100 years after the founding of the Third International, Marxists from all over Brazil met in Florianopolis for a 4 day conference discussing theory, and plans to fight back against Bolsonaro’s government. With international visitors from Britain, Argentina and Canada the spirit of internationalism was alive and well. As Marxists, we recognise that capitalism is an international system, therefore our fight against it must be international or it is nothing. Lenin and Trotsky recognised this during the Russian revolution, which they saw as the basis for a greater worldwide revolution. It is with that knowledge and heritage that we embarked on the conference.
It was opened with a discussion on the international situation. Visitors from Britain, Canada and Argentina gave introductions to the political crisis ongoing in their countries. No situation can be separated from the world wide crisis of capitalism. Even in countries such as Canada, which managed to buffer its way through the 2008 crash is quickly catching up with the rest of the world economy. The high price of oil which sustained it for some time can no longer protect the economy. This means, as elsewhere we are seeing the polarisation of society to the left and to the right. States such as Ontario, have seen the rise of their own ‘mini Trumps’ who threaten huge attacks on the working class and minorities.
In Argentina, the Macri government won the election less than three years ago and started to implement an all-out assault on workers’ rights and conditions. This, combined with the dramatic fall in the Peso, has created fertile ground for social discontent. Just last August, the country was paralysed by a huge general strike. Unfortunately, the leadership of this movement was conservative and unwilling to lead the workers beyond the general strike. This coupled with the huge abortion protests by women earlier in the year demonstrates the growing discontent in society.
Naturally, the focus of the conference was on how to organise against Bolsonaro. To be young, and a Marxist in Brazil makes you Bolsonaro’s top enemy. Hence, the ‘gag’ law which aims to ban the teaching of Marxism in universities and schools. In his first days in office, Bolsonaro immediately revoked the rights of LGBT and indigenous communities. There is no doubt that he wishes to embark on a relentless attack against the working class and youth in Brazil, with reactionary policies to follow suit. However, to understand his rise to office, it is necessary to identify what kind of threat he represents. The Brazilian Marxists explained that despite having the support of small far right and fascist groups, Bolsonaro himself and his regime does not represent the rise of fascism. In fact, just 2 years ago Brazil saw its largest general strike in the country’s history. The position of the working class in Brazil is still strong, and the youth of Liberdade e Luta intend on linking the student movement with that of the workers to fight against him. Any and all pro-Bolsonaro marches/ events that have taken place in universities have been met with bigger, counter demonstrations showing the real balance of class forces.
“One of the goals to get Brazil out of the worst positions in international education rankings is to combat the Marxist rubbish that has spread in educational institutions”
On the eve of his inauguration, Bolsonaro tweeted this. Yet these attacks on Marxism will only embolden our efforts to build our forces.
Liberdade e luta, are organising across universities to take action against these measures. They will write articles, explaining the role of the judiciary and exposing the Bolsonaro government as simply the symptom of the crisis of capitalism. A resolution was passed against Bolsonaro’s proposed cuts to education. Liberdade e luta called on the National Union of Students (UNE) to reclaim its more radical past and push the student movement to fore of class struggle against Bolsonaro. Historically, UNE played profound roles in the labour movement and resistance to the dictatorship. However today, its leadership pales in comparison. Outside of the UNE, Liberdade e luta activists produce newspapers in their universities as a way to meet other people interested in revolutionary ideas and a way out of the current desperate system. The choice between socialism and barbarism couldn’t be clearer.
The conference was filled with serious political discussion, along side music and plays which created an atmosphere of overwhelming optimism. While reformists despair at the rise of Bolsonaro, the Marxists understand the steps needed to rid us of not only Bolsonaro as an individual, but the whole of capitalism itself. Mostly, we must build a strong international organisation trained in the ideas and traditions of Marxism to guide the workers of the world to victory.
Fiona Lali, National Organiser of the MSF