Lessons from the Heckling of Lula

by Matt Reichel

The defining element of the 2005 World Social Forum is that the superstar of previous years was heckled off of the stage: Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) being perceived as a sell-out by the movement that helped propel him into power. Once an inspiring labor organizer who helped formulate a grassroots political party within a political system replete with corruption and instability, Lula is now perceived as just another leader in the pocket of the Washington consensus. Popular left discourse now paints him as a traitor, whose policymaking has been more in line with those discussed in Davos, and not Porto Alegre. Others have argued that Brazilian military involvement in Haiti, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), has served to further reveal how changed Lula has become since entering power. The easy conclusion to make is that this is a case in point: power corrupts. Then it follows that our goal as a movement seeking “another world” is to embrace anarchy or, minimally, radical de-centralization of power. While not opposed to either of these concepts, I think that it’s extremely important to take away another very important lesson from Lula’s fall from grace. Aside from the fact that a movement advocating power decentralization and social justice should never have had a superstar in the first place, I find the Lula dilemma to be grounded in the core terminology: “Another World is Possible.” As Social movement activists, we should be embracing the sheer plurality of worlds that would exist if we could effectively work to remove the political and economic superstructure that now dominates world affairs. Neoliberalism is all about one world; we should, in contrast, be all about the very many histories and lives that exist in making up this singular planet....



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Februar 2005

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