viral capitalism

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By RICARDO ANTUNES*

Capital’s socio-metabolic reproduction system, in addition to having a destructive gear, with the pandemic also became a lethal system

about the pandemic

In the first few months of the pandemic, I received an invitation from Ivana Jinkings, from Editora Boitempo, to publish a small book about the pandemic. I thanked him and said no, because I was already doing it lives and in them he had said everything he was thinking about the tragedy. She asked me to think about it for a few days. A day or two after reflecting, I ended up accepting and thought: I'm going to take interviews I gave at the time and put them on paper, in the form of a summary text. However, when I started to write this little book, with the title Coronavirus: work under fire – published in an e-book – was when, in fact, I started to reflect on what this pandemic meant.

I remembered that my mother, born in 1918, spoke a lot about the Spanish flu, it was something strong in her memory. For decades she referred to it as an expression of horror. It was then, little by little, while reflecting and writing this short text, that I began to understand the size of the tragedy, which led me to a central conclusion: capitalism, or even more broadly, the social reproduction system. metabolic rate of capital, in addition to having a destructive gear – and here I am heir to a thesis by Marx, which was exponentially developed by Mészáros – with the pandemic, it also became a lethal system. That's when I coined the expression "virus capitalism" or "pandemic". This, then, is my synthesis of what the years 2020 and especially 2021 were like, when we surpassed the mark of 600 deaths in Brazil.

In short: the pandemic is not an event of nature. For example, the increasingly frequent thaws, which release previously frozen viruses that spread to the surface, have to do with global warming, fossil energy, fires, mineral extraction, unbridled production, agroindustry, expansion of areas destined for cattle, emission of greenhouse gases, in short, all this has led us to a situation that is not only destructive but lethal, hence pandemic or viral capitalism. This is not an aberration of nature, therefore, the more than five million deaths from the pandemic, data that are underreported (imagine India, for example; it is impossible to know everything that is happening in a place with such human indigence. And Brazil follows along the same lines).

When you have five million deaths, in addition to the “normal” mortality rate each year, due to diseases and different issues, it is because the system has reached a complete level of destruction, in which lethality begins to become normal. All of this reminds me repeatedly of the thesis of Marx and Engels that "all that is solid melts into air". Now everything solid can melt, wither away.

Thus, the first observation is this: the pandemic did not cause the tragedy, it laid bare, accentuated and exasperated what was already in progress. Just mention three points that predate the pandemic:

(1) the human destruction of work reaches unimaginable levels – certainly much higher than what is officially recognized. In Brazil there are about 18 million unemployed, also considering the discouraged. The Economically Active Population (EAP), which was once over 100 million, was significantly reduced during the pandemic. The level of informality is around 40%. And in May 2020 we were faced with a new tragedy reported by the IBGE: “informality has decreased”, informed the institute. Good news? No, because it meant that informal work, which collected that pocket of unemployed, could not even fulfill this function. On the contrary, that month informality was also causing unemployment. Therefore, in the world of work, the devastation is complete and even irreversible, from the point of view of the dominant system. It can decrease in times of expansion and regress in periods of recession. To think seriously about full employment, in global capitalism, is complete nonsense.

(2) About nature, we said 15 years ago that the future was compromised. Now it no longer makes sense to say this, as it is the present that is compromised. And we don't know if it's possible to reverse the current course of destruction. We know it can stop, and the pandemic has already given clues. When cities closed and people stopped moving, the air improved. Private transport and destructive industries are key elements in the destruction of nature through their consumption of fossil energy. And how are we going to stop the destruction? It will be necessary to eliminate everything that is superfluous and socially and environmentally destructive.

(3) substantive equality between genders, races, ethnicities, has never been so far away, with the intensification and deepening of inequalities and poverty. The anti-racist struggle, the feminist revolution underway in the world, the masterful indigenous rebellions show that the capital system has taken us to rock bottom, as we are already on a step below barbarism.

Hence the relevance of the phrase “everything that is solid melts into air”, because it is no longer possible for us to continue with this way of life. COP-26 in Glasgow sums it up perfectly. Just blah-blah-blah, as the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg summarized. Capitalism has no possibility of facing these tragedies and, if we want to treat things rigorously, this scenario will only get worse. A simple example is enough: Jeff Bezos (or is it Bozos?), a few months ago, after accumulating unlimitedly in all corners of the world (even in China the triliard acts intensely) now dreams of accumulating by exploring space. It is not enough to have devastated our territory, the time has come to accumulate in outer space... Thus, if there is so much destruction of nature, destruction of work and obstacles to substantive equality, a term coined by Mészáros, it is because this world is no longer sustainable. contrary to There is no alternative, the crucial imperative of our time is to “reinvent a new way of life”.

And, in order not to sound utopian, as if the (dis)values ​​of capital were eternally untouchable, it is worth looking a little at history. Feudalism, for example, seemed to be a very powerful system, with a very strong, rich and armed nobility. The ultraconservative and controlling church. Beside it, an Absolutist and despotic State. All this was overthrown, in 1789, with the first radical bourgeois revolution in France. It collapsed, just as Russian tsarism collapsed in 1917. As in these historic moments, society reached its limit. In 1917 we had a nascent and powerful revolutionary power, the working class with its organizations of struggle, such as the soviets or councils, the class unions and the workers' parties. I mention only these two great revolutions, without going into their many developments here, each in its own way. But it is worth remembering that the bourgeois revolution also had to resort to its revolutionary instruments in order to be able to dismantle the feudal order.

Brazil today is a laboratory of experimentation, to test how far human indigence can be taken, as well as India, African countries, like South Africa. The very exclusion of this immense and wonderful continent from mass vaccination is an example of what we are alluding to. And Brazil, if all this were not enough, has a government whose president is dictatorial, semi-Bonapartist and neo-fascist (generating what I characterized as a “lumpen-type government”) that combines its autocratic form with a primitive neoliberal policy, than resulted in a scientific denialism that was a vital driver for the expansion of the pandemic. The idea was: “let's free the cattle” and the result is more than 600 thousand dead.

To summarize: we live in a stage of humanity where there is no longer a fix for the current system. We have never been so close to the end of human history. Capitalism, little by little, ended up irreversibly compromising human survival, more intensely in the peripheries, where the vast majority of humanity lives, who depend on their work to survive. But this vital issue is not limited to the South of the world. We saw army trucks taking elderly people for burial in the richest and most advanced region of Italy, as there was not enough health structure to accommodate the elderly who worked decades to maintain the country. And there are the examples of France, England, Germany, not to mention the USA and its privatized health system.

It even seems that we have entered another level of the “socialism or barbarism” dichotomy. Again resorting to Mészáros: now it is “socialism or barbarism, if we are lucky”. Because we were already in barbarism before the pandemic, now we have gone down a few more steps.

 

In Brazil

On a more conjunctural level, this tragedy will take us many decades to come out of the quagmire. What I called the “era of neoliberal desertification” that started in the 1990s extended through the century that began in a horrific way. The reasons for this current scenario are difficult to explain, they will require us to study more. We can start by saying that “in the middle of the road there was a pandemic”, something that had not happened, except in 1918. of death in all families.

In Brazil, this was even more accentuated, because this government implemented a recognizably genocidal policy. He invested in the idea of ​​“liberating” the population, without lockdown and thus forcing herd immunity. The most vulnerable would be contaminated en masse – blacks, indigenous peoples, poor wage earners, from the outskirts – and this, according to denialism, would immunize the white population, from the urban middle classes who could defend themselves with everyday strategies of remote work, less precarious etc. Roughly speaking, this was the policy of liberalization of the pandemic, certainly a trait of the lethality of the system, as occurred for months in the US, under Donald Trump and in so many other countries. Thus, we cannot say that Jair M. Bolsonaro did not know what to do. He knew perfectly well. Trump also knew, did that and only changed when he saw that he was going to lose the election. The same happened with Bolsonaro, who only partially changed, when the CPI touched on the real possibility of his impeachment.

In a broader and more structural analysis, we have never had a bourgeois democratic revolution here, like England, France and other countries. Germany, Italy and Japan also ended up consolidating long democratic periods, always in the bourgeois sense of the term. Consequently, here we didn't even have that, which helps to understand why the institutions, faced with an unexpected victory of neo-fascism, were intimidated and at various times chickened out. Recently we also had PT governments, with Lula leaving with a high level of approval in his second term. But it is good to remember that there was a lot of flexibilization and precariousness of work, even though, at the same time, 20 million jobs were created and the country grew and expanded. It is also true that Lula was very generous with the agroindustry (how unfair to push him to prison), just as he was generous with the big bourgeoisie, industry, banks, etc.

But its downfall, especially during the second Dilma Rousseff administration, was also a result of the enormous political manipulation of public opinion carried out by the media, added to the natural wear and tear of its governments, starting with the 2013 rebellions and the expansion of the crisis in Brazil and of the PT, this whole scenario was conducive to Dilma's deposition. If there is no doubt that there was corruption in the PT governments (can anyone imagine that a government could have support from the Centrão without corruption?), the idea was sold that it was the “most corrupt government in history”, as if corruption had at some point ceased to exist in Brazil. Just remember the dictatorship, something that the youth have no idea about. What was known at the time, of corruption scandals, the dictatorship's censorship prohibited the press from publishing.

Corruption, it is worth adding, is a trait, a mark of capitalism, it can be greater or lesser. But the right emphasizes this fact when it wants to depose a government, as it was here, that no longer interests it. Dilma, on a strictly personal level, is a brave woman, she has never stolen anything. Its biggest limit is due to the fact that it was not able to maintain the conciliation structured by Lula. Here it is worth a parenthesis: Lula is a genius of conciliation, just as Getúlio Vargas was in his time. There is, however, a difference between them: Getúlio was a rancher from the pampas, a landowner, endowed with strong attributes to reconcile (aiming at dominating) broad sectors of the working class. Lula, the former metallurgist, went even further: he showed an unusual capacity for conciliation with the ruling class, but he was unable to understand that he would never be able to “dominate” it. And, given what it has been doing at present, it is not difficult to foresee new turbulences, a little further ahead. Dilma lacked this profile of conciliation to maintain her government.

One last note to try to understand the size of the open political crisis. Bolsonaro, among other causes and contingencies, won the election by presenting himself as the candidate against the system. And that won him a strong popular vote among the most impoverished working class, not to mention the conservative middle classes and the decisive support of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, which is incapable of living without predation. But if the extreme right-wing candidate was (certainly falsely) against the system, most of the candidates who presented themselves as being left-wing, took pains to present proposals to fix the system. It is impressive the capacity that the left has (and here I am not restricting myself only to the Brazilian case) in presenting itself in the electoral battle and affirming that it will fix the system.

We need to reinvent a left that has the courage to claim that this system is destructive and lethal; that recovers the sense of hope that was frayed over decades of neoliberalism, that it will not be possible to have jobs for the entire working class without profound structural changes, that it will not manage to preserve nature and that it will be impossible to advance in the struggle for substantive equality between men, women, blacks, whites, indigenous people, without hurting and confronting the interests of capital and the bourgeois class that today reigns as untouchable and unquestionable.

Take the example of Parliament. In the middle of the XNUMXth century, when there was Louis Bonaparte's coup in France, Marx wrote (I remember it here from memory): “the French parliament has lost the minimum of credibility it had before the population”. I imagine what I would write if I knew contemporary Brazil. How to proceed in a country where the President of the Chamber alone decides whether he has impeachment or not? The population realized that this parliament is bought by the government, so that the deputies will only be able to abandon Bolsonaro in the final stretch of the election, if the boat founders, when the interests of the Centrão are already fully guaranteed. And it's not hard to imagine, then, if that happens, that this same swamp will be the new base of support for the Lula government. That is why Brazil has an endless history that combines and mixes farce, tragedy and tragicomedy.

 

the hope principle

For all this, I remembered Ernst Bloch's need to rescue the principle of hope. And this is not done through conciliation, but through profound structural changes. Let's look at the examples of indigenous communities, in their social experiments that – above all – preserve nature not only for their generation, but for future generations, children, grandchildren, for humanity. Despite all the difficulties, the MST as a collective movement survives, has schools, cooperative experiments, carries out women's, youth, workers' and workers' struggles, as well as the MTST in its struggles for housing and for a better life.

The parties continue to owe us. I am sorry to see the PSOL, which seems to repeat the path of the PT more and more. I speak as a PSOL member, not as an opponent or enemy. But it seems to forget that, in its beginnings, the PT struggled a lot not to be the electoral tail of the PMDB, which always defended the broad front, boasting a lot about change in order to actually preserve everything. The PT was born against this idea of ​​a Front, but this is more a part of the past than the present, although within the PT one can also find critical militancy that is concerned with this scenario.

Finally, to compose the picture of so many difficulties, it is not easy to carry out workers' struggles today. People are aware of the even greater risk of unemployment caused by the pandemic and they know that even without fighting or striking, there is already a risk of seeing your name on the layoff list. The conjuncture has a costly adverse side for the labor movement. Thus, we are obliged to advance in the struggles that are part of the history of the working class and also have the courage to invent new forms of social and class struggle, which flourish in Brazil, Latin America, Africa, Asia. What should, however, be strongly emphasized is that the seemingly safer path of class conciliation ends up distancing us even further from the “reinvention of a new way of life” beyond the constraints imposed by capital, which has already reached a level of devastation – and counter-revolution – which has converted the current “democracy” into a chessboard where, ultimately, capital is in charge, the large financial corporations that impose a fictional reality on us, whose objective is none other than to conceal the dominance of global, native bourgeoisies and foreign, which are those who hold control of wealth and also of all governments in the world, with very few exceptions.

That is why there is no capitalist country that does not have its economy under the direct control of finance capital, the most destructive, the most devoid of any soul sense. Here I recall Marx's formulation. The dream of capital, since its genesis, is to make money (D) become more money (D'). But for money to become more money, Marx demonstrated that it is necessary to produce goods to, in the end, generate capital accumulation. Hence its endless formula: DM-D', followed by D'-M'-D”, then D''-M''-D”' and thus follows the endless course of the logic of capital accumulation, given that without production no more money is created, the production of surplus value is vital for capital accumulation and the cycle becomes endless. And today it can only reproduce, as we indicated earlier, by devastating and destroying everything that hinders and hinders it.

In this sense, the world is experiencing a horrific moment, as we see in the fight between Apple and Huawei for the global 5G market, a great symbol of global disputes and the size of the imbroglio in which humanity finds itself. I have no doubt that, in the midst of so many tragedies, we will enter an era of profound social upheavals. I don't have the secret of what such seizures will be like, but they will happen.

 

The Chilean Experience

Chile has been a great social laboratory. For the first time, in the most recent period, with the election of Salvador Allende and the attempt to implement socialism through elections. And I would add that this experiment had a sublime trait of grandeur, which we did not see at the time, due to our reservations about the possibilities of socialism through elections. But it must be said that Allende's experience was grandiose and defeated by the old military, dictatorial, repressive coup that so stains Latin America. The second experiment we had with the fusion of Pinochet's military dictatorship with neoliberalism. Chile was the first neoliberal country in the world, even before England, which was the first in Europe, followed by Helmut Kohl's Germany and, of course, Reagan's USA. The Chilean dictatorship implanted a primitive and bloodthirsty neoliberalism, it is not by chance that it was there that Paulo Guedes went to experience his lessons obtained in the so-called Chicago School.

The social explosions of 2019 in Chile gave the impression that the social left was in full control of the country. And the elections showed that it wasn't quite like that, because the neo-Nazi candidate (Jose Antonio Kast, son of a German Nazi officer) won in the first round and scared the hell out of him. This is where the tragedy that bourgeois democracy imposes on the left comes in. Gabriel Boric is a young leader, born in the social and student struggles of ten years ago, a little outside the traditional parties. But now he is starting to be tested: either he made concessions to the center in order to win the elections, or he ran the risk of losing the elections.

Today's situation, with small local variations, is more or less like this: the dominant electoral tendency in Latin America has been more or less like this: one third left, one third open right and even fascist, and one third center, which goes to one side or the other depending on the context. The expansion of the extreme right is worldwide, and since the election of Donald Trump, or the Brexit, it grew, like in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, even in India. It grew and the influence of neo-Nazi movements increased.

The left was little by little abandoning what was its strongest element, which was being radical in its formulations. And I say radical in etymological terms, that is, of seeking the roots of problems. And today the extreme right has embraced the radical discourse, has lost the shame of presenting itself like this. She doesn't even define herself as right anymore, but as extreme right, as fascist or even nazi. And it wants to change the system, in its own way, just as Hitler's Nazism and Mussolini's Fascism also spoke of changing the system. And in the midst of the resurgence of this scenario, the majority of the left, in order to defend what remains of “democratic freedoms”, has become the system's means of conciliation. It's not hard to imagine where this will end.

In the Brazilian case, after 2013 we have not seen anything similar to the great uprisings that started in 2019 in Chile and which continued even during the pandemic. The immediate cause was the increase in transport prices, as in 2013 around here. And Chile had been a powder keg for years. It was certain that the country was going to explode at some point. There was a latency, something like a volcano. If you look at it from above you'll see that even without the rash it's all bubbling up inside. This is how the country has been for years. I have been able to be in Chile several times in the last decade. The country's privatization created pockets of poverty among people who increasingly sought to remember and relive Allende's experience.

 

Alternatives in Brazil

Brazil is experiencing something similar, although it has not fully realized it yet (the first signs are becoming evident), after five years of destruction, to name just the most recent years. People today look at the Temer-Bolsonaro period and think: “I want Lula back”. If we reach a level where people put the bone in the pot to smell like the meat… This is beginning to be understood, because in the Lula government meat or chicken was on the table of broad sectors of the working class, at least once a week. Any comparison, then, is favorable to the PT, even though it was a social-liberal and not anti-neoliberal government. Without any reformist trait comparable to the João Goulart government, which in 1964 fell for it. The PT did not fall because it was reformist. The PT fell because conciliation is no longer interesting. Democracy has turned the board of the big corporations and either the left plays according to what the bourgeoisie wants, or the bourgeoisie comes up with the fascist option to put the knife in the neck of the left.

Fearful, the left ends up accepting this game. Even Alckmin is coveted for vice-president, as was Temer previously. And Lula says she sleeps peacefully. But does anyone think that Lula imagined a coup plotter in Temer? No, not least because it is reality that makes the scammer. Temer, with his horrifying subtlety, became a coup when the ruling classes needed him. And that's how he managed, recently, to hold Bolsonaro, his “companion in battles”, who signed the paper that Temer wrote without hesitation. “Don't want to fall? Come with me, do it like this”. And Bolsonaro replied: "write and I'll sign".

I recognize that we are in a delicate situation. What I no longer want to live after almost four decades? I no longer want a military dictatorship and even less a fascist dictatorship. In the military dictatorship of 1964, we didn't know if we would be arrested in the dead of night. So, of course, in an election between a fascist and a non-fascist, if that's the case for the second round, our option is obvious. Even to be able to save the minimum and last remnant of the 1988 Constitution. It was the result of a social pact that was also conservative. I remember vast sectors of the left that were against the Federal Constitution of 1988, it was not by chance that the PT did not sign it and parliamentarians who did were expelled from the party.

It is a Constitution that today is progressive, but which at the time we knew could have been much more advanced, much better. At the end of the day, the Centrão – which already existed – went there and carried out its arrangements and smuggling. It was an advance in relation to the dictatorship, of course, but the class struggle in Brazil in the 80s was one of the strongest in the history of the XNUMXth century. The Constituent Assembly was a breakthrough, but the swamp was powerful there too; Conservatives at the time did what was necessary to maintain clear conservation traits. That's how we got here.

What alternative did Lula put forward? An even more moderate repeat of 2002. If he wins, we will breathe the feeling of more democratic freedom, that we distance ourselves a little from fascism. However, it is not possible to imagine profound changes. Any left-wing government should revoke all government measures from Temer to here: PEC on non-financial spending, labor and social security counter-reforms, outsourcing laws, general release of pesticides, all social and environmental dismantling. And also the anti-terrorism law edited by Dilma, among other measures even by the PT government, renationalization of strategic companies, strategic assets such as airports… Are you going to do this with Alckmin? He is not a puppet, he has expression, he has always been center-right, even though he is not a fascist.

It is not by chance that Bolsonaro had broad popular support. The deep erosion suffered by PT in the working masses found in Bolsonaro the only candidate who said he was against the system. Thus, we are still in a terrible historical period, of preventive counterrevolution, to remember our dear Florestan Fernandes, and the lefts are still very cornered.

The only reason the picture is not worse is that the situation of capitalism is one of deep crisis. We are talking about the crisis of the left and the massacres against the working class. But it is possible to sustain a system that destroys humanity and nature in all its dimensions, to brutally enrich 1% or a little more of the world's population, which in turn will concentrate 90% of the wealth and take it to outer space, because here there is no more space – including physical space – to plunder humanity and destroy nature?

So I go back to the beginning: "everything that is solid can melt". And the left faces this challenge, which is not to fix the system – which is, I repeat, “unfixable” – but to “reinvent a new way of life”. The challenge of the social lefts, the anti-capitalist feminist revolution, the anti-racist movement is ongoing. We have a lot to learn from indigenous communities, who have lived their entire history without private property, without merchandise, without profit. Why is all this indisputable and untouchable? Why do we talk so much about diminishing the rights of the working class? Why don't we talk about diminishing private property rights? We need to learn from communities on the fringes of capital, from the peripheries and their experiences of self-organization, from class unions and I hope that leftist parties are able to return to being openly against order. The left must refuse to battle on the line of least resistance, to recall Mészáros's metaphor. The capital presents his parliament as a platform for struggle. And the left goes there. It presents the elections and the left throws all the oxygen into them.

The pandemic has shown us that we must reinvent a new way of life. We are obliged to do so, since the current way of life is destructive and increasingly lethal. But they say “ah, socialism is over”. It's a joke to say that. Socialism has had 150 years to defeat capitalism and it still hasn't. And truth. Just as capitalism took more or less three centuries to defeat feudalism. The first capitalist struggles go back to the commercial revolution in Venice, so as not to go to the Avis Revolution in Portugal. The commercial renaissance dates from the beginning of the XNUMXth century. And capitalism was only victorious, in France and England, at the end of the XNUMXth century. In Germany, Italy and Japan at the end of the XNUMXth century. Why would socialism necessarily have to defeat capitalism in a century and a half?

Capitalism can no longer sustain itself except through the autocratic path, which has the appearance of being democratic. If its interests begin to shift, capital removes the chessboard, and the game has to start anew.

In 2021 we complete 150 years of the most beautiful socialist experiment. It lasted 71 days. A monumental experience. The Paris Commune did not fall because of its internal deformations, like the republics of the former USSR. It fell because the army of Versailles, of French absolutism allied with Prussian, stopped fighting each other and united to massacre and defeat the Communards. An experience that fell on its merits, not its deformations. May the Commune be our starting point and not our farewell.

 

the military question

If there is something evident today that the PT governments were unable to face, it was the military issue. When Lula was elected, in 2002, with more than 53 million votes, and the military was still remembered for the horrors of the dictatorship, it was time to face the military question. In Argentina, it was a liberal (Raúl Alfonsín) who initiated the processes against the military of the 1976-82 dictatorship, accused of torture, murders and the most barbaric crimes, such as the appropriation of children daughters of militants who were adopted by the bourgeoisie, who received present of soldiers committed to the core with the crimes committed, something that bears a clear resemblance to the typical inhumanity of Nazism. It was a liberal and conservative government that made such a confrontation.

In Uruguay, the military that practiced vilifications such as censorship and the deaths of militants were also prosecuted. In Chile, the horror of the “almost Prussian” Army and Armed Forces postponed the reckoning. Here there is a shield that protects the military, and a large part of the military's hatred of the PT government is due to the measures taken by the Dilma government, with the implementation of the Truth Commission. The Lula government has always avoided measures that would dissatisfy the military. We see the price of these actions today, when military personnel from the barracks discovered that they can indulge themselves in the administrative and civil apparatus, doubling and sometimes tripling their salaries.

The disastrous consequences are witnessed every day. Having a “logistics specialist” as Minister of Health paved the way for the tragedy we saw, in the neglect of the pandemic, for which Pazuello is co-responsible. But there is a positive consequence in the midst of so many horrors: the “sanctified” image of the military, as “incorruptible” beings, is melting away. Just having a little mouth and everything is different, not necessarily for the troop as a whole, but for a significant portion, including active duty. And the idea that only politicians are corrupt is also disintegrating, as the crudest and most ignorant sectors of the middle classes, for example, believe.

But resolving this is difficult. The process of politicization of the Armed Forces will have to be, sooner or later, effectively faced, as well as the reiteration of its absolute impossibility – under serious penalty – to act politically. Those who have a war arsenal cannot exercise a political role, they must leave the barracks if they want to act that way. And Bolsonaro, aware of the generalization of the popular feeling that he is the worst government of all time, increasingly seeks to find support alternatives in the militias and PMs; no wonder it is trying to reduce the control of state governments over them. Thus, the resolution of the military question effectively passes through popular action, through the sovereign decision of the population, when deliberating what can and cannot be done.

Certainly, nothing can be expected from the ruling class, which is predatory and has always flirted with fascism. It is always good to remember that the Brazilian bourgeoisie filled the repressive apparatus created by the military dictatorship with its own resources. Therefore, the military question will be difficult to face. And, frankly, it will not be under Lula's government that we will face this issue. He does not have and never had the political structure for such a confrontation. He never had a bold posture in front of the military, not even during the big strikes that projected him in the 1970s. In that sense Dilma Rousseff was more courageous. No wonder the Truth Commission took place under her government, not with Lula, which was enough to make the military mad against Dilma's PT, since the Commission recognized the crimes as being responsible within the Armed Forces.

If we imagine that our republic was born in a military coup and throughout its history military interventions followed one another, we will have difficulties. But at some point this will have to be faced.

Even in the USA, where there is a clear legal separation of the military, who cannot act in internal politics, we know that Trump desperately tried, especially at the end of his term, to encourage the coup groups existing in the USA. He believed that the invasion of the Capitol would have the support of important sectors of the armed forces, which did not happen. Thus, it will not be easy to face the military issue, even more so after the exacerbated politicization that the FA suffered, now under the Bolsonaro government.

 

The new world of work

I didn't want to be in Lula's shoes in full honey squid with saint Alckmin, if the duo wins the election and takes power. Let's imagine the damming present in those who feel hunger, misery, loss of rights, informality, destruction of social and labor protection, unemployment, the frustration of workers who are outside the social security system... If the working class votes for Lula, it is in hope to regain a previous positive situation. How to do this with a government that intends to re-edit, in this very serious situation in which we find ourselves, the policy of conciliation? It won't be easy.

If Alckmin is a great symbol of conservatism, how to advance in agrarian reform, just to give an example? How to revoke all the devastation measures of the Temer-Bolsonaro era?

There is a second, important, and more conceptual point: the new morphology of work forces us to understand that we are entering an era of social struggles. How to tackle the issue of uberized work? No one can talk about July 2020 without mentioning the app break, the app workers' strike. This episode is already part of the history of the struggle of the new Brazilian working class. In 30 years, when they write the history of the struggle of the working class in the 21st century, they will have to cite the 1st of July 2020 and mark it as one of the most important strikes, the #BrequeDosApps, which opened a new cycle of revolts in various parts of the world.

Recently, a Chinese leader in this sector has suffered severe persecution; in England, France, Italy, in several Latin American countries, app strikes have spread… There are, consequently, signs of progress in the fights. The European Commission recently defined that Uber and similar workers have protective rights, yes, they are not self-employed, they are salaried. Spain has already recognized, in 2021, that such workers must be included in the protective labor legislation. India had strikes by more than 200 million workers about 3, 4 years ago, and more recently by small peasant landowners against neoliberal policies. These are examples of different struggles that tend to expand and generalize.

We also have the proletarianization of the service sector. This is no longer on the margins of capitalism, since it is increasingly privatized. Commoditization, commodification and privatization of services have turned them into large profitable companies that do not stop growing. There are a multitude of companies, such as Amazon, that do not stop growing on top of the overexploitation of labor.

What is the cat jump of these companies? Convert the salaried employee into an apparent non-salaried employee. Transfiguring a proletarianized person into an “autonomous”. As this progresses, and male and female workers become “entrepreneurs”, this occurs so that they are excluded from labor legislation. And the service proletariat continues to expand. Let's remember how many strikes we had in call centers, in the hotel industry, in the chains of fast food, in the last decade.

All this will still cause many social explosions, as there was no period, not even in the most difficult ones, in which the working class did not try to organize itself. At its beginning, as Engels shows in the book The situation of the working class in England, we had luddism, that is, the breaking of machines. Countless strikes followed, then came the creation of trade unions, the Chartist movement, etc. So were the struggles of the industrial proletariat over time, and the same goes for the struggles of the rural proletariat.

Few people remember today, but shortly after the cycle of the ABC strikes there were spectacular strikes by the cold workers in the region of Ribeirão Preto and in the interior of SP, where the agroindustry devastated everything. We are now entering a historic period that includes the service sector in the dynamics of the great struggles.

Finally, I want to emphasize here the current crisis of capitalism, whose system does not offer any future prospects for humanity. And no present perspective that does not go through destruction and lethality, something typified by the current pandemic phase. We will change this state of affairs as we recover this mosaic of social struggles that can be seen on all continents. We will enter an era of strong turbulence. Who says it is impossible, despises history. The Roman empire fell, feudal society fell, the eastern theocratic empires too; the Soviet Union, the second most powerful country in the world at the time, fell without any invasion by a capitalist army. It fell like a house of cards. I don't know which of us will see the same about capitalism. I have no illusions that I will have eyes to celebrate this, but we will enter an era of many social struggles.

For the first time in history, humanity is at profound risk. Therefore, if the end of humanity appears to be possible, the crucial imperative of our time is to reinvent a way of life where work has a human and social, self-determined meaning; that equality between genders, races, ethnicities and generations is substantive and that nature is preserved. And this new way of life is incompatible with any form of capitalism.

*Ricardo Antunes is professor of sociology of work at IFCH-UNICAMP. Author, among other books, of The privilege of servitude (Boitempo).

Text established from an interview given to Gabriel Brito for the newspaper Citizenship Mail.

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