By offering his 2020 Retrospective, Other Words invites us to reflect on a time when both the brutality of capitalism and its many vulnerable points become clear
In the last phase of his life, Immanuel Wallerstein, one of the great post-World War II sociologists and political thinkers, examined the crisis of capitalism in depth. He knew how to do it without false hopes. He argued that the world-system whose hegemony began to establish five centuries ago would not survive its own contradictions. But he warned that nothing was decided. We would live for decades of intense and growing instability. And what was to come, in the end, was uncertain. There was room for both a much more democratic and egalitarian system and its opposite.
It is impossible not to remember Wallerstein when preparing the retrospective that, once again, we share with our readers. Throughout 2020, the omen of a major historical setback flew closer than before. Some of the texts we have ed allude to such shadows. Pandemic. Fascism. Inequality and impoverishment. Devastation of the planet. But our point of view, remembering these trends - real - should not be an exercise in mortification in the face of bad times. Also because two types of counter-trends emerged simultaneously.
First: social struggles and theoretical research have taken important steps in an effort to decipher what threatens us. Now we see clearly that phenomena like Bolsonaro or Trump are the result of a particular alliance between the lace fists of neoliberalism and financial aristocracy and the bloodstained hands of the ultra-right and its militias - armed or virtual. Exposing this coalition was and will be increasingly embarrassing for the two wings that comprise it, as demonstrated, for example, by the dissent between Bolsonarism and the traditional right in Brazil. In another area, it is becoming clear that inequality, the impoverishment of majorities or the end of small businesses and the middle class are not “natural” phenomena. And if such deeds derive policies that have favored unproductive capital for forty years, then opposing policies can reverse them.
Second - and even more relevant: even in the midst of the still embryonic reconstruction of a post-capitalist project, powerful and in a sense unprecedented social mobilizations emerged. The Black Lives Matter, its endless marches and the unusual electoral participation of American youth defeated Trump - a gigantic fact in itself - and showed that the system is vulnerable even at its core. Latin America was on fire again, with the humiliating defeat, in Bolivia, of the coup sponsored by Washington (and Brasília); the preparations in Chile for a Constituent Assembly that promises to challenge both Pinochet's heritage and neoliberalism; the recent uprising in Peru. The new awakening of feminist struggles has continued and now it seems to be even more a carrier of logic that is poison to capital: Care, Sharing, Collaboration and the Common.
“Looking into the eyes of our tragedy is half the battle to defeat it,” said playwright Oduvaldo Vianna Filho once. Defender of an in-depth journalism, Other Words is happy to present to you, in the coming days, the 2020 Retrospective - with the best of its production in the year that ends. We will be in recess until January 11th. Count on us, also in 2021. We have no illusions: the future is open; nothing is decided, we know. But, in the midst of a civilizing crisis, the outcome of which may be the fate of the planet, we will not rest until the final whistle.