The structures of the global economy present challenges to any country or political party that
wants to try to break out of US hegemony, writes *Justin Podur.
Why is it so difficult even for huge countries with large, diversified economies to maintain independence from the West? If anyone could have done it, it was Brazil. In the 19th century it was imagined that Brazil could be a Colossus of the South to match the US, the Colossus
of the North. It never panned out that way. And 100 years later, it still hasn’t happened. With a US$2 trillion GDP (a respectable $9,800 per capita), nearly 200 million people, and a strong manufacturing base (the second largest in the Americas and 28.5% of its GDP), Brazil is far from a tiny, weak island or peninsula dependent on a patron state to keep it afloat.
When Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva won a historic election to become president of Brazil in 2003, it seemed like an irreversible change in the country’s politics. Even though Lula’s Workers’ Party was accused of being communists who wanted to redistribute all of the country’s concentrated wealth, the party’s redistributive politics were in fact modest a programme to eradicate hunger in Brazil called Zero Hunger, a family-based welfare program called the
Family Allowance, and an infrastructure spending program to try to create jobs. But its politics of national sovereignty were ambitious. It was under Workers’ Party rule