By Giussepe Cocco*
Nthe May issue of The Diplomatic World(1), we write that “there is no love in Brazil Maior” and we explain: "'Love' only exists in the practice of struggles and democracy, that is, in the autonomous organization of conflict (and not of harmony). Only free men constitute peace, and the 'freest cause is the internal one', immanent in the struggles for total citizenship”. We also say that "In the crisis of representation and politics, the only horizon that matters is that of radically democratic mobilization, however difficult and enigmatic this equation may be today.. In May, when it was published, the article seemed to contain positions that were totally at odds with the consensus that prevailed around the project of building a Greater Brazil, that is, a rich country without poor people, populated by a “new” and gigantic middle class that consumes cars.
In São Paulo, “love” had been decreed and a young mayor embodied the “new”. The cultural sponsorship policy already had its circuits and young people in the “turns”. Suddenly, everything came crashing down. After the municipal elections, the right and left mayors across the country applied the tariff increases. In Natal, the protest was massive and violent. The marches in São Paulo and Rio seemed destined to ritually mark the mobilizations that the Movimento pelo Passe Livre had promoted – with just determination – for years.
The São Paulo police repressed with the usual truculence. The result was a widespread fire, which is still continuing and spreading. The protest against the 20 cents was a formidable Kayrós of the first big wildcat strike in the Brazilian metropolises. The issue of urban mobility added to the multiplicity of struggles that resisted the steamroller of Brasil Maior.
After the crisis of global capitalism and the deepening crisis of representation, the PT and the Lula/Dilma government began to believe in an increasingly self-referential way in their electoral propaganda and opinion polls. The big news in Brazil was the “new middle class” and for it it is necessary to subsidize the national Global Players (the one that would be the great national industry) and multiply mega works (dams, nuclear plants and submarines) and mega-events: Brasil Maior would, thus, not only a social base (the middle class), but also the recycling of a model, national-developmentalism, renamed “neo”. In short, for restless young people, the circuit of “love” and for others, the police’s truncheon: this is what was reserved for the removed favelados, the repressed street vendors, the Xingu Indians, the quilombolas and for all those who dared to contest the process of gentrification of cities.
What the movement affirms today, in a way that no one can avoid seeing, is that in contemporary capitalism, in addition to the lack of national capital (except for the bankrupt Eike Batista Empire, which today constitutes the biggest bomb with the delayed effect of the crisis ), there is no middle class at all. The social mobility provided by the Lula/Dilma government concerns the mobilization of another type of work, a work that takes place in the metropolises and for which the “city”, the services and their qualities are not only fundamental, but their terrain of struggle and organization.
Lula organized the wildcat strikes of metallurgists and today the wildcat strikes of immaterial labor take place in the metropolises. With the difference that, in the era of the new unionism, there was a relationship between the technical composition of the class (the mass working class of the great Fordist production plants) and its forms of political recomposition. Although the PT – initially – was an innovation in the form of a party, in the sense of containing a much greater dose of pluralism than the traditional socialist and/or communist parties, it gradually organized itself around an organic structure and a well-established leadership. defined (Lula himself).
It does not mean the “end” of parties. The crisis says that verticality and institutions only make sense when they have a living relationship with the horizontal source.
Today, the metropolitan strike organizes itself and owes its power to the absence of organicity and leadership. Which doesn't mean it doesn't have a line, quite the opposite. The PT, and the government left that is linked to it, did not understand this transformation not only because they pulled pragmatism towards the opportunism of the apparatus, but because what is left of the “left” (especially with Dilma) is a teleological vision of progress. and the belief that politics is made by the State: not to produce other values, but to manage faster and more rationally (with an eye on cost spreadsheets) the same line of progress, the same dams, the same consumption, the same values from the right.
Whoever opposes is an obstacle, eventually archaic, eventually to be co-opted or, increasingly, to be repressed. The opposition left was wrong (and the flags episode showed it that it is not outside the crisis of representation) because it thinks that the opposition to this design, to this opportunist pragmatism, would come from outside, from the maintenance of an ideal and, therefore, from a negative and fundamentally moralistic critique of this way of governing.
The uprising of the metropolitan crowd shows us in a generalized way what the Indians, the dam workers, the teachers and students of Reuni had already anticipated: the struggle and the revolt come from within these displacements. Within and against Brasil Maior, there were countless smaller Brazils (indigenous, favelados, blacks, students, women, queers, LBGT) and today they are there: a WorldBraz(2), a becoming-world of Brazil and a becoming-Brazil of the world that make explicit in the power of networks and streets the transmutation of all values.
It is in this potent horizon of the possible that it is necessary to see that the crisis of representation not only reached Brazil, but crossed the left. This crisis does not mean the “end” of parties nor the extinction of all types of verticality and institutions. It just says – and that's a lot – that verticality and institutions only make sense when they have a living relationship with their horizontal source, constituents.
(2) Giuseppe Cocco, Mundobraz, Record, 2009
*Professor at UFRJ and author of WorldBraz (Record, 2009) and co-author of Global (Record, 2005), with Antonio Negri