Chamber of Deputies - Brazil
Chamber of Deputies, Brasília - PHOTO: José Cruz/ABr

By William Nozaki for Revista Brasileiros n˚113

This text is part of the special 2017 x 24 – visions, predictions, fears and hopes of issue number 113 of Revista Brasileiros, where writers and collaborators were invited to think about what and how much we could expect – if we could – for our country in 2017.

The exercise of writing about the future is a task more for mystics than for intellectuals. So, for the sake of prudence, a prediction effort about the coming year could start from a zodiac sign. For the horoscope, the passage to 2017 symbolizes the beginning of a cycle ruled by Saturn, which is also the symbol of melancholy, therefore, of the coexistence between nostalgia for loss and anxiety of refusal, feet still planted in the past, but eyes looking the future. So it tends to be the next year.

Apparently, 2017 should be marked by mistrust, with the persistence of economic instabilities, political uncertainties and social dissatisfaction.

From an economic point of view, at best, we should transition from a deep recession to prolonged stagnation. The current government has not been able to present an efficient project of economic recovery, it only regresses to liberal-conservatism and austericide, reaffirms the minimum State for public policies and the maximum State for the maintenance of privileges and violence. In 2017, companies should not increase investments, as they will still deal with the installed idle capacity; families should not increase consumption, as they will still be busy managing domestic defaults; the government, for economic and ideological reasons, should do little to recover public investment in infrastructure; Furthermore, the presentation of the social security and labor reforms should only deepen this picture. Therefore, the country will continue to face the lack of growth, unemployment and indebtedness.

From a political point of view, if everything continues as it is, the Temer government will continue to face unpopularity, ungovernability and illegitimacy. In the first case, because the population is not seeing with favor the combination between the recession in the economy and the perpetuation of corruption among politicians; in the second case because the next year should make the cracks in the power bloc even more explicit: PMDB and PSDB continue to dispute the direction of the coup and the babel of institutional barbarism should continue with disputes between the Judiciary and the Legislative, and between the latter and the major hegemonic press; in the third case because the side effects of the accusations of Cunha, Odebrecht and others to come can put on the table in an increasingly clear way a way out through indirect elections or parliamentarism.

By the way, the center of disputes will continue to be influenced by Operation Lava Jato. On the one hand, in Congress and in the Executive, corrupt firefighters will continue running and doing maneuvers, not to put out the country's fire, but to save their own skin. On the other hand, in the media and in the Public Ministry, uncompensated pyromaniacs will continue to add fuel to the fire of the crisis, not because they want to find a way out for the country, but because they have already realized that the strengthening of their relative power depends on the continuity of this operation.

From a social point of view, the organized left will continue to deal with the hangover of its recent defeats, entering a year of recomposition and adjustments combined with tensions and divisions. The climate of polarization in institutional politics must continue to feed the disenchantment, apathy and indignation of the majority of the population. There is an imminent danger that the distance between political institutions and the social fabric will create an increasingly suitable climate for hatred to become fascistic experiences, on social media and in the streets. This process will be all the more accelerated the slower the capacity of progressive forces to dialogue with the desires and demands of a population that has undergone profound transformations in recent years. Sociability through consumption, popular entrepreneurship, neo-Pentecostalism, peripheral cultures such as hip-hop and funk express new worldviews and translate new grammars that need to be apprehended by the left so that the bridges of contact between the democratic-popular field and the majority of the country's citizens.

In the midst of this aridity, fortunately, news is flourishing and hope comes from the centers of resistance: leftist parties seek to gather on broad fronts, social movements continue on the streets, high school students resist occupying schools, the homeless workers movement persists fighting for rights, progressive intellectuals meet to debate the greater involvement of civil society in politics, artists and producers engage in complaints against the government, youths are mobilized in the fight for civil rights and identity issues, against machismo, racism and other forms of intolerance.

If Saturn brings with it the feeling of loss, it also brings with it the rejection of the existing social reality. Therefore, if in 2017 we must continue to face the progress of a project of Brazil where not all Brazilians fit, we must believe that, fortunately, our people are better than our elite and, even if it is not in the short term, they will know how to convert their loss of rights in refusal against the liberal-conservative reaction.

William Nozaki is an economist, sociologist and professor at the School of Sociology and Politics Foundation of São Paulo (FESPSP)

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