In the swamp, endless crisis

Joachim Beuckelaer (1533–1575), Fish Market (Fish detail), oil on Baltic oak, 1568.
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By DAVID MACIEL*

The crisis proves to be insoluble because the two (counter-)revolutions that originated and constitute it, the extreme neoliberal and the fascistizing, feedback

The Brazilian crisis seems to have no end, it dramatically affects all spheres of social life and advances unbridled with each new attempt to stabilize the political situation. The spread on a national scale of the Delta variant of Covid-19, in a scenario in which not even 30% of the population has been completely immunized and in which the situation of “normality” is imposed from the top down by governments and companies, promises to further enhance the already very high rates of contamination and deaths.

Faced with rising inflation, the government radicalized its option for rentism, increasing interest rates and further discouraging productive investments, while calmly “passing the cattle”, to the applause of all bourgeoisies and the center-right opposition. After the privatization of Eletrobrás and the legalization of land grabbing, the extreme neoliberal agenda advances on indigenous lands, the privatization of Correios, a tax reform that relieves capital and the middle class, deepening the regressive nature of the tax structure, and a new labor reform, which makes formal employment contracts more flexible and makes working conditions even more precarious.

With the Covid-19 CPI and the lawsuits against Bolsonaro, his clan, Bolsonaristas and their networks in the STF and TSE, in addition to the incandescent editorials, manifestos of repudiation and statements as high-sounding as they are empty about the functioning of institutions and the robustness of democracy in Brazil, the dominant sectors of the power bloc and the right-wing opposition seek to keep the government under control, avoid the fascist coup and stabilize the restricted democracy resulting from the 2016 coup. , the more he advances in the fascistization of the State apparatus, reinforces the symbiosis between government and military, pays with interest the successive invoices charged by the Centrão and radicalizes in speech and practice against ministers of the STF, the electoral system and the Constitution.

For the next 7th of September, a new coup promises, this time supported by the state police, truck drivers, agribusiness sectors and the Bolsonarist gang taking to the streets to generate chaos and justify the “moderating” intervention of the military. Meanwhile, governors, the president of the STF, the president of the Senate and business leaders from Fiesp to Febraban, passing through the agro-export bourgeoisie, make the umpteenth appeal for "dialogue" and harmony between the powers and federative entities, as if the the whole thing depended only on common sense and goodwill. That is, the more big capital and its political representatives seek to reduce the boiling point of the crisis in order to simmer the execution of its extreme neoliberal agenda, based on the offensive against workers' rights and income, on capitalist concentration and centralization and in the appropriation of natural resources and public goods, the more the temperature rises due to the very socially exclusive, economically recessive and politically destabilizing nature of its economic program.

In fact, the crisis proves to be insoluble because the two (counter-)revolutions that originated and constituted it, the extreme neoliberal one and the fascist one, feed back, despite the contradictions between themselves, in a vicious circle impossible to overcome within the framework of the current restricted democracy. In a historical scenario of the advance of foreign capital over the national economy, deindustrialization and productive reprimarization – processes that have dragged on since the 90s and deepened after the world crisis of 2008 –, the application of extreme neoliberalism implies not only the reinforcement of rent seeking, of colonial regression and social exclusion, with all that this means in terms of overexploitation and precarious work, reduction of the consumer market, growth of poverty and worsening of the social crisis, but also significant changes in the correlation of forces between the bourgeois fractions and in the relationship between State and capital.

Despite the uncontested predominance of fractions of big capital associated with imperialism and located in the financial sector, the main stakeholders in the stabilization of the restricted democracy in force, there is a fierce dispute for wealth and power in the intermediate and lower echelons of the power bloc, with the advance agribusiness (agribusiness, agribusiness), extractivism (mining, logging), commerce (mainly retail) and certain service-providing sectors, which benefit directly from the privatization of natural resources, public goods and social services, from the precariousness of work made possible by successive labor “reforms” and the dismantling of state inspection and regulation structures, often crossing the border between legality and crime.

For these fractions, which seek their space with “elbow elbows”, in addition to the neoliberal deregulation of the relations between capital and work, also of interest to the other bourgeois fractions because it is fundamental for the new rhythms of surplus value extraction, accumulation and capitalist concentration, it is crucial at this moment to make the state's capacity to regulate relations between capitals and the hierarchy between them more flexible or even reduce, opening up space for their ascension. Hence the support of several of these sectors for the disruptive action of the Bolsonaro government and the fascist perspective represented by Bolsonarism, visible in the support of Centrão and in the presence of several representatives of these sectors among the “Bolsonarist entrepreneurs”.

Data from the traditional survey “The 500 biggest and best companies in Brazil” allow us to see that among the largest non-financial companies in the country there is a relative rise in these sectors between 2016 and 2020 to the detriment of the energy sectors (the entire oil, gas chain and electricity), capital goods and the so-called digital industry. There is both an absolute increase in its participation in the show as a whole, from 43% to 52%, and a significant advance in the intermediate levels, particularly between positions 101 and 200[I].

Therefore, in addition to the explosiveness that the combination of economic crisis, unemployment, wage reduction, impoverishment and the tragedy of the pandemic represents for the political situation, the interbourgeois dispute itself makes the crisis even more insoluble, since it is not possible to apply and execute the agenda extreme neoliberalism without deepening the authoritarian transition, with a fascist tendency, which impedes the stabilization of the regime and the establishment of a new bourgeois hegemony in the medium term. Hence the ineffectiveness of the “bites and blows” on Bolsonaro and the impotence of “institutions”, editorials and manifestos in the face of his disruptive action.

On the other hand, the center-left is unable to cut the Gordian knot of the bourgeois crisis and create an effective alternative to this contradiction because, like the center-right opposition, it also aims at political stabilization, with the difference that it does not the consolidation of the restricted democracy in force today, but rather the restoration (even if partial) of what never comes back: the New Republic and its co-option democracy. And it still doesn't succeed because it also carries a perspective of class conciliation that does not break with the prevailing bourgeois interests; on the contrary, it preserves them and benefits from the ideology that has dominated the consciousness of workers since the implementation of the neoliberal project in the 90s, which was maintained by PT governments and deepened after the 2016 coup, and which combines paternalism, entrepreneurship and religious fundamentalism in varying degrees and shades.

For different reasons, there is a kind of implicit pact between the left and right center forces around Stay Bolsonaro and his presence in the 2022 election. On the one hand, it is imagined that Bolsonaro's political "melting" for the rest of the term, it will favor Lula's victory as the Anti-Bolsonaro and will make a competitive candidacy of the so-called “third way” unfeasible; on the other hand, it is estimated that his absence from the election will make Lula's victory even easier in the first round, due to the absenteeism of part of the Bolsonarist vote. In both cases, this means that the Bolsonarist tragedy will drag on for another 16 months, no matter how much the crisis worsens in every way.

Thus, workers and the socialist left have no alternative but to urgently refound their organizational practices and their mobilization capacity around a perspective that is at the same time anti-autocratic, anti-neoliberal and socialist, as well as intensifying the struggle against the government, restricted democracy and neoliberalism. extreme in the streets, schools, factories and in the countryside. Otherwise, the overthrow of Bolsonaro or even the entire government may represent no more than the momentary removal of the fascist threat or another turn in the tourniquet of bourgeois autocracy.

To the new coup attempt represented by the Bolsonarist demonstrations called for the Independence holiday, the workers must react resolutely, for the definitive defeat of Bolsonarism, by Fora Bolsonaro and Mourão, by the reversal of the entire political and economic agenda of the 2016 coup in favor of the substantive expansion of their social and political rights beyond the New Republic and the 1988 Constitution itself.

*David Maciel is a history teacher. Author of History, politics and revolution in Marx and Engels (Gargoyle editions).

Note


[I] https://mm.exame.com/maiores-empresas/; https://exame.com/revista-exame/500-1-000-maiores-empresas/

 

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