State and political inequality

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By MARCUS IANONI*

The State's great dilemma in neoliberal capitalism is to decant a class interest that can protect financialization from the threats posed by democratic politics.

It is not news that, in the multidimensional crisis that has dragged on in Brazil since 2014, among other important problems, an anomalous and extraordinary functioning of the institutions of the Democratic State of Law stands out. Such functioning has been putting into practice, under renewed conditions, the mechanisms of political inequality that, even under normal conditions, characterize the structure of society and the State in capitalism, including in the democratic regime, due to the contradiction between the iniquity in the distribution of private property and the principle of political equality of citizens, characteristic of democracy.

If until 2014 the anomalous institutional functioning, especially of repressive institutions, entrusted with jurisdictional and police functions, was a historical currency in the State's relationship with the socially excluded, since then it has also become so in relation to the new enemies: the left, in particular, the electorally competitive ones, as is the case with the PT and its leaders.

In the long trajectory of democratic theory, a fundamental principle of democracy stands out, with the exception of authors rooted in elitism, such as Joseph Schumpeter: political equality. According to her, the preferences of all citizens should be equally considered in government decisions. This perception appears, for example, with specific features, in Aristotle, who addressed direct democracy in city-states, in Thomas Jefferson, author of the democratic-representative republicanism of the eighteenth century, and in Sidney Verba, a political scientist who, since the In the 1960s, he published important works on democracy and equality, among other topics.

The democratic principle of political equality is made explicit in Art. 5 of the Federal Constitution: “All are equal before the law, without distinction of any kind, guaranteeing to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country the inviolability of the right to life, liberty, equality, security and property, in the following terms”. However, despite the aberrant amount of crimes committed by Bolsonaro, there is not, until now, an effectively questioning political opposition, because, if there were, it would have an impact on the political-institutional level, but not, as has been the case, to give life to the president of the Planalto Palace, but rather to nip in the bud, with the impeachment, the evil that devastates, in unimaginable proportions, the residents of Brazil.

The president conspires against the ballot boxes, against the STF, against human life, affronts public health, sabotages the fight against the pandemic, lies, rhetorically denies his lies, rigs the State, such as the Attorney General's Office and the Federal Police, to, among other reasons, protect his family, in which one does not escape investigations or complaints involving irregularities of various kinds. Anyway, it does and it happens, but what you see is, mainly, a lot of tolerance, a blind eye and rescue operations from these absurdities, such as, among others, the idea of ​​holding a meeting of the Three Powers, to agree on peace, that did not happen, and the recent letter written by Michel Temer – the lawyer for the market (big capital) – after the crimes of September 7, this one, yes, successful.

I am aware that there are important reactions from the STF and even from Congress (the CPI on Covid is in progress), but the question that many and many perceive is the following: why, for very little or almost nothing, was there presidential deposition in 2016 , that is, why, even in the face of highly controversial facts to say the least, a broad and substantive united front emerged against President Dilma Rousseff, but now, faced with an avalanche of crimes of responsibility, the most that institutions do is arrest Bolsonarist activists, but do they spare Bolsonaro?

At work politics and markets, the renowned professor Charles E. Limdblom, from Yale University, surprised his peers when he argued that the executives of megacorporations are the contemporary counterpart of the territorial nobility of feudalism, but now with their voice amplified by the mass media. These gigantic corporations, transmuted into the great financialized capital of today, choose public policies, such as amending the spending ceiling, changes in labor and social security legislation, in pre-salt regulation, the independence of the Central Bank, etc. although the big business do not vote as such, he has veto power, due to his profound influence over the three powers of the state, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.

Em Class domination and the political system: on the selectivity of political institutions, Clauss Offe theorized about the double selectivity of the capitalist State, which protects capital, on the one hand, from itself, decanting a class interest of the narrow, ephemeral and contradictory interests of pluralist politics, and, on the other hand, against anti-capitalist interests and conflicts, functioning as an organ of repression to the articulation of opposing interests. In Offe's analysis, this double selectivity guarantees that, in capitalism, the State is a capitalist State, that is, a class State.

The State's great dilemma in neoliberal capitalism, especially after the policies to save the economy implemented in response to the 2008 crisis, is express a class interest that can protect financialization from the threats posed by democratic politics. In the US, Donald Trump has managed to put Republicans and their voters on a collision course with democracy. In the 2020 elections, the Democrats reacted with the candidacy and victory of Joe Biden, guaranteeing a resumption of the political initiative to the liberal-democratic forces.

In Brazil, as the political-institutional front of the neoliberal right entered into crisis, led by the PSDB, but also by Temer's MDB, control of the state government came to depend on a course of actions that corrupted the law, on due process of law, of equality before the law, in short, of actions that politicize political decisions to the right, intelligible as a class struggle against the popular-democratic field. As is known, this course of action includes Lava Jato, the 2016 coup, the double salvation of Temer by the Chamber of Deputies in 2017, the electoral fraud of 2018, in which actors from various state institutions participated: Dallangnol-Moro , in Curitiba, STF, which embarked on the political frame of Lava Jato and denied habeas corpus for Lula, under pressure from the then Army commander, General Villa Bôas. In this exacerbation of political inequality in Brazil, at the service of ultraliberalism, the Armed Forces have played a fundamental role in protecting democracy.

This is where the exacerbation of political inequality in the State takes root, that is, in the contradictions between neoliberalism, the rule of law and democracy, unfolding in a context in which there is a competitive leftist party on the scene. Consistent with this, the Tucano economist Edmar Bacha recently said that Bolsonaro was a risk to democracy and Lula, to the economy. We have seen in Brazil, we have seen in Trump's USA, in Modi's India, etc., that, between the risk to democracy and the economy, neoliberalism is much more inclined to sacrifice the political regime founded on the political equality of citizens than the material interest built on unequal property relations.

That is why Dilma Rousseff was unjustly deposed, while Bolsonaro, who has been consistently committing crimes, accumulates 126 impeachment requests, all shelved by Arthur Lira. PT's public policies needed to leave the scene, Guedes's need to continue. The tip of the balance is big capital, which organized itself into a depositionist united front in 2016, but not now. It is he who, ultimately, is vetoing the configuration of a general enough to the national chaos, which would be the impeachment of Bolsonaro. In neoliberalism, as the contradiction between capitalism and democracy has been exacerbated in a structural way, political equality is increasingly regulated by the class struggle. The balance of forces explains political inequality.

*Marcus Ianoni Professor at the Department of Political Science at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

Originally published in the magazine Theory and debate.

 

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