a new synthesis

Image: Alexander Zvir


The challenge of integrating economic development, social inclusion and citizenship

As a philosopher once said, when something is in motion, it is and is not, at the same time, in a given place. With the Lula 3 government, the same thing happens, as it is in motion, it is and is not in past governments, it is and is not in the Brazil that we must build.

This natural condition of the movement produces discourses that could seem contradictory, but which reflect Lula's own elaboration and that of his government regarding the paths to follow. Finding this path will produce a considerable gain in speed in the desired course. Not coincidentally, the government wants Brazil on the “right path”, which is a very complex equation.

To keep this movement moving forward and on the right course, it is therefore necessary to have precise knowledge of what constitutes yesterday's and tomorrow's stages, which will make the movement gain speed.

Let us first see in this elaboration of Lula the part of the speech, which is aligned with past governments. This is not, I want to underline, a criticism, but the desire to contribute to the natural duality of the current moment to be concluded, as soon as possible, by a new synthesis.

In the final part of the article, we will see Lula's speeches and initiatives aligned with what we understand to be the new project for the future. At the center of the debate that we propose here is access to the right to the city, social inclusion and contemporaneity for the majority.


The old man: where are we coming from, a Keynesian economism for the multiplication of consumers

Influenced by the undeniable success of past governments, which are the exit point of the current government, Lula's speech has been marked by an economicist biased content centered on improving the people's income that also works as a locomotive of the economy.

It is true logic, (albeit partial) since economic growth and the rebuilding of people's hope for the country's future produce joy in life, popularity and governance.

The short video of the portal “Official Squid” illustrates this understanding that, in economics, is Keynesian. However, the linear extrapolation of this Keynesian logic, absolutely, in a kind of social Keynesianism can generate a problem whose detection is crucial to fine-tune the right path, which is what we propose in this article.

Before addressing the risk, it is worth considering that the incorporation of the poorest into the consumer market is obviously part of the so-called “right path” equation.

Let us see, however, the risks contained in this “Social Keynesianism”. Obviously, Lula has a much broader view of the people's role in social life than this video fragment could suggest, and obviously it wouldn't be fair to reduce him to half a dozen words in an impromptu speech.

The purpose here is not, therefore, to condemn, but to: (a) try to capture one of the strong ideas present in the historical moment of Brazil today, an “improvement” that, in a way, the small social reality that the government gives itself as a target, whose bias there is much more “passive” and (b) to recognize that elements of this minimalist understanding of what the people want or what is owed to the people effectively permeate a certain political understanding and some government actions.

Some may be asking what the heck of risk does this video illustrate? Let's see.


Consumers x citizens; religious fundamentalism; June journeys and social malaise

In this last video, the strategic horizon of the lives of the majority is seen through the prism of an economicist linear extrapolation of the distribution and circulation of income mentioned in the first video, a vision that leads to the idea of ​​a large-scale production of poor consumers, but not citizens.

The problem is that two strategic elements escape this set of ideas: (a) the collective life project of the communities in which these families live, which can be a source of politicization, participation and development of skills, but also, due to lack of a project, of political and social alienation and (b) the idea of ​​the daily formation of a citizen and politicized conscience among the people, that is, that conscience that guides the collectivity.

Although the “happiness of the nuclear family” exalted in the video is part of the equation, such absences left, in the Lula 1 and 2 governments, these new poor consumers at the mercy of the neo-Pentecostal churches that had an exponential growth based on the occupation of the empty space left by the lack of a civic citizen project.

The absence of this civic project helps to explain the tremendous malaise and the explosion of dissatisfaction of the June 2013 days, still poorly understood, which emerged as a diffuse frustration with the mediocre, limited and horizonless life lived by millions.

It is also worth mentioning, in addition to the June days, that the petty bourgeois horizon in the popular milieu, without a civic project and without concern for the formation of a politicized and numerous citizenship, when it prospers, is the seedbed of the vigorous and well-known religious fundamentalism. This fundamentalism is the substitute civic project due to the absence of a civic project that induces social participation and citizenship.

This phenomenon, by the way, managed, despite heavy investments by the State (in housing, for example) and the herculean effort of various public policies, to be victorious in countless scenarios in what is most strategic: the formation of self-awareness and of society by people who, under this format and in the dark circumstances, aligned themselves, as we have seen, with fascism.

What is not seen there is that, the advances mentioned by Lula as possible to be conquered by the people if seen from the macro to the micro perspective, will reveal (and this is what he sees) the action of a State that wants to take care of the people, however, if they are seen in the opposite perspective, from the micro to the macro, which is what is within the reach of people, what stands out is (a) the merit for the work and (b) the help of God for the sacrifices and the countless sufferings brought by lifetimes of social exclusion.

The extrapolation of economicist logic and the absence of a civic project (collective life and citizenship) produced, in millions, a perception laden with affections and certainties in meritocracy and religious fundamentalism with deep roots.

We will now see what is new in Lula's own speech and in the actions of the Lula government 3 that show that we are on the move and that the government seeks itself and seeks the way.


The new: where we have to go: a civic project capable of producing collective life and replicating citizenship on a large scale


So the people don't want that little, there are new symbolic elements in the biggest social program foreseen by the government which is Minha Casa Minha Vida and that emerges in Lula's speech, (battle of the urban planners who designed the idea), with novelties such as the balcony and the library, solar cracks of a collective and citizen life that put their first leaves there.

The short video below shows even more clearly what this project is about, let's see.

The proposal, conceived in Napp Cidades by the Perseu Abramo Foundation and in Br Cidades, which now materializes in the Novo Minha Casa Minha Vida, is the offer of housing combined with quality social facilities for culture, sport and leisure, and its policies for the benefit not only of the Minha Casa Minha Vida complexes but also of the surrounding populations for whom the presence of Minha Casa Minha Vida will bring quality of life, facilitating their integration into the social and urban fabric of the neighborhood where it will be located.

What symbolic difference does the public equipment filled by its specific policies for culture, sport, leisure… bring in relation to the “happiness of the nuclear family” of Keynesian extrapolation? It produces collective life, mastery of an art or a sport (new skills), a new cosmology of the self in the world, tied to a “we”, self-confidence and self-esteem due to the inner advancement of the mastery of technique, new horizons of interest, work in a team, self-discipline… and offering these new opportunities. The house and the car, no, but the cultural or sports equipment in operation escape the idea of ​​individual meritocracy, as they return meridian visibility to public action and politicize because in this design the development of each one conditions the development of others!

Although Minha Casa Minha Vida cannot be defined as a periphery, since it is already an exit policy, in it the proposal emerges as a first matrix of what can be done in the set of Brazilian peripheries as an integrated policy to several others, all focused on in facing centuries of abandonment of the poorest due to State omission. This strong idea is present in the preparation of the Secretariat for peripheral territories of the Ministry of Cities through the innovative Periphery Viva Project.

The Secretariat for peripheral territories itself, commanded by Guilherme Simões, created with the role of building the integration of public policies in the peripheries, is a brilliant innovation of this Lula government 3 and belongs, therefore, to the universe of deeds and ideas of that “where should we go?” go” of the movement that is underway.

It is worth mentioning that, with each ministry focused on finding the right path on its own, the Secretariat for peripheral territories offers the government as a whole the opportunity to seek that right path in an integrated way where it is most needed: the favelas, communities, neighborhoods popular and rural areas of Brazil.

As a supporter of the Lula government, I think it would be a great achievement to strengthen actions for the right to the city, social inclusion and access to contemporaneity in peripheral territories in an integrated manner. In fact, in the social scenario of Brazil today, there is nothing more important, which would even justify a true war effort for these strategic flags for society, for the people and for Brazilian democracy.

This effort (i) is feasible, as we have the national competence to do so; (ii) it is cheap, especially if we use the territorialization strategy as the SUS does, as this new network of equipment and policies is much cheaper than that of the SUS and (iii) it is strategic, as it will produce citizenship one hundred for one, crucial critical mass for the stability of democracy, for governance, for the sedimentation of the consensus necessary for the continuity of social advances and will transform Brazilian society definitively and for the better.

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

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