wide open the break

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Trees and Houses near the Jas de Bouffan, 1885–86. (The Met collection)


A way to overcome single thinking.

“Time only / goes one way” (Manoel de Barros)

“Every human society needs to justify its inequalities: it has to find reasons for its existence or the political and social edifice as a whole is in danger of collapsing. In this way, every era produces a set of contradictory discourses and ideologies that aim to legitimize inequality as it exists or should exist and describe the economic, social and political rules that allow structuring the whole. From this confrontation, at the same time intellectual, institutional and political, one or several dominant narratives usually emerge on which the current unequal regimes are based”.(1)

With the explanation of the global energy war, the wild dispute for natural resources and the overwhelming control over the availability of the results of advances in science, technology and development, in the early 1970s, the right took power in the following decade, with Ronald Reagan (USA) and Margaret Thatcher (UK). With them, globalization began (I prefer the definition of Chesnais (2) – globalization of capital) and the imposition of neoliberalism, favoring, among others, monetary and fiscal policies, which with “deregulation and tax cuts would liberate and encourage the economy by increasing the supply of goods and services, and, consequently, the income of individuals”. (3)

In the midst of one of the biggest pandemics faced by the human species and, forty years later, the model has not worked, neither for Reagan-Thatcher, nor for any other country that has adopted it; here, the shock troops, leaving Chicago and spread across different countries (especially those located below the equator), with the support and connivance of the World Bank -IMF (International Monetary Fund - WTO (World Trade Organization) and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), like croupiers in the global casino, insist on maintaining the model, do not accept any discussion and impose it as a “single thought”, matching the “free market” discourse.

Even in our universities, in the so-called “economics” courses, the dissemination of such thinking is flagrant, with no spaces for discussions and formulations that indicate other paths and options. Proprietary, entrepreneurial and meritocratic narratives predominate. As pointed out by Piketty (1) “Modern inequality is fair, since it stems from a freely chosen process, in which everyone has the same opportunities to access the market and property and in which everyone naturally benefits from the accumulation of the richest, who are also the most vulnerable. enterprising, the most deserving and the most useful. We would thus be on the opposite side of the inequality of ancient societies, based on statutory and often despotic disparities”. Nothing could be more hypocritical, averse to truth, science, knowledge and the strengthening of democracy. Any attempt to discuss and change the model is disqualified, refused and censored. In this sense, what happened in 2011 with the book “There are alternatives. Proposals to create employment and social well-being in Spain”, by V. Navarro, J. Torres and A. Garzón, prefaced by Noam Chomsky. Editorial Aguilar, after showing its interest in publishing it and having started publicizing and promoting the launch, informed the authors that there would be a delay in publication, in view of the Spanish pre-election period. The authors looked for another publisher, which, with the collaboration of ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions to Help Citizens), quickly published the book, in addition to releasing a free version, in pdf format, via social networks, to disseminate alternative ideas to the unique thought.

How “every ordering of human affairs is also materialized in an ordering of space” and, where, “each new era and each new epoch in the coexistence of peoples and in power formations of all kinds are founded on new spatial divisions, new enclosures and new spatial orders of Earth”(4), this “proprietary and meritocratic” narrative has proved to be fragile and, “leading to contradictions, which certainly take on very different forms in Europe and the United States, in India and Brazil, in China and in South Africa, in Venezuela and in the Middle East. However, it turns out that these distinct trajectories, born of specific histories and, in part, connected to each other, are increasingly closely linked at the beginning of the XNUMXst century. Only a transnational perspective allows us to better understand such weaknesses and consider the reconstruction of alternative narratives”. (1)


The Biden Plan 100 Days After Inauguration

One week after the Climate Leaders Summit, whose initial conclusions point to a brutal increase in the technological distance that separates developed countries from others, with regard to the adoption of low-carbon policies, President Biden announced, in his address to the Nation: – a US$2,3 billion increase in public spending on infrastructure; increase of US$ 1,8 billion in public spending on social programs; tax increases for large companies; tax hikes for the richest 1% in the United States; international tax on the profits of multinational companies; law to protect the right to organize; raising the minimum wage to $15/hour; law on equal pay between women and men; prevent what happened in the pandemic from happening again, that is, when 600 billionaires increased their wealth by US$ 1 trillion, while 20 million workers lost their jobs; lower drug prices; low-cost healthcare bill to expand Medicare coverage (Social Security program for over-65s and youth and other people with disabilities); help prevent immigrants from having to leave their countries fleeing poverty and those born in the United States as undocumented immigrants.

Even with all the skepticism that the moment imposes, President Biden's proposal, which is also being reproduced by organizations such as the IMF and OECD, if it materializes, they have important similarities with many of the arguments of those contrary to the single thought that has been imposed. The IMF, in its April 2021 reports(5,6), makes it clear that the pandemic explained and catalyzed a deep crisis, whose recovery will take time and will require new alternatives.

Pliny Jr. (7), in his article “Biden is not Roosevelt”, accurately records that “the capitalism of the XNUMXst century is not that of the XNUMXth century. Without questioning the cause of the problem – the free circulation of capital on a transnational scale – it is impossible to avoid its deleterious effects. Business globalization, economic instability, lowering of workers' traditional standard of living, social inequality, crisis of liberal democracy, resurgence of national rivalries, intensification of class struggle and environmental degradation are processes inherent to the capitalism of our time”.

Antonio Guterres (8), Secretary General of the UN, has shown his concern with the gloomy panorama produced by the global health crisis, which led him to state that “a paradigm shift is needed that allows aligning the private sector with global goals to face the future challenges of humanity, including those caused by COVID-19”.

Guterrez also warned that, due to the rapid and aggressive evolution of the pandemic, recovery will be slow and in the distant future. For the future, he proposed two issues for debate: – 1) application of a solidarity tax, or on the assets of those who were excessively benefited during the pandemic, with the aim of reducing extreme inequalities; 2) Regarding the debt, it encourages its suspension and relief, as well as the granting of liquidity to countries that need it. He stressed, that it is necessary to strengthen the “debt architecture to end the deadly cycles of debt waves, global debt crises and wasted decades”

Given the real threat that the current crisis poses to multilateralism, it proposes new international scaffolding and a new social contract based on solidarity and investment in education, decent and green jobs, social protection and health systems, all of which together would form the basis for sustainable and inclusive development.


Brazil in the opposite direction being dismantled.

Official denialism in the country has reached unthinkable levels, to the point of forgetting that there have always been and will continue to be alternatives to any development model. There is no reason to subject yourself to the single thinking that has been imposed. The advancement of human knowledge, especially scientific-technological knowledge, has expanded the options and possibilities for choosing socio-political paths and styles of development that best meet the demands of the Brazilian population.

However, to better understand and enjoy the benefits of knowledge, it is essential to leave denialism behind, because the option chosen, whatever it may be, will not be restricted to the exclusively technical aspect, but will also represent an option for a series of items related to the standard of care. consumption, labor force, investment levels and above all on the exploitation of natural and energy resources, the structuring of the educational and research system, with inevitable reflections on cultural identity.

Nations evolve when they reach high living standards, making it necessary to make it clear that the increase in human productivity is due to the expansion of its knowledge capacity. Advances in knowledge capacity require continued investments in public education and in public law research foundations that should be responsible for state-funded basic research. As discussed by Stiglitz (3), “Nations become richer as a result of their organization, which allows people to interact, negotiate and make their choices. The blueprint for good social organization is the fruit of decades of thought and deliberation, as well as empirical observations of what works and what doesn't. They have led to views on the importance of democracies with the rule of law, due process, checks and balances, and the myriad of institutions involved in discovering, evaluating, and disseminating the truth.”

As has been questioned since the beginning, there is a need to face the imposition and adoption of a single thought that has prevailed since the 1970s – American-style capitalism – “which is shaping our individual and national identities in an unpleasant way. What emerges is in conflict with our highest values; the greed, selfishness, moral turpitude, willingness to exploit others, and dishonesty that the Great Recession exposed in the financial industry are evident elsewhere and not just in the United States. Norms, what we see as acceptable or unacceptable behavior, are changing in ways that undermine social cohesion, trust, and even economic performance.” (3)

The pandemic at least had the virtue of showing that the changes that were needed have become urgent and inevitable. Small adjustments in the political and economic system will not be enough for the transformations ahead. “We need drastic changes[…], but none of these economic changes will be possible without a strong democracy to offset the political power of concentrated wealth. Before economic reform, political reform will be necessary.” (3)

*José Domingues de Godoi Filho Professor at the Faculty of Geosciences at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT).


(1)  Piketty, T. Capital and ideology; Translated by Dorothée de Bruchard, Rio de Janeiro: Intrínseca, 2020.

(2)  Chesnais, F. globalization of the capital; Translation Silvana Finzi Foá, São Paulo: Xamã, 1996.

(3)  Stiglitz, JE People, Power, and Profit: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent; Translation Alessandra Bonrruquer, Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2020

(4)  Smoke, A. The social question in a transnational context. LEQS Paper No. 39/2011 – Available at https://www.lse.ac.uk/european-institute/Assets/Documents/LEQS-Discussion-Papers/LEQSPaper39.pdf.

(5)  International Monetary Fund. 2021. World Economic Outlook: Managing Divergent Recoveries. Washington, DC, April

(6) International Monetary Fund. 2021. Finance & Development: The Post-Covid World, Washington, DC, March

(7) Sampaio Jr, PA “Biden is not Roosevelt”. Available in https://aterraeredonda.com.br/biden-nao-e-roosevelt/

(8) Guterres, A. Against inequality, Guterres proposes “a solidarity tax” to those who have benefited from the pandemic. Available in: https://news.un.org/es/story/2021/04/1490732.



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