Brazil to be invented

Thornton Dial (1928–2016), History Refuses to Die, 2004.

Brazil to be invented


There will only be one Brazil when we assume and practice a humanitarian program of alliances between the different Brazil

“O Brasil”. Is this a legitimate utterance? Not yet. Dominant political forces that produced the territory/nation formally called Brazil is sustained, throughout the historical process, from the myth of the “country of conciliation” and violence (PAULA, 2020, pre-publication)[I]. However, there will only be a Brazil when we assume and practice a humanitarian program of alliances between the different Brazil, necessarily, in opposition to the hegemony of dependent and neoliberal/imperialist capitalism, internally and externally. Until then, the land of Brazilians is under the dominion of Brazil, as the poets Aldir Blanc and Maurício Tapajós put it, in the song “Querelas do Brasil”, immortalized by the voice of Elis Regina:

“Brazil does not deserve Brazil

Brazil is killing Brazil”

Brazil corresponds to a reactionary force, which is formed from the action of class fractions of little erudition (with rare exceptions) and little ability to read about the transformations of the world, addicted to extracting and appropriating, in the most archaic way. and violent as possible, of the riches and creative possibilities of the social groups that I propose here to be called Brazil.

Brazil is the domain of people who relentlessly reproduce and propagate their reactionary lineage in history. Accompanying Professor João Antônio de Paula (2020), I would say that this Brazil is the one that emerged in the period between 1822 and 1831, as a rupture and challenge to Portuguese domination and that did have its emancipatory potential, as expressed in the process of the defeated constituent of 1823[ii]. Therefore, Brazil has its contradictions. Its dominant classes, currently, are the centenary landowning families, retail trade millionaires, controllers of large telecommunications networks, state bureaucrats, military, religious empires (mostly neo-Pentecostal), all of these in some way amalgamated with financial market forces, which stands as one of the main pieces of reactionary Brazilian. Under this Brazil are the Brazil. “The painful construction of ourselves develops in the rarefied dialectic between not being and being other” (GOMES, 1980, apud PAULA, 2020, p. 34, pre-publication). We are in Brazil, but in contradiction.

On the day when the alliance of different Brazil if it does, and rips the covering cloak of the hegemonic Brazil, we will have remade up Brazil. It will be the Brazil of ontological alliances between multiples: peoples originating from the continent; the diasporas from so many parts of the globe, mostly from Africa, from blacks; those who were forged as peasants, caboclos, sertanejos, rural workers, urban workers; of women, masters in confronting patriarchy; those who suffer gender violence; of communist revolutionaries, those who did not give up utopia as a power; of modern people committed to solidarity and the emancipation of peoples; of ecologists; of social movements, in the countryside and in the city; of the survivors of everyday life, which centered on the reproduction of life, ensured that we got here alive and with a desire for change.

The current humanitarian/civilizational crisis that is taking place in these lands reveals an implosion movement in Brazil. Rancière (2014) revealed the contemporary hatred of democracy, in the midst of the widespread crisis of capitalist reproduction. In Brazil, the crisis has its specific contours, and its reactionary class, historically always ready to attack in case of insurgency of the Brazil, however slight, mortally wounds itself and all the rest of its competitive society. The Covid-19 pandemic, as one of the constituent phenomena of this crisis, revealed that Brazilian reactionaries do not have the slightest commitment to life, not even their own class representatives, nor those who blindly follow them and, much less, of the Brazil. From Brazil newly born in the 1820s to contemporary Brazil, the hegemonic force, recovering the formulations of Paulo Mercadante (1965), is expressed in four aspects: i) the “conservative conscience”, marked by the “fear of revolution”; ii) blocking popular participation; the legitimacy of the concept of race (CHAUÍ, 2000) and the “fear of (effective) abolition”, expressed in structural racism (ALMEIDA, 2019); iii) concern with national unity, under the rule of reactionary forces in a condition of dependence; iv) moderation, in the form of conciliation/transaction between the dominant forces in Brazil, but not with the people of the Brazil. In the end, "do everything necessary, but avoid the revolution”, as Evaristo da Veiga said (1831, quoted by NOGUEIRA, 1984, p.25). This menu includes a list of suppression of insurgencies, “preventive counterrevolutions” (FERNANDES, 1975), as in 1935, 1954, 1964/68 and 2016, as well as in the election of a repugnant figure like Bolsonaro, in 2018.

When we go back to Brazil's recent history, we are faced with two sequential events, of a political-institutional nature, decisive for the understanding of the contemporary crisis.

The first of these is, without a doubt, the 2016 media/legal/parliamentary coup, with the decisive participation of sectors of the judiciary and the Public Ministry, for the removal of the newly re-elected president in 2014, Dilma Rousseff. A process of boosting the middle strata of the population of Brazil, with the subterfuge of “fighting corruption”. And history repeats itself as farce and tragedy, the corruption narrative, already evoked so many times, against Getúlio Vargas, against João Goulart, this time, fueled by the infamous Operation “Lava-Jato”, which had the instrumentalization of part of the institutions of justice, and by North American external forces[iii], together with accusations of crimes of responsibility, without proving the involvement or effective accountability of the president, culminated in her impeachment. This coup, therefore, was essential for the conformation of a political hegemony over the institutions of the Brazilian State, which had as its objective the deepening of what we can call the neoliberal order. From an institutional point of view, what was sought, as soon as Michel Temer's coup government took over the Executive Branch, was the approval of legislation, some of which at a constitutional level, with strong fiscal restriction measures, which remove from the Brazilian State the possibility of providing maneuvers and investments capable of meeting the needs of the population, as well as removing or emptying a series of social protection mechanisms.

One of the most impactful of these restrictions was formalized as an 'Expenditure Ceiling', Constitutional Amendment nº 95/2016, which establishes that the Federal Union's current expenses, foreseen in the Budget, should be limited to the inflation of the previous year. Another, just as impactful, was the labor reform, Law nº 13.467/2017, which, in addition to dismantling the mechanisms of unionization of workers, with the end of mandatory union dues, promoted a series of “flexibilities” in the relations between capital and labor , such as permission for the establishment of intermittent work contracts, the increase in working hours and the end of special conditions for unhealthy work. In addition, a strong privatization agenda is on the agenda, which has as its main target companies in the Brazilian energy complex, notably Petrobras. With the sale, at dubious prices, of several of the company's assets, with the dismantling of the verticalization strategy in the production and distribution chain of oil and its derivatives, which had been in force since the beginning of the 2000s and whose peak the discovery and feasibility of pre-salt oil fields.

The second event, already in 2018, was the election for the presidency of a parliamentarian, until then marginal in Brazilian political-institutional life, with a clear fascist tendency. This is Jair Bolsonaro, who represents the exact image of what the ruling classes in Brazil actually are, that is, racists, violent defenders of torture and vigorous opponents of democracy and rationality (RACIÈRE, 2014). In a campaign marked by the dissemination of “Fake News”, carried out through messaging applications of smartphones, with a historical script worthy of low-quality cinematographic fiction scripts in Hollywood, with the right to stab the fascist candidate, illegal leaking of content from an award-winning ex-leader of the Workers' Party (PT) in the week of the second round of the elections, choreographies by reactionary youths and several other manifestations of gross aesthetics, but completely accessible to popular layers. Next to Bolsonaro was the figure of an economist without any relevance in the economic debate, trained in the notorious “Chicago school” and with participation in banks and brokerages in the financial system, Paulo Guedes. The promise of the economic agenda was to intensify the neoliberal reforms initiated in the Temer government (2016-2018). It was exactly what happened and has been happening after Bolsonaro took office. The first measure was the processing and approval in Congress of an aggressive Social Security reform, Constitutional Amendment nº 103/2019, which imposed extreme difficulties for access to retirement and pension benefits, in addition to imposing drastic limits on the amounts to be paid. The truculence and political inability of the Federal Government, occupied en masse by the military, did not allow the speed of other reforms intended by the classes that make up the bloc in power, a situation that worsened even more with the beginning of the pandemic, right at the beginning of the second year of office (2020).

But it is in the context of the pandemic that the reactionary aspect of the power bloc intensifies. In the midst of initial pressures for financial support for necessary social distancing measures (a measure identified by the scientific community as the most effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19), the Bolsonaro government is betting on an agenda contrary to scientific recommendations and produced a false dilemma: “health vs economy". By an orchestrated action in the National Congress, emergency aid was approved, Law nº 13.982/2020, for six months, during the year 2020. Which was not renewed for 2021, precisely at the moment when the pandemic intensifies in the country, the result of the very genocidal stimulus of those who occupy the Federal Government[iv]. It is not the objective here to delve into the health and funeral crisis that Brazil is going through, not least because this text is written in the midst of its event and many concrete elements of it are yet to come. But the fact that we want to explore is that, even in the midst of chaos, the reactionary forces in power remain committed to accentuating their financial gains and total control over the State, without any complacency towards the popular layers. Through the approval of legislation and the effective control of public companies, mechanisms for transferring financial income to private groups are implemented, in the form of public debt operations and through the payment of short-term dividends, in the case of state-owned companies. For illustration purposes, two legislations and two public companies stand out:

(I) Constitutional Amendment nº 109/2021, layer of “Emergency PEC”, which approved under the pretext of releasing a new round of emergency aid, as an action to combat the pandemic, with a value less than half of that made available in the year 2020 and for a much smaller audience, it is actually a package of fiscal restrictions for all public bodies, in the different powers and entities of the Brazilian federation. The rule designed stipulates that when current expenses reach 95% of current revenues, a series of triggers are activated, among them the impediment to replacing civil service staff, promotions and salary increases and imposes cuts in mandatory expenses. A second tax ceiling, added to the previously established “Expenditure Ceiling”, from 2016. This is, without a doubt, an aggressive demobilization of the State, as an inducing agent of economic processes of broader popular interest.

(II) The processing of Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) No. 32/2020, the "Administrative Reform" - which provides for easier conditions for dismissing public servants, precarious forms of hiring and leads to the emptying of the Brazilian State's operating capacity.

(III) Petrobras, which was at the center of the “anti-corruption” narrative forged by reactionary sectors, has had its board of directors taken over by former managers of large oil companies headquartered in the United States and investment funds since the 2016 coup. There was then a strong reversal in Petrobras' operating strategy. Until 2016, the company had been acting as an inducer of the development of production chains in the energy production segment, with large investments, verticalization of its scope and bold technological projects, whose greatest example is the discovery and start of oil extraction in the pre -salt (FURNO, 2020). The result of the coup for Petrobras was then the squandering of its assets, with the sale of subsidiary companies such as BR Distribuidora and other participations in the sector of distribution and commercialization of derivatives in the internal market and, mainly, the sale of refineries. The clear objective is to make Petrobras a company specialized in the extraction of crude oil and without the monopoly of this activity, in order to open space for the performance of other companies in the sector in the Brazilian market and even reduce its competitiveness in the international environment. Additionally, it is perceived that by reducing the scope of investments and company operations, greater security is also sought in the viability of profits and distribution of short-term dividends, usually quarterly. It is also worth highlighting two movements that illustrate Petrobrás' emptying strategy, in terms of its participation in the domestic and foreign markets and, at the same time, ensuring that it works as a distributor of short-term dividends. The first of these was the adoption of a pricing system for petroleum derivatives to be sold on the domestic market, which operates at parity with import prices (PPI). That is, Petrobras has the capacity to refine part of its crude oil production. As a state-owned company, it operated until 2016 to balance prices in the domestic market, as a way to cushion possible price shocks from the international market. In 2016, the PPI was adopted, with price adjustments, practically in real time, according to international fluctuations, as a way of guaranteeing expressive short-term results. The second movement concerns the permission provided by Law nº 13.303/2016, known as the “State-Owned Companies Law”, which had its “constitutionality” confirmed by the Federal Supreme Court (STF), in 2019, which allows the sale of assets or of subsidiaries of public companies without the need for approval by the National Congress.

(IV) Eletrobrás, which intends to privatize the company and its water reservoirs, through Provisional Media nº 1.031/2021, without a broad debate with society and with great potential to produce a slicing and disintegration of the energy production and supply in regional monopolies.

The know-how of operators in Brazil was always based on the idea of ​​plundering and enslavement. The history of these lands is shaped by the tension between the emergence of Brazil and the violent reactionary force. Brazil was born without a clear project for the future. He is, therefore, a hostage of himself, the expression of a reactionary and conservative social being. Your project is to stop the becoming, the power of the different expressed by the Brazil, whatever the cost, including in the sacrifice the precepts of modernity, rationality, humanism and even life itself. Brazil has the nature of the dredge. The dredge just sucks and, once sucking, is realized in its own existence.

The history of Brazil, in turn, is constituted by the disruptive intent against the sucking force of the dredge. The natives of these lands quickly verified the violence of the dredging machine that crossed the Atlantic Ocean, before building a Brazil here. They developed their survival technologies, sometimes in close proximity and observational control of the dredger's movement, sometimes trying to get out of its force field. The African diasporas also did the same, they took over, when they managed to do so. Both with many historic casualties. You Brazil, cyclically, they create and recreate themselves, die and come back to life, like caboclo peasants (COSTA, 2019), like new quilombos (SOUZA, 2015). Organized and reorganized. They died and revived. They died like the first Tupinambás who opposed the dredging and revived as indigenous peoples in resistance and recovery (ALARCON, 2019; ALARCON, 2020). They died in the cabin (1835-40) and revived as the alliance of the peoples of the forest and many other insurgent movements (KRENAK, 2015 [1989]). They died while enslaved in Africa and revived in Palmares and many other quilombos (NASCIMENTO, 2002). They were reborn and died in Canudos (1893-97) and revived in contemporary favelas (MONIZ, 1987). They died during the military dictatorship and revived in the pre-1988 constituent movements. They died in the sexual violence that crossed the ages and revived as feminists and LGBTS (CISNE, 2015). They have been beaten many times, they are being beaten and killed today, but they revive every day.

The dredger kills. But we are so many Brazil, insistent, that the dredge decided to suck everything, and ended up sucking parts of itself. What's left wants to be even more violent and boils down to sucking in the molds of the XNUMXth century. Its current commander, the genocidal Bolsonaro, and his henchmen, just need to resume the terms of the “just war”. Thus, Brazil implodes itself to make it difficult for Brazil as a power to emerge.

What we saw in the last two decades was that Brazil lost the opportunity to be part of a Brazil, which even if it maintained complex contradictions, would provide some civilizational advancement. Those brazilians they could have established themselves as a vanguard of capitalist economic processes with their own territorial character, with advances in more sophisticated possibilities of accumulation, with technological development and a more stable society from the point of view of distributive conflicts. But the dredge isn't made to think, it just sucks.

The beginning of the XNUMXst century was a historical period in which Brazil they outlined some insurgency project, not content with being subservient to the slaveholding command of Brazil, with the construction of an agenda that went through: claiming fundamental rights; dispute over the state budget that arises between Brazil and the Brazil; to question expropriation practices and claim their multiple territorialities; vying for control of the state; to dispute the economic model of accumulation in favor of the reproduction of other economies; benefit from the technological advances of industrial civilization, but subverting its social order. It was at that moment that Brazil threw all its chips in itself and potentiated what is its only ability, sucking. Since the year 2015 it has sucked so much that it has swallowed part of its own floor. In the economic field, it has destroyed its possibilities to advance in more sophisticated forms of reproduction, for example, in an economy based on inclusion, on the interaction between humans and the forest, and on technological development. It would be too advanced for them.

But the Brazil of Brazil's powerhouse are specialists in reviving. It is up to them to build the necessary alliances for the insurgency, invention and realization of Brazil. And in this Brazil, Brazil no longer fits. In the 2000s, part of Brazil tried to insert themselves into the dynamics of transaction, a classic mechanism of the groups that make up Brazil (PAULA, 2020, pre-publication). It became clear that, for Brazil, the terms of that transaction and its effectiveness, resulting in some basic distribution of income and opportunities, albeit timid, whether considering the historical-geographical-structural aspects that make up the basic demands of the people, or, yet, considering that the powerful gained a lot during this first decade of the 2008st century, it looked more like an insurgent action, threatening order. A contradiction that was potentiated by the context of crisis that surrounds the global capitalist reproduction since XNUMX, with the movement of break coming from the financial system nucleated in the United States and the accentuation of a multipolar global order, with the brutal rise of China. So enough! There is no more room for Brazil.

It is necessary, however, to think about an agenda for the Brazil. The lines that follow are some general notes regarding this insurgency agenda, which is summarized in four fields:

New form of government – ​​spatial, multiple and based on right alliances.

For a truly democratic project in Brazil, the question of the multiplicity of forms of social reproduction and life in these lands must be at the center of the debate. A large part of the population is articulated by various forms of social ties based on solidarity in their daily lives, despite being pushed towards mutual confrontation in the competitive social order (FERNANDES, 1975). Let's look at indigenous societies, which despite being leveled by an institutional/legal framework, obviously have peculiarities in terms of their history, geography and social reproduction that distinguish them. There are 305 peoples, with linguistic, cultural and social varieties, with a population that is currently close to 1 million inhabitants. The black population of that country, in turn, which exceeds 50% of the entire national population, is spatially organized from the countryside, with various rural nuclei, from sertanejos to quilombolas, passing through coconut breakers and riverside dwellers, to the cities , where they give a clear shape to what is conventionally called peripheries. On another scale, we can talk about regional conformations and the different structural issues that cross them, according to the social questions and contradictions posed and the dialectic between human and nature. To deal with this complexity of issues, Brazil cannot maintain the state form that has remained in force. Take, for example, the definition of the public budget (BRANDÃO, 2014), which is based on a logic of dispute and distribution of resources between thematic portfolios, each one as if it represented a distinct totality of Brazil: Brazil education; Brazil health; Brazil security; Brazil infrastructure; Brazil of accommodating the interests of the old regional oligarchies, which in budgetary terms is expressed in parliamentary amendments; the Brazil of the new order of financial power, which is expressed in primary surpluses and allocations for payment of public debt. It is clear that, in this context, what is observed is a game in which the interest of Brazil prevails over that of the Brazil.

We need to build a political system of alliances between Brazil, with varied forms of decision-making, multiscale, which begins in everyday life, from the foundations of social reproduction of different groups, but which advances in scales of production of decision-making agreements in a complex called Brazil.

Urgent establishment of dignity in the basic reproduction of life

Manoel Bonfim, in the 1930s (AGUIAR, 2000), already warned that the Brazilian revolution would have as its agenda the distribution of land, the feasibility of housing in the urban environment, the right to strike (still not revoked, but extremely harmed from the 2017 labor reform), public health (today represented by the wholesale Unified Health System – SUS – which plays an essential role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, despite all the surreality of the Bolsonaro government) and popular education, which is attacked by crazy and ultra-reactionary ideas, such as the “school without a party” and the desire for a return to the civic-military standard on the part of the reactionaries, even though we have not been able to reach a significant qualitative level of popular education of a critical nature.

There are basic needs for everyone. The solution for a reinvented Brazil necessarily starts from the resolution of these needs, such as “primary income distribution”, in the terms already defended by Celso Furtado (1992). As was thought in the early 1960s, these basic structural reforms retain the creative potential of Brazil and of a Brazil that can set itself up as an anti-capitalist reference for the world. After all, as Florestan Fernandes (1975) has already shown us, to overcome Brazilian dependent capitalism it is necessary to overcome capitalism (in Brazil). The advantage is that the Brazil they are masters in overcoming the capitalist order on a daily basis.

It is necessary to face the harshness of the world – multiple technologies, multiple productions and defense in an alliance regime

The history of violence and reaction against Brazil it shows us the harshness of the world, under the capitalist competitive order. Our history is one of repression of insurgent movements and attempts at reform.

In addition, our condition of dependence has become more acute, with a strong loss of relative participation by the industry and increasingly distant from technological advances in the productive value chains. The biggest problem with this is that any attempt at emancipation places itself in a situation of fragility. The search for autonomy gains in relation to the external scenario is important, whether for access and enjoyment of the benefits of technological production, but mainly as a strategy for maintaining an emancipatory power structure, something also remembered by Celso Furtado (1998), as well as as by Alice Amsden (2001).

Then the agenda of Brazil it needs to recover aspects of the development debate and anti-imperialist geopolitics. It defends the need for an institutional framework that involves:

• a robust planning process, which allows the operationalization of the system of alliances between the Brazil;
• a robust, cooperative and decentralized defense system;
• external alliances with anti-imperialist blocs that allow for the development and improvement of the defense system, as well as a collaboration process in the feasibility of investments and solutions in infrastructure, technological advances and alternative international means of payment.
• Insertion in global value chains, but based on multilateral cooperation blocks and on urgent issues for the life of humanity, such as energy solutions, public health, technologies and social reproduction arrangements that allow facing the effects of ecological changes in the Anthropocene.

It is always necessary to remember that capital is the system that synthesizes and naturalizes violence as a form of reproduction. Especially because, from the alliance between the elites of high international capital and the reactionary class in Brazil, one can always withdraw an “Operation Brother Sam” from the top hat. It is also necessary to know that it will not be easy, but of difficulties the Brazil understand.

*Wesley Cantelmo is a doctoral candidate in political economy at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).


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[I] João Antônio de Paula (2020, pre-publication) to unfold the criticism of the mythology of the country of conciliation recovers the work of Sérgio Buarque de Holanda (1986), in order to highlight the misinterpretations regarding this important interpreter of the formation of the Brazil and, at the same time, present, in an equally critical way, its disruptive and emancipatory aspects. Two highlights can be presented: the deepening of the notion of “cordial man”, as someone who acts from the heart, from the intimate; and the emphasis on the role of the “people” in Holanda's work, as the agent of change.

[ii] Defeated by its “democratic exaggeration”, as defended by Euclides de Cunha (1926) and very well remembered by João Antônio de Paula (2020, pre-publication).

[iii] With the disclosure of the operation data spoofing, triggered by the Federal Police after the leaks of material resulting from interceptions of text messages carried out by a hacker, the irregular collaboration between the prosecutors of the Lava-Jato operation and departments of the US State became public. See in Cardoso (2021).

[iv] At the time this text is being written, Brazil breaks daily records for deaths and infected by Covid-19. There are more than 300 deaths, with a moving average, with more than 3 deaths per day and a vaccination rate that falls short of that of countries in general. Incidentally, the history of vaccination in Brazil and the role of the Federal government is a separate disaster. With unbelievable vaccine refusals, the generation of diplomatic conflicts and disincentives to the population.

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