Brazil: Lula, José Dirceu and their role in history

Lula’s release is a defeat for Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash – the criminal investigation that aimed to clean up the rotten Brazilian state institutions before the eyes of the masses). Therefore, his release is a positive development for the struggle of the working class. Esquerda Marxista (the Brazilian section of the IMT) has been fighting against Lava Jato since the beginning and we denounced the conviction and imprisonment of José Dirceu and Lula, who were sentenced without proof in a political trial that is a part of wider scale attacks on democratic freedoms, repeatedly inflicted by the judiciary.

The decision of the Supreme Federal Court (STF), by 6 votes to 5, which declared the imprisonment after conviction in the second instance/appellate court unconstitutional – which led to the release of Lula – was a political decision by the Supreme Court majority. This decision (which in fact declares that the STF has since 2016 been acting against the same constitution it is supposed to defend) comes amidst a political situation where revolutionary explosions follow one after the other and encircle Brazil, and where Bolsonaro is sinking even further down into a political, economic and social crisis. The bourgeoisie knows that the revolutionary winds from Ecuador, Chile, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, etc., can come to Brazil at any moment.

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The ruling class is divided over Lava Jato, which continues to commit abuses and illegalities, shamelessly trampling on its own bourgeois democratic principles. Major bourgeois factions, both inside and outside the judiciary, which previously supported Sergio Moro (former federal judge, currently minister of Justice) and his operation, now condemn his methods. This culminated in August when the STF annulled a conviction made by Moro.

The legal and electoral fraud involved in the conviction and imprisonment of Lula became increasingly evident. The Lava Jato prosecutors themselves recommended transferring him to so-called semi-open conditions (a work prison where you can reduce your sentence by working in agricultural or industrial colonies.)

The political risk of keeping Lula in jail, with the risk of a social explosion opening up against the government, was the determining factor in the majority decision of the reactionary STF judges. Obviously, it had nothing to do with any respect for the Constitution or "democracy." Laws under capitalism are made for the bourgeoisie so that they can rule, defend private property, and maintain social control over the exploited. The "interpretations" of the laws made by the STF express political positions. In this case, liberating Lula is a way of releasing pressure and gaining breathing space for trying to control the masses in the event of social tumult.

The role of Lula and José Dirceu

Lula is entirely willing to be the fifth wheel of the ramshackle bourgeois institutions. The same day he left prison (8/11), he stated that: “The rotten side of the justice system, the rotten side of the Public Prosecutor's Office, the rotten side of the Federal Police and the rotten side of the Department of Federal Revenue, worked to try to criminalise the left, criminalise the PT [the Workers’ Party], criminalise Lula." As if these reactionary institutions have a good side. Even after 580 days in prison following a fraud that all the state institutions supported, like the reformist he is, he keeps moving to the right.

And in a real mockery with the Brazilian people, who are attacked on a daily basis, he added: “I leave this place without hate, at the age of 74 my heart has room only for love, because love will win in this country”, and also “I have no grievance with anyone”, trying to reassure the bourgeoisie. But Bolsonaro and his followers cannot be beaten “with love,” only class struggle and the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses can and should sweep away these reactionaries. And not with the aim of living in "peace and love" with the bourgeoisie, but to pave the way for a socialist revolution that will tear economic power out of the hands of the capitalists and destroy their forces of repression.

Jose Dirceu Image Flickr Rui FalcãoJosé Dirceu came out with left-sounding rhetoric, but the PT disgraced itself with its pro-capitalist record in government / Image: Flickr Rui Falcão

The next day, at the Metalworkers Union of São Bernardo do Campo in São Paulo, Lula repeated that he holds no hatred or grievances, and then he begun to work openly against the sentiment that is growing among the masses for fighting against Bolsonaro:

“There are people who say it is necessary to bring down Bolsonaro. There are people who talk about impeachment. Look, this citizen was elected. Democratically, we accept the election result. This guy has a four-year term.”

At a time when the struggle for “Fora Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro out) provokes a crisis and division in the leadership of the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party), when this slogan is chanted by the protesters at the demonstration of 5 November in São Paulo, forcing PT, PSOL and PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil) to manoeuvre and adapt to it momentarily, Lula leaves prison and fights to block the overthrow of Bolsonaro. The policy of Lula, Zé Dirceu and everyone who came together to the "Defence of Democracy" is to point to the 2020 and 2022 elections as the only way out. Lula tries to be, once again, an alternative for the bourgeoisie by being a stabilising force for the political situation, so that business can continue as usual.

José Dirceu was also released from prison. On the same day, together with Lula, he declared that “now our task is to return and retake the government of Brazil” and adds: “to do this we need to make it clear that we are petistas [members of the PT], leftist and socialists”. The architect behind the reactionary and bourgeois “Democratic and Popular Programme”, the man behind the political line of alliances with the bourgeoisie – such as Temer, Collor, Sarney and Renan Calheiros, among other “progressives” – and the strategist behind the destruction of the PT as a socialist party, knows that, in order to win the elections, to connect with the people’s aspirations, the PT's rhetoric needs to appear more to the left. Just like in the second round of 2014, when leftist rhetoric in the campaign was followed by a government for the capitalists. He understands what is happening in the world and sees the increasing social polarisation, so he knows he needs to adapt.

Our fight

As our fight to bury the Bolsonaro government continues, so does our fight against the policy of Lula and the PT. They appointed pro-capitalist governments, submissive to the interests of imperialism, they did not answer to popular demands, they carried out the pension counter-reform, supported attacks on democratic freedoms (such as the Clean Record Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act), they did not counter the judgment of the Mensalão, (which sentenced without evidence the PT leaders themselves) and they supported Lava Jato before they became targets of the operation. They formed an alliance with the bourgeoisie and adopted bourgeois and corrupt politics and methods of government. The result was the demoralisation of the PT’s members and the disorganisation of the working class. The hope inspired in some people by the apparent leftward reorientation of the PT, or of Lula, is pure illusion. They do not believe in the revolutionary capacity of the proletariat and they defend the rotten capitalist system.

Brazil gen strike 2 first Image Giorgia PratesAs our fight to bury the Bolsonaro government continues, so does our fight against the wrecking policy of Lula and the PT / Image: Giorgia Prates

The Bolsonaro/Guedes/Moro government continues with its attacks on the working people and the youth. The attempt to change the constitution to allow arrest after conviction in the second instance/appellate court, and the threat of using the military dictatorship's National Security Law (which Lula did not revoke during his 13 years in government), establishing in law the freedom for the police to kill with impunity (Moro's Anti-Crime Law) – these and other positions show what kind of regime this ultra-liberal government would like to form. After the Pension Reform, they will hand over the oil, try to privatise everything, to make new counter-reforms to serve the financial capital, destroy stability as well as reduce the salaries of civil servants.

Young people and workers have no reason to bow in respect for the bourgeois electoral game. The government was never given a mandate to destroy conquests and rights, and to liquidate democratic freedoms. Bolsonaro can and should be ousted before the end of his term, and in this fight the movement must build the forces for the formation of a true workers' government.

PSOL's responsibility and the consequences of its policy

The PSOL should be at the head of this movement, totally independent of the PT, with a truly leftist, socialist and revolutionary programme. However, most of its leadership has taken steps in the opposite direction and are seeking to form electoral alliances with the PT and PCdoB, as well as bourgeois parties like PDT, PSB, Rede, PV, etc. Consequently, Freixo and Boulos stood beside Lula in the sound truck in São Bernardo do Campo, supporting the speech of the PT leader. Freixo has already announced PSOL’s coalition with PT and PV and, possibly, Rede and PCdoB, for the Rio de Janeiro elections in 2020. The justification for this is the unity of all those who are against Bolsonaro.

We defend the unity of the working class and its organisations with the aim of overthrowing Bolsonaro, to stop the counter-reforms and fight for our demands. This is the United Front. This has nothing to do with the formation of electoral coalitions with the ones who govern for the capitalists and betray the workers, or electoral coalitions with bourgeois parties.

PsolThe PSOL should be at the head of the movement against Bolsonaro, independent of the PT, but it is doing the opposite / Image: fair use

For Esquerda Marxista it is clear: if the PSOL wants to build itself up as an alternative to PT and assist in the reorganisation of the working class, it has to put forward its own candidates in all municipalities and reject the alliances with the parties of the establishment (see this open letter to the members of PSOL).

The bourgeoisie is rightly fearing that the revolutionary wave that shakes the world will come to Brazil. The national situation is explosive, despite the brake applied by workers’ movement’s own leaders. These leaders, Lula among them, and their policy of conciliation will be replaced by the masses in movement. The class struggle is the motor force of history and much stronger than any party apparatus.

We invite all the youth and workers that agree with the need to overthrow Bolsonaro and sweep away capitalism to join us to build the instrument we need for our future victory.