The excited mood of the political parties and society makes it hard to discern what is actually at play: what kind of Brazil do we want? A just country or just a rich one?
Logically, the ideal would be to have a country that is both just and rich. But we must choose among different paths towards this goal. Some preclude it, others make it possible.
If we want a just country
we must opt for the path of republican democracy
, this is, to put the general wellbeing above individual good. The result is that there will be more social policies to attend to the most vulnerable, thus reducing our perverse social inequality. In other words, there will be more social justice, better distribution of the available goods and with that, a lessening of violence. This is what the Lula-Dilma government did, relieving about 36 million people from hunger and misery, along with other social programs.
If we want a rich country we opt for liberal democracy
(that bears traces of its bourgeois origin) within the frame of capitalist or neoliberal production. Neoliberalism puts private good above the common good. To that end, it prefers investments in large projects and infrastructures so that industries may be efficient and able to attract consumers for their products. The poor are not forgotten, but they only receive only poor policies.
In his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century
, Thomas Piketty showed that capitalism is the best means ever devised for accumulating wealth. But he recognizes that where capitalism thrives, inequalities are soon introduced, because capitalism is designed for private accumulation and not for distribution of the wealth. He develops this better in his other book, The Economics of Inequality
(2015). In other words, inequalities are social injustices, because wealth is accumulated by creating poverty: capitalism imposes salary cuts, economic adjustments that undermine social and labor policies, and make it difficult for the lower classes to rise. Competition and not solidarity predominates. The market directs politics, common goods are privatized, and the State must intervene only minimally, with security and the guaranteeing of basic services being its main duties.
Even more: the uncontrolled search for wealth by some implies exploitation of the natural goods and services that now are almost depleted, to the point that we have reached the physical limits of the Earth. A limited planet cannot support an unlimited growth of wealth. We need almost one and a half Earths to fulfill human demands, which is unsustainable for the Earth, making the very reproduction of the capitalist system impossible.
A capitalist macro-economy is imposed by the primary countries, especially the United States, as a form of control and forced alignment to imperial strategies for all. But as Mark Thoma, the macro-economist of the University of Oregon, defender of capitalism, observed, capitalism does not function well anymore because the present systemic crisis seems unresolvable. The capitalist order is recognizing its limits.
What is the bone of contention in the present politics of Brazil? The opposition opted for a neoliberal macro-economy
. Opposition leaders proclaim that salaries are much too high, that Petrobras, the Bank of Brazil and the Postal Services should be privatized. We already know this formula. It is cruel to the poor and bad for the working classes, because it favors accumulation of wealth, and consequently social inequalities. Capitalism is good for the capitalists, but bad for the large majorities of the population. Wealth cannot be created at the expense of poverty and social injustice.
A geopolitical element must also be added that will not be detailed here. The United States does not tolerate an emerging power such as Brazil, that is associated with BRICS and China, which are penetrating more and more into Latin America. Progressive and popular governments must be destabilized, defaming their politics and slandering their leaders.
The Workers’ Party, PT, and the progressive groups and political parties want the path of republican and participatory democracy
. They seek to guarantee and expand their social victories. It is not certain that a victory of neoliberalism would retain them, because it obeys another logic, the logic of capitalism, that is the maximization of profits.
The present government seeks its own path in economics and international politics, with the awareness that soon the world economy will have a primarily ecological basis. Then we will emerge as a power capable of setting the table for the hungry and thirsty of the whole world. This fact should not be forgotten. But the main task will be to overcome the shameful social inequality, poverty and misery, through social policies emphasizing health and education.
The propelling motor of the fierce opposition to the Lula-Dilma government is the desire to liquidate its republican projects, because it is hard for them to accept the ascendency of the poor and their participation in social life.
But this is the project that responds to the anguish that bedeviled Celso Furtado throughout his whole life: «¿Why does Brazil, being so rich, remain poor, and with so much potential, continue going backwards
?» . The answer given by Lula-Dilma responds to the complaint of Celso Furtado and is good not just for the poor, but for all.
To understand this question is to grasp the central point of the Brazilian political crisis that underlies all the other crises.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by Melina Alfaro, email@example.com. Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.