With global protests continuing in Egypt as the latest wave of the so-called and ongoing ‘Arab Spring’, as well as in Turkey recently, this eleventh contribution to the Thesis Pieces series, by Philip Roberts, turns attention to the social protests in Brazil. Can the institutional Left organically connect with the popular demonstrations and mount a real challenge to capitalism in Brazil?

The most surprising thing about the protests that accompanied the Confederations Cup is that they were so unexpected. Political and economic tensions in Brazil have been simmering for some time now. The rate of growth of Brazil’s economy is declining, whilst inflation gathers pace. Basic foodstuffs, in particular, have risen drastically in price. This has led Brazil’s political satirists to parody the situation, with cartoons showing tomatoes as a luxury item. Meanwhile, at the global level, protests and civil unrest are fast becoming more the expectation than the exception. Starting with the Greek protests and the Arab Spring in 2010, and continuing through events in Egypt, Syria, Bulgaria and Turkey, mass mobilisations have become a familiar fixture. A glance at the headlines suggests that it really is “kicking off everywhere”.

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