Abstract. The left usually wins elections in Brazil but eventually does not govern. In order to validate this claim, the paper, first, reviews the concept of left and right, defining the left political groups by their disposition to risk social order in the name of social justice. Second, given this definition, the paper argues that in modern democracies there is no inconsistency between a left coalition and capitalism, provided that the left sets as its goal to govern capitalism more competently and more justly than capitalists. Third, it says that in Brazil the experience shows that the left indeed wins elections but does not govern. Fourth, it explains the fact by the huge discrepancy between the ‘people, understood as the summation of citizens with one vote each, and ‘civil society, where individuals have different political powers depending on their money, knowledge, and organization capacity. Finally, the paper discusses if there is a way out of this lefts paradox, and suggests that it may be in the possible republican virtues of politicians whenever they are able to get distance from corporatism.