Ten possible lessons from the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff
It probably is too early to draw lessons from the questionable impeachment that has inaugurated a new paradigm of class coups by means of the Parliament. These first lessons could be of service to those who love democracy and respect the sovereignty of the people, expressed through free elections, as well as the Labor Party, PT, and its allies. Those who have the money, power and knowledge that undergirds the golpistas are characterized by their lack of appreciation for democracy and their willful ignorance of the blatant inequalities among the Brazilian people.
The First lesson is to nourish resilience, that is, to resist, to learn from errors and defeats; and to turn them around. This implies a severe self-criticism, never rigorously done by the PT. It is necessary to be clear about what project must be implemented for the country.
The Second lesson: to reaffirm democracy, the kind that goes to the streets and squares, in contrast to the low intensity democracy, whose representatives, with some exceptions, are bought by the powerful to defend their corporate interests.
The Third lesson: to accept that a coalition presidency is a failure, because it distorts the projects and induces corruption. The alternative is a coalition of people in government with the social movements and sectors of the popular parties, and from there to bring pressure on the parliament.
The Fourth lesson: to acknowledge that neoliberal capitalism, in its present phase of the greatest concentration of wealth, is hurting the primary societies, and destroying ours. The attenuated neoliberalism practiced by the Labor Party, PT, and its allies for the last 13 years, helped bring about a great transformation in Brazil’s history, improving the lives of almost 40 million people, with increased salaries, credit facilities, and tax reform, but deep down, it was not enough. The great mistake of the PT was that it never explained that those social actions resulted from State policies. It therefore created consumers and not conscious citizens. It facilitated acquisition of personal goods, but did little to improve the social capital: education, health, transportation and security. Frei Betto put it well: it created «a populist paternalism that began when the No Hunger Program, an emancipating program, was turned into the Family Minimum. It was compensatory; the people got a fish, but were not taught how to fish». In the present post-coup government, the neoliberal economic policy, radicalized by severe adjustments, which are regressive, and harmful to social rights, will certainly throw back into hunger and misery all those who had been lifted from those scourges.
The Fifth lesson: it is urgent that education and health be given centrality. The Luiz Inacio Lula daSilva–Dilma Roussett governments advanced creation of technical universities and schools. An infirm and ignorant people can never make the qualitative leap to a sustainable prosperity.
The Sixth lesson: to stand courageously with the victims of neoliberal greed, denouncing its perversity, dismantling its excluding logic, taking to the streets, supporting demonstrations and strikes by the social movements and other segments of society.
The Seventh lesson: to be suspicious of everything that comes from above, usually resulting from the politics of class conciliation, done behind the backs of, and against the interests of the people. These politics come as more of the same. They prefer to keep the people ignorant, in order facilitate their domination and accumulation, and weaken any type of critical spirit.
The Eighth lesson: it is urgent to project the utopia of a different Brazil, built on other bases, the principal one of which is the originality and strength of our culture, giving centrality to nature, to human life and the life of Mother Earth, the bases of a biocivilization. Development/growth, necessary to attend, not the desires, but the needs of humanity, which must be at the service not of the market but of life and of safeguarding our ecological wealth. Concomitantly, basic reforms are urgently needed, of politics, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, agrarian and urban reform,… etc.
The Ninth lesson: in order to implement this utopia, there must be a coalition of political and social forces (popular movements, segments of political parties, nationalist businessmen, intellectuals, artists and churches), who are interested in inaugurating the new and viable, that gives shape to the utopia of different type of Brazil.
The Tenth lesson: that the new and viable has a name: radicalizing a democracy that is socialism of the ecological brand, thus, ecosocialism. Neither the Russian totalitarianism nor the deformed socialism of China, that, to tell the truth, excludes nature from the socialist project. But an ecosocialism that seeks potentially to realize the noble dream of everyone: to give what one can and to receive what one needs, including everyone, and fundamentally, Nature.
This project must be implemented now. As ancestral Chinese wisdom expressed, and was repeated by Mao Tse-tung: «if you want to walk one thousand steps, start now by taking the first step». Without that we will never walk the path towards the desired destiny. The present crisis offers us a special opportunity that must not be wasted. That opportunity occurs only few times in history, and now is one of them.
Leonardo Boff Theologian-Philosopher Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.