Blog Update

The Long Brazilian Crisis: A Forum – Available Online

24th Jan 2019

The Long Brazilian Crisis: A Forum

Edited and Introduced by Juan Grigera and Jeffery R. Webber.

Contributors: Ludmila Abilio, Ricardo Antunes, Marcelo Badaró Mattos, Sabrina Fernandes, Rodrigo Nunes, Leda Paulani, and Sean Purdy

Available at:

Brazil has returned to world headlines. This time because Jair Bolsonaro, a grotesque and until now marginal, far-right politician, won 55.7 percent of the vote in the second round general elections in October 2018. Perhaps most striking about this latest triumph of reaction is that it took place in the world’s fifth largest country by area and population, and sixth largest economy. What is more, Bolsonaro’s ascent comes on the heels of 14 years of rule by the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) – one of the most mature and institutionalized social democratic parties of the twenty-first century. With this symposium, Historical materialism historically and theoretically situates the current Brazilian conjuncture and contributes to the debate within the left on the international impact of these events, inviting further reflection on the moment of danger opening up before us.

This forum brings together six leading intellectuals, representing a variety of left traditions, with unique perspectives on the principal social forces behind the Brazilian crises and its key tensions and synergies. Our conversation focuses on the contradictions and complexities of the PT era, the impact of the 2008 crisis and the end of the cycle of the commodity boom in 2012, on how to interpret the political dynamics of the June 2013 protests, on the weakness of the movements to the left of the PT, on how to understand and approach corruption from the left, and on how to explain and characterise Bolsonaro’s regime. While it is impossible to present the full spectrum of Marxist debate on such questions, the contributions included here bring to light some of the crucial insights and controversies that are relevant not just to Brazil, or even Latin America, but to left politics worldwide.

This is one of the few, in-depth treatments of the conjuncture available in English. Please spread widely.