Brazil has recently undergone a shift from economic growth to recession, as well as from a left-wing, neo-developmentalist politics to one on the far-right, authoritarian and economically ultraliberal. Such an economic and political U-turn touched upon the countryside in contrasting ways. This paper reflects on the politics of the past. It suggests that the road to regression was paved during the tenure of the Worker’s Party (PT), when politics were considered both popular and progressive. And it was under the PT’s rule when the ‘rural world’ mattered the most for politics.
Can a president institute radical popular change alongside structural inequality and a militarized elite? The Brazilian case suggests that a progressive political party requires more social movement mobilization, not less.
The Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) focuses on understanding the rise of 'authoritarian populism' in rural settings across the world, as well as the forms of resistance occurring and the alternatives being built. New exclusionary politics are generating deepening inequalities, jobless 'growth', climate chaos, and social division. The ERPI is focused on the social and political processes in rural spaces that are generating alternatives to regressive, authoritarian politics. We aim to provoke debate and action among scholars, activists, practitioners and policymakers from across the world who are concerned about the current situation, and hopeful about alternatives.