This is a continuation of my comments on Brazil a week ago.
The significance of the title (“Never betray your friends”) will become clearer as we go…
When leftist politicians get into power, they often shift to the right, breaking their promises, imposing austerity on the masses, forming alliances with rich elitists, and filling their pockets with loot.
That’s what happened with the Workers Party in Brazil. President Dilma Rousseff was elected in 2011 on an anti-austerity platform. She was re-elected in 2014 on an anti-austerity platform, accusing her opponent, Aécio Neves, of cruelty when he denied the social consequences of austerity.
In 2015, however, Rousseff did an about-face and started to impose the austerity that the rich elitists had wanted her to impose all along. She levied new taxes. She cut the public budget for health, education, and housing. She privatized state companies and public assets. She betrayed the 54 million people that had voted for her. When this betrayal was combined with the global fall in demand for Brazil’s raw materials, the result was a severe recession and a political crisis that continues to worsen each day.
Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Al-Assad made the same mistake. When Gaddafi ceded power to his sons, they instituted neo-liberal “reforms” that made Gaddafi’s sons and their cronies rich, and made them darlings of the West, but made the Libyan masses so unhappy that they joined the “Arab Spring” in early 2011.
Bashar Al-Assad likewise instituted neo-liberal “reforms” that made him and his cronies rich, and made them darlings of the West, but made their peoples so unhappy that they too joined the “Arab Spring.” (In Syria’s case the neoliberalism combined with a drought to cause a spike in food prices. The cause of mass protests and uprisings is not state violence and repression, but, usually, a spike in food prices. It was the same in Egypt.)
The West hijacked this “Arab Spring” and used it as an excuse to bomb Libya to rubble, and to destroy Syria via a proxy war (which the Western Empire falsely labels a “civil war”).
In Brazil, when Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party moved to the right and started imposing austerity, the result (when combined with the fall in commodity prices) was a “Brazilian Spring.” Rich elitists hijacked this “Brazilian Spring,” and they are now using it to attack Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party.
The moral of the story is that leftists can only get away with moving to the right, and with imposing austerity, and with forming alliances with rich elitists, as long as the national economy remains healthy, and poverty does not become too extreme or widespread. If there is any kind of economic downturn, the masses become unhappy. Rich elitists exploit this unhappiness to take full power, and crush the masses worse than ever.
Never betray the workers who voted for you! The workers will abandon you, and rich elitists will purge you! That’s what’s happening to Dilma Rousseff, and still she doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela did not shift to the right, or betray the workers, but neither did he sufficiently fight the shortages of consumer goods caused by external embargoes and internal hoarding. The global fall in oil prices had the same effect on Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that the fall in commodity prices had on Dilma Rousseff and her Workers Party. It prevented Venezuela and Brazil from getting foreign currencies they need to buy imports.
During the elections of December 2015, the Venezuelan peasants stayed home to express their disappointment with Maduro and the PSUV. This allowed right-wing elitists to take control of the National Assembly. Now the elitists are working hard to get rid of Maduro and his PSUV Party, and to bring Venezuela’s peasants back under the elitists’ heel.
Another problem in Venezuela was that PSUV politicians became comfortable and lazy. Unable to stop the economic war waged by rich elitists, they vented their frustrations on people’s communes and cooperatives in rural areas. The communes are self-governing and self-sufficient. PSUV bureaucrats came from the cities and told the communes, “We represent you. We are the party of the workers. Your function is to bow to us, obey our orders, and keep us in office in the cities! And since we have shortages in the cities, we will be taking the food that you produce for yourselves.”
This caused people in the Venezuelan communes to regard the PSUV Party as an even worse enemy than the right-wing elitists. Hugo Chavez understood the dynamics involved, but Nicolás Maduro has not, and it will likely cost him the presidency.
Never betray the workers who voted for you! Never abandon your populist principles! Never renege on your anti-austerity pledges! Never serve the interests of bankers and big business at the expense of the masses. Never get lazy! Never underestimate the greed of the rich! When the economy takes a downturn (as it will sooner or later) the peasants will abandon you, and the elitists will purge you in one way or another. They may even kill you.
Brazil has a severe recession caused by a global fall in demand for Brazil’s raw materials. Latin America’s biggest economy appears headed for one of its worst recessions ever. It stalled in 2014, shrank 3.8% in 2015, and will shrink by another 4% in 2016. Unemployment is extreme. Goldman Sachs says Brazil may be facing a depression.
Middle class people (who are mostly white) are marching in the streets, falsely blaming all their problems on lower class people (who are mostly non-white). They hate the Workers Party, and not entirely without cause. Above the entire show, rich elitists smell blood. They own all the media outlets, and they are using the outlets to attack President Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party. They want to make Brazil a pure plutocracy.
If you wear red, it is a symbol of the Workers Party. Middle class whites and rich elitists will call you a “mortadella” (a sausage commonly regarded as a poor man’s food).
If you wear yellow and green (the colors of the Brazilian flag and the Brazilian national soccer team) it is a symbol of the white middle class and the rich elitists. The poor will label you a “coxinha (a white fried chicken dumpling).
Whites and elitists want Rousseff out. And the poor are not fully defending her, because she betrayed them with austerity.
Another thing that worsens the recession is that when Brazil’s commodities were in high demand (from China and elsewhere) many Brazilian companies borrowed recklessly, thinking the party would never end. Now they are deeply in debt to the bankers, and they are going bankrupt, laying off their employees. On March 18, the heavily indebted steelmaker Usiminas said it would suspend some loan payments to banks. Standard & Poor’s declared the firm in default.
White middle class consumers likewise borrowed recklessly, taking on too much credit-card debt. At the end of 2015, a record 54 million Brazilians were behind on loans totaling some $60 billion. Whites falsely blame their indebtedness and unemployment on non-whites. And they hate Rousseff and the Workers Party, because the rich elitists tell whites to hate them.
Now the elitists are checkmating Rousseff. She couldn’t do anything to help the masses even if she wanted to. The elitists want her to be impeached, and they may even mount a coup against her.
Never betray the workers who voted for you! Never abandon your populist principles! Never violate your anti-austerity pledges! Never regard rich elitists as your “friends”!
The Workers Party started off as a small but solidly leftist party in 1980. It won only three percent of nationwide vote in 1982, but it grew quickly. Funded entirely by individual contributions, they almost won the presidency in 1989 with Luis Ignácio “Lula” da Silva as their candidate. Though the mainstream parties managed to prevail in two more elections in the 1990s, “Lula” finally won the presidency in 2002.
The Workers Party opposed corruption and neo-liberalism, but over the years, they shifted more and more to the right, becoming closely associated with Brazil’s most powerful corporations. They steadily abandoned socialism in favor of austerity and privatization. They expelled the Socialist and Freedom Party from the Workers Party coalition for opposing Lula’s austerity plans.
Today there is little difference between the Workers Party and the rich elitists who hate them. The elitists want the Workers Party gone, and so does the USA. They want to remove the Workers Party bosses who have been there for years.
When commodity prices fell, Lula should have compensated via stimulus packages. Instead, he increased the austerity to make Brazil “competitive.” He shifted to the right. The results were disastrous. The political fallout caused the Workers Party to seek even greater alliances with the rich elitists. Dilma Rousseff did the same.
Now whenever President Rousseff appears on TV, the poor feel betrayed, while white middle class Brazilians bang pots and pans and honk their car horns to drown her out. Rousseff has become the lightning rod for all their fear and their economic woes.
The poor and the non-whites see the Workers Party as something that morphed into a monstrosity associated with bankers, agribusiness, and construction companies. They see little or no difference between the Workers Party and the rich elitists who attack the Workers Party. All seem equally corrupt.
Contributing to the public’s disillusionment with Rousseff is the Petrobras corruption scandal. In October 2014, Petrobras, the Brazilian state-run oil conglomerate, was found to be funneling money to political parties of both the right and the left, including the Workers Party. The scandal has severely shaken the public’s confidence in Rousseff, who ran on a platform of eliminating corruption. Although the rich elitists are even more corrupt, the middle class is focusing its mob anger on Rousseff. And the poor, as I said, feel betrayed by her.
If the elitists take power, they will enact what is known as the “Brazil Agenda,” which is a radical increase in austerity imposed on the masses. More privatization. Higher taxes. More cuts to unemployment benefits and retirement benefits. Rousseff has already said she would abide by this, even if she is not impeached.
Never betray your friends! Never listen to the Big Lie about national finances.
In short, never become a slime-ball.