Solidarity reindustrialization

Image: Caroline Cagnin
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By RENATO DAGNINO*

Contributions to ensure that the country's reindustrialization is more in line with everyone's interests

The article, “Neoindustrialization for the Brazil we want”, published in the newspaper The State of S. Paul, by Lula and Geraldo Alkmin, epigraphs that “In the coming years, industry will be the guiding principle of an economic policy aimed at generating income and more knowledge-intensive jobs and a social policy that invests in families”.

This text, supported by discussions in which I have participated within the scope of the Public Policy Support Centers of the Perseu Abramo Foundation (FPA) dedicated to Solidarity Economy (NAPP-ES) and Information and Communication Technologies, deals with what the work developed there can contribute to “…a social policy that invests in families – workers of today and tomorrow”.

The text endorses the priorities stated in that article and defended around the world by progressive political forces, such as “expansion of wind and solar energy… efficient and fair taxation… reduction of allocation distortions… reduction in the use of fossil fuels… generation of greater added value … construction of more resilient production chains…”.

It also accepts, as stated there, that the country must prepare for “the new moment of globalization”, “generate income and jobs that are more intensive in knowledge” and that “deindustrialization needs to be interrupted”. But based on the fact that de-industrialization was an option for our owning class, that it is not interested in our potential for public techno-scientific knowledge, and that its path of insertion into the global market implies inordinate privileges, this text seeks to contribute, gathering things I learned in the discussions at the Support Center for Public Policies dedicated to the Solidarity Economy (NAPP-ES), so that the country's preparation is even more aligned with everyone's interests.

Its timeframes are two events that the Public Policy Support Centers of the Perseu Abramo Foundation (FPA) dedicated to the Solidarity Economy NAPP-ES held and two articles of my own.

At first they – “To build another national industry” – I started, as we were doing at NAPP-ES, from those same priorities. But he argued that the “jobs and wages” strategy based on stimulating business activity to generate economic growth, although successful 20 years ago, would not be enough.

Very much in line with the national-developmentalism that guided our public policy for decades, it was insufficient to combat the legacy of inequality, injustice and environmental degradation that the leftist government would receive.

The article highlighted the convenience of complementing that strategy with another one, inspired by international references to the “industrial revolution”. Supported by the “work and income” strategy and the potential for generating development in the Solidarity Economy, the article outlined the proposal for “solidarity reindustrialization”.

Without claiming exclusivity and understanding that the conjuncture of political forces would maintain the privilege of “corporate reindustrialization” and the private capture of the State's purchasing power, the need was shown for a future left-wing government to be reoriented towards the Solidarity Economy.

Among the arguments, it was pointed out that of the 180 million Brazilian men and women of working age, only 30 had a formal contract” and that there were 80 who had never had and probably never would have a job.

The first event held by NAPP-ES, in April 2022, was the Seminar “Resistência, Travessia, Esperança”.

In it, we discussed with social actors of various natures some of the requirements for the consolidation of the Solidarity Economy that we were exploring. Among them, the need to give a transversal character to the Solidarity Economy, to increase the economic and cognitive intensity of its activities, to reorient public purchases, to boost initiatives for the recovery of companies by their workers and to promote the proposal of solidary reindustrialization.

The second article, from July 2022, “The challenge of governing and the Solidarity Economy”, echoes the discussion we were having at NAPP-ES about how to face the political obstacles that stood in the way of the materialization of those requirements.

There it was shown that we should learn from the international historical experience of leftist governments that failed to implement their socializing policies. Their dedication to making the capitalist State and economy work in order to obtain resources to pay for the reorientation of politics was one of the historical causes of the failure of these governments.

Its epigraph – “Social policies have become hostages to the good functioning of capitalism. Rebuilding democracy will require different governance; and new productive arrangements can untie the Gordian knot between the market and security” – he anticipated the analysis of the trajectory of social democratic governments that followed.

And he suggested that the revisionist proposal of the Solidarity Economy, which claimed its pertinence in the face of changes in global and national capitalism and highlighted the advantages of economic-productive arrangements based on collective ownership of the means of production, solidarity and self-management, should find its space in the government plan that the NAPP-ES was helping to formulate.

The second Seminar “The Lula Government and the potential of the Solidarity Economy”, held by the NAPP-ES in March 2023, had the participation of colleagues who, from their positions in the government, were resuming the elaboration of the Solidarity Economy policy . Our central objective, consistent with our attribution, was to know, systematize and disseminate this process. In addition, we wanted to assess how the effort we had made in previous moments, to broaden the perception of the issues that concerned us, had been incorporated into the cognitive repertoire of the comrades who now participated in the new government.

We are now planning a new event. Also guided by what we are learning and the FPA's recommendations about how the NAPPs should continue their work, it seems to us essential to make the partnership between neo-industrialization and solidary re-industrialization viable.

We intend to hold a working meeting (workshop) on “Public procurement and the solidarity economy”, in which public agents from different backgrounds will be invited to address two central cognitive inputs for the elaboration of the Solidarity Economy policy.

The first refers to what the Brazilian State buys, at the federal, state and municipal levels (almost 18% of GDP), almost exclusively from companies. As several analysts have pointed out, orienting a portion of public procurement towards the acquisition of goods and services from the Solidarity Economy is the best way, if not the only viable one, to leverage its consolidation.

based on what the work meeting will begin to conceive, it will be possible, estimating the necessarily growing government demand for goods and services of various types, and promoting, together with Solidarity Economy movements, the capacity to satisfy it, to initiate a systematic process of elaboration of public policies aimed at its consolidation.

The second input concerns what has already been called by Solidarity Economy analysts as the “bureaucratic-legal debris” that has prevented its incorporation into the public procurement system.

Based on information about the bureaucratic-legal bottlenecks that the work meeting will begin to identify, the mobilization of workers who need public procurement, or who are prevented from directing it towards goods and services through the Solidarity Economy, or from @s located in Research Institutes and Universities, it will be possible to promote their removal.

These two inputs will also make it possible for our proposal of “solidarity reindustrialization” to supplement that of neoindustrialization. They will better direct the construction, by universities and public and corporate organizations (such as the “Engineering for Democracy”), of the cognitive platform for launching the Solidarity Economy; the solidary techno-science that will make it capable of competing with the company in the dispute for public purchase.

* Renato Dagnino He is a professor at the Department of Scientific and Technological Policy at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Solidarity Technoscience, a strategic manual (Anti-capital struggles).


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