America's default

Image: Inga Seliverstova
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By JADIR ANTUNES*

In the market there are no citizens, people subject to duty with the law, with the homeland, with the country or with society

An important question, perhaps the fundamental one, in understanding the current crisis of the Americanas is what conceptual and epistemological starting point does our investigation start from? If we are looking for the truth, for its fundamental causes, about this crisis, where do we start from in this search?

The vast majority of analysts, whether on the left or liberal, have already decided on an empirical and factual starting point, taking as the cause of the crisis either a moral foundation or a political one.

Those who believe that the cause of the crisis has a moral basis, attribute it to bad faith, corruption and the fraudulent management of its top executives and majority shareholders.

Those who believe that the cause of the crisis is political, driven by events in the political world, attribute to it the coup-like behavior of these same executives and shareholders. It is not difficult to perceive the forced, grotesque nature of this last conception about the cause of the Americanas crisis with the importation of the terminological glossary of the Brazilian political universe for market phenomena.

The market, however, is a free organism totally autonomous and independent of morals and politics. its various positive codes. These positive laws apply only to the conduct of its citizens. The market, however, is not composed of citizens, but of agents, capitalist agents, absolutely free and unimpeded in their will to undertake or not undertake a certain business.

Therefore, there are no citizens in the market, people subject to a duty to the law, to the homeland, to the country or to society, people whose action is limited by this prescribed duty, explicitly or not, in certain legal codes. In the market there are individuals who act solely and exclusively according to a single and maximum purpose: to enrich themselves individually, producing goods for society or not.

The maxim that governs the action of the market man, the capitalist agent, therefore, is his own interest, the self-interest as Adam Smith said, the interest that this individual has with his own person, with his own gain and enrichment. individual. The satisfaction that society and the country may have with this agent's maxim is an accident, a residue, a consequence that is never the driving cause and the final goal of his action.

For this reason, saying that the top executives and majority shareholders of Americanas acted in bad faith or applied a blow against creditors and society is such a trivial statement that it does nothing to contribute to the understanding of the deep causes of this crisis.

Capital, as Marx says, has a single impulse, non-conscious and that can be reprimanded and educated by morality and law, the impulse of excessive and irrational accumulation for money, impulse that leads the capitalist agent to surpass all measures and limits. morality, justice and common sense. Every capitalist, therefore, has a disproportionate dose of inhumanity, fanaticism, psychopathy and madness for money.

An inordinate rage for money that the Greeks called hybris and a practice that Aristotle already condemned as a mere chrematistikê: an art of making money with a view to money itself. The moderns have given to this disorderly impulse the name of endeavor ou conatus. A natural, wild and violent frenetic impulse that arises from within human passion itself and completely takes over reason.

For this reason, as we said, trying to understand the action of Americanas agents in individual, factual and empirical causes, such as poor business management, carelessness with accounting, scams and fraud with creditors is a terrible and incorrect way of understanding this crisis.

The market has been a market since its birth during the European dynasties of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, as it continued to be a market during the birth of the parliamentary republics of the XNUMXth century, as it continued to be a market during the two great wars and the birth of Nazi-fascism in the XNUMXth century and continues being a market now in the XNUMXst century with all its political and state deformities. Its laws are the same: produce for the sake of producing without considering the satisfaction of human needs as a goal; maximum freedom of action for its private agents to invest where they want, for whom they want, when they want and in the amount they want; maximum freedom to exploit and bleed human lives.

The freedom of will and will of the individual capitalist is the moral maxim of the market faithfully followed by all its agents. A maxim that, as we said, does not find any restrictions or limits in the law and universal morality of philosophers.

Empiricism is not science, much less the crude empiricism of Brazilian journalism. Empiricism does not apprehend the investigated thing in its objective and real connection with the other things that determine and condition it in its movement. Empiricism believes to find the truth of the thing in the singularity and in the particular logic of the thing itself, without realizing that this thing has no particular logic, that the logic that governs the life of this thing goes beyond the isolated universe of its particularity and its singularity.

Moralism is not a science either, as morality intends to think of the action of individuals as rational and universal individuals, as ideal individuals who, because they are endowed with reason and autonomous moral capacity, are capable of regulating their individual maxims to the universal maxims of reason. and the law, either through education or through fear of the sanctions that the law can bring them if they violate it. Morality, therefore, judges and analyzes human actions not as they effectively are, but as they should be, without realizing that the effective action of the capitalist entrepreneur will never adapt to these rational and universal moral maxims.

The market is an autonomous entity in several senses: (i) morality, (ii) law; (iii) the policy; (iv) of the State; and (iv) of the individual capitalist agent itself, since the market laws are objective and valid laws for all these agents. The laws of the market have not only an objective and general validity, but also an automatic validity. The market is a great automaton, a self-moving organism that has its own principles, needs and laws. Not following these laws and opting for the external legal laws of the State, for the external moral impositions of society is, therefore, the shortest path to bankruptcy for every capitalist agent.

The Americanas collapsed, however, ironically, because of these very laws of the market. It turns out that the laws of the market are extremely contradictory. By wanting to produce to produce and sell to sell, as if the entire planet were its market, the capitalist agent produces beyond the purchasing capacity of the market in which he is engaged. The capitalist produces and sells as if everyone could buy. However, each market has its determined buyers and each buyer also has a limited pocket.

As we have already shown in a previous article published on the website the earth is round the fall in the purchasing power of workers who are potential Lojas Americanas customers over the past four years has dropped sharply by around 25 billion reais.

As we show in the aforementioned article, capitalism’s fanaticism for money and human lives, added to the Covid19 pandemic, the insane labor reform, the wage freeze and the absolute impoverishment of the working class in these four years of Bolsonaro’s government, took from workers’ pockets about 25 billion reais that are now needed to move the American money machine.

Capital's fanaticism for money not only leads to producing for the sake of producing, as if the entire planet belonged to it, but also leads to the absolute and relative impoverishment of the Brazilian working class, because only with this impoverishment can surplus value of the capitalist to compensate for the fall in the rate of profit caused by the replacement of the living worker by the dead work of the machine and the robotic and computerized automation of new investments.

Capital is a totality and only the totality constitutes the object of a true science. A non-homogeneous totality. A fragmented and divided totality where different functions are exercised by different capitalists: (a) the function of pulling the brute thing out of nature and providing the raw material for manufacture; (b) the function of manufacturing and reshaping matter received from nature, leaving it ready for final consumption; (c) the function of receiving the final product arriving from the factory through wholesale and subsequent delivery to retail; (d) the function of delivering the ready-made thing to the final consumer performed by the retailer; (e) the function of destroying the thing in consumption performed by the consumer and endpoint of the process.

The function of the final buyer is to destroy the thing in consumption, allowing the process in its entirety to restart at the initial extreme point and to go through all the other midpoints until the thing falls back into his hands, thus allowing the circle of production, of exchange and consumption is repeated incessantly without pauses or interruptions. For the process to flow regularly without crises, money is needed. Real money. As we showed in that article, the exchange machine stopped because the extreme end no longer had enough money to do away with all the trinkets sold by the Americanas.

The default given by the Americanas to creditors was due to the fact that they no longer had cash on hand to redeem the promissory notes in the hands of creditors, notes that for creditors have no economic and effective value, notes that only have legal value , and the final realization of the added value desired by creditors cannot occur with money that is only paper money, only promises, but with actual money, which has now disappeared from the pockets of millions of buyers due to their impoverishment.

Impoverishment that the same Americanas and their majority partners applauded and practiced in their own companies. The great mass of Brazilian workers, around 70%, receives an average salary that does not exceed two and a half minimum wages. The Americanas themselves pay an average wage to their thousands of employees, which is barely above one and a half minimum wages. With a lot of effort and achievement of goals, its hundreds of store managers manage to reach three minimum wages on average.

The Brazilian industrial bourgeoisie, represented especially by Fiesp, has lost direction and direction in the country, lost power, customers, businesses and influence over the State. Deindustrialization, the closure of Ford in the country and of the Korean LG in São Paulo, the retraction of car production at automakers such as Honda, Audi and Chevrolet, financialization, rentism and the primarization of the economy gave rise to new fanatics linked to the first sector, to soy and cattle agribusiness, to the unbridled extraction of our mineral resources sent without limits to finance the development of China and to garimpeiros, miners, loggers, traffickers and farmers who exploit the Amazon with a lack of scruples that shocks even the most liberal journalism and aware of the future consequences.

The political crisis of the labor movement is no less than the crisis of the industrial bourgeoisie – now in a public war between different factions for the leadership of Fiesp. The political crisis of the labor movement has dragged on since when any principle of autonomy, independence and criticism of the country's governments was abandoned after the rise of PT to power.

This silencing of workers' criticism made room for new subjects and new discourses without any connection with the criticism of the contradictory economic structures of capitalism. This silence of objective criticism of the system opened the doors to a sentimentalist discourse that is totally unaware of the nature of these contradictions and their total independence in relation to morality, opened the doors to a moralist discourse about the customs of private life that blindly closes its eyes to the fundamental contradictions of the system, contradictions that now lead the country, despite the goodwill of the new government that assumed executive power, to the swampy universe of insanity, irrationality, schizophrenia, collective psychopathy and barbarism intended by the primary sector that directly exploits nature.

*Jadir Antunes Professor of Philosophy at Unioeste. Co-author, with Hector Benoit, of The problem of the capitalist crisis in Marx's Capital (Editorial Pack).

 

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