Rentism, here and now

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By PEDRO DE ALCANTARA FIGUEIRA*

Confronting political economy with the so-called economic theory, that is, economese

For new times, especially those that, like now, are faced with the need for new definitions, what is faced is nothing more than an old terminology that drags on so heavily, incapable of motivating anyone to fight to abbreviate the pains of childbirth.

Experiencing intensely a moment in which the demands of defining the emergence of a new era that announced itself on the horizon of new activities both in the material and intellectual planes, and that set in motion both the earth and the blood, but which was suffocated by the dominion From scholasticism, René Descartes broke out with his “I think, therefore I am”, a cry for freedom against the domination of the serf ideas of the feudal lords, preferably expressed in their religious form.

As René Descartes himself, insistently asked to explain what he meant by this formulation, simply suggested that they exchange a thought for I doubt, therefore I doubt, therefore I exist, we too have the right, in the face of a reality in frank transformation, to ask What leads us to repeat the scholasticism of economese?

For that, we have at hand a powerful answer that consists of confronting political economy with the so-called economic theory, that is, economese. While the former is a science born out of the struggle between the formation of a new society, the latter is simply a mass of ideological nonsense.

At the present time, this scholasticism is expressed in endless idle talk about inflation, financial capital, which, in this case, is not even financial, much less capital, cost of money, demand, fiscal adjustment, and so on. All this paraphernalia no longer concerns a reality that cries out for transformations, which can now fully dispose of an infinite technological and scientific power.

Our left does not miss the opportunity to show that it knows more about this old concept than its opponents. Meanwhile the people, who are wise, know nothing of this. He only knows that his money, when he has it, becomes increasingly short compared to beans, rice, meat, transport, rent, school for his son. What has prevailed is a true gororoba that unfailingly uses the people as a final resource for arguments that do not hold up historically. It is often nothing more than pure consoling rhetoric.

However, we have, in political economy – I am talking about Adam Smith, Turgot, Quesnay, Ricardo – a fundamental starting point that can help us in this historical situation full of questions in which the social struggle comes first.

Adam Smith's exaltation of the division of labor contains a proposal for a radical break with the most diverse forms of work that prevailed during the period of servile work. His proposition has nothing to do with a proposal for technical changes in productive activity. Quite the contrary, what it contains is the proposal for a revolution in the production process. The worker who produces Adam Smith's thousands of pins is no longer the servant. If his status is not yet that of a fully free worker, the way is open for his historical conversion, of a revolutionary nature, to such a character.

Adam Smith's division of labor is, above all, the liberation of labor from its feudal form, a struggle that Turgot waged in France, expressed concretely in the law Abolition of the Oaths (1786). Adam Smith himself is surprised by the increase in productivity that the new way of working provides. Owen refers to the fantastic results that came from the Industrial Revolution: simply, as he reveals, 2.500 workers produce as much as 600 workers produced six decades ago!

Our time is historically committed to the liberation of work, this time with overcoming the capitalist form. And here we leave political economy in its rightful place as a revolutionary science, the offspring of the bourgeois struggle against feudalism. Now there is no way not to have Karl Marx as a mandatory reference.

Just as John Locke made work the origin of property (1690), and Ricardo consecrated capital as accumulated labor (1817), Karl Marx made large-scale industry the driving force of a revolutionary historical process. The basis of the ideas of all of them is a new way for man to produce and reproduce himself, which, moreover, refers to the need to understand the historical differences of productive activity, that is, the nature of the modes of production that will happen in time.

Such is the strength of the trend towards profound transformations in the world of production that the attitude that matches this situation is to throw in the trash can all the gororobic terminology in force in the most different intellectual sectors, including those who swear to be committed to the ideas of Karl Marx . We can now, without any rhetorical recourse, state that what remains of the old capitalist world is no more than obstacles, shackles, which try to prevent the emergence of new social relations. The fight focuses exclusively on this terrain.

The current equation can be resolved by eliminating profit, whose rate already indicates, in real terms, the need for new production relations. This elimination is taking place by making the rate of profit incompatible with the reproduction of capital. It is not, therefore, a political act that can be resolved by government authorities.

At this point, we are faced with a wide range of manifestations that reveal the existence of a general process of structural crisis in the capitalist mode of production. We will make special reference to one of these manifestations, not only because it presented itself as the main motivation for the conflict between the forces that propose to break with the paralysis that has taken over capitalism and those forces that concretely represent this state of affairs. Although the Brazilian case, born of Lula's election, can be taken as an example, it is present, still latent, in many other countries where the remnants of capitalism still prevail.

I am referring to this phenomenon known as rentism, which, in the wake of the process of decline in capitalist production relations, took center stage around the XNUMXs, and whose revelation was recorded in the work of Seymour Melmann , Profits without Production, from 1983. Without intending to challenge the title of the work by the referred author, I leave here on record that without production (without production) there is no possibility of making a profit. Incidentally, this misconception is still being cultivated in general by those who are surprised by the existence of such a phenomenon. When dealing with capitalism, it is necessary to be very clear what is the social relationship that enables the existence of profit. The only one is that established between capital and work, which results in a surplus, profit, which is appropriated by the capitalist. Without this permanent expropriation, this fundamental law of this economic system cannot be realized.

Rentism is born exactly, and historically, it must be said, from the denial of this relationship, a concrete expression that the crisis that took over capitalism is not, as it happened in previous periods, an adjustment in the springs that sustained it. In fact, these springs have rusted for lack of their irreplaceable lubricant, a profitability befitting their reproduction.

For this very reason, the fight against rentism will soon have to concentrate forces that will not be able to deny its revolutionary nature. It is not the first time in history that the struggle of new productive forces against parasitism assumes the role of subversive rebellion. This is how the transition from feudalism to the bourgeois world took place.

The current moment is intensely experiencing the dissolution of the old social classes, and the various groups that are formed as a result of this process enter into new combinations, alliances that have as a requirement to be in line with the power of the new productive forces released from the trillions that tied them to the past.

It cannot be ignored that rentism is the legitimate child of capitalist decadence. Its origin lies precisely in the impossibility of capital reproducing itself according to its own laws.

Its elimination will necessarily have to face its historical content, which reveals that its nature is refractory to any provisional solutions. It will not start, evidently, from the rare and loose references that are made to it as if it were a phenomenon foreign to society and independent of time. It partakes of the nature of all parasites, for its flowering exhausts the very source that nourishes it. We have an undisputed example of this recently revealed by Panama and pandora papers where hundreds of lucky people, including Paulo Guedes, until yesterday all-powerful lord of the fate of national wealth, and his colleague, the president of the Central Bank, who says he is independent, are caught in treason against capital by burying their fortunes in this cemetery dubbed a tax haven.

There remains a brief mention, which enriches the picture of the manifestations of capitalist decline, of the need to resort to lies as a complement to an ideology that has completely lost its link with reality, and which is now disseminated, using Goebels' "scientific" resources, as the only true reality. Its necessity is imposed on groups that seize power with the aim of destroying the real conditions of economic and social development, as they fear that they will not be able to control the impulse for change contained in the possibility of free use of productive forces. These are at all times beckoning them with transformations that deny not only their permanence in power, but also their existence.

* Pedro de Alcantara Figueira he holds a doctorate in history from Unesp. Author, among other books, of History essays (UFMS).

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