The reconstruction of Rio Grande do Sul imposes a new civilization pact

Image: Chris Kane
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By GABRIEL BRITO*

The state's recovery cannot be done without climate change adaptation and mitigation projects, at the risk of starting everything from scratch at another time in the future.

The rains that destroyed Rio Grande do Sul placed the issue of climate collapse definitively in the daily lives and consciousness of Brazilians. The state's recovery for its essential activities will take months and will consume all the energy of one of the richest units in the federation. And nothing can be done without climate change adaptation and mitigation projects, at the risk of starting everything from scratch at another time in the future. In short, nothing can be the same as before.

Before any possibility of inventorying the tragedy that directly affected the lives of at least 10% of the state's population, the Lula government announced a federal aid package that already reaches the figure of R$50 billion. The amount is staggering and will certainly prove to be even greater when the waters recede.

Enthusiastic about the ideology of the minimal state, directly responsible for an insane agenda of easing environmental laws that took controls over the use of nature back to the time of the Gaucho missions, an astonished Eduardo Leite called for a Marshall Plan. The reference is not small: it is the economic package granted by the USA for the reconstruction of Western Europe, which was in ruins after the Second World War.

What was never solid melts into air

It is curious to note: his statement was immediately endorsed by commentators in the oligarchic media, but it appears to have been a mere inconsequential act-reflex. This is because we are talking about communication groups clearly willing to shield the “last toucan” and free him from his unequivocal responsibilities in the tragedy of biblical proportions. In the following days, even with the federal government's R$50 billion package, the term disappeared.

Is not for nothing. Nothing can be the same. It is impossible to continue life under the same parameters of economic development that led us here. Translation: we are facing the death of ideas that need to drain out of the social fabric along with the last waters that drown the cities of Rio Grande do Sul.

More than that, upon seeing Lula act correctly in the face of the tragedy, both in ethical and humanitarian as well as institutional and administrative terms, a right wing full of adventurers and cretinous personalities, made up of authentic social saboteurs, finds itself helpless. In addition to the evident personal responsibilities of its leaders in these last years of widespread ecocide throughout Brazil, their program of primitive accumulation will be heavily questioned by a society that, despite all limits, is emerging from the collective trance of politicization mediated by social networks.

Reality always imposes itself and bizarre lies spread in Telegram groups will not prevent the next heat wave that will burn the Midwest – on fire at the hands of a agrobanditism which burns down local laws and the Cerrado – will encounter new masses of cold air from the continental south and will collapse on the inhabitants of a South that, months ago, had already experienced the dress rehearsal of the end of the world.

Another factor that leads this extreme right to exude its sociopathy in moments of mass solidarity is its relatively artificial organicity. What is called Bolsonarism is a digitally politicized mass that is divided into a kaleidoscope of reactionary ideologies, precarious religiosity, polyclassist anti-state individualism, mafia paramilitarism and militarism attached to the facilities of State powers. There is no party to which everyone is loyal. The ecosystem is as complex as it is transitory and appears sensitive to a series of variations in social and economic relations, which affect each other in different ways. There is no historical horizon that unites everyone in a clear, lasting and reliable way.

The window of history

Lula is faced with a formidable opportunity to lead a social and economic renegotiation, with a view to socially fair and inclusive economic development, based on respect for the land and nature. This would not only revive a political base inhibited by liberal dogmatism in the management of the economy, symbolized in a Central Bank hijacked by the interests of parasitic rentiers, but it could raise its approval to the levels dreamed of by its government team. In a more optimistic imaginary exercise, it seems like a passport to re-election, amidst the commotion transformed into a spectacle by a media that, pathetically, demands the depoliticization of the tragedy.

No wonder, a right wing made up of morally despicable figures tries to attract attention with their supposed benevolence in favor of the people of Rio Grande do Sul. Try combining donation campaigns with fake news that discredit the actions of the government and the State itself. In addition to an egocentrism so illustrative of these times, an attempt is being made to save the idea of ​​the supposedly inefficient and monstrously bureaucratic State from sinking, whose perversion and corruption would go so far as to block trucks with supplies on the roads to check invoices, while ordinary people they would die helpless.

Those who disregarded health policies during the pandemic that killed more than 700 Brazilians and remained faithful to a president who mocked, did everything to sabotage any preventive policy and denied the vaccine as much as possible, are now trying to pose as supportive heroes. The trick is timeless and it is clear that the strength of the State, with its institutions and servants capable of coordinating dozens of rescue and reconstruction actions simultaneously, appears unquestionably as the only viable solution.

The Marshall Plan of the 21st century

Therefore, Eduardo Leite is right. We need a Marshall Plan to rebuild countless physical infrastructures, such as roads, public roads, properties, schools, health facilities; of credits to companies whose activities will be fatally compromised in these months of chaos and paralysis and to agriculture that produces food for the domestic market; subsidies for families who lost everything.

Above all, the Marshall Plan of the 21st century must place environmental policy definitively on the first shelf: standards, laws, regulations must be resumed; investment must be made in replanting and reforesting areas degraded by the greed of an agrarian capitalism whose privileges must be questioned; flood prevention works; structuring of environmental inspection and management bodies; prestige to careers that are historically precarious and emptied in the execution of such tasks. All of this needs to become a priority.

Roughly speaking, the embouchure of our economic and administrative model of the State will have to be replaced by an idea of ​​social well-being and prestige of public affairs. It is urgent to impose proven sustainable and socially useful urban and rural land management, with agrarian and urban reforms on an unprecedented and non-monopolistic basis; finance a public health system that will immediately be put under pressure again, including by an epidemic of mental health needs; build an immense public educational system that trains qualified citizens capable of dealing with the world that awaits us, instead of automatons reduced to the ability to respond to orders emanating from a cell phone screen, under precarious jobs in the circulation of people and goods , a horizon clearly delineated by the criminal reform of High School dictated by businessmen, symbolized in the LOBBY of one of the nation's great swindlers, the master of financial scamming Jorge Paulo Lemann – who needs to be immediately excluded from the core of the Brazilian electricity sector, by the way.

Finally, we must move to a new stage of environmental jurisdiction. The new ecology must elevate nature to a subject of rights, with recognition of its reproductive needs and rigorous definition of the ways in which its assets are used. This experience is still practically unprecedented in humanity, having been one of the great advances of the last Constitution of Ecuador. The tensions surrounding its validation in a society still ruled by capital are also strong in this country, but the plebiscite that approved the non-exploitation of oil in the Yasuní National Park, in its Amazon, is a glimpse of the future. The environmental pacts established so far in international forums have not yet taken account of this ecologism, which can no longer be seen as a distant utopia.

Exaggeration, daydream? The Marshall Plan was the bridge that made Europe move from the ruins of war and death to the so-called golden years of social well-being, a historic moment that made its democracies a model dreamed of by people around the world. In fact, the neoliberal triumph there also puts everything to lose, as evidenced by this impactful text by Luiz Marques, author of a fundamental book for those who want to build this new world.

Therefore, it seems understandable that the definition of the governor of Rio Grande do Sul was drowned out by a media focused on “presentism”. That is, it omits the recent attitudes of its right-wing protégés, who have become barbaric with environmental irresponsibility; ignores the needs of the future when speaking generically about reconstruction, but censors the terms of this reconstruction. To disguise the real reasons for the tragedy, he spends his days and nights showing desperate people, the rescue of the caramel horse, the water level, the weather forecast and announces the next chapters of the climate collapse soap opera.

Here, we do not need to waste time with mental exercises of differentiating the different rights that operate in post-2016 Brazil. Both the most outrageous and the supposedly moderate are putting into motion the same ecocidal and genocidal oligarchic economic project. The alignment with Paulo Guedes in Jair Bolsonaro's government and the loyalty to the dishonest Campo Neto and his false monetarism in the leadership of the BC are illustrative.

The Lula government’s opportunity is historic. Responsibility too. Because we are not presenting a mere electoral program here, but rather a program for the survival of humanity. New destructive climate events will come. Maceió sinks into Braskem's rock salt mines. Manaus came to a standstill last November, suffocated by fires that generated an immense drought in the region, in turn responsible for the paralysis of local industry and commerce, which isolated the capital of Amazonas. The Amazon is bleeding throughout its territory with fires, illegal mining and the consequences of mega-projects that have proven to be socially and economically tragic – some of them enthusiastically defended by the hegemonic left. Not to mention the countless tragedies caused by rain in mountain areas in Brazil over the decades.

Therefore, it is not insane that all those interested in building a real and sustainable democracy mobilize for a change in the entire government orientation. More than that, a reorientation of the mode of human production and sociability. The dogmas of capital and its powers embedded in the State no longer have any public, social and collective utility. They will bring losses for which no one is prepared. Porto Alegre is not ready to be flooded for 30 days.

Just as São Paulo is not prepared for days without electricity under the increasingly scandalous debacle of the privatized Enel; Santa Catarina and Paraná will not be able to lose new crops in the next rains; The Amazon and Cerrado will not breathe forever with the criminal agribusiness that dominates the country of Brasília and state governments.

Economic abstractions and their obsessions with zero deficits, fiscal targets, astronomical interest rates to supposedly control inflation and attract “investors” who never appear, exchange controls and public debts no longer have any bearing on our needs. It is time for a new civilizational and existential pact.

*Gabriel Brito He is a journalist, reporter for the website Outra Saúde and editor of the newspaper Correio da Cidadania.


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