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(en) Irish Anarchist Review #7 - Brazilian anarchism interview on the Crisis, World Cup, Especifismo by Paul Bowman
Wed, 08 May 2013 10:58:41 +0300
In a wide ranging interview Paul Bowman talked to Felipe CorrÃa (FC) a Brazilian
anarchist who is member of OrganizaÃÃo Anarquista Socialismo LibertÃrio [Libertarian
Socialist Anarchist Organization] (OASL) about anarchist orgainising in Brasil, just how
global the crisis really is and the forthcoming World Cup. ---- IAR: First of all could
you tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with Brazilian anarchism and how
you came to be involved? ---- FC: I became an anarchist in the end of the 1990s, in the
wave of what people used to call the âanti- globalization movementâ, after a past of
Marxist affinities, both with reformists and revolutionaries. I knew about anarchism in
the âcounter-culturalâ movement â ie.
I used to be straight edge â and then started to get involved with collectives inâ SÃo
Paulo that were very active in the resistance movement against neoliberalism, like AÃÃo
Local por JustiÃa Global [Local Action for Global Justice] and Centro de MÃdia
Independente [Indymedia Center]. I also got in touch with anarchist social/ cultural
centers, both Centro de Cultura Social [Social Cultural Center] (CCS) and Instituto de
Cultura e AÃÃo LibertÃria [Institute of Libertarian Culture and Action] (ICAL).
Later I was part of an anarchist collective called Terra Livre [Free Land], that still
exists as a library (Biblioteca Terra Livre). During this process, I had some contacts
with SÃo Paulo especifistas of an organization called Luta LibertÃria [Libertarian
Struggle] (LL), that after became OrganizaÃÃo Socialista LibertÃria [Libertarian Socialist
Organization] (OSL). After some conflicts concerning the model of anarchist organization
and its role, I left Terra Livre and started to get involved with FederaÃÃo Anarquista do
Rio de Janeiro [Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro] (FARJ), in which I was integrated
as an organic member and developed some interesting work by 3 or 4 years. As I was living
in SÃo Paulo, and as I had to go frequently to Rio de Janeiro to work with FARJ
activities, we decided to start a process of reorganization in SÃo Paulo (LL/OSL had
ceased to exist) and then we organized the process that culminated in what is today OASL.
Parallel to these works I was directly involved in the foundation and management of FaÃsca
PublicaÃÃes [Spark Publications] and other anarchist projects.
âNow, Iâm part of the Communitarian Front of the organization and the current Political
IAR: Here in Europe we have a very self- centred view of world such that if we sneeze we
think the world has a cold. Here we speak of "The Crisis" in referring to all that has
happened since 2008 and assume that the way it is affecting us must make it a global
catastrophe. But what has been the experience of the last five years from a Brazilian
I think this is common to Europeans. If you see the history of anarchism, at the same time
we had great experiences in Americas (mainly Latin America), Africa and Asia, the books
always discusses, mainly, European experiences!!! So itâs kind of normal the Europeans
generalize their reality as it was the worldâs reality.
I think this crisis shows a change in the correlation of world forces. Brazil is, at least
apparently and until now, relatively âsafeâ from the crisis. The government is investing
in the expansion of the credit system and in social programs, trying to stimulate the
economy. The analysts are divided. Some of them maintain that this shows Brazilâs new
reality as a world power, others say that the crisis is just arriving.
According to our Relationship Secretary, who is most involved with this discussion, âboth
of these analyses are correct. Brazil, thanks to historical facts, did not completely
liberalize its financial system and healed its public debts in the beginning of the 2000s.
So, the global financial crisis has not directly reached Brazil. But, in the measure that
the crisis is aggravating and impacting the real economy, with recession in production and
consumption, this will make the commodity prices of Brazilian exports to fall, and the
country will be without external savings to develop the projects that are guaranteeing the
small rates of growth weâre having. So, crisis will arrive, but, for secondary effects,
itâs not here yet.â
Anyway, the point is that: - itâs difficult to deal with a reality where people, in
general, think theyâre living better; - we are not âcatastrophistsâ and we do not maintain
that a crisis will necessarily lead to something better; - so, we think our aim is to
continue our work through our anarchist organizations inserted in social struggles and to
reinforce our mass strategy, because, for us, any change, smaller or bigger, to
approximate our revolutionary and socialist long-term objectives, has to be strongly
permeated with a class culture based in self-organization practices, democratic
initiatives, combative movements and so on. Any movement, whether motivated by a crisis or
not, to approximate our aims, has necessarily to count on these âlibertarianâ features.
IAR: Is the imminent arrival of the World Cup in Brazil next year creating any tensions or
struggles over land and resources?
Sure! Like a lot of other countries that received the World Cup, Brazil is also facing
these kind of problems. Itâs possible to indicate two of them: the first, a priority of
investment by national and local governments in projects that will only have any function
during the World Cup; the second, some social âconsequencesâ of the World Cup, especially
evictions and attempts to mask Brazilian poverty and social issues.
I think that this priority of governments is completely improper, taking into account the
social problems we still facing in Brazil and the public who will really make use of the
works that are being done for the World Cup... This will not be a popular event, in our
class sense of the word.
In terms of the social consequences, a lot of communities are mobilizing against
evictions, in places that will be used for works and the whole left is denouncing the
attempts to hide our poverty; every place where tourists will pass are being âcleanedâ in
a process that some specialists are calling âgentrificationâ.
IAR: I guess you must get tired of being asked this all the time by people from outside of
Latin America, but still our readers would never forgive us if we didn't ask you: what is
FC: No way! Itâs always a pleasure to expose our project of which Iâm a huge enthusiast! I
think that âespecifismoâ is a word that we use to express a set of anarchist positions.
Especially our mass strategy, that is focused in building and participating in popular
movements (syndicalism, communitarian, rural/peasant and students movements) with some
clear positions: its class struggle and combative positions; the position against
âideologizationâ of the movements (for us, similarly to classical revolutionary
syndicalists, popular movements should not be anarchist, marxist or something like); the
clear defense of class autonomy and independence from political parties, State, and other
institutions that push back against what we call popular movements âprotagonismâ; the
defense of the necessity to reinforce democratic features of the movements, with decisions
being taken by the grassroots militants, with self management and federalism serving as
the main tools of organization; the revolutionary aims of the movement, reinforcing that
we seek a social change in which the main agents are the popular movements, even when we
are struggling for reforms â thatâs what But mainly, especifismo is related with our
conception of anarchist political organization, or anarchist âspecificâ organization.
We maintain that anarchists should be organized on two levels: as workers, in the popular
movements, and as anarchists, in the anarchist organizations. We defend what could be
called a âprogrammatic model of organizationâ. Basically, we think that there are lots of
differences and contradictions among those who consider themselves anarchists and the
solution for that is to create a strong organization with huge political affinity among
its members to intervene in an adequate way in the mass struggles, before, during and
after the revolution. We also defend a self-managed and federalist organization, with its
âorganicityâ well defined, with equivalent rights and duties, self-discipline and
responsibility, unity in terms of ideological, theoretical and strategic/practical issues,
trying to use consensus, but using majority vote when necessary.
IAR: When you spoke about the recent history of especifismo in Brazil at the St. Imier
Congress last year, you mentioned that at a certain point in your recent history you made
a transition from a "traditional" style of anarchist grouping, which you characterised as
based on allegiance to an "abstract" politics, to a new model of organising. Can you tell
us something about when and how that transition took place and the change of philosophy
and practice it led to?
This is basically the way we see anarchist recent history in Brazil. In the 1980s, at the
end of the military dictatorship, anarchism re-emerged, mainly focused in cultural centers
and affinity groups, investing, we could say, almost all of their time in cultural work
(lectures, editions and so on). Although we consider this âfirst phaseâ really important,
we also see its main limitations.
In the middle of the 1990s, when our current started to develop in Brazil, influenced by
some Brazilian experiences and the contact established with FederaÃÃo Anarquista Uruguaia
[Uruguayan Anarchist Federation] (FAU), the main issue was: this cultural work could be
interesting, and even very relevant, but we saw that in the field of the social struggles
anarchism did not exist. In our analysis, one of the reasons that all popular movements of
that time were involved with the Partido dos Trabalhadores [Workers Party] (PT) and/or
adopting authoritarian forms of organization, was that anarchism was not a political force
in these movements.
So, what weâve been doing since then is to do, what we have called, âto reinsert anarchism
in the social strugglesâ, the place where anarchism came from and should never be
To use another expression we like here, we think that anarchism has to âregain its social
vectorâ, that is, a concrete and effective mass line. I think, not without lots of
problems, we have been able to develop this project a lot since then.
IAR: Again in Europe part of our political landscape is a bipartisan neoliberal consensus
between centre-left and centre- right political parties. But in Brazil for over ten years
now, and more recently in other Latin American countries, you have governments that come
from the anti- neoliberal left and promote a "progressive" line against neoliberalism, at
least in words. How does this affect your work of social insertion, for e.g. in MST, do
you find problems with support for the PT government amongst popular organisations, based
on past loyalties?
I think Brazilian PT experience have to be studied, because we can find some interesting
things. PT was formed in the 1980âs, basically by the unions, communitarian movements
(linked, in lots of places, to Liberation Theology) and exiled militants that participated
in the armed struggle against the dictatorship. In the beginning, it was a party with a
huge mass base and a radical democratic proposal to enter into parliament, with
politicians ârespondingâ to the grassroots positions of the movements. Something like the
âGreensâ in Germany. But the political process since then showed something that we,
anarchists, sustain since Bakunin. The state is not a âneutralâ institution, itâs an
institution of domination. And the process of institutionalization that occurred with the
PT is showing that, doing that, the party adapts more to the system it proposes to change,
instead of the contrary.
A great part of the social movements and left unions are today linked to PT. So, this is
something we have to deal and the defense of class autonomy and independence is a banner
that we constantly defend in these movements; we try to show that State bureaucracy is our
class enemy, not a possible ally. But sure we point it in the same time that we try to
reinforce these movements; so itâs not a sectarian position or just a radical discourse.
We are part of these movements and we still use a phrase that we also like a lot: âitâs
better to take one step with a thousand, than to take a thousand steps with oneâ.
IAR: From the outside it looks as if there has been something of a renaissance of
anarchism across Latin America in the last ten years. Is this the case? What do you make
of the prospects for the movement over the next ten years?
Coms, at the same time that Iâm a great enthusiast of anarchism, I also know that weâre
doing a long term job. Looking for our last 20 years, at least in Brazil, weâve started
from small and sporadic cultural activities to a stage that we are present in almost 10
states of our country, with our Brazilian Anarchist Coordination (CAB), that aims to be a
national organization in some years.
We are now is some popular movements: unions, landless movements, peasant movements,
communitarian movements, homeless movements, studentâs movements, involved with lots of
struggles. Even as a minor force, anarchism starts again to reappear in these spaces and
also to be respected by other political forces. Things are going in this direction. But we
have a lot of work to do...
So, by my point of view, in the next 10 years, the objective, at least in Brazil, is to
continue firmly growing in terms of our anarchist organization and its âsocial insertionâ
in the struggles. If we can deepen this, I think it will be great.
IAR: Do you have any final words or some tips to our comrades that want to know more about
Especifismo and its theory and practice in Brazil?
I would like to thank you very much for this opportunity and I also put here some links
where people can find some material in English:
Links at: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/25409
â CAB. Declaration of Principles
â CAB. Organization that Make up the CAB
â CAB. Libertarian Socialism Magazine
â FARJ. Social Anarchism and Organization
â ZACF Interview of FARJ
â FAG. Message to the Founding Congress of the CAB
â NEFAC Interview FAG
â Adam Weaver. Especifismo: The Anarchist Praxis of Building Pop~ular Movements and
Revolutionary Organization in South America
Interview by: Paul Bowman.
â* Felipe CorrÃa (FC) is a Brazilian anarchist who is member of OrganizaÃÃo Anarquista
Socialismo LibertÃrio [Libertarian Socialist Anarchist Organization] (OASL), which is part
of CoordenaÃÃo Anarquista Brasileira [Brazilian Anarchist Coordination] (CAB).
Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/c/brazilian-anarchism-interview-world-cup-especifismo
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