2022 and after

Image: Magali Magalhães


Urgent and necessary agenda for the reconstruction of Brazilian sovereignty

The conjuncture of 2022 formed one of the most critical periods of the last four decades of Brazilian society. The political, economic and social crisis is being processed in a framework of profound institutional fraying, and the electoral dispute, within this institutional framework in tatters, ended up being the main option of the social democratic, popular and socialist forces to the confrontation posed, either by its organizational fragility, or the programmatic impasses that characterize it. Making a first critical assessment, not neglecting the threats still on the horizon and the challenges that are posed for the next period, are the audacious objectives set out in this brief article.

Still returning to the center of the 2016 coup, it is observed that the formation of a precarious power bloc that sought to strengthen international dependency relations with a view to repositioning itself as a privileged peripheral center, using natural bases (raw material, land and commodities in general) and low wage costs (overexploitation) as a platform for complete international subordination, but its economic limitations and the health crisis posed, strained the conditions of power and interaction between social groups: part of the bourgeoisie conflicted with the basic authoritarian sectors, which was evidenced in the crisis between media power groups (Globe, Estadão, Sheet) and the military and militia segments (Jair Bolsonaro), something that was quite evident during the second round of the presidential elections, but the degree, meaning and significance of these intra-bourgeoisie shocks are still open.

We have already dealt elsewhere with the character of the government of Jair Bolsonaro and the relative conditionality of his victory in 2018, specifically the agreement between sectors of the national and international big bourgeoisie, even considering that the most representative candidate for these segments was at that time a name from the today fragmented PSDB (Geraldo Alkimin). The arrangement that brought Bolsonaro to government involved, in addition to these segments of the high bourgeoisie, the high command of the armed forces and religious conservative ideological segments, an arrangement that proved to be very powerful in the assertion and imposition of authoritarian neoliberalism.

The presence of Geraldo Alkimin himself on Luiz Inácio's winning ticket gives us the dimension of the deepening loss of control that the core of the Brazilian monopoly bourgeoisie manifested over its large and medium segments identified with Jair Bolsonaro's project, as well as signals the degree of organic crisis in which we find ourselves. The escalation of conflicts within the Brazilian bourgeoisie seems to establish growing levels of a “tour de force” between segments of the national and international bourgeoisie organized around a conservative programmatic logic, but maintaining the partially institutional “status quo” (maintenance of the formal legal order and some organization of the electoral system) and the most determined portion of the financial bourgeoisie and the commercial bourgeoisie linked to agribusiness that agreed to drag the country into a neo-fascist adventure, including military segments.

We arrived at the end of 2022 with a critical picture, even if defined electorally, with the central victory of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the definition of the broad front established by Lula, which included a considerable portion of the Brazilian left and conservative sectors , closer to the classic conformation of a liberal-democratic project, conformed an important step to stop the advance of a neo-fascist regime in the country, however, curiously, it takes us to a point before the conquests of rights and social organization that we had achieved, something that also may resonate with the program and meaning of the future broad-fronted government.

It is worth making some observations necessary for the meaning of the social intervention that we think:

(i) Lula's government will be a government of crises and permanent social disputes. It will be a crisis because the macroeconomic aspects that led to the current scenario have not been resolved, and have even worsened. On the one hand, we have the continuity of an economic pattern that is dependent and centered on the export of primary goods, these characteristics cannot be changed easily, but it will be necessary to seek means for a productive transition and change in the national economic reproductive base. On the other hand, maintaining the current fiscal regime, based on the withholding of EC 95/16 (Expenditure Ceiling Amendment), makes government management an almost impossible chimera, so there is no way to live with that regime.

(ii) The dispute around the partnership project will only get worse in the coming years, and the partial victory in these elections will be continuously and permanently put in check. The neo-fascist right is here to stay and its learning in recent years places it as the main political enemy, but not the only one. Thus, we have two vital exercises to be developed: the daily dispute, including recreating past instruments, for example, the Popular Culture Centers, existing in the 1960s and operated by the National Union of Students (UNE), this within a new format and totally autonomous from the government, exercise of popular action; on the other hand, we have to improve our ability to use and implement new technologies, including perfecting and creating popular education social networks.

(iii) Social organization and mobilization continues, it will have to be the norm in the coming years, something learned from the right itself. The mobilization agenda cannot be occasional, it will have to be defined, from the concrete reality, but from national organizations. In this sense we have advanced, today we have, in addition to union organizations and national movements, two Fronts of common organization of popular struggles (Frente Brasil Popular and Frente Povo Sem Medo), they must be strengthened and, mainly, call National Congresses, whose guidelines will be the debate public and lines of collective intervention, this, in our view, should already be exercised from the beginning of next year.

(iv) We cannot renounce a minimum agenda for national economic and social reconstruction, something that will have to be the result of permanent pressure on the next government. The elements of this minimal agenda are those that have already been debated in various forums of economists, including those addressed in manifestos signed in the last period and treated by the author in a previously published article, but it is worth systematizing them again in this new conjunctural framework that opens up:

(1) Total break with the fiscal-dependent regime. The destruction of the State's fiscal management capacity through EC 95/16, a central component of the logic of reorganization of Brazil's sovereign power of interaction. The logic of freezing the primary budget dismantles the power of state intervention and weakens any possible exit from the neoliberal iron circle. The maintenance of EC 95/16 and in attenuated forms, makes any exercise of democratic power in the country impossible, its condition is authoritarian and venal.

(2) comprehensive progressive tax reform. The tax reform to be debated and established in Brazil is related to three mechanisms to be implemented: firstly, the regulation of the IGF (Imposto sobre Grande Fortuna), something that has been going on in several countries and that has not been regulated in Brazil since 1988. This tax would reach only 0,1% of Brazilians and would make it possible to reduce indirect taxes, improving tax neutrality and reducing regressivity. Second: organization and regulation of VAT (Value Added Tax) from ICMS/IPI/Confins, establishing a federative equalization chamber. Finally, the adoption of the Progressive Income Tax, with a band of increasing rates and greater exemptions for lower incomes; as well as the effective corporate income tax.

(3) Renationalization of the main national strategic companies: Companhia Vale and Petrobras. These two companies account for almost a third of Brazil's investment capacity over the last fifty years, in addition to the control they have over Brazilian soil and subsoil. Renationalizing Vale and Petrobras is a fundamental point for Brazilian development and the establishment of strategic policies for the country.

(4) Rupture, revocation and social reorganization of the labor and social security reform. These two measures taken by the neoliberal and anti-democratic governments established in the last six years, make any degree of civility in the country impossible, deteriorate social relations. As a form of action, these measures constitute the rescue of a considerable portion of the Brazilian people, and should be the first measures to be taken by a social reformist government.

(5) Industrial policy and reorganization of the national productive base. A society of more than two hundred million inhabitants cannot live under the aegis of a system of limited agricultural jobs and the export of natural resources, something not only impossible, but a level of grotesque relationship with the population and with nature. The need for a broad industrial policy is necessary, including taking as a basis the structuring axes of the economy, such as, for example, the logistics of transporting goods and people and the industrial complementarity of the current key segments of the economy, such as the machinery necessary for agricultural production and mineral.

(6) Comprehensive policy for the use, protection and innovation of social and natural public goods. Observing five axes that seem key to me: establishing a broad and sovereign food security policy, considering aspects of urban supply and a program to strengthen family farming; establish a broad and creative railway policy; establishment of the Petrobras reorganization system with a broad base of nationalization of inputs purchased for the company; broad civil construction policy (my house and reconstruction of national highways, as well as proposing a plan for the reorganization of large cities); and, renewable energy policy and reorganization. Setting a target of 10% for renewable energy base in the coming years.

The points made are part of an urgent and necessary agenda for the reconstruction of Brazilian sovereignty, including to guarantee the ideological victory over the neo-fascist right.

*Jose Raimundo Trinidad He is a professor at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences at UFPA. Author, among other books, of Six decades of state intervention in the Amazon (Paka-armadillo).

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