As part of the Peoples’ BRICS Summit, three researchers from different countries discussed the negative impacts of the neoliberal agenda for workers around the world. The panel Economic, Social and Environmental Crisis and Development Alternatives from the People was held on Monday afternoon, Nov. 11, in the lower house of Congress in Brasília, the capital of Brazil.
The Indian economist Biswajit Dhar, of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, spoke about how inequality and poverty started to increase again since the 1950s and 1960s, when new development projects began to be devised in different countries.
Dhar explained how the share of wages in wealth created reduced, while profit margins increased. As an example, the panelist mentioned a process of labor reform that is currently being pushed in his country.
“India is changing its labor legislation to make it easier to fire workers. What is becoming very clear in India is that, because that wage share is dropping, the demand drops too, and many sectors are showing downward trends for this reason,” Dhar said.
The Brazilian economist Marcio Pochmann, of the State University of Campinas, underscored the political repercussions of this process in Brazil. In his view, the country’s early deindustrialization creates a society focused on the services industry, where it is hard for people to identify themselves as social beings from a class perspective, as it happened in the urban-industrial model.
For the panelist, the Brazilian left has yet to understand, politically, this change in the country’s social and economic society.
The Chinese enigma
Professor Isabela Nogueira, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, spoke about local situations of political unrest and what’s underneath that: the battle between China and the United States.
“The serious events happening today in Bolivia – the clearest, closest episode – and an important part of what we are experiencing today are closely related to these ‘tectonic changes,’ which reflect this process of Chinese emergence and confrontation, especially with the United States,” Nogueira said.
The professor added that China has a unique place in the global scene, as a society that “keeps a lot of the specificities of the capitalist mode of production.” On the other hand, the Chinese model is distinctive, as it looks like “what was called state capitalism in the 1950s and 1960s,” with “lower inequality levels than the United States, as several measurements show.”
Nogueira said this is the case because China, for example, has mechanisms to control the financialization of its economy, which gives the country a relative autonomy. As Chinese capital expands internationally, the professor sees a trend in the sense of reinforcing the international division of labor, leading to the deindustrialization of peripheral capitalist economies, such as Brazil.
Her analysis becomes more complex as she explains that the tensions between China and the US open the way for the industrialization of dependent countries. And because of China’s diplomatic history, Beijing does not resist this movement.
“What we have seen is that, while there has been a developmentalist strategy, this industrial policy didn’t face resistance from the Chinese. Historically, the Chinese view on imperialism in its more classic, ordinary form, of occupation of territories, is very negative,” she argued.
The Peoples’ BRICS Summit is a two-day event taking place in Brasília, gathering members of social movements from ten countries. On Tuesday, two panels will discuss International Political Crises and People’s Struggles and Challenges of Internationalism, Solidarity and the Integration of Peoples.
Edition: Daniel Giovanaz