Venezuela’s entrance into the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) will put an end to the vicious cycle of competition between Brazil and Argentina’s large private companies which leaves small countries marginalised, argued the Brazilian sociologist Emir Sader, executive secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (Clasco).
“Venezuela has a vision of complementarity, but further, its membership of the regional block will break the vicious cycle of two large countries (Brazil and Argentina) and two small ones (Uruguay and Paraguay),” explained the sociologist while visiting Caracas last week to participate in the activities of the 18th Sao Paulo Forum.
It opens up new possibilities in Mercosur to consider other dimensions of integration, not just complementarity, but also education, culture, and communications- areas where there has been little advancement.
Sader believes that the proposals of the government of President Chavez are viable, and he doesn’t think that big business from Argentina and Brazil will come into conflict. “It’s viable, even for large capital, that South America has economic dynamism. It’s in the interest of all of us that we don’t go through a recession. It’s not incompatible,” he said.
Now the first task of progressive governments is to react to the recessive pressures of capitalism’s centre, in order to maintain the growth rates guarantee us the necessary resources for carrying out social policies.
“The exporting of soya can’t be stopped. Even though it’s not that nice, it’s necessary for strengthening economic development. The tragedy of the modern world is that, whilst capitalism has now shown its entrails, doing a ‘striptease’ with its limits, processes of change have suffered a brutal reversal. The end of the Soviet Union was also demoralising for socialism, a weakening of the working class movement,” said the Brazilian sociologist.
Spaces need to be won in order to be able to challenge capitalism’s hegemony. The reconstruction of socialism is a long process that can’t be resolved overnight, he said.
Sader argued that there is a lot to be done, such as the regrouping of the workers’ movement, of the alternatives such as 21st century socialism – which is an objective, a horizon that has been proposed. “Capitalism won’t destroy itself. The US model is taking root in the lives of the people,” he said.
The sociologist affirmed that China is following the US consumerist model, and even though he recognised that the development of the productive forces is necessary, he said it’s important to harmonise this with the conservation of the environment. “They are two objectives which are battling it out and could be seen as antagonistic, but the important thing is to seek a balance between the two,” he explained.
Today, reactivating the economy is fundamental for the governments to be able to maintain social rights. Exported resources can’t be given up, such as energy in Venezuela’s case, nor can China’s demand be rejected.
Latin America has known how to resist the financial crisis that hit Europe precisely “because it’s fighting the neoliberal model and has strengthened its integration process. We have resisted the crisis because we are uniting. If we had free trade agreements like the United States, we’d be screwed. Exchange between ourselves and China has been very important”.
The wrong path
The Brazilian intellectual recalled that Latin America lived through a crisis similar to the European one and got over it “because the state became a guarantor of social policies”. He believes the old continent went on the wrong path and even Barack Obama had to persuade them to change their course.
Germany unwillingly applied Spain’s rescue measures because the European right noticed it was losing elections, whcih also happened in France. “They realised that it’s not just an economic issue but an electoral one. Everything that is personified by the International Monetary Fund economic package loses support,” he assured.
Speculative financial capital, land monopolies, and the media dictatorship that speaks in the name of the people, are real threats that need to be confronted.
Sader explained that another task for progressive governments is to deepen unity in order to “react collectively and stop foreign forces from dividing the country”. First the support of a large part of the population is needed, and it should be organised and have its own political ways of acting. He referred to the recent conflicts in Bolivia as an example.
The left should prevent ecological conflicts from erupting, such as those registered by Evo Morales’ government, he said. “It’s important to look for negotiated solutions that can strengthen legitimate demands but which, at the same time, consolidate progressive governments,” he concluded.
Clasco is a non-governmental international institution that was created in 1967, maintains formal consultative relations with Unesco, and currently groups together 324 graduate and post graduate research programs from 25 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe.
Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com