A democracy with rights

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By LUIZ MARQUES*

Lula-Alkmin will be a transition government for the Social Welfare State, with popular participation

Yascha Mounk, professor at Johns Hopkins University in The people against democracy, lists three “scope conditions” to explain the existence of liberal democracy. None survived the whirlwind of contemporaneity. They looked solid, but they melted into thin air.

The first condition alludes to the dominance of the media to limit the circulation of anti-systemic ideas and, in parallel, to develop a set of shared values ​​and facts to curb the spread of radical criticism and also false reports. At the time, it did not go through the tuft old fashioned of an American folkloric and for the nightmare of the brazilian bronco from Barra da Tijuca to become presidents, in the respective countries. The point is that the internet has weakened traditional information disseminators, and has brought movements and politicians to the forefront to the forefront.

For many, the Internet is a Technology of Liberation capable of expanding participation in political deliberations of interest to society and the State. just one Wi-Fi to communicate with any point on the planet, by Facebook and the Twitter. Like Guttenberg's printing press, the internet has transformed the structural foundations of communication. It was wagered that social media would empower citizens to transmit news, express opinions, denounce injustices, mobilize protests, monitor elections, oversee the government and expand freedom. Until Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States, with the help of technological resources and strategies to manipulate consciences with the use of algorithms, robots, trolls… The bad guys were smart.

The loss of influence of corporate news outlets has not led to the empowerment of the commons. For Manuel Castells, in the network society, peoples, countries, entire continents are excluded from globalization. Wherever digital platforms work, it is far-right populism that takes advantage. It didn't take long for information technology to give birth to the monster d'The era of surveillance capitalism, as characterized by Shoshana Zuboff. Never produced so many fake news, nor has the consumer's desire been so targeted. “It's too early to say whether this will change the world for better or worse. But there is little doubt that in the short term – that is, for the rest of our lives – it will contribute to a more chaotic world”, assesses Yascha Mounk with pessimism.

The second condition points to an increase in the standard of living of families, given the democratic stability. No one thought that rights in democracy could collapse like the Roman Empire or Soviet communism, overnight. The issue is that, today, people feel stagnant, with no option. Children fail to achieve the goals of their ancestors. In comparison, the parents achieved superior progress. Neoliberalism, from the 1980s onwards, widened the distance between social classes and deepened the generational resentment gap. The sun hid.

According to Thomas Piketty, in 1928, the richest 1% concentrated between 15% and 20% of income in European countries and almost 25% in the USA. In 1960, the distribution of wealth stagnated considerably: in France and the United Kingdom, the richest 1% held 12% of income. Most of the population had climbed several steps in the Human Development Index (HDI). Household appliances invaded homes with refrigerators and televisions. Garages housed cars, advertisements offered jobs. Equality advanced in terms of income, consumption and access to urban facilities (electricity, schools). When global growth plummeted, inequalities increased.

There was a vertiginous fall in vast sectors. In the US, from 1935 to 1960, the standard of living of the middle class doubled. From 1965 to 1985, it doubled again. From 1985, it froze at a plateau. Thirty years later, it still hasn't evolved. The situation is distressing for young people especially. The promise that the job would lead to financial ascension evaporated. The bad slipped into the worst. Democracy is no longer synonymous with prosperity. Voters no longer believe that the “system” is on their side. On the contrary, the establishment it appears against them every morning.

The third condition recalls that stable democracies were founded in monoethnic nations or were under the rule of an ethnic group (white, Christian, heterosexual). The point is that, nowadays, struggles for ethnic equality confront atavistic domination, which stamps its inevitable extemporaneity. The United Kingdom has just sworn in a non-white prime minister, Rishi Sunak, of Indian descent. It is the exception that proves the rule of exclusion. As in George Orwell's novel, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

It is not surprising that the item “immigration” is at the top of concerns in the Old Continent. In 2016, 71% of the Danes, 67% of the Hungarians and 57% of the Germans claimed this issue as a matter of urgency in the political conjuncture of the Member States of the European Union. In the USA, in the same year, for 70% of the electorate, immigration was the main reason for voting. The famous concrete wall, extending the border with Mexico, gave victory to the demagogue republican candidate. It was an excrescence of barbarism, only in the eyes of humanists. The curious thing is that the former English colony, since its foundation, has defined itself as a country of immigrants, hence demanding an “oath to the flag and the republic it represents” as proof of fidelity. The predisposition to accept multi-ethnic democracy boiled down to those coming from European nations. To the south, are cockroaches.

The extreme right's xenophobia propagated hatred of immigrants, with priority in their party identity. In Austria, the leader of the Freedom Party asserted that “Vienna will not become Istanbul”. In Germany, the AfD surfed fears by calling for "more children for German families". In Denmark, anti-immigrant sentiment was so blatant that the People's Party created the slogan: “Du ved, havad vi star for/ “You know what we fight for”. Opinions about immigrants and ethnic minorities are related to voting intentions ranging from Brexit (United Kingdom) to Marine Le Pen (France) or Viktor Orbán (Hungary) or Giorgia Meloni (Italy). The economic crisis found the culprit for the decline in the social level of workers. Enemies are foreigners.

 

miss the opponents

In the extraordinary period in which Trumpism triumphed and occupied the White House, Yascha Mounk confesses that he found affinities with former political enemies. “I recognize that our commitment to liberal democracy runs much deeper than our disagreements over public policy. It is my sincere hope that, at some point in the near future, the goal that unites us will not be so urgent. With a little luck, we might live long enough to see periods so normal that we can go back to considering ourselves adversaries.”

Between us, to save democracy from the Bolsonarist shipwreck, the left opened the fan to the center-right. There are reasons: 30 million citizens are hungry; 20 million are food insecure; unemployment soars; deindustrialization spreads; the privatization against the country of the national heritage makes it impossible for the State to regulate the economy; the forests suffer irreversible deforestation; and republican institutions are weakened. The ongoing destruction justifies the arc of alliances against necropolitics. However, the C class with an average income of R$ 4 per family was not touched by the appeal, and joined the “capetão” to escape hell. Resilience was in the memory of President Lula's mandates. With what dawned northeastern common sense, Thank you.

The Brazilian “elites” are low-quality extractivists. Its historic violence leveraged the multibillion-dollar use of state and private machinery to corrupt the election. In the geography with the largest contingent of blacks after Nigeria, between 1928 and 1938, the country had a Nazi party with 2,9 members, second only to Germany, not counting supporters of eugenic superiority. In 2019, it counted hundreds of neo-Nazi cells, 99 in São Paulo (28 in the capital), 69 in Santa Catarina, 66 in Paraná and 47 in Rio Grande do Sul. The ogres answer the call in front of the barracks, praying for military intervention. Aporophobia (social and racial) is a prejudice embedded in the formation of the nation, sickened by irrationality, hostile to progressive pretensions.

Lula-Alckmin's assumption interrupted the escalation of totalitarian thinking and neoliberal policies. However, in the spirit of the World Cup, the gang in power sold the Manaus Refinery, in an insult to the programmatic sovereignty of the polls. From Petrobrás, from the Amazon and from Bolsa Família must come the signs of the future. Reconstruction requires symbols. The challenge is to solidify a democracy with rights, as an antidote to civilizational setbacks. This is the mission of a transitional government for the Social Welfare State, with popular participation, in Brazil.

*Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.

 

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