I am one of the few who has said and reiterated that the rise of the Labor Party, PT, and its allies, to the central power of the state has meant that for the first time, a true non-violent revolution has occurred in Brazil. Florestan Fernandes wrote that the bourgeois revolution in Brazil, (La revolución burguesa en Brasil,1974) was a takeover by the post-colonial business initiative, with a model of organizing the economy, society and culture, which made wage labor universal, with a competitive social order and a market economy that has a monetary and capitalist basis, (cf. in Intérpretes de Brasil, vol. 3, 2002 p. 1512).
If we look carefully, it was not actually a revolution, but a conservative modernization that promoted Brazilian development. It did not accomplish what is key when talking of revolution, a change with respect to the reins of power. Those who had always held power deepened their power and continued in diverse forms. There was no change as to who held power, such as now.
This, in my opinion, is what happened with the arrival of the Labor Party, PT, and its allies, which elected President Inacio Lula da Silva. He came not from the powerful classes, traditional or modern, always conservative, but from the powerless: the men and women of the Senzala, the peripheries, from the Brazil Profundo, the new labor movement, the leftist intellectuals and the liberation Church, with her thousands of Christian base communities. Together, in a long and painful process of organization and development, they converted the social power they had gained into a powerful political party. Through the Labor Party, PT, they realized a true revolution.
We overcame the conventional vision of revolution as a process of change linked to armed violence, and assumed the positive sense offered by Caio Prado Jr. in his classic book, The Brazilian Revolution, (La revolución brasileña, 1966, p.16): «changes that restructure the life of a country in a form consonant with its most generalized and profound needs and aspirations, and the hopes of the great mass of people who, in the present state, are not duly attended; something that takes the life of the country along a new path».
This is exactly what occurred. A new path for the country was established. President Lula had to make concessions to the liberal macro-economy to ensure the new direction, but the world of the poor and the excluded was opened. He managed to create social policies, some of which were previously initiated in limited form, but which now became the official policies of the State. Those policies «attended the most general and profound needs that had not been duly attended before» (Caio Prado Jr.).
Let’s mention some that are well-known, such as the Bolsa Familia, My Home My Life, Light for All, numerous universities and technical schools, FIES and the diverse ways to finance access to a university. The Brazilian social landscape has undeniably changed. Everyone ended up winning, including the bankers and the wealthy, (Jesse de Souza) .
Logically, given the perverse tradition of exclusion and inequality, much remains to be done, especially in the fields of health and education. Yet, there was a social revolution.
Why do we mention all this process? Because a counter-revolution is afoot in Brazil. The old oligarchical elites never accepted a laborer as President of the country. In relation to the economic political crisis (that is destroying the world capitalist order), the counter-revolution is being promoted by a spiteful and conservative right, allied with the banks and financial system, the national and international investors, the hostile business press, conservative political parties, sectors of the Judiciary, the FP and the MP, not to mention the influence of the Northamerican foreign policy that does not accept a power in the South Atlantic linked to the BRICS. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is a chapter in this negation. They want to return to the previous condition, to the patrimonial democracy, that does not care for the people, to continue enriching themselves, as before.
Besides defending democracy and unmasking the impeachment as a parliamentary coup against President Dilma, it is important to ensure the Brazilian revolution for which we waited so many hundreds of years. I repeat here what I wrote on twitter: «If the poor knew what is being done to them, the streets of Brazil would be insufficient to contain the numbers of people who protested the coup».
Leonardo Boff is ecotheologian and writter
Free translation from the Spanish by
Servicios Koinonia, http://www.servicioskoinonia.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.