An agenda for the left in the new world

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes
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By LUÍS FERNANDO VITAGLIANO*

Updating Brazil's agenda, provoking debate, looking at the society of the future (near future) is updating the democracy agenda

“Oh, marvel! / What lovely creatures they are here! / How beautiful is the human race! / O Brave New World / Who has such people!” (William Shakespeare, The storm, Act V)

When defining the far-right sectors linked to Bolsonarism as obscurantism and denialists, we are not only presenting a moral classification, but also defining an agenda that can go beyond the simple categorization of customs. In addition to the Ministry of the Family or the denial of science, Bolsonarism simply ignores the forms of insertion in today's world. But, it's not that simple, because by ignoring it, it allows its cronies to work for transformations of specific groups. This is how the agribusiness lobby assumes the modernization of the system and investment banks take precedence over the classic retail sectors. The fight against this cannot be limited to a series of classifications and interpretations of moral judgment, simplifications of the alliance with neoliberalism. The way in which the Brazilian economic system adapts to the new times is as chaotic as the government's management of the pandemic and, between denials and favours, we have a compromised future because this form of insertion in the changing international system will be decisively defined.

From a structural point of view, Edmar Bacha's definition, still in the 1970s, demonstrates with greater clarity the striking characteristics of what Brazil is. In the words of the low, we are Belindia: a mixture of Belgium developed and with a high standard of consumption and India of extreme poverty, with a high population density and imprisoned in degrading conditions of production. Celso Furtado's concept of underdevelopment also expresses this interpretation through one of the most clairvoyant interpretations of our imbalance. Underdevelopment is not a stage prior to development, but the coexistence of the modern and the archaic in the same society; from the production capacity of an Embraer to the use of the workhorse for survival. We can also mention Caio Prado Jr, who argues that we have two modes of production in Brazil in the XNUMXth century. One linked to the developed and high production export monoculture and another country, internal, of subsistence economy, of low added value and without use of production technology.

With agribusiness, the tendency is for this structural duality to remain causing instability in Brazilian society and aggravating disparities in social inequality and opportunities. Therefore, it is necessary to realize that the agenda of this society based on the new wave of exports of agricultural commodities and ores will place the part linked to the international capital of our society on another level. It can also create conditions for a new phase of development and innovation in several sensitive areas; such as technology, civil construction, fuels, etc. The digital revolution and the service society affects both the base of Brazilian society and the elitist structure. The elites, even without a project, accumulate enough capital to raise their level of consumption to international standards and benefits. The middle and poor strata will be left with the heavy consequences of digital capitalism and the crumbs of innovation and second line. The services of a digitized capitalism with automated services and artificial intelligence will now widen the inequalities in the face of services based on primary calculations from our domestic economy to the internal market.

While everything that is solid melts into air, modernity happens despite any public, transparent and democratic debate. Meanwhile, the association with international capital and the dependent insertion of the international economy is carried out almost by osmosis and respects the interests of the dominant classes.

The social agenda to which we are linked is only part of the economic debate. And, by the way, it is the elementary part. Redistributive policies, fight against inflation, generation and maintenance of jobs and income are endogenous policies of acting on part of Brazilian capitalism, let's say the floor below. But, there is a second level to this debate; which has even altered the correlation of forces that the left-wing Autusserians rely on so much for an analysis of the conjuncture.

See that on one side we have the traditional retail banks in Brazil. Characterized, family members, elephants that rely on the policy of interest and transfer of financial income. What will remain of them when Google launches its virtual bank investment format? When investment brokerages act in the markets, when digital currencies act from the financial system's pulverization? They will become white elephants based on dealings with poor and indebted account holders. Another example is the renewable fuels agenda. We have Petrobras: are we going to preserve Petrobras from privatization and then what? Are we going to turn it into an energy company, not just a carbon-burning company? Because the rest of the world is already discussing and investing in replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources.

Of the possible privatizations that the Government can make, the choice of Embraer is not trivial. Candidates for privatization such as Caixa Federal, Banco do Brasil and Petrobras itself were not blindly depreciated without reason to the detriment of Eletrobrás. For this new system based on consumption and data manipulation, the issue of expanding energy sources is fundamental. The Eletrobrás system controls the energy distribution system in Brazil, in addition to the production sources. This is a fundamental bottleneck that makes companies dependent on energy sources one of their priorities.

Major representatives of the financial bourgeoisie of the 1990s, the height of neoliberalism in the financial market such as Bradesco, Itaú, etc.; they are conglomerates that serve the banking purpose of the 1989th century and are no longer organically related to today's investment system. These banks are no longer decisive for big business and are stagnant. Innovations in the financial system occur outside traditional banks. Just as innovations in the energy sector are outside of combustion companies. We are still in discussions with Rede Globo as that company's biggest enemy is not the government, but its inability to deal with the streaming companies that are killing its audience. If in 2014 Jornal Nacional was decisive for the elections, in 2018 or XNUMX they were unable to form popular opinion.

Our logistical system is primary, expensive and inefficient. The railway system serves almost exclusively to transport Vale's iron ore. Agribusiness is the only sector that is linked to the world chain and that the international system is interested in Brazilian participation. And when Amazon becomes interested in the flow of Brazilian commodities? Are we ready for this conversation?

Self-driving cars, smart homes, automation, business platforms with artificial intelligence making decisions. Will this new world of a society in full digital transformation not exist in Brazil? Yes, it will exist, but today it is destined for a few and society in general, in order to maintain it, it will need to reproduce and expand existing social inequalities. A few Brazilians will have smart homes because a few builders will be prepared to offer this service.

As long as our structural duality remains, most of Brazilian society that gets a house will be grateful to have a masonry house built by a semi-illiterate mason (absolutely digitally illiterate) who learned his trade in the exercise of the profession and has not the slightest preparation for rely on modern construction techniques. Among other things, why don't we discuss technical courses, professional training courses, updating curricula on the left and get drunk on preserving an archaic university, elitist and disconnected from the reality that surrounds us.

The ruling classes that traditionally rivaled the country's agenda with the left no longer have the consistency they had in a few years. This explains Bolsonaro's victory supported by businessmen who do not follow the traditional pattern. Under Brazilian capitalism in the XNUMXth century, the president would have come from the PSDB.

The disappointment surrounding this is the inability of the Bolsonaro Government to update the agenda, which is directly proportional to the planning capacity of the Brazilian State. Updating Brazil's agenda, provoking debate, looking at the society of the future (near future) is updating the agenda of democracy. Not debating, not considering or ignoring these issues because we still do not have prepared answers is to allow Brazil to continue on its path of excluding almost all Brazilians from the XNUMXst century and allowing a few sectors linked to international capital to assume the primacy of the Brazilian economic agenda absolutely disconnected from any commitment to the society that cohabits.

*Luis Fernando Vitagliano is a political scientist and university professor.

 

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