What’s left of the left, Brazilian version

slumdog overlords: special forces invade Rocinha (Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

Serge Halimi, of Le Monde Diplomatique, wonders what will happen to the left now that it has surrendered everywhere in Europe and North America to the neoliberal agenda. He suggests its soul might migrate southwards:

The decline of Europe may also signal the end of the ideological influence of the continent where trade unionism, socialism and communism were born. Europe now appears more resigned than others to their demise. …

The Brazilian Labour Party (PT), a generally moderate party, thinks the Latin American left should take over from the Old World left, which is too capitalist, too Atlanticist, and unconvincing in its claims to defend the interests of the people: “The ideological leadership of the left is moving to a new part of the world,” according to a document for the PT Congress in September. “South America is the salient example [see Latin America’s Pink Tide]. … The left in European countries, which has had such an influence on the left worldwide since the 19th century, has not managed to produce an adequate response to the crisis and appears to be capitulating to the forces of neoliberalism.”

About such a grand move I’m inclined to say, as Gandhi said of Western civilization, “It would be a nice idea.”  Nice, particularly, in light of ongoing news that Brazil under the leftist PT is using its militarized police to invade and conquer poorer quarters of Rio de Janeiro:

More than 3,000 troops launched a pre-dawn assault on Brazil’s largest shantytown , driving heavily-armed gang members from Rio’s Rocinha favela…

At around 4.06am on Sunday, armoured personnel carriers clattered into the gigantic hillside slum. Bulletproof, sniper-laden helicopters soared over the sea of redbrick homes searching for gunmen.

Residents had hung banners asking for peace from their balconies and windows but special forces met no resistance as they piled into the slum’s alleys past shuttered shops, stray dogs and heaps of rubbish.

At around 7am police chief Alberto Pinheiro Neto announced that his forces had taken control of the labyrinthine slum, reputedly home to between 70,000 and 200,000 Brazilians, and two other nearby communities.

By lunchtime Huey helicopters continued to circle above the favela, as hundreds of troops moved from alley to alley in search of drugs, weapons and suspects.

You might imagine the government is acting against drug traffickers to protect the residents of the favelas, to whom Rio’s police chief (first woman in the job) addressed a somewhat weird-sounding sisterhood appeal: “I would like to address all of the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters and sisters … Please make sure to tell us where the drugs, the weapons and the traffickers are.” But not exactly. These massive invasions are the government’s attempt to “pacify” Rio in advance of the 2016 Olympics.  The city needs to look policed, controlled, and packaged for consumption when the hordes of neoliberal Northerner tourists flood in.

So much for working-class solidarity. Where now is the left to turn?

One thought on “What’s left of the left, Brazilian version

  1. It would not be implausible that an agenda larger and less “benevolent” than a drug war is motivating that Brazilian clean-up raid. But I think a sweeping characterization about a preparatory cosmetics job for the Olympics warrants more support arguments, even if they are anecdotal. The Left, on any continent, should avoid the unsubstantiated accusations that the Right loves to advance it’s ideology. Plus it’s easy, since the power and substance of our intellectual analysis and moral underpinnings far surpass the Right’s.

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