A time window

President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, accompanied by the First Lady, Janja Lula da Silva, visits a shelter for victims of the climate tragedy/ Agência Brasil/ Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/PR
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By ION OF ANDRADE*

Lula government — a mourning to be done and a legacy to defend

After two years of the Lula government, which will happen in seven months, in addition to the frustrated expectations we have had so far, the agenda of struggles will no longer be able to be pressure for the government to do “something new” in terms of project of society that may be capable of consolidating its electoral viability. And from here until then, there will be no rabbits coming out of the hat.

The agenda that will be imposed will be to ensure that the results of the government's social initiatives really happen, (Periferia Viva, Território de Cultura, Minha Casa Minha Vida with its libraries, the 180 Federal Institutes, etc.) and to defend this legacy and the possibility of the government’s electoral survival.

However, even in the face of this resignation that I am anticipating here and that will become synonymous with survival over the next few years, we have a small temporal window now where a certain vision of the future can still be expressed, as a last drink before resignation.

I want to take advantage of these last remaining moments of freedom of criticism, before what will be the electoral battlefield of 2024 and, above all, 2026, to say, in a very summary way, that the government as a whole does not seem to have understood some essential things that are responsible, as I see it, for the moment of uncertainty and disorientation we are going through today.

Before moving on to what was not understood by the government and what could have made it go further in building a slightly fairer society in Brazil, let's consider that the current phase of republican institutional life, which includes the Lula government comes having strategic importance for the consolidation of the rule of law and democracy.

The Lula government has been the protagonist of something that is, in this sense, as important as its success: the exercise of governance under democratic normality and respect for institutionality.

The Senate, for example, has just criminalized the support of torture and dictatorship and the Judiciary is preparing for what will be for us, as a society, an emblematic trial: that of holding the former (unnameable) president responsible for the coup plot, the which takes on the air of a historic turning point in a country where coup-plotting has always been the order of the day.

Having considered this set of variables, which do not directly affect the results of a government, but rather the consolidation of the rule of law, and which may be sufficient to return the forces that elected President Lula to power, let's look at what was not understood by the government and continues to clutter up the country and make the people unhappy.

The economy is not an end in itself

The economy and public finances are not good in themselves, there is no point in being the eighth economy, or being praised by risk rating agencies and banks. The economy is only the machine aspect of a social process that is essentially political. It's like having a new car and being able to fill the tank. But the main issue with having a car is knowing and having where to go.

Having the car, in this figurative sense, may even generate momentary satisfaction, but it will be incapable of supporting someone's political concept and will be competed for in its ultimate resignification, by those who benefited, by meritocracy or by the theology of prosperity, as has already occurred in the recent past, politically nullifying the gains in the economy.

There are those who argue, in this economistic understanding, that the “way out” for Brazil would be in a new industrialization, in economic integration with South America, this is even partially true, but only as a machine aspect.

What is needed, however, is to change and know how to change the lives of the people and in this, good economic results are just the premise for supporting an emancipatory project for the majority, which, if it is absent, may be of no use.

Public policies must be universal

The government and most of the left, incredibly, did not understand the need to universalize public policies, which is why they all begin with their statement, excluding those who will be left out, serving only to supply arguments to those who are satisfied because there is “a lot of good things” being done.

It is like this: (a) in the new Federal Institutes, around 180 that will serve a maximum of 360.000 students from a universe of seven million and two hundred thousand enrolled in Secondary Education (5% of the total) without signaling a new model for the other schools of Education Medium in the states, which makes them vulnerable, strengthening the authoritarian model that emerges in this dispute — the civic-military schools; (b) in the fight against hunger, which is limited, according to MDS Ordinance 972, to cities with more than 300.000 inhabitants (click here to read) or (c) in transfers to the nursing floor, the absence of which has left philanthropic long-term care institutions for the elderly to God-given.

This vocation of the Brazilian State, (when it is in “pious” hands as is the case today) for charity (an 18th century) and not for universal public policy, (the 20th century) a phenomenon that I have called improvementism, burdens the so-called government communication that has become more strategic than it should be.

Communication has to try to let people know that they did not benefit from a given policy, of the existence, indeed, of third parties who benefited, in other cities and regions and even, who knows, in other neighborhoods of their own city... (like killing someone one person's hunger could alleviate another's hunger through, not food, but a narrative)…

Now, obviously in the scenario of social tragedy in Brazil, what speaks loudest is the people's experience of the policy offered and experienced and not hearing what they say. Hearing is only enough for the left-wing middle class who have already resolved their life in the market, buying everything they need and understand politics as “already good, we just need to convince the rabble”, this being the strategic role to be played. through communication.

The left-wing middle class is an apparatchik that sabotages the rise of the people

This left-wing middle class understands that everything is already great and that it is only necessary to make the poor people know (cerebrally) that the Lula government is carrying out all the necessary policies and “everything it can”.

As one thinker said, you cannot analyze someone for what they think they are, but for what they are. With this in mind, we have to consider that, for the sake of class survival, the left-wing middle class has to maintain competition with those below within a certain limit and is not interested in, nor is it capable of understanding that what the government What is really needed to gain popularity and credibility is for people to know, viscerally, that policies exist because of their universal access to them.

In this way, 180 Federal Institutes are sufficient and no one critically signals to the government itself that this will reach, at most, 5% of students enrolled in high school and that there will be more unserved than served, what can make this initiative, which could be the seed of a universal policy to be expanded year by year, in material unusable for elections!

Furthermore, the fact that people may not value this policy or may even, in extremis, preferring civic-military schools is a communication problem for the government, and is absolutely not a problem of access to Federal Institutes nor of the lack of definition of a definitive and civic proposal for Secondary Education, which would politicize the majority!

This dimension of politicization escapes the government and the sectors of the left-wing middle class that hegemonize and influence it (it is a apparatchik) making the government think that it has a communication problem when what is missing is to make the policies reach everyone, as the SUS at least tries to do through its territorial approach to the universal distribution of health devices...

The emancipation of the majorities

The government does not understand that the awakening of the majorities, or the replication of citizenship in the millions, is the only durable basis for democracy.

Petty bourgeois ideal, always at the mercy of a new meaning through meritocracy or the theology of prosperity, the target to be achieved in the speeches is the job, the cart and the little house, it is never popular participation in decision-making and the empowerment of the people through compliance of their needs for social inclusion through a vibrant and civic democracy: this is never on the menu.

There is no project for the qualitative development of people's lives based on the design of emancipation based on offering answers to local problems, (that's where people live) which are varied and serious complexes, with due social participation, a key part of conversion from the passive recipient of politics to an empowered citizen and protagonist…

To illustrate, the other day I thought a night lighting project for an indigenous village with solar panels that appeared to me on Instagram was from the government. Before I got excited, I discovered that the funding came from a private foundation. If it came from the government, embodying the solution to a need expressed by the Indians, the initiative would have the role of politicizing that indigenous people, making them protagonists of their destiny. Coming from a private foundation, the improvement runs the risk, depending on who financed it, of producing the opposite effect…

Centered on the political protagonism of Brasília's technobureaucracy, an “infantry” was not foreseen to face this local problem in the outskirts and rural areas, which could be coordinated by an urban planner in the territory, with defined territorial budgets, focused on territorial planning (of the village, rural area or neighborhood) to define a local development project for quality of life and contemporary times, capable of including housing improvements, social facilities and policies for culture, sport and leisure (including, for example, night lighting solution for indigenous villages) and committed to universal access…

We seem to think that political war can only be won with heavy artillery and publicity. However, any war can only be won, obviously, by occupying the territory.

The SUS is trying to occupy the territory and could inspire the government. But there is no one really interested in studying how what is mandatory for the SUS (universal access to health) shaped management and financing and could inspire access, in addition to charity, to other rights, such as the strategic right to city…

The Ministry of Cities' Periferia Viva Program is starting to get closer to this, but there is tremendous inertia to overcome.

Finally, having said all this, in December 2024 the last two years of the Lula government will begin.

The effort to explore the future, how we could be a better country, how all of this would be within our reach, the criticism and indignation of each one of us will have to give way to the defense of the government and the guarantee that the results of the that was planted — without yet being a structuring project for the government as a whole — can emerge.

Realistically, the force of current inertia will hardly allow changes of course or profound redesigns in the macropolitics of the mastodon that is the federal government hegemonized by left-wing middle class managers for those who have already given.  

The die is cast. Let us prepare ourselves to deal with this, because good or not, it will have been the best thing we have been able to do collectively in this endless 18th century in which we live.

* Ion de Andrade is a physician, university professor and member of the BrCidades Network.


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