Destaque Internacional - Informes de Coyuntura - Vol. V, No. 115 - Nov. 4, 2003

The Socialist International (IS), the Workers' Party (PT), and New Socialist "Paradigms": What Are They and Where Do They Lead?

1. In the recent world Congress of the Socialist International (IS), held in the city of São Paulo, Brazil (October 27-29, 2003), the highest authorities of that country, belonging to the Workers' Party (PT), made their presence felt by declaring euphoria and loquacity in the face of the recent electoral advance of the leftists in South America.

Nevertheless, they showed themselves to be parsimonious and ambiguous when it came to defining what the "reconstruction" of the paradigms of "democratic socialism" would consist in - which they say they favor - and what the differences would be between it and the previous forms. It is a significant ambiguity, because those old socialist paradigms contributed toward leaving behind an inheritance of injustice, misery and bloodshed, with more than 100 million dead and a sad legacy that continues weighing upon countries such as China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea.

2. That ambiguity regarding the loudly proclaimed new paradigms, the kind of society they would lead to, and what would differentiate them from the socialist paradigms of the past, characterized the statements of the president of Brazil and honorary president of the PT, Mr. Lula da Silva; of the mayor of São Paulo and vice president of the PT, Marta Suplicy; of Marco Aurelio Garcia, leading advisor of President Lula for international affairs; of José Genoino, president of the PT; of Luis Favre, advisor of the PT and one of the organizers of the contacts with the IS, as well as of other spokesmen of the PT.

Such ambiguity might perhaps today be the propagandistic Achilles heel of the New Left in Latin America. Because of this, they who distrust these elements of the Left, as well as the plans that they have in their hands, need to ask them for definitions, in a civilized but firm manner, and propose to them public debates in these matters.

Never in their interventions and statements during the Congress of the IS did the members of the PT recognize that it is in the very essence of the socialist "dream" of the past where one finds the germs of the atrocities that arose from it. How could it be that from a bad tree, which already gave abundant bad fruits, good fruits could today be born? That is the delicate question that the current neo-socialists leaders face. The most that they criticize is the "dogmatism" of the socialism of the past; but, as already became clearly evident, by no means do they speak of the crimes that cost 100 million lives. In an age when, from shops of the neo-socialists, "critical reflection" stands out as an indispensable virtue, they should undertake sincerely the meaning of their having adhered to that real socialism, regarding which they cannot simply make a smoke screen and change the subject.

3. We cite as a characteristic example of the previous facts some phrases from the important speech of Mr. Lula da Silva, the complete text of which we offer to interested readers. Lula emphasized that "we are not unaware of the legacies of the socialism of the twentieth century," and that "above all we do not forget its dreams, the sacrifice of so many, the hopes that they were able to awaken"; that "we reflected critically on many theoretical paradigms that we received and - without falling into pragmatism - we tried to create a movement that was capable of facing, in a creative way, not in a dogmatic one, the great challenges of our country"; that "the profound transformations through which the world passed in the last decades weakened many certainties and affected in part the socialist paradigms of the past"; that "the past of socialism left us with some lessons"; that "important political alternatives are built without dogmatism, in a pluralistic manner, respecting differences"; that "the essence of socialism" would be "a more just and free world"; and that it is necessary to contribute toward "the reconstruction of the socialist program."

4. It would be simplistic to affirm that the alleged new socialist paradigms are identical to the old ones. But it is appropriate to ask if important doses of the substance will not continue being present, the most important differences remaining for the accidental or secondary aspects and, especially, for the new strategies that are being applied with a view to reaching similar communo-anarchistic-self-managing goals.

It is symptomatic that President Lula, at the end of his speech, at an improvised moment, after affirming that "the basic aspect of democracy is harmony in diversity," cited as an example of such "diversity" the Forum of São Paulo, created in 1990 by him and by the dictator Fidel Castro, in which there harmoniously coexist everything from socialist moderates, passing through Colombian drug-guerrillas, to Communist Cubans.

5. Poor Latin America and the future that awaits it, if the tonic of neo-socialist "democracy" were given by this sui generis form of "diversity," presented by Lula as a model.

This concern about the meaning of neo-socialist "diversity" is not in vain, if one considers that several of those present at the Congress of the IS, such as the mayor of São Paulo in the welcome speech, emphasized the guiding role of the World Social Forum. In it, as a variety of specialists already noted at their convenience, they proposed a "new world" built on a "diversity" that makes the relativizing of every truth a kind of absolute value; "diversity" which, under the appearance of an unrestricted democracy, would be able to contain in its bosom a dangerous and new totalitarianism of an exclusive kind, neo-inquisitorial and "transversal," which would suffocate those who defend the principles of the Christian civilization (cf. "World Social Forum, 'Diversity' and New Totalitarianisms," CubDest, Feb.14, 2003).

6. It would be an error to underestimate the present force of PT members, socialists and member of the World Social Forum, as well as its international capacity of articulation, affirming passed failures or present ambiguities. The antecedents exposed here justify the apprehensions. Time will tell in what measure these apprehensions materialize or not.