Bento Gonçalves – Bolsonarist pole

Image: Joey Kyber


It would be a crass error to blame the base of the social pyramid for the ignominy. In a hierarchical society, those responsible are always at the top.

The existence of work analogous to slavery in the mountain town that bears the name of the patriarch of the Farroupilha Revolution in Rio Grande do Sul, Bento Gonçalves, involved an outsourced company (Fênix Serviços and Oliveira & Santana) and three important and renowned wineries (Salton, Aurora and Cooperativa Garibaldi). After some neo-enslaved people managed to flee in search of help from the authorities, more than two hundred workers were freed from degrading environments in which they were monitored by cameras in the cubicles of an inn, fed rotten food, subjected to electric shocks, sprays of pepper and beatings to carry out an exhausting day of work, up to 16 hours, without receiving wages.

The contracted company refused an agreement with the Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) to pay R$ 600 in compensation for modern slavery, and is going to appeal to Justice. It rejects the accusation of forced labor, despite the evidence and testimonies. From the employer's perspective, it seems that everything seemed “normal”, even in disagreement with labor legislation. The MPT, as far as is known, has not yet listed the responsibility of the wineries regarding the abuses that affected employees for the grape harvest in the vineyards.

The winegrowers imagine perhaps getting away with belated notes of indignation, as if they had nothing to do with the widespread violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of the United Nations. Better to get real, and co-indemnify the suffering of women and men enlisted two thousand kilometers away, in Bahia. This is what the wineries did, by signing a Conduct Adjustment Term (TCA), committing to pay compensation of R$ 7 million to a fund to combat neo-slave work.

The Center for Industry, Commerce and Services in Bento Gonçalves tried to justify the situation with a low sophistry. He accused social policies, such as Bolsa Família, of withdrawing from the market the active population that would have gone on to survive in the shadow of government programs. The mental gymnastics of the representatives of the local Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if it insults common sense, illustrates the political, social and cultural context in which the sad barbaric events took place. Serra became a Bolsonarist pole. In the last presidential elections, the false messiah won in 47 out of 49 municipalities. As in São Paulo, the voting percentages in the interior of the province did not mirror the result obtained in the capital of Rio Grande do Sul and surroundings.

The second round of the most populous cities in the region was emblematic. In Caxias do Sul, Jair Bolsonaro had 66,43% of the votes against 33% for Lula da Silva. In Bento Gonçalves, it scored 57% against 75,89% respectively. In Nova Pádua, the record: 24,20% endorsed the genocide. The ballot boxes captured the anti-political bias of neo-fascist (xenophobic), neo-conservative (discriminatory) and neo-liberal (aporophobic) tendencies. Intimidation and aggression against Bahian citizens, with the vexatious participation of military police, as well as the infamous captain-of-the-mato speech of the councilor who condemned the oppressed, in episodes once experienced by poor people of European and Asian ethnic groups (Portuguese, Italians, , Germans, Chinese, Japanese), followed unwritten norms to naturalize a feeling of superiority.

It is comforting to believe that the course of the community is traced “from bottom to top”. But it would be a crass error to blame the base of the social pyramid for the ignominy. In a hierarchical society, those responsible are always at the top. The extinction, due to national mismanagement, of the Ministry of Labor after 88 years of activities and the dismantling of inspection teams on employability conditions, is at the origin of the escalation to terror. We'll get back to the topic. Bolsonarism celebrated “deep Brazil”, by praising the subjects of domination remaining from the primitive accumulation of capital (torturers, militiamen, supremacists). However, the spirit of emancipation of the settler-immigrant of earlier eras revives in his youth, confronting the totalitarianism of the commodity. The proof is the anointing of three black warriors (one boy, two girls), from the left, to the Caxias do Sul City Council. One was elected federal deputy in October.

two basic principles

Main insight by Harvard University political science professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in how democracies die, refers to the fact that isolated institutions are not enough to inhibit attacks by autocrats elected to implode the foundations of the democratic regime. “Constitutions have to be defended by political parties and organized citizens, also by democratic norms. Without robust norms, constitutional checks and balances do not serve as the bulwarks of democracy… Democracies function best and survive longest where constitutions are reinforced by unwritten democratic norms”. They dwell on the case of the United States, and lessons from elsewhere.

The imperialist power managed to introduce two basic principles into the social body: (a) “mutual tolerance”, the understanding that competitors are legitimate rivals and; (b) “restraint”, so that politicians refrain from making use of institutional prerogatives. For Levitsky and Ziblatt, these regulations stabilized US democracy throughout the 1930th century. The leaders of the Republicans and Democrats recognized each other with reciprocal legitimacy, and controlled the temptation of temporary power to extract the maximum advantage for their co-religionists. Guides to tolerance and restraint helped to avoid the sectarian strife that destroyed democracy in Europe in the 1960s and in Latin America in the 70s-XNUMXs. But advice belongs to the moral rather than the political order. It does not imply the domestication of proposals for changes, of interest to dependent countries in the semi-periphery of capitalism.

Institutions are more than a collection of abstract rules. They are a dialogic construction, not an engineering one. Its steel is tempered by consensus. Restriction of toxic powers depends on subtle arrangements between leaders (however imperfect they may be) and their ability to counterbalance or neutralize ambitions. The parties and the unwritten norms associated with them are the key to the balance of institutionality. Technocratic rancids to party nominations in the state apparatus exude naive apoliticalism. Politicians humanize technicians.

The authors of bestseller admit that the guardrails are weakened. The demagogue Donald Trump stamped the setback in a mandate guided by the post-truth, by repudiating the traditional vehicles of information in favor of Twitter and Instagram – and refusing the electoral defeat in the exit of the White House. Any resemblance to the corrupt tyrant of bribes in jewelry, in a tropical country, is not coincidental. However, the erosion of democracy dates back to the 1980s and 90s, with the rise of neoliberal ideas. Sectarianism has since invaded not only the social and political spheres, but has extended into conflicts of race and culture. The drive for racial equality ran parallel with the diversification of society. In this sense, the sharpening of polarizations was a response (with the liver) to the complexity of the processes in transit. If there is one thing that the history of nations teaches, it is that extreme polarizations can kill democracies, and collapse is not an irreversible fate. The desire to overcome chaos counts.

In Brazil, the Frente da Esperança ticket (Lula-Alckmin) signaled the overcoming of secondary differences, compared to the risks inherent in the re-election of an illiberal project, aligned with the international extreme right. He had to lick the wounds inflicted on each other to avoid collapsing. In the face of absolute evil, the situation has forced the decisions of former opponents to pragmatism, at a time when democracy is retreating across the entire planet. The “democratic recession” can be seen in Nicaragua, Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Russia. Fortunately, a Colombia, a Sri Lanka, a Tunisia counterpoint them. To calm nerves, democracies in other geographies continue intact and safe, without the rumble of tanks in the streets. Although the authoritarian pressures and the recycled scams with the aesthetics of legal pantomimes, lawfare, fake news, press dominated by finance and asset delivery.

outsourcing law

The coup d'état synthesized in Michel Temer's possession (2016) and condensed in the document aimed to legitimize the return to laissez-faire of the 2017th century, without legal guarantees for the laboring masses. Intolerant and immoderate, the so-called “Bridge to the future” put a damper on the post-democratization New Republic. Classical slavery was updated, stimulated and aggravated with the approval by the National Congress of the Outsourcing Law (2018). The attack on labor rights was approved by the Federal Supreme Court (STF, XNUMX), without pity.

According to Luís Roberto Barroso, in the article “Judicialization of life”, inserted in the commemorative work 130 years: in search of the Republic, organized by Edmar Bacha et al: “(i) labor law and the trade union system need to adapt to changes in the labor market and society; (ii) outsourcing does not, by itself, lead to precarious work, violation of the worker's dignity or disrespect for social security rights. The abusive exercise of their hiring is what can produce such violations, and there are means to prevent and repress such behavior”. The historical ground belies the thesis. Remembering the dates refreshes the memory.

The minister's text was published in June 2019, six months after the predatory abolition of the Ministry of Labor and the scrapping of the work of the control bodies: the Regional Superintendences of Labor and Employment (SRTE) and Regional Managements of Labor and Employment (GRTE ). Assistance units in the states in charge of executing, supervising and monitoring actions related to public labor and employment policies. Abuses were predictable when the fox was allowed to settle in the henhouse. No wonder, the problems tripled in the "Garrão da Patria". In 2021, labor tax auditors rescued 69 victims in RS. In 2022, there were 156. In 2023, there are already 208. And we are just in the waters of March.

The fingerprints of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary are at the scene of the crime, for life to “adjust to the transformations in the labor market and society”. It never occurs to scholars to be concerned with adapting to the requirements for the creation of a Welfare State, with social and environmental justice, free of indecent and indecent attachments in certain careers. They do not perceive the causal or aggravating link between the legalized premises and the conclusion in practice. As in the old and wise saying, "pepper in other people's eyes is eye candy".

The dehumanizing storm did not stop there. The secondary education counter-reform enshrined in the school curriculum the current division of labor in society. Unemployment has spread to the scale of several tens of millions. Homelessness has lost the umbrella of Minha Casa, Minha Vida. Precariousness proved to be a perverse synonym of wage flattening. The period of work was extended to avoid retirements. The prospect of social mobility grew like a horse's tail. Poverty brought hunger and despair. Resentments intensified, which in turn led to dangerous, zero-sum polarizations. The dream that seemed solid of citizen governance and sociability with freedom, equality and solidarity melted into thin air. Systemic hatred has targeted our civilizational advances.

The new rulers face challenges that, in order to be faced, demand engagement and mobilization of the “world of work” (union centrals, associations, social movements, community entities). On the other hand, government initiatives must question the hearts and minds of workers. Praised in the Northern Hemisphere, the unwritten norms of coexistence apply to the global South. Tolerance and restraint are not to be confused with attitudes of passivity or the pessimism of the will. Nor do they rhyme with amnesty. Forward.

* 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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