[Marxism] *dialectical* appreciations

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 29 06:41:36 MST 2005

A nuanced, "dialectical" appreciation of Brazil and Lula
might wonder if Brazil's troop deployment in Brazil cancels
out the various progressive international policy measures 
which his government takes? These include, but are by no
means limited to the establishment of a series of regional
initiatives, from Mercosur to Telesur, and his idea that a
free trade area of the Americas should INCLUDE Cuba, not
EXCLUDE Cuba, as well has his government's extensive trade
relations with Cuba. 

A nuanced, dialectical appreciation of Brazil's role and
Lula's presidency might ask if it is engaging in brutal
police repression of strikes and land seizures? It might
ponder the idea that Brazil's goal in having troops in
Haiti is connected with the idea that the largest and the
most populous country in Latin America should have a seat
at the United Nations Security Council which Brazilian
politicians might think justify such a dirty committment.

Are such things justified? I do not think so, but do they
cancel out the other elements of Brazil and Lula's agenda,
whether progressive or simply non-reactionary? I think not.
A nuanced and dialectical look at these things requires we
try to see all of the elements, in relation to one another,
and to assess them in relation to one another, in their
dynamic interaction. It seems to me that all of the shrill
criticism and denunciations of Lula from people who define
themselves as Marxists in the United States and in the EU
don't help and can't help revolutionaries in Brazil chart
a workable course in relation to Lula and the government
which he leads. Keep in mind, too, memories are short and
the Brazilian military hasn't been discredited in the way
the Argentine and the Chilean militaries have been in the
recent past. Lula's government, which was built with a
coalition of forces to his right, doesn't have much room
to maneuver, even to the extent it might have wanted to.

Brazilians who want to create a new Brazil have to try to
find their own language, through their own experiences and
history, to take the necessary steps. From what I can see,
people like Frei Betto and Leonardo Boff are moving in the
right direction. If I were in Brazil, I would pay closest
attention to what people like that are saying and doing.

This doesn't mean not disagreeing with, criticizing or
finding fault with any specific action his government has
taken, such as sending troops to Brazil, who surely don't
need them there. So of course the answer to JD's question
is a resounding "no" (in case anyone wondered...)

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

JD asked this question

And does Lula's progressive international policy include 
the deployment of Brazilian troops in Haiti post US 
intitiated coup to remove the democratically elected 
president of that country for his crime in failing to 
implement the writ of the free market with sufficient vigor?

Lula's Crucial Test 
Leonardo Boff 

In several places of his vast work, but principally in his book
«Brazil, the interrupted construction» [Brasil, la construcción
interrumpida] (1993), Celso Furtado said: «We are a people with an
extraordinary multisided culture... But we lack the experience of
crucial tests, such as those lived by other peoples whose very
survival was threatened at one time» (p. 35). Facing crucial tests
defines the destiny of a country and strengthens its basic identity.

I believe the present political and moral crisis presents a crucial
test for the future of Brazil. But it is also crucial for President
Lula's Government. Juarez Guimaraes, political science professor at
Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais and member of the Perseu Abramo
Foundation, shows this with special acuteness in his book «A
Tightrope Walker's Hope: the Lula Government in Times of Transition»
[Esperanza Equilibrista: el Gobierno de Lula en Tiempos de
Transicion. 2004.] This book seeks to place the Lula government in
the context of Brazil's political history, and with specifics of
sociological, cultural and political thinking that cannot be
presented here, it shows the challenges the Lula government faces and
the strategies used to resolve them. To do the government justice, he
uses a fertile interpretative category, the one called «transition of

>From what to what is that transition? From a neoliberal privatizing
state, inserted as a minor player in a world-project, to a republic
that puts social issues as its central concern, encourages
micro-credits for consumers and small investors, and most
importantly, organizes programs such as, «Zero Hunger» and «Family
Basket», together with other social initiatives.

This project faces two structural problems that make transition
difficult: a clientele democracy and an economy with poor
sustainability and with very high interest rates. Considering this
complex and even dramatic picture, how does one proceed with a
successful transition? We have to take into account the nature of all
transitions, that have continuity on one side, and novelty on the

The Lula government has opted for this strategy: for the sake of
continuity, the macroeconomic project with all its neoliberal
contradictions will be maintained, to gain the confidence of the
international financial system and to guarantee economic stability.
The novelty is the introduction of substantive social policies, like
the «Family basket», the incentives to the small and medium
businesses, to family agriculture and other such projects. But it so
happens that the inherited public debt is of such magnitude that it
requires a primary surplus of close to 5%. This demands a drastic
restriction of State expenditures, because, otherwise, the debt would
never stop growing.

Here is the impasse: the economic project does not fit with the
social project. It is so voracious that it makes impossible the
transition towards the social. It only produces a «blocked
transition.» The popular bases feel the discontinuity and become
disappointed by the lack of change. That is why they ask for a change
of the macroeconomy. Perhaps the present political crisis will force
Lula to become closer to the social movements. To make a pact with
them to prevent a possible destitution, he needs to alleviate the
neoliberal character of the economy and seek an economic transition
that will support a social policy that cares for the demands for
change of the movements and at the same time lets him stay in power.

Leonardo Boff

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