Labor reform and the environment



Dealing with the environmental issue disconnected from the world of work is an unavoidable mistake today


Although it is politically relevant for the dominant class to detach the environment from capitalist production, epistemologically its linkage is independent of political will – if so, it is nothing more than denialism. The field is not linked to the production of value just by virtue of being a mere supplier of raw materials (constant capital) and food (variable capital), but because it is a means of accumulation. The key to understanding the issue of the environment is the field and its relationship with capital. In the midst of this profane relationship, there are studies that attest to the depletion of natural resources for production and human life.

I once posted a short text on a social network with a picture of my backyard. In it I pointed out the return of fires in the region of Ribeirão Preto (SP). The city was affected by a cloud of sugarcane soot on July 04, 2020. What until then was a perception that had been marginally talked about on the sidewalks since 2018, as if it were casuistry, came like a soot storm hammering the truth: fires are back to stay.

The following days were confirmation! However, many of the comments and analyzes in the city were based on the issue of legality, the prohibition of burning, and the immorality of the sugar mill owners, which was reinforced by the resounding silence of the local press about the soot cloud that would rival the locust cloud in the city. Argentina in December of the same year – local press tend to be more submissive to capital, especially if it is a capital of great national relevance, as is the case of ethanol. Dealing with the environmental issue disconnected from the world of work is an unavoidable mistake today.

Therefore, this text began with a simple task: to explain the burning in my backyard and in the city. I considered it opportune to better explain the relationship between flexibility/destruction of labor legislation and the environment by understanding the phenomenon in the light of morality and legality, which is somewhat insufficient. There is an inconvenient truth for the Instagram environmentalist: the defense of the environment is directly linked to the defense of labor protection. Defending Labor Reform, for example, consists of defending the destruction of the environment. There is no point in publishing a photo of the Amazon or of people hugging a tree, or of Amazon fires with some poetic (and fallacious) text about the “lung of the planet”. If he defended or was absent from the debate on the flexibility of work, he fought directly and indirectly in favor of deforestation and environmental destruction.

Since 2017 and 2018, there has been an increase in soot fires in the region known as the agribusiness capital. To some extent, this phenomenon is synchronized (that's the best word) with the approval of the Labor Reform. But to understand this supposedly causal relationship and establish a relational link between work and the environment in the Ribeirão Preto region, it is necessary to go back to three events: the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Oil Shock (1970-1980) and the Guariba (1984).

Ribeirão Preto was the city that best took advantage of the coffee cycle in the second half of the 1970th century and the beginning of the XNUMXth century. It concentrated a good part of the enslaved people in the country in a period of high coffee prices. However, contrary to other regions, where the coffee cycle deteriorated earlier, as in the regions of Vale do Paraíba and Campinas, the extension of the cycle meant that capital became comparatively more immobilized in agro-export production, while in other regions, the inversion of capital from the cycle to other sectors, such as banking and industry, was more common. In this region, a large industrial and banking bourgeoisie was not formed, the main industries, until the XNUMXs, being the Matarazzo industry and a beverage industry.

The change to sugarcane was made gradually, since the large coffee plantations in their heyday did not stop producing sugar, as evidenced in the case of Engenho Central, in the municipality of Pontal, which belonged to Francisco Schmidt, the king of coffee – the largest producer on the planet from 1907 to 1929. In other words, the region never stopped producing sugar, even though it was a major coffee producer, which allowed it to change the culture after the 1929 Crisis and the small industrialization surge between the 1930s and 1960s.

The post-1929 provincial stagnation ceased to exist with an absolutely exogenous factor: the War of Yom kippur. In addition to strengthening Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the war created ideal conditions for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to more assertively control the price of a barrel. At the end of the decade, the price soared with the scientific realization that oil is an economically finite natural resource. It is always difficult to gauge the sentiment at the time, but Jimmy Carter's famous speech on the energy and inflationary crises in 1979, urging Americans to conserve (save) energy and prioritize other forms of energy, expresses the political spirit. Allied to the recession and the Cold War, there was a breakdown of expectations about the future that would pave the way for Ronald Regan's neoliberalism.

In Brazil, it would result in the debacle of the “economic miracle” and the rise of the struggle to end the civil-military dictatorship. Like Carter, the Brazilian government began to look for energy alternatives, creating the National Alcohol Program, Proálcool. It is important to point out that Vargas had already created the Sugar and Alcohol Institute (IAA) and instituted the addition of alcohol to gasoline, which indicates the existence of some technological, scientific and productive accumulation. But what was created by the dictatorship in 1975 aimed to respond to an immediate demand that had ended the only cycle of growth in the civil-military dictatorship and the breaking of the social pact with the most conservative sectors in the face of the economic crisis.

Faced with the 1973 crisis, the Technical-Aerospace Center began studies on ethanol in the same year. These researches aimed to adapt the engine to the use of ethanol. In 1975, Ernesto Stumpf presented the results to Geisel, who created Proálcool. The following year, experiments were carried out on different car models, including a Gurgel, which in the 1980s even directed investments towards an electric model. In 1980 Fiat produced the first popular ethanol car. And this is an interesting fact: in 1979/1980, the government had two models in front of it, the ethanol car and the electric car. The Brazilian company's electric car was passed over by the ethanol car produced on a large scale by transnational industrial-financial complexes.

Some regions were needed for sugarcane production. Due to the fact that the Ribeirão Preto region had never abandoned sugarcane production, had until then begun a slow replacement of coffee by sugarcane, was close to the assemblers and many unproductive latifundia after the decline of coffee, it became an object of intervention and federal and state funding. The region that was stagnant to a secondary position, restricted to the production of raw materials of little relevance to the trade balance, unlike coffee until the 1930s, a past considered glorious by its elite, would pass from day to night to be Brazilian California. The city found itself reinserted into the national political and economic scenario.

But, just as in the coffee cycle part of the advantage of the Novo Oeste (Ribeirão Preto and surroundings) was not in the myth of soil fertility (the purple earth), the same was true for the ethanol cycle. In the same way that enslaved labor was used on a large scale for coffee production, in which the province of São Paulo was the last to abandon it and accept its abolition, in the ethanol cycle capital used basically by hand of black and northeastern work guaranteed by a debt enslavement regime run by organizations that today we would call militias (paramilitaries), resuming the myth of the colonel in the middle of the 1980s.

The dictatorship was the great partner in this process of re-enslavement, since strikes, unions, denunciations and the like were prohibited.[I] The system was created cat, a kind of militarized outsourcing in which one person was responsible for recruiting workers (usually from the Northeast through the debt system) to the mill owner. Many of these cats became honorable businessmen, honored by the Commercial and Industrial Associations of cities in the region. The sugar mill owners, the real appropriators of surplus value and profit (of value and profit), in “heroes”, as Lula Paz e Amor once referred to them.

Exploration took place over simple landmarks. Cities in the region were transformed into dormitory towns. These workers were thrown into these cities in subhuman conditions, without basic sanitation, food and drinking water. From there they were collected by cats. But could they refuse? No, they had to pay the debt, which grew with the debt of the markets that “partnered” with the cats. Some owners of these markets, children of Italian immigrants, became respected owners of large supermarket chains. All that was left for them to do was get into the back of pick-up trucks and trucks (paus-de-arara) with their lunchboxes (cold float), which were shared on the sugarcane field with those who did not have a lunchbox, and work between 10 and 14 hours to make the minimum quota.

With raw straw, the work yielded, with a lot of effort, a maximum of four tons, below the target of 6 to 12 tons. Therefore, burning has become a technical alternative to increase productivity. However, the burning caused respiratory problems in workers and populations, causing many workers to die from exhaustion (duly reported, despite the wide underreporting) and to acquire diseases and comorbidities that shortened their lives.

In 1984, a decision was made by the mill owners, the “heroes”. Mowers should not cut and stack five streets, but seven (40% increase). Driven by hunger, lack of basic sanitation and drinking water, debts, paramilitary groups from cats and mill owners, the workers started a movement that became known as the Guariba Strike. Also known as the Levante de Guariba, the strike closed the city demanding a return to the five streets, an end to debts and better living conditions, such as adequate food and clothing for cutting sugarcane.

The sugar mill owners put pressure on the state government and the “democrat” Franco Montoro sent riot police into the city. The violence was accompanied by looting of markets belonging to the cats, which increased police violence, recorded in scenes of persecution and beatings inside rural workers' homes. Only one death was confirmed, that of Amaral Vaz de Melone, with a shot to the head at close range (police execution), although even today social organizations and workers denounce a much larger number, as indicated by the number of shots that survived and of people who “disappeared”.

Even though Montoro was in the formal opposition, the sugar mill owners' agenda was dear to both the liberal opposition and the dictatorship. The ethanol program could only be sustained through the super-exploitation of black and northeastern workers in a modern enslavement system and through military and paramilitary repression. In short, on this point the MDB and Arena were in full agreement. It is the fate of the liberals, which we will see later. Economics always unites them with conservatives and fascists. And whoever dines with a fascist is a fascist.

Despite the violence, the strike in Guariba was victorious. He managed to extend some rights of urban workers to rural workers. The strike is one of the biggest inflection points in the recent history of Brazilian workers: the entry of labor rights in the countryside after the legal blitz of capital on labor during the civil-military dictatorship. The introduction of labor legislation reconfigured the way in which the value of ethanol was formed, as it was up to the mill owner to spend more variable capital (wages and their costs and social investments). This reconfiguration was deepened when the Federal Constitution was enacted, which gave effective powers to the Public Ministry of Labor and inspection.


The accounting of capital on work in the field

The strike, as the antithesis of the advance of capital over work, allowed a new recomposition of capital, of the relationship between constant capital, variable capital and surplus value.[ii] Just as Marx discussed English recompositions, from primitive accumulation to large-scale industry, notably when the factory laws were introduced, in which absolute surplus value gave way to relative surplus value, something similar happened in the sugar and alcohol industry. As in the English accumulation, in which the factory laws of 1833, 1844, 1847 and 1850 were fundamental for the dominance of machinery in global capital (large industry and autonomous system of machines), since the limitation of the working day was one of the triggering factors for the introduction of machinery with a view to increasing productivity, rural labor legislation was decisive for a slow but constant reconfiguration of the global capital of the sugar-alcohol industrial sector. This limitation caused the machinery and boilermaking sector to explode in Sertãozinho (Ribeirão Preto region) at the end of the 1990s and, above all, from 2000 onwards.

The Guariba strike was a determining political-economic factor for the vertiginous increase of the sugar and alcohol industry, not only in terms of machining, but above all in the harvest, in which machinery began to be purchased and produced to restore the worker's rate of surplus value in the plant in the light of the physical and legal limitations on the sugarcane cutter – the increase in constant capital throughout the production process requires the medium-term lowering of constant capital itself, as a counteracting cause of the tendency to fall in the rate of profit.

Therefore, just as it is not possible to think about the sector without the War of Yom kippur and the oil shock, it is also impossible to think about it without the strike in Guariba. The exclusion of the importance of the strike is nothing more than a choice of the ruling class with the aim of building a positive and heroic narrative about itself. They enslaved, tortured, killed and threw thousands of workers into extreme poverty with chronic health problems. This is the victorious history of ethanol.

However, another question began to enter the accounts of the sector's large capitals: when would rural workers cutting sugarcane be replaced by a worker at a harvester. Accounting was simple. If C = c + v + m, substitution would take place when the value of the worker with the machinery is better (less) than the overall value of manual workers for a given quantity. In short, when the worker with machinery, taking into account the transfer of value, wear and tear, maintenance and replacement, managed to replace 100 workers with the machete and other small adjacent costs, to produce the same quantity of merchandise, the replacement would be feasible.

The use and value of the machine are measured by the difference between the value of the machine and the value of the labor power it replaces. If the value of the machine is greater than the value of the replaced labor force, it does not compensate for the use of the machine, and vice versa. Therefore, the labor for the production of the machine must cost less than the amount of labor substituted, as there is a transfer to the value of the commodity. Lower costs would result in a lower value of the commodity with a higher rate of profit, as the transfer of constant capital values ​​over the value of the commodity would be less.

But it is necessary to consider that, for the sugar mill owner, the rural worker and the cutting process are just costs. The industry is at the mill. For the mill owner, cutting is part of the raw material, an element of constant capital. Thus, whether it will be slavery or not basically depends on the analysis between the accounting costs and the social costs, which range from the permissibility of the Public Power to the ideological naturalization of overexploitation. The central calculation basically depends on the capacity of the new technology to be cheaper and more profitable than 100 rural workers.

The administrative reason leads the mill owner to be a kind of English colonizer in India in the XNUMXth century. As it is a raw material, it must always be cheaper, as the lowering of the raw material is a propelling element of the increase in the profit rate at the plant, since it is a counteracting cause of its tendency to fall precisely due to the increase in the constant capital on global capital. And just as the colonizer doesn't care about environmental degradation, the sugar mill owner not only doesn't care, but creates a parallel reality in isolated high-security condominiums to escape possible adverse environmental and social effects.

Let's simplify the calculations as much as possible, which are just estimates for understanding purposes. Added value has been included, although it is questionable. But as part of the surplus value produced at the plant is transferred to the land tenant and to the “companies” (cats), it is plausible that it is in our accounting for three reasons: (a) there is surplus value in the sense of transfer, as addressed by Marx in Book III of The capital, and the reader should see this added value as a transfer from the mill owner to the lessee and to the cat; (b) it becomes possible to analyze the impact of productivity on machinery and value, although we have tried to avoid any change between the different schemes; (c) as the model is classic, it helps those who are familiar with it to better understand it.

C = c + v + m
I = manual workers (100)
II = worker with harvester
I = 1 + 100 + 100 = 201
II = 100 + 5 + 100 = 205

In this scheme, it is possible to verify that the I, 100 manual workers, is more profitable, since it has a lower cost for the mill owner than the II. II has a surplus value (m/v) of 2.000%, while manual workers only 100%. However, if one calculates the profit rate (m/c+v) – mediated by the transfer – it would be 99% for I and 95% for II. Machinery does not result in a higher rate of profit, if it were a sector that generates surplus value. For the cat or for the bourgeois fraction of the means of production (machinery), this account would be relevant for a contractual negotiation, but for the usineiro, the one who holds the power of negotiation, what matters is the total value and the difference of 4 in favor of I, which overdetermines itself as the most effective productive force.

The low cost of labor imposes a logic with social costs that are transferred to the Government and to people (individual monetary capital), such as poverty, respiratory problems and fires. The machine production fraction of the bourgeoisie in II will seek to lower the c (constant capital) for the mill owner as a measure for market gain or survival. A reduction due to improvements in the production of machinery or a reduction in the raw material used for machinery, such as the value of iron and rubber (it may be due to slave labor and environmental degradation), means a decrease in the value of the machinery.

I = 1 + 100 + 100 = 201
II = 96 + 5 + 100 = 201

The profit rate and the value in II would be the same in I. However, this does not mean that the bourgeoisie in II would be able to realize its goods, because for the sugar mill owner, who sees this process as costs and false costs, what matters is the total value plus social costs. Factors such as lenient environmental legislation, absence of labor inspection and unions, and social repercussions for the local Public Power over a sudden productive change, such as an increase in unemployment, enter into the accounting. Furthermore, initial investments are always higher until productive stabilization. The bourgeoisie fraction of II will need more.

Together with the exchange rate, it even did more, but undeniably the advancement of inspection and the strengthening of labor legislation in the region did the same. At a certain point, more productive and cheaper machinery with the advancement of legislation and labor inspection promoted the rise of II in the sector. It is likely and plausible that I increased the value and II decreased concomitantly. In the 2000s, when sugar mill owners were elevated to “heroes”, the replacement was carried out with low social repercussions, since the real estate sector incorporated a significant part of sugarcane cutting workers in the Ribeirão Preto region.

Real estate growth continued as a result of the Minha casa, minha vida Program and in the wake of the unbridled construction of large condominiums in the south zone of the city, driven by the construction of a shopping center in the 1980s, which demonstrates some long-term planning by the regional ruling class. In 2013, the city of approximately 700 inhabitants already had 160 horizontal condominiums and 580 vertical condominiums. In 2001, the value of a square meter on Avenida João Fiúsa was R$137; in 2013, it was being sold for R$ 2.558,91.[iii][iv]

To exemplify this moment, an average variable capital growth (v) can be established at 50% over the same amount of labor force for I simultaneously with a 20% decrease over the original value of constant capital (100) and a 50% increase in variable capital in II over two decades due to the labor legislation itself, which was valid for both I and II workers:

I = 1 + 150 + 100 = 251
II = 80 + 7,5 + 100 = 187,5

This situation would oblige the “entrepreneur” of I (cat) to turn to more brutal forms of exploitation and/or to dispose of part of their transferred surplus value. But the advance of constitutional norms in the field and of inspection was an unavoidable problem. As a response and a measure of survival, “gatos” would fulfill the same function in civil construction in the city of Ribeirão Preto, which became the target of operations by the Public Ministry of Labor.

Replacement definitely occurred when the value of C (c + v) of II became more profitable – for being smaller – than that of I, since m it is, in practice, transfer of the mill owner, where it has great negotiating power. If such an inversion did not take place, substitution would not take place. The Brigadier sky was sparkling and the flight was always peaceful. With government incentives, technological fairs swarmed – along with the “university sertanejo –, with emphasis on the Agrishow in Ribeirão Preto, the largest agricultural technology fair in the country.

According to the mill owners, the clouds began for the sector with the discovery of the pre-salt layer, which caused public and, mainly, private investments to be directed to the oil production chain, one of the big winners along with soy and ore. of the growth cycle between 2001 and 2011. The storm formed with the decrease in investments in machinery, causing the sugar and alcohol industry installed in Sertãozinho to register incredibly higher unemployment than the cities in the region. In 2015, of the 40 signed portfolios in the city, 22 were in the sector. In 2014 and 2015, the city burned 3.516 jobs, 2.390 of which in the industrial sector. The data is striking, as the city has no more than 120 inhabitants. In absolute data, unemployment was higher than in the city of Ribeirão Preto, with 700 thousand inhabitants. It is estimated that, since 2010, some 8.000 manufacturing jobs in the city have been destroyed.

Of course, the issue is not only due to the pre-salt layer, normally an explanation given by the mill owners themselves to guarantee some credit and tax benefits, but, above all, to the economic crisis after 2012. The first decade of this century coincided with an international rise in prices of commodities. This increase was due to the impressive Chinese growth, which began to manage a more aggressive foreign policy for the establishment of trade agreements. Grabois and Consenza (2019)[v] analyze aspects of this period from the perspective of economic cycles, concluding that the growth of the Brazilian economy, notably after the US real estate crisis of 2008, was not accompanied by “an increase in the capacity to accumulate local capital”. This mismatch between the production of raw materials and industrial production has led many authors to believe in economic growth based almost exclusively on consumption and services, the notorious “post-industrial” society (GRABOIS; CONSENZA, 2019, p. 101) .

Despite the belief in the relationship between consumption and growth, when analyzing the data listed by the authors, especially industrial investments with exports and imports, it appears that the reproduction of Brazilian capital has been reorganized to meet the external demand for materials raw materials, especially the Chinese, which in this decade became the main trading partner. Iron, soybeans and oil were the products that stood out in the trade balance.

Three considerations should be made about this decade: (a) the three commodities are sensitive to international pricing, that is, the country has little influence on pricing, regardless of the value for producing the commodity; (b) the extractive industry is being addressed, not the transformation industry; (c) increased disparity in exports between commodities and the product, such as iron ore and machines/cars, for example. The export of raw materials became up to four times greater than that of the manufacturing industry, which reveals not only a process of industrial denationalization, but of deindustrialization: “It is a country whose creation of wealth resides in the exploration of the primary sectors. During the analyzed cycle (2001-2011), the opportunity for development was partially lost when the transfer of income from the countryside was shifted in favor of extractive sectors, instead of being directed towards the manufacturing industry. Part of this is expressed in the low investment rate” (GRABOIS;CONSENZA, 2019, p. 103-104).

High commodity prices between 2001 and 2011 supported economic growth and, in theory, opened up investment possibilities for the manufacturing industry. However, unlike the countries that managed to carry out this process during the 2019th century, in which the State was responsible for articulating, inducing and managing investments, in Brazil the task fell almost exclusively to private capital, whose entrepreneurial entrepreneurs were more interested in in making profit than in “making long-term investments” (GRABOIS; CONSENZA, 104, p. XNUMX). In an economic structure based on rent-seeking and the absence of taxation on risky and short-term investments (profits and dividends), and on the way in which production is financialized by the actions of banks, the role that public debt plays in capital accumulation of banks and investment and pension funds, the result would hardly be different.

Ethanol entrepreneurs create difficulties in understanding the process, leaving them to blame the pre-salt layer. But this creation of difficulties is also a necessary step for the sale of facilities. The fact is that ethanol has low international appeal. Nation-states in which ethanol could stick with the environmental appeal of renewable energy are following Gurgel's line for replacing fossil fuel, the electric car, without abandoning oil and its wars, of course, as Emmanuel Macron proves in the Libya, which started to support Marshal Khalifa Haftar to gain access to the Libyan camps, even if the president recognized by the UN is another.

Or even the US initiative to boycott the North Stream 2, even Biden stating, in an interview alongside the German Chancellor, that the US would not allow Russian gas in Germany. Therefore, oil was structured in the Brazilian economy not from the pre-salt layer, but from its relationship between production/export in a period of high international prices. Therefore, the price policy since the Temer/Parente government is a profound radicalization of this relationship, which was followed by Bolsonaro/Guedes in clear favor of shareholders, who profit from the difference between the low cost of extraction, the criminal importation of gasoline and diesel, the privatization of refineries and the rise in oil prices, now definitely supported by the international price.

In order to remedy all the risks in the sector, the mill owners impose a tariff on gasoline of around 70%, which means pegging the price of alcohol to the dollar, as is the case with Petrobras' current price policy. In practice, alcohol follows the same path as diesel and gasoline, incredibly being a dollarized commodity without any international appeal. Now that is a big jabuticaba – the sale of facilities.


Labor reform produces environmental degradation

Since 2012, agribusiness sectors have taken on a unique role, as they could no longer be ignored given the importance that commodities have assumed for the Brazilian economy, even more so in a context of crisis. The political action of these sectors, together with others, would result in the coup against Dilma Rousseff and the election of Bolsonaro. The Brazilian economy has become extremely dependent on the international economy, since the main goods for export are sensitive to international pricing. This dependence is overdetermined in GDP and in constitutional and legal-political norms, as evidenced in Vale's environmental crime in Mariana and Brumadinho, in the latter negatively influencing national GDP by 0,2% due to the stoppage of some extractive activities in other dams by court orders. A non-partisan governmental counter-offensive was created for the continuity of the company's activities. The humanitarian-environmental issue has turned into a big smiling scarecrow: it no longer frightens the market vultures and vultures.

But it was in 2017 that there was one of the biggest environmental counter-reforms in the history of Brazil: the Labor Reform. This regressive reform made everything worse, in every way. The reform reconfigured the value of the workforce to extremely low levels, allowing almost all forms of hiring once used by mill owners, such as intermittent, for a specified time, by piece (in this case, weight) or by pejotization. What was I = 1 + 150 + 100 = 251 and II = 80 + 7,5 + 100 = 187,5 started to tend to be something close to the scheme below:

I = 1 + 80 + 100 = 181
II = 80 + 4 + 100 = 184

As the surplus value here is non-existent for the sugar mill owner, the industrial capitalist, who can now eliminate cat, what remains is:

I = 1 + 80 = 81
II = 80 + 5 = 85

And as a bourgeois follows the rationality of capital, and not an order of values, the I, the manual workers with the fire, become viable again. In practice, capitalist accounting reveals that not all “innovation” is useful. It is necessary to analyze the proportion of C in relation to the rate of surplus value and the rate of profit, the relation between the absolute and relative dimension of the components of value and the differences in the organic composition of capital and in its periods of rotation. In short, the so-called modernization of labor legislation, as Roberto Barroso says in his vote in the judgment on the Labor Reform, inexorably consists of an increase in environmental degradation. Therefore, the cheapening of the workforce is the foundation for the dismantling of environmental policies.

The return of the burn stems from the introduction of the labor reform in the countryside in opposition to the protection of work, in which the cheapening of the workforce was of such an extent that, given the costs of constant capital and the low rate of it in I, it became the return of the rural worker along the lines of the 1980s is highly rewarding.[vi]

In this sense, sectors of agribusiness were very keen to appoint Ricardo Salles to the Ministry of the Environment, as he was responsible for dismantling the entire inspection apparatus for burning and deforestation. Without labor and penal limitations, the environmental legislation itself becomes the last hindrance; however, it is necessary to understand that, without the flexibility and legalization of forms of work that had already been overcome in certain sectors of agribusiness, the progress on the environment would be more impeding, depending on the size of the capital.

The Amazon, in turn, can only be occupied by this type of work. For the time being, it is not possible to explore the Amazon by means of machinery and the construction of large logistical complexes on the means of production. Only extensive exploration remains, both in terms of workforce and property size, still based on the average productivity of properties that are based on technological application over production, since productivity per worker in extensive exploration is lower.

The international investment funds that cry out for rigor against the fires in the Amazon are in favor of all the reforms of capital over work, such as the Partido Novo and its caricature, Amoedo, who supposedly disagreed with Salles for the long two years he was broken. But how can you not see this relationship? Blindness undoubtedly has a hint of intentionality, as it is part of the mystification of the environmental agenda by capitals, in which it would be possible to build strong environmental policies with weak labor legislation (sic!). The environmental agenda turns into a merely moralist agenda, which the funds admit a certain degradation, as long as it is compatible with their capital and the morality built by their advertisements.

On the one hand, there is a neo-fascist government that clearly seeks to legalize illegal activities, especially in indigenous lands, or at least legitimize them due to the lack of supervision; on the other hand, there is a group of Brazilian businessmen who say they are concerned about the repercussions of business for export – that is the only concern. A good part of these businessmen are linked to industrial-financial complexes worldwide that offer this investment portfolio to bourgeoisie and middle classes of central countries with some feeling of psychoanalytical guilt crystallized in the tree and in some native people that learned to love like “noble savage”. .

This orb of businessmen is in favor of all capital-over-work reforms applied by the government, including those in the midst of the pandemic. Was it hypocrisy? Yes! But not only. There is also a cognitive limitation that expresses the understanding of the class fraction itself and the nature of its investment. The fraction thinks of its immediate profits through the reforms of capital over labor.

If, on the one hand, the bourgeoisie that produces machinery supports labor reform, on the other hand, the bourgeoisie that depends on its machinery is tempted not to buy it anymore because it discovers that extensive exploitation is more affordable. With the destructuring of environmental inspection, the reform in the field is complete. In other words, it is tempted to no longer exploit the workforce through productivity (intensive), but through the extension of the working day and the territorial increase of property, which can be given by goals (streets), work analogous to slavery and, obviously, with burnings and deforestation.

In this productive-rentier structure, income from bank capital (investment funds and pension funds) are strong inducers for industrial disinvestment and the deindustrialization of production chains, as is the case with the sugar and alcohol sector. The labor reform is a strong inducer for the decrease in productivity, which will increasingly be replaced by extensive exploitation of the land. Hence the above-average deforestation and fires. Bolsonaro and Salles only express the appetite of capital for the field.

But wouldn't that generate jobs, as promised by economists at Insper and Fundação Getúlio Vargas? After all, one worker would be replaced by 100. No, it would not generate, as it did not generate – one cannot blame the pandemic and the lack of reforms, since almost all the promised reforms were approved. The fact is that those 100 sugarcane cutters would in fact return and a few, probably close to a hundred, would be dismissed in sectors of the other productive department, the means of production, as evidenced in Sertãozinho. It counts the precarious people who kept the job, with an evident decrease in income. Employment in the cut generates unemployment in certain sectors of the industry, in this case.[vii]

The labor reform creates degrading work and replaces/transforms qualified work with precarious work, as demonstrated by the continuous PNADs of the IBGE and the reports on work since 2018. part of the overexploitation of capital over the worker, the precariousness of work, the concentration of income and the increase in misery and poverty. Any decrease in the value of social reproduction necessarily leads to predatory practices on the environment.

Like the Amazon, the region of Ribeirão Preto saw the return of fires in July 2020, amid a pandemic whose main symptom is acute respiratory syndrome. Therefore, today the burning is structural. It is very likely that he came back to stay. The burning was released by Bolsonaro in 2019 for 60 days. In November of the same year, he signed a decree that facilitated the zoning of areas for planting sugarcane, effectively removing the impact studies.

This decree allows the cultivation of sugarcane in hilly areas or even on hills, as in Alagoas, Arthur Lira's stronghold, and Pernambuco, Fernando Bezerra's stronghold, which definitively prevents the use of machinery; in practice, cutting can only be done manually with burning, as there are no futuristic harvesters that take the place of a spider. Therefore, precarious work is the premise. O LOBBY for the liberation of the burning and the advance of the precariousness of the work on the enlargement of the property is the other.

These measures point to a trend. Increasingly, the deregulation of all elements of production, from work to the environment, will be the nodal point of capital exploitation in the countryside. Quilombolas, indigenous peoples, riverside people, rivers, springs, springs, flora, animals, biomes and environmental reserves will be more and more details of an Excel spreadsheet. As Roberto Barroso, the illuminist, would say, it is “modernization”. For the hungry, it results in a “modernization” that generates technological regression, misery and destruction of the environment. But who are we to talk to the Illuminists? Low commoners.

*Leonardo Sacramento is a teacher of basic education and pedagogue at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo. Book author The mercantile university: a study on the public university and private capital (Appris).



[I] The region was formed following the logic of division of labor and racialization. The most explicit example is that of Sertãozinho and Pontal. At the beginning of the century there were two villages in the same city. Over time, the Italian immigrants who worked in specialized positions at Engenho Central founded some companies that would become the major industries in the sugar and alcohol sector. The blacks, who were directed to cutting and skin pig, a mat that they were forced to stay under to remove the bagasse from the mill while hot water was poured over the mat, began to live predominantly in Pontal. This data is worked on by historians and educators from the Cane Museum, the former Engenho Central. The information was compiled by Clark dos Santos Alves. In the same way as the case described, some cities in the region were transformed into habitable and others into dormitories.

[ii] Roughly speaking, constant capital is the part of capital that is converted into means of production, such as raw materials, energy, machinery and work tools; Variable capital is the part of capital converted into labor power that reproduces its equivalent and produces a surplus, therefore, the salary or the way in which the worker socially reproduces his life. This, however, reproduces its own equivalent and a “surplus, a surplus value that itself can vary” (MARX, 1983, p. 171). In: MARX, Karl. Capital: critique of political economy. São Paulo: Abril Cultural, 1983.

[iii] Information taken from Figueira (2013, p. 6). In: FIGUEIRA, Tania Maria Bulhões. Social production of the contemporary city: analysis of high-end urban condominiums and closed subdivisions in the southern subsector of Ribeirão Preto (SP). Dissertation presented to the Graduate Program in Architecture and Urbanism of São Carlos at the University of São Paulo, 2013.

[iv] As an expression of the cognitive reductionism of the elite who live in this square meter, a councilor even proposed the creation of an area that would be called Copacabana Ribeirão, in which a part would be closed to walks on a floor with the aesthetic style of the famous Rio de Janeiro boardwalk.

[v] In: GRABOIS, Igor; CONSENZA, Apoena Canuto. Dependent growth: aspects of the Brazilian economic growth cycle between 2001 and 2011. Journal of Political Economy and Economic History, no. 41, January 2019.

[vi] I work in Sertãozinho and I live in Ribeirão Preto. Two years ago, a toll for motorcycles was installed between cities. Since then, workers who transport themselves by motorcycle have started to venture out on the dirt roads between trains and tractors, including the author of this text. It is noticeable the burning and the use of workers with manual cutting on flat land, since manual workers were allocated only in rough terrain, where the machine found difficulty.

[vii] This replacement is only possible due to the segmented formation of the working class, which is racialized. If, on the one hand, racism fulfills the role of reducing competition for workers with higher incomes, on the other hand, it prevents the appreciation of the workforce in the long term, since a social segment of the class is impoverished. It is the economic function of racism.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives