Brazil: Successful Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI) congress

Party making “a leap forward”

“Socialismo Revolucionario, the Brazilian section of the CWI, made a leap forward during the last year. The growth in membership and branches, the new branches, like Rio de Janeiro, the interventions amongst students, in the trade unions work, and the growth in our paper sales, all reflect this progress. Our work in P-SOL, and the coming election campaign, will give us the possibility to make a new leap forward and double our membership”.

This was the message given by Mariana Cristina, who introduced the discussion on party building at the congress of Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Brazil), which took place on March 25th-26th. This optimism and determination permeated the congress, at which delegates from 10 different cities were present.

The meeting started on Saturday, with an international report from Reniê Robim, who high-lighted the neo-liberal attacks taking place throughout the world, and which are provoking social explosions. These are reminiscent of some struggles which took place at the beginning of the 20th Century.

We saw the explosion amongst immigrant youth that took place in France at the end of last year. Now a new wave of mass protests against the attacks on the rights of young workers is taking place. Rising struggle is most evident in Latin America. New roadblocks are being set up in Ecuador, where mass protests have toppled presidents in recent years.

However, what is lacking is a clear, organised, conscious alternative for the working class. The CWI are participating in the building of new workers’ parties, like the WASG in Germany, P-SOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) in Brazil, or fighting for such parties to be built through campaigns, like the ‘Campaign for a New Workers Party’ in England and Wales.

The CWI argues for a socialist programme in these new parties for that can offer a real alternative to this system, explained Renié.

The international discussion was followed by a longer discussion on the political situation in Brazil, and, in particular, developments in the new socialist party, Party of Socialism and Liberty (P-SOL).

“Brazil is in a transitional period. The PT [Workers’ Party- the governing party of President Lula] is no longer an alternative for real change for the working class. Lula’s government has implemented a series of neo-liberal attacks on workers rights, at the same time that the banks make their biggest profits ever. An alternative is being constructed, the P-SOL, but is still only in the beginning. The initiative the build a new party has been proven correct. Without P-SOL, the political situation would have been far worse, many would have been resigned to passivity”, argued David Torrão, in his introduction.

David explained that: “P-SOL is at a crucial stage. Many new groups left the PT, at the end of last year, and joined P-SOL, which we welcomed. But, at the same time, it strengthened a more moderate wing in the party. There is now a proposal to turn the coming first party congress into an electoral conference, something that we are against. There is a pressure from various currents to limit the party to just an electoral front for different currents, but that would tap into the potential that is present today to build P-SOL as a broad fighting socialist party, with active local branches and a lively internal debate”.

P-SO – important role

The Party of Socialism and Liberty (P-SOL) is going to play an important role in the elections later this year, especially with its well know MP, Heloísa Helena, standing for president. She is polling 5-8 per cent, at the moment.

“We must break the false polarisation between PT (Lula’s Workers party) and PSDB (‘social democrats’ who held the president’s office, with Cardoso, before Lula). They are two sides of the same neo-liberal coin. We understand that many will vote for Lula and he will probably win. But many won’t have the same illusions, as in 2002. They vote for Lula to block a candidate that they see as more rightwing. But we must argue that Lula will use a new mandate to continue the neo-liberal attacks. Lula’s second government won’t be less neo-liberal than if the PSDB won. Neo-liberal policies are a ‘necessity’ for the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system, regardless who wins – this is the case if you’re not prepared to break with the system”, explained André Ferrari, (a member of P-SOL’s National Executive) in his reply to the discussion.

André also explained the need to fight against what would be a retreat in the building of P-SOL. We will see this kind of retreat in the electoral programme of Heloísa Helena, compared to the provisional party programme. For example, she is no longer calling for the foreign debt not to be paid, but instead calls for a “prolongation of the profile of the debt” – that would mean paying less interest but for a longer period!

The retreat is also evident on organisational issues concerning P-SOL. The different main currents in P-SOL inflated the membership figures in their areas to maximize the number of delegates for the congress. This is recycling bad methods from PT.

André argued that, regardless of a retreat within the P-SOL party, it is important to recognise that Heloísa Helena’s election campaign is going to be seen as a left alternative by workers and youth, in general, will get widespread support. Socialismo Revolucionario (SR) will participate fully in the campaign, and also campaign for our own candidate for state MP in São Paulo – a campaign that will have a more coherent socialist programme that will be needed to fight the coming government, who ever wins the election.

The need to build a revolutionary block within Party of Socialism and Liberty, against the threats of political retreat by some in the party, was the theme for an open meeting that was held in the Saturday afternoon of the Socialismo Revolucionario congress.

No retreat from class policies!

Socialismo Revolucionario wrote a contribution to the P-SOL congress debate, together with others in the party, especially a group within the ‘Movement for Land, Work and Freedom’, in São Paulo. The document, ‘No retreat – to the defence of a democratic, class-based, and socialist P-SOL’, takes up the need to build on the provisional programme that was adopted at the foundation of the party, and not to lower its socialist profile. The document argues against the proposals that have been raised inside P-SOL concerning electoral alliances with parties like the PDT and other so-called “centre-left" parties, which, in reality, are capitalist parties.

The need for a democratic Party of Socialism and Liberty, where the party branches have a real influence, and where its elected representatives in the councils, state parliaments, and congress, are under the control of the party, are also key questions.

The public meeting attracted 80 people, including people from other states in Brazil. There was general agreement in the meeting that there are many in the rank and file of P-SOL that support the ideas defended by Socialismo Revolucionario. In São Paulo, a meeting of P-SOL branch representatives voted in favour of a proposal from SR, which stated that the Party of Socialism and Liberty in the state should adopt the slogan ‘a workers’ MP on worker’s wage’.

On Sunday, the Socialismo Revolucionario congress continued with discussions on building SR, and the meeting elected a new Central Committee. The congress agreed statements on youth and women. On both those fronts Socialismo Revolucionario has made big steps forward during the last year.

Together with other left activists, we won the student elections at the most important university in the country, the USP (São Paulo’s University). We have also begun an important work at one of the most important private universities, the Catholic university in São Paulo, PUC.

Other important areas of struggle, for example amongst women, in which members of SR play an important part, were also discussed.

This was an enthusiastic Socialismo Revolucionario congress and all those present were confident that we can take big steps forward in the next year.

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