Archive for the ‘americas’ Category
One more thing, for now, from the Perry Anderson article about Brazil:
The ferocity of the ensuing campaigns against Lula could not have been sustained, however, without a sympathetic audience. That lay in the country’s traditional middle classes, principally but not exclusively based in the big cities, above all São Paulo. The reason for the hostility within this stratum was not loss of power, which it had never possessed, but of status. Not only was the president now an uneducated ex-worker whose poor grammar was legend, but under his rule maids and guards and handymen, riff-raff of any kind, were acquiring consumer goods hitherto the preserve of the educated, and getting above themselves in daily life. To a good many in the middle class, all this grated acutely: the rise of trade unionists and servants meant they were coming down in the world. The result has been an acute outbreak of ‘demophobia’, as the columnist Elio Gaspari, a spirited critic, has dubbed it. Together, the blending of political chagrin among owners and editors with social resentment among readers made for an often bizarrely vitriolic brew of anti-Lulismo, at odds with any objective sense of class interest. (italics mine…)
Demophobia might well be one word for what this aggregate fiction idea that I keep banging on about might take up, address, attempt to moderate, etc…. I am guessing what the critic mentioned above is talking about is specifically the fear of masses of the poor. But one wonders if there isn’t a fear of number in general, an anxiety addressed by the conventional form of the novel (and its off-shoots) by what I am starting to call protagonism, the focalization of the novel through a single character, the engagement with background groups and masses but only in a restrained, self-immunizing sort of way…
From Perry Anderson’s absolutely massive – and incredibly interesting – piece in the LRB on Lula this week:
When, midway through his second term its test came, he handled it with aplomb. The crash of Wall Street in 2008 might be a tsunami in the US, he declared, but in Brazil it would be no more than a ‘ripple’ – uma marolinha. The phrase was seized on by the press as proof of reckless economic ignorance and irresponsibility.
But he was as good as his word. Counter-cyclical action was prompt and effective. Despite falling tax revenues, social transfers were increased, reserve requirements were reduced, public investment went up and private consumption was supported. In overcoming the crisis, local banking practices helped. Tight controls, holding multipliers of the monetary base well below US levels, and greater transparency had left Brazilian banks in much better shape than those in the US, protecting the country from the worst of the financial fall-out. But it was concerted, vigorous state policy that pulled the economy round. Lula’s optimism was functional: told not to be afraid, Brazilians went out and consumed, and demand held up. By the second quarter of 2009, foreign capital was flowing back into the country, and by the end of the year the crisis was over. As Lula’s second mandate came to an end, the economy was posting more than 7 per cent growth, and nature itself was smiling on his rule, with the discovery of huge deposits of offshore oil.
The point of course is to increase consumer demand by increasing, not cutting, public spending in a crisis. Demand leads to growth, growth to jobs, jobs to more demand, more growth, whatever. Not all that complicated. As long as we’re going to be playing the capitalist game with its episodic crises, there’s only one way to handle the dips and it’s this one…. that is, the one we’re not doing.
Thus we’re on the streets…
UPDATE: Would love to hear what my few but treasured Brazilian readers think about the article as a whole, if they have time enough and interest to read it. And one particular point of idiosyncratic interest… Where can I find out more about the following?
In the arts, explosive forms continue to be produced, though they are now far more liable to neutralisation or degradation into entertainment: Paulo Lins’s novel Cidade de Deus reduced to cinematic pulp by an expert in television ads…
Canadians: Wouldn’t it be nice to continue to live in a country where getting a bill for $336,000 for getting your baby born is unheard of and thus newsworthy?