Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Gustavo Petro, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the fairytale of “left governments”

By Nikos Mottas.

The same old fairytale of “left-progressive governments” is back in the news following the electoral victory of social democrat Gustavo Petro in Colombia, as well as the performance of leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in French parliamentary elections.

As it happened last December with Gabriel Boric' victory in Chile, a number of left-wing, opportunist forces in Greece and abroad celebrate the recent results, presenting them as a “triumph of the left” which can allegedly bring positive developments for the working people. 

However, history provides important lessons. The last two decades are full of examples which clearly demonstrate that no bourgeois government, no matter if it is called “socialist”, “left” or “progressive”, cannot serve and satisfy the people's interests within the conditions of capitalist economy. Those who today hail the victory of Gustavo Petro in Colombia as a “people's victory” are the same shameless opportunists who were celebrating the rise of SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain back in 2014-2015.

Historical experience, both in Europe and Latin America, demonstrate that the so-called “left governments” cultivate and spread illusions about the humanization of capitalism. Nonetheless, the painful reality is that humane capitalism is like Santa Claus; it does not exist. The case of PSUV in Venezuela is an emblematic example of the failure of the opportunist theory of “21st Century Socialism”. The examples of Lula-Rousseff in Brazil and Lopez Obrador in Mexico confirmed that no “left” or “progressive” government, no matter its intentions, can provide actual and radical solutions to the people's problems as long as the means of production remain in the hands of the capital. In the best of cases, these governments adopted some policies against extreme poverty, but even these measures were subsequently retracted as long as they were incompatible with capitalist economy. After all, the prosperity of the working class is by definition incompatible with the profitability of the monopolies.

Chile's Boric with Joe Biden in the "Summit of the Americas".
Unfortunately, a number of Communist Parties and forces, both in Latin America and Europe, have adopted the erroneous strategy of “stages to socialism” which leads them to seek their participation in “left” and “progressive” governments. The cases of Brazil and Chile are quite characteristic. In France, the case of the Communist Party (PCF), which participates the social democratic alliance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is a prominent example of ideological mutation and irrevocable deviation from the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The once powerful and respected French Communist Party of Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos has been reduced to a political accessory of the sinful social democracy, which in turn serves as a reserve of the capital.

Such political forces overlook or underestimate the laws governing capitalist economy, as well as the de facto reactionary character of the bourgeois state. The tragic outcome of Salvador Allende's “Popular Unity” government in Chile must be a constant reminder that socialism is impossible to come through peaceful ways and parliamentary illusions, but only through the overthrow of the capitalist system and the eradication of monopolies' power.

Is there any particular reason for the working class in Colombia and France to celebrate the electoral achievements of Petro and Melenchon? For us, the answer is pretty clear. The working people must have no illusions. The real way out for the people's interests does not lie in the old and faded fairytales about “left” governments, but only in the intensification of the organized class struggle against the system of exploitation, capitalism. 

* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism