What lies behind the hatred for the PT? (I)

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It is a dreadful fact, if an analytically explicable one: the rise of hatred and anger against the PT, (from the Portuguese, Partido dos Trabalhadores, Worker's Party). This phenomenon is the other side of Brazilian “cordiality”, as suggested by Sergio Buarque of Holland: from the same heart where warm welcoming is born also comes the most violent rejection. Welcome and rejection are both “cordial” - the two passionate faces of Brazilians.


That hatred is fed by the conservative mass media and by those who do not respect the democratic rite of elections: one either wins or loses. The one who loses graciously accepts defeat and the winner shows magnanimity to the vanquished. But this civilized behavior did not prevail. To the contrary: the defeated are seeking by all possible means to deny legitimacy to the victor, and ensure a policy change that follows their proposals, which were rejected by the majority of the electorate.


There is no better way to understand this than to visit the remarkable historian Jose Honorio Rodrigues, whose thoughts expressed in his classic Conciliação e Reforma no Brasil (1965), sound like something spoken today:


«The ruling class, defeated at the ballot box and out of power, are not just indignant, but have become intolerant; they devised a conspiratorial concept of history that in order for their minority forces to attain an unexpected and unforeseen success, the intervention of hatred, intrigue, impiety, resentment, intolerance, intransigence, and indignation was indispensable.» (p. 11).


Those groups are perpetuating the old elites, that from Colonial times up to the present have not changed their ethos. In the words of the same author: «the majority was always alienated, anti-nationalist and not contemporary; it never reconciled with the people; denied their rights, devastated their lives and when it saw it was growing, little by little it withdrew its approval, and conspired to return it to the periphery, where the elites continue to believe the people belong» (p.14 and 15). Today the economic elites detest the people. The elites only accept the people as they are stereotyped in the carnival.


Sadly, it never enters their heads that «the most important accomplishments are fruits of racial interbreeding that created a type well adapted to the country, the cultural interchange that created a new synthesis; the racial tolerance that prevented going back on their accomplishments; the religious tolerance that made impossible or difficult the persecutions of the Inquisition; the territorial expansion, the work of the mamelucos, since Domingos Jorge Velho himself, the invader who incorporated the Piaui, did not speak Portuguese; the psychosocial integration that eliminated prejudices and created a sense of national solidarity; the territorial integrity; the unity of language, and finally, the riches and wealth of Brazil that are the fruits of the labor of the people. And what did the later colonial leaders do? They did not even give the Brazilian people health and educational benefits» (p. 31-32).


Why are those quotes mentioned? They reinforce an undeniable historical fact: with the PT, those who were previously deemed fuel in the process of production (Darcy Ribeiro), the social wretches, managed through a painful trajectory to organize themselves into a social power that became a political power in the PT, and conquered the apparatus of the State. They removed the dominant classes from power; not just as an alternation of the reins of power, but a change of social class, the basis for different type of politics. It is the equivalent of a true social revolution.


That is unacceptable to the powerful classes that were used to making the State their natural home and to privately appropriating the public goods through the infamous patrimonial system, denounced by Raymundo Faoro.


Through any means or tricks they now want to again occupy that position they consider to be rightfully theirs. They surely have began to realize that perhaps they will never again see the historical conditions needed to reclaim their position of domination and conciliation. A different type of political history will finally give Brazil a different destiny.


To them, the path of the ballot box has turned out to be ineffective, thanks to the critical numbers attained by a wide strata of people who rejected their policy of neoliberal alignment with the process of globalization, as dependant and assimilated partners. The military path is now impossible, given the changes in the framework. They fantasize about the possibility of judicializing politics, counting on Supreme Court allies who harbor the same hatred for the PT and the same disdain for the people.


Through this expedient, they could impeach the first Brazilian woman head of state. This is a conflictive path because the national voice of the social movements would make this a risky and perhaps impossible move.


The hatred for the PT is not so much against the PT as directed at the poor, who, thanks to the PT and its politics of social inclusion, have been lifted from the hell of poverty and hunger, and now occupy the place previously reserved for the well-to-do elites. The well-to-do think only of performing charity, of donating used items, but they never ever thought of seeking social justice.


I anticipate the critics and the moralists: but has the PT became corrupt? Look at the mensalon, look at Petrobras. I do not defend corruption. I acknowledge, lament and reject the bad dealings of a few leaders. They primarily betrayed more than a million followers and wasted the ideals of ethics and transparency. But in the bases and in the municipalities --I can give testimony of this-- a different way of politics is practiced, with popular participation, showing that such a generous dream, the dream of a less perverse Brazil, is not easily killed that way. The upper classes, over 500 years, in the strong words of Capistrano de Abreu, «castrated and re-castrated, neutered and re-neutered» the Brazilian people. Is there a greater historical corruption than that? We will return to this theme.


- Leonardo Boff, Theologian-Philosopher / Earthcharter Commission


Free translation from the Spanish by Servicios Koinonia, http://www.servicioskoinonia.org. Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

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