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a socialistworld is possible: the history of the cwi by peter taaffe
new introduction

Class collaborationism in Brazil

Where such an approach leads to is concretely expressed in the class collaborationism of the leaders of the Brazilian section of the USFI in relation to the Lula government.

Given Lula’s sharp shift towards the right, they have correctly concluded: “The leadership of the Brazilian Workers’ Party, which for years had asserted the class struggle and the fight against neo-liberalism, is today implementing a neo-liberal policy required by the financial markets and the IMF”, writes Francois Sabidel, a leading member of the LCR.31  The same point is made in relation to the RC in Italy: “Another example is the turn of Fausto Bertinotti and the leadership of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy, which is preparing to discuss the perspective of coalition with the centre-left, that is with the forces of the Olive Tree and Romano Prodi, President of the very neo-liberal European Commission.” [Ibid.] Since these lines were written, the RC has indeed agreed to a formal pact with the bourgeois forces of the ‘Olive Tree’.

In the case of Brazil, Lula’s government is so far to the right that the joke amongst the Brazilian left is that it is about to break with the IMF, “Because [the IMF] is too left wing”! The Lula government, as the Brazilian section of the CWI has pointed out, has attacked both teachers and civil servants – resulting in a demonstration of 30,000 workers from all over Brazil in June 2003. In 2004, the standard of living of those in work declined and real wages are expected to fall by 15 per cent. One of the greatest disappointments of the Brazilian masses has been on the issue of land. Only 13,000 families had been settled by the end of 2003, a far cry from the 60,000 settlements promised by Lula. Yet, the Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, is none other than a member of the Brazilian section of the USFI, Democracia Socialista (DS), who has presided over this retreat while other members of the USFI’s section have been expelled from the PT! Most prominent amongst the latter is Heloisa Helena, who is behind the formation of the new party, P-SOL (‘Party of Socialism and Liberty’). This takes place at a time when the DS remains as a tendency of the PT, holds the position of Minister of Agrarian Development in the government, as mentioned previously, but also has had members who are political appointees (advisers) in the Ministry of Economics. Even the ‘left’ of the DS restricted their demands within the PT to the withdrawal of these advisers from the Economics Ministry and do not call for the resignation of the Minister of Agrarian Development. This was defeated by what now amounts to a right-wing majority in the DS. All of this is effectively ignored by the USFI leadership which is prepared to see a ‘debate’ but not to make sharp criticisms of its Brazilian members who, quite clearly, by serving in a bourgeois government, are betraying the interests of the Brazilian masses. How different is the behaviour of the USFI section in Brazil to the POUM in Spain who, as all Trotskyists know, played a fatal role in derailing the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s? However, the USFI is guilty in buttressing not a “left” government, like that which nominally existed in Spain at a certain stage in 1936, but an avowedly ‘neo-liberal’ former left party, which is now sustaining a right-wing government. However, Heloisa Helena launched, with three other MPs – Babá, João Fontes and Luciana Genro –and with the support of Socialismo Revolutionario (CWI in Brazil), a movement for a new party, precisely because no opposition within the PT is tolerated by Lula.

The same diplomatic silence is maintained by the USFI over the Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Italy. On the one side, as recently as the summer of 2003, at their World Congress, the USFI could welcome what they claim was the, “significant breakthrough represented by organisations like Rifondazione Comunista and the Scottish Socialist Party”.32 In the case of the PRC, it undoubtedly represented a significant breakthrough when it was founded, but that was in 1991! It has not realised the original hopes of those sections of the Italian working class who revolted against the opportunism of the leadership of the DS (formerly the Communist Party) because of its political degeneration. The PRC has zigzagged from left to not-so-left and during the last decade the USFI members within the PRC have formed part of the leadership faction. Now, with Bertinotti’s opening to the right by his alliance with the Olive Tree, the USFI inside the PRC have tentatively come out in opposition. But this has been done in the most woolly, incoherent manner. They say, for example, that since the end of June 2003 there has been an, “Opening…for an alternative in posing the problematic of a new relation between the PRC and what has until now been the Olive Tree, projecting a programmatic alternative around content emerging from the reality of conflict and social opposition. This is not a programmatic relation between two subjects, but a relation between numerous partners, open to the movements in the forms that the movements themselves will decide to choose”.33

Make what you will of this! But the USFI has done nothing to prepare the members of the PRC and, in particular, the inactive supporters of the PRC, for the likely movement towards the right by Bertinotti. On the contrary, they have acted as a prop to Bertinotti, which has been knocked away as the PRC shifts rightwards towards the Olive Tree. Due to the political vacuum in Italy, it is possible that, notwithstanding this rightward movement, the PRC could pick up electoral support. However, while the inert masses may give their support electorally to the PRC, the active workers who have looked towards it up until now will either oppose it or fall into inactivity, some even dropping out of the PRC. Its electoral support could go up while its membership base contracts. Indeed, there is some evidence that this is happening already. This does not mean that the chapter of the PRC is over but in its present rightward evolution it certainly will not be an attractive proposition for big sections of the youth, who are looking for a socialist and revolutionary alternative.