Who knows makes it

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By Marilena Chaui*

Considerations about the Manifesto “Brazil cannot be destroyed by Bolsonaro”.

“Those who know make the time / Don’t wait for it to happen” (Geraldo Vandré)

Machiavelli said that the true politician is the one who, in disorder and turmoil, knows how to discern the opportune moment to act. The ManifestoBrazil cannot be destroyed by Bolsonaro” is a call to action at the right time.

Your hit is twofold. Firstly, for proposing to act as a national front against the criminal irresponsibility of inciting murder made by Bolsonaro in opposing social isolation (imagining himself an ally and copy of Donald Trump, he ended up isolated by the entire world) and his delay in taking minimal measures to ensure the lives of millions of Brazilians, delaying the release of resources with complaints about MPs and decrees.

Secondly, the Manifesto is correct in proposing Bolsonaro's resignation and not his impeachment, as this would add to the current crisis yet another crisis (long and with unpredictable results) that would open space for divergences and struggles at a time when Brazilian society calls for clarity of objectives and actions.

not to forget

During the last 35 years, we have seen the emergence and action of a character who, from Above and without our knowledge, decided the course of the planet. This character was baptized by the media and right-wing economists with the name of “The Market”, endowed with omniscience and omnipotence. Omniscience because, having the extraordinary capacity for rational self-regulation, it always knows in advance the correct and necessary paths of capitalism. Omnipotence because it has uncontested decision-making power over the actions of states and societies and over the hearts and minds of individuals. Like all fetishistic deities, “The Market” has psychological reactions: “is nervous”, “is calm”, “is in agreement”, “disagrees”, “approves”, “disapproves”, “rewards”, “punishes ”. In short, their “state of mind” has repercussions on the planet's policies and on the daily lives of citizens. “The Market”, as we know, is the nickname of neoliberal capitalism.

Now, something curious has been happening in recent weeks with the expansion of the coronavirus or Covid-19. In the media, in political debates, in the speeches of government officials and on social networks, the word “market” disappeared as if by a stroke of magic. Journalists, politicians, government officials and citizens began to use two words that had been banned from the vocabulary: economy and state. As a result, suddenly, no more than suddenly, the vocabulary of social democracy – state control of the economy and social policies – is retaken.

Let us exemplify with the case of Brazil.

Without the slightest shame on their faces, now they praise Bolsa Família (that program that was welfare for the lazy, remember?), SUS (the one that Mandetta deactivated almost completely, remember?) and many proclaim the need for Basic Income or Minimum Income (without Eduardo Suplicy being mentioned even once or interviewed as the tireless champion of this idea). In turn, the “entrepreneur of himself”, informal workers, the unemployed and residents of favelas and the street began to receive a new designation: “vulnerable”, as if their vulnerability had arisen due to Covid-19 and not the alliance between “O Mercado” and the neoliberal government.

It is astonishing the impudence of the use of the word “solidarity” by those who ideologically control the media and politics and who, until a month ago, were committed to the unrestricted praise of competition and “meritocracy”. In addition, with equal impudence, the federal government demands that scientists from public universities and public research centers quickly bring solutions to what is no longer considered “hysteria” to be considered a pandemic, without saying that there was no investment in the public research (remember Bolsonaro stating that serious research is only done in private universities and Weintraub cutting research grants from CNPq and CAPES?). Examples abound if we remember everything that has been said and done since the coup against Dilma and Lula's arrest.

In short, the reference to the change in vocabulary and the relationship with social policies is made here in the sense that it is necessary to rescue and unify, through opposition parties, the struggles and manifestations of social and popular movements in defense of rights that, since the Temer government, spread across the country, but were always fragmented, sporadic and, above all, criminalized. I insist on the figure of the so-called “vulnerable” because, despite the neoliberal ideology about the “new Brazilian middle class”, it is they who actually constitute what I call the “new Brazilian working class”, fragmented and isolated, lacking organizations of protection, devoid of a social and political vision that would give it a place in the democratic and socialist struggle. This rescuing of struggles and this class unification may now find an echo in Brazilian society in its rejection of Bolsonaro.

To help us understand

I think Harvey's article "Anti-capitalist politics in the time of Covid19”, is illuminating both on the planetary situation of capitalism and the crisis of neoliberalism – fought from Santiago to Beirut –, as well as on the place of Covid-19 in the class struggle, a point that deserves our greatest attention and can guide many of the actions proposed by the Manifesto. Harvey firmly traces the planetary panorama of victorious neoliberalism, the struggles against it and the effects of Covid-19 on it, pointing out the historical irony of the emergence of a socialist perspective at the center of the neoliberal world.

I also consider important for our reflection and action, the article by Paulo Capel Narvai, "The tweezers strategy”. Narvai stresses that what is at stake is not the pandemic, but the 2022 elections. His analysis of the Bolsonarist group’s struggle against the governors, who will be blamed for the poor performance of the economy (the “pibinho” and the “ dolão”), and above all his analysis of Mandetta’s role in this game, that is, of the technical discourse apparently opposed to Bolsonaro’s psychotic discourse.

A proposal for discussion

Some research, mentioned by writers from the earth is round and the website Brazil 247 indicate that, in Brazil, those most penalized by the effects of Covid-19 (both from the point of view of health and subsistence) are precisely the voters of opposition parties, particularly those of the left. In other words, it is those from whose organizations and struggles the projects and programs of the left parties were born, and also those, shattered by the neoliberal economy and politics, who today seek the path that defines the essence of democracy, that is, the creation and guarantee of rights. The opposition parties (left and centre) owe their presence in Brazilian politics to them and that is why I make a proposal here.

The Manifesto, as a national opposition front, presents a list of necessary actions to be demanded from the federal government, but this national front can also act directly in the emergency care of those who were most affected by the destruction of social rights and, therefore, are also the hardest hit, in the short and long term, by Covid19, as they are the ones who most depend on public services and labor guarantees. I propose that the possibility of directing party funds to emergency actions be considered, in order to make it clear that the Manifesto is political and social. Would this set up a kind of parallel government? So be it.

*Marilena Chaui Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP.

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