Banditry and accounting fraud

Image: Markus Winckler
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By LUIZ MARQUES*

The fraud that has affected American companies beckons a return to the war of all against all and the plundering of the weakest

Historian Eric Hobsbawm, author of the book titled Bandidos, is proud to have created a branch of historiographic research on banditry that challenged the political, social and economic order in societies with class divisions. Remember that the negative epithet of “bandit”, etymologically, derives from the Italian bandito (banned man). In the Renaissance, it expressed the resentment of illiterate peasants, who felt inferior to the rich and powerful in the cities and to the writing of the bureaucracy for recording commercial transactions and contracts.

Among men, banditry in a certain way indicated a refusal of subordinate positions. Many kings and emperors started out as bandit bosses. In most of the Balkans, outlaws emerged from the semi-nomadic economy of herders organized into clans. In Argentina, the gauchos freed from the pampas resisted urban logic and bourgeois laws on property and rural caudillos. In Colombia, coffee growers protected “their” bandits, whose deeds were not qualified as criminals. Killing was not seen as a crime, but as a justifiable act of reparation.

In Sardinia, at the beginning of the 1877th century, reports Antonio Gramsci, “the class struggle was confused with banditry, blackmail, the premeditated burning of forests, the mutilation of cattle, the kidnapping of women and children, attacks against municipal ”. Banditry then seeks to fight hunger. The Brazilian cangaço begins with the deadly drought of 1878-1919 and reaches its peak in the drought of XNUMX. “Better to break the law than to die of hunger” (Eastern proverb). Poor regions were considered bandit regions, with high robbery seasons during food shortages.

In recent times, banditry is more related to strategies of power and control of biopolitics by governments, especially from the extreme right spectrum (Hungary, Turkey, Poland) or from parallel centers of dominance, such as the militias of Rio de Janeiro. January in certain territories. Even “social banditry” needs to be thought of as part of the history of the political power of empires and states. The concentration of power in the national State apparatus and modern communication technologies, added to the disarmament of the population and surveillance over the distribution of weapons, turned the panopticon (the all-seeing eye) into the state over what transpires on the borders of each nation , in an agile tool for mapping crimes.

Today, the apparatus available to the authorities has a wide reach, without comparison with despotic governances of the past. It became easier to undertake actions of rigid repression against banditry. The expulsion of illegal mining in the lands of the Yanomami ethnic group, in Roraima, is proof. The problem seemed uncontrollable, while institutions under Bolsonaro's misgovernment covered up extractive activity, which deforested the Amazon and accelerated the planned physical extermination of the indigenous community. When the State under Lula's government took the decision to intervene, it ended the robbery.

All societies based on agriculture and even pastoral economies, composed of peasants and landless workers, have seen the development of social banditry to confront oppressors and exploiters. If these were lords of lands, cities, governments, lawyers, banks. Robin Hood, fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham, is the famous case. Injustice has always generated resistance.

Sometimes, it originated populous nuclei that were formed in remote places, such as the “villages of bandits” in the mountains of China, combining agrarian work and banditry. At other times, combining criminal activities and millenarianism, when the priest-saint Cícero, messiah of Juazeiro, granted “official” credentials to Lampião, if public opinion is to be believed. This combination expressed one of the oldest forms of reform and revolution. Joan of Arc in France is a symbol.

 

Antisocial and economic crimes

Karl Marx, in Book I, chapter 24, d'The capital, compares the so-called primitive accumulation in political economy to the role played by original sin in Christian theology, in which Adam bit the apple and, as a result, sin contaminated all of humanity. In the distant dawn of capitalism, wealth was formed “by conquest, slavery and murder, in short, by violence”. For the famous German thinker: “in fact, the methods of primitive accumulation are not idyllic”. In other words, the capitalist genesis is surrounded by crimes, horrors, deaths.

In the current situation, what arouses the indignation of Brazilian public opinion is the type of “antisocial banditry”, illustrated by the harsh neoliberal policies of the chicago boy Paulo Guedes, Minister of Economy of the neo-fascist mismanagement, which was too late. The country's return to the UN's hunger map testifies to the failure of the Human Development Index (HDI). The study by researchers at “Data Social: laboratory of inequalities, poverty and the labor market”, linked to PUC/RS, points to a 30,4% growth in social poverty indices in Brazil. A rate that represents 64,6 million people and is the highest in the historical series inaugurated in 2012.

Now, by criteria of financial and privatist capital of the famous Washington Consensus, which systematized in commandments the brand new hegemony of the world implanted by neoliberalism, made unique thought of finance, the management was “successful” in investing in the expansion of impoverishment and inequalities. Mission accomplished by necropolitics, with raw insensitivity.

But not everything is rosy, even from the point of view of the ruling classes. The president of Itaú, when exposing the bank's results in the fourth quarter of 2022, classified the R$ 20 billion accounting hole of Americanas as a "fraud", which then filed for judicial recovery for debts of R$ 40 billion. The feeling is that we live in times of primitive accumulation, without respect for the boundaries of law. Circumventing the rules to take advantage, by illicit means, is also part of the habitus of billionaires in the tropics. The matured principles of the world-system are not valid for the Rastaquera “elites” who consider themselves above good and evil. The ethics of responsibility and honesty are as worthless as a flat tire on the road for the lumpembourgeoisie. It doesn't matter how big your fortune is.

The denunciation shed light on “economic banditry”. Economic banditry is the hidden face of antisocial banditry practiced with market-god values. The difference? One (anti-social) is endorsed by legislation and the postmodern-inspired ideology of hyper-individualism, which steps on the accelerator of liberism. Another (economic) is the result of a transgression of legal norms and inter-institutional trust, which underlie the functioning of relations in societies and states, guided by the domination of capital. This is a form of banditry that, from a moral point of view, does not differ in any way from an assailant condemned by justice to prison, for much less. The amount involved is incredible, beyond the imagination of daydreamers. That's R$ 20 billion!

It would be naive to believe that greed holds within the bounds of morality. Similar situations silently accompanied the capitalist evolution, in the era of the casino on the stock exchanges. The people, on the other hand, are denied information that would put in jail those who propose a so-called “independent” Central Bank (BC), not aligned with the economic and social growth of the community because it is at the service of rent-seeking. Does anyone doubt that the president of BC is a spokesperson for the rentiers? That the terrorist threat of inflation is just a pretext for letting the fox loose in the henhouse?

The trump card of the owners of the State's public debt securities, with dividends that exceed millions every time the trigger increases by 0,5% of the Selic rate, lies in shielding their privileged niche from the democratic public debate. The vaccine against alternation in politics serves as a permanent guarantee for the incessant gains of financiers, who are those who profit from interest in the stratosphere. We are the most sacrificed colony on the globe. no alternative – they lie.

The fraud that affected American companies beckons a return to everyone's war vs. all and the plunder of the weakest. Capitalism even built the Welfare State in post-war Europe. However, the fraud attributed to the icons of unseemly fortunes, measured in the ranking of supplies, shows the virus of indifference of the owners of money towards the systemic gears themselves. It is a pity that economic journalism covers less the needs of citizens and more the expectations of investors. If he did the opposite, with civic courage and professional commitment, he would repeat the boy in Hans Christian Andersen's fable, when he caught the truth. “The king is naked!”

*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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