Saturday, March 31, 2012

In "Socialist" Brazil, the Rich Continue to Run Over the Poor

One week ago, the son of Brazil's richest man mowed down a poor cyclist on his way to by flour for his wife's birthday cake. The worker, Wanderson Pereira dos Santos, "lived in a shack at the highway’s edge and worked unloading trailer trucks" (NYTimes). The specifics of the incident are unclear, although it does not look as if Thor Batista, the man who collided with the cyclist, was either under the influence of alcohol or driving over the speed limit. That being said, Mr. Batista does have a history of 50 traffic fines accumulated over the course of 18 months. That he was on the road at all is perhaps thanks to his father's wealth.
This traffic incident is the embodiment of unconscionable  wealth inequality in Brazil that enables a privileged few to effectively run over the poor every day. In many respects, the true tragedy of this case is that it all happens under what is supposed to be a socialist government. The Workers Party as formed as an adamantly democratic socialist party, containing diverse elements including militant trade unionism and liberation theology, a socialist current that emerged in South America as a synthesis of Catholicism and Marxism. In 2002, Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva was elected president of Brazil. From the moment the Workers Party took power, it seemed to stop being a party of the workers. Perhaps this transformation occurred earlier, or perhaps slightly later, the point being that the pressures tied to advocating a socialist agenda in the political arena of a capitalist state proved too much to handle. The party became reformist and whatever revolutionary character the party had soon dissipated. Unlike the administration of Hugo Chavez of Venezuala or the administration of Evo Morales of Bolivia, the administrations of Silva and now Dilma Rousseff have not drifted away from socialism towards authoritarianism but instead from socialism to reformism. Now, after 10 years of leadership under the Workers Party, Brazil is still one of the most unequal nations in the industrial world, with those at the very top living luxuriously on the backs of the rest. It is time for revolutionary socialists to abandon this party and organize independently. It's time for the workers of Brazil to organize labor strikes and boycott the parties of capitalism and reformism. To echo a line from Manifesto of the Rupture, a statement issued by 112 members of the Workers Party who split with the party in 2005, the party "is no longer an instrument of social transformation, but only and instrument of the status quo." If the people do not act now, Mr. Santos will be far from the last Brazilian worker to be run over by capitalism. 

No comments:

Post a Comment