Barbarism in the environment high-tech

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By ROBERTO VITAL ANAV*

Unions are emptied and depleted, social movements are attacked and criminalized, critical individuals suffer discrimination and barriers to professional and social progression

On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the civil-military coup of 1964, in addition to the debate on President Lula's blunder, of banning government activities of critical remembrance, repudiation of the coup, defense of democracy and tribute to the victims of the dictatorship, as well as the unofficial acts, which nevertheless occurred throughout the country, other episodes deserve to be highlighted.

It is worth highlighting here the republication, on social media, of period publications and testimonies. Among them, the special edition of the magazine Headline immediately after the coup, celebrating it and registering large mass demonstrations in its favor – in particular, the Family Marches with God for Freedom, organized by the leadership of the Catholic Church in Brazil.

These memories necessarily remind us of more recent episodes in which the bourgeois elite, mostly associated with imperialism, especially the United States, sponsored and encouraged mass demonstrations with reactionary and coup content: the “dances” and demonstrations for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff – a true parliamentary coup -judiciary against democracy, social rights and national sovereignty; the demonstrations in favor of Operation Lava Jato and Lula's arrest; the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 and his large vote, although defeated, in 2022; lastly (so far), the partial demonstration of strength of Bolsonarism, after the defeat of the coup of January 8, 23 and the multiple unmasking of the former president himself, in a recent demonstration on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo.

These episodes, observed together, allow us to identify some structural features of Brazilian social and political reality, as well as the evolution of class struggles and related political clashes, at least in the last seven decades. We suggest below three lessons of greater significance that can be extracted from this engaging observation.

(i) The bourgeoisie and imperialism do not support, in this backyard of the USA, even limited and partial reforms, far inferior to the achievements of the welfare state in much of Western Europe, as well as in the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia, during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

(ii) The bourgeoisie, when it really feels threatened, manages to form a broad opinion among the middle classes, divide it and make it lean mostly towards its side, as well as a smaller, but significant, part of the working class. To this end, it uses all the broad means at its disposal: the oligopolistic media (today, also, a large part of digital social networks); elite private colleges, including prolific online institutes and courses; the military leadership; traditional political oligarchies; and – above all – religious organizations. Among them, in 1964, the reactionary leadership of the Catholic Church predominated; Currently, the focus is on proliferated evangelical churches.

(iii) The organizations of the labor and popular movement, often persecuted and slandered, and the political parties related to them in institutional politics, sometimes targets of defamatory campaigns and judicial persecution, have a very strong tendency to accommodate themselves to dominance and bourgeois institutionality in periods of its growth in environments (eventual) of political relaxation. In these circumstances, left-wing parties with a worker-popular basis focus only on elections and parliamentary and government projects (Marx called this “parliamentary cretinism”, referring to the French bourgeoisie; Lenin adapted the expression to the large social-democratic parties in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century). They abandon grassroots work, start to look at independent popular demands with suspicion (“manipulated by the right to radicalize and burn left-wing governments”) and create an almost lifelong bureaucracy in unions and movements, as a shield and area of ​​trust, committed to not radicalize or push too little beyond the (necessarily) limited government agenda.

In this context, any socioeconomic bump (resulting from the unstable and cyclical nature of capitalism) generates or increases social disenchantment with “the system” and traditional politics, a context in which the left now appears in popular eyes as integrated. This institutionalized left adopted, even in a partial and restricted way, the neoliberal agenda: with Lula 1 and 2, the macroeconomic adjustment, with Meirelles at the Central Bank and very high interest rates; now, the forced coexistence with Campos Neto, but also the tax reform full of concessions to Faria Lima (center of national and international financial capital in Brazil); for example, the misleading collection of income tax on the investment funds of the super-rich and the offshore denounced by economist and expert Eduardo Moreira as a victory for Faria Lima and not for the government; or the adoption of the 'farialimer' banner of “zero deficit now”, which requires, in addition to anti-social spending containment, the distribution of extra dividends from Petrobras to supplement the government's cash flow, generating tension with parts of the federal public management itself and with “the markets” (a euphemism for dominant financial and speculative capital); the management in Education, which did not revoke the New Secondary Education, as demanded by numerous associations of educators and Education specialists, and surrounds itself with counselors and advisors drawn from private educational organizations. There would be more to mention, obviously, but it goes beyond this space.

More globally, in cases – which have already occurred – in which the traditional right is eroded together with the institutional left, the bourgeois elites and the imperialist major partner resort to functional groups “from outside” the “system”: ideologically and practically trained military personnel. in the USA, Judiciary groups, ditto (see the Moro-Dallagnol-US State Department relations); churches, often imported or inspired in the USA; or previously isolated and marginal political groups – examples include Nazi fascism in the 1920s and 30s, contemporary European neofascism (Melloni in Italy, Orbán in Hungary, Le Pen in France, Vox in Spain, the SD in Sweden, the AfD in Germany), and even politicians seen as outsiders, like Trump, Bolsonaro, Milei and Kast in Chile.

The erosion of traditional parties, on the right and on the left, is related to the political vacuum created by neoliberalism, a policy at the service of speculative capital with overwhelming power of expansion over national states themselves. The limitation of the sovereignty of States, under the imposition of a code of good global governance and an extra-national evaluation system formed by agencies of rating, rankings and competitiveness indicators from the World Economic Forum and orthodox policies jointly imposed by the IMF, World Bank, European Central Bank and reflected in most Central Banks and Ministries of Finance around the world, dramatically reduce the space for economic and social policies and the autonomy of societies and governments in relation to them.

It resembles the invisible government of an International of Capital, especially speculative or rentier capital. Citizens perceive in a diffuse way that their vote, when supposedly free, has little or no effect on the concrete conditions of life.

The individualistic, anti-associative and anti-union pattern of values, disseminated by the media, elite secondary and higher education courses (reproduced in lower quality courses for middle class and even, partially, popular segments) generates indifference to collective actions and social causes in part expressive share of the population. Labor and social security counter-reforms desocialize work in various professions and impose lifelong work and the struggle for individual and family survival.

This is barbarity in the environment high-tech that imperialist capitalism manages to reproduce on a planetary scale. Under these conditions, unions are emptied and depleted, social movements are attacked and criminalized, critical individuals suffer discrimination and barriers to professional and social progression.

Resistance to this state of things has been growing: increasingly large mass demonstrations have shaken the planet, exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street and then the Black Lives Matter In the USA; for the revolt of the yellow vests and against the worsening of social security in France; by the broad anti-fascist demonstration against the AfD in Germany; for the gigantic demonstrations against the Palestinian genocide Gaza on all continents; not to mention the large massive movements in Latin America, such as the reversal of the coup in Bolivia, the popular demonstrations in Chile and Colombia and Lula's own election in 2022.

Some union movements have advanced in their struggles (for example, automotive metalworkers and Hollywood artists in the USA and partial victories in other countries, including Brazil). But, in general, the popular masses are faced with the limitations of political systems to incorporate real changes in the living conditions of the majority; with the institutional narrowness of the traditional left and the real absence of transformative alternatives with mass strength, programmatic clarity and strong and creative organizational structures; with the bureaucratization and institutional adaptation of the traditional organizational structures of the parties and movements that seek to represent them.

Pure fascism is still not viable at the moment, because fascism means destruction, annihilation of all workers and popular organizations. Even partially co-opted (with many tensions at their base as a result), these organizations remain in activity. Fascism is not co-optation, it is destruction. Neofascism and Bolsonarism didn't get there, but that didn't stop them from being devastating.

Just quote, in the Brazilian case, bringing together the Temer-Bolsonaro regressive cycle:

(1) health, whose destruction began before the pandemic, with the suppression of 40 thousand hospital beds, imposing the creation of the famous and precarious field hospitals, having been thrown open by the explosion of COVID, with triple or quadruple the number of deaths than Brazil's share of the world's population and the global number of fatalities from the pandemic indicate;

(2) unemployment, worsened during the pandemic, for which the “Green-and-Yellow Card” represented a sad and perverse remedy;

(3) the elimination of the majority's labor and social security rights - covered up (which deceived many people) under the motto of "Combating Privileges", all of which were maintained, in fact, like those of 'single' military daughters, those of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, super-salaries and extra-salary benefits from the government and military leadership, the Legislature and the Judiciary, etc. – while ordinary workers, especially low-income workers, were the most affected; On the other hand, the supervision of the Ministry of Labor and the rules for its exercise were severely affected, leading, among other destructive effects, to the proliferation of cases of work analogous to slavery revealed more recently, after the deleterious effect of the labor counter-reform, which made labor relations extremely precarious;

(4) the spread of hunger and social exclusion, reversing the successful process of the three PT governments, eliminating Brazil from the UN Hunger Map, extending salaried work with full rights, strengthening family farming and social assistance policies; and bringing back mass poverty and hunger, social exclusion, the growing thousands on the streets, precarious work, the imposition of retirements and pensions below any level of human dignity;

(5) the material and ideological strangulation of Education (military schools, vilification of universities, New High School, School Without Party and persecution of teachers committed to building a critical consciousness based on the scientific method and social criticism among their students, etc.) ; of Science (brutal cuts in postgraduate scholarships, leading to precariousness and abandonment by master's students, doctoral students and post-doctoral students; reduction of quantitative and qualitative research (thematic variety, etc.); and of Culture (attacks on institutions such as the IPHAN, museums, etc., continuous combat against funding instruments, explicit and instigated censorship, reduction of the public due to the absence of public stimulus and financing policy, preference of public managers everywhere for pasteurized religious or media entertainment, to the detriment of artistic manifestations local, national and international creative organizations), with artists and creators reduced to basic survival or even below it.

Observing the results only in the educational and cultural fields, one can see: (a) increasing emulation of American cultural trash: BBB, The farm, extremely low-level humor, religious proselytism, an exclusively neoliberal economy, political news reduced to “who steals, who betrays, who conspires, who competes”, standardizing and lowering content of effective social interest; (b) spectacularization of disasters and violence; (c) shows by expressive artists of the lowest and most disposable production – with high turnover –, of the pasteurized culture that creates and conditions its own massive audience, claiming to 'satisfy the public's demand and taste'; etc.

Alongside this, there is a growing cognitive and knowledge misadaptation of students, mostly from public education, to the requirements of a quality and emancipatory higher education in professional and citizenship terms; the gigantic diffusion of fake news and attacks on science through social media, reaching large portions of the vulnerable population; and also the spread of aggressive attitudes and values ​​in relation to scientific and humanistic knowledge;

(5) Environment: the large-scale devastation, the policy sadly popularized by the expression “pass the tractor”, the worldwide demoralization with the unrestrained devastation of the Amazon, the very serious environmental crimes of Vale in Mariana and Brumadinho and Brasken in Maceió, The South-Southeast electrical blackouts, in the city of São Paulo and other parts of the country, show the deepening abandonment of minimum standards of sustainability requirements directed by the State for companies operating in the country, in all fields of activity. Relating this aspect to the general precariousness of work, listed in item 3, automatically leads to the remembrance of Karl Marx's phrase in The capital: “Capitalist production […] only develops the technique and combination of the social process of production, exhausting the original sources of all wealth: the land and the worker” (MARX, Karl. Capital: Book I. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 1998. p. 570, 571).

The silence of the bourgeoisie and educated circles linked to the social elite regarding these attacks on national construction itself in democratic, sustainable and civilizing terms indicates the complete detachment of the bourgeoisie associated with imperialism from the effective construction of a sovereign, inclusive nation that creates effective socioeconomic development. The business community, under the leadership of the financial-speculative segment concentrated on Avenida Faria Lima in São Paulo, was distributed among direct and explicit supporters of the aforementioned setbacks, in addition to broad segments of more discreet or indifferent support and a few who expressed occasional very limited reservations. and segmented.

In practice, the capitalist class benefited enormously from the process of destroying rights to increase profit margins, especially in the financial sector and the most oligopolistic national and foreign groups, as well as newly arrived upstarts. The oligopolistic business media, associated with the hegemonic bourgeoisie, invariably instigated and supported anti-democratic coup movements aimed at destroying or blocking any social advances – as exemplified by the article cited at the beginning of this text.

Subsequently, some of its bodies, threatened by the reactionary radicalization of the regimes and governments they helped to implement, often affecting press freedom, adopted semi-critical tones against them. However, the mainstream media, by adopting a more critical tone towards the past government, did not neglect to establish limits and constraints on popular parties and movements, aiming at their adaptation to the bourgeois order associated with imperialism, in a general sense, and their possible co-optation into reorganized political alternatives. from the crisis and defeat of that government.

Some mainstream media organizations are even capable of producing good reports on some of the problems described above, but always disconnected from the general context of destruction of the social fabric and the real sources of wealth, as a systematic process inherent to capitalist production, presenting them, in instead, as local or sectoral “cases” and “situations”.

The set of factors that deplete politics and institutional legitimacy for billions of human beings, briefly summarized above, constitutes the cultural broth of fascism, neo-fascism and intolerant and violent authoritarian alternatives that present themselves as “anti-system”. Capitalism, in general, and its neoliberal version in particular, is contradictory to democracy, particularly to any form of effective popular participation in issues linked to the living and working conditions of the majority of the people.

There is not enough space to delve into the specifically Brazilian institutional dimension of the crisis, but it is necessary to highlight the “de-citizenization” of the “Citizen Constitution” through more than a hundred amendments that distorted many of the rights implemented there by the pressure of popular caravans directed to the Constituent Congress at its origin. Furthermore, Brazilian daily life records continuous and flagrant violations of remaining rights, as exemplified by:

(i) the unconstitutional arrest of Lula without a legal process, under the complicit silence of the STF and the TSE itself in the face of the violation of electoral democracy in 2018; (ii) institutionalized violence, with no defense for the victims (black youth exterminated in communities, poor women – and some even at higher levels – due to feminicide on the rise, the GLBTQIA+ community constantly attacked, sometimes fatally);

(iii) the blatant difference, witnessed with impressive frequency, between the treatment of criminals from the social elite or the popular classes, by the militarized police and the classist judiciary; (iv) religious intolerance, with moral and even physical aggression directed especially against religions of African origin – without the constitutional principles of equality before the law, individual and religious freedom and the right to life being effectively protected, on the day- day-to-day, by any state institution.

These situations, partially alleviated during the twelve years of PT governments, have worsened brutally since the economic and political crisis of 2015 until 2022. Some public policies in the last year and almost a half have reversed part of this social and political disaster, but there are still huge path and many obstacles to overcome.

Finally, there remains an original defect in the 1988 Constitution, which perpetuates what is perhaps the greatest impasse for a truly democratic republic of freedoms, rights and popular and national sovereignty: military tutelage over the State. This has been in force in the country since the republican coup of Deodoro-Floriano, the imposition and overthrow of Getúlio Vargas, until it culminated in the military dictatorship; reissue in the pressure on the Constituent Assembly for the inclusion in CF-88 of Art. 142, allowing the interference of the Armed Forces in the internal order (arbitrariness that does not exist in any democracy on the planet), as well as in the warning of General Villas Boas Correa to the Supreme Court to to maintain Lula's unconstitutional arrest; and reinforce itself with the allocation of the Federal Government by more than six thousand soldiers in the government of the former proto-fascist captain, lover of the dictatorship and declared fan of the Republic's chief torturer, benefiting from the violence against the aforementioned Constitution.

Therefore, its reissue in the failed coup of January 8, 23, with the recent revelation of the involvement of members of the highest military leadership, does nothing more than update the urgency of definitively purging military tutelage over the country, if we want to build a republic effectively democratic.

This is the essential pillar, a fundamental requirement for the adoption of social and political initiatives aimed at resolving the very serious socio-political and economic evils listed above.

None of this, however, will have the necessary effectiveness if the social movements and institutional parties related to them do not essentially change their political and communication strategy. A new popular rooting, capable of combining real presence in communities and workplaces and multiplied activity on social networks, is indispensable. A deep involvement with the essential issues of survival, decent work and defense (and self-defense) of the numerous targets of institutional and informal violence is a priority. A change of focus, without abandoning the electoral field – which maintains its importance –, but intertwining it with social activism, popular and workers organization and investment in the training of leaders, intermediate staff, professionals with social awareness and new layers of leaders, is an unavoidable path.

The bourgeoisie and imperialism have inexhaustible resources to build their support base, inside and outside the institutions. Social movements and parties with a transformative perspective cannot claim to compete with the same weapons. They must go back to doing what they have always known best, in the concrete conditions of the present. Conditions that include new media and networks, the neoliberal-individualist cultural impact, the fragmentation of work, but also the continuous renewal of the social struggle, due to the very strength of the contradictions inherent to capitalism and its voracious vocation as a destroyer of the workforce, of nature and democracy.

*Roberto Vital Anav, Economist, he has a PhD in Planning and Territorial Management from UFABC. Author of The return of Karl Marx: the rediscovery of Marx in the 21st century (Perseus Abramo/Serpent). [https://amzn.to/3W4wHjk]


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