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Workers Vanguard No. 1089

6 May 2016
The closing date for news in this issue is 3 May.

Workers Vanguard

PT Popular Front Paved Way for Right-Wing Reaction

Brazil Impeachment: Workers Have No Side

Break with the PT—For a Revolutionary Workers Party!

With a widespread corruption scandal rocking the country, Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted last month to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Since 2002, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT—Workers Party), first under its founder, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and then under Rousseff, has governed Brazil in a series of class-collaborationist coalitions. Now, Rousseff is being accused of accounting gimmicks to cover up state budget deficits. The PT’s erstwhile coalition partners—many of whom are under investigation or face criminal charges for corruption—are among those leading the charge against Rousseff. This includes Vice President Michel Temer of the bourgeois PMDB, who would take over as president if she is suspended or deposed.

Brazil’s governing bloc is an example of a “popular front,” a class-collaborationist coalition in which one or more workers parties join bourgeois forces to govern on behalf of the capitalists. We oppose these bourgeois formations on principle. Reformist workers parties like the PT have a class contradiction between their proletarian base and their leaderships’ pro-capitalist program. However, when such parties enter a popular-front alliance, the class contradiction is suppressed in the bourgeoisie’s favor, a guarantee that while in power they will not exceed the bounds of what is acceptable to the ruling class. The experience of PT rule has once again confirmed this.

For over five years, Rousseff’s government has inflicted a litany of attacks on working people, from implementing austerity measures and cutting social spending to attacking workers on strike and peasants who protest land seizures. These attacks followed nearly a decade of harsh IMF-mandated strictures under former labor leader Lula who, as president, was a credible servant to both the imperialists and the Brazilian bourgeoisie. Lula’s PT used its authority over the workers movement to carry out neoliberal policies even its right-wing predecessors were not able to achieve. At the same time, the first era of PT rule coincided with a global boom in the price of raw materials, of which Brazil is a leading exporter. The PT was able to distribute some crumbs, such as cash payments to the poor (Bolsa Família) and increases to the minimum wage.

But the boom is long gone. During the past couple of years, Brazil has been undergoing its biggest economic decline in decades. Alongside the impeachment drive, Rousseff’s allies as well as her enemies are caught up in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation over graft and money-laundering schemes involving the state oil company, Petrobras. Much of the population views the country’s politicians as a nest of thieves. Against the backdrop of political instability and deepening immiseration, the PT is largely discredited within its working-class base. Such discontent was visible in the 2013 protests, initially sparked by transportation fare hikes and later spreading to include the government’s extravagant spending on World Cup stadiums, the dismal state of health care and education, and cop violence. The right-wing opposition parties seized on this popular dissatisfaction to lead a major anti-PT campaign. (read on)

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About the ICL

V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!