Expansion of the class struggle

Image: Alexander Isreb


The depletion of neoliberalism and the rise of neofascism show the decline of a model that applies the pro-inequalities prescription of the Washington Consensus

It is necessary to broaden our conception of capitalism beyond the economic dimension associated with Marxism. The traditional parameter of class struggle does not cover affronts that unfold without the presence of conventional actors – capital and work. Domination encompasses different conflictual bases, like the struggles against sexism and racism that permeate classist antagonisms. In the vision that the wind took to the distant past, such clashes expressed a “false consciousness”. They would indicate “secondary contradictions” located at a much lower level in the hierarchy of priorities. The specificity of struggles for gender and race equality was not recognized.

Only the extraction of surplus value counted. Colonialism and patriarchy, ancient cultural pillars of capitalism, were underestimated despite exacerbating oppression and exploitation. In collective bargaining, in negotiations with the employers' class, the demands of the factory workers went to the end of the queue.

Conflicts centered on production tend to downplay what happens around unpaid work. Resentment permeates the triple female journey with activities at home, caring for children and outside employment, and extends to app fighters without social protection. Claiming not to establish employment relationships, the companies that employ the most (Uber, iFood) do not sign the portfolio of their sub-employees. “An expanded vision of the working class and a broad understanding of the class struggle” is required, says Nancy Fraser, in her dialogue with Rahel Jaeggi, in Capitalism in debate. Change agents don't necessarily walk around in blue overalls.

The story is open. Border struggles at the meeting points of human society with non-human nature, of production with social reproduction and of economics with politics, for example, in the approval of “Outsourcing” by Congress, intertwine the basic capitalist equation. The skirmish scenario is more complex than it was at the time of Karl Marx.

There are several obstacles for democratic governance to satisfy citizens' demands; among them, we highlight the barrier created so that the economy does not come to be the object of discussion in the community about the fiscalist paradigm and the financialization of the national States. The sphere of economics is aseptically kept outside the scope of democracy. Hence the independence of the Central Bank, sitting on top of monetary policy, with its back to voting authority. Here is the malandragem of the “elites”, covered by brown journalism at the service of financial speculation of rentiness.

The depletion of neoliberalism and the rise of neofascism show the decline of a model that, for decades, has applied the pro-inequality prescriptions of the Washington Consensus. The emptying of World Economic Forum, from Davos, silently attests to the sighs of evaporating hegemony. The banking collapse in the United States in 2008 (with deregulations), the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic (with the lack of hospital equipment and supplies, due to deindustrialization) and the episode in Ukraine (with the expansion of NATO) express strategic errors by imperialism . Hybrid warfare, which combines military coups with lawfare, coercion and disorder – that's what's left.

Among us, the anecdotal side involved prayers to tires and contact with UFOs, in which dementia was normalized. The terrorist side implied a willingness to violence, with a bomb to blow up a truck carrying aviation fuel at an airport. If we follow in the footsteps of money, we will bump into illegal agribusiness and illegal mining in the Amazon region. already the left, relying on programmatic intuition, will strive to build a Progressive International.

The circumstances evoke Antonio Gramsci's timely passage on the crisis of authority. “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old dies and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, the most varied pathological phenomena are verified” (Prison Notebooks, volume 3, p. 184). We witness the purulent eruption of pathological phenomena and morbid symptoms in which, from top to bottom, social classes appear insecure.


Repoliticize the State

The challenge is to re-politicize the State, demonstrating its (our) loyalty to the interests of the common good, without putting the whole economy in the political basket, as the former USSR did with nationalizations in spades. Or the USA in the Puritan temperance movement, which banned the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In both cases, the state became an instrument of political voluntarism.

Add to the list, still, the controversial position of the feminist movement on the prohibition of the commodification of sex, or the caricatured axiom of the ecological movement on the veto to the commercial transactions of land. Converted into State policies, both would run the risk of stumbling into dogmatism. Prohibitionism is hostage to the Weberian “ethics of conviction”, typical of sectarian sects, in spite of the demands of political predictability, typical of the “ethics of responsibility”.

Repoliticizing means promoting actions with a democratizing logic, capable of gaining speed as they are implemented and, sometimes, capable of leading to important transformations in the structural-institutional order of capitalism. Thus, the transition towards the Social Welfare State advances, thanks to the dynamics assumed by citizen participation under the egalitarian banner of the “right to have rights”. In Brazil, the unity of the three powers of the Republic in favor of democracy against the putsch failed, on January 8, instigates the deepening of conquests that inspire new conquests.

Participatory democracy, by putting pressure on liberal democracy (“elitist”, in Luís Felipe Miguel's lexicon), goes beyond the rules of the game and procedural norms to ensure popular sovereignty. Formalist conceptions have a systemic character, because they dissociate democracy from socioeconomic impulses. They take refuge in the formal rites of periodicity of elections, the fairness of competition and freedom of expression and also of organization. This, under the principle “change everything so that nothing changes”, according to the aristocratic lessons of the novel by Tomasi di Lampedusa.

To escape prohibitionist (essentialist) appeals, authors distinguish between political theater in the public space and deliberations in the “space of life”. They prevent government interference in private matters (my body, my rules), which are observed in pre-modern communities and in totalitarian states, which simply cancel dissidents. The emancipatory and haughty bias of individual freedoms, irrigated in the Revolution of 1789 with the conceptual triad Liberte, Egalite, Fraternity, is supported by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

In the turbulent context of Latin America, after the period in which greed supplanted work, weakened unions, flattened wages, made the arduous daily life of the working masses precarious and enshrined necropolitics at the heart of the State apparatus, – the strands of rebellion resurfaced with competitiveness in the Latin American arena. The progressives took back territorial states (Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Brazil) and grew in density (Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay) in a continent, by definition, revolutionary (Simón Bolívar, San Martín, Tiradentes).

In our country, political currents in support of social and environmental protection, condensed in the Popular Brazil Front, People Without Fear, MST, MTST, trade union centrals and new social movements (feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism, LGBTQIA+ rights and original peoples) – overcame the hyper-individualism of the supporters of the illiberal regime and conservatism, in the patterns of the patriarchal family. The dirty stratagems of the rotten powers to corrupt the election failed.

The plurality of social and political subjects in the electoral trenches is proof of the expansion of the class struggle. In an embryonic way, it anticipated the future. The victory against the Militia State suspended the atrophying of public freedoms, the reification of constitutionalism and also the reestablishment of domination / subordination, heir to slavery. The success of the Lula government, the reconstruction of republican institutions and even democracy depends on the ability of the assembled front to galvanize and mobilize the affections of the people. “Lost, man. Don't tease”.


What to do, companions

Internally – the left has to interact again in peripheral conglomerations. Liberation Theology fulfilled the commandment until it was repressed, in the 1980s, by Pope John Paul II advised by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Inquisitorial High Lord of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for protecting the Church from the “bad Marxist influence” ”. Bad prophets.

The repression of the Base Ecclesiastical Communities opened up openings for the religion of magic, neo-Pentecostalism. For neo-Pentecostals, in the pandemic, the faith of the faithful would dispense with social isolation, health protocols and the vaccine. The defeat of dialectical thinking emulated magical, denialist thinking against Covid-19, causing thousands of deaths. You homines sapient rival churches radiated from the Vatican to socialize with excluded people (who voted for Capeta).

Pastors who live “of” the faith, instead of “for” faith in Jesus, they forgot the biblical warning: “Do not spoil the poor, because he is poor” (proverbs 22:22). It will not take long, and evangelicals will be the majority in Christendom's preference. The bench of federal deputies (102) and senators (13) accounts for 20% of congressmen in the legislature that begins. The vendors turned the temples into franchises, in fact, as profitable as son 01's chocolate shop. The specter that haunts the country is not faded communism. It is the theocracy, with Taliban traits, that hates culture and the arts.

Tithing is of little importance next to the high ambition for theocratic power. To reverse the trend, it is necessary to place state facilities close to the population on the outskirts: public transport, health clinics, schools, cultural, sports and community activities. Obviously, in a context that brings visibility and recognition to social sectors excluded from res principis (the prince's things). To expedite the measures, the favelas need a place of speech in the very building of central power. Repoliticizing the State is equivalent to republicanizing it.

Externally – the Progressive International urges, driven by political parties and contemporary social movements, with organizational and directional tasks. Exchanges of experiences and alterworld resilience are not enough. The fight against the greed of neoliberalism and the truculence of imperialism, both weakened, demand an active transnationality. The condensation of multiple struggles under a “revolutionary reformism” (these are not exclusive terms) can reveal a welcoming and generous sociability, with governance legitimized by social participation.

The goal will not be achieved, unless the political-ideological dispute intensifies, to build a counter-hegemonic common sense at the base of the social pyramid of Brazilian society. Times are favorable for a fencing of cosmovisions and styles of being. The passport is democracy. With unprecedented nomenclatures, the ministries serve as a guide for the political understanding of the government's profile. The unavoidable alliances did not erase the class commitments of Lula and the PT.

The institutional architecture of continental markets (NAFTA, Mercosur, European Union, CIS, OPEC, APEC, ASEAN, Asian Tigers, BRICS) is not enough for people to be able to empower themselves and dictate the essential paths to universal happiness. With empathy, it is necessary to promote street mobilizations outside the institution to vocalize diversity. With pedagogical commitment, it is necessary to socialize the beautiful concept formulated by Claude Lefort, in the democratic invention: “democracy is a cumulative project of civilizing values”. From the ruins, our hope is born.

It is the only way to support political initiatives to dispel the perfect storm that looms over the XNUMXst century with awe: (a) nuclear war; (b) global warming and; (c) the proliferation of extreme right-wing regimes. Destiny is an avoidable choice by the conscious action of all, everyone and everyone. Opportunity challenges brave social and political fighters. As in the poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, “Time is my matter, the present time / the present life”.

*Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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