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brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana / miscellaneous / non-anarchist press Wednesday May 20, 2020 23:31 byRóbert Nárai

Jeffery R. Webber teaches in the Department of Politics at York University, Toronto. His latest book is The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left. He is presently at work on Latin American Crucible: Politics and Power in the New Era, under contract with Verso. He was interviewed for Marxist Left Review by Róbert Nárai.

Róbert Nárai (RN): Let’s start at an epidemiological level. How has the virus impacted the region so far?

Jeffery R. Webber (JW): In terms of the sheer number of cases and fatalities, all existing official numbers provided by states in the region are highly dubious. But you still have some discernible trends. In the future, the most reliable data – as elsewhere – will be the distinction between average death rates over the last several years and death rates during the pandemic period. Such death-rate analysis is particularly revealing both because these figures are more difficult for states to conceal or fudge, and because it captures deaths both from COVID-19 and those excess indirect deaths caused by people with other ailments who were not able to access necessary medical attention due to saturated capacity in the health system.

The full extent of this information will only be known fully some distance into the future, and perhaps never fully in the most under-resourced states. Nonetheless, there are already some initial studies focused on this kind of death rate comparison of select cities in the region, and the results are alarming; the high numbers also stand in stark contrast to the lack of attention paid to the Latin America scenario by the dominant international media compared to the coverage of Europe and North America.

As of May 11, according to data provided by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), there were 1.74 million reported cases of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in excess of 104,000 reported deaths from the virus. The rate of spread is also increasing decisively. Whereas it took three months for Latin America and the Caribbean to reach one million cases, it took fewer than three weeks to roughly double that number. Last week alone there were some 20,000 additional reported deaths in the region, which represented a 23 per cent spike over the previous week’s numbers.

As of today (May 15), we know that the incidence of the virus in Brazil is escalating the most rapidly of any country in Latin America and the Caribbean, alongside severe scenarios in Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. Brazil has the highest level of COVID-19 cases and deaths across all indicators in the region. There were 203,165 confirmed cases and the official tally of deaths by the virus in the country was 13,999, but this is surely a dramatic underestimate. The healthcare system in Rio de Janeiro, for example, is completely overrun, as it is in a number of major cities elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean. Big cities throughout the Amazon have been hit punishingly, and the Brazilian Amazon is no exception. A mortality study carried out by the New York Times, for example, showed that the Amazonian city of Manaus, which has a population of 2 million, recorded 2,800 deaths in April alone, which is about three times its historical average of deaths for that month.

Peru has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the region after Brazil at 80,604, with 2,267 deaths, followed by Mexico with 42,595 and 4,477 confirmed cases and deaths, respectively. Chile’s official number of reported cases is also high, in excess of 37,000, with almost two-thirds in the capital, Santiago. Reported deaths are still below 400, but these are the official counts of the state – not comparative mortality rates based on the historical average, as in the Manaus example – and as we know from earlier official reporting in Europe and the United States, the real mortality figures lag well behind the day-to-day death notifications in the media, which are invariably revised substantially upwards at a later date. In terms of health infrastructure and the wider socio-economic backdrop of society, of course, it is of significance that Chile is one of the richer countries in the region, even though access to that infrastructure is intensely uneven. So even with high numbers, the death rate as a proportion of cases is likely to be lower.

Ecuador, by contrast, has been severely hit in terms of mortality rate (2,338 confirmed dead), even though the absolute number of reported cases is relatively lower than in Chile, at 30,500. A Financial Times investigation revealed that in the province of Guayas alone (the province contains the major coastal city and coronavirus hotspot of Guayaquil), there were 11,500 excess deaths, or 459 per cent higher than historically average mortality rates in the province, between the outset of the pandemic in Ecuador at the close of February and April 28, the last day of data analysed. This is instantaneously revealing of a feature of the present conjuncture that we’ll get into more – that is, this is not merely a natural crisis; rather, the uneven scale and depth of the impact has everything to do with the social conditions operative in specific locations. Thus, Ecuador is in no position relative to Chile to deal with what’s happening at the infrastructural level of its health system.

Patterns elsewhere are indicative of exceptionality. For example, Argentina, which neighbours both Brazil and Chile, has a distinctively lower rate of transmission (7,134 confirmed cases), death rate (353), and so on. It also has witnessed a notably more extensive response from the state that helps to explain this discrepancy – early, state-enforced social isolation even when there were few cases. Already there is pressure from capital to open up the country’s economy at whatever cost to lives. President Alberto Fernández – a figure who emerged from the more conservative wing of Peronism, but who was drawn somewhat to the centre-left given the fact that he owed his presidential candidacy entirely to his vice-presidential co-runner, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – is taking a stance quite distinct from the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and, in other ways, from the conservative government of Sebastián Piñera in Chile and the centre-right administration of Martín Vizcarra in Peru. This could have important political repercussions coming out of the first phase of this crisis.

At a first bird’s eye glance, those are some of the places that are intensifying – Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile – with Argentina as a contrast study. If, and more likely when, the virus hits Central America and the Caribbean in a more concerted way the results are likely to be devastating. Countries such as Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are very poorly positioned in terms of infrastructure to cope with a wide-scale unleashing of the virus, and this is even before we consider the interacting premise of an unsurpassed global depression. If it takes hold in these areas in a significant way the disaster could be monumental.

In Venezuela, where the official indications are that the case (455) and death-rates of COVID-19 are remarkably low (10), we don’t yet have an accurate picture of how severe the problem is, but as in the Central American and Caribbean cases just mentioned, the health system is monumentally ill-equipped to handle any significant outbreak – problems of a dearth of basic medical supplies, ventilators, personal protective equipment, reliable electricity, and so on are self-evident, exacerbated by prolonged economic depression and US sanctions.

There is also the issue of the vulnerability of the over 5 million Venezuelan migrants who have left the country since 2015 – Venezuela is now in the highest position in the world in terms of outward migration, overtaking Syria recently. More than 1.8 million of the total number of Venezuelan migrants are presently in Colombia. They are now in desperate straits because they are not eligible for emergency resources from the Colombian state, and the viability of the sort of petty informal labour and commerce many of them were engaged in until recently has been all but eliminated.

So there’s a real trauma there, and some are attempting to return home by foot, although whether what awaits them there is actually superior to their present circumstances is questionable. Even if it’s true that the rate of infection is low so far in Venezuela, the infrastructural degradation of the social functions of the Venezuelan state after successive years of extremely intense socio-economic crisis, combined with the morally destitute sanctions imposed by United States, means that Venezuela could easily become one of the worst affected countries in the region if conditions change. In host countries further south, due to border closures and lack of transport, Venezuelan migrants facing similar straits as those in Colombia – in Peru, Chile, and elsewhere – are more or less stuck where they are for the time being.

I think we are in very early days, but that’s part of the basic regional pattern visible so far.

RN: So the pattern so far is uneven. Could you elaborate on the underlying dynamics that explain that unevenness? For example, the health of the public infrastructure across states, the condition of the working classes and oppressed, and so on?

JW: It is very clear that even prior to the onset of COVID-19 the social situation in much of Latin America and the Caribbean had deteriorated gravely since at least 2013, and many of the modest but important improvements in poverty rates and income inequality achieved during the era of progressive governments and capitalist dynamism driven by a global commodity boom (2003-2012) had already been significantly reversed.

The pandemic will exacerbate these conditions sharply. This week, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) published a projection of expected poverty increases in 2020, based on their conservative calculation of what constitutes poverty. The report suggests that there will be 28.7 million more poor people, and 15.9 million additional extremely poor people in the region by the end of this year. Added to the existing numbers of impoverished and extremely impoverished people, the total projected figure of poor people by the end of 2020 is 214.7 million, or 34.7 per cent of the region’s population, while there will be a total of 83.4 million extremely poor people should their conservative projections prove accurate.

Latin America has long been the most unequal region in the world, and it remained so even after the so-called Pink Tide experiments of left- and centre-left governance in the early part of this century. That inequality feeds directly into deeply stratified underlying health conditions and health access among the population.

Poor Latin Americans and Caribbeans are more vulnerable due to the higher prevalence in this layer of the population to existing conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes, and general lack of access to sufficient medical attention. Likewise, class injustice is interlaced and intensified by the complex and specific oppressions of gender and sexuality, ethnicity and race, disability, homelessness, incarceration, and migration – all of these will mean disproportionate suffering by specific sectors of the population.

Speaking at a general regional level – and thus necessarily concealing a heterogeneous reality – health systems in Latin America and the Caribbean tend to lack both skilled medical professionals and medical supplies. There has long been an underinvestment in health by central governments, reaching an average aggregate regional level of only 2.2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Most countries of the region have fragile and unintegrated health systems, which have not and will not be able to cope properly with COVID-19 as the crisis expands and endures. In most countries public healthcare is only directed toward low-income sectors of the population, and thus is underfunded and inadequate. Formal sector workers are often able to access the health system through social security services attached to their employment. The rich and powerful rely on private healthcare, whether in their home countries or abroad. Again, with variation, health systems in the region tend to be unequal in terms of access and quality.

The region’s medical supplies and inputs are heavily dependent on global health supply chains that are breaking down logistically and politically at the moment, and most states in the region cannot compete with the bulk-buying power of imperial states in the world system, which are able to monopolise purchases of tests and personal protective equipment, among other supplies and equipment. Hospital beds and ventilators per capita are in most countries remotely distant from what is necessary even in normal times.

To make matters still worse, several health systems in the region were already coping – or better, failing to cope – with an outbreak of more than three million cases of Dengue virus in 2019 – over 2.2 million cases in Brazil.

A partial exception to these trends is the Cuban example. As is well known, one of the major enduring successes of the revolution is the island’s healthcare system, which has an unusually high number of doctors per capita, and a history of well-coordinated preventative care arrangements. Early regulation on incoming flights from abroad, strict controls of mandatory physical isolation, extensive medical surveys and widespread check-ups on households by medical students, among other measures, have translated into weeks of declining new cases and a low death rate. The respective number of confirmed cases and deaths as of May 15 is 1,830 and 79. Continuing its history of international medical solidarity, Cuba has dispatched more than 2,000 doctors and healthcare workers to more than 20 countries, adding to the existing 37,000 Cuban medical personnel stationed in 67 countries around the globe. I say Cuba remains a partial exception despite these impressive details mainly because the internal economic contradictions in the country are severe, and the socio-economic fallout of declining remittances from the Cuban diaspora and a prolonged slump in tourism will likely have a serious impact on overarching conditions, even if the health system remains highly functional. The US sanctions regime persists, and could escalate in the lead-up to the American November elections.

RN: So on the one hand, the pandemic is lighting up the vast class disparities that exist in terms of public health and livelihoods. On the other hand, the pandemic is entering a region that has been wracked by a series of pre-existing crises – economic, political, social and ecological – as well as one of the largest waves of popular rebellions we’ve seen for quite some time. How is the pandemic interacting with and exacerbating these pre-existing crises across the region?

JW: I think the most important element to highlight at the outset is that many of Latin America’s major economies – Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, in many respects Mexico as well – alongside many of its smaller economies, were already experiencing severe recessionary trends or low growth for the past several years. So there was a pre-existing economic crisis or recession in much of the region that was itself a kind of delayed reverberation of the 2008 crisis into Latin America.

That delayed reverberation was important in at least two respects. First, it was still mainly centre-left and left governments in office when the crisis started to really take hold in South America around 2012 and into 2013. And, second, to make a long story short, the centre-left and left governments which were in power shifted rightward by and large, implementing overt or disguised measures of austerity in response to the crisis, losing in the process significant swathes of their popular social bases while simultaneously failing in their bid to project “credibility” to capital. As a result they have been significantly weakened in political terms by that crisis, opening up opportunities for both extra-parliamentary and parliamentary forces of the right, including military expressions of the new right – depending on which country we are talking about. The right won elections in country after country, and where it couldn’t win electorally it took power through a revival of hard coups (as in Honduras 2009), soft coups (as in Brazil 2016) or some mixture of the two (Bolivia 2019).

This was all pre-pandemic. So the pandemic is arriving in a situation in which you have three dynamics going on at once: newly formed right-wing governments in many countries; weakened and rightward-moving left governments where they remain; and, the main source of hope, new extra-parliamentary social movements – reaching semi-insurrectionary levels in places like Chile – especially in countries where the right is in power. This new protest wave, including the popular explosions in Ecuador, Colombia and Puerto Rico in 2019 (as part of an international uplift in radical protest that year), but also elsewhere in the region on a less visible scale, was rarely connected or well-integrated into any traditional left formations, especially given the relative delegitimation of centre-left and left parties from their recent time in office in a number of cases. At the centre of the protest wave in many locales has been a resurgent popular feminism, with an intensity and depth perhaps without historical precedence in the region, and ecologically-based struggles.

These, then, were three of the prominent pre-pandemic political dynamics. It should be stressed that the new right governments in office were very far away from enjoying some sort of new hegemony, in the sense of replacing the old centre-left hegemony achieved at the height of the commodity boom. They were generally having difficulties governing, with very low rates of approval. In part, this is because they were unable to generate a kind of renewal of capitalist dynamism, a way out of the economic crisis – dependent as this has been in the region on the restoration of life in the world market. So as the viral pandemic arrives it is interacting with some of these basic political-economic scenarios.

Then you need to relate this to the basic crisis of capitalism on a global scale – insofar as the recent, robust rate of growth in Latin America between 2003 and 2011 was massively dependent on external dynamics – overwhelmingly, China’s rapid industrialization, high commodity prices, and so on. The latest projections of the International Monetary Fund suggest –3 per cent global growth in 2020, which is a six percentage point contraction from the 2.9 per cent growth rate of the global economy in 2019. The World Bank is predicting a fall of world trade of between 13 and 32 per cent this year. According to the United Nations Conference on Global Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the value of global trade has already fallen by 3 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, with an estimated quarter-on-quarter decline of 27 per cent in the second quarter. Commodity prices, meanwhile, plunged by a record 20 per cent in March, led by the collapse of oil prices.

These economic phenomena on a world scale will find particular transmission routes into Latin America – fall in export prices for both primary commodities and manufactured goods (the region’s economy has become increasingly dependent on export earnings since the transition to neoliberalism in the 1980s, a subordinate incorporation into the international division of labour intensified rather than reversed under Pink Tide rule); declining terms of trade for the region; collapse of remittances from migrant labour; capital flight (both the withdrawal of foreign capital into safer assets as well as the capital flight of domestic Latin American capitalists as they, too, shift their fortunes even more than usual into foreign banks and off-shore tax-havens); breakdown of global value chains for those countries most heavily involved in manufacturing (Brazil and Mexico, especially); and a collapse in tourism (Caribbean small island states to be particularly brutalized by this factor, although its effects will be widely felt throughout Latin America and the Caribbean). ECLAC envisions an extraordinary contraction in 2020, with a –5.2 per cent aggregate growth rate, which is well below projected rhythms in Africa, South Asia, or the Middle East.

This is a crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity, a truly global depression – the Eurozone, China, and the United States are all in turmoil. A global recession was already in motion prior to COVID-19, rooted among other things in problems of massive corporate, household and government debt, facilitated by quantitative easing, i.e. cheap money, alongside low rates of profitability, little investment, escalating inequality as cheap money flowed into speculative financial investment schemes, and so on. The viral pandemic has made this underlying economic trajectory monstrously worse.

At the heart of all of this is the monumental question of debt. On the one hand, there is the issue of debt weighing down centres of global accumulation such as the United States and China (a product of their response to the 2008 crisis), which, quite apart from all the unknowns that persist with regard to COVID-19, calls into question the viability of any massive counter-cyclical intervention reanimating these economies and in turn providing an engine source for the world market, as China briefly managed to do following the 2008 meltdown. On the other hand, as Adam Hanieh has demonstrated so effectively, there is the problem of the extraordinary indebtedness of countries in much of the Global South – and not just the poorest ones – which is inhibiting their ability to meet the public spending challenges necessary for any effective response to COVID-19. Even before the latest world conjuncture, two years ago, in 2018, 46 countries devoted more government spending to servicing public debts than they did on their healthcare systems as a proportion of GDP.

In Latin America, the 1980s and 1990s witnessed a surge in the influence of the World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank. As key institutional vectors of imperialism they made access to lines of credit conditional on neoliberal structural adjustment programs. During the height of the Pink Tide era and the associated commodity boom these institutions receded dramatically from the regional picture. As the global crisis of 2008 made its entry into South America by 2012-2013, however, these institutions followed in its wake.

Before the pandemic, both Argentina and Ecuador had already entered into agreements with the IMF and both were struggling to repay their debts. Ecuador and Venezuela were also massively indebted to China – today, China is the world’s biggest public creditor to the Global South through its Belt and Road Initiative, and, along with all the other imperial debt collectors, it is now calling for repayment from the impoverished states of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America to which it loaned hundreds of billions of dollars.

So-called emerging markets as a whole owe $171-trillion in debt to a multitude of creditors. Debt restructuring will have to occur, but as the Financial Times has pointed out, it is ever trickier to coordinate primary creditors to allow for a haircut on debt repayments given that, unlike in the 1980s and 1990s when creditors were mainly banks and governments, dominant creditors today are an assortment of bond funds, the managers of which are signalling that they are ready to settle into long-term international legal disputes with recalcitrant governments and put a sustained squeeze on even the most hard-hit countries to extract payments for their investors.

All of this means that, already in crisis, Latin American states are now in situations of extreme vulnerability, although the specific channels through which the global crisis is making its way into Latin America varies according to country and sub-region.

To make matters worse, alongside the economic crisis, there are the ongoing ecological contradictions of extractive capitalism. As Robert Wallace and others have pointed out, structural transformations in extractive sectors such as agro-industry worldwide – and associated patterns of planetary hyper-deforestation – are deeply associated with the origins of COVID-19 and potential future viral threats of a similar variety. It is no coincidence that within the dynamics of world capitalism, some of Latin America’s most potent social struggles and conflicts between the reproduction of life and ecosystems, on one side, and the interests of capital, on the other, in recent years have been rooted in those sectors that express the particular regional manifestations of the rise of extractive capital globally – agro-industrial mono-cropping, oil and natural gas extraction and mining mineral extraction. Such battlegrounds are in today’s altered world assuming novel dimensions, given what we know about the political-economic and ecological origins of COVID-19, and specifically its connection to agro-industrial food production, rural displacement, deforestation, and subsequent flow through global value chains, logistics processes, and so on.

So there’s that crisis, the crisis of ecology. And then there’s the crisis of social reproduction, with social reproduction understood in the broadest sense of the best new Marxist feminist analyses, as all activities extending through the realms of paid and unpaid gendered labour involved in the generational reproduction of the working class. This can involve everything from the unpaid toil of raising children and feeding and clothing family members, to the waged work of a teacher providing education, or a healthcare worker providing care to the sick.

In Latin America and the Caribbean women are particularly affected by the aggravated pressure on health systems because they constitute 72.8 per cent of the total number of employees in the sector region-wide. In addition to assuming the front-line crisis work in the health system as the pandemic spreads, women are disproportionately burdened with the excess social reproductive labour involved in quarantine, such as the caring and home-schooling of children. Paid domestic workers, accounting for 11.4 per cent of women’s jobs in the region, tend to be disproportionately migrants, indigenous or Afro-descendant women. They lack access to social security and increasing levels of unemployment as employer families readjust their home budgets in the face of the crisis. As is the case internationally, in Latin America and the Caribbean instances of domestic violence against women and children are intensifying in contexts of quarantine and collapse of household finances.

The social-reproductive elements of the Latin American crises were visible long before the pandemic, and they were raised to the foreground of political life in recent years through what is arguably the biggest wave of popular feminism in Latin American history. The last five years have seen massive movements in Argentina and Chile, and important feminist currents in Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere. The popular feminist movement in Chile, for example, was the most important articulating factor of largest wave of rebellions in that country since the fights against Pinochet at the end of the 1980s. Latin American popular feminism today possesses an extraordinary vibrancy.

Unsurprisingly, alongside this uptick in praxis, there has been an accompanying theoretical effervescence on the Latin American left, pivoting on conceptualizing the dynamics of social reproduction, and the inherent conflicts between the reproduction of life and the reproduction of capital.

Of course, the insights of the ecological and feminist struggles, important as they were in recent years, are still more important in the present scenario facing the region, and indeed the rest of humanity. The fact that these movements were among the stronger popular forces of recent years is one of the positive factors that will play into the contending balance of forces between life and capital as we emerge from the first phase of the pandemic and disputes over the character of the “new normal” that will emerge to replace it. There are few moments in world history where the competition between the value of production for profit versus the reproduction of life has been so starkly posed.

So to recap a very complicated scenario: you have a viral crisis interacting with a crisis of capitalism at the global level and its specificity in Latin America; you have a crisis of ecology expressed in the intensification of extractive capitalism across all of these dimensions; and you have a crisis of social reproduction. All of this, of course, something we’ll get into, is related to political crises of all sorts. Heuristically, I’ve spoken of many distinct crises, but these are actually better thought of as constitutive parts of a unitary crisis.

RN: That seems like a good point to move onto the immediate political consequences so far. How have capitalist states been responding to this multidimensional crisis? Depending on who is in power and where, are there any early indicators so far as to how they are dealing with this crisis?

JW: Let’s start with Brazil as it is the most important expression of the far-right in office responding to this crisis, and is also the biggest economy in the region and the most powerful Latin American country geopolitically speaking. Brazil is also a kind of exemplary condensation of the kind of crises that predated the pandemic and that have been interacting with the pandemic.

In Brazil – as in the wider international alt-right ideological milieu of post-truth irrationalism – you already had a formal attack by the Bolsonaro regime on the legitimacy of scientific evidence and the pursuit of scientific truths per se. We witnessed this with regard to the question of climate change denialism – the fires in the Amazon last year were, according to Bolsonaro, a conspiracy conjured up by NGOs, and, contradictorily, even if they did exist, it was the NGOs that set them alight in the first place – and myriad other mythologies and alt-right conspiracies of this sort, and even more bizarre ones. This was accompanied by legislative attacks on funding for healthcare infrastructure and scientific institutions alike. All of this meant that a kind of hyper-irrationalism, at the centre of all far-right positions historically, has meant that the most culturally authoritarian section of the Bolsonaro government – which is only about a third of the actual composition of the government, but a very important one, including the president himself – has seized upon the COVID-19 conjuncture and declared the virus a petty cold, a mere sniffle, nothing to see here, continue as usual.

Bolsonaro himself is widely believed to have tested positive for the virus, although he denies this, and continues to greet crowds of right-wing evangelical supporters with handshakes and smiles, interspersed with coughing fits. Bolsonaro’s efforts from the executive to prevent people from physically distancing from one another, and the woefully inadequate economic measures the central government has taken in order to respond to the crisis, have meant persistent confrontation between the president and various state governments, including those of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where governors attempted to institute some measures with the resources available to prevent an even greater catastrophe. Luiz Enrique Mandetta, Bolsonaro’s minister of health, refused to go along with the president’s absurdities and rooted himself in the scientific advice of epidemiologists. He was consequently dismissed from his position and replaced by yes-man Nelson Teich, a private healthcare capitalist with a degree in medicine and an MBA in business management. Bolsonaro’s wilful disregard for human life in the context of COVID-19 is on a par with Trump’s. The historian Forrest Hylton has rightly labelled Bolsonaro “Brazil’s Gravedigger-in-Chief.”

Immediate schisms began to emerge from within the Brazilian regime as a result of Bolsonaro’s cavalier disregard for the scale of what faced the country. To be sure, these schisms were already apparent in the Bolsonaro government in a more subterranean form prior to the pandemic, with the key fissures cutting through what I have called elsewhere a faction of cultural authoritarians pivoting around the figure of the president and his Rio-based familial dynasty, including his notorious sons; then a faction of militarists, pivoting around the vice-president, but also extending into all echelons of the state, from ministerial to lower technocratic and managerial positions in sub-ministries and public enterprises; and, finally, a faction of neoliberal technocrats, including the minister of the economy, Paulo Guedes, and, until very recently, the minister of justice, Sergio Moro. To repeat, these schisms were already present, with the government seemingly being held together over its first year by some sort of always fragile adhesive substance.

After several months of initial stasis in power, the Bolsonaro government managed to pass the thoroughgoing pension reforms masterminded by Guedes, the key Chicago-Boy finance minister. As a result, the markets began to come back on board with the government, after they had grown sceptical of Bolsonaro’s capacities over the initial months of the new government.

Now, however, in the midst of the pandemic scenario, the justice minister, Moro, has resigned, and called into question Bolsonaro’s legitimacy as president due to his interference with the federal police, who are investigating his sons for corruption and involvement in other crimes, crimes that extend all the way down to the militias involved in the assassination of Marielle Franco. The new intensity of this neoliberal technocratic-cultural authoritarian schism is very serious, and could eventually spell the end for Bolsonaro’s presidency.

Although I don’t think it’s obvious that he will be ousted from office – people have announced his immediate demise everyday since Moro resigned, a few weeks ago now. I don’t think it’s necessarily imminent, given that he retains 30 per cent support of the population, which has always been about what his core base was, and it really depends massively on what action the military decides to take. The military faction of the regime has always had an enigmatic relationship with the president, not always free of tension, despite the fact that Bolsonaro himself is an former army captain. What is key in the Brazilian situation is that Bolsonaro’s flagrant disregard for scientific evidence, and the dispute with his own minister of health and a series of state governors who tried to introduce some minimal measures to contain the spread of the virus, have jeopardized the lives of millions of Brazilians. I think the most important and disturbing thing about the crisis of Bolsonaro’s rule at present is that the fissures are not a product of pressure from below, and that therefore will not obviously benefit social movements and the left. The main dispute in Brazil today, which might end up undermining the president’s rule, is a schism between the centre-right and the far-right, neither of which have a particular allegiance to even the limited formalities of liberal democracy – which isn’t to say that they are the same as one another. An eventual fall of Bolsonaro from office would not give an obvious momentum to the left, even if it would be happily greeted, unless popular movements can somehow play a bigger role than they have in instigating his demise.

In Bolivia, the dictatorship that was set in place following the coup last October, which removed Evo Morales from office, has used the arrival of the pandemic to postpone scheduled elections that were already going to be highly questionable. So a consolidation of power, of sorts, has at least temporarily unfolded in the country under this far-right regime. The spread of the virus in Bolivia has so far been minimal, however, so it’s future destabilizing effects remain unpredictable.

In Chile, there are political tendencies and counter-tendencies, the precise momentum of which remain difficult to discern with any precision. On the one hand, Piñera’s regime has seemingly benefited in the short term, as the virus has provided cover for a suppression of the popular movements of recent months. His approval ratings have gone from a low of 9 per cent to 25 per cent, and the use of security forces in the streets to enforce mandatory physical distancing has been met with wide-scale approval – the same security forces that were so roundly discredited only weeks earlier.

On the other hand, the momentum of street politics and, in particular, the militant feminist wave is unlikely to simply disappear. Rather, it is set to play a decisive role in the battles over the new normal to come, once street politics is once again a reasonably safe pursuit. Karina Nohales, a militant involved in both the Committee for Workers and Unionists and the International Committee of the country’s most important umbrella feminist collective, the Coordinadora Feminista 8M, explained recently that, despite being locked down, activists have managed to launch a Feminist Organization of workers. It is envisioned as a space in which women and militant workers come together from the perspective of their labour, whether it be formal, informal, paid or unpaid. Nohales describes the initiative as seeking to unite, in this way, wide layers of Chilean non-unionised workers with existing trade union militants in a space where all can participate and contribute, realising in this way the potential power of Chilean workers which until now has remained fragmented. The uniting strategic horizon is the Feminist General Strike – precisely what will be needed in coming months and years.

In Ecuador, you have a situation in which Lenín Moreno already entered into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which involved austerity measures designed to hollow out public infrastructure and the social functions of the state, including healthcare. Austerity measures were at the heart of a popular rebellion in October 2019, which witnessed the rearticulation of a popular indigenous movement at the forefront of class struggle. In the context of the pandemic, the rightward trajectory of the Moreno regime is being further concretized, as he moves to renegotiate debt with creditors and renew agreements with the IMF. As in Chile, it is difficult to imagine the momentum of the rebellions of October 2019 being completely eclipsed by the present interregnum.

In Argentina, where Alberto Fernandez sits at the head of a centre-left administration, the government is thus far enjoying a boost in popularity, despite a catastrophic economic crisis in which debt negotiations are ongoing and a major sovereign debt default is foreseeable in the near future. As I suggested, Fernandez took early, concerted action to enforce physical distancing measures, which won popular approval and also favourable treatment in much of the media. It helps to have Bolsonaro as the standard against which one is measured. The right-wing opposition has been discredited, and basically has subordinated itself to Fernandez’s handling of the crisis. Mauricio Macri, leader of the preceding centre-right government, introduced a 23 per cent cut to the health budget, further undermining the country’s capacity to deal with the present crisis. Public health provision and the role of healthcare workers are being revalorized in the public consciousness in the midst of the crisis, laying the basis for future potential inroads against neoliberalism.

As Claudio Katz has explained, the pandemic managed to push the looming issue of debt repayment to the back burner, as public funding was immediately needed to service the viral crisis. Momentum has been behind a more confrontational stance with international creditors. At the same time, as elsewhere, Argentine social movements are crippled by their inability to assemble in the streets. There is a danger that the use of much-hated security forces to enforce mandatory physical distancing and isolation measures will be normalized post-pandemic, together with the extension of surveillance mechanisms. Illegitimate repressive measures taken by the security forces during the last couple of months have not been met with any reprisal from the Fernandez government. Alongside emergency cash-transfer measures that target informal workers and that seem to run against the logic of neoliberalism, Fernandez is at the same time making austerity moves, such as delinking unionised workers’ future salary increases from inflation increases. As is the case elsewhere, one also has to include in this measure of the conjuncture the increasing pressures from capital in Argentina on the government to fully reopen the economy, whatever the cost to lives.

RN: Could you say a bit more about what is taking place in Venezuela at the moment?

JW: Sure. There was another coup attempt against Nicolás Maduro. Until this latest fiasco, it would have been difficult to imagine a set of political events more farcical than that of Juan Guaidó’s debacle in April 2019. In that case, likewise an effort to overthrow Maduro, Guaidó was only capable of mobilizing a tiny faction of troops in the capital for a couple of hours, despite enjoying the full-throated support of the US and allied right-wing states all over Latin America. That earlier attempt revealed the limits of US imperial power in the region, given that it was obvious that they had played a decisive role in the coup plot. What the events of last April did not show was some kind of widespread popular backing of the Maduro administration or an indication of Maduro’s success in the mind of the Venezuelan populace. Maduro’s administration has been a disaster and has in my opinion no longer anything to do with the left. But obviously this has nothing to do with the question of opposition to imperialism as a matter of principle – it was a duty of all the international left to oppose the coup attempt by Juan Guaidó and the prospect of any potential US military involvement, or proxy involvement through Colombia.

The recent scenario involves some of these factors, but it is not obvious it enjoyed US backing, and whether or not that ultimately is shown to be the case, the whole endeavour was a complete and utter joke, hardly deserving of analysis. The usual instantaneous commentariat have compared it to the Bay of Pigs, but the events are not remotely comparable.

Effectively, Jordan Goudreau, a former US Green Beret, special forces veteran, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is now CEO of a Florida-based gun-for-hire mercenary enterprise called Silvercorp, coordinated the entire effort. The premise was to launch an attack on Venezuela by sea, seize an airport, kidnap Maduro, and fly him to the United States where he would face prosecution. Goudreau apparently ran training camps in anticipation of the assault on the Colombian Caribbean peninsula of La Guajira, adjacent to the Venezuelan border. The training camps were infiltrated from the start by Venezuelan government double agents, which accounts for the fact that, in the event, two boats were easily seized by Venezuelan troops, eight mercenaries were killed, and a couple of dozen Venezuelan accomplices were detained by the Venezuelan government, together with an American special forces operator from Texas named Luke Denman. It was over before it began.

RN: Let’s end with the question of popular movements. Apart from some very limited strikes among sections of workers, and some protests by medical professionals, there appear to be no discernible and sustained patterns of popular struggle, at least just yet. This is not to say that the basis isn’t being laid for such struggles in the very near future. What do you think are the parameters of these struggles that are currently being laid by this crisis?

JW: I agree with your assessment that this precise moment is a weak one for popular movements, who are unable to engage in their usual above-ground assembly and repertoires of contention. We can’t know what’s coming next, but we can speculate in a reasoned and relatively informed way, basing our analysis on the observable if contradictory tensions in the region’s politics that are becoming visible.

In one direction, there is the potentially negative consequence of normalizing a certain subservience to state authority in the wake of necessary cooperation around public health measures. The gravest dangers here are associated with the extension and normalization of military and police power into everyday governance of public life in parts of the region, and the danger this poses to the revival of popular protest once the lockdown phase of the pandemic draws to a close. Likewise, in Latin America and the Caribbean, as elsewhere, there has been an extension of corporate surveillance facilitated by state measures responding to COVID-19. Capitalist states, while engaging temporarily in public health measures, are ultimately orientated toward restoring conditions for profitability, and insofar as an extension and consolidation of the role of the coercive apparatus of capitalist states is necessary for establishing post-pandemic conditions favourable to capital, states are likely to pursue this kind of normalization if it is not resisted.

Another issue is the basic one that, for the moment, because social movements are demobilized and are capable only of virtual coordination through social media and the like, political momentum and initiative is very much in the hands of state managers and capitalist interests. This advantage in the immediate field of contention could position them well in determining the subsequent terrain to follow.

Critically, capitalist states are accruing significant debts, and the ensuing economic depression will demand sharper decisions from state managers as to who pays for the accumulated debts, and who is to benefit from the conditions of the new post-pandemic normal. The battle to come in Latin America and the Caribbean in the immediate above-ground, post-pandemic period will likely be structured in the first instance by capital-led austerity drives.

At the same time, working in the other direction is the ideological factor of this multidimensional crisis, making more visible than normal all of the interlaced threads of contradiction, from ecology to social reproduction, as well as their connections to capitalism as a system. Critiques of the system of capitalism are likely to meet with a wider audience in the midst of this crisis. More visible to many is the basic irrationality of the pursuit of profit over life, the basic irrationality of ecological degradation attached to the system, the basic irrationality of attaching no value to socially reproductive work in normal times in terms of wages and conditions, and then celebrating it as “essential” in times of emergency; cheering healthcare workers on, calling them heroes, but not actually paying them decently, or providing them with effective equipment. There is no automatic process of politicization attached to this, but in times of immense crisis people are more open to universal change of worldview than at other times.

So what is being valorized at this moment in popular consciousness in many Latin American and Caribbean countries in crisis is the notion of public health as a priority over profits, essential workers as necessarily having value attached to them, public services as a necessity, free access to the means of life, and so on. When the theatre of politics shifts from the present subterranean underworld of living rooms to above-ground workplaces, streets and communities, so will surface the tendencies and counter-tendencies I’ve cursorily noted above. The balance of forces aligned behind each side, drawing on reservoirs of strength extant in the pre-pandemic period but necessarily altered by the social, economic, and ideological conditions of the pandemic itself, will help to determine the content and form of the new normal.

That contestation, in the midst of an unprecedented global depression, will define the parameters of class struggle in the immediate future in the region. The outcome is not preordained, as it never is, but especially because crises are unusually contingent periods, in which various competing exit routes are opening and closing over the course of each battle.

This crisis shares some features with global crises of the past, even as it has other, unprecedented characteristics specific only to this moment. Insofar as we can learn from past crises, it is certainly the case that they don’t automatically produce gains for the left. Such success will be contingent on strategies of intervention that mobilize and amplify the infrastructures of rebellion that exist where they do exist, flexibly respond to the genuinely novel reconfigurations of politics, economics and society coming out of the pandemic, and audaciously refuse to shrink for the scale of the change that is necessary simply to pull the emergency break and avoid disaster – after which and out of which a new world organized around our terms of life might be possible.
international / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Tuesday May 19, 2020 05:12 byLucien van der Walt

The crisis of the statist politics that dominated working-class politics -- social democracy, Marxism-Leninism, and anti-imperialist nationalism -- and the rise of neoliberalism, has aided the rediscovery of society-centred, anti-capitalist forms of bottom-up change “at a distance” from the state. This article critically assess the three main modes of “at a distance” politics: “outside-but-with” the state, which combines using the state with popular movements;  “outside-and-despite” the state, aiming at disintegrating the system by building alternatives in its cracks; and “outside-and-against” the state, associated with anarchism/ syndicalism, rejects the state for building autonomous working class counter-power that can resist, then defeat, state and capital. While each mode has limits, the anarchist/ syndicalist approach is arguably the most convincing, and its implications are serious. And it directs militants to work within the mass movements of the popular classes


For much of the last hundred years, the dominant parts of anti-systemic movements focused on winning state power, seeing an “enabling state” as the essential means for social transformation. The idea that radical social transformation meant wielding state power was shared by ever-increasing sectors of the anti-capitalist left, of workers’ movements, and of national liberation forces.

However, by the 1990s, state-centric models, whether social democratic, Soviet-Marxist or anti-imperialist nationalist, were in crisis. By the 1970s already, they had become marked by economic failures, non-achievement of many of their stated goals, and the inability to sustain themselves in the face of an increasingly internationalised capitalism, a deep global economic crisis and a shifting geopolitical order.

Further, marked by endemic inequality, they all faced popular unrest and dissatisfaction with their top-down, bureaucratic and statist approaches, much of this from labour and the left. For example, workers in Tanzania occupied factories in the early 1970s, in defiance of a government calling itself “African socialist,” while workers’ movements toppled African governments across the continent in the 1980s and early 1990s; workers rebelled across the Marxist world in the 1960s, and again, the 1980s; massive strikes shook the West, most famously in France in 1968, as ordinary people demanded deep changes in the workplace and the larger society.


As the old systems of state-led capitalism crumbled – import-substitution-industrialisation in the south, Marxist-Leninist central planning in the east, the Keynesian welfare state in the west – the door was opened to the victory of global neoliberalism. This was a new phase of capitalism, not a mere change in a few policies that could easily be undone with better policies.

Neoliberalism marked the end of the era of state-led models of capitalism, but did not mark the end of the capitalist state, or even the involvement of the state in capitalism. Neoliberalism centres on free markets, but it does not remove the state, nor weaken it – the state is not gone, but is manifestly an agency for massive interventions to subsidise capital, expand commodification and discipline the popular classes.

*States are not victims of a neoliberalism that somehow appears from somewhere else, external to the state, but its key authors.* The major multilateral organisations that drive neoliberalism, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO, formerly the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, GATT) are not, as some believe, private banks or organisations of multi-national corporations (MNCs) – their members and shareholders for the first two, and their members for the latter, are states.

The expansion of MNCs, and their ability to move capital around the planet with ease, is not something that happened to states. It was only made possible in the first place by states liberalising their controls of over capital movements and currencies, to allow such movement, and the role of states in creating an international infrastructure for such activities, which enables such movement. Naturally, different states have different agendas in allowing these changes: for poorer countries like

China in the 1980s, for example, this was a means of attracting investment; for richer countries like the USA in that time, this was a means of accessing cheaper labour, skipping unions and dodging environmental laws.


The end of the supposedly “enabling state” disabled anti-systemic movements enamoured of states. I do not mean, and do not want to be misunderstood as saying, that the old models of labour and left politics are dead. On the contrary, these retain enormous attraction, and continue to attract substantial support. Globally, there has been some revival in the fortunes of left-of-centre parties, like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany and the Workers’ Party (PT) in Brazil, as well as the formation of various new left parties during the 2000s, including in South Africa. We can also note the excitement with which many greeted the Venezuela government under Hugo Chavez, the interest in Bernie Sanders in the USA and in Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, and the push to form new left parties in South Africa.

I am suggesting, instead, that these models are no longer workable. Not only did they collapse after nearly fifty years in crises, but they also operated in a very different global context. The Keynesian welfare state in the West, for example, assumed class compromises based within specific nation-states, in which a business class largely focused on the national market was willing and able to make significant compromises with the national working class, and in which that class could exert enormous power and threat, in the context of massive economic growth that could fund substantial improvements in popular conditions without threatening capitalism. None of these conditions apply anymore.

The dominant section of private capitalists is organised in MNCs which have no interest in national level pacts, seeking instead advantages and markets across the globe; working class movements are weak, even if still very large (and in fact growing); there is almost nowhere in the world where ruling classes experience the working class as a deadly threat or expect a socialist revolution from below, a situation dramatically different from the 150 years that ended in the 1990s, with the rise of various forms of socialism from the 1840s; and low growth and recurrent crises since the 1970s have reduced the money available for redistribution to the popular classes and pressured capitalists to roll back the gains made in the past by working people, and redistribute wealth and power upwards. If the 1940s to the 1970s saw falling inequality, the 1990s onwards has seen inequality skyrocket.

So, the problem is not just that neoliberalism has come to dominate, but that the main alternatives that were presented in much of the twentieth century *are no longer feasible*, even if they were ever desirable. As SYRIZA found in Greece, as the ANC found in South Africa, and as the PT found in Brazil, neoliberalism is the name of today’s game. Even Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” model was premised not on a sharp break with the neoliberal order, but simply a boom in oil revenues driven by neoliberal capitalism elsewhere that allowed, for a time, some booms in welfare. Beyond this, the Venezuelan economy was in crisis well before the recent US sanctions, and, when the oil price fell, the model fell apart.

The victory of neoliberalism, then, was partly due to the absence of a clear labour and left alternative at the time that which could be championed by the working class. But this was because the working-class movement faced the crisis, failure and passing away of the main statist models. It could either pose these as an alternative again, and fail; or seeing the failure, be demoralised and accept neoliberalism or defeat; or they could seek a third option, beyond the state.


This situation has led directly to a crisis of the dominant currents in left and working-class politics, but it has also opened space for the *rediscovery* of society-centred, anti-capitalist modes of bottom up change, labelled as “at a distance” politics. These had always existed, and had been very influential into the 1940s, but were supplanted from 1945 worldwide by statism. In recent years too, “at a distance” politics have registered important successes in practice, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico.

These society-centred positions involve a politics of anti-capitalist transformation that question fundamentally state-centred change. In place of statist and hierarchical models, “at a distance” politics stress possibilities for more democratic, bottom-up and radical models of transformation – previously often effaced by state-centric struggles and the project of capturing state power, but now increasingly rediscovered.[1] For example, within anti-apartheid organisations of the 1970s and 1980s, there was also an implicitly anti-statist tendency which sought to build a different form of politics, often consciously opposed to the top-down logic of state hierarchies and governance. For instance, the declared aim of the United Democratic Front (UDF, formed in 1983) of constructing “people’s power” and the stress by many black-centred trade unions, notably those in the “workerist” tradition of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU, formed in 1979) on “workers’ control,” were indicative of a vision of an incipient politics of transformation that – despite ambiguities, contradictions and limitations –did *not* centre on using the state for liberation.

A “politics of emancipation” that is at a “distance from the state,” and not centred on the capture of state power, is not a monolithic project.[2] This is not because “at a distance” politics inevitably rejects unity or makes a virtue of disagreement and incoherence, but simply because there is no single “at a distance” model.”  Politics at a distance from the state” actually describes *a range of approaches* that are grouped together more because of their scepticism about state-centred change – *such a politics does not even have to be anti-statist.*

It is possible to distinguish, analytically, at least three modes of “at a distance” politics: “outside-but-with” the state; “outside-and-despite” the state and “outside-and-against” the state.[3] These are not necessarily the labels these three broad modes of “at a distance” politics themselves use, but they serve as a useful way of dividing up the types, the better to understand them.


This holds that radical change should not centre on the state. Rather, popular initiatives, movements and autonomy should have maximum scope, but should be combined with transforming and democratising the state. In place of a statism that supplants popular self-activity, and a politics that rejects the state in all instances, this mode involves a synergy (or at least a creative tension). It seeks to move beyond the traditional social democratic stress on parliament and corporatism, by complementing these with popular mobilisation.[4] Although often presented as new, these ideas had earlier incarnations in, for example, Guild Socialism.

This is certainly “politics at a distance from the state,” since it neither reduces politics to the state, nor seeks to subsume popular struggles into the state apparatus, yet it is also not anti-statist – it is a “politics at a distance” that is “outside-but-with” the state. There have been a wide range of efforts to implement it, and a range of possible modalities for its operation. For Murphy Morobe in 1987, for instance, the anti-apartheid coalition the United Democratic Front (UDF), in which he was a leader, built “active, mass-based democratic organisations and democratic practices within these organisations” to fight the apartheid state, but the idea was that, after apartheid, these would exist alongside parliament.[5] [...] One strand in the “workerist” tradition of Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) also fits: it aimed at building workers power and a radical working-class movement, but it was also willing to participate in state institutions, including the courts and the statutory bargaining machinery, even under the apartheid state.

The politics of “outside-but-with” the state is based on the idea that the state is a contested terrain, susceptible to popular demands and anti-capitalist policies. The state acting against people is seen as due to the state being temporarily captured by the wrong groups. Pressure on the state, from outside, and work within the state, as well as alliances between states and movements, are seen as ways of transforming the state, and of pushing back capitalism. There is, according to this view, no built-in relationship between capitalism and the state; the state can be delinked from capitalism, either to remove it or to place it under some sort of regulation that benefits the popular classes. Very often this view looks optimistically at the past, speaking in terms of a golden age before neoliberalism, in which, supposedly, states were truly democratic.


The problem here is that this does not consider that states are closely linked to capitalism, if for no other reason than that they are funded by capitalism: taxes on profits, taxes on incomes, taxes on sales, and loans from banks. This immediately limits what states are able to do; in a context where capitalism is neoliberal and crisis-ridden, it seems most unlikely that states will take sides with the people against capitalism.  In other words, states can vary in what they do, and states are certainly shaped by popular struggles, but there are *absolute* limits on what states can or will do.

States are also centralised, disempowering and top-down institutions, and, as such, provide little scope for popular involvement. If the state is centralised, as all states are, how exactly can the majority of people participate in any meaningful ongoing way?

And if states have institutional imperatives of their own – survival in a competitive interstate system, the need to maintain capitalist accumulation, the reproduction of their control over territories etc. – will these not reshape *popular* movements, on the pattern of the state? To put it another way, if the state is top-down and works on its own agenda, it can only include popular movements in ways that will in turn, make those movements more centralised and more compatible with state structures.

There is, in other words, a contradiction between the top-down logic of the state (and of the capitalist corporation) and the bottom-up logic of democratic, popular movements – the two could not be reconciled in the manner “outside-but-with” proposals suggested.


This position is often identified with a strand of unorthodox Marxism promoted by the autonomist John Holloway, but it is far from unique to that Marxism. The core idea is that ordinary people can build a new society outside of the state, and capitalism. For Holloway, the state is nothing but a reflection of capitalism, so it is pointless to use it. But since that means you cannot capture the state peacefully (as in social democracy) or by force (as in Marxism-Leninism), what should you do?

Holloway suggests that the first step is to refuse to participate in the system, which is created and recreated daily by our actions.[6] We should rather build alternatives in the cracks of the system, and where there are enough cracks that are widened enough, the system will start to crumble. Since there is no party with a unified project, and no central aim, like winning state power, the argument continues, there is no single project. There is a stress on open-ended and indeterminate processes, and scepticism towards grand programmes and revolutionary schemas. In fact, to create any such unified project risks seems bring back the state and the party. Rather, an experimental and evolving communism will somehow emerge in these alternative spaces. Everyday practices that reject the imposed system and its way of thinking widen the cracks to the point where the system is broken.

Although Holloway claims not to have a formula, we can infer one from his writings: the alternatives should be based on horizontal relations, acceptance of difference, a stress on the *process* of making change as more important than the ultimate change itself, a rejection of moving power away from people, and a fairly straightforward schema for change where people do more and more, until it is enough.


Holloway’s examples of “building ways of living that don’t depend on wage labour” [7] are extremely modest: meetings in squares, the re-opening of closed factories, and “community gardens.” [8] However, as ruling classes *already* have a virtual monopoly on administrative, economic and military resources, how will those resources be moved over? If they are not, these tiny islands will operate within a capitalist sea and be eroded by it, rather than change society as a whole.

This raises questions of how the means of production, for example, will be placed under popular control on a meaningful scale, and how the armed might of the state will be fended off. If popular movements did move into direct confrontations on the terrains controlled by ruling classes, by for example, seizing open factories, this would mean open conflict, war from above by powerful elites, who would not simply wither away.

At its core, the system is not based on agreement, or a majority vote. It is difficult to see how a series of projects, lacking a clear programme and ideology, will be able to tackle highly organised and centralised ruling classes.

Dodging such issues – with references to the need to avoid dogma and so on – is extremely dangerous and avoids a key discussion. At the end of the day there is a need for a clear strategy, and a clear debate on strategy. While claiming not to have a strategy, and to be open and experimental, the “outside-and-despite” approach, in effect, advocates a very narrow strategy and closes down debates on strategy.

Finally, there is also really nothing that makes alternative institutions, relations and struggles automatically lead to a new egalitarian, “communism” – the transition in South Africa, born out of struggles from below, but ending in neoliberal capitalism, surely shows this. This means the battle of ideas does matter, and that raises the question of how to wage it.


The third mode – often associated with anarchism/syndicalism – argued that states were centralised institutions of class rule: they were centralised organisations that existed to allow small ruling classes to rule. They did this by concentrating in a few hands the major means of administration and coercion – centralisation allowed a few to wield these resources – and they ensured class exploitation continued – which also required that major means of production were owned and controlled by a few, either in a state or private corporations.

This meant that states could not be used for radical change by the working class – first, because they were designed for the opposite purpose, second, because their centralised structure prevented the mass of people participating in them, and, third, because the price of participation was the centralisation and corruption of movements that participated.

So, the alternative was then not to build a political party to take state power, or to participate in the state, but to build, firstly, bottom-up, democratic organs of *“counter-power”* that could empower people to *resist* the ruling class, fight against all forms of oppression and exploitation as a means of unifying the popular classes and forging an egalitarian movement, thereby creating the *nucleus* of a future, self-governed socialist system. This would mean taking over means of administration, coercion and production directly and placing these under the control, of the organs of counter-power.[9]

The alternative would involve, secondly, a project of promoting a revolutionary *“counter-culture,”* or alternative worldview/ *counter-hegemony*, that would provide a critique of the existing world, embody alternative values and outline the framework of, and strategy for, a new world. There was just no automatic move from struggle to revolutionary change. The battle of ideas was needed.

In an example of this approach, unions could be repositioned to agitate, educate and organise, building capacity to seize and self-manage the means of production.

So, basically, there is a stress on building a new society from outside the state, based on people being active; this approach rejects the use of political parties to capture state power. Although some form of political organisation could play a role in building counter-power and counter-hegemony, it cannot itself take power. You can win reforms – but through protest and pressure outside the state. Reforms are possible, but not enough, and ultimately the state – the existing state – must be replaced with a democracy from below.


One of the common criticisms of this approach is the claim that the revolutionary changes that it envisages are risky. Obviously, the ultimate outcome of this project would be a showdown between the mass of the people and the state – and with it, the ruling classes – which also means a confrontation with the armed forces of the state. This would be very destabilising, may not result in a successful revolution, and might even lead to a degeneration of the revolution, in that the need to win the battle might lead to a destruction of the democratic core of the revolutionary project. The danger is that there are no checks and balances – like Chapter 9 institutions – and therefore, the worst outcome would be a worse system.

Another criticism is that the project is a bit unrealistic – it basically assumes that there will be a steady accumulation of power by the people, but will this be permitted? Such a revolutionary project could face repression, but will anyway be threatened by continual changes in the capitalist system, e.g. economic crisis, the fourth industrial revolution. If the revolution is disrupted, then either it will have to take place where people are not ready – the counter-power is weak and limited in coverage, and the counter-hegemony is weak – which would mean a high risk of failure; or the process of building counter-power must take time to recover. However, if the process keeps getting pushed back like this, then will the revolution ever happen? If not, what is the point of the project?

This would lead to a third criticism: the scope for revolution is exaggerated, so the focus should be on small realistic changes. These are more feasible, and in any case, the pessimistic (negative) view of the state here maybe ignores how much change is possible *within* the existing system.


How we think about the state is crucial to what we think works best – there is a different theory about the nature of the state at work in each approach, which also links to a view of how society works. Is society, and is societal change, based upon endless class struggles? Are the differences in society something that can be effectively and peacefully resolved? Another issue to be aware of here is that there are different views of what type of political practice is better – top-down, bottom-up, plans, no plans, struggle, peaceful change? This leads to quite different views of movement-building, e.g. should it involve parties, parliaments, use of courts, and use of state grants; should it have leaders and, if so, of what type?


[1] Helliker, K. and L. van der Walt. 2018. “Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical, South African and Zimbabwean praxis today.” In K. Helliker and L. van der Walt. (eds.). 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African perspectives.' London and New York: Routledge.
[2] Badiou, A., F. Del Lucchese, and J. Del Smith. 2008. “‘We Need a Popular Discipline’: Contemporary politics and the crisis of the negative.” 'Critical Inquiry,' Vol 34 (4): 47, 649-650.
[3] Helliker and van der Walt, “Politics at a Distance from the State.”
[4] Wainwright, H. November 2004. “Change the World by Transforming Power, including State Power!” 'Red Pepper.'
[5] Morobe, M. 1987. “Towards a People’s Democracy: The UDF view.” 'Review of African Political Economy,' 40: 81-88.
[6] Holloway, J. 2005. 'Change the World without Taking Power: The meaning of revolution today.' Revised edn.. London: Pluto Press; Holloway, J. 2010. 'Crack Capitalism.' London: Pluto Press.
[7] Holloway, J. 29 September 2014. “John Holloway: Cracking capitalism vs. the state option.” 'ROAR' Magazine.
[8] Bonefeld, W. and J. Holloway. 2014. “Commune, Movement, Negation: Notes from tomorrow.” 'South Atlantic Quarterly,' Vol 113 (2): 214–215.
[9] Van der Walt, L. 2018, “Back to the Future: Revival, relevance and route of an anarchist/ syndicalist approach to 21st century left, labour and national liberation movements.” In K. Helliker and L. van der Walt. (eds.). 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African perspectives.' London and New York: Routledge.

SOURCE: John Reynolds & Lucien van der Walt (eds.), 2019, "Strategy: Debating Politics Within and at a Distance from the State,"(NALSU), Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa.

venezuela / colombia / miscellaneous / opinión / análisis Tuesday May 19, 2020 01:52 byViaLibre

En el presente textos repasamos la historia de la conmemoración y sus proyecciones al presente, las nuevas luchas de las trabajadoras de la salud y otros sectores económicos en medio de la situación, los despidos masivos y las diversas formas de protesta popular que ha adelantado la población de los barrios populares, las migrantes y las privadas de la libertad y los elementos de solidaridad obrera y popular desplegados ante la coyuntura.

Hoy el 1 de mayo, día internacional de las trabajadoras, se desarrolla en medio de la pandemia y la crisis mundial generada por el coronavirus, que ha dejado un rastro lamentable hasta el 29 de abril de al menos 219.000 muertes humanas en el mundo en su mayoría prevenibles y curables, sin contar con los enorme cantidad de casos ocultados por los Estados. En Colombia la enfermedad se ha cobrado hasta la fecha 269 vidas, y el país vive en medio de una cuarentena tardía y sin garantías sociales ordenada por el gobierno de Iván Duque, generada tras varias semanas de negligencia de empresas y autoridades, especialmente de los sectores de transporte y salud. La crisis sanitaria y social, ha tenido un profundo impacto en la vida de decenas de millones de trabajadoras.

En el presente textos repasamos la historia de la conmemoración y sus proyecciones al presente, las nuevas luchas de las trabajadoras de la salud y otros sectores económicos en medio de la situación, los despidos masivos y las diversas formas de protesta popular que ha adelantado la población de los barrios populares, las migrantes y las privadas de la libertad y los elementos de solidaridad obrera y popular desplegados ante la coyuntura.

Historia para un presente de lucha
El 1 de mayo, conmemoración laica, colectiva y propia de la clase trabajadora, recordamos la gran huelga general iniciada ese mismo día, el año 1886 en todo Estados Unidos por la consecución de la jornada laboral de 8 horas sin pérdida de salarios, en un mundo laboral marcado por la inestabilidad de los contratos, las peligrosas condiciones de trabajo y la precariedad de las políticas sociales. Destacamos la gran huelga de las obreras de la fábrica McComick, iniciada en febrero de ese año contra los descuentos salariales, fuertemente reprimida por la Policía y los rompehuelgas el 3 de mayo de ese mismo 1886, con cerca de 6 huelguistas asesinados. Recordamos la actuación de los activistas obreros anarquistas Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab y Samuel Fielden, reconocidos como los “Mártires de Chicago” detenidos por los hechos de la Revuelta de Haymarket con el propósito de golpear el sector más dinámico del movimiento popular, cuyo caso despertó un movimiento mundial de solidaridad entre trabajadoras, y sin embargo 4 de ellos resultaron ejecutados el 11 de noviembre de 1887. Reseñamos la campaña de protesta mundial por las 8 horas de trabajo acordada por el Congreso Obrero y Socialista de 1889 impulsada por la incansable activista Lucy Parsons y las huelgas coordinadas por ese objetivo y lideradas por las socialistas libertarias que desde 1890 sacudieron España y Francia, y luego Cuba, Argentina y Uruguay.

El 1 de mayo recordamos los desarrollos de la actividad obrera independiente en Colombia simbolizada con la primera movilización por el día de las trabajadoras ocurrida en 1914 en el país, y unos años después, las luchas obreras que desde 1925 fueron organizadas por la Federación Obrera de Colombia (FOC) y la Federación Obrera del Litoral Atlántico (FOLA) sindicalistas libertarias que consiguieron con huelga y organización, las 8 horas de trabajo para muy diversos sectores obreros. El 1 de mayo así mismo recordamos las luchas contra la violencia y la prohibición sindical en 1940 y 1950, contra el Estado de Sitio y la ilegalización de la protesta en 1970 y contra el terror paramilitar, las privatizaciones y por el derecho a la vida en 1990. El 1 de mayo recordamos también al joven estudiante libertario Nicolás David Neira mortalmente herido por las fuerzas del Escuadrón Móvil Anti Disturbios (ESMAD) de la Policía, en la movilización del día de las trabajadoras de 2005 en Bogotá, en medio de la lucha contra los tratados de libre comercio y la guerra.

Nuevas luchas de las trabajadoras de la salud
La crisis generada por el Covid-19, que agrava los profundos problemas del sistema hospitalario, desató una nueva ola de luchas de las trabajadoras del sector salud. De esta forma se adelantó el plantón nacional el pasado 15 de abril convocado por el Sindicato ANTHOC con importante actividad de las trabajadoras del Hospital San Vicente de Paul en Santa Rosa de Cabal, Caldas. Así mismo, el 16 de abril inició una huelga del personal de lavandería del hospital San Francisco de Asís de Quibdó por retraso en pago de salarios y el 17 de abril se realizó una concentración de las trabajadoras de la Clínica del Bosque de Cartagena por falta de suministros para enfrentar la emergencia. En las mismas fechas se desarrolló una huelga en el Hospital San Rafael en Leticia con amenaza de renuncia colectiva del personal, sino se brindan los recursos financieros y médicos necesarios para la atención. El 20 de abril continuaron las protestas de las trabajadoras de la Clínica de Apartado, Antioquia, por el retraso de 3 meses en el pago de salarios.

El 21 de abril se organizaron cacerolazos y movilizaciones a nivel nacional del sector salud, con importantes expresiones en el Hospital Simón Bolívar con apoyo de muchos pacientes o el Hospital de Kennedy, ambos en la capital, así como el Hospital Universitario del Caribe en Barranquilla o el Hospital María Inmaculada de Florencia, Caquetá, donde inicio una huelga sectorial. En esta jornada participaron médicas, enfermeras, auxiliares, camilleras, administrativas, aseadoras y vigilantes, mostrando la importancia de la solidaridad y la unidad de todas las trabajadoras de este sector.

En medio de esta coyuntura de movilización, se presentó el acuerdo del 14 de abril entre Ministerio de Salud con gremios corporativos cercanos al gobierno, sin presencia de los sindicatos de trabajadoras más representativos. Todo en un clima de máxima presión para las trabajadoras del sector, que denuncian despidos ante la exigencia de pruebas del virus para el personal de salud como sucede en Barranquilla y un control burocrático que está limitando la capacidad de diagnóstico de la enfermedad.

Trabajadoras de otros sectores económicos
Las medidas de los patrones ante la crisis sanitaria y económica han despertado resistencia obrera en muchos otros sectores. Así lo mostro la protesta el 19 de marzo, un día antes del inicio de la cuarentena en Bogotá, de las obreras de la zona industrial de las Américas contra cerca de 300 despidos masivos.

La protesta continuo el 7 de abril en Bogotá, cuando se presentaron marchas y bloqueos de obreros de la construcción en Bosa y Suba, denunciando despidos masivos y el incumplimiento gubernamental y empresarial. 14 días más tarde se volvieron a organizar manifestaciones de los trabajadores de la construcción en la zona industrial de las Américas y en Suba una vez más por despidos. La situación lleva a pensar la urgencia de sindicalizar a este sector precarizado y fuertemente golpeado por la crisis.

También el 21 de abril se desarrollaron cacerolazos de los trabajadores de la multinacional Tenaris en Cartagena, impulsados por Sintratucar, en protesta por la suspensión de pago de salarios.

Despidos masivos
En medio de la pandemia y la emergencia social, las empresas han organizado una ola de despidos masivos. Así el 16 de abril las trabajadoras de limpieza de la empresa Centro Aseo denunciaron más de una decena de despidos arbitrarios. Lo propio sucedió con 14 trabajadoras del aseo de la subcontratista Serviaseo S.A que laboraban en la Cámara de Representantes, justamente una entidad pública donde según el decreto ley expedido por el gobierno no podrían presentarse despidos durante la cuarentena, muestra que el mismo Estado terceriza a sus trabajadoras e incumple sus leyes laborales. Lo mismo ocurre con las denuncias de 200 obreros de la limpieza de Pacaribe en Cartagena, el 25% del personal, despedidos por la empresa y sus subcontratistas desde el 3 de abril.

En medio de la crisis económica generada por la pandemia y el desplome de la industria energética, se presentaron 5.000 despidos realizados por empresas subcontratadas por Ecopetrol, de obreros petroleros en el Meta. También se registran grandes despidos de trabajadoras del sector en los departamentos de Santander con 1.700 casos, Arauca con 700 y Norte de Santander con 290, además de 500 suspensiones que se presentaron en Bolívar y Huila para el 22 de abril.

Lo mismo se denuncia frente a la situación de 400 trabajadores del Carbón de la empresa Prodeco en el centro del Cesar y la suspensión de 100 más desde el pasado 1 de abril. Se suman a esto el 6 de abril la suspensión de contratos de 850 obreras de la empresa Esmeralda Mining de Boyacá. Al tiempo se presentan despidos y suspensiones de 500 trabajadores del sector público y privado en Tolima, y despidos de compañías alimentarias como Andrés Carnes de Res y Oma a nivel regional.

Diversas protestas populares
En medio de la pandemia mundial y la crisis económica se han realizado protestas de muy diversos sectores sociales. Así se adelantaron protestas populares el 15 de abril en las localidades de Suba, Fontibón, Santa Fe, Usme, San Cristóbal y Ciudad Bolívar, denunciando el incumplimiento de las autoridades de las promesas de ayuda y demandando alimentos y apoyos económicos. Ese mismo día se presentaron protesta en el sector de Agua blanca de Cali protagonizado por obreras de la construcción y trabajadores informales, manifestaciones a las que unos días después se sumarían habitantes de la poblaciones interiores de toda la región Caribe.

El mismo 15 de abril se presentó un plantón en el centro de Bogotá, de migrantes venezolanos, que reclaman ayudas para el regreso a su país, debido a que este ha sido uno de los sectores más golpeados por la crisis económica por su especial precariedad laboral y de vivienda, y la lamentable situación de xenofobia que han padecido en el país, que la situación de crisis solo ha agravado.

Dramática es la situación de la población recluida en el sistema carcelario, tras la protesta y la masacre del pasado 21 de marzo que dejo un saldo de al menos 25 muertos en las cárceles de La Modelo y Combita. Desde el 7 de abril reclusos de la cárcel de Combita iniciaron una huelga de hambre por recursos sanitarios y agua potable. El 27 del mismo mes, se reanudó la huelga de hambre indefinida de los presos de la Cárcel de Villavicencio, el centro carcelario más golpeado por la pandemia y en la última semana continúan este tipo de movilizaciones al menos 10 centros penitenciarios en el país.

Solidaridad obrera y popular
Hoy las redes de solidaridad obrera y popular se despliegan por todo el país. La solidaridad asume la forma de los mercados solidarios de las organizaciones sociales, de las redes de apoyo de familias y amigos, y de la protesta digital y callejera.

La solidaridad obrera y popular ante la pandemia debe llevarnos a cuestionar los hondos problemas del sistema de salud y la situación de hospitales quebrados y cerrados, de trabajos precarios y sin seguridad social, de labores de riesgo asumidas sin protección. La solidaridad es también apoyar la nueva ola de luchas de las trabajadoras de la salud, que muestran en la unidad entre los diferentes oficios y entidades, el camino de la acción unitaria y de base. La solidaridad hoy también es apoyar los conflictos de las obreras de la industria, la construcción, los barrios populares, las migrantes y la población recluida.

La solidaridad asume la forma de lucha por la suspensión de los despidos masivos en todos los sectores, por frenar los desalojos habitacionales, por denunciar y detener la violencia machista y apoyar a las mujeres víctimas de este fenómeno que hoy se revela con crudeza, por la plena inclusión laboral de la población trans y disidente sexual, y por la universalización entre la población trabajadora del servicio de salud, pensión y salario contra el desempleo.

La solidaridad hoy como siempre, asume la forma de la organización autónoma de las de abajo, para sentirnos más juntas y fuertes, superando las barreras de la necesaria distancia física, y enfrentar con decisión la pandemia y los problemas estructurales que la propiciaron, responsabilidad del Capitalismo y los Estados.

¡Frenemos la pandemia y afrontemos la crisis fortaleciendo la solidaridad obrera y popular!
¡Arriba las que luchan!

Grupo Libertario Vía Libre

Διεθνή / Διάφορα / Ανακοίνωση Τύπου Monday May 18, 2020 21:24 byInternational Confederation of Labour

Μόνο ο λαός σώζει το λαό. Εμείς οι ίδιοι θα σώσουμε τους εαυτούς μας. Τα κοινά και παγκόσμια ζητήματα που πρέπει να αντιμετωπίσουμε είναι πολλά και πολύπλοκα. Χρειαζόμαστε όλοι να είναι στο τραπέζι. Τώρα δεν κοιτάμε τον άλλο δρόμο. Αυτή τη φορά γίνε μαχητής.

Ανακοίνωση της ICL (International Confederation of Labour| Διεθνής Συνομοσπονδία Εργασίας)

Κορονοϊός: Ας μη γυρίσουμε πίσω στην κανονικότητα

Είναι δύσκολο να γράψεις για τον COVID 19 από τη Μαδρίτη, μία από τις πόλεις που δέχτηκε το σκληρότερο χτύπημα στον κόσμο. Ο απολογισμός των νεκρών μόνο στην περιοχή είναι μεγαλύτερος από αυτόν όλης της Κίνας. Οι επίσημες αρχές λένε για αργή βελτίωση, αλλά το αποτέλεσμα είναι ότι οι άνθρωποι συνεχίζουν να πεθαίνουν κάθε μέρα. Άνθρωποι που γνωρίζω από τη γειτονιά μου έχουν πεθάνει. Άλλοι είναι σοβαρά άρρωστοι, συμπεριλαμβανομένων και συντρόφων της ένωσης. Είναι δύσκολο. Όλοι θέλουμε να τελειώσει.

Αισθήματα απομόνωσης και απογοήτευσης είναι κοινά στο lockdown. Τα παιδιά είναι κλεισμένα μέσα για περισσότερο από ένα μήνα. Το άγχος και η αγωνία τους εκδηλώνονται με διάφορους τρόπους. Το λιγότερο είναι ότι δεν καταλαβαίνουν τι συμβαίνει. Η καραντίνα επιβλήθηκε σκληρά και πραγματικά δεν τη γλυτώσαμε. Πολλές οικογένειες ζουν σε συνωστισμένα διαμερίσματα ή με έλλειψη υγιεινής και τη βιώνουν ακόμα χειρότερα. Είναι πράγματι σκληρό και όλοι θέλουμε να τελειώσει.

Οι δουλειές και οι ζωές μας έχουν εξαφανιστεί. Περισσότεροι από 3.000.000 εργαζόμενοι στην Ισπανία είναι προσωρινά απολυμένοι, 800.000 θέσεις εργασίας καταστράφηκαν μόνο το Μάρτιο. Κρίσιμοι τομείς της οικονομίας (τουρισμός, ξενοδοχεία) καταρρέουν και η προοπτική είναι μαύρη. Η εικόνα είναι παρόμοια σε όλο τον κόσμο. Αυτό θα γίνει ακόμα δυσκολότερο και δε φαίνεται ότι θα τελειώσει γρήγορα.

Εν τω μεταξύ, τα ζητήματα της κοινωνίας μας που αντιμετωπίζαμε πριν την τρέχουσα κρίση είναι ακόμη εδώ. Ανισότητα, φτώχεια και εκμετάλλευση υπάρχουν ανεξέλεγκτα στην οικουμένη, το καθεστώς εξουσίας και η λαϊκίστικη ξενοφοβία δεν έχουν φύγει. Επίσης, η υπερθέρμανση του πλανήτη και οι συνέπειές της συνεχίζουν να επιταχύνονται.

Όταν αυτό τελειώσει, όταν ο COVID 19 τελικά φύγει, χρειάζεται να γυρίσουμε στο έργο της επαναδιόρθωσης αυτού του θρυμματισμένου κόσμου. Τα χρόνια που περάσαμε και η συλλογική εμπειρία είναι ένα κάλεσμα αφύπνισης. Τώρα είναι προφανές ότι το να αγνοούμε ή να απαρνιώμαστε αυτά τα παγκόσμια ζητήματα είναι επικίνδυνο για εμάς. Μπορούμε να προσπαθήσουμε τόσο σκληρά να τα κρατήσουμε έξω από το μυαλό μας, να συνεχίσουμε σα να μη συμβαίνει τίποτα, αλλά θα ξανάρθουν να χτυπήσουν την πόρτα μας.

Δεν υπάρχει επιστροφή στην κανονικότητα. Δε θα ‘πρεπε να γυρίσουμε στην κανονικότητα. Δεν πιστεύουμε ότι το κράτος και οι πολιτικοί (οποιοδήποτε κράτος και πολιτικοί ) θα μας δώσουν ασφάλεια, γιατί είναι προφανές ότι δε θα το κάνουν. Σε όλη τη φιλελεύθερη οικονομική μπούρδα της αιώνιας ανάπτυξης δεν τσιμπάμε, γιατί δεν υπάρχει τίποτα παρόμοιο. Δεν ανταλλάσουμε τις ζωές μας με ανούσιες εργασίες για ατέλειωτες ώρες. Δεν παραδίδουμε τις συλλογικές μας αποφάσεις, κάνοντας ικανούς τους γραφειοκράτες να εκλέγονται στην κάλπη…

Ο φόβος είναι δυνατός και η πανδημία τρομάζει. Υπάρχει πιθανότητα πολλοί να είναι έτοιμοι να παραδώσουν δικαιώματα και ελευθερίες, ελπίδες και φιλοδοξίες στις υποσχέσεις για ασφάλεια και υγεία. Αλλά ο μόνος τρόπος να γιατρέψεις το φόβο είναι η εμπιστοσύνη. Εμπιστοσύνη στους εαυτούς μας, στη συλλογική μας δύναμη, την αλληλοβοήθεια και αλληλεγγύη ο ένας στον άλλο. Για να κάνουμε την αλληλοβοήθεια και την αλληλεγγύη αποτελεσματικές, να νιώσουμε αυτή τη ζεστασιά στις ζωές μας, να δεθούμε για να αντιμετωπίσουμε τα παγκόσμια ζητήματα πρέπει να χτίσουμε δυνατές οργανώσεις, που θα μας φέρουν κοντά. Αυτές μπορεί να είναι σωματεία βάσης, σύνδεσμοι ενοικιαστών, ομάδες ενάντια στην επιστροφή της λιτότητας, επαναστατική καμπάνια για το περιβάλλον, φεμινιστικές συλλογικότητες, ή οτιδήποτε άλλο. Όλα αυτά και πολλά άλλα απαιτούνται για να εξοπλίσουν τις ευκαιρίες στην επαναστατική βάση που χρειαζόμαστε. Μόνο ο λαός σώζει το λαό.

Λοιπόν, δε γυρίζουμε στην κανονικότητα. Αυτή την εποχή γίνετε μαχητές!

Miguel Perez, ICL’ s secretary

1. Κοινωνικός έλεγχος και αυταρχικά καθεστώτα

Τις τελευταίες δεκαετίες υπάρχει ένας αυξανόμενος αριθμός των αυταρχικών καθεστώτων, που αναμειγνύει λίγο ή πολύ τις πολιτικές ελευθερίες με την καπιταλιστική αγορά. Παραδείγματα αυτής της εκτίμησης είναι η Κίνα, υπάρχουν όμως και άλλα, όπως η Ρωσία, η Τουρκία, η Σαουδική Αραβία κλπ. Την ίδια στιγμή ο λαϊκισμός βρίσκεται σε άνοδο παντού. Όχι μόνο στις αναπτυγμένες χώρες όπου η αιτιολογία του μεταναστευτικού χρησιμοποιείται συχνά σα γενική μετατόπιση του πολιτικού φάσματος της δεξιάς, αλλά επίσης και σε μέρη όπως η Ινδία.

Εν τω μεταξύ, κράτος και εταιρείες επιτηρούν τους πολίτες, ενώ οι καταναλωτές έχουν δεχθεί αυτήν την κανονικότητα σε όλο τον κόσμο.

Η κρίση του COVID 19 φέρνει κι άλλες επιπτώσεις σε αυτές τις εξελίξεις. Είναι ειλικρινά προφανές ότι η ικανότητα να περικοπεί η διάδοση της ασθένειας είναι πολύ διαφορετική ανά τις χώρες. Πιθανώς καμιά δεν το έχει πετύχει όπως η Νότια Κορέα, ίσως και η Κίνα λαμβάνοντας υπόψιν τα δεδομένα και την επίσημη διαχείρισή τους. Σε αντίθεση με Ιταλία, Ισπανία και Η.Π.Α. που είναι στον αντίποδα και περιμένουν υψηλότερο αριθμό θανόντων από οπουδήποτε αλλού στον κόσμο.

Υπάρχουν πολλές αιτίες γι’ αυτό και κάθε περίπτωση είναι μοναδική. Μία εις βάθος συζήτηση είναι πέρα από το σκοπό αυτού του κειμένου. Όπως και να έχει, αυτό που μπορεί να λεχθεί με σιγουριά είναι ότι πολλοί θα επισημάνουν την επιτήρηση και τον έλεγχο που πολλά ασιατικά κράτη επιβάλλουν στους πολίτες. Επίσης το γεγονός ότι μια αυταρχική κυβέρνηση σαν αυτή της Κίνας μπορεί γρήγορα να εισάγει και να επιβάλλει σκληρότερα μέτρα στην αρχή της έξαρσης.

Ένα πιθανό αποτέλεσμα της υγειονομικής κρίσης γενικά είναι μια διαδεδομένη αποδοχή του πιο αυταρχικού καθεστώτος και βέβαια περισσότερη κρατική επιτήρηση. Ήδη υπάρχουν φωνές που δείχνουν αυτή την κατεύθυνση. Η χρήση από τη μεριά της εξουσίας της Νότιας Κορέας της αναγνώρισης προσώπου, εφαρμογών παρακολούθησης, εγγραφών κινητού τηλεφώνου κ.ά. για την εύρεση μολυσμένων ανθρώπων, μπορούν να κάνουν αυτές τις εξελίξεις πιο εύπεπτες σε πολλούς στο μέλλον. Όταν η ζωή βρίσκεται σε κίνδυνο οι συζητήσεις αδρανούν και ο φόβος γίνεται ισχυρό κίνητρο.

Αλλά αυτά τα εργαλεία επιτήρησης είναι κάποια από αυτά της ραχοκοκαλιάς του σύγχρονου εξουσιαστικού συστήματος. Τα άλλα είναι δοκιμασμένα στο χρόνο, όπως η φυσική καταστολή των αντιπάλων. Σε συνδυασμό με την εθνικιστική πολιτική σε ραγδαία αύξηση, τον ξενοφοβικό λαϊκισμό, την άθλια συντήρηση, τις ψευδοκομμουνιστικές δικτατορίες και τις θεοκρατικές κυβερνήσεις, το βαρέλι πυρίτιδας είναι έτοιμο να εκτιναχθεί από στιγμή σε στιγμή.

Φαίνεται ότι πρέπει να πάρουμε στοιχεία από τους εξεγερμένους στο Hong Kong για το πως πρέπει να διαφυλάξουμε τα κινήματά μας ενάντια στη μαζική επιτήρηση και την κρατική καταστολή.

2. Ανακαλύπτοντας τους παλιούς τρόπους

Δεν τίθεται ερώτημα ότι η υγειονομική κρίση πρόκειται να επιβάλλει παγκόσμια οικονομία. Αυτό που έχει ήδη ξεκινήσει, θα το δούμε να επεκτείνεται τους επόμενους μήνες. Οι προβλέψεις είναι φρικτές. Δε χρειάζεται να είσαι βραβευμένος με νόμπελ οικονομίας για να καταλάβεις ότι εκατομμύρια εργάτες χάνουν τις δουλειές τους και εταιρείες που πτωχεύουν σε όλο τον κόσμο μπορούν γρήγορα να οδηγήσουν σε κατάρρευση τράπεζες, χρηματιστήρια και εν γένει τον οικονομικό κόσμο.

Η προοπτική αυτή τρομάζει τις κυβερνήσεις, πατώντας στα χνάρια της ύφεσης του 2008. Ήταν τόσοι πολλοί εκείνοι που ήταν έτοιμοι να τζογάρουν τις ζωές των πολιτών τους για χάρη της διαφύλαξης της οικονομίας. Σκεφτείτε τις Η.Π.Α., το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο κ.ά. Απέτυχε αυτό και όλοι έτρεξαν να πάρουν τα check επιταγών των τρισεκατομμυρίων πακέτων. Το χρήμα που δεν μπορούσε να βρεθεί στην περίοδο των τελευταίων ετών των περικοπών και των αυταρχικών μέτρων ξαφνικά βρέθηκε και είναι έτοιμο να μοιραστεί γενναιόδωρα. Οι σύντροφοί μας από την USI στην Ιταλία έχουν ήδη επισημάνει τα αποτελέσματα των περικοπών στο σύστημα υγείας στη χώρα τους και τις επιπτώσεις στην τρέχουσα κρίση. Το ίδιο μπορούμε να πούμε και για άλλες χώρες.

Αυτό το έχουμε ξαναζήσει. Μετά το 2008 το οικονομικό κραχ εν μέσω πανηγυρικού καλέσματος για την καπιταλιστική μεταρρύθμιση, εκατομμύρια χρησιμοποιήθηκαν για τη διάσωση των τραπεζών και άλλων επιχειρήσεων. Οι συζητήσεις ξεθώριασαν γρήγορα από τη μνήμη, οι ιδιοκτήτες μεγάλων εταιρειών μάζεψαν το χρήμα, ευχαρίστησαν και άφησαν τους εργαζόμενους να σηκώσουν το βάρος της δικής τους διάσωσης μέσα από περικοπές και αυταρχισμό. Τίποτα δε συνέβη πέρα από τις χειρότερες συνθήκες εργασίας και διαβίωσης για τους εργαζόμενους.

Πολύ πιθανόν όλα αυτά τα δις από τα πακέτα διάσωσης να χρησιμοποιηθούν για να σωθούν οι αντλήσεις πετρελαίου, οι αεροπορικές πτήσεις, η ναυσιπλοΐα, οι σταθμοί παραγωγής ενέργειας από άνθρακα, η κτηνοτροφία βοωειδών στα τροπικά δάση, τα εργοστάσια παραγωγής φτηνού πλαστικού, οι γιορτινές φιέστες, οι εταιρείες παραγωγής hitec υλικού, “παρέχοντας” όλο και πιο εξελιγμένα προϊόντα … όπως και πριν.

Πράγματι, αυτό είναι το πλάνο. Ας επιστρέψουμε στην κανονικότητα όσο πιο γρήγορα γίνεται, προσποιούμενοι ότι ο COVID 19 δεν υπήρξε και αγνοώντας τα παγκόσμια προβλήματα που υπήρχαν. Όμως, αυτή η πανδημία έχει δείξει ότι κλείνοντας τα μάτια στην πραγματικότητα η προσέγγιση ότι οι κοινωνίες μας είναι καλές δε λειτουργεί πραγματικά. Βγαίνοντας έξω στην καθημερινότητα και την εργασία, το να ελπίζουμε ότι οι ειδικοί και οι πολιτικοί θα μας κρατήσουν ασφαλείς, δεν είναι μια βιώσιμη στρατηγική. Δεν ήταν ποτέ, αλλά τώρα κανείς δεν μπορεί να το αρνηθεί. Η υγειονομική κρίση είναι ένα κάλεσμα αφύπνισης για να συνειδητοποιήσουμε ότι είμαστε σε βαθιά σκατά!

3. Χρηματοδοτώντας την επόμενη κρίση

Κάποιοι έχουν επισημάνει τα πλεονεκτήματα της κρίσης για το περιβάλλον. Τα επίπεδα μόλυνσης είναι χαμηλά, τα ζώα και τα φυτά αξιοποιούν φυσικούς χώρους έρημους από ανθρώπους στη διάρκεια της καραντίνας. Οπωσδήποτε, εάν ο καθένας τείνει να θεωρεί αυτές τις εξελίξεις καλά νέα, μέσα σε μια ανθρωπιστική κρίση είναι μάλλον κοντόφθαλμος. Το τελικό αποτέλεσμα μπορεί να είναι χειρότερο από αυτό.

Αυτές οι αλλαγές είναι μόνο προσωρινές. Κράτη και κυβερνήσεις έχουν ήδη σχέδια για τη χαλάρωση της περιβαντολογικής προστασίας, να απορρίψουν δηλαδή σχέδια αειφορίας, χάριν της οικονομικής ανάκαμψης. Αυτό σημαίνει νέοι σταθμοί παραγωγής ενέργειας με άνθρακα, για να προωθήσουν γρήγορα φθηνή ενέργεια για τα εργοστάσια ή περισσότερες εξέδρες άντλησης πετρελαίου και επιδοτούμενα καύσιμα για τις αεροπορικές πτήσεις και τη ναυσιπλοΐα, για να αναφέρουμε μόνο λίγα. Ακόμα, υπολογίζοντας τη μειωμένη ζήτηση εξ’ αιτείας της οικονομικής ύφεσης, η κρίση στην υγεία θα μπορούσε να είναι πολύ επιβλαβής για το περιβάλλον.

Το θέμα είναι ότι η υπερθέρμανση του πλανήτη κι η κατάρρευση του περιβάλλοντος συνεχίζονται αμείωτα. Δε σταμάτησαν με την καραντίνα, γιατί κανείς δε δίνει σημασία. Οι πάγοι συνεχίζουν να λιώνουν με αργούς ρυθμούς, η στάθμη της θάλασσας ανεβαίνει και τα δάση καίγονται. Κάποιοι μελετούν τη σύνδεση τη αύξησης της πανδημίας με την καταπάτηση του ανθρώπινου πληθυσμού σε φυσικές περιοχές και τον υποβιβασμό τους.

Όμως η επείγουσα περιβαντολογική συνέπεια δεν είναι μόνο η ερήμωση του πλανήτη. Οικονομική ανισότητα, φτώχεια και εκμετάλλευση συνεχίζουν να είναι πληγές για όλες τις κοινότητες παγκοσμίως. Τα αποτελέσματα της υγειονομικής κρίσης μπορεί να είναι καταστροφικά για αυτές. Όχι μόνο όσον αφορά στην πρόσβαση στην ιατρική φροντίδα, παρ’ όλο που αυτός είναι σίγουρα ένας παράγοντας. Για παράδειγμα, ο COVID 19 έχει ήδη διασπαρθεί πολύ και είναι θανάσιμος στις ξεπεσμένες κοινότητες, κυρίως μαύρων, στις Η.Π.Α.. Αλλά όπως και στην περίπτωση των προηγουμένων κρίσεων είναι πιθανό η ορμή της αναχαίτισης της παραγωγής να γεννηθεί από τους εργάτες ανά τον κόσμο. Από τη Βόρεια στη Νότια Αμερική, από την Ευρώπη στην Ασία υπάρχει μια εργατική τάξη που θα αισθανθεί (ήδη αισθάνεται) τα αποτελέσματα της οικονομικής κατάρρευσης.

Αν η κρίση του 2008 είναι κάτι που πέρασε, δουλειές και βιοπορισμός θα χαθούν, οι μισθοί θα υποχωρήσουν, οι εξώσεις και η έλλειψη στέγης θα αυξηθούν και οι εργασιακές συνθήκες θα χειροτερέψουν. Φτωχότερες κοινότητες στις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες αντιμετωπίζουν την προοπτική της πείνας, ενώ ο κοινωνικός αποκλεισμός μπορεί να εξαπλωθεί σε όλα τα μέρη του κόσμου. Εν τω μεταξύ αφεντικά και ιδιοκτήτες επιχειρήσεων θα λάβουν γενναιόδωρες επιδοτήσεις από τις κυβερνήσεις και από τα χρήματα των φορολογουμένων και σίγουρα θα βρουν τρόπους να τα τσεπώσουν. Χωρίς αμφιβολία η ανισότητα ανυψώνεται μετά από κάθε οικονομική κρίση.

4. Μόνο ο λαός σώζει το λαό

Οι σύντροφοί μας από τη FORA Αργεντινής το είπαν καθαρά ( Μη δίνετε υπέρογκα ποσά σε πακέτα στήριξης στα αφεντικά μας. Δώστε στους εργαζόμενους τα χρήματα και θα φροντίσουμε τους εαυτούς μας και τις κοινότητές μας!

Αντιμέτωπες με την προοπτική της οικονομικής και οικολογικής καταστροφής οι κοινότητες μπορούν να χρησιμοποιήσουν τα χρήματα για να στήσουν εναλλακτικούς τρόπους διαχείρισης των πόρων, όχι ανάλογα με τα ενδιαφέροντα των μετόχων, αλλά με ανάλογα με εκείνα των ανθρώπων, που σέβονται το περιβάλλον και πολεμούν την ανισότητα και τον κοινωνικό αποκλεισμό. Σ’ αυτή τη χρονική στιγμή κανείς δε διαφωνεί με το ότι ο κόσμος έχει ανάγκη ένα καλύτερο σύστημα υγείας, κατάλληλη στέγαση και υγιεινή για όλους, εγγυημένη πρόσβαση στην εκπαίδευση, βιώσιμες μορφές ενέργειας, ευπρεπή συνθήκες διαβίωσης.

Κανένα από αυτά δε θα επιτευχθεί με τη διάσωση ανταγωνιστικών εταιρειών, που έχουν κέρδος από τη μόλυνση του περιβάλλοντος, την εκμετάλλευση των εργαζομένων και τη διανομή bonus και μερισμάτων. Ούτε δίνοντας χρήματα στους καταναλωτές, ώστε να μπορούν να βγαίνουν έξω και να ξοδεύουν. Το “πήγαινε και ψώνισε μόνος σου κάτι ωραίο”, προσέγγιση που ακολουθεί τη διαχείριση του Trump στο πρόσωπο ενός πεθαμένου συστήματος κρίσης, είναι το καλύτερο παράδειγμα της νοοτροπίας της αγοράς, που υποβιβάζει τα κοινωνικά προβλήματα σε ατομικές καταναλωτικές επιλογές. Σα να ξορκίζεις τον ιό αγοράζοντας καινούρια ρούχα ή αυτοκίνητα.

Όχι. Κοινωνικά και δομικά θέματα απαιτούν κοινωνικές και δομικές λύσεις. Τίποτα από αυτά δε θα συμβεί αν οι κυβερνήσεις διεκπεραιώνουν ανεξέλεγκτα και πετούν τρις για να σώσουν μια ασθενή οικονομία άμεσα ή διαμέσου της ενθάρρυνσης των καταναλωτών να ξοδεύουν. Δραστικές και διαρκείς αλλαγές πρέπει να γίνουν. Τόσο δραστικές που θα μπορούσαν να είναι επαναστατικές. Ένας επαναστατικός μετασχηματισμός χωρίς κράτος, κυβερνήσεις, ιδιοκτήτες εταιρειών ή πολιτικούς, που είναι απρόθυμοι ή ανίκανοι να εφαρμόσουν.

Στους επόμενους μήνες και χρόνια, εξαρτάται από εμάς τους εργαζόμενους παγκοσμίως, να σχεδιάσουμε μια διέξοδο. Αναλογιζόμενοι τα πολλά ζητήματα που πρέπει να διαχειριστούμε, αυτό φαίνεται τρομακτικό. Συνεργαζόμενοι χτίζοντας ολοκληρωμένα αποκεντρωμένα κινήματα, βασισμένα στην αλλεγγύη και στην αλληλοβοήθεια, εξελίσσοντας δυνατές οργανώσεις, διεθνής συνδέσμους και δίκτυα, είναι κάτι που η συλλογική ευφυία εκατομμυρίων ανθρώπων μπορεί να κατορθώσει. Είμαστε μια ισχυρή δύναμη. Με εργαλεία τη διάθεσή μας για διασύνδεση, επικοινωνία και μοίρασμα, τίποτα δε μας σταματά. Στην τρέχουσα κατάσταση νοιώθουμε φοβισμένοι και καταβεβλημένοι για το μέλλον, είναι φυσικό, αν βλέπουμε μόνο στους πολιτικούς ή επιχειρηματίες τη λύση. Εμείς οι εργάτες, οι άνεργοι, οι συνταξιούχοι, οι φοιτητές, οι μετανάστες είμαστε σε θέση συλλογικά να χαράξουμε ένα δρόμο μπροστά. Το να πιστέψουμε στη δική μας ικανότητα και δυνατότητα είναι το μόνο εμβόλιο ενάντια στο φόβο.

Ωστόσο, η αλληλεγγύη και η αλληλοβοήθεια χρειάζονται κατάλληλες οργανώσεις για να πάνε πέρα από την ατομική δράση φιλανθρωπίας και να γίνει κοινωνική δύναμη από μόνη της, μ’ ένα απεριόριστο δυναμικό για μετασχηματισμό. Η προστασία του περιβάλλοντος δεν μπορεί να στηριχτεί στις επιλογές των καταναλωτών, όπως οι εταιρείες “πράσινου” ξεπλύματος και οι κυβερνήσεις θέλουν να μας κάνουν να πιστέψουμε. Απαιτούνται ριζοσπαστικές οικολογικές ομάδες να αναλάβουν δράση. Η γυναικεία ισότητα δεν έρχεται μόνο περνώντας νόμους. Μια κατάλληλη κουλτούρα απαιτείται από γυναίκες και άνδρες καταπολεμώντας το σεξισμό στην καθημερινή ζωή. Η ξενοφοβία, ο ρατσισμός και ο επιθετικός εθνικισμός δε θα φύγουν μέχρι να τους κυνηγήσουμε από τους δρόμους μας.

Τέλος, οι φονικοί ιοί της ανισότητας, της φτώχειας και της εκμετάλλευσης θα συνεχίσουν να κυριαρχούν στη διεθνή τάξη, όσο εμείς επιτρέπουμε να εξουσιαζόμαστε από τις δυνάμεις της καπιταλιστικής παγκοσμιοποίησης. Με σεβασμό, αναρχοσυνδικαλιστικά και επαναστατικά σωματεία, που είναι τα εργαλεία στη διάθεσή μας, πρέπει να αντεπιτεθούμε και να υπερασπιστούμε τα εργατικά δικαιώματα. Αυτό θα είναι κρίσιμο τους επόμενους μήνες της οικονομικής επιβράδυνσης, αλλά οι εργαζόμενοι δεν είναι έτοιμοι να αντέξουν το βάρος της κρίσης για ακόμα μια φορά. Όχι μόνο αυτό. Αυτοί είναι επίσης βασικό κομμάτι κάθε κινήματος για κοινωνική και οικονομική μεταμόρφωση. Τμήματα των επαναστατικών συνδικάτων στους χώρους εργασίας από τη βάση, από αυτούς τους εργάτες που μπορούν να ανασχηματίσουν την παραγωγή, να την κάνουν να εξυπηρετεί τις πραγματικές τους ανάγκες. Είναι δομικά στοιχεία μιας οικονομίας που προστατεύει τη ζωή, τις ζωές μας και όχι το κέρδος.

Μόνο ο λαός σώζει το λαό. Εμείς οι ίδιοι θα σώσουμε τους εαυτούς μας. Τα κοινά και παγκόσμια ζητήματα που πρέπει να αντιμετωπίσουμε είναι πολλά και πολύπλοκα. Χρειαζόμαστε όλοι να είναι στο τραπέζι. Τώρα δεν κοιτάμε τον άλλο δρόμο. Αυτή τη φορά γίνε μαχητής.

International Confederation of Labour

Διεθνής Συνομοσπονδία Εργασίας

* Η International Confederation of Labour είναι διεθνής αναρχοσυνδικαλιστική οργάνωση στην οποία συμμετέχει και η ΕΣΕ.

**Σχετικός σύνδεσμος:

brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana / miscellaneous / opinião / análise Monday May 18, 2020 01:13 byBrunoL

Tenho de admitir, Bolsonaro é muito bom no que se propõe a fazer: desgoverno, tumulto no país e desinformação na sociedade. Ele é o que é, e sua existência plena é isso mesmo. Nem mais, nem menos, “taóquei!”. Ele e sua prole não se pretendem governantes, o ato de governo é como se fosse um condomínio e, infelizmente, o síndico é o próprio Jair Messias, e não Tim Maia. Nesse condomínio, a maior parte dos subsíndicos se comporta mais como xerifes de galeria do que como habitantes de um mesmo espaço. Ao contrário do que seria esperado, o síndico de discurso autoritário não é centralizador nem tem pulso forte ou mão de ferro. Ninguém pode aparecer mais do que ele e, menos ainda, assumir atos de responsabilidade. Esse síndico não faz nada e não deixa ninguém fazer muito. Não se mete com o tesoureiro, embora lembre a todo o momento que até esse pode ser demitido.

17 de maio de 2020, Bruno Lima Rocha
Tenho de admitir, Bolsonaro é muito bom no que se propõe a fazer: desgoverno, tumulto no país e desinformação na sociedade. Ele é o que é, e sua existência plena é isso mesmo. Nem mais, nem menos, “taóquei!”. Ele e sua prole não se pretendem governantes, o ato de governo é como se fosse um condomínio e, infelizmente, o síndico é o próprio Jair Messias, e não Tim Maia. Nesse condomínio, a maior parte dos subsíndicos se comporta mais como xerifes de galeria do que como habitantes de um mesmo espaço. Ao contrário do que seria esperado, o síndico de discurso autoritário não é centralizador nem tem pulso forte ou mão de ferro. Ninguém pode aparecer mais do que ele e, menos ainda, assumir atos de responsabilidade. Esse síndico não faz nada e não deixa ninguém fazer muito. Não se mete com o tesoureiro, embora lembre a todo o momento que até esse pode ser demitido.
O condomínio Jambalaya do Coiso ou Coisoflat teria o propósito de ser um local “imaculado”. Em um bloco está o síndico, em outro familiares e num outro ainda, os asseclas olavistas. São seguidores de uma estranha combinação de senso comum misógino e racismo à brasileira, com a mística de uma TFP pós-moderna. O guru, em modalidade EAD, é um ex-astrólogo, autointitulado “professor”. Ali tem de tudo: criacionismo, recalque de carreira, especulação falcatrua, publicidade que odeia a si mesmo, gente do “Novo”, mas que promove o ecocídio e outras excrescências.
O bloco do Coiso é ladeado por outros dois prédios. Um é “seleto”, onde vive o tesoureiro que teve a potestade de escolher seus vizinhos. O “pedigree” é o mesmo: financistas, usurários, especuladores, pessoas de bem com maneiras refinadas e atos perigosos. São os novos donos do poder, e têm relação com todos os setores das oligarquias nacionais, tanto da situação como da oposição. Pela primeira vez, a laia limpinha e cheirosa está “autorizada” a desmontar quase tudo, romper com as tradições mais caras do desenvolvimento nacional e usar toda e qualquer situação, com ou sem pandemia, para fazer sua pregação irreal. O bloco dos especuladores é perigosíssimo, embora suas crenças sejam ridículas e seus atos impliquem na fome de milhões de brasileiros.
O outro bloco que faz costado com o do Coiso é o de milicos de pijama. Assim como o Bozo, nada sabe além de desorganizar e arrumar tumulto. Na prática tenta operar como “síndicos de facto”. Esse ataque ao poder não deu muito certo, mas manteve e até ampliou a presença da turma de aposentados, que preferiu a aventura política a ficar jogando biriba, carteado, peteca e tênis em clubes vazios. As famílias de amigos são grandes, enormes. Não basta morar no condomínio, tem de garantir que a construtora faça outra obra para alocar o sobrinho do tio, do afilhado, do amigo do vizinho, do primo do cunhado, e assim vai. Esse parentesco estranho vai ganhar o apelido de “peixe”, “peixaria”, “coxado”. É o leva e traz de qualquer grande instituição. Parece “meritocrático”, mas na verdade esse dedão com compadrio sempre ajuda. Ah, e como ajuda! O síndico já quis morar nesse bloco trinta anos atrás, mas agora manda ou diz que manda no subsíndico.
Supostamente, o pessoal do condomínio em frente vai ser chamado a morar no novo bloco do Jambalaya Coisoflat. Todo mundo é filho de alguém, ou neto, bisneto e assim segue. O Coiso se disse “novo”, mas queria ser como os desse novo bloco, que estão cobrando para morar no condomínio. Ele precisa do apoio de dois segmentos que o desprezaram por trinta anos. Haja psicanálise. Os oligarcas precisam participar desse co-governo, no qual o síndico manda, mas não muito, a não ser que seja para seu próprio interesse. Essa turma sempre foi governo, suas convicções são muito semelhantes com as do Coiso, mesmo sem nenhum pudor em mudar de opinião, seja por instinto de sobrevivência ou por benefício dos seus. Curioso é notar que o Coiso foi eleito rejeitando essa parte da laia e agora dela depende para seguir como síndico que não governa.
Outro novo bloco que já deixou de ser é o tal do Moro Bloco. Nele estariam vivendo os reacinhas “limpinhos e cheirosos”. Uma mescla de TFP com UDN, sendo que o bloco do Coiso é mais para AIB, enquanto o da turma de pijama está mais para conspiradores de avental, os tios dos galinhas verdes, mas espertalhões como Olympio Mourão, o fascista de Minas que deu alguns golpes de Estado. Acontece que essa turma aí, que anda de rábula a estamento, são bons de articulação de corredor e têm mais penetração no aparelho policial do que aparentam ter. Formam uma camada em ascensão, amiga dos gringos, astros da TV e craques em redes sociais. Foram o abre alas da “nova direita”, MBL, Vem Prá Rua, Direita isso e Aquilo, e toda uma fauna de internet que, quando vai para a rua, parece mais uma marcha de tipo “cosplay de mangás”. Os filhos ou primas mais novas dos “mauricinhos” da Era Collor cresceram e passaram nos concursos das carreiras jurídicas. “Ungidos” pelo Deus dos europeus, a meta é imitar em todas as possibilidades os modos de vida que eles viram nos seriados de TV a cabo. Quando o bode expiatório era comum, a ex-esquerda que propôs um pacto de classes sem uma espada afiada ao lado, a turma de terninho, fala latinizada com caras e bocas, conseguiu. Para quem era governo e perdeu, seu Nicolau cobrou o imposto da ignorância histórica. Já o pessoal que se imaginou estar na Liga da Justiça, exagerou no porre de Nutella e o pote foi azedando. Demorou a passar o efeito da bala de glória e não se deram conta que o vento bate e muda de rumo. Seu herói Sergio Fernando cresceu o olho e ficou ao lado de Bolsonaro. Terminou peleando com o Coiso e agora vai se dedicar a derrubar o síndico sem dó algum de arriscar demolir o condomínio todo.
A guerra de versões contra as realidades e os fatos
Traduzindo: não temos governo. Uma situação como a pandemia seria o momento ideal para que o capitão e sua milicada de pijama demonstrassem “a capacidade executiva”, “o braço forte”, a “centralidade decisória” e outros chavões autoritários típicos. Não aconteceu nada disso, embora na sexta feira, 13 de março, Bolsonaro tenha tido alguns lampejos de racionalidade pública. Porque sim, ele tem raciocínio, pensa politicamente, é dotado de estratégia política, mas, em geral, os temas são de ordem particular e as políticas públicas tenebrosas. Ele não quer resolver nada e em toda a situação inusitada que aparece (pois governar é solucionar problemas) apresenta um discurso estapafúrdio, entrando em uma guerra de narrativas. Nesse sentido, a laia ganhou. Nem a Globo, quando quer fazer jornalismo, consegue construir algum sentido de verdade baseado em relações lógicas e fundamentadas em fatos.
Para mentir não basta ser “criativo”. Isso ajuda, mas não basta. O Gabinete do Ódio poderia ser tão rápido como um excelente setor de criação de uma grande agência de publicidade, mas não daria conta. O síndico do Jambalaya Coisoflat sabe falar a língua do bairro de classe média e conhece os anseios da macharada que sonha em botar no mundo “pegadores de condomínio”, como seriam os filhos 01, 02, 03 e 04. Ele é o senso comum, a condensação das ideias dominantes do pior do Brasil, tudo junto e misturado. Essa mescla do horror inclui tudo de ruim: pastor picareta, grupo de extermínio, milico recalcado, arrivismo, espertalhões de todos os matizes, mulheres misóginas, e mais parece uma versão glauberiana de Salò, o longa-metragem do genial Pier Paolo Pasolini sobre o fascismo. O filme está rodando ao vivo e vivemos sob os desmandos e o desgoverno do protagonista. Cruz credo.
Falando em Glauber Rocha, vale lembrar: “mais fortes são os poderes do povo” e nessa guerra de falsos profetas, quem fala em nome de Deus é o demônio de chinelo no condomínio, enquanto quem é taxado de demoníaco, na verdade, são os representantes do beato Santo Antônio do Bom Conselho, no Brasil do Século XXI. Para o “sertão virar mar” é preciso implodir as cloacas que pariram estas bestas, parar a fábrica de mentiras e fazer todo o esforço possível para que nenhum sertanejo aceite se tornar “bate pau do Medonho”.
Bruno Lima Rocha é cientista político e professor nos cursos de Relações Internacionais, Jornalismo e Direito. Editor do blog Estratégia & Análise: análise política para a esquerda mais à esquerda.
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Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

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