamental struggle: defeat the neoliberal model, axis of all the setbacks suffered in the nineties and again in the last five years, fundamental reason for the coup against Dilma and the arrest of Lula. The right-wing chose Bolsonaro because he had the best numbers in the polls. They mounted the operation that led him to the presidency in order to preserve the neoliberal model, reimplemented by the Temer government and radicalized with the policies of Paulo Guedes.

Brazil will only be able to resume the path chosen by the majority of Brazilians in four consecutive democratic elections with the restoration of democracy. It will only be able to do so when all Brazilians freely exercise their rights and elect their next president. And this struggle, won democratically, must then serve to replace the nefarious neoliberal model with another that is focused on productive investments, policies of income distribution and the generation of formal employment – a model that reduces social inequalities in the most unequal country of the most unequal continent in the world.

The fight against Bolsonaro is the tactic. The strategic struggle is against the neoliberal model.

Source: Rebelion, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English