A Justified Rebellion, Whose Outcome Is Uncertain

For more than two years, popular revolts have spread throughout the world. It appears as if the old world is becoming more and more fragile, while disorder and chaos are spreading. So much the better! These outbreaks of violence and mass demonstrations are a reminder of this universal truth: “wherever there is oppression, there is […]

For more than two years, popular revolts have spread throughout the world. It appears as if the old world is becoming more and more fragile, while disorder and chaos are spreading. So much the better! These outbreaks of violence and mass demonstrations are a reminder of this universal truth: “wherever there is oppression, there is resistance.” Although the ruling classes often succeed in stifling or containing resistance, it continues to resurface.

The uprisings of recent years—whether in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece or elsewhere—all have their own characteristics, even if they express the same general aspiration to end oppression and exploitation. Each of these uprisings is part of a dynamic propelled by internal contradictions in which various classes—with various interests that are often opposed—are involved. The involvement of political forces whose objectives may be far from those initially expressed by the masses is also quite possible.

After Turkey’s uprising, which began a few weeks ago, it is now up to Brazil to experience such a movement. For two weeks, Brazil witnessed the largest protests since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985. Initially, this movement emerged in response to the rising prices of public transportation as the country prepares to receive the Pope in a few weeks and, in 2014, to host the FIFA World Cup—the latter of which involves costs estimated at more than $15 billion for the building of infrastructure to which the vast majority of Brazilians will never have access.

In the ten years since the Workers’ Party took control of the country, Brazil has been able to establish itself as a hegemonic power on the continent. This was done without the workers and the masses seeing their living conditions improve. On the contrary, the poor peasants, workers, indigenous peoples and proletarian youth (a significant population in urban areas) were the main victims of Brazil’s intensive capitalist development. It is in this context that the recent demonstrations emerged and spread like wildfire.

Unsurprisingly, the first reaction of the government was to deploy its police against the people. After only a few days, however, the government was forced to take a small step back and announce that the rise of transit fares would be cancelled. As for the bourgeois media, they initially made every effort to discredit the movement, presenting it as the work of “thugs” or even “terrorists”. However, they too quickly adjusted their rhetoric when they understood the movement was not about to end but was spreading to the whole country.

Therefore, the bourgeois sectors have decided to “support” and participate in the movement. The right-wing opposition parties began to take part in rallies. Former supporters of the military regime that prevailed in Brazil from 1964 to 1985 also emerged and became openly involved. In some demonstrations, slogans in favor of a military intervention to “restore public order,” of reducing the age of criminal responsibility or expulsing Cuban doctors present in Brazil became popular demands. The national flag has now become the main sign in many demos while the red flag is often torn and trampled—all of this in the name of preserving the “non-political” character of the movement. The bourgeoisie has thus maneuvered to reduce the scope of the uprising by transforming it into an “anti-corruption” movement.

This manipulation of a movement that was initially legitimate, and whose popular character is undeniable, may be the inevitable result of ten years of having a “leftist” government in power. The so-called Workers’ Party proved to be the efficient manager of a rising bourgeoisie whose integration into the world imperialist system has been successful.

In this context, our solidarity must go to the genuine revolutionary and popular forces in Brazil, especially the Maoists who are fighting against the fascist and reactionary sectors of the movement and who embody, in their practice and slogans, the prospect of a New Democracy in this country.