Brazil: Social-Bonapartism of the Lockdown Left in Practice


How the leaderships of the trade unions, PT, PCdoB, the pseudo-Trotskyist PSTU and PSOL sabotage the struggle against the Bolsonaro government


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10 June 2020,




All over the world millions of workers and youth are marching on the streets against racism and police brutality. As the RCIT has elaborated in various documents, this is a historic turning point, a moment of liberation. After months of counterrevolutionary lockdown rules imposed by the ruling class under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, the masses are breaking down the bans of public assemblies. [1]


These mass protests are based on spontaneous popular mobilizations. Since months, most parties of the opportunist left – social democrats, Stalinists, left populists, pseudo-Trotskyists, etc. – support the Lockdown imposed by the ruling class around the globe. This Lockdown Left has refused to call for mobilizations on the streets despite the fact that the workers and oppressed face the worst attacks since World War II (economic slump, explosive rise of unemployment, vast expansion of police and surveillance state, etc.). [2]


Instead of calling the people to struggle, the Lockdown Left joined the chorus of many capitalist governments and told the masses to “Stay at Home!” They pathetically excused such betrayal by referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. Underlying this argument is the reactionary idea that the oppressed should stop fighting in times of pandemics and that the ruling class with its expanding bonapartist state apparatus would be best suited to fight such a pandemic. [3]


In contrast, the RCIT has denounced such capitulation of the reformist and centrist left from the beginning. We explained that COVID-19 is neither the first nor the last pandemic in the past decades. Humanity has experienced such pandemics several times which have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year (severe Influenza epidemics, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, not to speak about the millions of people who die every year because of heart disease, nicotine or alcohol). Such pandemics must be fought with a health program (expansion of public health sector under workers and popular control, free mass texting etc.) and, ultimately, the overthrow of capitalism as the system responsible for many of these diseases. We also explained that the ruling class is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover for deflecting the masses’ attention from the economic slump and, at the same, to legitimize the expansion of the bonapartist state apparatus. [4] Under no circumstances must a progressive organization support bourgeois state repression and draconic lockdown measures – even if they are supposedly health measures – directed against the people. [5]


Finally, and most importantly, it is criminal to call the masses to stay at home when, at the same time, the bosses throw millions of workers on the streets, when the masses starve because of the lockdown, when the ruling classes vastly expand the police and surveillance state! A pandemic can not justify in any way a voluntarily disarmament and capitulation by the left in face of such massive economic and anti-democratic attacks! This is why the RCIT called from the very first moment that the workers and popular organizations must fight against these attacks instead of supporting the reactionary Lockdown. [6]




Cowardly “Left”




Today we see a particularly striking example of such a betrayal in Brazil. Like in many other countries, the workers and oppressed have spontaneously started to fight against reactionary offensive. Initiated by anti-fascist football fans and grassroots organizations in late May, the protests against the extreme right-wing Bolsonaro governments have spread since then. This demonstrates the willingness of the masses to fight against the reactionary attacks. It also underlines that the masses – like in many countries all over the world – don’t accept the reactionary bans of mass assemblies and demonstrations which the ruling class has imposed under the cover of the COVID-19 crisis. [7]


However, most parties of the Brazilian reformist and centrist left refuse to support these mobilizations! The trade union federations CUT and CTB, as well as the parties that control them – the social democratic PT and the Stalinist PCdoB – voted not to participate in any street activities. They claim that such demonstrations might provoke the Bolsonaro government to take dictatorial measures. This shows once more the policy of cowardice and capitulation of the reformist leaderships which refuse to fight against the reactionary offensive.


The position of these reformist parties is particularly cynical given the fact that for the majority of the proletariat staying home and working via “home office” is no option. They have to go to factories, transport service etc. It is particularly noteworthy that in states where the PT and the PCdoB are in government – like in Maranhão, Ceará, Bahia, or Rio Grande do Norte – shops, malls etc. are allowed to open. So while the workers have to continue doing their jobs, they should not – according to these parties – enter the streets in order to protest.


But such betrayal is not limited to the reformist leaderships. Like in many other countries around the world, the self-proclaimed Trostykist left in Brazil opportunistically adapts to the reformist leadership. At a meeting of the leadership of CONLUTAS – the trade union centre of the radical left – on 5 June, the vast majority refused to call for mass mobilizations. A resolution proposed by the Movimiento Revolucionario Socialista (MRS) which called for support of such mobilizations was defeated by 22 votes to 2. The only other leader who voted for this resolution, in addition to the MRS, was the delegate of the Corrente Socialista dos Trabalhadores (the Brazil section of the UIT-CI which works as a minority current within the PSOL). The PSTU – which dominates the leadership of CONLUTAS and which is also the mother section of the international current LIT-CI – as well as all other currents of the PSOL opposed a call for mobilizations. [8]


So when the masses entered the streets nevertheless, despite the failure of the reformist and centrist left to mobilize, the PSTU leaders tried to jump the bandwagon by sending some members to attend demonstrations with flags.


This sad example of cowardice demonstrates once more the reactionary character of the Lockdown Left. Despite all the pompous phrases of “socialism”, “Marxism” and even “Trotskyism”, they capitulate to the bourgeoisie and the reformist bureaucracy and refrain from calling for mass struggles. Covering behind supposedly health reasons, these leftists in fact support the reactionary bonapartist lockdown measures which ban the people from marching on the streets. As a result, the cowardly left stays home while, at the same time, the extreme right-wing supporters of Bolsonaro calling for a military coup demonstrate on the streets! [9]


We repeat that such a counter-revolutionary stance of large sectors of the so-called left underlines once more the urgent need to build an authentic revolutionary party – nationally and internationally. The RCIT calls revolutionary activists in Brazil and globally to unite on the basis of a program of struggle against the current reactionary offensive of the bourgeoisie. Such a program implies a clear and intransigent demarcation of forms of social-bonapartism. Marxism and Lockdown Left are diametrically opposed! [10]




[1] See on this e.g. RCIT: The Global Popular Uprising against Racism and Police Violence. This is a turning point ending the global counterrevolutionary situation. But workers and oppressed need to prepare for an ongoing reactionary offensive of the ruling class!, 8 June 2020,; for the documents of the RCIT on the popular uprising in the U.S. see the special sub-page on our website:

[2] See on this e.g. chapter I and II of the new book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020,

[3] The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 crisis extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published nearly four dozen documents which are all collected at a special sub-page in our website: In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, See also the above mentioned new book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It.

[4] On the latest developments in the expansion of state bonapartism see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase. A global review of the ruling class’s plans of expanding the bonapartist state machinery amidst the COVID-19 crisis, 21 May 2020,

[5] See on this e.g. RCIT: A Revolutionary Action Program to fight COVID-19! Workers and Oppressed: Don’t trust the State of the Rich and Powerful! Trust only Yourselves! April 2020,; see also Almedina Gunić: No, most likely it is not COVID-19 that is going to kill you. A manageable epidemic became public enemy number one distracting from the real killers, 16 March 2020,;

[6] See the documents on the special sub-page in our website: For some examples of the RCIT’s participation in the current struggles see e.g. RSV: Nigeria: RALLY IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE #JusticeForUwa CAMPAIGN, A Report (with Pictures), 3rd June, 2020,; RSL: Kenya: The Oppressed Masses demand “Stop Killing Us!” Report (with Pictures and Video) of the Demonstration of the People of Kenya against Police Brutality, 9 June 2020,; ALS: Mexico: Stop Racism, Stop Impunity! Report on a day of demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. and Mexico, 6 June 2020,; USA: Black Lives Matter Demonstration in San Francisco, Report (with Video) by SRV, 7 June 2020,

[7] See on this e.g. CCR: Brazil: Football Fans Organize Anti-Fascist Demonstrations, May 31, 2020,; CCR: GREAT POPULAR MANIFESTATIONS AGAINST THE BOLSONAR GOVERNMENT BREAKING LOCKDOWN IN VARIOUS CITIES IN BRAZIL, 7 June 2020,

[8] See on this e.g. the report of the comrades of the Movimiento Revolucionario Socialista: ¡Las centrales sindicales y partidos de “izquierda” contra convocar actos de protesta! 8.6.2020,

[9] See on this e.g. CCR: Brazil: Militaries explicitly threaten with a new military Coup d’État, 25 May 2020,

[10] For a more detailed discussion of the failure of the Lockdown Left see e.g. chapter V in Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution; see also by the same author COVID-19 and the Lockdown Left: The Example of PODEMOS and Stalinism in Spain, 24 March 2020,; Social-Bonapartism in Argentina. The Partido Obrero (Tendencia) of Jorge Altamira supports the State of Emergency, 29 April 2020,; When Ultra-Leftism marries Social-Bonapartism and Gives Birth to “Post-Marxist” Obscurantism. A reply to the CWG/ILTT, 5 May 2020,