The Oceanic Conference on International Studies,
Auckland, 30 June – 2 July 2010
“Lula’s Passive Revolution and the Consolidation of Neoliberalism in Brazil.”
School of Politics and International Relations
The Australian National University
The Presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) in Brazil has been seen as a watershed in the country’s development. Not only is he Brazil’s first ‘working class’ President, he has managed to bring the stability, prosperity and unity to the country that has so often eluded it in the past. This feat has been even more impressive because it has been achieved by pursuing a broadly neoliberal accumulation strategy which has failed to produce similar results in most other countries in the periphery. The key to Lula’s success lies in the combination of traditional neoliberal strategies with economic, social and foreign policies inspired by the ‘Third Way’ and its international counterpart the post-Washington Consensus. This paper argues that in doing so, the Lula government has carried out a Gramscian ‘passive revolution’ of the Brazilian social order, which, in blunting some of the worst excesses of neoliberal economy, has managed to win consent for neoliberalism while seemingly moving away from it. The paper explores the specific economic, social and foreign policies of the Lula government that work towards this end and examines their continuities and departures from the original neoliberal project and how they contribute to its hegemony. It concludes by briefly assessing the significance of this achievement, not only for Brazil but also more importantly for the broader neoliberal world order, where it is part of an ongoing ‘passive revolution’ also intent on rearticulating consent for neoliberal globalisation.
The victory of the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) in the 2002 Brazilian Presidential election was greeted with hope and enthusiasm by progressive forces not only in Brazil but around the world. Lula had been a key figure in the working class struggle against the military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and following the return of democracy, became a permanent fixture of the Brazilian political scene, coming within a whisker of winning the first democratic Presidential election in 1989 and finishing second in the subsequent two. The PT, formed by Lula and other union leaders during the struggle for democracy as the party of the working class and the excluded, had also gone from strength to strength, increasing its vote at every election and challenging the exclusionary and elite-driven Brazilian political system. The party, with its large membership based in social movements and its commitment to ‘socialism’ coupled with its track record of innovation and ethical behaviour, was widely revered as a truly progressive grassroots-based party which, having made its name challenging the previous Cardoso administration, would bring about a more just, equitable and fair social order.
However once in power, the Lula government not only continued but extended Cardoso’s neoliberal policies. The servicing of the country’s debt continued to be prioritised over social spending, and growth remained slow, retarded by austere monetary policies intended to keep inflation in check. Amid accusations of ‘betrayal’ and revelations of systemic corruption within the party and the government, many predicted that the Lula government would quickly lose popularity as it faced the reality of a globalised world in which there was little alternative to neoliberal dictates. However, Lula was re-elected in 2006 with a significant part of the vote. In its second term, the PT government brought not only macroeconomic stability to the country, but also impressive rates of growth, coupled with ‘responsible’ social policies which began to make progress in dealing with the country’s...
Bibliography: Alden, Chris and Antonio Vieira. (2005). 'The New Diplomacy of the South: South Africa, Brazil, India and Trilateralism. ' Third World Quarterly 26(7): 1077-95.
Almeida, Paulo Roberto de. (2009). 'Lula’s Foreign Policy: Regional and Global Strategies. ' In Brazil Under Lula: Economy, Politics and Society under the Worker-President, eds. Joseph L. Love and Werner Baer. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Amann, Edmund and Werner Baer. (2002). 'Neoliberalism and its Consequences in Brazil. ' Journal of Latin American Studies 34(4): 945-59.
Anderson, Perry. (2000). 'Renewals. ' New Left Review (1): 5-24.
Arestis, Philip and Malcolm Sawyer. (2001). 'The Economic Analysis Underlying the "Third Way". ' New Political Economy 6(2): 255-78.
Baker, Andy. (2009). The Market and the Masses in Latin America: Policy Reform and Consumption in Liberalizing Economies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
BNDES. (2009). BNDES Ends 2009 With Record Disbursements of R$ 137.3 bn. Rio de Janeiro: Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social. (http://inter.bndes.gov.br/english/news/not145_09.asp) Accessed 15 April 2010.
Boito, Armando. (2007). 'Class Relations in Brazil’s New Neoliberal Phase. ' Latin American Perspectives 34(5): 115-131.
Burity, Joanildo A. (2006). 'Reform of the State and the New Discourse on Social Policy in Brazil. ' Latin American Perspectives 33(3): 67-88.
Callinicos, Alex. (2001). Against the Third Way: An Anti-Capitalist Critique. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. (1993). 'The Challenges of Social Democracy in Latin America. ' In Social Democracy in Latin America: Prospects for Change, ed. Menno Vellinga. Boulder, San Francisco & Oxford: Westview Press.
Carvalho, Fernando J. Cardim de. (2007). 'Lula’s Government in Brazil: A New Left or the Old Populism? ' In Political Economy of Brazil: Recent Economic Performance, eds. Philip Arestis and Alfredo Saad-Filho. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cason, Jeffrey. (2006). 'Hopes Dashed? Lula’s Brazil. ' Current History 105(688): 74-8.
Castro, Marcus Faro de and Maria Izabel Valladão de Carvalho. (2003). 'Globalization and Recent Political Transitions in Brazil. ' International Political Science Review 24(4): 465-90.
Engel, Susan. (2010). The World Bank and the Post-Washington Consensus in Vietnam and Indonesia: Inheritance of Loss. London & New York: Routledge.
Fatton, Robert. (1986). 'Gramsci and the Legitimization of the State: The Case of the Senegalese Passive Revolution. ' Canadian Journal of Political Science 19(4): 729-750.
Flemes, Daniel. (2009). 'Brazilian Foreign Policy in the Changing World Order. ' South African Journal of International Affairs 16(2): 161-82.
Flynn, Peter. (2005). 'Brazil and Lula, 2005: Crisis, Corruption and Change in Political Perspective. ' Third World Quarterly 26(8): 1221-1267.
Gramsci, Antonio. (1988). An Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916-1935. New York: Schocken Books.
Guimarães, Antonio Sérgio Alfredo. (2005). 'Racial Democracy. ' In Imagining Brazil, eds. Jessé Souza and Valter Sinder. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Hall, Anthony. (2006). 'From Fome Zero to Bolsa Família: Social Policies and Poverty Alleviation under Lula. ' Journal of Latin American Studies 38(4): 689-709.
Hall, Michael M. and Marco Aurélio Garcia. (1989). 'Urban Labour. ' In Modern Brazil: Elites and Masses in Historical Perspective, eds. Michael L. Conniff and Frank D. McCann. Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press.
Hochstetler, Kathryn. (2008). 'Organized Civil Society in Lula’s Brazil. ' In Democratic Brazil Revisited, eds. Peter R. Kingstone and Timothy J. Power. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Hunter, Wendy. (2008). 'The Partido dos Trabalhadores: Still a Party of the Left? ' In Democratic Brazil Revisited, eds. Peter R. Kingstone and Timothy J. Power. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Hunter, Wendy and Timothy J. Power. (2007). 'Rewarding Lula: Executive Power, Social Policy and the Brazilian Elections of 2006. ' Latin American Politics and Society 49(1): 1-30.
Hunter, Wendy and Natasha Borges Sugiyama. (2009). 'Democracy and Social Policy in Brazil: Advancing Basic Needs, Preserving Privileged Interests. ' Latin American Politics and Society 51(2): 29-58.
Hurrell, Andrew. (2008). 'Lula’s Brazil: A Rising Power, but Going Where? ' Current History 107(706): 51-7.
Hurrell, Andrew. (2010). 'Brazil and the New Global Order. ' Current History 109(724): 60-66.
IBGE. (2010). Monthly Employment Survey. Brasília: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (http://www.ibge.gov.br/english/presidencia/noticias/noticia_visualiza.php?id_noticia=1576&id_pagina=1) Accessed 13 April 2010.
IPEA Data. (2010a). Minimum Wage. Brasília: Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada. (http://www.ipeadata.gov.br) 13 April 2010.
IPEA Data. (2010b). Pobreza: Pessoas Indigentes. Brasília: Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada. (http://www.ipeadata.gov.br) Accessed 15 April 2010.
IPEA Data. (2010c). Pobreza: Pessoas Pobres. Brasília: Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada. (http://www.ipeadata.gov.br) Accessed 15 April 2010.
Kucinski, Bernardo. (2003). 'The Rise of The Workers’ Party. ' In Politics Transformed: Lula and the Workers’ Party in Brazil, eds. Sue Branford, Bernardo Kucinski and Hillary Wainwrigh. London: Latin American Bureau.
Latin American Herald Tribune. (2009). 'Brazil Tries to Maximize Offshore Oil Bonanza. ' Latin American Herald Tribune. 3 September 2009. (http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=342756&CategoryId=13280) 20 April 2010.
Latin American Herald Tribune. (2010). 'Brazil’s Middle Class Grows to Nearly 50% of Population. ' Latin American Herald Tribune. 7 February. (http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=351827&CategoryId=14090) Accessed 15 April 2010.
Linz, Juan J. and Alfred Stepan. (1996). Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Mainwaring, Scott. (1986). 'The Transition to Democracy in Brazil. ' Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 28(1): 149-79.
Maxwell, Kenneth. (2010). 'Lula 's Last Year. ' Current History 109(724): 43-6.
Miguel, Luis Felipe. (2006). 'From Equality to Opportunity: Transformations in the Discourse of the Workers’ Party in the 2002 Elections. ' Latin American Perspectives 33(4): 122-143.
Mollo, Maria de Lourdes Rollemberg and Alfredo Saad-Filho. (2006). 'Neoliberal Economic Policies in Brazil (1994-2005): Cardoso, Lula and the Need for a Democratic Alternative. ' New Political Economy 11(1): 99-123.
Morley, Samuel A. (1995). Poverty and Inequality in Latin America: The Impact of Adjustment and Recovery in the 1980s. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Panizza, Francisco. (2004). '‘Brazil Needs to Change’: Change as Iteration and the Iteration of Change in Brazil’s 2002 Presidential Election. ' Bulletin of Latin American Research 23(4): 465-82.
Panizza, Francisco. (2005). 'Unarmed Utopia Revisited: The Resurgence of Left-of-Centre Politics in Latin America. ' Political Studies 53(4): 716-34.
Petras, James and Henry Veltmeyer. (2003). 'Whither Lula 's Brazil? Neoliberalism and 'Third Way ' Ideology. ' Journal of Peasant Studies 31(1): 1-44.
Porter, Doug and David Craig. (2004). 'The Third Way and the Third World: Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion in the Rise of ‘Inclusive’ Liberalism’. ' Review of International Political Economy 11(2): 387-423.
Rocha, Geisa Maria. (2007). 'Celso Furtado and the Resumption of Construction in Brazil: Structuralism as an Alternative to Neoliberalism. ' Latin American Perspectives 34(5): 132-159.
Roett, Riordan. (2010). 'How Reform Has Powered Brazil 's Rise. ' Current History 109(724): 47-52.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document