From Gilmar to Gilmar

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By IGOR GRABOIS & LEONARDO SACRAMENTO*

How to change the structure of the conjuncture

At the time this article is written, the death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil is heading towards 4.000 daily. The health collapse is accompanied by an unprecedented economic disaster. Unemployment breaking records every month, disarticulation of the labor market, inflationary acceleration, closing of companies and supply crisis. To complete, there is a blackout of public services, ranging from labor inspection to issuing passports, passing through the postponement of the census and the dismantling of environmental agencies.

Amid generalized entropy, political actors make electoral calculations for 2022, as if the country lived under normal conditions of temperature and pressure. The worsening of the combined crises – health, economic and social – appears as one more piece of data in a political survival strategy.

Social tension, due to the worsening pandemic and economic crisis, is increasing. The isolation resulting from the pandemic does not allow this tension to be translated into demonstrations. This tension is reflected in the deranged captain and his government's loss of social support. In a diffuse way, vast sectors of the population see in the permanence of the neoliberal policies of Minister Guedes an iron ball stuck to the foot in the middle of a shipwreck. Surveys such as XP/Ipespe show dissatisfaction with the current economic policy and with the government's management of the epidemic. On the other hand, it is true that the pandemic allowed the captain to survive, as he suspended demonstrations in the streets, since any crowding is a death sentence for several people. Even with the suspension of the street factor, the loss of the Planalto occupant's social base is clear.

The year 2021 began with victories for the captain, with the election of nominal allies in the presidencies of the House and Senate. The captain also managed to reduce the spaces of another government constable, Minister Paulo Guedes. Guedes lost two jewels in the crown, Petrobrás, with the fall of Castelo Branco and the appointment of General Silva and Luna to the presidency of the company, and Banco do Brasil, with the subsequent fall of his partner Rubens Novaes and his replacement. André Brandão and the choice of an obscure Bolsonarist employee to command the bank.

These changes ended Bolsonaro's relationship with financial operators based on Avenida Faria Lima, São Paulo's Wall Street. This market accepts the dead, but does not accept interference in economic policy by the President of the Republic. After the current representative advances on Guedes' ground, analysis by bank economists and journalists on the veracity of the fascist captain's liberal credo swarms. Until then, liberalism was hand in hand with fiscal policies in the pandemic, which delayed the meager emergency aid, approving it with another fiscal adjustment of a Constitutional Amendment, and boycotted investments in health, as evidenced in the decrease in financing of ICU beds by the federal government in January, just after the collapse of Amazonas.

In industry circles, dissatisfaction, previously muted, is starting to show signs. Robson Andrade, president of the National Confederation of Industry, published an article on the Poder360 website, panicking over the dehydration of the BNDES, the only source of long-term credit for the industry.[1] Capital dreamed of Alkmin, but it belonged to Bolsonaro and believed that Guedes' team was the dream team. Now it accounts for losses due to the pandemic and the fundamentalist policy of the minister of economy. They bet on ultraliberalism and forceps reduction of labor costs. They reap the losses of that gamble. The cannibalization of the State and the super-exploitation of labor are no longer able to guarantee continued gains.

The dead from the pandemic and the voracity with which Paulo Guedes advances on chunks of public property open up an unmanageable dysfunctionality, to the point that bankers and economists linked to the financial sector publish an open letter, questioning the government, but without touching on economic policy. Proof of this is the positive interpretation that Guedes' team had of the letter, according to a report by Folha de São Paulo on March 23.[2] The letter defends, as an alternative to extreme poverty, the merger of social programs with a minimum income program, which is defended by Guedes and his team and has always been defended by Milton Friedman. The neoliberal charter preserves Guedes' neoliberalism, responsible for increasing inequality and the spread of poverty.

Even with the erosion of the captain's support base, no candidate from the intended "center" manages to make himself viable. Dória, due to the meager indexes in the polls, admits to running for re-election to the governor of São Paulo. But even for this minor claim the path is guaranteed. According to a survey by GovNet/Opinião Pesquisa, commissioned by Grupo Gazeta de São Paulo, Dória would be out of the second round for Palácio dos Bandeirantes. Worse, the candidate with the best chances of the PSDB would be Geraldo Alckmin, which allows the toucan group opposed to Doria, today led by Bruno Covas, to challenge his choice for the São Paulo election. He is currently trying a move with Butanvac, but is lost in the media and pamphleteering, as shown in a report by Folha de São Paulo on the same day about the announcement, with the right to the theater curtain, about the nationality of the research. The nationality of the production was great news. However, just as he did when the Coronavac general efficiency rate was announced (50,48%), in which he failed to disclose it on the same day as the efficiency rate on hospitalizations and deaths (100%), turning the positive news into negative and taking refuge in Miami, Dória purposely announced – with the approval of Butantã, by the way – a “national vaccine”, allowing the exposure of contradictions that, in the light of international scientific production, are irrelevant. It matters little if the pre-clinical research started in another country or if the technique was not created here; what matters is the production structure and the production capacity of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient).

Huck, in turn, seems to be content with a candidacy for Rede Globo's Sunday time slot. This is the strength of this candidacy.

With no “center” candidacy, no vote and no party organization, the owners of money are in a dilemma: how to get rid of the captain and Paulo Guedes, without changing economic policy. How to keep fingers without handing over rings. The Brazilian bourgeoisie has put two goats in its living room and doesn't know how to get them out. Behold, the great Supreme Court judge and political leader Gilmar Mendes decides to create a new political fact. He replaces Lula in the political dispute. Gilmar took Lula out of the picture when he wanted to. Now he has been called upon to bring the former president back to the forefront, one of the few products of the New Republic still politically alive.

On June 25, 2019, Gilmar Mendes voted against the Habeas Corpus that questioned the monocratic decision of the lavajatista Felix Fischer, of the STJ, against Lula. He accompanied the rapporteur, Edson Fachin. However, in this judgment, despite the refusal, there is an inflection by Gilmar that had already been taking shape in public statements: granting freedom to Lula until the final and unappealable decision, indicating that he had changed his position on the arrest in second instance, whose majority had given with the vote of the minister and the confused Carmen Lúcia.

In October of the same year, Gilmar declared in Roda Viva that he doubted whether he would block Lula's nomination in the Civil House, made amid the illegal leak of wiretaps of President Dilma by a former judge of first instance. It is worth considering that, today, it is known that the listening was carried out in a period not authorized by the judge who authorized it and that the conversation was purposely taken out of context to help the then candidate Jair Bolsonaro, with whom the former judge would form a government as Minister of Justice. But it is also important to highlight that Gilmar Mendes was one of the main agents of anti-PTism in the STF, with angry and disproportionate speeches, as in the trial on private campaign financing in 2015, when he wrote in his vote and shouted that the deviation was due to to finance blogs “with the aim of promoting disguised propaganda of the Workers' Party and its candidates, in addition to tarnishing the image of competing parties and candidates”. Gilmar was one of the architects of the 2016 Coup, and he is one of the architects of the rehabilitation of Lula and, consequently, of the PT as the main player in the 2022 presidential election. According to polls and common sense, the institutional right, self-proclaimed in the style of Guaidó and Áñez of “center”, has remote chances of reaching the second round only if he manages to dehydrate Bolsonaro, and not Lula. There is no chance of groups that supported and were with Bolsonaro withdrawing votes from Lula. Photos and videos are plentiful: as Bolsodoria says.

But what explains Gilmar's change of position? Regrets in politics are political constructs. They appear as a product after some inconclusive or unexpected political process. The 2016 Coup failed to put a toucan in the 2018 presidency. It elected an ultraliberal proto-fascist government with great support from the Brazilian bourgeoisie, but, like every proto-fascist movement, at a certain point it detaches itself from the immediate control of fractions of the bourgeoisie to apply the your agenda. Gilmar Mendes represents traditional and reasonably institutionalized class fractions and political groups. Its connections with the financial market are notorious and how it benefited banker Daniel Dantas in successive decisions. As a political representative of these sectors, Gilmar has been pointing to the need for an institutional solution since 2019. And, of all the traditional politicians of the New Republic, only Lula was left. Undoubtedly, Gilmar is the most outstanding organic intellectual of the bourgeoisie who paid attention to the need to regain institutional control over the process of capital accumulation and domination, while a significant part of the bourgeoisie is lost in the billions they receive in profits and dividends, despite institutional damage and uncontrollable consequences.

Gilmar has a simple logic: build viable institutional paths for the ruling class and strategic sectors of politics. For this reason, he presents himself as someone who envisions Lula's departure, while at the same time favorably judging the entire agenda of Paulo Guedes. So it was with the reduction of wages and hours without the intermediation of unions in 2020, the Labor Reform of 2017 and the privatization of Petrobras refineries. In this regard, Fachin opposed Gilmar and Barroso in all votes.

In line with Gilmar's actions, statements from market representatives abound in the media in acceptance of the 'Lula factor'. Thais Oyama, in a report on March 05 on Portal do Uol, reports that a businessman, in off, of course, would have voted for the “devil” – Lula – to the detriment of the captain. German-American speculator Marc Moebius questioned why the markets vetoed Lula, given that his government period was one of economic growth and that “he learned the lesson of corruption”. Articles from all the newspapers whose owners are linked to the financial market show how Faria Lima already “prices” Lula's return. According to an article in O Globo on March 21, a director of an international bank says it's all right for Lula, as long as he gives up radical attitudes, such as renationalizing BR Distribuidora (sic).

For a large portion of the ruling classes, the captain and his minister Guedes have already expired. At the same time, they know that there is no viability for a thoroughbred candidate from the traditional right, self-styled “center”, even if some sectors still look for it. Deposing the captain is a risky maneuver, as it would jeopardize the economic policy they advocate, but not completely discarded, as evidenced in Artur Lira's speech, in which he resorts to “bitter” solutions. What's up for today is the tactic of undermining Bolsonaro, including using Lula, to increase the meager chances of a thoroughbred market candidate in the second round.

The ruling classes are looking for a composition for 2022. This composition would isolate Bolsonarism, the uniform and demoralized lavajatismo. Its objective would be to give a minimum of reasonableness to government action, without touching the core of liberal policies. To apply this program, everything is worth, such as universal basic income, 30% of privatization revenues for social policies and effective measures to combat the pandemic.

There remain on the political scene two characters capable of articulating a minimum of social base, Lula and Ciro Gomes. The first beckons with a national pact, opening dialogue and without signaling “outbursts” renationalizing. The second seeks to represent the so-called center, including a right wing more in tune with the market, such as the PSDB and the DEM, which would clash with his political construction based on what he himself called a “developmentalist project”. The rest, for now, imploded. Gilmar foresaw.

*Igor Grabois, an economist, is director of Grabois Olímpio Consultoria Política.

*Leonardo Sacramento He holds a PhD in Education from UFSCar. Author of The Mercantile University: a study on the relationship between public university and private capital (Appris).

Notes

[1] Available in https://www.poder360.com.br/opiniao/economia/o-brasil-nao-pode-prescindir-de-um-bndes-forte-diz-robson-braga-de-andrade/.

[2] Letter from economists sounds like a nod to Guedes and criticism of Bolsonaro, evaluates the economic team, by Bernardo Caram. Available in http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/amp/mercado/2021/03/carta-de-economistas-soa-como-aceno-a-guedes-e-critica-a-bolsonaro-avalia-equipe-economica-.shtml.

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