Brazilian elections: the line of defeat, and the line of victory

Once the first round of the presidential elections was finished, Haddad and the PT (workers’ party) took off the red shirts they had used to revive melancholic PT supporters. Now they wear respectable suits with white shirts; they have changed their campaign symbols for the colours of the Brazilian flag (green, yellow and blue); removed Lula from campaign photographs; and hidden any hint of red.

Read the original in Portuguese on Esquerda Marxista.

They aim to present themselves candidates of "the political front in defence of democracy" – or to "unite all democrats," as Haddad put it. In reality, this means uniting with Marina, [1] Ciro, [2] FHC, [3] and any available bourgeois who is frightened of Bolsonaro. An alliance with PMDB and PSDB [4] is now their main objective.

Jacques Wagner – de facto head of the campaign in the second round – explained shamelessly that "it is a negative coincidence in history that, instead of being together, PT and PSDB have polarised with each other. These were the best forces that emerged in the democratic period."

Ideological capitulation by reformism 

The PSOL president, Juliano Medeiros, produced an explanation that reveals complete ideological capitulation:

"Now it is time for deconstruction, to show that [Bolsonaro] is a false nationalist and he is not against the system, rather, it is part of the system."

That is, they (Haddad, Juliano, etc.), are the 'true' nationalists and, of course, with this line, they are all in favour of the system. These are unbelievable words for any ‘socialist’.

Not satisfied with what they did during their time in office, they now take a further step to the right by openly proposing a national unity government "to defeat Bolsonaro." They destroyed the PT as a socialist party, and now, in order to win the elections, they do not mind transforming the proletariat and the youth into a tool to be used in the manoeuvres of the reactionary bourgeoisie. This is the same political line as Stalinism from the 1930s to today. It was that of the PCB [5] until the 1990s and it is that of the PCdoB [6] today.

Haddad Twitter Image Fair useHaddad's Twitter background used to be red, and feature Lula prominently. Now Lula has vanished, and the colour scheme matches the Brazilian flag / Image: Fair use

Marxists have always fought for class independence and remain steadfast in this orientation today. It is the only policy for the ultimate victory of the working class. The politics of Haddad (PT) are suicidal, and led straight to the electoral defeat in the second round. Haddad, along with everything the voters have completely rejected (PSDB, PMDB, Rede, PDT, PSB etc.), will appear more than ever as "part of the system". It is the "old politics" standing again, unable to understand the voice of the streets and people’s hatred for the system.

They did not understand why Bolsonaro was so popular in the first round, nor what that means. Just as they are completely incapable of understanding that only class independence and a determined struggle against capitalism (the "system") is capable of massing and animating proletarian forces, and offering a perspective of changing people’s lives and actually fighting reaction. With their policy of "a front for democracy", they are delivering the people into the hands of an ultra-reactionary adventurer.

Bourgeois democracy: rotten ripe for revolution

In 1848 in Germany, Engels wrote (in "Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany") that, at that time, the working class had no chance of raising its own forces and had to support the petty-bourgeois and small industrialists who were against feudalism: fighting against the past. It was the struggle of bourgeois democracy against feudal absolutism.

Engels explained, at the same time as he was writing the Communist Manifesto with Marx:

"The working-class movement itself never is independent, never is of an exclusively proletarian character until all the different factions of the middle class, and particularly its most progressive faction, the large manufacturers, have conquered political power, and remodelled the State according to their wants.

"The immediate needs and conditions of the movement were such that they did not permit the advancement of any special demand by the proletarian party… As long as the ground is not clean enough to allow independent action of the workers, as long as universal and direct suffrage is not established, as long as the 36 states continue to divide Germany into numerous pieces, what could the proletarian party do, other than to... fight alongside the small traders to acquire the rights that would enable them to later conduct their own struggle?

"Disorganised, brash, the workers were only awakening to political struggle, feeling only the simple instinct of their social position."

Already in 1931 and 1933, in the same country, when Hitler came onto the scene to establish a fascist government, that time had passed. The political government of the bourgeoisie, the governments of the great industrialists and the bankers, had already been constituted. The bourgeoisie and its regime not only reigned but were rotting. The fascist state was already an expression of the era of imperialism and reaction. In 1930, the question posed was not the struggle for democracy, for the bourgeois republic, but a struggle for socialism. That is: it was a choice between the extreme regime of financial capital or proletarian revolution; a struggle between capitalism and proletarian revolution; between fascism, dictatorship, militarism or proletarian revolution.

leon trotsky 9510793 1 402Trotsky understood that the only real fight against bourgeois reaction was a fight for socialist revolution / Image: public domain

It is bourgeois democracy and its state in the present stage of capitalism that led to Mussolini, Hitler, military dictatorships and, indeed, Bolsonaro. Only the struggle for the proletarian revolution can defend the working class and resolve this situation in a decisive manner.

In the struggle against fascism or any bourgeois government, the struggle for democratic freedoms is of interest to the proletariat insofar as it allows it to organise and mobilise for the socialist revolution, striking blows against reaction. The struggle for democratic freedoms is the struggle for revolution and never the defence of bourgeois democracy, of the reactionary, bourgeois "democratic state of law." The defence of democratic freedoms is the defence of the interests of the working class in its struggle against capital.

Trotsky denounced Hitler as a reactionary at the service of finance capital. He was an enemy of the working class: an agent of capitalist reaction who sought to crush workers' organisations and wage war to destroy the USSR. Trotsky never lost time denouncing Hitler's ‘undemocratic’ positions.

Unity of workers; not "unity of democrats"

Jair Messias Bolsonaro Image Fábio Rodrigues PozzebomWithout the working class and youth organised and willing to fight them, Bolsonaro's supporters will increasingly gain confidence / Image: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom

The policy of the PT leads nowhere. A violent confrontation between classes is being prepared. We do not need petitions signed in the name of democracy or the "unity of all democrats". This is the line of electoral defeat now and of social and political defeat afterwards.

The responsibility of the PT's leadership, and the leadership of the unions, is to organise a class struggle against Bolsonaro. But they are unable to do this. The task of the communists is to denounce this situation and to propose a united front of the working class against Bolsonaro and his accomplices, so that the workers and youth definitively separate themselves from the old capitalist system.

Haddad Image Agência BrasilThe PT's suicidal policy of "unity of democrats" leads us nowhere: we must fight Bolsonaro from an independent class position / Image: Agência Brasil

Without the working class and youth organised and willing to fight these people on the streets, they will increasingly gain confidence to intimidate and assault at will, because they see that they face no serious counter-reaction – no one is willing to stop them.

We're seeing thuggish Bolsonaro supporters breaking Mariele's [7] plaque and boasting in public, threatening people on the street for wearing left-wing or anti-Bolsonaro t-shirts. And a Bolsonaro government will carry out an escalation of repression if the working class and its organisations do not face it seriously. Bolsonaro's supporters are escalating their threats and actions because there is no organised fightback from the left, the labour movement or the youth. They have to be confronted with proletarian methods, in an organised fashion, in the trade unions, on the streets, in schools and in the workplaces.

The petty bourgeois and reformists in general are desperate "because democracy is in question."

Of course it's in question. It has long been called into question, precisely because of the advent of imperialism, the cowardice of the bourgeoisie, which fears the masses and, above all, because of the reformists who betrayed all the hopes of the working class and pushed the masses into a situation of hopelessness and hatred against all bourgeois parties and institutions.

This is the hour of proletarian revolution. The hour of democracy has long passed. The PT renounced democracy when it decided to rule for a privileged minority and deceive the people by handing out alms, as the Vatican does.

Destroyed plaqueMarielle France, PSOL city councillor, was assassinated in March 2018. A plaque in her memory was destroyed by a candidate of Bolsonaro’s party (PSL) who boasted publicly about his “feat” on Facebook / Image: fair use

And the PT, in refusing to defend the democracy of the majority, sealed the fate of such a "democratic rule of law". When government, the PT blocked a socialist way forward and convinced most of the masses that, in fact, such a democracy is only in the interests of the powerful, thus throwing a huge mass of the population into the arms of an ultra-reactionary adventurer.

The line of "unity of all democrats" or "all in defence of democracy" is the line of allying with much of the bourgeoisie, or at least attempting this, and appearing even more in the eyes of the masses as part of the "old order" that needs to be swept away.

The only political line capable of pushing back Bolsonaro and his accomplices is the proletarian antifascist front, the unity of the workers and the youth with proletarian methods of struggle, and raising all the demands and needs of the workers, pointing to capital and its agents as our mortal enemies.

The best example of this is the United Antifascist Front of 1934, which provoked the "flying away of the green chicken": the dispersal and liquidation of integralist (fascist) organisations in Brazil. [8]

Those who accuse Bolsonaro of inciting hatred – and he certainly expresses class hatred very bluntly – forget fortuitously (or out of political blindness) that violence is the great midwife of history, and that under no circumstances can the line of " peace and love" serve the interests of the proletariat. The working class has a right and a duty to feel "class hatred" against the capitalists, and especially against human waste like Bolsonaro.

Vote against Bolsonaro and build for the battles ahead

Our orientation is to explain and emphasise that only the proletarian battalions, organised and armed, can end this class war that the bourgeoisie and its brutish captains and generals have launched against us.

The line of Haddad and the PT is a further shift to the right, it is a line that will prevent it from winning the votes that the PT has already lost, and is totally useless as an attempt to provoke confusion and demoralisation amongst the ranks of the reactionary Bolsonaro groups.

This line of adaptation and defeat is the same as that of PSOL's leadership in its statement on the second round, corroborated by the statements of the national president of PSOL.

Cuiaba Image Marxist LeftWe must organise as working-class socialists and discuss how to prepare for the coming battles / Image: Marxist Left

We must organise in the unions, organise the youth and discuss how to prepare for the coming battles. At this time, this means fighting for a vote against Bolsonaro, by voting for Haddad and the PT, on 28 October.

The working class has not yet entered the struggle and it will have to do so. The union leaders and reformist politicians, contrary to what the eternally deluded think, will not organise nor enter into struggle. They will go even further to the right and will "demand" from Bolsonaro "open dialogue and negotiation". They will not organise the struggle with proletarian methods in defence of workers and youth. They will try to negotiate while on their knees.

This task will increasingly be in the hands of the internationalist communists and of all those who, breaking with the bourgeoisie, capital and their parties, are genuinely determined to organise the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat in defence of its organisations, its conquests and the socialist revolution.

Socialism or barbarism! Obscurantist reaction and bourgeois repression or proletarian revolution!


[1] Marina Silva, leader of REDE (Sustainability Party), a former PT parlamentarian who broke with the party to the right and supported the bourgeois candidate against Dilma in the second round of the 2014 presidential election.

[2] Ciro Gomes, presidential candidate of the PDT.

[3] Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president for the bourgeois PSDB.

[4] Brazil’s two main bourgeois parties.

[5] Brazilian Communist Party, in its current form created in the 1990s by those who opposed the liquidation of the party into the Socialist People’s Party.

[6] Communist Party of Brazil, founded in 1962 in opposition to Kruschev’s “destalinisation”. Currently in an alliance with the PT.

[7] Marielle France, PSOL city councillor in Rio de Janeiro, assassinated in March 2018, after having spoken against police extrajudicial killings of black youth in the favelas. A plaque in her memory was destroyed by a candidate of Bolsonaro’s party who boasted publicly about his “feat” on Facebook.

[8] On 7 October 1934, the AIB fascist organisation had called for a rally in Sao Paulo. The left and trade union organisations jointly mobilised to stop them and a battle ensued which resulted in seven deaths and scores of injured. The fascists were beaten and retreated. The fascists were wearing green shirts and their flight became known as “the flight of the green chickens”.