social cannibalism

Image: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas
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By LUIS FERNANDO NOVOA GARZON*

André Esteves out of prison and still running billionaire businesses in the interior of the State, also explains why Bolsonaro remains President

 “Gentlemen of finance, attack, I did your duty!” (Alfred Jarry, King Ubu).

The buffoon king, while fulfilling his diversionary duty, issues the order to go ahead with the extermination. The character of Alfred Jarry's drama became an adjective: ubuesque it is that furnished with power and folly, in direct relation. In the Brazilian case, bizarreness concentrates attention while sneakiness spreads. It is a power derived from the ability to project moral panics and, in their name, annul intersectoral regulations and interclass agreements. The grotesque embodiment of Bolsonaro confers habeas corpus to the voracious metabolism of Brazilian rentier-neoextractivist capitalism.

Creative directors (the financial market, agribusiness and the mainstream media), even if they try to show themselves uncomfortable with the creature, owe it a lot. The looters will be eternally grateful to you, after so many services rendered in terms of dismissals, frauds and deals.

A bloody domination that wants to be aseptic, the visible that schedules and predisposes the invisible. In the creature's burlesque and vulgar gestures, there is choreography. The spectacularization of anti-politics has as its counterpart the pseudo-antidote of depoliticization. Denialism is the explicit face that crowns the masking of the socially differentiated effects of the pandemic. Liberal-Keynesian agreements, when admitted, are valid only as grafts, by definition temporary. The account will be converted into future public debt, that is, into new waves of social sacrifices and sectoral and territorial concessions.

The intermittence between increasingly vast dissolutions and increasingly residual integrations is what marks the post-social order that made a school in Brazil, especially after the 2016 coup. In these terms, what future can come from institutions so corroded ? With self-regulation devices for financialized capital enshrined in the Constitution, with privatist counter-reforms in progress or already triggered, with regulatory frameworks and large infrastructure projects that reiterate the political-decision-making centrality of agribusiness and mining, it is necessary to assess what government can still mean and governance in Brazil.

After the last avalanches of privatization, one can deduce what the “average” of market expectations would be. What can be rational and normal after this freak show of jokes? One can see the reasonableness in permanent retreat from afar. Let's say without sweeteners: it is from the extremes of capitalist barbarism that the admissible “political center” or the suitable center is being measured. Fit in it who can.

The king is naked, but no nudity will be punished. The same reason that explains Esteves out of prison and still running billionaire businesses in the interior of the State, also explains why Bolsonaro remains President. It is natural that the CEO of BTG says he is not “worried about the electoral consequences”, considering that 2022 has already been priced as an unavoidable race to the center. And if by chance “the extremes stay at the extremes, the center will walk”, concludes the banker. Such an innovation is this capacity for “self-correction” of the markets that makes the “third way” to be declared in advance the only way that can win. Who needs a coup, after such an understanding?

No “extremist ideology” is at play here. The simulacrum of polarization makes possible, without major commotion, a strict coupling between political regime and socioeconomic structure. A spontaneous asymmetrical order is consolidated without further mediation. In 2022, potentates of commodities and “Faria Limers” will look to keep the tension in the same place. What other reason why there was no impeachment, why until now Bolsonaro has not been tried and convicted for the countless crimes committed, covered up and encouraged? The outbreak of riots and internal conflicts in the power bloc, at this point, would be too much exposure.

The episodes surrounding the coup movement on September 07, 2021 were treated with calculated dosage. This financial, legal and political pact was included in a note from the jurist, the first beneficiary of this authoritarian cycle. Once the letter was transcribed and signed, the self-coup was recklessly assimilated. Acting as parties on the political scene, agents of the Supreme, they advance or retreat, each in their own way and at their own time, to save appearances from the electoral calendar and consequently from a rite of transition.

Logically, among the markets and their heralds, there is no one who wants to give up an “institutional maturity” marked by the abolition of any conditionality vis-à-vis the population, the nation and the collectivity. Bridge to the future that became Plano Mais Brasil (with fewer rights). The three repeating “ds” ad nauseam: unbind, unbind, de-index. “He [Bolsonaro] gave us a shield to move forward”, is Guedes' final cue.

The official motto, therefore, is “no retreat”. Bolsonaro’s re-election offers a legacy of maximum elasticity of profitability for economic groups, a scenario of fusion between economic interests and institutional rules that has not been seen since 1930.

Here in the Amazon, you soon learn that surviving COVID and its variants is not enough. The pandemic adds to the metabolic plague of rentier-neoextractivist capitalism, diagnosed by its unstoppable accumulator drive. The feeling that accompanies it can be defined as a predatory rage, already so naturalized that it seems spontaneous.

The legal framework remains open for the normalization of criminal subjections and usurpations, therefore awarded with the merit of the “general interest”. Depending on this jurisprudence, there will always be time to normalize and consolidate the next setbacks. The indecorous proposal of a timeframe for indigenous lands shows that the business-landlord offensive, after saturating and homogenizing space, turns against time, to promote even more ultimate looting.

Oblivion is choosing to move forward, without looking at what remains in the extensive traces of this disaster capitalism, across the continent. “Oh, Minas Gerais”, which used to be a place for evoking our indomitable origins, has become a cry of disquiet, a sob of pain, due to the recurrent “collateral damage” of new spills required by the global mining chain. Memory, even if late, requires reparation, repair and reinvention.

The plague that profoundly afflicts us is recognized by its triumphant discourse and by the form of overaccumulation it makes possible. A regime of accumulation that made social cannibalism and environmental devastation a condition sine qua non for raising profitability rates, it is not reversed only with general elections.

*Luis Fernando Novoa Garzon is a sociologist, PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from IPPUR-UFRJ and professor at the Federal University of Rondônia.

 

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