General anesthesia

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Chico Alencar*

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is a kind of “digital party” which, dominated by those who exercise global surveillance control, encourages anti-politics, proposing “managers” instead of rulers, consumers instead of citizens..

There are profound technological and productive transformations in the world, and they reach Brazil. The new technologies employ fewer people, to the point that countless job functions are extinct. The former “reserve armies” gave way to “surplus”, “surplus”, “expendable”, “disposable”. Capital, hegemonic, transits from Fordism to Toyotism and the techno-scientific revolution of robotics and artificial intelligence, in addition to total financialization through the large flows of volatile capital (only the New York Stock Exchange can move, in one day, the equivalent of GDP annual in Brazil!).

This created a new configuration of classes in Brazilian society, which affects labor relations, the dynamics of urban centers, rural areas and agricultural production. The IBGE attests: between 2017 and 2018, Brazilian unions lost more than 1,5 million filiad@s! In 2018, of the 92,3 million employed Brazilians, only 11,5 million had some connection with union entities. Informality at work and the strangulation of union structures promoted by the misnamed “labor reform” aggravates this situation. It is the “uberization” of the economy.

One of the forms of domination of the system today, greatly stimulated by the technological revolution of digital and information technology, is extreme individualization. The “metric” societies, of algorithms, create virtual (not social) networks of protection and comfort, where growing groups, denying the sociability of politics and rejecting the public scene, share their disenchantments and their selfishness, a reaction to a “hostile world” , that “there is no other way”.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is a kind of “digital party” which, dominated by those who exercise global surveillance control, encourages anti-politics, proposing “managers” instead of rulers, consumers instead of citizens. There proliferates the naturalization of class differences and discrimination based on skin color, sexual orientation and religious choices. Abundant and continuous information does not mean knowledge.

Liberal democracy and its traditional supporters, the political parties, are in deep crisis. These, who no longer have a monopoly on representation, are seen, for the most part, and rightly so, as clusters of smart guys, whose “fantasy” names do not correspond to their ideals. The denial of parties, however, paves the way for salvationist individualism, for right-wing personalist neo-populism.

In this ultra-conservative “nomenklatura”, Bolsonaro and some of his rudest and noisiest ministers speak to a portion of the poor people and the lower middle class, with their angry, anti-intellectual and aggressive diatribes. Moro and, in a way, Guedes, are the “upwards” interlocutors, a polished face for the middle class and the slightly more enlightened bourgeoisie, but equally conservative.

When realizing the size of the crisis and how to face it, it is necessary to see our size. Despite the attacks, notably on economic and social rights, education and the environment, the reaction of organizations and movements, or even citizens generally, was small in 2019. With the exception of the mobilization led by students, expressive and intermittent, there is a general anesthesia, a paralyzing disenchantment. The correlation in Parliament is also very unfavorable: in the field of the so-called progressive left, we don't have more than 135 deputad@s.

In times of rapid communication and excessive information, we have not been able to critically stop the consolidation of conservative opinion or guarantee the need for knowledge. What is shallow and false has prevailed in the “post-truth” era, of the regulated, securitized, indebted citizen. Fragile and individuated, he easily seeks support in a guru, a myth, a pastor. How have we fought this, opposing to this “culture” the value of the gregarious, of the collective, of the common construction by the commons?

The wind only helps those who know the direction they want to give the boat. The reachable port, at the moment, is visible: the preservation of democratic achievements, the denunciation of the “naturalization” of inequalities, the fight against the privatization of life, the repudiation of the growing violence of militias and self-styled integralist terrorist groups. An obstinate opposition to the current license to kill and deforest is urgently needed. The challenge is to avoid the fragmentation of the working class, which is already under way, and to integrate the so-called “identity” struggles with economic agendas, as they complement each other.

There are cracks in the wall! Bolsonaro's popularity, in a year of government, is the lowest of all presidents at this stage, in the first term. This does not imply ignoring that he maintains the solid loyalty of something around 1/3 of the electorate – being 15 to 17% of these convinced Bolsonaristas, whose characteristic profile is rich, white, from the South and Southeast. Another third, whose backbone is formed by the poor, northeasterners, women and young people, has a consolidated opposition stance. The data is from the Datafolha survey at the end of 2019.

In the world, the conservative wave, real, is not unitary and uncontrastable. If Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party had an overwhelming victory in England (leveraged by “completing Brexit”), the Portuguese “contraption” was maintained. Spain, if it registers a growth of the ultra-right and a fall of the Podemos, kept the moderate socialists of the PSOE as the majority force. Bibi and the Israeli far right are in trouble to maintain hegemony.

Em our America, the farce Guaidó did not prosper despite the real crisis of conducting the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. In Ecuador, Moreno's betrayal was also stopped. Multitudinous mobilizations harass the right-wing governments of Chile and Colombia. Macri was predictably defeated in Argentina, previously “compensating” for the attrition that led the Frente Ampla to a narrow defeat in Uruguay.

The US elections next year are decisive. Trump's vaunted favoritism – tragedy for the world and final strangulation of Cuba – does not mean certain victory. It is not incorrect to say that there is, today, a balance of forces and a great imponderability in relation to the popular vote that will choose the destinies of many nations. Opulence and indigence coexist, conflicted, in the same territories.

Between us, it is a question of sewing the progressive front into the struggles from now on, the only guarantor of the credibility of a programmatic electoral alliance. This front – which presupposes the uniqueness of different forces, which cannot deny their identities or dilute themselves – needs to be central to democratic and socio-environmental issues, in addition to not accepting any approximation with backwardness, whose recent experience has already shown where it will lead . Nor the hegemonism of those who consider themselves “bigger and fitter”, despite the serious mistakes made.

What is in dispute is a new model of civilization. This dispute, which emerges in everyday confrontations and in electoral competitions, is about values ​​and meanings. It imposes the arduous, delicate and “teaching” fabric of a new subjectivity, gregarious and solidary. Socialism, this necessary utopia, must serve to raise the expectations of the majority of the population in building a society of good living, endless democracy, diversity as a value, an economy of cooperation, promoting equality. The fight is long, let's start now!

* Chico Alencar, a former federal deputy (PSOL/RJ), is a professor of History (UFRJ) and a writer.

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