Brazilian socialist: ‘We need to organise globally to confront the far right’

May 8, 2024
Map of flood devastation in Porto Alegre plus inset photo of Mariana Riscali
A map showing the extent of flooding in Porto Alegre. Photo: Inset: Mariana Riscali. Photo: Supplied

Around the world, the far right is gaining strength and seeking to impose its agenda.

Argentina’s far-right president Javier Milei is pushing through with neoliberal shock therapy while his close ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to unleash genocide in Gaza.

Polls indicate that their counterparts in India (Narendra Modi) and the United States (Donald Trump) could win national elections this year.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, former president Jair Bolsonaro is mobilising thousands of his supporters in the streets with the hope of winning big in October’s municipal elections.

Green Left’s Federico Fuentes spoke with Mariana Riscali, a leader of the Socialist Left Movement (MES) tendency within Brazil’s Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), about how Brazilian socialists are organising to confront this threat.

Riscali is a member of PSOL’s National Executive Committee and Executive Director of the Lauro Campos and Marielle Franco Foundation. She will be a feature speaker at Ecosocialism 2024, where she will address the panel “From Trump to Netanyahu, Modi to Milei — understanding the rise of the global far right”.

* * *

Do you think the far right is in the ascendency today? If so, why is this?

Yes, we can say that the far right, as a global phenomenon, is on the rise.

All over the world, we are currently experiencing a great crisis of hegemony and loss of political references.

We can also see similar processes in each country of economic crises, huge environmental crises — in which the effects of global warming are increasingly felt — and growing inequality and hopelessness.

Amid so much disillusionment, the far right is seeking to present itself as a radical and anti-system alternative.

Wherever the left has failed to present itself as an alternative capable of changing this situation — and especially where the moderate left has been in power but failed to improve living conditions due to being more committed to the status quo than promoting substantial changes — the far right is succeeding in capturing this desire for change.

How important is Israel’s genocide in Gaza to this far-right offensive? Conversely, how important are the pro-Palestine mobilisations to confronting the far right?

Netanyahu is not only a representative of the State of Israel, which is committing genocide against the Palestinian people. He is also a representative of the global far right and its openly racist, homophobic and dangerously authoritarian agenda.

On other hand, resistance to this has been very important. Solidarity has been spreading worldwide, with the United States on the frontline of these mobilisations as students occupy universities.

I was in the US recently and visited some of the occupations. It is clear that these occupations have the support of the academic community, as well as that of an important part of the working class and the population in general.

These occupations have not only garnered public attention, but also placed important pressure on [US president Joe] Biden, who is being forced to answer to his progressive electoral base for his continued support of Israel’s genocide politics.

Could we see Brazil’s far right regain strength in October’s municipal elections? How is the Brazilian left organising to counter this challenge?

Even though we managed to defeat Bolsonaro at the 2022 election by electing [current president] Lula [da Silva], we need to remain vigilant because Bolsonarism remains alive.

Not only did Lula only win by a very narrow margin — less than 2% in the second round — but a large number of Bolsonaro-aligned parliamentarians and state governors were elected. So, while we can say that we defeated Bolsonaro, we did not defeat Bolsonarism.

Now, they are organising for the municipal elections. Electorally speaking, leftist coalitions are being organised in many cities to confront far-right candidates.

Unfortunately, in a considerable number of cities, the Workers’ Party (PT) and other centre-left parties are organising pragmatic coalitions that include parties which supported Bolsonaro in past elections or are part of the right-wing opposition in Congress.

PSOL refuses to be part of any coalition with right-wing parties. As MES, we have gone further and argued that any coalition that PSOL participates in must have a program based on working-class demands.

Moreover, we believe that confronting the far right is not just an electoral issue. Permanent mobilisations, participation in struggles, raising working-class demands and organising social movements are all essential if we want to defeat the far right.

That is why PSOL took the initiative — together with the PT in Porto Alegre and the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) — of organising the 1st International Anti-Fascist Conference. Unfortunately, we have had to postpone the gathering, which was set to be held May 17‒19 ,due to the tragic climate catastrophe that has ravaged Porto Alegre.

But the fact that we were getting ready to host activists from 28 countries and five continents — along with events such as Ecosocialism 2024, which will play an important role in organising activists especially from the Indo-Pacific region — demonstrates that there is an important opening for this kind of initiative.

Such an initiative is fundamental if we want to get organised globally to confront the far right.

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