In my understanding, two basic tendencies can be seen in the current globalization process: monopolar globalization, with the supremacy of the United States, backed by the large economic-financial corporations, and marked by how everything is homogenized. In pedestrian language, it would be the hamburgerization of the world: the same hamburger, made from the same recipe, and consumed in the U.S., Russia, Japan, China; and Brazil.
The other tendency is multipolar. It foresees several poles of power, with different decision centers, but all within the same Common Home, unique, complex, and threatened with ruin. China leads this tendency..
The monopolar tendency predominates. Trump’s “America first” means “only America”. The claim is that only the U.S. has global interests. It abrogates to itself the right to intervene where ever those interests are threatened or could be extended, either through direct war or delegated, as Trump attempted with Brazil during the crisis in Venezuela, ignoring treaties and international law.
The Northamerican strategy, radicalized after the attack on the Twin Towers, is to guarantee its world hegemony: first, through weapons of mass destruction, (the U.S. could kill the whole world), the capitalist economy and ideology (Hollywood plays a principal role in that), that is a form of soft war (hybrid War), but effective in conquering hearts and minds through symbolism and imaginary, with a facade of democracy and human rights.
But the primary means of domination is the neoliberal capitalist economy. It must be imposed on the whole world (China adopted it to fortify herself economically). This is accomplished through the huge global corporations and their internal national allies. It is a great weapon, because the alternative, war, functions as a deterrent, like a scarecrow, because it can destroy everyone, including those who invoke it.
Those who win the race for technological innovation, especially the military but also the economic, will acquire world hegemony.
What does this have to do with Brazil’s current political and economic situation? Everything. President Jair Bolsonaro accepted, with no compensation, an unconditional alignment with the strategies for world hegemony of the United States.
In the highest military levels and moneyed elites one hears the following argument: we have no possibility of becoming a great nation, even though we have all the necessary objective conditions. We arrived late and do not participate in the small group that decides the world’s path. We were a colony and recolonization has been imposed on us, in order to supply raw materials (commodities) to the developed countries. It is inevitable that the strongest, in this case the United States, offers economic advantages in order to incorporate as aggregated members the select transnational group that sustains this option. Missing was the wisdom to seek their own paths, in a dialectic relationship with the current powers.
The huge destitute majorities do not count. They are economic zeros. They produce less and consume almost nothing. From dependency they sink into non-participation.
What change has occurred in Brazil in the last years? The highest leading members of the army, the generals who have troops under their command (they are those who really matter) may have embraced this thesis. They may have left in second place a project of an autonomous nation. The security for which they are responsible may be now guaranteed by the United Sates with its military apparatus and more than 800 military bases spread all over the world. This adhesion also implies incorporation into the liberal economy (among us, ultra-liberal economy) and representative democracy, even though this democracy will be a low intensity one.
With the current President, Brazil has been taken over by the military. The former captain, made chief of State, is the visible head of this project, abruptly adopted in Brazil. Diligence is required to weaken everything that makes us a country-nation: industry must be diminished and replaced by imports; institutions with a democratic and nationalist taint, will be maintained, but rendered inefficient, public universities, undermined, will give way to private universities associated with large enterprises, because these enterprises need educated teams to function.
The minor internal fights between the astrologer from Virginia, Olavo de Carvalho, the extreme right Brazilian intellectual who lives in the United States and is the ideological mentor of President Bolsonaro, and the military, are irrelevant. Both accept the basic principle of adhesion to the United States and neo-liberalism, but with a difference. The Olavistas are crude, rough, with vulgar language. The military displays airs of education and civility in hopes of inspiring trust, but both have the same basic goal. And the same adhesion to the United States. Resigned, they admit that in the new cold war between the United States and China we must either opt for the United States or be devoured by China, thus renouncing a sovereign path through the tensions between the great powers.
I see two paths of confrontation, among others:
The ecological path: we are within the anthropocene, the age when human beings are rapidly destabilizing all the life-systems and the Earth-system. Wise people and scientists warn that if we do not change, we could experience a socio-ecological disaster that could destroy a great part of the biosphere and our civilization. This way, the very capitalist system and its culture would lose their base of support. The survivors would have to devise a global Marshall Plan to rescue what remained of civilization and restore the vitality of Mother Earth.
The political path: a massive popular uprising, a human tsunami in the streets, protesting and rejecting the anti-people, anti-life model. The generals would feel trapped by accusations of being unpatriotic, causing a divide between those who supported the streets and those who resisted. Politicians would slowly come around, because they would see no alternative. This way an alternative movement, opposing the current order,could arise.
There could be great violence on both sides. A Northamerican intervention could not be ruled out, because her interests are global, especially since control of the Amazon is an objective. But would Russia and China tolerate such intervention? The worst case could be if a sort of Syria were created in our territory. The scene is somber but not impossible. It is known there are hawks in the security organs who do not discard that possibility.
We are called to follow the political path, with all the risks it entails. We must not forego the opportunity to trust in our capabilities, especially with respect to our ecological wealth, and our role in determining the future of humanity and the living planet, the Earth.
The most important thing is to present a viable alternative, for a different type of Brazil: sovereign, with a representative democracy, just, open to the world and ready, with our natural resources, to set the table for the hungry human beings of the whole world.
Leonardo Boff Eco-Theologian-Philosopher, of the Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.