(Brazil) Will the hand of the Resistance/PSOL tremble?
The future of the PSOL is at stake and the Resistance has a great responsibility in our collective path forward.
In a recent international meeting with leaders of the Latin American left linked to the Fourth International, the Brazilian situation and the impasses faced by the PSOL were discussed. In addition to the quartist organizations of the country (MES, Insurgencia, Comuna and Subverta), the current Resistance was present as a guest, with comrade Valério Arcary as one of its representatives. When asked about the position of his organization vis-à-vis the current internal debate within the PSOL, especially in relation to the Broad Front policy carried out by Lula and the PT, Valério was assertive: “The Trotskyists hands will not tremble at all!
The comrade’s statement was important because its consequences may change the dynamics of the PSOL and of an essential sector of the Brazilian left. However, some recent signals from the Resistance cast doubt on its veracity. In what context was the statement said? Why is there so much doubt about it? These points will be discussed below.
The PSOL scenario
The five organizations mentioned above are divided into two internal camps in the PSOL. While MES and Comuna are part of the “Left Block”, a wing critical of the current leadership that represents 44% of the party, the other three (Resistance, Insurgence and Subverta) form the “PSOL Semente” (Seed), a center alliance that agglutinates 11% in the internal division of the party and currently has an alliance with the “PSOL Popular”, the right wing of the party integrated by the forces Primavera Socialista and Revolução Solidária (of former presidential candidate Guilherme Boulos) which defends the unconditional support for the policies of the PT and even the entry of the PSOL in a possible future government of Lula.
The “PSOL of All Struggles”, name of this alliance that today leads the PSOL, is a fragile bloc in which the Resistance is the balance that guarantees the current majority in the party leadership. We say it is fragile because the Trotskyists of the “PSOL Seed” have publicly declared on numerous occasions that they are against the entry of the PSOL into a future Lula government and that the current support for the PT is only given to the extent of resistance to the extreme right. In that sense, they are also theoretically against supporting state candidacies on PT lists with the right wing, as in the cases of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
In other words, if the Resistance and other “PSOL Seed” organizations really do what they say, the PSOL leadership bloc will end at the party’s next electoral conference, to be held at the end of April. In Brazil today, all eyes are on the Resistance because its vote has the power to profoundly alter the current PSOL dynamic.
The context of Valerio’s statement
Precisely because of the seriousness of the issue, the Resistance was consulted during the aforementioned international meeting about its position on two issues: on participation in a possible PT government and on the alliances of the PT with the right wing in the Brazilian states. In response to constant questioning, the comrade was emphatic with the slogan. “The hand will not tremble!” not only made it clear to all listeners what the position of the Resistance was, but Valerio also pointed out the rupture of the current majority in the party.
There are witnesses from more than ten countries to this speech, so there is no doubt about the content of what was said, but suspicion remains about its sincerity. We were also at the aforementioned international meeting and listened with surprise to comrade Valério’s speech, after all, it would completely relocate the position of the Resistance in the party and, consequently, would change the leadership of the PSOL.
The suspicion about Valerio’s statement is due to some very concrete reasons. The first is the enormous pressure the Resistance is under from the right-wing bloc within the party, whose alliance has benefited them with their entry into the PT media and Boulos’ support for their candidacies in the last elections (when this current elected councilors for the first time). Breaking the leadership bloc would mean breaking relations with sectors seen as priority allies during the last years by the Resistance.
In the last PSOL Congress, the Resistance voted with the party right a rather dubious resolution on participation in future governments. Moreover, in São Paulo (the most important state of the country), the Resistance never voted against the exit of the PSOL from the governments of PT composition -including those of the right wing- although they said they were against such participation. This contradiction is explained by the desire to maintain the current leadership bloc, which “opened spaces” for Valério’s current.
The case of São Paulo
In the state of São Paulo, the Resistance policy made sense since the PSOL planned to launch its own candidacy for the state. However, when Boulos (pre-candidate for the government) withdrew his candidacy, the Resistance kept the position for its own candidacy in the state. Boulos withdrew from the candidacy because of an agreement made directly between him and Lula, in which the PSOL would support the PT candidate (Fernando Haddad) for the government and in exchange would receive Lula’s support for the mayoralty in the next elections in the state capital. This negotiation typical of bourgeois politics put the Resistance on a collision course with its main ally, generating great expectations about its next steps.
In an attempt to escape this difficult decision, the Resistance rehearsed the first “hand shaking” by subtly changing its position by presenting a new scapegoat. In a recent text by comrade Deborah Cavalcante, the Resistance declares that it accepts to support Haddad’s candidacy in alliance with the right wing as long as Márcio França, former governor of São Paulo of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), is not included. The participation of França, the scapegoat that would represent “the right” in the coalition, would be the reason that would prevent the alliance, ignoring the other right-wing parties in the same coalition.
This argument is fallacious for two reasons: first, because there are already right-wing parties around Haddad (such as the Solidarity party) and second, because França is a great ally of Geraldo Alckmin, the neoliberal vice-president chosen by Lula for his presidential nomination in the next elections. Furthermore, in Rio de Janeiro, comrades of the Resistance support the candidacy of Marcelo Freixo for the state, a former PSOL deputy who is now in the same PSB as Alckmin and França. And the Resistance cannot explain this confused position, as evidenced in its few texts on the subject.
There is no definition on whether or not França will be in the PT coalition, and França’s insistence on maintaining a PSB candidacy in São Paulo represents the last hope of the Resistance to maintain its alliance with Boulos, even if this represents the opposite of all the arguments of the Resistance in recent years.
Left Front with the bourgeoisie?
The whole political framework of the Resistance in recent years has been in the defense of a Left Front with the PT, which has developed a long theoretical debate between us and these comrades on the tactic of the united front and its relation to the task of unity of action. In all this debate, the Resistance affirmed the possibility of the Left Front with the PT at the same time that Lula was giving all the signs and declarations that he was seeking alliances with the right. Our position coincided with the need for a united front, but warned that this tactic would not fit in an alliance with the PT in the elections precisely because Lula was seeking the right wing.
In that sense, we assessed the need to assert a leftist program in the first round of the elections (with PSOL’s own candidacy) that would be combined with a unity of action against Bolsonaro, voting for Lula in a second round and even withdrawing PSOL’s own candidacy if Bolsonarism had a chance of winning in the first round.
As everyone predicted, the tactic of the Left Front with the PT turned out to be an abstraction promoted more by will than by reality. But in the last months, the position of the Resistance has been fundamental for the pro-PT sectors within the PSOL, using an apparently leftist discourse that completely surrendered the party to the electoral interests of Lula and Boulos. Today, the PSOL’s own candidacy is no longer possible and the right wing of the party is already taking the next steps towards the PSOL’s entry into a possible Lula government with neoliberal sectors.
Here it is not a question of a sterile balance, but of understanding how the policy defended by the Resistance led the comrades of this organization to an even more contradictory situation, in which they must choose between breaking with Boulos or ignoring what they have always defended – and it is expressed in the doubts today about the veracity of the declarations made outside Brazil.
Will the hand tremble?
It is not possible to know what position the Resistance will take or how much Valerio’s word will be worth. And this text does not intend to make a demarcation against the comrade and his organization. What is at stake today is the future of the PSOL and the Resistance has a great responsibility in our collective path forward. In a few days we will know if the PSOL will have a new direction or if the comrades’ words were just a distraction in favor of Lula and Boulos. We are supporting the credibility of the Resistance and so we wonder if the comrades’ hands will tremble.