Daniel Finn: “Unfinished Business”

‘It was fashionable to speak of a “good Left” and a “bad Left” when the Pink Tide was at its height. The good Left — moderate, reformist, respectable — was supposedly exemplified by Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) government in Brazil; the bad Left was exemplified, of course, by Chávez. …  It is therefore striking that both experiments have hit the buffers at almost exactly the same time …. The parallel crises reveal how much the reforming governments of Latin America owed to a long commodity-price boom that temporarily shifted the balance of global economic forces in their favor. Greater moderation in office has not shielded the Brazilian Left from the end of that boom.  If Venezuela and Brazil symbolized two approaches to reform in the age of globalization, the African National Congress (ANC) government in South Africa represented a third: that of full-blown surrender to neoliberalism. This capitulation was hailed as the epitome of good sense by the same orthodoxy that vilified Chávez and patronized Lula. The ANC’s approach left the economic structures of apartheid fully intact, it was accompanied by rampant corruption in ruling circles, and it required a large dose of repression to keep social protest under control. Nobody could seriously present this as a happier outcome than those in Brazil or Venezuela.’