Neoliberalism and authoritarianism



Considerations on the continued and structural crisis of capitalism.

In the last 40 years, capitalism on a global scale has taken on a format with a historical configuration centered on the withdrawal of social rights, with less social regulation by the State and growing economic financialization. This format of capitalism is what is conventionally called neoliberalism. We can define the last few decades in two terms: the world is for sale, the world is a commodity.

A central aspect in the permanent capitalist schizophrenic convulsion, it refers to the authoritarian condition of neoliberalism. Thus, the current situation of strong loss of social rights and democratic dismantling in Brazil is not by chance, authoritarianism is the interface of the political regime of neoliberalism in peripheral societies, but functioning according to cyclical movements integrated with the capacity of national classes to fight.

The characteristic points of neoliberalism as a historical epoch of the capitalist world system are components of a continuous crisis, which cannot be resolved, only postpones its new ingredients forward, creating growing uncertainties for humanity. Following in the footsteps of, among others, Steeeck (2018) and Harvey (2016), we have the continued and structural crisis of capitalism since the downward trend in the rate of profit, in addition to other processes that were developed from the 1970s onwards, such as financial expansion and the successive and permanent formation of speculative bubbles, in addition to movements that aggravate localized crises, whether geographically or sectorally in capitalism.

The greater financial intervention of the State, with an increase in the fiscal effort to face the growing public debt, within a logic of transferring public wealth to the 1% controlling all social wealth, led to a pattern similar to the 20s of the last century . In peripheral societies, such as Brazil, this model reached the limits of paroxysm, so the subservient Brazilian bourgeoisie imposed a Constitutional Amendment (95/16), establishing the most stupid and authoritarian rule of fiscal control in the history of capitalism as part of the rules of this world rentier capitalism.

The reinforcement of the “territorialism” discourse and the notion of development based on the rules of the XNUMXth century in England with the umpteenth empowerment of comparative advantages and that development policies should only be specific and local, as a denial of national policies and the affirmation of capabilities development sovereigns. An aspect that reinforced the internal dispute within each nation over the flow of investment, undermining local fiscal capacity in favor of business capital and disorganizing federative relations. In the Brazilian case, this goes through the definition that it is up to the country to be only a producer of grains and ores in this international order.

In the continuity of the XNUMXst century, the recomposition of the WTO (World Trade Organization) is observed, with tariff and para-tariff norms that support the unequal and strongly asymmetric “competitive principles”, reducing the negotiation capacity of the peripheral countries and reinforcing the commercial circuits north-north. The reduction of tariff barriers associated with multilateral agreements carried out within the scope of the WTO and the proliferation of regional agreements favored a second and third wave of globalization of productive processes, reinforcing forms of subcontracting and the growing outsourcing of production in several sectors.

The increase in financial and trade imbalances is due both to the reinforcement of the rentier nature of the economic structure, including the expansion of the mass of fictitious capital in the credit system, and to exchange rate flexibility and liberalization of the capital account with consequent instability of current transactions and balance of payments of the peripheral economies and, in the last years of the central economies themselves, the flight forward is already in its third moment in the central economies, especially the US trying, without dismantling the financial and rentier logic, to establish now under the auspices of Joe Biden a new liberal-Keynesian route.

The dismantling of social policies, the flexibilization of labor markets and the destruction of social security, however, seem to be something that unites the new and old formulas for the continuity of this liberal-Keynesian route, even if some celebrate in advance some changes, even if superficial in the Biden's program. In Brazil we already have more than 47 million people who are unemployed and underemployed, constituting part of this huge mass of people not servile to capitalism.

The social dispute posed in Brazil, involving, on the one hand, the great lack of definition around the center of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, it should be said that it never had a properly national bond, whose capacity to establish any project that minimally includes the two hundred million Brazilians is laughable since the mid-twentieth century; on the other hand, the various reformist projects and partial national sovereignty, historically, were soft social inclusion policies, including the last PT cycle (2003/2015), but without risks for the financial segments and with low capacity for direct confrontation with the most conspicuous interests of the Brazilian agrarian-mining-colonial bourgeoisie.

The evolution of the conjuncture leads us to some possible scenarios to be visualized. At the moment, three are in direct dispute, but two others can be listed in the analysis effort, and depending on the class struggle and street disputes, we will have the establishment of one or another model:

(1) the one under the control of the Brazilian State at this moment, establishes the condition of radical deepening of dependence and Brazilian neocolonization, determining the intensification of the overexploitation of workers, the marginalization of the technological frontier and the complete spoliation of Brazilian natural resources. It is worth noting that this project includes not only the neo-fascist sectors, strongholds of Bolsonarism, but also a considerable portion of the military and a fraction of the financiers (part of the bankers grouped under the largest national acronyms: Bradesco and Itaú, it should be noted that the financiers are divided even within their acronyms). This project, therefore, is not negligible or just the frenzy of the “house of glass” man.

(2) a second neoliberal model, agreed around a considerable part of the “civilized” bourgeoisie, both rentier (a portion of bankers also grouped under the main national acronyms: Bradesco and Itaú, are also present here). Point of difficulty refers to the problem of how to maintain agrarian-mining-export dependence and some degree of democracy in the political regime system. It should be noted that part of the military-bureaucratic apparatus is also present here.

(3) the third model is a hybrid of the PT reformist program and a certain historical convenience of segments of the bourgeoisie, including the agrarian-mining business and segments of bankers. This model is not exactly neoliberal, but it presents several consents to the long-term neoliberal project, and its possible consolidation is the result of the defeat imposed by Covid-19 on projects 1 and 2. It is worth noting that the non-consolidation of this project opens up the possibility of a “Bonapartist” solution.

(4) the fourth possible model is a variant of the third, but with two substantial differences: the preponderance of left-wing sectors (democratic and popular) establishing a stronger use of public funds (tax revenues) for income distribution and organization policies of society and the use of tax reform to tax the bourgeoisie, decrease regressivity and allocate resources to public policies.

(5) the fifth possibility would be the necessary social rupture, at least until now, with the Brazilian historical construction. This project would have to involve eight movements, to a large extent difficult, but necessary to think about “Brazilian civilization”, we will just list them, in the next article we will deliver their development: (a) total rupture with the fiscal-dependent regime of the last thirty years, including financial adaptations by the Brazilian State with forms of securitization of its public debt; (b) broad progressive tax reform: taxation of large fortunes, reestablishment of taxation on corporate profits and new progressive income tax; (c) renationalization of the main companies in the energy and mineral sector: Companhia Vale do Rio Doce and Petrobras, establishing a broad investment project for both; (d) reconstruction of the National Innovation System, with reconditioning of CNPQ and CAPES for a program of agricultural, environmental, medical policies for the next fifteen years, considering food sovereignty and public health sovereignty; (e) productive sovereignty project, based on five sectors: basic goods (civil construction, clothing, footwear, food and beverages); (f) technological completeness project (aerospace; pharmaceutical industry; information technology and microchips industry; (g) exclusive constituent assembly with gender parity criteria; (h) federative renegotiation.

The alternative to the imperialist barbarism expressed in the models of neoliberal continuity is the establishment of a national development agenda that breaks with dependence, approaches the technological frontier and defines new rules of geopolitical power, this perspective will only open with a growing social radicalism and Brazilian democracy. The movements close to Brazilian society, organized and disorganized, will show our future or our non-future.

Jose Raimundo Trinidad He is a professor at the Graduate Program in Economics at UFPA. Author, among other books, of Criticism of the Political Economy of the Public Debt and the Capitalist Credit System: a Marxist approach (CRV).


Wolfgang Streeck. Bought time: the postponed crisis. Sao Paulo: Boitempo, 2018.

David Harvey. 17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. Sao Paulo: Boitempo, 2016.

Daniel Bensaïd. “The archipelago of a thousand (and one) Marxisms”. Available on the site A earth is round:


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