Behind the Brazilian protests

June 21, 2013 at 6:36 am (Civil liberties, corruption, democracy, drugs, Human rights, Jim D, Latin America, protest, sport)

An articulate young woman called Carla Dauden explains what it’s all about:

Amazingly, Carla recorded this before the protests broke out.


  1. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Except that the governing party of Brazil is the Workers Party and the president a former political prisoner who was tortured under the dictatorship.

    Building grandiose football stadiums and other infrastructure projects is also a perfectly legitimate Keynesian strategy (of course building millions of new homes would be vastly preferable but also vastly more expensive) which has largely worked – even though Brazilian growth is now slowing its still happening.

    Given the actual configuration of Brazilian politics the most likely result of all this is not a socialist revolution but the replacement of an admittedly grievous disappointment of a centre-left government by one of the real right dedicated to austerity and globalisation.

    I am not arguing for blind support of the PT which in many respects has become Brazil’s version of Peronism with all that implies in terms of corruption, incompetence and ideological incoherence – but anyone who cares about Brazil rather than jumping on whatever noisy but probably doomed bandwagon (after all what happened after the mass protests in Israel, Greece, Spain and now probably Turkey?) that comes along needs to ask some serious kto-kogo? questions.

  2. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Also worth noting that Brazil’s Communist Party remains part of the governing coalition and that the Trotskyist Democracia Socialista is still an important faction in the PT itself.

    And despite its right turn the government also still has the support of the biggest trade unions.

    So while Lula was a terrible disappointment and his successor Rouseff is certainly no Allende this is a government that still has considerable support from the left and from an organised working class which is not just a figure of speech.

    Brazil is also a federal state in which mayors and governors hold a great deal of power (including over public transport pricing issues which kicked this all off) and are as likely or more likely to come from the right than from the left.

    One does therefore need to look very closely at the real class forces in play before taking sides.

  3. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    And the federalism point may well be key for the issues around the football stadia as well – as we’re presumably talking Brazilian egomaniac equivalents of Boris Johnson taking many of these decisions rather than federal ministers in Brasilia.

  4. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    And this gives some idea of the real complexity of the situation with PT and CUT militants joining the protests, the middle class trying to hijack them, the far right mobilising:

    The demonstrations have turned increasingly yellow and green as the movement goes on. All the contradictions in Brazilian society come to the fore. People come up to radical left and autonomist activists and scream at us for not carrying Brazilian national flags. Our comrades have been physically confronted in a number of places. People with left-wing flags and red t-shirts have been hunted down on the demonstrations. As people don’t have clear demands and no clear enemy they turn against all political parties.

    The media whips up hatred against the radical left. The bourgeoisie uses sexism, racism and homophobia. In this case, the “carnevalization” of the protests serves those hostile to the aims of the movement. And undercover police are creating chaos everywhere, as well. Last night’s clashes in Brasilia, the capital, were led by the extreme-right. I’m astonished of their capability to lead, highjack and imprint meaning on these events.

    When protesters closed Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge in Sao Paulo a couple of days ago our comrades experienced a sudden outbreak of hostility. Last night, the bloc of radical left organisations, students and members of the social movements was attacked by thugs in Rio de Janeiro. The levels of intimidation and aggression we experience on the demonstrations are out of this world. Yesterday night they sought a large conflict with us. The left closed ranks. PTSU militants, PSOL and PCR joined ranks and defended those people carrying red flags and banners on the demonstration.

    What is the future for the protest movement?

    The movement is a battlefield. It highlights all the contradictions of Brazilian society. The “common sense” ideas prevail in people’s heads. Sexism, racism, homophobia aren’t vanishing like they should. At the same time the state apparatus and the elites remains intact. That is mainly due to a change in strategy. Yet the bourgeoisie is acting irresponsible and playing with fire.

    There is no political force on the Left that could articulate any alternative to the current status quo. Social movements have declined in the last few years and the radical left doesn’t have the kind of political instrument we so desperately need. However, the anti-elitist sentiments of the majority of protesters should be fertile ground for us.

    While it is a possibility that this movement ends with a right-wing consolidation, the future of the movement is really in the air.

  5. james L davis said,

    john Reed John Reed will it be Ten days that shook the west james L davis wash dc

  6. Sue R said,

    It’s interesting what is going on around the world at teh moment. All sorts of large numbers of poeple are coming out and demonstrating, but no-one (ie us) seems sure of the politics. I read an article on ‘In Defence of Marxism’ yersterday about Turkey. It seems the crowd is/was pretty similar to the crowd in Brazil: not explicitly political. In fact, the Turksih protestors (according to In Defence of Marxism) were actually nationalistic, revelling in their ‘Turkishness’ and opposing participation by Kurds, or at least the display of Kurdish flags. Why is the left missing out?

  7. Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) said,

    Let us declare frankly: the sincere and profound enthusiasm with which we contemplate the products of the British genius in the most varied spheres of human creative endeavour, only the more sharply and pitilessly accentuates the sincere and profound contempt with which we regard the spiritual narrow-mindedness, the theoretical banality and the lack of revolutionary dignity, which characterize the authorized leaders of British socialism. They are not the heralds of a new world; they are but the surviving relies of an old culture, which in their person expresses anxiety for its further fate. And the spiritual barrenness of these relics seems to be a sort of retribution for the profligate lavish past of bourgeois culture.

    Between Red and White (1922)

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