The case of offshore

Image: Magda Ehlers


Reflections on Brazilian capitalism and its economic and political elite

When President Jair Bolsonaro spoke at the UN, among several eschatologies, he stated that his victory in 2018 was necessary to rid the country of quasi-socialism. It is true that apart from members of the Bolsonarist sect, both rightists and leftists know that the last time Brazil flirted more closely with this was the poorly organized revolutionary attempt led by Luís Carlos Prestes in 1935. Since then, capitalism has reigned. swimming in strokes and independent of the petista “interregnum” between 2002 and 2016, it remained firm and untouchable. Former president Lula would say: “in my government, banks never earned so much” and communist Lenin would say: “what is a bank robbery compared to what a bank is”.

That said, let's get down to business. This text is just to lash out at some considerations and reflections about Brazilian capitalism and its economic and political elite in the context of this scandal of the offshore in tax havens. We have the most usurious and arrogant elite in the world. Our political past was rooted, from 1822, on a slave-owning “liberalism” when a good part of the nations of the western world, mainly those in the center of world capitalism, already strategically defended (there is nothing humanistic in this story) the transition and consolidation for salaried work. Along with the salary would come the exploitation of absolute added value and the precariousness of labor relations as the basic foundation of exploitation and profit. The production of the poor provided the cheap labor so necessary for the enrichment of the nascent industrial bourgeoisie.

However, it was not enough to control capital, it was necessary to control those who established the political and administrative conditions that would ensure the expansion of exploitation and profit. The system built its perfect machine by uniting economics and politics. The owners of power formed the partnership that would sustain Western capitalism with little risk of shocks. Believing in a possible risk of Brazilian socialism in the XNUMXth century and even at the beginning of the XNUMXst is only possible in minds as obtuse and mediocre as those of the members of the Bolsonarist sect.

Bolsonaro himself knows that he only became president because capitalism triumphed in Brazil in the 01th and 02st centuries. In the case of his family micro oligarchy, the scheme of cracks functioned as a kind of “state domestic capitalism”. 03, 6 and 04 proved to be expert capitalists by stratospherically multiplying their respective salaries paid by Brazilian society and this was only possible because we live in full capitalism. The XNUMX million reais house of the “noble” Senator Flavio (bought with the accumulated salary of a State Deputy) is the example of the most competent way to extract from capitalism all the benefits that are possible. The XNUMX and all its individual entrepreneur verve is perhaps the best expression of how the Bolsonaros masterfully manipulate, always for their own benefit, the instruments of a kind of “state domestic capitalism”. But Bolsonaro keeps warning us about the risks of socialism. Strange is having a portion of Brazilians socially excluded by capitalism so adored by the Bolsonaros, who continue to fear the “imaginary monster” of socialism, a campaign that only benefits the presidential family and the national bourgeoisie politically and economically.

Having made this small introduction, I arrive, finally, at the central theme of this article, which is the great news of the moment that emerged as a result of the publication of the pandora papers, leak of information obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that brings information about offshore opened in tax havens by various authorities, personalities and billionaires around the world.

In Brazil, the fact gained prominence for bringing the names of the Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes and the President of the Central Bank Roberto Campos Neto. Although it is a big dish to be eaten slowly by the world of politics (both serve a government that is under pressure from an impeachment process), I prefer to see this fact from a more complex perspective, one that exposes the true and cruelest face of the Brazilian capitalist system.

The fact that Guedes and Roberto Campos, market men momentarily serving politics, owned offshore in tax havens and, consequently, benefiting in private life from decisions taken in public life only reaffirms what everyone already knew, that there is no capitalism separate from the State. The minimum State preached by them is aimed only at that part of the State that is concerned with equality and social inclusion, this has to be properly framed by the labor reform and the spending ceiling. The poor in capitalism are costs and not investments. for the Guedes et caterva the State must be maximum in the preservation of its private interests. Another senator would say: “go see Brazil”.

In addition to Guedes and Roberto Campos (rentiers in the momentary status of official partners in political power), other subjects such as Luciano Hang (also on the list of pandora papers) can be seen as unofficial rentier partners of political power. There is no free lunch, the support of the “patriot” Hang and other billionaires for the Bolsonaro government is only the legitimization of the spurious society between the powers. Hang sells himself as a “patriot”, dresses in green and yellow, fights the enemy of socialism (now we know why), but has no qualms about not declaring his offshore for 17 years.

The patriotism and nationalism of Hang and Cia is not enough to stop investing its resources in places that do not charge taxes on offshore. He loves Brazil, as long as he doesn't have to spend a dime for it. Some will justify it by stating that he is a great businessman who creates jobs, as if a businessman opened a company to create jobs and not to accumulate profits at the expense of exploiting the worker. In the case of Hang, between 1992 and 1996 he failed to collect the correct INSS amount from his employees, with evasion reaching figures of more than 10 million reais. Sentenced to 3 years and 11 months in prison, the Bolsonarist businessman made an agreement to pay the debt and escape the sentence. The gang of Bolsonarist politicians who were present at the CPI of Covid was not free when the “came from Havan” went to give testimony. Upstairs knows the right moment to defend each other.

Certainly, the opposition will kick and demand punishments from Paulo Guedes and Roberto Campos, and they will certainly have “good” explanations and justifications. Cases like these do not necessarily constitute lipstick in underwear. Capitalism created its own ethics that justifies that national capitalists can circumvent the country's tax system by investing in tax havens. As long as they say so, the ethics of the system itself make them legal. The conflict of interest argument (however explicit it may be in this case) becomes subjective in the narrative of those in power.

But cases like these provide us with the opportunity to openly denounce the promiscuous relationship between capital and political power. More than that, in view of the numerous Latin American politicians (three incumbent presidents) on the list and the fact that all of them are linked to right-wing parties, it needs to be duly debated by the progressive sectors of society. In Europe and the USA, the political sector has put public agents involved with the list of PandoraPapers.

In England, politicians such as Margaret Hodge, a member of the House of Commons, have admitted that the UK “is at the heart of the Scandal”. She stated Hodge “Secrecy about ownership allows for money laundering. British lawyers, bankers and consultants provide the cover. Our regulation is weak, our enforcement pathetic.”[1]In the center of world capitalism the case of offshore they are extrapolating the political debate and opening up the possibility of debating the functioning of the capitalist system itself. Will Brazil follow this example? In Latin America, the presence of political heavyweights on the list, such as the Chilean Sebastian Piñera, the Ecuadorian Guillermo Lasso, as well as former Colombian presidents such as the liberal César Gaviria and the conservative Andrés Pestrana, leaves open the vulnerabilities of the right on the continent. In the case of Guillermo Lasso, from Ecuador, the documents of the pandora peppers showed that he had 14 companies offshore. He needed the leftist Rafael Correia to develop a law that prohibited presidential candidates from being beneficiaries of companies in tax havens.[2] We have one more example that explains Bolsonaro’s and the Brazilian bourgeoisie’s fear of “socialism”.

In Brazil, the left needs to learn from the Bolsonarist horde on how to spread truths in the blogosphere that bother conservatives and reactionaries in the country.

Therefore, as much as the fact that the minister who runs the economy privately profits from his public acts is something truly scandalous, this is only the outside of the iceberg. The important thing now is to take advantage of the opportunity to debate the spurious and indecent dynamics of the Brazilian capitalist system, which is based on the promiscuous relationship between economic power and political power, with the final result being the greater enrichment of those who are already rich and the greater impoverishment of those who are already rich. who is already poor. Go see Brazil, 2022 is right there.

*Eduardo Borges He is a professor of history at the State University of Bahia.




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