An unparalleled inequality

Image: Martins Krastins


The history and intensity of Brazilian inequality demonstrates the collapse of naturalized and never validated premises and assumptions in Brazil

The music How much, by Gilberto Gil, has two features for me. The first is that I qualify it as the author's worst artistic creation. I have nothing to fear about the ideological patrolling of his fans because whoever has a vast body of work, at some point, drops the ball. Also, I suggest you don't read Skylight from Saramago and neither How to write a thesis by Umberto Eco, as they are works that do not represent the greatness of their authors.

The second particularity is to bring to the public the etymological meaning of theory (θεωρία). Every theory is a contemplation, a particular view of the world. This is no different for scientific theories, economic theories or political theories, just to name a few. The bridge you cross or the building (skyscraper) you admire are material works based on a large set of theories.

Orthodox and heterodox economists have something in common. The same can be said of left and right parties. All are based on theories. Theories have explicit, implicit, and even unknown assumptions. In bridge construction or major engineering works, explicit and implicit assumptions are checked for validity and a safety factor is even added for unknown aspects. Less rigor is observed in economic theories or political theories that inspire current politicians and economists.

Assumptions, of any kind, are ideologically accepted as given facts, belonging to the real world, regardless of the conditions and contexts in which they are announced. Thus, what should be an assumption of a worldview, built to interpret reality and intervene in it, becomes dogmatic and stiffens the theoretical conception itself, keeping it a substitute for reality in any confrontation with it. Obviously, this dogmatic behavior is a departure from economic sciences and political sciences and enters the field of militancy, moving away from scientific rationality.

Economics students, from an early age, learn that the law of supply and demand, for example, is a rule with many exceptions and upper and lower limits for its effective application. Premises and presuppositions announce and denounce the field of validity of any theory. It is clear that the expansion of the reach of any theoretical construction to spatio-temporal domains not yet explored is perfectly scientifically legitimate, however, the corroboration of this expansion by reality remains. Many theories fail, although they do not lose the historical importance they had in determining new directions for knowledge. However, they should remain confined in history and not be presented as supraconstitutional dogmas.

Economic, social and political theories see individual differences and no longer build utopias of equality in all aspects of life. Man is not a screw with dimensions standardized by ABNT. Even Jesus' message and early Christian communities signaled the possibility of some degree of inequality. Therefore, the existence of inequality, from a qualitative point of view, does not contaminate the assumptions of any theory. In the same way that friction, from a qualitative point of view, does not impede movement. However, Brazil is currently experiencing a degree of inequality that prevents movement and declares, by itself, the collapse of all theoretical assumptions of coexistence in society on which economic, political and social theories are based. The glaring and growing inequality in Brazilian society is not a mere subjective view. It appears in the GINI index, in comparison with other nations, in several social indicators in Brazil and in academic works that map the growing number of marginalized people.

The history and intensity of Brazilian inequality demonstrates the collapse of assumptions and assumptions that have been naturalized and never validated in Brazil. Such a situation knocks out any theoretical assumptions and invalidates traditional theories on the left or on the right, orthodox or heterodox economic theories. It is necessary to think about Brazil with less inequality and develop a theory of overcoming it. The immediate consensus of bubbles that prioritize other themes will bring down bridges and buildings, due to an outdated theory or bad faith. O Blindness essay and the essay on lucidity they are the literary horizons of a pessimist (Saramago) about the political, economic and social discernment of individuals. We need to do more and do it differently. Leaving the bubbles of the big house, there are many senzalas to be visited.

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and UFDPar researcher.


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