Shoot the citizen, save the customer: participatory budgeting and bare citizenship

By Sérgio Baierle

“In this text we reasoned that the deconstruction of the popular-democratic project in Brazil opened space for the reemergence of the neoliberal project as a hegemonic act, meaning that it was based on active acquiescence. Articulated by the concept of good governance, this new version of the same concept, now in its “inclusive” phase, starts again to establish “states of exception”, suspending rights in the name of their “fiscal unsustainability”. This acquiescence, in the case of Rio Grande do Sul, generated a pact to “save” the state endorsed in 2006 by the group of the main political and economical powers, including the PT.Since, as a consequence,a real social unsustainability is generated, potentially capable of provoking a general crisis of legitimacy, the actions of the Third Sector and their micropolitical techniques of social normalization appear with a dual objective: (a) to promote the management of poverty as social capital; and (b) to form chambers for compensation between the social and the market, turning social and environmental issues apolitical and reconverting them into new market sectors (resent researches indicate that the average salaries in the “nonprofit” sectors are currently higher than in the profitable sectors).

This situation indicates that the reconstruction of popular autonomy and the radicalization of its participation in participative spaces – deconstructing its existence as little more than a spectacle – passes through an overcoming of the abstract logic of citizen and community, and through the need to reconstruct the social struggle beyond disputes over income, to reach a questioning the brutal alienation of a life based on a capitalism that is increasingly predatory. For an effective emancipation of the popular sectors it is necessary to first confront the corralling of citizenship through the philanthropization of poverty, something which becomes more and more necessary as the process deepens. However, this implies another logic that presupposes the opening of a political restructuring space not yet visible in the current political spectrum.”

Read full artilce at Popular Sovereignty Journal

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