The Struggle Against Neoliberalism
by Tom Lewis
International Socialist Review, June/July 2001
The Struggle Against Neoliberallism
by Tom Lewis
International Socialist Review, June/July 2001
Crisis hounded Brazil's president Fernando Henrique Cardoso
this spring as developments on several fronts threatened to weaken
his government. Looming energy shortages, a snowballing corruption
scandal, the uncertain slide of the real, a negative human rights
report, and new evidence of the massive inequalities in Brazilian
society combined to punish Cardoso's public approval ratings.
But Cardoso has only himself to blame. His government's pursuit
of neoliberal economic and social policies has caused the problems
that Brazilians face today. Beyond drought and low water levels,
for example, the power restrictions that are due to hit Brazil
in June can be traced directly to the inability of privatized
energy companies to meet rising demand. Part of the ongoing corruption
scandal involves the private pocketing of public funds, including
government insider tips on official currency movements, which
allowed a few private bankers to loot millions.
A report released by the Brazilian Institute of Government
Statistics in April also shocked the nation when it revealed that,
after a decade of neoliberal reforms, the top 10 percent of Brazilian
society averaged an income 19 times greater than the lowest 40
percent. A banner headline in a major Sao Paulo daily newspaper
proclaimed, "The country ends the 90s as unequal as it began"
('Pais termina anos 90 tao desigual como comecou').
As if all of that wasn't enough, the Cardoso government was
forced to admit to charges of widespread police brutality and
corruption during a May appearance before the United Nations Committee
Against Torture. The government thereby confessed to the world
the kind of treatment it metes out to the poverty-stricken offenders
who are created by its very own policies of eliminating jobs and
reducing social services.
The resurgence of struggle
The public relations disaster for the Cardoso government occurs
against the backdrop of a resurgence of popular struggle. Various
end-of-year retrospectives identified the distinctive feature
of 2000 as "the messages the people sent to those in power
in the Republic-messages left in the streets as well as in the
ballot box." A Catholic bishop in Rio de Janeiro explained,
"Brazilians today are living a feeling of disillusionment
with their country. Environmental degradation, globalization of
the economy, and social exclusion prove that the model of development
needs to be reformed."
In April 2000, hundreds of indigenous people protested their
exclusion from the official celebration of the 500th anniversary
of the "discovery" of Brazil and were greeted with police
violence. That same month, following demonstrations by the trade
unions and left political parties, the government agreed to raise
the minimum wage. The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST, Movimento
dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) launched an occupation of
land and buildings in 12 capital cities during May as a protest
against the slowdown of land reform and the failure to extend
credits to existing settlements.
A wave of protests broke out in June 2000, uniting teachers,
health workers, bank workers, and transit workers in huge demonstrations
against the Cardoso government's economic and social policies.
In July, public opinion pressured Cardoso into meeting with MST
representatives in an attempt to find a way to resume expropriating
lands and granting credits to the settlements. MST militants staged
a new round of land and building occupations in September to protest
the government's failure to deliver on the promises Cardoso made
In September 2000, six million Brazilians participated in
a national referendum on the external debt. The referendum was
organized by the National Council of Brazilian Bishops and supported
by numerous nongovernmental organizations and the opposition political
parties. Ninety-eight percent of voters called for a national
hearing on the debt, while fully 93 percent favored immediately
repudiating the debt and severing relations with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF).
In October, the Cardoso government unleashed a ferocious campaign
of violent repression against the MST that led to numerous conflicts
in the countryside.
The unpopularity of this campaign explained in part the positive
results for opposition parties in October's first round of municipal
elections. The second round in November increased the opposition's
share of votes. The Workers Party (PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores)
enjoyed particular success in the municipal elections.
The outpouring of anger at neoliberalism in 2000 suggested
the beginning of a new period of fightback. As one observer remarked
early in the new year, "2001 gives the glimpse of a promising
scenario for the advance of popular struggles in Brazil."
"Savage capitalism": Neoliberalism's forerunner
Brazil boasts the world's eighth-largest economy today. In
1999, it produced $783 billion in goods and services, placing
it between China ($980 billion) and Canada ($591 billion). To
put this in perspective, Argentina, the second-largest economy
in South America, is two-fifths the size of Brazil's and ranks
as the 17th largest economy in the world. Trade between the U.S.
and Brazil is modest from the U.S. perspective, accounting for
one percent of U.S. imports and exports. The U.S. exported $15
billion of goods to Brazil in 2000, while Brazil exported $14
billion of goods to the United States. From the Brazilian point
of view, however, the balance of the period 1994-2000 is exceedingly
unfavorable. Brazilian exports to the U.S. grew barely 5.2 percent
between 1994 and 1997, while imports of U.S. goods skyrocketed
by 116.5 percent.
Despite its economic strength, Brazil has suffered for 30
years under the yoke of the U.S.-dominated international financial
system. The military dictatorship that came to power in 1964 and
ruled until 1984 repressed workers' organizations, curtailed citizens'
rights, criminalized membership in left political parties, purged
the public administration, and practiced systematic torture and
summary execution. This terror served as the social basis for
what became known as Brazil's "economic miracle" of
the 1970s. Favorable access to foreign loans, as well as a tripling
of foreign direct investment between 1970 and 1973, allowed for
the diversification of Brazil's economy, making it less dependent
on its main export, coffee. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased
at a yearly average of 11.2 percent between 1969 and 1973.
Yet the "miracle" also produced a number of negative
effects. Brazil became excessively vulnerable for the first time
to the flow of international commerce and the dictates of international
bankers. Growth also made Brazil more dependent on certain imported
products, especially petroleum. Expansion led to higher prices
and so favored high- and middle-income Brazilians while squeezing
most urban and rural workers. The result was to widen the already
horrendous gap between rich and poor. As one historian illustrates:
If the minimum wage of January 1959 had been 100, that wage
would have fallen to 39 in January 1973. This return is especially
significant if one considers that in 1972, 52 percent of the working
population was making less than one minimum wage, and 22 percent
was making between one and two minimum wages.
This harsh reality, along with the flagrant disregard of the
environment, is what was meant by the phrase "savage capitalism"-the
method by which Brazil entered the modern global economy.
Crisis of the neoliberal model
By the late 1970s, Brazilian growth had come to depend so
heavily on foreign investment that its external debt reached $43.5
billion in 1978-double the 1975 figure. When recession hit in
1981-83, GDP fell at an average yearly rate of 1.6 percent, even
as inflation continued. Unable to generate enough economic activity
to permit servicing the ever-growing debt, Brazil was driven into
the hands of the IMF. The IMF prescribed a well-known neoliberal
regimen: slash public spending and lower workers' wages in order
to raise the cash to pay down the debt. A long-term policy of
achieving "higher trade surpluses through higher exports,
lower imports, or some combination of both" would then ensure
a future ability to pay.
Predictably, Brazil's adoption of IMF policies first "provoked
an abrupt decline in living and employment conditions. Second,
the trade surplus that might have been used to foster investment
and resume economic growth in Brazil was absorbed by foreign debt
payments." And not even the debt problem improved. Although
Brazil paid $91 billion in debt service between 1980 and 1985,
its foreign debt ballooned by 64 percent during the same period-from
$64 billion in 1980 to $105 billion in 1985.
By the 1990s, it had become clear even to IMF and World Bank
officials that the structural adjustment programs they had imposed
around the world in the 1980s had not fixed the problems of economic
instability, unmanageable foreign debts, and declining growth
rates. A new doctrine of structural adjustment took shape: the
"Washington Consensus," or neoliberalism as we know
it today. It quickly became a basic condition for securing loans
from the international financial system. As Maria Clara Couto
Instead of acknowledging the inconsistency of [their original]
programs, the multilateral lenders merely considered them as insufficient.
Complementary policies were formulated, geared above all to deregulating
and liberalizing the economy. These policies directly link adjustment
to the implementation of a free-market economy, entrusting the
market with the optimum allocation of resources and the definition
of development itself.
The main focus of this new Washington Consensus is based on
five aspects balanced budget, trade liberalization, privatization
of state-owned enterprises, liberalization of foreign investments,
and domestic market deregulation.
Application of this set of neoliberal measures created a situation
in Brazil, as elsewhere, in which "mass unemployment has
settled in for the long haul, the unequal distribution of wealth
has intensified, and working-class wages have fallen sharply.""
Far from correcting the inadequacies of earlier structural adjustment
programs, the emphasis of the new programs on privatization, deregulation,
and free trade-in a word, on globalization-has only aggravated
the difficulties faced by Brazil's working majority.
Brazil and globalization
The human toll of a decade of unbridled neoliberal globalization
in Brazil is staggering. Almost 17 percent of the population-27.7
million Brazilians-still lives on less than a dollar per day.
Fully 25 percent of Brazilians live below the official poverty
line. The number of poor Brazilians without homes, adequate food,
schools for their children, health care, and minimal resources
for survival is as great as the entire population of France and
twice that of Argentina. Fifteen million unemployed people inhabit
Brazil's large urban centers, while 25 million rural workers struggle
to survive in temporary agricultural jobs. Twenty percent of children
between the ages of 10 and 14 work. Amid all of this human destruction,
1 percent of the population (some 400,000 families) controls nearly
53 percent of the nation's wealth. And the gap between rich and
poor continues to grow.
Government spending on social programs that could otherwise
bring relief to the disadvantaged populace has fallen dramatically
as back-to-back Cardoso administrations have prioritized servicing
the external debt. Cardoso's effort to manage the debt, however,
has virtually gone for naught. Between 1998 and 2000, the first
two years of Cardoso's second term, the external debt doubled,
despite payment in principal and interest of an amount equivalent
to the entire external debt in
1995 ($140 billion). Over the past 20 years, no less than
$587 billion has been swallowed up by the debt, and yet Brazil
currently owes the equivalent of nearly half of that amount ($240-$250
billion). In 2000, $67.1 billion dollars went to debt service-around
60 percent of all the monies taken in by the federal government
last year. Yet, eliminating official poverty in Brazil would require
only $33 billion.
The wreckage of neoliberalism is visible everywhere. In the
late 1990s, for example, a new social movement formed in response
to the plight of Brazil's homeless. The Movement of the Roofless
(Movimento dos Sem Teto) in Sao Paulo seizes abandoned downtown
buildings and uses them to house the poor:
In coordinated, almost military actions, more than 5,000 poor
families have occupied hotels, a movie theater, mansions that
once belonged to coffee barons, apartment buildings, government
offices and even a hospital." Official estimates show that
at least three million residents of Sao Paulo live in what the
government calls "irregular circumstances." According
to some private research groups, five million people, or almost
50 percent of Sao Paulo's population of 10.5 million, occupy illegal
Neoliberalism's record on education, race, prisons, and the
environment is equally damning. The level of education in Brazil
in terms of years in school lags 10 years behind countries with
an equal per capita income. Enormous regional differences in quality
of education also afflict the country. In all categories, including
education, job opportunities, and life expectancy, Black and Brown
Brazilians fare significantly worse than do white Brazilians.
It is no wonder that sensational jail breaks and prison riots
have headlined the Brazilian news in recent months. Amnesty International
reports that "Brazil's police and prison officers regularly
torture suspects and inmates to extract confessions, extort money
or to punish those in detention." Such measures reveal the
degree to which repression and state terror are still used to
control a population beset by hunger, unemployment, homelessness,
Meanwhile, deforestation of the Amazon increased at a 15 percent
annual rate last year. Officials cited an improved economy as
the main cause: "Economic activity implies deforestation,"
according to a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry. Of course,
it is economic activity for profit that has led to the deforestation
of 14 percent of Amazonia over the past 30 years.
Far from providing greater economic stability and control
over their own lives for the majority of Brazilians, neoliberal
globalization has made them more vulnerable. In early 1999, the
world economic crisis that began in Thailand in late 1997 hit
Latin American shores. Brazil sought to rescue itself by signing
on to another loan from the IMF for $41.5 billion in exchange
for a promise not to devalue its currency: "Yet, almost before
the ink dried on the IMF plan, the real went into a free fall.
The government abandoned its attempt to prop up its value."
The Brazilian economy went on to contract by 1 percent by the
end of 1999, with the currency devaluation inflicting new hardships
on ordinary Brazilians.
In 2000, the sacrifices made by Brazilian workers the year
before were supposed to pay off in renewed growth. A very modest
drop in official unemployment was recorded, inflation retreated,
and foreign direct investment returned. But the much-touted economic
recovery of 2000 concealed a dark side.
The economy remained as vulnerable to the whims of international
investors as before. To cover the hemorrhage of dollars paid out
in debt service, Brazil continued to depend on its ability to
attract enormous amounts of foreign capital. Foreign capital returned
to the country, but it did so mainly in the form of direct investment
to snap up bargains created by the government's privatization
program. To make matters worse, the lion's share of these investments
went into sectors of the economy that neither export nor replace
imports. Thus, they do not generate dollars that could be used
in servicing the debt.
Today Brazil finds itself in a precarious position within
the global economy. As the leader of Mercosur ("Mercosul"
in Portuguese, the South American NAFTA that also includes Argentina,
Uruguay, and Paraguay, with Bolivia, Chile, and potentially Venezuela
as associate members), Brazil has adopted an ambivalent posture
toward the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). On the one
hand, implementation of the FTAA, which President Cardoso signed
in Quebec City in April, can only further weaken Brazil's ability
to control its own economic destiny. Already, U.S. petroleum companies
are suing Brazil to get rid of environmental regulations that
they claim are barriers to trade. On the other hand, leadership
of Mercosur also leaves Brazil particularly vulnerable to the
three-year-old Argentine recession and a possible Argentine default
on its external debt.
In fact, Argentina's financial troubles have already triggered
a 20 percent depreciation of the real since the beginning of this
year. An unexpected slowdown of the Brazilian economy in the first
quarter of 2001, moreover, has caused economic forecasters to
lower their estimates for year-end growth from a target of 4 percent
to 2.5-3.0 percent. The fast-approaching energy crisis threatens
to brake the economy even further. The 1 percent increase in the
prime interest rate since January may also end up contributing
to an economic slowdown.
Meanwhile, France and Switzerland are buying up significant
chunks of the powerful Brazilian auto industry. The Spanish Bank
of Santander has acquired huge holdings within the Brazilian financial
sector. And U.S. companies ranging from Coca-Cola to Wal-Mart
to Citibank have all announced major purchases or expansions in
Brazil during the last few weeks, thus continuing the parade of
sell-offs to foreign enterprises.
The landless movement
The strongest and most aggressive social movement in Brazil
today is the MST. Brazilian land distribution is horrendously
unequal, with less than 3 percent of the population owning two-thirds
of the arable land. Twenty-five million peasants work as day laborers,
even though 60 percent of Brazil's farmland sits idle.
The MST was founded in 1985. It grew out of the activities
of the Catholic church-sponsored Pastoral Land Commission (CPT),
which "provided much of the organizational backbone to what
otherwise might have remained isolated rural struggles."
Supported by the CPT, the MST's first action consisted of hundreds
of rural workers occupying an unused plantation in the south of
Brazil and establishing a cooperative encampment. By 1987, they
had gained title to the land. Since then, more than 250,000 MST
families have won titles to more than 15 million acres. According
to the MST, some 25,100 families participated in occupations in
1999 alone. Throughout Brazil, 71,472 families currently reside
in encampments awaiting government recognition as deeded settlers.
Despite negotiating at irregular intervals with the MST, the
Cardoso government has actively worked to slow the pace of agrarian
reform. According to one MST leader:
We considered, at the beginning of Fernando Henrique Cardoso's
second term, that we were suffering a great reversal of agrarian
reform. Many successes achieved during these 16 years of struggle
for the land in Brazil-like the conquest of acreage, lines of
credit, infrastructure for production, social infrastructure for
housing, schools, sanitary facilities, a series of benefits for
the settlements, were being destroyed by Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Faced with this reality, the MST reinforced its strategy of
confrontation with the government, launching a new offensive in
spring 2000. A number of these occupations sought to unite landless
rural workers with homeless and unemployed urban workers in common
actions, matching the seizure of land in the countryside with
the seizure of buildings in the cities.
The MST clearly articulates revolutionary aspirations among
rural workers in Brazil. As George Meszaros explains:
One characteristic that marks the MST out as a social movement
in the late twentieth century is that it has challenged not just
the fact of land distribution but the logic of Brazilian capitalist
development that sustains and aggravates the problem. One of its
six general objectives is to "build a society without exploiters
and where labor enjoys supremacy over capital." Others include
the permanent search "for social justice and the equality
of economic, political, social and cultural rights," the
"spread [of] humanist and socialist values in human relations
and the combating of "all forms of social discrimination,"
along with seeking "the equal participation of women."
Not surprisingly, the radical reach of the MST's program often
brings it into direct confrontation with Brazil's repressive state
apparatus. According to the CPT, 1,517 rural workers were killed
during land conflicts in Brazil between 1988 and 2000. Eleven
such killings occurred between January and September 2000. Moreover,
1,898 workers suffered arrest in land conflicts between 1989 and
2000, with 258 arrests coming in the first nine months of 2000.24
Violence has also been used against the MST during its protests
against manufacturers of genetically modified organisms.
Alongside the commitment to taking on the government and Brazilian
capitalism, important contradictions exist within the MST. The
movement envisions not so much the abolition of property relations
but rather the creation of millions of small property owners as
the basis for land reform. It signs exclusive agreements with
companies such as Coca-Cola (sugar) and Parmalat (milk) to supply
the encampments and settlements. Its leaders have addressed police
groups on land occupations and police tactics. And every year
it negotiates numerous contracts and agreements at all levels
of government. These aspects of the MST have led some to view
it as becoming increasingly institutionalized. Writes Meszaros:
This is one of the many paradoxes of the MST. What is significant,
however, is that these institutionalized aspects are accompanied
by both a radical perspective and radical actions. In contrast,
if we look at the institutionalization of the trade unions throughout
the world, one of the key features has been the marginalization
of radical perspectives, the progressive demobilization of members,
a growing reluctance to use traditional tools, like the strike
weapon, and the absence of adequate alternatives.
Despite its contradictions, the MST undeniably represents
the most effective opposition to neoliberalism in Brazil today.
Strikes and trade union militancy remain at relatively low
levels. Other than the 1995 petroleum workers' strike, no actions
have compared to the great upheaval of organized workers that
characterized the last few years of the military dictatorship.
Nevertheless, important strikes around bank and energy privatization,
as well as chemical plant closures, have taken place in recent
months. Together with strikes by truck drivers and dockworkers,
these actions have achieved occasional successes. In addition,
a recent mobilization of workers to protest Cardoso's neoliberal
policies in Brasilia, as well as demonstrations against the FTAA,
has helped to politicize discussions within the trade union movement.
The largest organizations pursuing workers' rights in Brazil
are the Workers Central Union (CUT, Centtal Unica dos Trabalhadores)
and the PT. Their histories are deeply intertwined. The PT developed
out of the great auto industry strikes of 1978-79 that rocked
the military dictatorship to its core. The PT coalesced as a party
in the fall of 1979 and quickly "put itself forward as a
focus for militant opposition to the employers." As a product
of the "new unionism" that had broken from the corporatist
trade union structure of the dictatorship, the PT in turn became
the major force behind the creation of the CUT as an independent
central union in 1983.
The majority of the leaderships of both the CUT and the PT
moved away from their early semi-revolutionary militancy during
the course of the 1980s and 1990s. While still the leaders to
whom the vast majority of workers look for direction, they have
adapted themselves to Brazilian capitalism. Often rejecting neoliberalism
with fiery rhetoric, they nonetheless understand socialism as
the successful administration of capitalism "with a human
face." A~ reformers, "they defend a Brazilian version
of the social democratic 'third way' in Europe. They capitalize
on the erosion of the government's position to make electoral
gains, but they act as a brake on all the processes of direct
action by the masses."
This is especially true of the PT. The PT currently boasts
three governors, seven senators, 56 congresspeople, and 187 mayors.
Its candidate in the last two presidential elections- Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva, who in 1978, as head of the Sao Bernardo Metalworkers
Union, helped to lead the auto industry strikes-captured more
than a third of the popular vote on each outing. Nevertheless,
as the PT has gained electoral strength, it has substantially
moderated its politics. Once in favor of repudiating the external
debt, for example, the PT now endorses the idea of negotiating
with the IMF and World Bank in order to restructure it.
The PT municipal government in the city of Porto Alegre, and
the PT state government of Rio Grande do Sul, are often cited
as brilliant examples of what can be accomplished by a socialist
administration. The basis for the claim is the PT's implementation
of what is known as the "participatory budget." One
observer has described Porto Alegre's participatory budget as
"an experience of direct democracy without equal in the world."
The participatory budget allows the citizens of Porto Alegre
to decide at the neighborhood level where to invest the city's
development funds-in new schools, in improved water supply, or
in road repairs, etc. What admirers fail to mention, however,
is that new investment represents only 10 percent of the municipal
budget and that participants' decisions are subject to the approval
of the city council. Ninety percent of the budget is not open
to democratic decision making.
Decisions affecting tax payments to state and federal governments,
for example, belong to the mayor's office and city council. The
executive branch alone decides on public transit issues, such
as fare hikes. It further controls labor relations and determines
the benefits paid to companies contracted to undertake city projects.
The Porto Alegre central administration also decides all questions
related to zoning and human resources. For instance, the participatory
budget does not give citizens the power to decide whether to expropriate
vacant space within Porto Alegre for the purpose of constructing
And the percentage of the budget open to investment and citizen
participation always remains the same-10 percent. Participants
thus "decide" within limits set for them by the government;
they cannot choose in a given year to use 15 or 20 percent of
the total budget for investment purposes. As critics maintain,
"The truth is that the Participatory Budget decides on crumbs
in relation to the enormous necessities of Porto Alegre's poor.
For this reason the democratic content is formal; it does not
constitute an effective or substantial democratization of the
The behavior of the PT at the state level often seems informed
more by neoliberal, rather than socialist, convictions. The government
of Rio Grande do Sul still pays 15 percent of its annual budget
to the federal government as its contribution toward servicing
the external debt. Incredibly, when the state of Minas Gerais
declared a moratorium on debt payment at the beginning of Cardoso's
second term, Rio Grande do Sul refused to support it. The PT state
government has also awarded huge tax breaks to large multinationals
such as General Motors, Dell, Gerdau, and others. Although corporate
tax evasion is a major problem in Rio Grande do Sul, the government
refuses to publish the list of delinquent companies.
Unconscionably, the state PT has failed to comply with the
agrarian reform measures it promised to the MST. It has cut the
salaries of public-sector workers and sought to lower their social
security benefits. It smashed an important strike by education
workers belonging to the largest union in Rio Grande do Sul. Worst
of all, it used the state's Military Brigade to dislodge MST protesters
from a government building during a demonstration demanding state
compliance with agrarian reform. Numerous injuries resulted.
What this means is that Brazilian workers are faced with the
challenge of rebuilding a fighting labor movement from below.
Only rank-and-file militancy has any chance of pushing PT leaders
into a stronger stand against neoliberalism. The situation in
the CUT is more hopeful. Recent elections gave members of the
revolutionary left approximately 30 percent of the seats in the
CUT Congress. But there, too, the challenge remains one of developing
Brazilian workers-urban and rural, white-collar and blue-collar-find
themselves today at a crossroads. Their country has so far not
experienced the scale of mass protests that has engulfed countries
like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina. But there are signs that
a resurgence of mass struggle lies on the not-too-distant horizon.
Already events are sharply posing the question of alternatives
to the horrors of neoliberalism. From reform to revolution, strategies
for change are being hotly debated. What the proposals of the
majority of the different leaderships of the MST, CUT, and PT
have in common is that they ultimately look to secure a path of
national development for Brazil within the context of neoliberal
Such a perspective, however, ignores the painful lesson repeatedly
taught by global capitalism from the very first moment of Brazil's
full entry into the world economy. Notes Eric Toussaint:
The fundamental problem here is that such policies do not
lead to a process of cumulative development by which these countries
could catch up with the industrialized powers of the North. Trade
imbalances have annually grown, whatever the optimistic pronouncements
of Latin American leaders. This is due to the structure of Latin
American exports to the world market. Whatever the level of industrialization,
these countries remain far behind the North. According to Oscar
Ugarteche, there has even been a "re-primarization"
of Latin American exports in recent years-in that proportionally
Latin America exports more low value-added ("primary")
products than before. At the same time, industries targeting the
domestic market have stagnated or declined, whether they have
remained in domestic hands or been sold off to foreign inrerests.
The possibility of a sovereign road to national development
no longer exists for Brazil-if it ever did. This is the reality
with which the various movements in Brazil must come to grips.
It is, of course, important for workers and peasants in Brazil
to fight against the economic dictates of American imperialism.
But there is a difference between aggressively confronting the
structure and institutions of neoliberal globalization and seeking
a mode of "independent insertion" within it.
The hope that truly exists for economic and social change
in Brazil today lies in the possibility of building international
solidarity and a worldwide movement for genuine revolutionary
socialism. For such a movement to succeed, the power and experience
of the Brazilian working class would prove indispensable.
Tom Lewis is on the editorial board of the International Socialist