Two years of misgovernment – ​​Bolsonazism and lumpen capitalism



Considerations on the new profile of contemporary society, the basis of the “Republic of militias”.

On March 21, 2021, 500 personalities from the Brazilian business world released a manifesto with harsh criticism of the way in which the Brazilian federal government has been conducting, or not conducting, the confrontation with the Covid-19 pandemic. in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul, the fact was reported under the title “Economists, bankers and businessmen demand effective measures against the pandemic”[I]. In the same line were the titles and texts of the news in the other newspapers and means of communication.

On the following April 7th, a new manifestation by businessmen was highlighted in the news, this time in favor of the government: a dinner at the house of a certain Washington Cinel, in the wealthy Jardim América neighborhood, in São Paulo. As in the case of Cinel, it cannot be said that the majority of those present at this event boasted renown and even a presence in recent Brazilian history similar to the men and women who graced that manifesto.

At this meeting in Jardim América, attended by no more than 20 people, all men, perhaps five could be cited as significant leaders in the business world and, hence, in Brazilian politics: bankers Luis Carlos Trabuco, André Esteves and David Safra; the president of Fiesp, Paulo Skaf; and businessman Rubens Ometto. The others, like Cinel, although very rich, began to become famous in more recent times, in the rise of Bolsonazism and, also like Cinel, almost all lead businesses that are located on the margins of what we could understand as the “core” hard” of the functioning of any developed capitalist economy: Cinel, a former military policeman, became rich at the head of a company that provides security services; Flavio Rocha, José Peres and Alberto Saraiva are retail entrepreneurs; another four present run communications companies with little audience and even less influence in the richest and most cultured strata of our society; and excluding, admittedly, Carlos Sanchez, from the pharmaceutical company EMS, the rest, including an egg producer, did not equally excel in terms of economic, political or social relevance.

Applauding the president, there was a kind of rabble business. Including the well-known Skaf: at the head of what should be the most powerful Brazilian industrial representation, he, however, is not the owner or chief executive of any industrial company and is only where he is due to the deformations of our union representations, both employers as those of employees. Skaf only owns a real estate business: his income comes from business with the purchase, sale or rental of real estate.

The representativeness of the “500 manifesto” was of another quality. In addition to Roberto Setúbal, from Banco Itaú, there were names that can be easily identified as organic intellectuals of Brazilian capitalism, formulators – and beneficiaries – of the policies that have shaped Brazil in the last 30 years. They do not speak or write for themselves, but for the real financial, industrial and agrarian interests that command the country's GDP, a social space in which they circulate with ease: Arminio Fraga, Edmar Bacha, Elena Landau, Pedro Malan, Pérsio Arida, among others. , all of whom are currently well employed in the financial market, together with Pedro Parente at the head of the Sadia/Perdigão conglomerate, José Olympio Pereira, from Swiss credit, as well as the long-standing ambassadors Marcilio Marques Moreira and Rubens Ricúpero, and other illustrious figures from our real business and intellectual elites.

The contrast, both social and cultural, or even political, between these two manifestations should immediately indicate, even to the lightest analysts, what becomes the real support base of Bolsonazism. If, at first, in 2018, it seemed in the interest of the capitalist bloc as a whole to end the PT cycle of government even at the expense of electing a crazy former army captain for president; in the next moment, even when the pandemic had not yet invaded us, it was already starting to become clear to this block that figures like Ernesto Araújo, Damares Alves, Ricardo Salles, among others, would turn out to be very bad for business.

The pandemic only deepened and finally made explicit an inevitable division to the extent that, contrary to what many expected or adopted as a justification, it was becoming evident that the former captain would not allow himself to be tamed by the real interests of industrial-financial capital. And nothing makes this break more explicit than the political and editorial position of Grupo Globo and other major media groups, such as Folha de S. Paul ou State St. Paul, of growing and increasingly open opposition to the government. The reciprocal, in this case, is true: Bolsonazists hate Rede Globo, as much or more than PT militancy.

I propose to name lumpem-businessman to those businessmen with the profile of a Washington Cinel, a Flavio Rocha et caterva. For reasons that will become clearer throughout this article, I will argue that they can be associated with that social class that Karl Marx called lumpenproletariat, even if, in this case, in the condition of “bosses”. It is that, although almost nothing has been observed, in recent decades the Brazilian economy and society have been taken over by processes of production and realization that are more like lumpen forms of production and work than real industrial-financial capitalism. This capitalism also contemplates a certain ethical standard. But as he noted in his weekly column in the journal Economic value, me & weekend, sociologist José de Souza Martins, “the dinner given to the president, recently, by a tiny group of businessmen, gave indications that they are those who are far from the spiritual and historical factors of the classic capitalist ethics. On the menu, profanity, flattery, opportunism and electoral applause for a ruler who governs on the edge of the abyss of public interest”.[ii]

The lumpensinate can be found from top to bottom in Brazilian society. For example: certainly the residents of the lamentably famous condominium “Vivendas da Barra”, in Rio de Janeiro, are all in the so-called “class A”, although, in fact, they are nothing more than lumpens, including the one who, at the moment, where these lines are written resides in the Palácio do Alvorada... The vast majority, however, as would be natural, are found in the broad layers of the lower part of the pyramid, those with an income of less than 8 or even 1,8 reais. Here is 85% of the Brazilian population, not implying, for the sake of clarity, that the totality can be defined as lumpem. But most of it is.

The concept

The word “lumpeproletariat”, we know, came to us from Karl Marx. In the capitalist system, a portion of the population obtains its means of survival by providing services to capitalists or to the many layers of workers without actually contributing to the production and realization of value (in the rigorous Marxian concept). Housemaids or domestic servants, for example: they only appropriate a piece of their employer's income, without their work, however useful and meritorious it may be, increasing by a penny the income of those who employ it, or the capital in your set. The payment made to them is as much income consumption as the payment made for renting a house or buying a television set. This employer or employer, in a relationship non-capitalist, is, with his work, also supporting another family of workers, thus reducing his own consumption in favor of the consumption of third parties. This or this person who only consumes a portion of the income of businessmen, middle-class professionals or wage earners in general, without adding anything to the value, this is the lumpenproletarian.

Being a lumpen should not be confused with being a bum or a crook, although these are undoubtedly included in the category. Also part of the lumpensinate, Marx tells us, “the honest and 'working' lumpenproletariat, p. e.g., large bands of servants, etc. who provide services in port cities, etc.”[iii]. On Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, the lumpensinate, as it was displayed in the XNUMXth century, is well presented to us. In addition to thieves, pimps, prostitutes, etc., the “class” also included individuals of “doubtful wealth and of dubious origin”, as well as “organ players, knife sharpeners, welders”, that is, “a whole indefinite and disintegrated, thrown into Mecca” that survives on the remains of capitalist society by doing some work that may even be honest.[iv]

Marx, in this work, points out what would be the most important political characteristic of the lumpensinate: it is the social base of populist, violent, corrupt political adventurers. Louis Bonaparte in the XNUMXth century. Hitler in the XNUMXth century. Bolsonaro, in the XNUMXst century.

Lumpens, in short, are workers who are useless for the production and realization of value. They are useless for capitalist society, although it cannot stop producing them, nor can it get rid of them and, not infrequently, it prefers to employ and mobilize them at the service of its pathologies: as “security guards” or “guards”, for example. example. Origin of Washington Cinel…

In its worldwide expansion throughout the 1970th and 1980th centuries, capitalism increasingly demanded large masses of labor in factories, commerce, financial services, and other services. That is why the lumpensinate could be contained within limits, let's say, "acceptable". This relative balance began to change following the Kondratieffian crisis of the XNUMXs and XNUMXs. Capital's response to this crisis was the development of a new regime of accumulation that David Harvey called "flexible accumulation".[v]

Let's try to explain it in a few words. The work that interests capital is the work creative. Marx said “concrete work”: it is the ability to think, solve problems, in addition to other skills depending on the type of work, although also, in many cases, muscular strength and other physical conditions of the body. But it is above all those resources of the human mind that the capitalist buys. However, the human mind needs a healthy body to function: the capitalist pays the worker, the means that allow him to maintain the health of the body, means that include, in our current society, not only food, clothing and housing, but also some leisure and entertainment, even if it's free hours in front of Sunday television.

During a good part of its evolution throughout the XNUMXth century, capital needed to employ not only engineers, designers, other technical staff in creative activities (science, technology, management, marketing, etc.), and clerks in tasks that could require exhausting mental effort from attention but almost none creative: repetitive, routinized tasks. In this XNUMXst century, capital continues to depend even more on the employment of those but could, thanks to the introduction of digital technologies for processing and communicating information (ICTs), dispense with a large part of these. A huge population around the world that no longer finds a place in the capitalist circuits of value production has been forced to seek their own survival solutions in lumpen activities or has been reduced to precarious employment relationships that will give rise to new social strata, for Guy Standing named precariat[vi]. It is in this context that the lumpem-entrepreneur also emerges.

A process that came from afar (but ignored)

The process that brought capitalism to its current stage did not start yesterday, it is not two or five years old, it is not even after the 2008 crisis. It is a process that was already clearly outlined in the 80s or 90s of the last century. It was even possible to find in the sociological literature of the time clear demonstrations of what was coming, and therefore also to formulate, in political thought, projects that could respond effectively to the then emerging scenario. The progressive political movement, however, preferred to accept the script outlined rather than actually confronting it. At most, he believed it possible to mitigate some of its effects through the liberal “rights” agenda…

The postmodern condition by David Harvey, in which he exposes the process of overcoming “Fordism” and the emergence of a new “flexible” pattern of accumulation dating from 1989; its first Brazilian edition, in 1992[vii]. The collapse of modernization, by Robert Kurz, is from 1991; its first Brazilian edition, in 1993. In it, Kurz wrote: “What makes the masses of the Third World suffer today is not the proven capitalist exploitation of their productive work, as the left continues to believe, according to tradition, but , on the contrary, the absence of this exploitation [...] The majority of the world's population already consists today, therefore, of money-subjects without money, of people who do not fit into any form of social organization, neither pre-capitalist nor capitalist , and much less in the post-capitalist one, being forced to live in a social leper colony that already comprises most of the planet”.[viii]

Gilberto Dupas, in a 1999 book, goes along the same lines: “The great changes in the logic of global production […] have not had impacts only at the macroeconomic level. They also invade the individual sphere by modifying long-established values ​​and standards, which is one of the main roots of the feeling of insecurity that begins to become generalized and that underlies the concern with social exclusion, strongly linked to the changes brought about in the labor market. […] In fact, the current pattern of capital accumulation in the information technology era has been dramatically transforming the concept of occupation. In effect, a new paradigm of employment is taking shape – more flexible, precarious and devoid of the guarantees of stability associated with the income pattern as in the social integration of the individual and in the very formation of his personal identity, changes in this pattern have caused perplexity […] Thus, a class of “new excluded” is created. By generating a mass of superfluous people to the system, recent socioeconomic transformations have redirected the focus of discussions on the resulting social problems. If before the major concern was with the operating conditions in which the insertion took place, now it has become the difficulty finding ways to insert, whatever they are. […] As a consequence, the left, traditionally more sensitive to social issues, somehow lost one of their main flags. If previously they focused on criticizing factory work in the Fordist mold – alienating, repetitive, non-creative – they are now perplexed by the new nature of the problem: finding ways to incorporate individuals into this same form of work”.[ix]

But, perhaps, no one has better understood the sociological and ideological dimensions of this rupture than Benjamin R. Barber, in a 1995 book that arrived in Brazil, by Record, in 2003: Jihad vs McMundo[X]. His thesis is that this new pattern of capitalist accumulation, being global, also “globally” divided humanity into two large socio-cultural fields: the field fully inserted in the production and consumption processes of current capitalism and the field relatively excluded from these processes. The first group attributes the signifier “McMundo”, obviously identified with the meanings of McDonald, Coca-Cola, Disney, Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Samsung etc: the world of consumption, styles, the “society of the spectacle”, as defined by , half a century ago, Guy Debord.[xi]

The second group attributes the signifier “Jihad”, making it clear that its meanings do not refer only to Muslim fundamentalism, but to the many manifestations, also in the Christian West, in Jewish Israel, in the Hinduist or Shintoist East, of revulsion, even hatred, to the modern Civilization. Hence the demand for a return to an apparently eternal “enchanted” past: “They react by fighting the present in the name of the past; they fight for their religious conception of the world against secularism and relativism; they fight with all kinds of weapons (sometimes borrowed by the enemy) to defend their identities; they fight against the “others” who are agents of corruption; they fight in the name of God for a cause which, being sacred, cannot be lost even when it is not won. The struggle of Jihad, therefore, is not a feature of Islam but an aspect of fundamentalism of every kind. contained in the Koran”.[xii]

In the concept of “Jihad”, Barber includes contemporary nationalisms, racialisms and ethnicisms, “the nationalism of ethnicities – of parochial politics and tribalisms”: “Advocates of the free market and the McWorld use nationalism as a pejorative term to designate an irascible and anti-cosmopolitan laden with blood ties and toxic doses of parochialism and primitivism […] Today, the forces I identify with Jihad are anxiously wondering if there will ever be a Serbia again, a Flanders, a Quebec, an Ossetia or a Catalonia where it still counts. worth living […] And they unite – distant from each other, but engaged in a common effort against everything that is cosmopolitan – around diverse ethnic, religious and racial identities, vaguely remembered but clearly imagined, that intend to root the soul errant postmodernism and prepare it to fight its peers at McMundo”.[xiii]

Does Chancellor Ernesto Araújo's speech not seem in tune with this “Jihad” as described by Barber?

“McMundo” and “Jihad” cannot fail to integrate and feed on the same “global” capitalism. To begin with, the damn de la terre they migrate to the entrails of the “McMundo” in the hope of achieving better living conditions, without, however, seeking to integrate themselves into their Enlightenment culture and values: the secularity of the State, human rights, scientific reason, etc. The “jihadists”, if they go to war among themselves or against the world, use weapons manufactured by the US, European, or even Israeli war industry, obtained through a powerful network of traffickers – people of “dubious fortune” – financed by London or New York bankers. Not infrequently, they appear on TV or YouTube images wearing designer T-shirts or European football teams, caps from an American basketball team, Nike or Adidas sneakers... Barber does not fail to observe clearly that if the "McMundo" feeds the " Jihad”, the “Jihad” dialectically feeds the “McMundo”. And both have no major commitments to democracy. Or even hate her.

Hatred of democracy – but not necessarily the hatred accused by Jacques Rancière in a 2005 book, published in Brazil in 2014[xiv], already under the impact of the growing political activity of genuinely European neo-fascist ethnic movements. For Rancière, representative liberal democracies would be, strictly speaking, an oligarchic regime, in which a technocracy equipped with knowledge defined as “scientific” and allied to financial wealth, would grant itself the power to “represent” the common interests of the people, even if expressing them in different political currents, but not very different from each other in their ideological or even theoretical foundations. Democracy, thus, would be emptied of the “passions” proper to “true politics”. But the “multitude”, freed from the concern of governing, is left to its private and selfish passions. Either the individuals that compose it are uninterested in the public good and abstain from voting in elections, or they approach them solely from the point of view of their interests and consumer whims. In the name of their immediate corporatist interests, they oppose strikes and demonstrations against measures aimed at guaranteeing the future of pension systems; in the name of their individual whims, they choose the candidate they like the most in elections, in the same way that they choose the countless types of bread that cool bakeries offer. The result is that “protest candidates” win more votes than “government candidates”[xv].

A critic of this political dominance over the liberal-democratic institutions of what could be identified with the “McMundo”, Rancière seems to claim, as an alternative to what he understands by elitist hegemony, the “government of anyone”, ignoring the class composition, or, better , decomposition, which equally opposes this “multitude” to the rules of the (liberal) democratic game or even makes use of these rules to, if possible, derogate from them. History knows examples: Hitler or Mussolini in the 1930s, supported by a social base not very different from the lumpensinate of our days. History seems to be repeating itself. How farce?

If the so-called “elite”, as Rancière wants it, fears the possibility of a “government by anyone” – and the examples of Orban, Trump or Bolsonaro seem to prove it right, not him –, neither does the “crowd”. seems very willing to coexist politically or culturally with those representatives of “reason”, “science”, “culture” – as demonstrated not only by those same three examples, but by so many other “jihadist” barbarities around the world, in recent decades . This active and, not infrequently, violent questioning of reason and science ended up brazenly showing itself in the absurd politicization, in Brazil, in the United States, and also in segments of the European population, of public policies to confront Covid-19. We were all able to testify in hundreds of videos distributed via the internet, how, even in the face of the need for trivial behaviors such as wearing face masks when entering supermarkets and other public places, a portion of the population assumed postures of clear challenge to scientific authority. Covid-19 brought out the “Jihad” contradiction in all its clarity vs. “McMundo”, form assumed by class struggle in contemporary “spectacular” capitalism.

This is what the American political scientist Fareed Zakaria recognizes in an interview with The Globe. When asked if scientists would be “more respected” after the Covid-19 pandemic, he replied: “I don't think so, because the issue of trust in science ended up being captured by the class struggle. On the one hand are the educated urban elites who, incidentally, are doing very well during the pandemic because they generally have jobs linked to the digital economy. On the other side are less educated people, with less technological skills, or from rural areas, who have great resentment towards urban elites. That gap has become worse during the pandemic, and resentment directed at experts and the class they belong to, the urban elites, is likely growing, not diminishing.”[xvi]

precarious capital

With no more occupation in factories, banks, other services, a part of the population in principle destined for the lumpensinate, has managed, in recent times, to work in new forms of occupation typical of “flexible accumulation”: precarious employment.

A new class stratum is born: the precariat.

On the one hand, there are always tasks that are not yet automated or difficult to become automated. Sewing clothes, for example. In the clothing industry, a lot of “manual” work is still required to sew the sleeve to the body of the shirt, sew on the buttons, finish off the hems… Until 3D printers capable of replacing this work are disseminated[xvii], this industrial segment will continue to employ people, not infrequently the migrant population desperately looking for any occupation that guarantees a daily plate of food, even in conditions of near slavery.

Where the precariat has more job opportunities is in the communications: the call centers, deliveries of goods on the back of bicycles or motorcycles, the “uber”. Capital is investing heavily in the search for solutions that can dispense with this worker profile, such as “voice assistants” such as “Aleixa” (Amazon), “Siri” (Apple), “Bia” (Bradesco), and machines automatic means of transport (drones, dirigible balloons or driverless cars). But until it finds the best and most effective solutions, it will continue to provide precarious jobs to thousands and thousands of people in central capitalist countries and, much more, in peripheral countries.

In the logic of “flexible accumulation”, not only are these jobs in intermediation and the final point of the production chain precarious: the company that directly manages these workers is also precarious. It will almost always be a personal or family business, or two or three partners. The “owner” or “owner” can be seen in person, along with his employees, in the store, office, workshop, or small factory, even behind a cash register and piles of papers. He or she is also a hard worker, counting every penny that comes in and out, and often doing the same tasks as his or her other employees. For him or her, the interest rate is always the highest. Your profit depends dramatically on the speed of rotation of the commodity and money. You need to sell, you need to provide the service, you can't stop or the money won't come in. There is almost nothing left in the bank to close accounts in an emergency. No wonder that in São Paulo or in Milan they were strongly opposed to the confinement measures enacted to contain the spread of Sars-CoV-2.

His or her entrepreneurial profit is almost always just above or may even be confused with personal withdrawal for individual and family consumption, given a minimum standard of middle-class existence that he or she intends to maintain. Therefore, everything that has a negative impact on this revenue without having contributed directly to generating it, is now seen as some kind of “extortion”. The wages they have to pay to an unskilled workforce do not seem “fair” to them, as they are imposed by laws or union agreements whose negotiation they will hardly have participated in. Taxes or “labor rights” are nothing more than theft practiced by the State. Their tendency is to demean salaries and evade taxes, as this is the only way to increase a monthly income that does not go far beyond what is necessary to pay basic bills and some routine leisure. your mindset naturalizes tax evasion almost as a “right”. From then on, his individualism naturalized many other infractions, frauds and social deviations.

On top of that, because he is at the final end of the production chain, separated from the street only by the size of the shed or the room where he or she and their employees work, and, not infrequently, with cash in the drawer under the table, it is he or she She is the one who is most faced with greedy municipal inspectors, police selling protection and the lowlifes who appear when the police disappear...

This universe of “entrepreneurs” is constituted by a significant population contingent that includes owners of small garments; outsourced providers of security services, cleaning, technical assistance and many others; franchisees of pizza brands or pharmacy chains; self-taught mechanics from automotive or electronics workshops; thousands of neighborhood shopkeepers and, more and more, trapped in shopping malls; owners of bakeries, stationery stores, construction material stores, hairdressers, gas stations and parking lots, taverns and restaurants, etc., etc. These types of businesses and companies can be seen in every neighborhood of any city. In smaller, rural areas, they can even become an important factor of economic dynamism, hence of social prestige: these small businessmen and businesswomen tend to appear in local “social columns”, some may even pursue political careers, although rarely going far beyond their parishes . But if they go, they will form that political bloc specialized in “small businesses” that, in Brazil, we call “Centrão”.

With little and shallow culture even when schooled; routine, repetitive leisure; cheesy tastes; conscious or unconscious feeling of rejection on the part of those he identifies with the “elites”, especially the “intellectuals”; this lumpem-entrepreneur, whose success, measured exclusively by what the his money allows him or her to buy, a success that, for him or her, will only be the fruit of his effort and work; this lumpen-entrepreneur, like the lumpenproletarian, will also tend towards that camp opposed to technocracy, as understood by Rancière, he will equally distrust liberal-democratic politics and its politicians, he will believe more in his practical sense than on the authority of science.

Certainly, some, more competent or ambitious, but above all more unscrupulous, end up achieving greater economic success, not even enough to make them accepted by the real economic and cultural elites. In Brazil, there will be Luciano Hang, from Havan; the Flávio Rochas, from Riachuelo; the Sebastião Bonfim, from Centauro; the Ricardo Nunes, from Ricardo Eletro; the Washington Cinel, by Gocil, among other well-known examples. If we go to research their life stories, it will not be surprising to know that they started out as a store owner, a pharmacy, something like that, in some small town. And they got where they got because they were very competent in the art of defrauding the tax authorities or overexploiting other people's work.[xviii]

The republic of militias

Naturally, these small traders or service providers can be found in their hundreds in the slums and urban outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and other large Brazilian capitals or cities. For the most part, their businesses are informal, without permits, without paying taxes, outside any public-state regulation.

In his study of the militias in Rio de Janeiro, Bruno Paes Manso describes Rio das Pedras, the Rio neighborhood where everything seems to have started, as a scenario that will not be much different in many other favelas or urban peripheries: “The commercial center is an open-air mall, bustling with diverse stores and crowded streets. Upon arrival, houses selling construction material, decoration, sawmills, glassworks and sheds show a neighborhood undergoing transformation and growth [...] Everywhere you see the spirit of entrepreneurship. Lingerie stores, women's, youth, men's and children's fashion, with tacky and alternative trends, handmade hamburgers, sushi, sun-dried meat and sarapatel restaurants, cool bars and pubs, black and madam hairdressers, cool and traditional barbershops, kit with barbecue grills and beer machines, all in the midst of a constant cacophony, with cable TV installation announcements on pirate radio transmitted by loudspeakers hanging from poles, which also support tangled skeins of light, telephone, cable TV and internet wires ”.[xx]

According to Bruno Manso's story, militias emerge in environments like this. Generally, they are civil or military police officers who live in these neighborhoods or belong to such social strata who, known and legitimized by the other residents, take the lead in the search for solutions to many community problems, among them, above all, the financial security. We know that they impose security through violence, but there doesn't seem to be any greater questioning of this method among the other residents. In exchange, they charge a fee for the service. Let's face it, we pay taxes in exchange for public services. In neighborhoods where these services are lacking, a similar tax is charged by those who propose to offer them... There are several services that the militias offer: public transport, for example, through vans and minibuses, supplying the needs of the official service regulated by the city ​​halls; financing and real estate construction, helping to solve one of the most serious needs of low-income populations.

It is not enough to have strength and weapons to exercise power; legitimacy is also needed to be accepted by residents. The paramilitaries and their partners, in addition to ensuring order, accumulate financial resources and boost the local economy. Money laundering and interest-bearing loans make new ventures in the community viable.[xx] Mainly: “But this economy, in turn, depends on the absence of the daily police operations in force in the hills of Rio”.[xxx]

That is, on the one hand, a so-called democratic state that, for a large part of the poor population and, not infrequently, lumpem, almost only appears in the form of violence and police extortion. On the other hand, groups that assume functions absent from this State, however, everything indicates, inserted in the daily life of this population as a “fish in the water”, in the well-known expression of the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zédong.


The first militias, in Rio de Janeiro, were born in the 1980s. Over time and with the total connivance of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro and also federal authorities, including throughout the Lula and Dilma governments, they extended their power to a large part of the city and exported the model to the rest of Brazil. At the same time, another parallel power, often associated, also expands in the same social strata: evangelical Pentecostalism. It is easy to see that one of the most profitable activities of enrichment and social ascension in the Lumpem environment is the exploration of popular religiosity, a religiosity intertwined with conservatism and cultural traditionalism.

In Brazil, this movement of denial, revulsion or prejudice towards the “McMundo”, could already be detected in the 1970s, as captured by Luis Augusto Milanesi, in a classic study on the expansion of the consumer society to the interior cities that were still somewhat rural in the XNUMXs. their habits, an expansion led by the television screens that were then spread throughout Brazil over the infrastructure recently built by the state-owned Embratel: “Visibly, the religion of the 'believers' (Pentecostals) and Umbanda proliferated [...] particularly in the lower strata of the population where a Catholicism less detached from traditions prevailed, that is, in the part of the population that had more recently settled in the urban zone, in the precariously expanded peripheral strips, accumulated at the gates of the city and consumption. In this purgatory, at the gates of paradise, in misery, promiscuity, consequent ignorance, new modalities of approximation with the sacred that were born from suffering and affliction could flourish [...] The despair of the city leads individuals to seek solace in symbols that bring them back together from past. Pentecostalism has a group formation of brotherhood that reinvigorates the sense of group, of mutual help, of collective action, existing in the countryside [...] …] The 'believers' flaunt and attack the city with an exterior that deviates from urban standards […] The 'believers' curse the world, the city, and announce its downfall by pointing to the only salvation: Jesus Christ”.[xxiii] The “Jihad” as described by Benjamin Barber.

Almost half a century after the above lines were written, undoubtedly in the midst of the social lumpenization process that we are witnessing advancing, this mentality seems to have expanded quantitatively throughout Brazil to the point of already changing the quality of Brazilian democracy. For sociologist Reginaldo Prodi, it was this “backward mentality” and not, really, the alleged “fiscal pedaling” that would have defeated Dilma Rousseff in the vote that decided to submit her to the impeachment process, on April 17, 2016. Studying the speech of the majority of men and women deputies, the sociologist found that it was not the economic or fiscal issue, but the behavioral issues that the parliamentarians alleged when justifying their votes. The Brazil that many believed was moving forward in the customs agenda, was, in fact, going backwards without its “McMundo” elite noticing it.

The Pentecostal “Jihad” had already acquired sufficient size to determine the direction of the Brazilian parliament: “What overthrew Dilma was not simply religion, but a backward Brazilian mentality. Part of the evangelical churches, not all, as there are some that are progressive, when it was represented on the political scene, it gained a voice. By gaining a voice, it brought these aspirations of a backward Brazil to the public. The article[xxiii] shows that most of Brazil is a country of people with a backward mentality. And it was this backward mentality that overthrew the head of government whose party and the president who preceded her showed that they wanted to give equality to women, blacks, gays, leftist agendas”.[xxv]

the precariat

Probably the best portrait we can have of the precariat is drawn for us by Guy Standing, in his The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, published in England in 2013 and, in the same year, in Brazil[xxiv]. While the “proletariat” is objectively defined and subjectively defined by stable relations of work and employment; for being a social subject who can even project some future, even if that future is just that of a minimally decent retirement, playing dominoes in the neighborhood square; the precariat, on the contrary, is defined by the absence of guarantees of employment, income, professional development, social security.

For this reason, it also lacks that class identity that would favor the union and organization of “Fordist” workers in factories and services. Unlike these, the precariat competes each for himself for the task he can be doing here and now. Its hierarchical relationships, if any, are fluid, temporary, and nowadays, more and more, they even become non-existent, as the work contracted and carried out through the socio-digital platforms of the internet advances. The “boss” is an impersonal algorithm whose face is the luminous screen of the cell phone. Due to all these characteristics, they become “people who have minimal trust relationships with capital and the State, which makes them completely different from salaried workers”[xxv].

“The precariat is defined by the short-termism that can evolve into an inability of the mass to think in the long term, induced by the low probability of personal progress or career building”, continues Standing[xxviii]. For this reason, especially the poor precariat – the vast majority – will not be distinguished in subjective, behavioral and basic cultural aspects from the lumpenproletariat. Soon, it will swell that broad social group that Barber calls “Jihad” and Rancière prefers “crowd”.

Recalling a well-known passage by Karl Marx, the precariat, like the lumpem, is a Be social that can only have consciousness of the here and now. For him there is no becoming, then some political speech that promises the future. And just as the lumpem-entrepreneur measures the his success for the material accumulation that consumer income allows, in the same way, these strata of workers, whether lumpens or precarious, within the limits of their narrowest possibilities, will also reveal similar awareness. Jessé de Souza confirms this for us: “A struggling couple – the husband, a worker specialized in laying marble floors in buildings, and the wife, a cleaner in wealthy neighborhoods of the capital, earning R$ 3 each – devoted the same prejudice to the poor. than the middle class. A little further from the shack itself, the husband points to a shack falling apart, where a woman abandoned by her husband and mother of six small children survives on Bolsa Família, and says: “Look there, the only thing you can't do is help those who don't work. This was the biggest mistake of the PT!”.[xxviii]

The couple conquered, “thanks” to the his effort, to US competence, including the ability to build and maintain network staff with “clients” located in socially more affluent strata, a better standard of living in an environment that, by the reference to “shack”, tells us that it is the interior of some favela. And it makes clear the individualistic prejudice, typical of competitive mentalities, towards the “losers”.

Standing explains: “A good society needs people to have empathy, an ability to project themselves into another's situation. Feelings of empathy and competition are in constant tension. People in incipient competition hide from the knowledge, information, contacts and resources of others that, if revealed, would subtract a competitive advantage. Fear of failure, or of being able to achieve only limited status, easily leads to the denial of empathy.”[xxix]

The proletariat was organized in trade unions. Among so many other aspects, the union organization functions as a cartel that allows to distort, let's say, the price of the workforce: this starts to incorporate factors not determined directly by the free market, but by the entity (union) that holds the monopoly of the supply . In the precarious relationship, the price is determined by the free market because it will be completely unregulated. On platforms like Uber, as we know, the price of the ride, hence the remuneration for the work, even varies throughout the day, depending on a number of factors, including the greater or lesser volume of calls at different times of the day. It will be, observes Standing, the definitive commodification of the individual himself.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that on basic political issues, in addition to behavioral ones, the thinking of the precariat is closer to the conscience of that small business community and reactionary portions of the middle class than to that of any program that claims to be progressive or leftist. Perplexed, the Brazilian Left would discover this “poor of the right” in the last presidential elections but only because, intoxicated by the previous victories of Lula and Dilma, it preferred not to pay attention to the vote of this “poor” for councilor, deputy, the vast majority of mayors and governors since the country's re-democratization – nor draw from it the necessary lessons of the social factors that led the PT to have to make the shady political-parliamentary agreements that it made in order to manage to govern.

It also explains the thin resistance in Brazil to the neoliberal reforms implemented in the Temer and Bolsonaro governments. The “labor rights” agenda says little or nothing to the precariat. Trade unions emptied without dialogue on both sides with this group of workers, and political parties with their base almost reduced to the Left middle class “McMundo”, were no match for the very objective, scintillating and sounding relationships that finance capital can easily establish with a parliamentary representation largely drawn from the same social circles that constitute the lumpen-entrepreneur, the precariat, the lumpensinate – as mentioned above, the so-called “Centrão”.

Guy Standing also takes us to another facet of his concept of precariat that goes directly to the PT's policies: education. “The commodification of education has also contributed to disappointment and anger,” he says.[xxx]: “Efforts by the education system to improve “human capital” have not produced better job prospects. An education sold as an investment good that has no economic return for most buyers is, quite simply, a fraud”.[xxxii]

He cites European data: in Spain, 40% of university students, after a year of graduation, found themselves in jobs below their supposed qualifications. In Brazil, the scenario is no different: according to IPEA, based on data extracted from a 2012 PNAD survey (therefore prior to the crisis), 38% of employed university students were in lower-skilled positions[xxxi]. It is that, on the one hand, the university degree did not, in fact, give them the necessary training to occupy higher-level jobs and, on the other hand, “flexible” accumulation may not even require so many people to graduate from hundreds of universities private schools that offer courses of the worst quality. “The idea is to process goods called 'certificates' and 'diplomas'”, continues the author. Like all merchandise, this one is also covered with fetishism, the diploma fetishism, I add. millions of young people buy these diplomas in modest monthly installments, paid over four or five years.

The commodification of higher education legitimizes irrationality. Any course is acceptable if there is a demand for it, if it can be sold to consumers willing to pay the price. Anyone can take a pseudo-course that provides a credentialist degree 'because you deserve it', i.e. because you or your parents can afford it and because we are here to give you what you want, not what we believe to be scientific or valid based on generations of knowledge[xxxii].

And if you or your parents don't have the money to buy your diplomas as was happening in Brazil in 2003, when private universities faced a high number of defaults and vacant vacancies, the government will be there for that: the then Minister Fernando Haddad created the ProUni so that these vacancies could be occupied (by the future precarious), with the installments paid by the State.

The account arrived in 2018 because “part of the process of generating the precariat comes [from this] oversimplification of the educational system”[xxxv]. The courses, of course, in Brazil, in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in so many other countries, are, as they say, “spit and chalk”, when not complete imposture. In the United Kingdom, also with the support of public money, 42 universities offered 84 undergraduate courses in “alternative medicine”, such as reflexology, aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbal medicine. They reflect an 'obscurantism', a shift from rationalist Enlightenment thinking to an emotional way of thinking associated with religion and superstition.[xxxiv].

The platforms of barbarism

In this process, in more recent times, for the rise and definitive political affirmation of this lumpen right, the internet would prove to be an essential tool. The Internet, named Arpanet, was created at the end of the 1970s, with political and financial support from the Pentagon, by researchers from some of the main US universities to initially meet the needs of Defense and Security in the United States. In the neoliberal political and economic climate of the 1980s-1990s, this new medium of communications expanded about the already existing telecommunications networks without any form of public regulation, based only on the initiative of interested universities and, little by little, also of individuals and companies that were realizing the advantages of the new technology in interpersonal and intercompany communication.

The first businesses appear in the 1990s, but they do not go forward because the tested models did not seem to work well in this then revolutionary technology. Also in the 1990s, more precisely in 1998, the Pentagon disconnected from the network, creating its own, and the US government, via the Department of Commerce, made an agreement with those founding scientists to create the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – Icann, a private non-profit institution based in California, which has since managed the expansion of the civil network inside and outside the country. Thus, led by Icann, the internet reached all countries as a basically private activity, outside any public-state regulation.

In the late 1990s and early XNUMXst century, Silicon Valley financiers who had been investing speculatively in university students who were testing solutions to make the internet a big and profitable business, got the desired answer: the value of the network was in personal data and businesses that circulated in it. That's what Sergei Brin and Larry Page, from Google, Mark Zuckerberg, from Facebook, among others discovered.[xxxiv]. For this, access to services could be free. However, without realizing it or feeling it, people and companies, through this access, provide all kinds of data (income or billing, expenses, tastes, desires, beliefs, education and health conditions, location, etc., etc.) to Google , Facebook, Amazon etc. “monetize”.

Companies that want to sell products or services pay the platforms a kind of “commission” for accessing data on the “demands”, “likes” or “desires” of their millions of users. As data can be extremely individuated, business advertising can be directed at a potential buyer with a high possibility of closing a deal at a much more advantageous cost/benefit ratio than advertising through traditional means of mass communication.

In order to deal with this information from the selling and buying ends, internet platforms began to invest in the development of “artificial intelligence” technologies that allow the construction of powerful algorithms capable of processing, organizing, and communicating data from millions or billions of companies. and people, captured all over the world, in fraction of seconds. And, as platforms such as Google (which includes YouTube) or Facebook (which includes WhatsApp and Instagram), among others, have become accessed by literally billions of people every day around the world, they have to have – or rather, its investors – a gigantic, panoptic, knowledge of the “moods” of the world.[xxxviii]

For platforms, what matters is the data that can be extracted from any message, not the content of the message. For her, it doesn't matter whether it's a message of love or hate, puritanical or pornographic, left or right, anti-racist or racist – everything is a source of data. The only filter is the algorithm that searches for connections between messages that can generate revenue and increase profits to be paid to partners and other financial institutions that invest in the business.

As the value of the data and the profit of the platforms comes from the constant activity of our fingers in the smartphones or computer keyboards, those algorithms and also the screens are designed to stimulate these activities. Science knows how to do it: just stimulate dopamines, serotonins, adrenaline, other neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, well-being, happiness. Good news improves mood. Surprising, unexpected, “unbelievable”, “incredible” information alerts the organism. Positive responses stroke the ego. The algorithms are designed to let you feeling good, even more so if the world around you seems so threatening and frustrating.

One of the founders of Facebook, Sean Paker, confesses: “We give you a little dopamine hit every time someone likes, comments on a photo or post, or anything else of yours. It is a loop of social validation, exactly the kind of thing a hacker like me could exploit, because it takes advantage of a weakness in human psychology. The inventors, the creators, myself, Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom of Instagram, we were perfectly aware of this. And yet we did what we did.”[xxxviii]

Social networks are addictive because they meet this biological human need for dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline releases. The most received messages likes or same dislikes  are those that provoke strong emotions, polemics, indignation, anger. Or the most unusual. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that false information is, on average, 70% more likely to be shared on the internet because it is more original than true news.[xxxix]. On social networks, true information takes six times longer than a fake news to reach 1.500 people.[xl]

“Flexible” capitalism has exponentially expanded this population avid for sensationalism and even lies. In the Middle East, in Europe, in the United States, in Brazil, it became the social, political and cultural base of the many forms of “Jihad”, all moved by repression and hatred, all mobilized by reactionary, obscurantist, violent, irrational utopias. All easily mobilized via Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube. This is what Steve Bannon, Andrew Breitbart, Eduardo Bolsonaro and a few others discovered: they could count on their own algorithms to “boost” their messages of repression and hate, locate followers and new “influencers”, mobilize the proletarian or business lumpensinate for the causes of the people".

Celebrating the victory of Matteo Savini, Beppe Grillo and other populist candidates in the 2018 Italian elections, Steve Bannon said: “What is at stake in Italy is the very nature of sovereignty: on the outcome of this experience depends the fate of the revolt of the peoples who they want to take power back from the global elites who stole it. If it works in Italy, it can work anywhere. That is why you represent the future of world politics.”[xi] In the words of Rancière, “revolt of the peoples” against technocratic “elites”…

Steve Bannon is one of the most notorious activists of the right-wing “popular” revolt that, in recent years, brought to power in the United States, Italy, Hungary, Brazil, individuals who, supported by the repressions and resentments of the lumpensinato, the precariat , or that lumpen retail or peripheral business community announce themselves “against politics”, “against the elites”, like a Trump or a Bolsonaro. The so-called “poor right-wingers”… Having enriched himself in pre-2008 financial speculation, Bannon spent some time in Korea where he made contact with a community of video gamers and discovered that there was, spread across the world, a large “community” of angry, rude, young men. resentful, misogynistic, self-enclosed, hostile to politics and democratic politicians. This experience will be definitive for what he would do in the future.[xliii]

In 2007, he approached Andrew Breitbart who, two years earlier, had founded the Breitbart News, a website specializing in the propagation of right-wing ideas. Breitbart was convinced, in the 1990s, that the traditional means of social communication had become a system that produced and disseminated liberal thought, in the sense that the term “liberal” has in the United States: spokesperson for “minorities”, propagator of the “feminism”, defender of “political correctness” etc. For Breitbart, a generation influenced, as a young university student, by the thinking of the Frankfurt School had assumed command posts in Hollywood, in communication companies, in universities, in other centers of educational or cultural formation, imposing, from then on, the the whole of American society its “one thought”.

He discovers in the internet networks, then expanding, the necessary means to spread some opposite thought, without going through the filters and censorship of the dominant hierarchies in those traditional systems.[xiii]. His close relationship with Bennon brings him experience and knowledge of the world of networks, as well as the support of his already small fortune, and yet another decisive financial contribution: in 2011, the Breibart News received USD 10 million from millionaire Robert Mercer.

Robert Mercer, introduced to Breitbart by Bennon, is another of those typical parasites who made his fortune gambling in the financial market and evading taxes – wealth from unproductive work… for similar feelings: the brothers Charles and David Koch. In January 2009, the same month that Barack Obama began his first term as president of the United States, the Kochs promoted, on their farm in California, a meeting of billionaires with the aim of creating a financial fund to finance a large Right-wing movement that could reverse that “liberal” process that had culminated in the election of a “creole” to the White House. Mercer was one of those who answered the Kochs' call, along with other financial vultures similarly tangled up in trouble with the IRS. Everyone was very worried about the reforms that Obama had promised to bring moneyed gambling back under some public-state control, since it was the total lack of neoliberal control of banks and stock exchanges that had led to the great crisis of 2008[xiv]. Reforms that, strictly speaking, he would end up not doing…

And so, the money of this billionaire lumpen-entrepreneur would be the force that would rhizomantically viralize, as the Deleuzians would say, the networks of resentment and anger of the impoverished lumpenprecariat…

What about post-COVID?

Then came Sars-CoV-2. The same denialism experienced by a large part of the Brazilian population and voiced by representatives of this population in the legislative chambers and in the Planalto Palace, we also witness in Milan, England, the United States, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, India, in many other places. And those governments that took correct measures to face the crisis also had to take tough measures to face the obscurantism and selfishness of part of their populations. Where confinement worked, police and even army troops had to take to the streets and squares. The “Jihad” is all over the world. And if part of the population protected itself, this was the “McMundo” part of our society, the one still committed to reason and science.

In Brazil, certainly, the situation would have been much worse if Rede Globo and other traditional media conglomerates (Folha de S. Paul, State St. Paul etc.) had not adopted a decisive position in favor of science, therefore the measures that science advocated, facing this misinformation shot en masse via “social networks” or TV networks dominated by Pentecostal preaching. They were the spokesmen of “McMundo” facing the networks of lies of “Jihad”.

The countries governed by that technocracy allied to science that, according to Rancière, hates democracy, were, starting with China, demonstrably the ones that best faced the crisis. The countries where the “passions” of the “crowds” put different “jihadist” versions at the forefront of their governments led and continue to lead the curves of death.

It is true that we already have vaccines against Sars-CoV-2. So Covid-19, as vaccination advances, can be brought under relative control. However, it is not certain that flat-Earthers, denialists, Pentecostals, obscurantists of all stripes accept vaccination, just as they resist, even violently, the protective measures imposed by “McMundo” science.

There are moments at the crossroads of History when you have to choose between Civilization and barbarism. The world experienced such a moment in the 1930s and 1940s. However, as we well know, it took a long time to realize the size of the trouble and paid a very high price for it: more than 50 million deaths in World War II. When they realized it, Churchill and Stalin allied themselves against Hitler without Churchill demanding that Stalin stop being a communist or Stalin, that Churchill stop being a colonialist… There was a greater, criminal enemy to be faced. And between these two, to which were added the liberal Roosevelt, the conservative Catholic De Gaulle, the revolutionary Mao Zédong, even our positivist Getúlio Vargas, despite their many differences, there was a common ideological root that brought them together: they all expressed different visions of the same Enlightenment program that gave us everything from democracy, social justice and human rights to electricity, penicillin and communication satellites.

Eric Hobsbawm observed: “Hostile as it was in principle to the heritage of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of the eighteenth century, fascism could not formally believe in modernity and progress, but it was not shy about combining a lunatic set of beliefs with a technological modernity. in practical matters, except when it compromised its basic scientific research done on ideological premises […] the combination of conservative values, techniques of mass democracy and the innovative ideology of irrationalist barbarism, centered in essence on nationalism, needs to be explained […] the crucial dividing lines of this civil war were not drawn between capitalism as such and the communist social revolution, but between ideological families: on the one hand, the descendants of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and the great revolutions, including, of course, the Russian one; on the other, its adversaries […] Hitler's Germany was both more ruthless and committed to the destruction of the values ​​and institutions of the “Western civilization” of the Age of Revolutions, and more capable of carrying out its barbaric project.[xlv]

If any lesson can be drawn from the tragedy of Covid-19, it is that there is no longer any way to continue to hide the great division of the contemporary world, there is no longer any way to remain lenient with the “jihadist” barbarism, its flat earthisms, its obscurantisms. In Popperian terms, it no longer fits (if it ever did!) to continue being tolerant of intolerant people. It is true that, in large part, barbarism originates from the iniquities and inequalities of this capitalism exclusionary under which we live. But they will need to be resolved in interior from him, not from the outside in. As Marshall Berman taught, the most valuable thing Marx's thought would have to offer us today would not be “a path that allows one to escape from the contradictions of modern life, but a safer and deeper path that places us exactly at the heart of these contradictions”. contradictions. He knew that the way beyond the contradictions would have to be sought through modernity, not outside it”.[xlv]

We just watched Donald Trump get 49% of the votes in the last US presidential election. He was defeated, but barely. His poll size eloquently demonstrates that his reactionary project has a strong base and penetration. popular. In Brazil, public opinion polls have shown that Bolsonazism, despite the disaster of this government, continues with 20 to 30 percent support in society. And probably, in a new election that opposes a progressive candidate to the current president, the latter could win again.

Qualitative research carried out by sociologists Camila Rocha and Esther Solano[xlv], interviewing 27 people from the so-called “class C”, exposes the reasons: even for those who are somewhat disappointed with the government of the former captain, there seems to be no alternative, but to continue believing in him. They don't perceive him as an individual devoid of any human quality, but rather argue that if the government is not good, it's because they don't let him work... Who doesn't? The institutions of the Enlightenment pact: Congress, the STF, the free press, the University...

Solano's research shows the origin and education of his interviewees: of the 27, 17 have completed or incomplete higher education, the others have completed or incomplete secondary education. All and all, regardless of degree, have similar income: family up to 5 thousand reais and individual up to 3 thousand reais. Only one person calls himself an “entrepreneur”, the others have different occupations typical of the precariat or even the lumpensinate: manicurist, recreation monitor, delivery man (this one with a university degree), tattoo artist (incomplete university degree) etc. The researchers perfectly portrayed the Brazil of the “entrepreneurs” who met with Bolsonaro at Washington Cinel's house.

This Brazil began to be built after the 1988 Constitution. Not because of “fault”, obviously, of the Constitution, but in spite of her. At a time when “Fordism” was entering a crisis, most of our financial and industrial business community, duly accompanied by our political, cultural, media and academic elite, including the so-called “progressives”, opted to renegotiate our five-hundredth anniversary pact. of international insertion, renouncing the developmental-industrial project that we had embraced since the 1930s.

After the Collor de Melo accident, the management of the new colonial pact came to be disputed by two major political camps, both born out of the struggles against the dictatorship. On one side was the field that proposed to promote the destruction of our industrial bases of dispute over the value of work, thus narrowing to the maximum our possibilities of expanding, in our society, scientific-technological creative work, almost all of which has since been exported. to America, Korea, Japan, Germany, France etc. He had eight glorious years to do what he did. To this end, he promoted successive reforms to the Constitution that emasculated its developmental foundations.

On the other side was the field that, without really changing this script, sought to give survival to the “Fordist” legislation of social protection to “McMundo” segments of workers, in alliance with the recently expanded, from the United States, liberal-progressivism of the college middle class. with policies focused, instead of universals, and being able to count on the voluminous trade balances arising from the high prices of primary products (renamed “commodities”), it was able to stimulate the consumerist fetishism of the “class C” until the bill arrived… It took 12 glorious years to do this .

Neither of these two fields was able to formulate a new project for the Nation in the new conditions of “flexible” or “post-Fordist” capitalism. It would have to be an effectively inclusive project, that is, a project that substantially reduces our export of scientific-technological work, strengthens, within our country, the production chains that generate quality jobs and not, at most, precarious occupations or lumpens at the retail end or in micro-services. By renouncing such a project, our country, despite deceptive appearances, came slowly, gradually and safely, widening its misery and social gap. This is what we can deduce when we know that, from 2010 to 2019, the favelization process of our society doubled. Who says so is the IBGE.

In that ten-year period, the number of urban agglomerations that can be defined as “favelas” (or “subnormal agglomerations” in the elegant IBGE jargon) grew 107,7%: there were 6.329, now 13.151. In 2010, favelas were visible in 323 municipalities – and we can add, without fear of being wrong, just the richest. Ten years later, they had invaded another 411, totaling 734 municipalities with slum neighborhoods. In all, there are around 5,1 million homes in these clusters against 3,2 million in 2010, with 25% in the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Some cities, however, exhibit a particularly high level of slums: in Belém, for example, 55,5% of homes are located in slums.[xlviii].

It is fair to assume that the expansion of favelas, even at a slower pace, was not really stopped, much less reversed, during the period of economic and consumerist euphoria of the two Lula da Silva governments. Anyone who lives in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo could easily observe this with the naked eye.

This recent expanded expansion of Brazilian society's favelization is only the most visible and shameful aspect of the results of economic and social policies in the last 30 years. And the invoice was presented to us together with the expansion of Pentecostal fundamentalism that today already dominates around 40% of the Brazilian population; the expansion, in our largest urban centers, of territories dominated by police militias or narco-terrorists; and, finally, the election, with massive votes from that population, of Bolsonaro, Witzel, Doria, and another three to four hundred federal deputies and senators of the same ilk, in 2018. Once the option has been made, in successive elections, for back to the primary-export economy with the consequent destruction of the industrial-technological bases that Brazil displayed until the mid-1980s, we are left with an essentially commercial-retail fancaria “elite”, when not parasitic, not very distinct in corrupt relations with the State, in the world view and aesthetic tastes, of any other social layer lumpen, even if its most showy examples exhibit grotesque external signs of wealth.

The “500 manifesto”, quoted at the beginning of this article, seems to show, however, that all would not be lost. However, if a broad alliance is not built in Brazil in defense of Civilization beyond the recent political grudges, an alliance capable of subsequently advancing in our country a kind of "Marshall plan" that will break down once and for all, in its bases, the foundations of production and reproduction of our socially exclusive society, the advance of barbarism in Brazil will follow its course.

But this broad anti-Bolsonazi front will need to be willing, if it reaches the government, to go beyond focused social policies and without major commitments to real industrial-technological development. The thinking niche of Brazilian capitalism, those 500 who signed the manifesto critical of the current government, as well as their notorious spokespersons in print and television journalism need to review their theoretical and political foundations if they really want to get Brazil out of a crisis that is not just economic. , but also politics and ethics largely determined by the peripheral neoliberal policies they have implemented or defended in recent decades.

But the civilized camp that opposes him, identified with the Left, also needs to recognize that to overcome the mental retardation of the mass of the population, it is necessary, first, to remove them from their conditions structural of existence, therefore investing in a developmental model, including in Education, which projects our Country as an industrial-technological power in the foreseeable future. The “customs” or “identity” guidelines would need to be put in parentheses due to the rejection they provoke in the “poor” population, because this desirable and necessary evolution of “customs” and the overcoming of “discrimination” will come, naturally, to the extent that our society becomes richer, more inclusive and more educated.[xlix]

The health tragedy promoted by the current government can pave the way for us to build this new agenda if we seek to move beyond superstructural diatribes and mutual resentments. If not, whatever the future government, assuming that it will not be a continuation of the current one, will do little to attack the real causes of the situation we find ourselves in: a peripheral, reprimarized, excluding capitalism... lumpen. The republic of militias.

*Marcos Dantas He is a professor at the School of Communication at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of The logic of information capital (Counterpoint)


[I] Isabela Bolzani, “Economists, bankers and businessmen demand effective measures against the pandemic”, Folha de S. Paul, 21/03/2021, available at -carta-aberta.shtml, accessed on 17/04/2021.

[ii] José de Souza Martins, “Weakened Entrepreneurship”, me & weekend, 16/04/2021, pg. 4.

[iii] Karl Marx, Grundrisse, São Paulo, SP: Boitempo, 2011, pg. 212.

[iv] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, São Paulo, SP: Escriba, 1968: pg. 78-79

[v] David Harvey, Postmodern Condition, São Paulo, SP: Loyola, 1992 [1989].

[vi] Guy Standing, The Precariat: the new dangerous class, Belo Horizonte, MG: Authentic, 2013

[vii] David Harvey, on. cit.

[viii] Robert Kurz, The collapse of modernization, Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Paz e Terra, 1993, 2nd ed., pg. 194-195

[ix] Gilberto Dupas, Global economy and social exclusion: poverty, employment, state and future of capitalism, Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Paz e Terra, 1999, pp. 16-19, my italics – MD.

[X] Benjamin R. Barber, Jihad vs McMundo: how globalism and tribalism are transforming the world, Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Record, 2003

[xi] Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Counterpoint, 2011 [1967].

[xii] Benjamin Barber, op. cit., p. 246-253 passim.

[xiii] ditto, pp. 196, 201-202 passim.

[xiv] Jacques Rancière, Hatred of Democracy, Sao Paulo, SP: Boitempo, 2014.

[xv] Jacques Rancière, idem, pp. 96.

[xvi] Rafael Garcia, “Science was captured by the class struggle – interview with Fareed Zakaria”, The Globe, 5/04/2021, pg. 10.

[xvii] Spindrift, “First 3D printed clothing now on sale worldwide”, 1/08/2017, available at -in-3d-this-sales-on-world-scale.html, accessed 14/07/2020.

[xviii] On July 8, 2020, Ricardo Nunes was arrested by the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais, accused of evading BRL 400 million in ICMS. Luciano Hang responds to the lawsuit for owing BRL 2,5 million to Social Security.

[xx] Bruno Paes Manso, The Republic of Militias, São Paulo: However, pg. 69-70.

[xx] ditto, pg. 72

[xxx] ditto, ibidem.

[xxiii] Luis Augusto Milanesi, Paradise via Embratel, Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1978, pg. 164.

[xxiii] It refers to the article “In the name of the father – justifications for the vote of evangelical and non-evangelical federal deputies in opening the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff”, published by the interviewee, Reginaldo Prandi and his colleague João Luiz Carneiro.

[xxv] Chico Alves, “Dilma’s impeachment vote showed an ignored Brazil, says sociologist”, UOL, 17/04/2021, available at -professor.htm?s=09, accessed on 17/04/2021

[xxiv] Guy Standing, op. cit.

[xxv] Guy Standing, on. cit., pg. 25.

[xxviii] Idem, pg. 39.

[xxviii] Jesse D'Souza The Late Elite, Rio de Janeiro: Casa da Palavra, 2017, pg. 104.

[xxix] Guy Standing, on. cit., pg. 45.

[xxx] Guy Standing, op. cit, pg. 109.

[xxxii] ditto, ibidem

[xxxi] The Globe, “Almost half of young people employed with a university degree are in jobs with lower qualifications”, 12/12/2018, available at, accessed 2/07/2020

[xxxii] Guy Standing, on. cit., pg. 113.

[xxxv] Guy Standing, on. cit., page 113

[xxxiv] ditto, ibidem.

[xxxiv] For the political history of the Internet, see Pierre Mounier, The owners of the network: the political plots of the internet, (São Paulo, SP: Loyola, 2006). For the political economy of the Internet, see Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2017); Dal Yong Jin, Digital Platforms, Imperialism and Political Culture (New York/London: Routledge, 2015); Trebor Scholz (Ed.), Digital Labor: the Internet as Playground and Factory (New Yoir/London: Routledge, 2013); Marcos Dantas, “The Financial Logic of Internet Platforms: the Turnover Time of Money at the Limit of Zero” (TripleC, v. 17, n.1, 2019, pp 132-158).

[xxxviii] Shoshana Zuboff The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, New York, USA: Public Affairs, 2019.

[xxxviii] Quoted in Giuliano Da Empoli, The Chaos Engineers, São Paulo, SP/Belo Horizonte, MG: Traces, 2019, pg. 75

[xxxix] In information theory, the message with the highest value is the one with the lowest probability of occurrence, given a set of information. p events with different probabilities. The more likely event or message will contain fewer bits of information than the less likely one. The social phenomenon is therefore explainable even by a mathematical science.

[xl] Giuliano Da Empoli, on. cit., pg. 78.

[xi] quoted in Giuliano da Empoli, on. cit. pg. 32.

[xliii] Biography, Steve Bennon, available at, accessed 08/07/2020

[xiii] Giuliano da Empoli, on. cit., p. 100-101 passim.

[xiv] Jane Mayer, dark money: how a Secretive Group of Billionaires is Trying to Buy Political control in the US, London, UK/Victoria, AUS: Scribe Publications, 2016.

[xlv] Eric Hobsbawn, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century (1914-1991), São Paulo, SP: Companhia das Letras, 1995, 2nd ed., pp. 122-147 passim.

[xlv] Marshall Berman, All that is solid melts into air, São Paulo, SP, Companhia das Letras, 1987, pg. 125.

[xlv] Camila Rocha and Esther Solano, Bolsonarism in crisis?, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, June 2020

[xlviii] José Casado, “The spectacle of poverty”, The Globe, 16/05/2020, p. 3.

[xlix] Some voices warned, in the United States, to the extent to which the liberal-progressive discourse embraced by a large part of what today is understood as the “Left” had been reinforcing, in the popular classes, the rejection of this same “Left”. These voices include feminist leader Nancy Fraser and sociologist Mark Lilla. On this debate, see “Lenin’s Lesson”, by Marcos Dantas, at, accessed on 18/04/2021.


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