regressive reforms

Image: Paulinho Fluxuz


For the bourgeoisie, breaking the spending ceiling is a crime, but letting 100 people die is not

Bolsonaro is undeniably racist and misogynistic. His contempt for the rights of indigenous peoples and quilombolas is unquestionable. He always expressed appreciation for dictators and genocidaires such as Augusto Pinochet and Alfredo Stroessner, in addition to praising the memory of Carlos Augusto Brilhante Ustra, one of the most sadistic torturers of the military dictatorship, on several occasions. Bolsonaro recently flirted with a coup d'état, by supporting "popular demonstrations", which called for the closure of Congress and the STF. The Bolsonaro clan's links to the Rio de Janeiro militias are evident. And if all this were not enough, its negligence in combating the new coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people and the contamination of more than 3 million Brazilian men and women.

Even with this unflattering curriculum, having to face a president who is not shy about disrespecting the liturgy and the responsibilities of the office, the so-called “market” never considered asking for Bolsonaro’s impeachment. It is important to clarify that this “market” is not an immaterial, almost ghostly entity. On the contrary, he is a palpable subject, made of flesh and blood, with a first and last name. Translating, when the mainstream press refers to the moods and reactions of the market, it is referring to the most financialized and internationalized fractions of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. They constitute what we will henceforth call the hegemonic fraction. They are characterized by close economic, political and ideological ties of submission and dependence on international financial capital. This is the market, whose basic motive is to accumulate capital in ever-increasing volumes, based on the exploitation of labor, and which, for this reason, frames all social life in this objective: to exploit it and make it work for this purpose. .

And the purpose of these people, in association with the financial capital of the imperialist powers, is to impose an ultraliberal agenda on the country based on highly regressive reforms. These represent an absurd deepening of the condition dependent on Brazilian capitalism, which are to allow the domestic bourgeoisie and its international partners to carry out a real assault on the Brazilian State through a new round of privatization of state-owned companies and concessions of public services; that of subordinating Brazil in such a way to international finance capital that it relegates us to a semi-colonial condition; that of prohibiting the country from any level of sovereignty; that of imprinting a regressive specialization of the country's economy, in the international division of labor, on export agromining; that of transforming Brazil into a military semi-protectorate of the United States and NATO; and as a fundamental condition for carrying out all of the above, that of enacting a true class war against the people themselves, by suppressing all social and labor rights, with the working masses living and working under extremely precarious conditions.

In short, the intention is to maintain the process of capital accumulation by deepening the super privileging of interests of the hegemonic fraction of the bourgeoisie. But for that there must correspond a super-exploitation on identical terms of the working masses. We highlight two aspects present in this ultraliberal agenda, both intertwined, and which for the purpose of this text are of interest to us.

The first is that in this process, the hegemonic fraction does not allow changes in what is conventionally called the macroeconomic tripod: inflation targeting regime, floating exchange rate and fiscal targets. The last point of this tripod was reinforced by the approval, in 2016, of Constitutional Amendment 95, which imposes a 20-year ceiling for the growth of public spending. All of this aims to maintain, as an absolute priority, over primary spending on education and health, the payment of the public debt, which annually consumes between 40% and 50% of the Union's General Budget and is under the control of financial capital. The second is that, as a whole, these regressive reforms signal to the immense mass of the population that the absolute priority of the State, having destroyed all its capacity for intervention and economic regulation, is to be exclusively concerned with guaranteeing the accumulation private capital. The Brazilian bourgeois State, under the ultraliberal bias, discharges itself from any concern with the life and security of citizens, transforming them into a matter of the private sphere.

This is the project that the hegemonic fractions of the Brazilian bourgeoisie are imposing on the country. Although these fractions were clearly aware of what Bolsonaro represented, they did not hesitate to have him as President of the Republic. And they did so because Bolsonaro, with banker Paulo Guedes at the head of the Ministry of Finance, committed to applying the ultraliberal adjustment program. Guedes serves as a guarantee that Bolsonaro will not do anything out of line.

This is the basic reason why the proto-fascist does not face serious impeachment proceedings. It's just that by applying the adjustment policy of the hegemonic bourgeois fraction, Bolsonaro becomes functional to his interests. Therefore, the president can speak and do all the barbarities he wants, as long as the main interest of the “market” is maintained, which is to increase its accumulation of capital through the spoliation of the people and the country.

However, this affective-financial relationship between the market and the government has been shaken. First, because the hegemonic fraction does not recognize Bolsonaro as its most beloved president. They wanted, in the Planalto Palace, a more domesticated representative to fulfill their interests and meet their ideological aspirations. A toucan with high plumage would be the best of both worlds, but the demoralization of the political system did not spare them either. Faced with unfavorable circumstances, the owners of capital accepted the popular saying of “If you don't have it, go yourself”. And despite Bolsonaro swearing all his love to the ultraliberal program, the fact is that he is not a pure-blood liberal.

The former captain has an electoral base and mobilizes social energies, even if conservative, which is not controlled by the hegemonic fraction. Bolsonaro represents hitherto marginal fractions of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, in the figurative and literal sense of the word. Ideologically, Bolsonaro approaches a reactionary and obscurantist mob made up of monarchists, flat earthers, religious fundamentalists and fascists. The source of the friction observed, in these 20 months of government, is the dispute over which fraction will benefit most from the assault on the State and the economic advantages that can come from a privileged relationship with those who occupy commanding positions in the structure of the political system. Bolsonaro takes advantage of the privileged position he occupies at the head of the State to guarantee, the fraction that supports him, economic advantages in the assault on the State and the people. The problem is that the hegemonic faction does not want crashers to enter the party it has organized since 2016. It does not want to share anything with another competing faction and wants all the fruit of the assault on the State just for itself. This is also a reason for his distrust of Bolsonaro.

This mistrust has recently been fueled by government initiatives that may represent a relaxation of the ultraliberal program. The most recent took place on August 11, when Paulo Guedes announced the resignation of two important secretaries of the Ministry of Finance. Both would have left for disagreeing with the slowness with which administrative and fiscal reforms, as well as privatizations, are carried out by the government. Paulo Guedes took the opportunity to send a message to Bolsonaro. Upon revealing that the president, advised by members of the government, is considering breaking the ceiling on public spending, an essential component of the macroeconomic tripod, Guedes warned that “The advisers to the president who are advising him to jump the fence and pierce the ceiling will take the president into a shadow zone, an impeachment zone, of fiscal irresponsibility”.

Immediately after Guedes' announcement, the main Brazilian newspapers, defenders of the country's ultraliberal agenda of looting and looting, repudiated the possibility that one of the foundations of the economic policy of interest to the hegemonic fractions would be shaken. Faced with the threat made by Guedes to Bolsonaro, to suffer the opening of an impeachment process, the president, who can be truculent, but is not stupid, the next day appeared alongside two worthy political representatives of the lords of the “market”, the President of the Senate, Davi Alcolumbre, and the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia. In public, he pledged his love to the ceiling on spending. However, on Thursday, August 13, Bolsonaro acknowledged, in a alive, which "The idea of ​​drilling the ceiling exists, what's the problem?".

Paulo Guedes' reaction has a purpose. His adjustment policy, following the well-worn ultraliberal agenda, proved to be a resounding failure. Previously unquestionable, this policy did not make the economy take off as imagined. GDP growth in 2019 was a fiasco. It was well below the expectations fueled by market analysts, after Guedes' promise that the pension reform and some privatizations would unleash a wave of investments in Brazil. Even before the crisis caused by the pandemic appeared, data released by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation indicated that the Brazilian economy had already been in recession since the beginning of the year.

Paulo Guedes, therefore, already has the rope around his neck. Upon realizing that there is no longer unanimity in the government, Guedes tried to take the focus off his catastrophic management in the economy, shifting it to Bolsonaro and his intentions to disrespect the ceiling on public spending. Guedes sought to mobilize all the information apparatuses that manufacture public opinion, to create an environment that would perpetuate the economic policy of interest to the hegemonic fraction. And by the way, it wants to hide, with the outcry about Bolsonaro's alleged populist and developmental slips, that the recipe based on the macroeconomic tripod (inflation target regime, floating exchange rate and fiscal targets), has represented a true social disaster for the working masses . But that even affects fractions of micro, small and medium capital.

The macroeconomic tripod has been reinforced, since 2016, with Constitutional Amendment 95, which imposes a ceiling on the growth of primary public spending, according to the inflation measured by the IPCA. What seems to be Bolsonaro realized that once the pandemic crisis is over, maintaining the spending ceiling will bring even greater difficulties for the state administration. As well as some intervention by the State in order to stimulate some economic sectors. That is why the bourgeoisie wants speed in administrative reform, which in its view would compensate for the inevitable crisis that would arise after the pandemic, without changing the bases of economic policy in the interest of rentism. Just as he wants speed, too, in privatizations. However, Bolsonaro, already in the electoral campaign for the 2022 election, and enthusiastic about his recent popularity among the most impoverished layers of the working mass because of the emergency aid, is considering extending the program until the end of the year to guarantee a mass base. to your project. Just as he suggests, in strict observation of the content of compensatory policies in the style of the World Bank, the rename of Bolsa Família, which would be called Renda Brasil. As well as the resumption of stopped works, as a way to meet the appeals of the Centrão. And all of this cannot be achieved without some level of flexibility in economic policy of a rentier nature in the interest of the hegemonic fraction.

It turns out that segments of this do not admit to discussing the terms of an adjustment. For them it's all or nothing. Even a timid project such as “Pró-Brasil”, presented by General Braga Neto, Minister of the Civil House, which proposes the resumption of stopped works as a means of activating the economy, was not accepted. Not even the substantial reduction in the estimated value for these investments, from 30 billion reais to something around 5 billion, was enough to gain the support of the hegemonic fraction. They accused him of representing a potential State intervention in the economy, in addition to threatening the balance of public spending.

The program created the illusion that there would be, within the government, a dispute between a liberal wing and a developmental wing, which is not true. As with Lulism, the “developmentalism” of the Bolsonaro government does not oppose it in absolute terms to the ultraliberal program. The conflicts of the last few days between the government and the hegemonic fraction take place because Bolsonaro has demanded some level of flexibility in the ultraliberal agenda, even promising that he will not touch its basic essence, which is the assault on the State, the subordination of the country to the international financial capital and the worsening exploitation of the working masses. But this pressure from Bolsonaro fuels the distrust of the hegemonic fraction regarding his real intentions to keep economic policy intact.

This scenario, in which ultraliberalism neglects the minimum needs of the people, is what creates the political and social environment for Bolsonaro to neglect the confrontation of the new coronavirus crisis. Bolsonaro acts, in this case, consistent with the ultraliberal adjustment agenda. In a raw way, without make-up and false humanitarian pruritus, the president prioritizes the economy and not lives. For the Brazilian bourgeoisie, the absolute priority of all social dynamics is with the private accumulation of capital, even at the price of sacrificing the lives of millions of people. This does not morally exempt Bolsonaro from responsibility, but only explains his decision from a socio-political context.

The ultraliberal agenda demands the destruction of any bond of interclass solidarity. As we said above, the State completely disclaims any responsibility for the life and safety of the people. A new way of regulating capital accumulation and social conflicts has been imposed, the result of which in terms of sociability is absolute contempt for the life of the people. This is the political and social environment that guides presidential denialism in the fight against the pandemic. It is the complete destruction of these ties of interclass solidarity, with an important reflection in the ideological sphere, that guide Bolsonaro's actions.

Faced with the evident need for social isolation, the only sure way to prevent the spread of the virus, the president placed the defense of life as incompatible with something that for the Brazilian bourgeoisie is much more important: the defense of the economy. Although Bolsonaro’s intransigent position even shocked segments of the hegemonic fraction itself, which reacted critically to the government’s orientation, his negligence and denialism in the fight against the coronavirus found wide support in the bourgeoisie as a whole, mainly in small and medium capital. To this end, Bolsonaro picked a fight with governors and mayors to keep commercial activities open. And, with that, he garnered the support of various segments of the bourgeoisie and, in the end, proved capable of imposing, with relative success, his way of facing the pandemic. Therefore, the criticisms of the “well-thinking” writers of the middle class, who blame the people for not reacting to the true genocide that the pandemic has caused, are absurd. The accusing finger should be aimed at the hegemonic fraction and its policy of social destruction, whose ultraliberal agenda is strictly followed by Bolsonaro.

It is in this way, with a social catastrophe that is speeding towards making Brazil the absolute world champion in deaths, and which has pushed half of the adult population out of the labor market, that the Brazilian bourgeoisie sleeps peacefully. Following the recommendation of one of the richest bourgeois in Brazil, Jorge Paulo Lehmann, who said he likes crises because they bring opportunities to grow, she takes advantage of the political prostration and ideological confusion reigning among the people, to advance an agenda in Congress. ultraliberal. Not by chance, according to research by Oxfam, 42 Brazilian billionaires have seen their personal fortunes increase, since the beginning of the new coronavirus crisis, by 34 billion dollars.

The hegemonic fraction of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, older and more traditional, associated with this marginal bourgeoisie represented by Bolsonaro, are only affected by terrible nightmares, if they move on the macroeconomic tripod and on the ultraliberal agenda. For these people, a crime against the people is not for Brazil to exceed the mark of 100 dead; nor the State patrimony being robbed; much less become a colony of world financial capital. Crime is piercing the ceiling on spending.

*Renato Nucci Jr. He is an activist for the Communist Weapon of Criticism organization.

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