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Frei Betto: „Letter to a friend in the Workers Party(PT)“. „I ask myself if the PT will return some day to be faithful to its principles and original charter. Does it work nowadays towards governability or towards the employment of its members?“

Dear friend: I received your letter which took me back to the good old days as it came by post, in a sealed envelope written in your neat handwriting on a plain sheet of paper describing the political confusion which torments you.


I can see how hard it is for you to watch your party being held hostage by old foxes of Brazilian politics with the risk of being definitely swallowed up like Jonas by the whale… without hope of coming out alive on the other side.


Politics are the art of improvisation and of the unexpected. As Machiavelli taught, they move within the sphere of possibility. The Italian sage went even further: he exempted politics of any virtue and freed them from religious and ethical principles.  He separated them from the Thomist concept of promoting the common good and from the pragmatism which rules its actors – the struggle for power.

You must have seen the famous film “The Blue Angel” (1930) which immortalised Marlene Dietrich the actress and was directed by Joseph von Stemberg based on the book by Heinrich Mann, brother of Thomas Mann. It is the story of the great love of the stern professor Unrat (Emil Jannings) for Lola-Lola, a cabaret dancer. He so much desires her love that he ends up in the most ridiculous and degrading situations. He becomes the court jester. Even the young woman has no respect for him. He then comes to and tries in vain to regain what he has lost.

I ask myself if the PT will return some day to be faithful to its principles and original charter. Does it work nowadays towards governability or towards the employment of its members?  Is it moved by a desire to build a new Brazil or by a project of power? Like the professor in “The Blue Angel” did the passion for power not affect its vision?

In your letter you ask “where is the socialism preached by the PT in the early days? Where are the basic groups which legitimised it as the authorised voice of the poor? Where is the pride of not having amongst its members anyone suspected of corruption, fraud or nepotism?”

I myself have never been a member of any party as you yourself know but many are not aware of this. It is true that I helped build the PT, I mobilized the Basic Ecclesial Communities and the Workers’ Ministry all over Brazil, I took part in its education courses in the Cajamar Institute and of its forerunners like Anampos and the Faith and Politics Movement.

Mayors and governors elected by the PT invited me to take on positions in the area of social politics. I paid no attention to the mermaids’ song until Lula invited me to the Zero Hunger programme. I accepted because it involved the poorest of the poor: those who were hungry

The government which created the Zero Hunger programme opted for its premature demise and made way for the Family Allowance.   It swapped a programme which was emancipatory for another which is compensatory. I picked up my hat and returned to being a happy NGI, a Nongovernmental Individual. I wrote about all this in detail in two books published by Rocco, “The Blue Fly” and “Calendar of Power”.

My friend, I do not advise you to leave the PT. One does not change a country by living away from it. This also goes for the church or party. There are many solid militants in the PT, faithful to its founding principles and ready to struggle for a new hegemony in the leadership.

Even if you cannot swallow those alliances which you describe as “false”, I suggest that you continue in the party and vote for its candidates or for the candidates of the coalition. But demand public commitments from them. Struggle, give your opinion, disagree and show your indignation. Do not subject yourself to the condition of an underdog or being one of a herd.

If, as you say, your conscience demands and insists that you preserve your “ideological integrity”, then seek another path. No human being should betray himself. When he does, he loses his self respect like the professor in “The Blue Angel” did. But remember that a fragmented left only helps to strengthen the right.

History and particularly the processes of liberation are not owned by anyone. Both however have protagonists who do not allow themselves to be seduced by the emoluments of the enemy, by fringe benefits or to be corrupted by money or position. Never mistake tactical alliances with strategic ones. Help the PT to recover its ethical credibility and to return to be the political expression of the social movements which join the very poor with the banners which demand structural reform in Brazil.

Remember that to make an omelet it is necessary to break eggs.  However it is not necessary dirty one’s hands.

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Montag, 13. September 2010 um 22:10 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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