The right to have rights

Image: LT Chan


Right-wing libertarianism's appreciation of democracy does not extend to social equality and institutional solidarity.

In the 1970s and 80s, a new authoritarian right emerged in the United States, which from then on leaned towards hard neoliberalism. A political reaction to the theoretical monograph by the British sociologist TH Marshall, Citizenship and Social Class (1950). Reaction that targeted the notion of citizenship, “subversive”, in the myopic eyes of conservatism. For the right that distanced itself from the social-democratic influence, strong in the post-war period, the values ​​of citizenship instigated the revolt of the subalterns. They made them creditors of rights and, consequently, legitimized the pressure for policies by the state apparatus to mitigate the social inequalities accelerated by the dynamics of accumulation.

The new right abjured the American and French revolutions which, in its interpretation, celebrated an important aspect of the struggle for the universalization of citizenship – civil rights. They interfered with the autonomy of the market, by attributing to the State the formal obligation to guarantee the rights of citizenship. It would only be up to the State to ensure the rule of law and currency. Relationships between individuals would be outside its purview. Under penalty of “Leviathan”, seduced by the siren song of equality, to affect the market stimulated by the tyranny (of) politics. According to André Lara Resende, from notorious services to the pseudo-modernizing governance of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, “the ordering of reality by economic theory, in terms of monetary issues, has always been associated with the restriction of State power and its occupants”. The banker knows his stuff.

Right-wing libertarianism's appreciation for democracy does not extend to social equality and institutional solidarity. Marshall linked welfare issues to social structures, projecting a mixed economy in the direction of more social justice. His work, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the citizen's Constitution, among us, is still under attack. The civilizing objective of democratic regimes, in the context of contemporary sociability, condenses three types of rights as requirements for full citizenship:

(1) Civil rights, which include individual freedoms, freedom of movement, expression, thought and faith, and the right to property born in the eighteenth century. The indispensable institutions for the application of civil rights are the courts of law; (2) political rights, with the right to vote and be voted for in representation functions, and to participate in public life as an individual and also collective subject from the 19th century onwards. The corresponding institutions are parliaments (federal, state and municipal) ); (3) social rights, housing, education, health, work and happiness, which unfolded in the 20th century. XNUMX thanks to the organized labor movement, above all, in unions. The linked institutions make up the educational network and social services.

Marshall sought to put economic science at the service of politics, with the aim of improving the conditions of existence of workers "until, at least by occupation, every man is a gentleman". He added, convinced, “I believe that this can and will happen”. It was not imagined, beyond the pathology of reason described by the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer), the very collapse of reason symbolized in the Holocaust of the Jewish ethnic group. Today, symbolized by the increase in the permanent exclusion of millions of creatures from the productive framework, which has inserted misery in the landscape of the rich metropolises of the North and South hemispheres in a Portinarian way. As long as neoliberal unreason is the keynote.

The former director of Unesco's division of social sciences was not a socialist, “he did not attribute to everyone an unlimited capacity for selfless virtues”. He preserved elements of the liberalist thesis, in Norberto Bobbio's sense. He believed that the State should resort to coercion to take children to school, so that they learn to distinguish the good qualities of those who carry the culture of civilized people, acquired in the midst of the learning process.

What mattered to him was the creation of instruments that favored the ability to transcend the barriers erected by the brutalized ways of the laborious strata. Education should be available to the entire population, financed by the Treasury. Marshall admitted the economic inequality between social classes, while defending the equality of citizenship. He did not challenge the free competitive market. Frontier that separated him from the ideals of socialism, in favor of a “social capitalism”. During feudalism, it is worth remembering, no principle of equality curbed inequalities.

However, time has shown that mercantile logic has colonized society as a whole, restricting the exercise of citizenship at any level. From the perspective of the new, already old, neoliberalizing force, the discourse on individual duties confronted the discourse on social rights. This is the curiosity, contemporaneously. The abyss of inequalities between classes grows and, at the same time, the demand for equality of citizenship rights. The vivid proof of this dialectical contradiction can be found in the engagement and audience conquered by social movements, focused on the landless and homeless, such as the MST and the MTST. Ditto, in the unions that are the object of brutal anti-labor attacks, from Michel Temer to Jair Bolsonaro.

There is no doubt that “citizenship and the capitalist class system are at war”. It is even possible to assert that the battles for dignity on several fronts undermine old class hierarchies. In many countries (Australia, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Chile, Mexico, Peru) strategies were adopted to expand public beds, with the ready use of private hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients in ICUs. The right of “everyone” to health prevailed over class distinctions. With the support of world public opinion.

The political cost of maintaining monumental economic inequalities has been quite high, given the status of citizenship that never ceases to irrigate the social fabric with empathy. The street demonstrations in the seminal year of 2013 can be read from the angle of the practical demand for transparency in the distribution of resources between classes and from the perspective of the interruption in the continuity of the climb of social ascension by the emerging countries. Antechamber access to qualified public equipment to meet the interests of the majority and introduce ethics in the praxis of those who speak for the people, metonymically. In the absence of progressive tax reform, taxation of large fortunes as social contribution and a more incisive fight against business evasion – the undeniable advances carried out in the administrations of Lula and Dilma left the glass ceiling exposed.

The version of neo-fascism that captured the crisis of the New Republic prevailed, by choosing political institutions and the Federal Supreme Court (STF) as systemic symbols to spread the belief that the framework of institutionality covered up corruption in state-owned companies and spurious caste privileges . In fact, they were the channel of passage for the realization and amplification of countless social rights thrown into the dustbin of history, such as the multiplication and internalization of public higher education and affirmative quotas. It looked like Bolsonarism was bothered by the unfulfilled promises of constitutional democracy and the “meritocratic” selection. Goal of demagoguery.

The struggle to deepen the “right to have rights” under a democratizing bias, in fact, problematizes the structuring and tremendous inequalities of classes in capitalism. Under the bias of the extreme right, as the ongoing mismanagement demonstrates, rights become synonymous with surrendering benefits. North American companies offer (pre-salt exploration, acquisition of Petrobras distributors, privatization of Eletrobrás, liquidation of the shipbuilding industry); miners and ranchers (deforestation in the Amazon); and arms manufacturers with facilitation for the purchase of heavy weapons (thanks, say the paramilitaries pushing the country back into Hobbesian savagery). The word “rights” appears biased in the Bolsonarist dictionary. “Freedom” is the password that allows hyper-individualists to transgress the rules of public sociability. Je suis le chaos.

Let's see what the program of the coalition O Povo Feliz de Novo (PT, PCdoB, PROS), four years ago, unveiled with Fernando Haddad in the Presidency and Manuela d'Ávila in the vice on Rights:

" 1. Inaugurate a new historical period of affirmation of rights

1.1. Promote policies for women aimed at gender equality

1.2. Promote racial equality policies

1.3. Promoting youth rights

1.4. Promoting LGBTI+ citizenship

2.3. Overcoming poverty and social assistance

2.4. Efficient public safety and citizens

1.5. Prioritizing early childhood

1.6. Promotion of the rights of the elderly

1.7. Promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities

1.8. Promotion of the rights of people from the countryside, forests and waters

1.9. Defend consumer rights

1.10 Country of all and all

    1. New federative pact for the promotion of social rights

2.1. Education for the development of people and the country

2.2. Health as a fundamental right

2.4.1. National plan to reduce homicides and combat impunity

2.4.2. new drug policy

2.4.3. Curb the incidence of robberies and thefts

2.4.4. National criminal and penitentiary policy plan

2.4.5. Unified Public Security System - SUSP

2.5. Culture to ensure democracy, freedom and diversity

2.6. Future agenda for Brazilian sport”

On the other hand, let's see how the coalition Brasil Acima de Tudo / Deus Acima de Todos, which brings the name Bolsonaro (PSL) to the presidency, but hides vice president Mourão (PRTB) and does not list the coalition parties, presents the mantra on Human Rights in topics and Duties. With brief comments, we punctuate the exposure of each of the listed commitments.

“(1) The way to change Brazil will be through the defense of the laws and obedience to the Constitution. So, again, we emphasize that we will do everything in the form of the Law”.

Comment: The constant discrediting of the guardian of the Magna Carta, the Superior Federal Court / STF, which is not a mere “recursive instance”, but the High Court responsible for the unappealable decision of the Judiciary in the light of constitutionality, reveals the incontestable inconsistency of the promise written and signed by the winner(s) in the electoral contest.

“2) Any form of differentiation between Brazilians will not be accepted”.

Comment: Rejects the mention of the multiple ethnic groups and indigenous nations in the national territory, as well as the mention of the social classes sheltered in the country's building. It echoes the recurrent assertion inherited from illiberal sociology (with emphasis on Oliveira Viana), in the 1920s and 30s. The mythical unity of the country, by definition, One, contradicts the conception of democracy that is based on the parliamentary house with parties. They would only represent “parts” of society.

"3) Every citizen will have their rights preserved".

Comment: Hundreds of thousands of deaths in the pandemic, the result of government negligence and the denialism of the chief representative, prove that this was a conversation for the cattle to sleep, as they did not have their rights preserved. Like the actor Paulo Gustavo, they died because mismanagement for ulterior motives refused to buy the vaccines offered in a timely manner. Not to mention the invaded lands of indigenous peoples, the quilombolas and Jacarezinho.

“4) Every citizen, in order to enjoy his full rights, must obey the laws and fulfill his duties (not to kill, not to steal, not to participate in false testimony, not to evade taxes, etc.)”.

Comment: That seems like a joke – given the honors given to torturers like Colonel Ustra in legislative sessions; involvement in nefarious “cracks” in offices with public money for the illicit enrichment of members of the Bolsonaro family; gratuitous accusations against the PSOL (perhaps rehashed tomorrow to implicate the PT, again without evidence) in the alleged stab in the middle of the campaign agenda in 2018; and a superminister of Economy who profits millions with the appreciation of the dollar in offshore, in a clear conflict of interests with the position he enjoys, better to remain silent than to lie. Someone who belches so much facade of patriotism has missed “moral and civic” classes. How much of a face.

“5) Any person in the national territory, even if not a Brazilian citizen, has inalienable rights as a human being, as well as the duty to obey the laws of Brazil”.

Comment: The relatives of the young Congolese, Moïse Kabahambe, cruelly murdered by beating on the edge of Barra da Tijuca / RJ, in an area dominated by militiamen, wait in vain for a gesture of comfort from His Excellency, who neither bellowed nor bellowed.

Progressive intellectuals in the USA, having to make the “difficult choice” (in the expression of the newspaper State St. Paul) between the “Yes” and “Yes, sir” of the gigantic US pro-capitalist parties, read the programs prepared by them to decide the course of their vote. The option is never ideological, it takes into account propositions about the social rights of associations with the potential to alleviate the suffering of the people. That's what we need to dispute the preference of undecided voters in 2022.

Without underestimating Bolsonaro's work of betrayal against the homeland, which will deliver the country with deindustrialization, unemployment and inflation. Impoverished, destroyed and tied to the financier collar of the Central Bank. The economic crisis, by inertia, will be the obstacle to be overcome in the short space of time to set in motion the implementation and recovery of dilapidated citizenship rights.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


See this link for all articles