The Ancap

Image: Hannah Höch
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By FAUSTO OLIVEIRA*

Introduction by the author and excerpt from the newly released novel

Thomas Piketty said that the world is experiencing a similar context to that just before the French Revolution. I suspect that it is not necessary to resort to the usual cliché in comparison (“saving due proportions”) in order to agree. I agree with Piketty unreservedly, and perhaps with even more alarm. The world is experiencing an accelerated narrowing of possibilities and futures, except for the usual plutocrats and argentians, and their acolytes.

I read with personal satisfaction in the newspaper El País the Piketty interview, because the publication coincided with the release week of my novel The Ancap. I took it as a good omen, perhaps the manifestation of a weather spirit. The plug that for four decades has prohibited debates on more beneficial alternatives for the social majorities seems, finally, to have broken. Criticisms and alternative proposals leak from all sides.

It is in this context – reasonably desperate for the liberal leaders in the country – that my book wants to make a contribution. The Ancap it is a fiction with an economic accent, but whose scope expands to the very nature of the social crisis that presses contemporary societies. Where does so much discomfort come from? On the surface of the narrative, the book explores what is factual: the predominance of the unproductive and concentrating financial economy over the real economy and its chains. In the more underlying territory of the book, The Ancap talks with the ingrained selfish desire and its social consequences: a non-solidary youth, revolutionary of individualism (therefore reactionary), seduced by projects of rapid personal enrichment that only serve political projects of capture of the State by argentarios.

A synopsis: two young economics students break their friendship when one of them adheres to anarcho-capitalism, drops out of college, gets rich with financial trades and becomes an internet influencer. The other also gets rich, but by joining an industrial company in the chemical area. Their paths cross again when a political lobby forms to build the total privatization of national public health. The young Ancap is used by the lobby, but he is also used to propagate the infamous project of destruction of the State known by the nickname of “Ancapistão”. An improvised resistance is formed which, in the course of the narrative, creatively destroys the conceptual edifice of individual supremacy ideologies.

Below, an excerpt from O Ancap.

“Every economist has an ordering spirit. All. We are a species that wants to be determinative, and every determinator needs to know how to order in his own way. If he doesn't know, he must pretend to know and pretend to order, which is what most economists who enter the world of policy making have been doing for the last many years. Our modest successes and spectacular failures reach representatives of all schools of thought. Those who risk ordering the economies of their countries, under the belief that this order can exist somehow independently of other orders and the interests that surround it, usually answer for decades. The general rule is that, after our often unsuccessful stints in government, we economists are negatively filtered for too long a period; many times, medical errors are not charged like that. It is of the essence of activity, there is no escape.

We are professionals in the management of imbalances, but due to one of those historic misfortunes, one of our schools of thought has sold society the idea that we are the guarantors of general equilibrium. These are the ones who most practice denial, because they begin to manage the collective economic interest by claiming to have the control manual of an extra-world machine, an isolated system that only hovers over life, a celestial meta-mathematical model that keeps within itself perfection, just disturbed because we human beings are imperfect. A vision that, for being so vain, so metaphysical and so delirious, can only lead an economist to yet another spectacular failure. Which, in turn, will need to be denied by long years of tergiversation and interpretation managed with the support of economic media bodies that provide this favor. Negation, this has become the key to understanding the economic facts and processes that affect everyone's life since the time when the metaphysical balance people gained a near monopoly in public debate.

Margaret Thatcher was the one who gave the line of denial by denying, quite spontaneously and perhaps even inadvertently, the very existence of society. She said that the people started to abuse the benefits of the State, and that this had a price, those things that everyone hears every day, and suddenly she says that “there is no such thing as a society”, that there are only men and women and families. And there goes the thread of justifications for all versions and adaptations of a recent thought, but which claims origins in Adam Smith's Liberalism, denying the fact that Smith described the beauties of socially divided work as the master key to the great social construction of wealth that human societies were able to enjoy from about 200 years ago. He denied the existence of society and, ipso facto, spent a decade denying society in England what it had learned was its right. And well, the Old Englishmen I met say that there was abuse of the Welfare State, and I believe so, there must have been a lot of abuse. But for an economist who doesn't believe in general equilibrium, this is normal. It proves the fact, otherwise evident, that economics is the management of imbalances. If there is a happiness in not believing in general equilibrium, rational expectations and all that nonsense, it is that we need not systematically deny it.

The "there is no such thing as a society” by the British Prime Minister had become a kind of informal motto among the Brazilian Ancaps, who were and are vulgar and therefore vulgarized even the very intellectual construction that is behind the so-called anarcho-capitalism. They made T-shirts with the phrase, and other commercial products. The product that stood out the most, and exercised the most leadership, was the video channel for Ancaps young people interested in getting rich quickly and without work, which was simply called “No such thing”, commanded by a rich young man and suited to excite young people to pursue the virtues of the hyper individualistic life. His name was Will Rich.

* Fausto Oliveira is a journalist. website editor Brazilian Industrial Revolution.

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