[Marxism] What it means to ask if Bolsonaro is a fascist | lives; running
mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Oct 29 14:47:12 MDT 2018
Louis Proyect wrote
So now it's Bolsonaro, the putative fascist. For years now, Brazil has
had rife corruption under all versions of party government, they have
had runaway inflation, declining competitiveness in the world market,
falling rate of profit, and worsening conditions for labor.
So what historically happens under those circumstances? As Lewis Latham
has said, some form of arrangement for a share of the spoils to pacify
the poor has been part of the theory of government beginning with Plato,
Aristotle, on to Hume, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and I would add Lord Keynes.
Anyhow, long before Hitler, Mussolini, fascism or Bolsonaro - or even
Trump or even capitalism.
That attempt at pacifying the deprived mass came to be called "liberal
democracy" under the rule of capitalism. It's a very malleable pact with
the working class that entails a flexible version of sharing of
government, a pact subject to convenient constitutional escape clauses
and recognition of force majeure (in law, "unforeseeable circumstances
that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract"), when governments are
unable to right the ship (even in hurricanes, earthquakes or natural
disasters for which they are usually woefully unprepared), under a
number of conditions in which that social contract is vitiated.
When things are going badly for the ruling class, and in the case of
capitalism when things are getting so out of hand that profitable return
on investment, competitive market position and uninterrupted expansion
of capital are threatened by events sliding out of control and a
"restive" working classthreatens the established order, then
authoritarian governments, along with the military, take over power from
the liberal regimes, and drastic repression ensues.
When the last workers have been forced back into their row houses and
after a suitable period of calm and restoration, the ruling class and
their military brass with a sigh of relief quaff a cup of good old
Spanish sack, march the militia back into the barracks, declare the
whole murderous episode to have been a regrettable one-off, which will
certainly never happen again, and a new, suitable version of "liberal
democracy" is restored.
Of course that democracy is welcome to workers, because otherwise,
without some built-in protection such as a bill of rights there would be
no latitude or breathing room for speech, press, assembly, or the right
to organize, against the era's historic antagonist, capital.
At present nearly one-half of the world's population, more than three
billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day, More than one and a third
billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. One billion children are
living in poverty. UNICEF reports that 22,000 children die daily from
malnutrition due to poverty.
Trump is declaring before the midterms that under his brief period of
administration America has restored jobs, the stock market is surging,
the economy is great and in fact America itself is becoming great again.
This overlooks the fact that trade restrictions, immigration restriction
and rejection of multilateralism are not creating the prospect of
sustained growth, while redistribution of income from workers to capital
will of course drive the stock markets up, which is declared a success,
but that's a measure of just the opposite. The same with huge tax cuts
As Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps says, "There's no basis for thinking
that Trump has opened up a basis for more rapid growth. There's no
evidence so far for anything like that...employment is at unsustainable
levels, and I think investment, after being buoyed up by a rush of
confidence, is at levels that will not be sustained. " The benefits of
what economic growth we see have gone overwhelmingly to shareholders and
senior corporate managers, not to the poor and middle class.
As Financial Times columnist Rana Faroohar says, the temporarily tight
working class and its effect on wages cannot last, as the Trumpists up
the length of the working day, a lot of very big firms are producing
fewer numbers of jobs, the most labor-heavy part of the economy,
manufacturing, healthcare, education, lag way behind productivity gains,
and there is no adequate investment in education and worker training.
Instead of undertaking private and public expenditure which would not
immediately, but over time, arguably allow industries to become more
competitive and, eventually, wages to rise, capital has developed a very
consumer-oriented, low-cost, outsource-the-jobs, reward-Wall-Street kind
of approach, and we're more and more seeing the fruit of that. The Fed
is out of ammo. The major central banks have been holding about $15
trillion on their balance sheets, an amount of unprecedented
proportions, and the ripple effects of that start play out with the
trouble with the emerging markets recently.
There's a huge debt bubble in China. The political economy there may
prevent it bursting in a Lehman Brothers way, but that's going to have a
dampening effect on growth no matter what. So we're not getting out of
this from all indications.
As economist Angus Deaton says, "the assault on democracy, and
deregulation, and turning over the legal system to pro-corporate
interests is going to make the people who voted for Trump way, way worse
off. I hate to think what they will be doing in 10 years."
Meanwhile, Keynesian solutions haven't worked, quantitative easing has
not worked, low interest rates have not worked, austerity is not
working, nothing has restored growth of profitability which benefits
anyone other than the very narrow ruling class, the global economy is
essentially stagnant, slipping and about to get worse, the environment
is collapsing, and the transnational corporate class hasn't a clue or a
So watch for it at your local government.
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