How do national businessmen think?

Image: Tom Fisk


The ongoing political process to generate a reindustrialization of the country does not think in terms of a solidary reindustrialization

This text is intended to be the first in a series designed to seek dialogue with those who are following the “neo-industrialization” policy-making process. A process that, long before it was possible to state it as a public policy, we have been discussing and calling it, following the literature of the time, “business reindustrialization”. And, contrasting it with the, evidently non-exclusive, “solidarity reindustrialization”.

On this occasion, I maintain this ideological position. And also the focus of policy analysis. That multidisciplinary approach that understands it as integrated by movements of politics quality carried out by the actors involved. And it highlights that it is always necessary to examine the relationships that occur between them throughout the systemic cycle, also iterative and interactive, of the moments of formulation, implementation and evaluation.

The people whom I privilege here and who have read government documents about neo-industrialization in the media will agree with me that its key actor is the national company. He appears there as being responsible for its success.

This is to the point that a colleague from the Department of Scientific and Technological Policy at Unicamp (unsuspicious, given that he is far from admitting, among other things I have been talking about, the concept of “solidarity technoscience”) repeats in an ironic tone the Garrinchian maxim: “And Have you already agreed with the Russians?”

In the impossibility of answering the question, and because I do not know the possible “combinations” (understood as conditions) in which this actor is involved, the most important public manifestation I found, and that is why I take it as a reference, is the inauguration speech of the current president of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), Ricardo Alban on October 31st.

I won't do it again here, but the exercise I did when I read the text was similar to one of those puzzles in which, given two lists, we had to join each sentence in both with a dash.

The first list was the one that can be inferred from what was published in the documents I referred to, and the other, the explicit and, mainly, implicit statements that contain the masterful speech by the president of the CNI. Which I take, with all reservations, to be that of the businessman actor.

The material that refers to the speech presents it in a slick language (which, Google helped me, means: accurate, perfect, correct, clear) that admits two interpretations: one based on a “race” reading and, another, oriented to scrutinize the intentions that were communicated to those who prepared it. It is also “articulated” in a way that allows statements made at each moment based on strong arguments, including empirical, national and international ones, to be weakened in the following period. Or, also, as capable of being interpreted in antagonistic ways.

Although the style is often elliptical, the speech dialogues with each of the government demands that the current stage of neo-industrialization public policy places on the company. Those that, in my exercise (which I would like to propose as research to a student in the department), appear on the first list.

It is as if, by recognizing the demands and endorsing them as pertinent, the business actor was fulfilling what he (and a good part of the policy makers) understands as his role. In other words, presenting the conditions – to be satisfied through measures of other public policies – that would make their necessary participation possible (mentioned as something that can be clearly deduced from those documents).

From the speech, one gets the impression that the businessman actor is expressing, or rather, reproducing, a “common sense” present in society. Which, as often happens, is sold as “common sense”.

More than that, by endorsing neo-industrialization, and implicitly accepting the notion that it could become something similar to the policy of industrialization via import substitution (when political, economic, cognitive, social, etc., were guided by it), he is ideologically aligning himself with those who formulate it.

What the speech reproduces is the narrative of the policy advocacy formed by the scientific elite and the technocracy of Brazilian cognitive policy (the one with which I have been combining Education and STI). The one that, hegemonically, has guided the way we relate to knowledge for decades.

Like other companions aligned with Latin American thinking about science, technology and society, I have also for decades sought to deconstruct this narrative (which I have called innovationist), focusing on its points that seem worthy of criticism.

Today, what concerns me most is trying to prevent the innovationist narrative from leading us to waste the opportunity, contained in the extension curricularization, to reorient the teaching, research and extension agendas of the public university.

Amidst a multiplicity of pressing aspects and actions of different natures related to this reorientation, there is one concern that most mobilizes me.

It is about the need for us, as workers and knowledge workers, to learn to identify, in the collective material needs that are currently unmet, the techno-scientific demand that is the responsibility of our “professoral” university.

It is in this context that the concept appears, seen on the global stage and in its different denominations as essential to prolong our life on this planet in peace, of “solidarity economy”.

And associated, as a condition for its expansion, the concept of “solidarity technoscience”. The one that we must develop through the redesign and socio-technical adaptation of capitalist technoscience. The one made by and for companies, which interacts with war and contributes to making the life we ​​want to leave for those who come after unfeasible.

More than what I did in the previous case, given that I have already published the results of my analysis, I intend to propose another puzzle.

Why is the proposal for solidarity reindustrialization not even considered in government documents? What is the fault of the arguments and actions it contains? And, if there are some that are defensible, how can they be operationalized within the current correlation of forces?

* Renato Dagnino He is a professor at the Department of Scientific and Technological Policy at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Solidarity Technoscience, a strategic manual (anti-capital fights).

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