State Reform

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By JOSÉ CELSO CARDOSO JR.*

Public functions in the face of civilizing dismantling

Brazil finds itself, once again in its history, facing irreconcilable challenges and choices. Either you submit to archaic moralization processes of customs, anti-democratic values ​​and criminalization of politics, unions and social movements, or you stand up and fight. Either it adopts the path of mediocrity and economic, political and social subordination, but also intellectual, moral and cultural, or it reinvents itself as a nation to rewrite its own historical destiny.

In the historical period in which humanity finds itself since the beginning of the XNUMXst century, the collapse (or at least some clear trends of great institutional weakening and practical dysfunctionalities) of the general rules of organization, regulation and functioning of economic, political, social, cultural, technological and environmental dominant on a planetary scale.

In economic terms, the capitalist mode of production, accumulation and exclusion currently dominates virtually all world spaces and even all spheres of collective and domestic/family life. Nowadays, everything is a commodity; everything is merchandise in monetary form. The financialized expression of the forms of production and accumulation of value represents the other side of the growing and apparently irreversible process of structural redundancy/unemployment of living work.

In this way, open long-term unemployment and all other forms of underemployment and precarious work that today run through the countries of the world, with all the human consequences that this represents in an economy/society that depends on the enjoyment of monetary income to be realized, they are the most visible manifestation of the failure of the capitalist model in its attempt to organize, regulate and make work, on a global and intertemporal scale, the various economic and social dimensions of people's daily lives.

In turn, from the political-institutional point of view, the XNUMXst century is experiencing an unprecedented crisis in representative democratic systems. On the face of it, it seems that the distance between the needs and aspirations of the different population groups and the (very low) capacity for political representation and adequate institutional responses of the rulers has never been so great. On the other hand, despite the notorious deficiencies of current representative systems, there is strong resistance from economic, social and political powers to any attempts at political experimentation that imply greater popular protagonism, of historically excluded social groups, through alternative models of participatory democracy or deliberative.

And this, even considering the enormous participatory potential present in the new technologies of communication and production and circulation of information, which, in the almost complete absence of public regulation at the international level and, notoriously, in peripheral countries such as Brazil, have been appropriated and used by people, groups and companies to confuse, obscure and manipulate realities and situations, spreading communicational chaos and reproducing heterogeneities and dependencies on a larger scale.

With what has been said so far, the breadth and depth of the social, cultural and environmental problems that result from the ongoing apparent collapse of civilization are already clear. It is from this desolate scenario that one must start in order to rethink the weight and role of the national State (and the public function) in contemporary times, especially in its interrelationships with the economic, political, social, cultural and environmental worlds in frank deterioration in the days that run.

To this end, focusing only on the Brazilian case, the proposal we support here goes in the diametrically opposite direction to the misleading propaganda that circulates in the mainstream corporate media, parliamentary base and Bolsonaro/Guedes government around PEC-32/2020 for administrative reform. This, in essence, represents the destruction of the public state apparatus that was under arduous construction in the country since CF-1988. Nothing is gained from PEC-32 in terms of the true requirements needed to improve the aggregate institutional performance of the Brazilian public sector. It is a proposal of an anti-republican, anti-democratic nature and intentions, contrary to national development, whose foundations and implications are well documented and explained in two recently published books: i) Towards the Necessary State: criticisms of the government's proposal for reform administrative and alternatives for a republican, democratic and developed Brazil (Fonacate, 2021); and ii) Bolsonaro/Guedes Administrative Reform: authoritarianism, fiscalism, privatism (Afipea-Sindical and Arca, 2021).

In both books, our proposal consists of making use of 3 ideas-forces from whose theoretical-historical rescue one could start to advance both in the critique of the formats and contents currently dominant in the state sphere and, going beyond, also to advance in the reaffirmation or proposition of new principles, guidelines, strategies and action tactics – collective, continuous and cumulative – that allow us to lead the situation to a qualitatively superior level of understanding, organization and functioning of the national State for the new generations of Brazilian men and women, still in the XXI century.

The 3 main ideas for the task proposed here are the following:

i) national development as the flagship of the State's action, that is, the State does not exist for itself, but as a vehicle for the nation's development. In this sense, strengthening the dimensions of public strategic planning, participatory management and social control – these strategies of organization and operation of the State – is essential for us to make a leap in quality even in the XNUMXst century in Brazil.

ii) the need for a reform of the State of a republican nature, which brings more transparency to decision-making processes, in dealing with public affairs in general, redirecting government action towards the vital and universal needs of the population.

iii) finally, the revaluation of politics and democracy: there is no way to make a change of this magnitude without the well-informed participation of the majority of the population. Democracy is not only a value in itself, but also a method of government, through which the will of the majority of the population is manifested, electorally and periodically. But also in a more intense and everyday way through more or less institutionalized forms and mechanisms of State-Society interconnection. In other words, in addition to representative democracy in crisis, there are elements of participatory – and even deliberative – democracy that push for more and better spaces for existence and functioning.

The proposal suggested above reaffirms the fact that in order to debate such challenges and fight for a modern State and quality public services in Brazil, it is necessary to be clear that in all successful international development experiences, it is possible to verify the fundamental role of the state entity as a direct producer, inducer and regulator of economic activities so that they fulfill, in addition to their main microeconomic objectives, macroeconomic objectives of innovation and productive inclusion and of elevation and social homogenization of the living conditions of the population residing in the national territory.

Therefore, by recovering the 3 key ideas above, we aim to reclassify the terms of the public debate on matters directly related to the need to empower society and the national State itself in the sense of republicanization e democratization of intra-state relations and between public agents and social and business actors for the construction of an adequate development project that adheres to the Brazilian reality.

*José Celso Cardoso Jr. he holds a doctorate in economics, is a federal civil servant and is the current President of AFIPEA-Sindical.

 

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