Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at LeonardoBoff.com.
by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)
I spent a weekend reading Machiavelli's The Prince for the umpteenth time in an effort to understand the current policy of the national leadership of the PT [Partido dos Trabalhadores - the Brazilian Workers Party]. And there I found the sources that may have inspired the so-called "new PT", the one that has changed the willpower to transform reality into the will to be able to go along with reality, which is obviously poisoned, for the purpose of remaining in power. In the words of the candidate elected by the party's convention in Minas Gerais, Fernando Pimentel, later invalidated in the name of the alliance with the PMDB [Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro - Brazilian Democratic Movement Party], "the new PT is a PT that makes alliances and coexists with the political reality in Brazil, trying to transform it... We are no longer a party that wears ideology as a mask, like dark glasses so as not see the political reality; we operate with political reality such as it is, to transform it"(O Globo, 6/12/2010).
Let us translate this dissimulating discourse. The basic ideology of the original PT was ethics and structural reforms. The new PT views this purpose as a mask that doesn't allow one to see the political reality as it is. We know what the current political style is -- built on spurious alliances, on the commodification of political relations and the plunder of public monies. Pimentel still believes that there is an intent to transform reality through alliances, as if to transform a gang of bandits, one would have to be part of it. Ethics was sent into limbo, and Machiavelli's advice came in instead. It had an aim similar to that of the PT leadership, "to follow up the real truth of a matter than the imagination of it" (XV). For Machiavelli, the true reality of things is the tenacious pursuit of power, ways to conquer and retain it. And that is worth everything, the end justifies all means: perjury, crime and even good, if it brings benefits. The "imagination of it" is ethics, what should be. This is not overlooked, it is valuable whenever it is conducive to power. Otherwise, it can be trampled -- "not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it" (XVIII). What matters is not to be good, but to appear so. There is no need to keep his word, if it turns against the prince, for never "will there ever be wanting...legitimate reasons to excuse this nonobservance" (XVIII).
It's sad to read in Pimentel: "In this process of renewal, some colleagues will be left behind." In reality, those ones are the carriers of the future, because they are faithful to the ethics and the dream of a different policy than the current one. The leadership of the PT surrendered to the latter, making scandalous alliances in order to remain in power and thus scuttling the past. The people do not deserve to be defrauded this way. It is not by investing in welfare policies that their dignity can be restored. There are also many people at the grassroots, deputies, mayors and councilors from the old ethical PT that keeps the dream alive and does not abandon the question: What type of Brazil do we want and what public ethics do we need?
I want to express my solidarity with the victims of the "new" PT's Machiavellianism, especially in Minas Gerais and Maranhão. A tragedy is happening in this state, well represented by the renowned trade unionist Manoel da Conceição, 75, founder of the PT, who was tortured and maimed by the police of the oligarchies among whom are the Sarneys, who is being forced to vote for Roseana Sarney of the PMDB. In an open letter to comrade Lula - a letter that makes one weep -- he writes "with the tenderness and love of a brother": "how could you choose those who mutilated and tortured me, and who killed dozens of my most loyal companions ... This wounds our honor and our history to the core." But the power project does not have the slightest humanitarian feeling -- Machiavelli dixit.
In the same way I want to express my solidarity with the victims of Minas Gerais, with Sandra Starling, with Patrus Ananias, one of the best government ministers, Durval Ângelo, champion of human rights, and with so many people who are suffering, outraged.
Not everything goes in this world. And if Christ died, it was also to show that not everything goes and everything has a limit, which also applies to the PT.