Everything changed

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By Valerio Arcary*

The working class can and must drag the majority. She has the social force to pave the way and overthrow the government.

Brazil and the world are in a situation of maximum emergency caused by the pandemic that does not allow any parallel with anything we have already experienced. We are in a context very similar to that of a world war. Many will die, what we don't know is the scale. It is impossible to predict, for the time being, the consequences of this hecatomb. But they will be devastating. They will be socio-economic and political.

Science tells us that the two central references that we must consider are the speed and volume of people infected, and the lethality rate. Gaining time has become a central priority, which is only possible with a total quarantine. The inevitable contraction of the world economy cannot be the central concern of the States. Governments that are opposed, or even hesitant, to take the drastic measures now are doomed.

Many millions of people, fortunately, are already in home confinement. The center of the political struggle is to save lives, which is only possible when everyone can protect themselves in their homes with the conditions for their survival guaranteed by the State. The conjuncture has changed, everything has changed, abruptly, in the last two weeks.

Many countries are already in total quarantine. In Brazil, the measures so far are dramatically insufficient, because the federal government is clearly not in favor of an immediate total quarantine, a condition sine qua non, that is, irreplaceable, to stop the spread of infection and save time, the only strategy that has proven to be effective in saving lives. In the case of Brazil, millions of lives. The hand cannot shake. But Bolsonaro is a monster. His inability is absurd. Therefore, we must prepare for the worst case scenario.

Specialists in pandemics are categorical: without exceptional, radical, inflexible measures of total quarantine, with the exception of essential services, rigorously defined, in a few weeks we will be facing a cataclysm of tens of millions of deaths on a global scale.

The new situation resulted from a brutal external shock. The political relationship of forces had been evolving unfavorably, quantitatively, for the government since January. Crisis that led to the resignation of Culture Secretary Renato Alvim; crisis arising from the existence of two million cases stopped at the INSS; crisis due to blocking the entry of one million families in the Bolsa Família program; disregard of floods and mass deaths in the Southeast; delay in legalizing the president's party, Aliança; disastrous international repercussions of invasions on indigenous reserves; criticism of Bolsonaro in the carnival blocks; ruptures of its former allies: PSL, Wilson Witzel, João Doria, Alexandre Frota, MBL, Joyce Hasserlmann, General Santos Cruz, and now Janaína Paschoal. All this was having an impact on the perceptions of the working class and the middle class, albeit in different proportions.

But in the last two weeks the government has had two clear defeats. The disastrous repercussions of going down the ramp on March 15th, with his participation in demonstrations against the National Congress and the STF, and denialist statements about the seriousness of the epidemic. They seem to have generated a qualitative leap, because they were the trigger, the spark, the spark that ignited a protest that started in middle-class neighborhoods, but tends to spread.

 There are at least two levels of assessment in any economic analysis. There are actually more than two, but that's a topic for another day. One is the assessment of the social relationship of forces in the structure of society. Another is the political relationship of forces in the superstructure. They tend to come together, but when the situation changes, the mismatch and dissonance increase. Because the political struggle between the government, institutions, various organizations of social representation, including the media and, above all, the movements of the parties, is more accelerated. Politically, Bolsonaro weakened. These changes will affect the classes, but with some delay because the time variable is important.

There is a “ruler” to decide whether to raise the slogan of “Down with the government”, or “Fora Bolsonaro!” for political unrest. The criterion we inherit from the classics is whether this slogan has matured in the consciousness of the majority of the class. It is not necessary for the class to already be willing to go out into the streets to try to overthrow the government now and then. It is different from a slogan for action. But it needs to be the majority position in the class as a whole. The criterion is not the majority of the population. At the vertiginous speed of the changing situation, it is difficult to know whether there is already a majority.

The working class can and must drag the majority. She has the social force to pave the way and overthrow the government. This happened in Brazil in 1979, in the final phase of the struggle against the dictatorship. The strikes of metallurgists, oil workers, bank workers, teachers and others demonstrated a social force of impact that shifted the majority of the nation towards opposition to the dictatorship. This must be our bet, strategy and inspiration.

*Valério Arcary He is a retired full professor at IFSP (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo).

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