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GAIAN DEMOCRACY

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In 2002/3 John Jopling and I wrote

Gaian Democracies:

Redefining Globalisation and People-Power

This site introduces its key ideas and some associated topics

THE BRAZILIAN WORKERS´ PARTY

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Roy Madron 2005

Leading the Gaian Revolution: Commonsense for Desperate Times

INTRODUCTION

Gaian Democracies: Redefining Globalisation & People-Power by Roy Madron & John Jopling
Summary


Roy Madron: Biography

Radio Interview with Jane Taylor, from Resonance FM

Email address: rm(at)gaiandemocracy.net

The current - and very popular - President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the leader of the Brazilian Workers Party: (Partido dos Trabalhadores or PT)

Until a few years ago, the PT enjoyed a high level of popular trust in almost every sector of Brazilian society.Now, in spite of Lula´s personal popularity, that trust has largely evaporated, for two main reasons.

Firstly, Lula´s government has continued many of the IMF-approved neo-liberal policies of its conservative predecessors and appointed conservatives to key economic posts.

Secondly, when details emerged in 2005 of how his leading collegues had used bribery and corruption to maintain their political power, the Party´s reputation, its unity and its morale have been shattered

In January 2006 Hillary Wainwright and Sue Branford reported that:

It seemed that the Lula government had carried on with the highly corrupt practices of previous governments: it had rewarded its political allies with top jobs in state companies (which meant that they could charge private companies ‘commission’ in return for government contracts); it was paying some opposition politicians R$30,000 (€10,710)) a month for their votes; it had been running an illegal caixa dois (slush fund), which it had apparently set up with ‘commissions’ it had charged when it was heading state and municipal governments, to fund its expensive electoral campaigns; it was paying advertising agencies through off-shore accounts held in the Bahamas; and so on.
Although not all of the allegations have yet been fully substantiated, they have led to the resignation – or sacking – of Two dozen leading government officials. On 30 November 2005, Congress voted to expel from Congress Lula’s top aide, José Dirceu, for running the monthly payment scheme. Earlier the president of the PT, José Genoino, had stepped down. The revelations came as an enormous shock to the vast majority of petistas, who had spent more than 20 years of their lives building up the party and had had no idea that such schemes were in operation. As Fernando Gabeira, a former member of the PT and now federal deputy for the Partido Verde, put it, ‘when there is such an overwhelming disaster and you see yourself as a part of this disaster, you begin to question your whole life. Why so many years of sacrifice and struggle?’

In the municipal elections of 2004, the party had already lost control of many cities where it had been in power for some years. One of its leading members, the much-respected Minister of Justice, Tarsoe Genro, is on record as saying `it's the end of a cycle in the evolution of the PT. We need to rebuild a strategic project.´ So far, however, that need seems to remain unfulfilled.

However, despite its current travails, from its foundation in 1979, at local level, the PT has in many ways remained a genuinely different kind of popular political movement. At local and state level, it had shown itself to be not only unusually honest and open, but also uniquely competent. By the end of the 1990s, the PT had won power in over 150 Brazilian cities. The PT’s success in the government of over 150 Brazilian cities was - and still is in major cities like Fortaleza - based on putting into action one of PT´s founding principles: the concept of `the democratisation of .

The best-known example of the democratisation of power in action is the now-famous `Participatory Budget’ process that was initiated in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo in 1989. Now, every year in city of Porto Alegre, for example, around 50,000 citizens and over 1000 local organisations and business take part in a nine-month process that determines how the city should spend the money it has available for new projects in education, transport, social welfare, economic development and health. Perfect democracy it is not, but it is a vast advance on what happened before and what happens in most major cities in the world outside Brazil.

In Brazil, upwardly mobile middle class functionaries, professionals, labor lawyers and trade union bureaucrats took over the Workers Party (PT) led by Lula da Silva. With 75% of the delegates, they supported an electoral alliance with the big business Liberal Party, and the financial sector.

Once in power, they moved from social democratic to neo-liberal politicians. The social movements, including the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) and the Urban Homeless Peoples Movement (MSC) supported Lula’s election on the basis of pre-election promises, failing to apply a class analysis to the changes in policy, leadership and program.

As a result, the social movements spent 5 wasted years arguing that the Lula regime was ‘contested terrain’ that could be pushed to the left. As a consequence the MST lost political ground, was organizationally isolated and its membership disoriented for nearly 5 years. In the meantime, Lula cut the pensions of the public sector workers unions (teachers, post-office employees, health workers, functionaries etc) by 30%, increased the age of retirement and privatized public pension funds. As a result, the public employees unions broke with the government and the pro-government labor confederation (CUT) and joined with other independent unions to form a new confederation, CONLUTA, which includes student, ecologists and other groups. By 2007 CONLUTA was joined in a national assembly by the MST, sectors of the CUT in organizing a general strike at the end of May … The social movements’ links to the electoral politics of social democratic parties, which are moving toward neo-liberal policies, is a political disaster. The social movements’ lack of an independent class-based political program and leadership oriented toward state power forced them to subordinate to the former social democratic Workers Party, which was tied to imperialism, finance and agro-mineral capital. On the other hand, the public employees trade union and the public sector of the middle class were forced to break with Lula and to seek allies in the radical left, including social movements, and reject ties with the private big and petite bourgeoisie.

 

 


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Roy Madron 2008

 

THE BRAZILIAN WORKERS´ PARTY