In and Against the Brazilian State

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2096 ... May 19, 2020

In and Against the Brazilian State

Leo Panitch

Following the demise of the communist regimes, and the collaboration of so many social-democratic parties in neoliberal, capitalist globalization, a strong anarchist sensibility emerged, quite understandably, on the radical left, and remained influential for a considerable period of time. From the continent-spanning anti-globalization protests at the turn of the millennium to the rapid spread of Occupy Wall Street from New York to other US and international cities, the predominant mood reflected a widespread suspicion, if not disdain, for any political strategy that involved going into the state.

And then, rather suddenly, there seemed to be a widespread realization that you can protest until hell freezes over, but you won’t change the world that way. That realization came during the very short time bridging the occupations of the squares in Madrid and Athens and the rapid electoral breakthroughs of Syriza and Podemos. It also seeded the Corbyn and Sanders insurgencies inside the dominant center-left parties of the United Kingdom and the United States.

John Holloway’s work... Change the World Without Taking Power, inspired by the Zapatistas of Chiapas in Mexico, famously summed up the earlier mood on the Left. An important new book, inspired by a very different Latin American example, has captured today’s contrasting zeitgeist: Rebecca Tarlau’s Occupying Schools, Occupying Land: How the Landless Workers’ Movement Transformed Brazilian Education.

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