Como construir ordem no Brasil a partir do caos, por J. Carlos de Assis

Como construir ordem no Brasil a partir do caos, por J. Carlos de Assis*

Não me consta que em qualquer passagem de “O Capital” Marx tenha previsto uma revolução sangrenta como mecanismo político para a superação histórica do capitalismo. Previu, sim, uma falência do capitalismo como resultado de suas contradições internas. De forma muito específica, antecipou crises cíclicas do sistema como resultado do descompasso entre a produção de bens de capital e a produção de bens de consumo. Antecipou também crises financeiras, assim como situações de subconsumo e superprodução. Como as de hoje.

Economistas e políticos vulgares, como diria Marx, é que inventaram o conceito de que o capitalismo sucumbiria a uma grande crise cíclica engendrando uma situação revolucionária. Kautsky e Bernstein, os dois renegados pelo comunismo oficial na segunda década do século XX, foram crucificados ideologicamente por se aperceberem de que, em comparação à época de Marx, uma afluente classe média na Europa não tinha qualquer vocação revolucionária. A revolução veio, sim, mas não na Europa civilizada, mas na Rússia inculta e rural.

O mundo pagou caro com isso. Desesperado para angariar adeptos fora do aparelho estatal soviético, que havia perdido para Stalin, Trotsky desenvolveu a teoria da revolução mundial permanente, a fim de situar a si mesmo num lugar na História. Stalin, que foi muito mais sagaz e coerente, veio a mandar matá-lo e estabeleceu a doutrina do socialismo num lugar só como uma estrela guia para o mundo. Foi uma grande felicidade para História. Ajudou a esmagar uma fera muito pior do que ele, Hitler, com seu aparato nazifascista.

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Tudo isso é para dizer que temos um caminho entre a esquerda e a direita como meio de alcançarmos níveis superiores de civilização que não passam por carnificinas entre irmãos. Em outras palavras, esquerda e direita tem que se entender para o bem comum. E não é um entendimento no nível ideológico mas no nível prático. Em lugar de nacionalismo, a nação; em lugar de desenvolvimentismo, o desenvolvimento; em lugar do socialismo ou da social democracia, o interesse social concreto. Em última instância, a Justiça Social.

O Partido da Justiça Social seria uma espécie de partido do Papa Francisco: nem de esquerda, nem de direita, nem de centro. Seria, sim, de uma posição superior, extraindo o melhor de suas bases. Pois é fato que a direita também tem seus valores, entre os quais o mais importante é o da liberdade individual. Apenas recusamos a liberdade individual “sem limites”, que levam a distorções terríveis, do tipo da tragédia do Charlie Hebdo. A esquerda, por sua vez, tem o valor da democracia, o qual, porém, deve ser temperado pela liberdade individual.

Chegaremos um dia a uma situação na qual o Partido da Justiça Social conquistaria hegemonia num país como o Brasil e, na sequência, pudesse influir os sistemas partidários no resto do mundo? Acredito que sim. Dialeticamente, para usar a expressão hegeliana e marxista, nos degradamos tanto em matéria política que a única coisa que nos resta é a regeneração. Não vejo nenhuma saída senão a Constituinte exclusiva. E uma Constituinte para cuja eleição teriam que ser forjados mecanismos próprios de participação popular.

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A Constituinte seria uma espécie de síntese dialética entre os contrários, socialistas e neoliberais. Colocaria a História em marcha em termos marxistas, no campo material, e hegelianos, no campo espiritual. Dela resultaria um sistema que, no curso da História futura, engendraria outras correntes e outras sínteses numa dialética de curso indefinido: ora prevaleceriam os libertários, ora os democratas. E resolveria o enigma marxista que, de forma equivocada, viu o socialismo como forma definitiva e congelada da História.

Para a Constituinte, primeiro, os partidos hoje existentes, totalmente desmoralizados, não poderiam ter o monopólio da indicação de candidatos. Segundo, não poderia ter financiamento eleitoral por parte de empresas; terceiro, nada seria exigido do candidato além do título de cidadania, isto é, o título eleitoral; dado que o partido é uma parte da sociedade, teria de ser eliminado o espúrio sistema de fundo partidário, pois não faz sentido dar dinheiro público para uma determinada parte da sociedade em detrimento do conjunto dela.

Claro que seria necessário estabelecer um sistema para o lançamento de candidatos fora do esquema dos partidos. Isso poderia ser feito através de instituições regionais e nacionais que se juntem na campanha eliminando o seu sentido corporativo; em outras palavras, instituições como OAB e CNBB poderiam lançar candidatos não apenas de seus quadros mas de outras instituições correlatas, ou oriundos de instituição alguma. Os demais seguiriam essa regra, cuja especificação poderia suprimir ambiguidades.

Essa Constituinte faria uma limpeza do Judiciário, eliminando, entre outras coisas, a prerrogativa de promotores públicos de denunciar sem prova e dos juízes de não responderem por seus atos considerados claramente equivocados e de má fé. Por fim, algum mecanismo seria necessário para impedir que o Congresso continue sendo o covil de oportunistas denunciado por Cid Gomes. E o Executivo poderia sofrer profunda mudança institucional pela qual a Presidência seja separada do Governo, com prazo de mandatos distintos.

*J. Carlos de Assis – Economista, doutor em Engenharia de Produção, autor de mais de duas dezenas de livros sobre Economia Política, entre os quais “A Razão de Deus”.

11 comentários

  1. Proibir promotor de denunciar
    Proibir promotor de denunciar sem provas bem como proibi-los de engavetar denuncias com provas como ocorreu no trensalao tucano, na lava jato, na privataria tucana..
    E proibir juiz tucano de manipular e usar da delaçao premiada como faz Moro desde o caso Banestado..
    .ah e fortalecer e ampliar o raio de açao e competencia juridica da Assistencia Judiciaria da OAB junto a cada juiz federal e estadual caso esse tipo de serviço se torne inviavel financeiramente para serem prestados pelas defensorias publicas

    • Democrata, ser ou não ser eis a questão.

      Teoria da Conspiração

       

      In his book Philosophical Investigations, philosopher of science Ludwig Wittgenstein demonstrated that words are more than designations or labels. They are signals in a context of activity, and are invested with many assumptions about the roles and social status of speakers and listeners.

      In the 20th century, men often called women “girls.” This term, while indeed referring to something real – to women – was more than merely a label; it was demeaning and implicitly conveyed a subservient status. Wittgenstein called the common sense view of words standing for things, the “naming theory of language.” However, he pointed out, if words were merely labels, you could not teach language to children. If you pointed at a table and said “table,” how would a child know you are referring to the piece of furniture and not to the rectangular shape of its top, or the table’s colour, or its hardness, or any number of other attributes? Language is taught in the context of activity. You say to the child, “the cup is on the table,” “slide the cup across the table top,” “I am setting the table for dinner,” and slowly the child learns what a table is and how the word table is used.

      Wittgenstein’s observation may seem simple, but it posed a profound challenge to all of Western philosophy since Plato, who had asked: What is beauty? What is truth? What is justice? Wittgenstein’s critique of the naming theory of language suggested these were the wrong questions. What needs philosophical investigation is who uses such words in what circumstances and with what implications.

      The term conspiracy theory did not exist as a phrase in everyday conversation before 1964.The conspiracy theory label entered the lexicon of political speech as a catchall for criticisms of the Warren Commission’s conclusion that US President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman with no assistance from, or foreknowledge by any element of the United States government. Since then, the term’s prevalence and range of application have exploded. In 1964, the year the Warren Commission issued its report, the New York Times published five stories in which conspiracy theory appeared. In recent years, the phrase has occurred in over 140 New York Times stories annually. On Amazon.com, the term is a book category that includes in excess of 1,300 titles. In addition to books on conspiracy theories of particular events, there are conspiracy theory encyclopedias, photographic compendiums, website directories, and guides for researchers, sceptics and debunkers.

      Initially, conspiracy theories were not an object of ridicule and hostility. Today, however, the conspiracy theory label is employed routinely to dismiss a wide range of anti-government suspicions as symptoms of impaired thinking akin to superstition or mental illness. For example, in his 2007 book on the assassination of President Kennedy, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi says people who believe JFK conspiracy theories are “as kooky as a three dollar bill in their beliefs and paranoia.” Similarly, in Among the Truthers, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay refers to 9/11 conspiracy theorists as “political paranoiacs” who have “lost their grip on the real world.” Making a similar point, if more colourfully, in his popular bookWingnuts journalist John Avlon refers to conspiracy believers as “moonbats,” “Hatriots,” “wingnuts,” and the “Fright Wing.”

      As these examples illustrate, conspiracy deniers adhere unwittingly to the naming theory of language. They assume that what qualifies as a conspiracy theory is self-evident. In their view, the phrase conspiracy theory as it is conventionally understood, simply names this objectively identifiable phenomenon. Conspiracy theories are supposedly easy to spot because they posit secret plots that are too wacky to be taken seriously. Indeed, the theories are deemed so far-fetched they require no reply or rejoinder; they are objects of derision, not ideas for discussion. In short, while ridiculing conspiracy beliefs, conspiracy deniers take the conspiracy theory concept itself for granted.

      This is remarkable, not to say shocking, because the concept is both fundamentally flawed and in direct conflict with English legal and political traditions. As a label for irrational political suspicions about secret plots by powerful people, the concept is obviously defective because political conspiracies in high office do, in fact, happen. Officials in the Nixon administration did conspire to steal the 1972 presidential election. Officials in the Reagan administration did participate in a criminal scheme to sell arms to Iran and channel profits to the Contras, a rebel army in Nicaragua. The Bush-Cheney administration did collude to mislead Congress and the public about the strength of its evidence for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. If some conspiracy theories are true, then it is nonsensical to dismiss all unsubstantiated suspicions of elite intrigue as false by definition.

      This fatal defect in the conspiracy theory concept makes it all the more surprising that most scholars and journalists have failed to notice that their use of the term to ridicule suspicions of elite political criminality betrays the civic ethos inherited from British legal and political traditions. The Magna Carta placed limitations on the King, guaranteed trial by one’s peers, assigned historic revenue sources to London, and in other ways recognised the dangers of unrestrained political authority. More generally, the political institutions of the English speaking peoples presuppose political power is a corrupting influence which makes political conspiracies against the people’s interests and liberties almost inevitable. One of the most important questions in Western political thought is how to prevent top leaders from abusing their powers to impose arbitrary rule or tyranny. The men and women who fought for citizens’ rights, the rule of law, and constitutional systems of checks and balances would view today’s norms against conspiratorial suspicion as not only arrogant, but also dangerous and historically illiterate.

      The founders of English legal and political traditions would also be shocked that conspiracy deniers attack and ridicule individuals who voice conspiracy beliefs, and yet ignoreinstitutional purveyors of conspiratorial ideas, even though the latter are the ideas that have proven truly dangerous in modern history. Since at least the end of World War II, the citadel of theories alleging nefarious political conspiracies has been, not amateur investigators of the Kennedy assassination and other political crimes and tragedies, but political elites and governments. In the first three decades of the post-World War II era, officials asserted that communists were conspiring to take over the world, Western governments were riddled with Soviet spies, and various social movements of the 1960s were creatures of Soviet influence. More recently, Western governments have accepted US claims that Iraq was complicit in 9/11, failed to dispose of its biological weapons, and attempted to purchase uranium in Niger so it could construct nuclear bombs. Although these ideas were untrue, they influenced millions of people, fomented social panic, fuelled wars, and resulted in massive loss of life and destruction of property. If conspiracy deniers are so concerned about the dangers of conspiratorial suspicions in politics and civic culture, why have they ignored the conspiracism of top politicians and administrators?

      In my book Conspiracy Theory in America, I reorient analysis of the phenomenon that has been assigned the derisive label of conspiracy theory. In a 2006 peer-reviewed journal article, I introduced the concept of State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD) to displace the termconspiracy theory. I say displace rather thanreplace because SCAD is not another name for conspiracy theory; it is a name for the type of wrongdoing which the conspiracy theory label discourages us from speaking. Basically, the term conspiracy theory is applied pejoratively to allegations of official wrongdoing that have not been substantiated by public officials themselves.

      Deployed as a derogatory putdown, the label is a verbal defence mechanism used by political elites to suppress mass suspicions that inevitably arise when shocking political crimes benefit top leaders or play into their agendas, especially when those same officials are in control of agencies responsible for preventing the events in question, or for investigating them after they have occurred. It is only natural to wonder about possible deception when a US president and vice president bent on war in the Middle East are warned of impending terrorist attacks, and yet fail to alert the public or increase the readiness of their own and allies’ armed forces. Why would people not expect answers when Arabs with poor piloting skills manage to hijack four planes, fly them across the eastern United States, somehow evade America’s multilayered system of air defence, and then crash two of the planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington, DC? By the same token, it is only natural to question the motives of President Bush and Vice President Cheney when they dragged their feet investigating this seemingly inexplicable defence failure and then, when the investigation was finally conducted, they insisted on testifying together, in secret, and not under oath. Certainly, citizen distrust can be unwarranted and overwrought, but often citizen doubts make sense. People around the world are not crazy to want answers when a US president is assassinated by a lone gunman with mediocre shooting skills who manages to get off several lucky shots with an old bolt-action carbine that had a misaligned scope. Why would there not be doubts when an alleged assassin is apprehended, publicly claims he is just a patsy, interrogated for two days but no one makes a recording or even takes notes, and then shot to death at point-blank range while in police custody at police headquarters?

      In contrast, the SCAD construct does not refer to a type of allegation or suspicion; it refers to a special type of transgression: an attack from within on the political system’s organising principles. For these extremely grave crimes, English legal and political traditions use the termhigh crime and included in this category istreason and conspiracies against the people’s liberties. SCADs, high crimes, and antidemocratic conspiracies can also be called elite political crimes and elite political criminality. The SCAD construct is intended not to supersede traditional terminology or monopolise conceptualisation of this phenomenon, but rather to add a descriptive term that captures, with some specificity, the long-recognised potential for representative democracy to be subverted by people on the inside – the very people who have been entrusted to uphold the constitutional order.

      If political conspiracies in high office do, in fact, happen; if it is therefore unreasonable to assume conspiracy theories are, by definition, harebrained and paranoia; if constitutional systems of checks and balances are based on the idea that power corrupts and elite political conspiracies are likely; if, because it ridicules suspicion, the conspiracy theory label is inconsistent with the traditional Western ethos of vigilance against conspiracies in high office; if, in summary, the conspiracy theory label is unreasonable and dangerous, how did the label come to be used so widely to begin with?

      Most people will be shocked to learn the conspiracy theory label was popularised as a pejorative term by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a global propaganda program initiated in 1967. This program was directed at criticisms of the Warren Commission Report. The propaganda campaign called on media corporations and journalists around the world to criticise conspiracy theorists and raise questions about their motives and judgments. The CIA informed its contacts that “parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by communist propagandists.” In the shadows of McCarthyism and the Cold War, this warning about communist influence was delivered simultaneously to hundreds of well-positioned members of the press in a global CIA propaganda network, infusing the conspiracy theory label with powerfully negative associations. In my book, I refer to this as the “conspiracy theory conspiracy.”

      For a more detailed exposition on the above, read Prof. Lance DeHaven-Smith’s Conspiracy Theory in America (University of Texas Press, 2013), available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

      About the Author

      LANCE DEHAVEN-SMITH is Professor in the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. A former President of the Florida Political Science Association, deHaven-Smith is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Battle for Florida, which analyses the disputed 2000 US presidential election, as well as The Hidden Teachings of Jesus: The Political Meaning of the Kingdom of God (Phanes Press, 2001). His latest book is Conspiracy Theory in America (University of Texas Press, 2013). DeHaven-Smith has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and other US TV and radio shows. His website is http://www.dehaven-smith.com.Show lessWho is Afraid of Conspiracy Theories? – Zen Gardnerzengardner.comMost people will be shocked to learn the conspiracy theory label was popularised as a pejorative term by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967.

      • BIS

        BIS

        Over the centuries there have been many stories, some based on loose facts, others based on hearsay, conjecture, speculation and outright lies, about groups of people who “control the world.” Some of these are partially accurate, others are wildly hyperbolic, but when it comes to the historic record, nothing comes closer to the stereotypical, secretive group determining the fate of over 7 billion people, than the Bank of International Settlements, which hides in such plain sight, that few have ever paid much attention.

         

        This is their story.

        First unofficial meeting of the BIS Board of Directors in Basel, April 1930

        * * *

        The following is an excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor.  Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs.

        The world’s most exclusive club has eighteen members. They gather every other month on a Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in conference room E in a circular tower block whose tinted windows overlook the central Basel railway station. Their discussion lasts for one hour, perhaps an hour and a half. Some of those present bring a colleague with them, but the aides rarely speak during this most confidential of conclaves. The meeting closes, the aides leave, and those remaining retire for dinner in the dining room on the eighteenth floor, rightly confident that the food and the wine will be superb. The meal, which continues until 11 p.m. or midnight, is where the real work is done. The protocol and hospitality, honed for more than eight decades, are faultless.Anything said at the dining table, it is understood, is not to be repeated elsewhere.

        Few, if any, of those enjoying their haute cuisine and grand cru wines— some of the best Switzerland can offer—would be recognized by passers-by, but they include a good number of the most powerful people in the world. These men—they are almost all men—are central bankers. They have come to Basel to attend the Economic Consultative Committee (ECC) of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is the bank for central banks. Its current members [ZH: as of 2013] include Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England; Mario Draghi, of the European Central Bank; Zhou Xiaochuan of the Bank of China; and the central bank governors of Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Canada, India, and Brazil. Jaime Caruana, a former governor of the Bank of Spain, the BIS’s general manager, joins them.

        In early 2013, when this book went to press, King, who is due to step down as governor of the Bank of England in June 2013, chaired the ECC. The ECC, which used to be known as the G-10 governors’ meeting, is the most influential of the BIS’s numerous gatherings, open only to a small, select group of central bankers from advanced economies. The ECC makes recommendations on the membership and organization of the three BIS committees that deal with the global financial system, payments systems, and international markets. The committee also prepares proposals for the Global Economy Meeting and guides its agenda.

        That meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning, in room B and lasts for three hours. There King presides over the central bank governors of the thirty countries judged the most important to the global economy. In addition to those who were present at the Sunday evening dinner, Monday’s meeting will include representatives from, for example, Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Spain, and Turkey. Governors from fifteen smaller countries, such as Hungary, Israel, and New Zealand are allowed to sit in as observers, but do not usually speak. Governors from the third tier of member banks, such as Macedonia and Slovakia, are not allowed to attend. Instead they must forage for scraps of information at coffee and meal breaks.

        The governors of all sixty BIS member banks then enjoy a buffet lunch in the eighteenth-floor dining room. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architectural firm which built the “Bird’s Nest” Stadium for the Beijing Olympics, the dining room has white walls, a black ceiling and spectacular views over three countries: Switzerland, France, and Germany. At 2 p.m. the central bankers and their aides return to room B for the governors’ meeting to discuss matters of interest, until the gathering ends at 5.

        King takes a very different approach than his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank, in chairing the Global Economy Meeting. Trichet, according to one former central banker, was notably Gallic in his style: a stickler for protocol who called the central bankers to speak in order of importance, starting with the governors of the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Bundesbank, and then progressing down the hierarchy. King, in contrast, adopts a more thematic and egalitarian approach: throwing open the meetings for discussion and inviting contributions from all present.

        The governors’ conclaves have played a crucial role in determining the world’s response to the global financial crisis. “The BIS has been a very important meeting point for central bankers during the crisis, and the rationale for its existence has expanded,” said King. “We have had to face challenges that we have never seen before. We had to work out what was going on, what instruments do we use when interest rates are close to zero, how do we communicate policy. We discuss this at home with our staff, but it is very valuable for the governors themselves to get together and talk among themselves.”

        Those discussions, say central bankers, must be confidential. “When you are at the top in the number one post, it can be pretty lonely at times. It is helpful to be able to meet other number ones and say, ‘This is my problem, how do you deal with it?’” King continued. “Being able to talk informally and openly about our experiences has been immensely valuable. We are not speaking in a public forum. We can say what we really think and believe, and we can ask questions and benefit from others.”

        The BIS management works hard to ensure that the atmosphere is friendly and clubbable throughout the weekend, and it seems they succeed. The bank arranges a fleet of limousines to pick up the governors at Zürich airport and bring them to Basel. Separate breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are organized for the governors of national banks who oversee different types and sizes of national economies, so no one feels excluded. “The central bankers were more at home and relaxed with their fellow central bankers than with their own governments,” recalled Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, who at- tended the Basel weekends. The superb quality of the food and wine made for an easy camaraderie, said Peter Akos Bod, a former governor of the National Bank of Hungary. “The main topics of discussion were the quality of the wine and the stupidity of finance ministers. If you had no knowledge of wine you could not join in the conversation.”

        And the conversation is usually stimulating and enjoyable, say central bankers. The contrast between the Federal Open Markets Committee at  the US Federal Reserve, and the Sunday evening G-10 governors’ dinners was notable, recalled Laurence Meyer, who served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve from 1996 until 2002. The chairman of the Federal Reserve did not always represent the bank at the Basel meetings, so Meyer occasionally attended. The BIS discussions were always lively, focused and thought provoking. “At FMOC meetings, while I was at the Fed, almost all the Committee members read statements which had been prepared in advance. They very rarely referred to statements by other Committee members and there was almost never an exchange between two members or an ongoing discussion about the outlook or policy options. At BIS dinners people actually talk to each other and the discussions are always stimulating and interactive focused on the serious issues facing the global economy.”

        All the governors present at the two-day gathering are assured of total confidentiality, discretion, and the highest levels of security. The meetings take place on several floors that are usually used only when the governors are in attendance. The governors are provided with a dedicated office and the necessary support and secretarial staff. The Swiss authorities have no juridisdiction over the BIS premises. Founded by an international treaty, and further protected by the 1987 Headquarters Agreement with the Swiss government, the BIS enjoys similar protections to those granted to the headquarters of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and diplomatic embassies. The Swiss authorities need the permission of the BIS management to enter the bank’s buildings, which are described as “inviolable.”

        The BIS has the right to communicate in code and to send and receive correspondence in bags covered by the same protection as embassies, meaning they cannot be opened. The BIS is exempt from Swiss taxes. Its employees do not have to pay income tax on their salaries, which are usually generous, designed to compete with the private sector. The general man- ager’s salary in 2011 was 763,930 Swiss francs, while head of departments were paid 587,640 per annum, plus generous allowances. The bank’s extraordinary legal privileges also extend to its staff and directors. Senior managers enjoy a special status, similar to that of diplomats, while carrying out their duties in Switzerland, which means their bags cannot be searched (unless there is evidence of a blatant criminal act), and their papers are inviolable. The central bank governors traveling to Basel for the bimonthly meetings enjoy the same status while in Switzerland. All bank officials are immune under Swiss law, for life, for all the acts carried out during the discharge of their duties. The bank is a popular place to work and not just because of the salaries. Around six hundred staff come from over fifty countries. The atmosphere is multi-national and cosmopolitan, albeit very Swiss, emphasizing the bank’s hierarchy. Like many of those working for the UN or the IMF, some of the staff of the BIS, especially senior management, are driven by a sense of mission, that they are working for a higher, even celestial purpose and so are immune from normal considerations of accountability and transparency.

        The bank’s management has tried to plan for every eventuality so that the Swiss police need never be called. The BIS headquarters has high-tech sprinkler systems with multiple back-ups, in-house medical facilities, and its own bomb shelter in the event of a terrorist attack or armed conflagration. The BIS’s assets are not subject to civil claims under Swiss law and can never be seized.

        The BIS strictly guards the bankers’ secrecy. The minutes, agenda, and actual attendance list of the Global Economy Meeting or the ECC are not released in any form. This is because no official minutes are taken, although the bankers sometimes scribble their own notes. Sometimes there will be a brief press conference or bland statement afterwards but never anything detailed. This tradition of privileged confidentiality reaches back to the bank’s foundation.

        “The quietness of Basel and its absolutely nonpolitical character provide a perfect setting for those equally quiet and nonpolitical gatherings,” wrote one American official in 1935. “The regularity of the meetings and their al- most unbroken attendance by practically every member of the Board make them such they rarely attract any but the most meager notice in the press.”8 Forty years on, little had changed. Charles Coombs, a former foreign exchange chief of the New York Federal Reserve, attended governors’ meetings from 1960 to 1975. The bankers who were allowed inside the inner sanctum of the governors’ meetings trusted each other absolutely, he recalled in his memoirs. “However much money was involved, no agreements were ever signed nor memoranda of understanding ever initialized. The word of each official was sufficient, and there were never any disappointments.”

        What, then, does this matter to the rest of us? Bankers have been gathering confidentially since money was first invented. Central bankers like to view themselves as the high priests of finance, as technocrats overseeing arcane monetary rituals and a financial liturgy understood only by a small, self-selecting elite.

        But the governors who meet in Basel every other month are public servants. Their salaries, airplane tickets, hotel bills, and lucrative pensions when they retire are paid out of the public purse. The national reserves held by central banks are public money, the wealth of nations. The central bankers’ discussions at the BIS, the information that they share, the policies that are evaluated, the opinions that are exchanged, and the subsequent decisions that are taken, are profoundly political. Central bankers, whose independence is constitutionally protected, control monetary policy in the developed world. They manage the supply of money to national economies.They set interest rates, thus deciding the value of our savings and investments. They decide whether to focus on austerity or growth. Their decisions shape our lives.

        The BIS’s tradition of secrecy reaches back through the decades. During the 1960s, for example, the bank hosted the London Gold Pool. Eight countries pledged to manipulate the gold market to keep the price at around thirty-five dollars per ounce, in line with the provisions of the Bretton Woods Accord that governed the post–World War II international financial system. Although the London Gold Pool no longer exists, its successor is the BIS Markets Committee, which meets every other month on the occasion of the governors’ meetings to discuss trends in the financial markets. Officials from twenty-one central banks attend. The committee releases occasional papers, but its agenda and discussions remain secret.

        Nowadays the countries represented at the Global Economy Meetings together account for around four-fifths of global gross domestic product (GDP)— most of the produced wealth of the world—according to the BIS’s own statistics. Central bankers now “seem more powerful than politicians,” wrote The Economist newspaper, “holding the destiny of the global economy in their hands.” How did this happen? The BIS, the world’s most secretive global financial institution, can claim much of the credit. From its first day of existence, the BIS has dedicated itself to furthering the interests of central banks and building the new architecture of transnational finance. In doing so, it has spawned a new class of close-knit global technocrats whose members glide between highly-paid positions at the BIS, the IMF, and central and commercial banks.

        The founder of the technocrats’ cabal was Per Jacobssen, the Swedish economist who served as the BIS’s economic adviser from 1931 to 1956. The bland title belied his power and reach. Enormously influential, well connected, and highly regarded by his peers, Jacobssen wrote the first BIS annual reports, which were—and remain—essential reading throughout the world’s treasuries. Jacobssen was an early supporter of European federalism. He argued relentlessly against inflation, excessive government spending, and state intervention in the economy. Jacobssen left the BIS in 1956 to take over the IMF. His legacy still shapes our world. The consequences of his mix of economic liberalism, price obsession, and dismantling of national sovereignty play out nightly in the European news bulletins on our television screens.

        The BIS’s defenders deny that the organization is secretive. The bank’s archives are open and researchers may consult most documents that are more than thirty years old. The BIS archivists are indeed cordial, helpful, and professional. The bank’s website includes all its annual reports, which are downloadable, as well as numerous policy papers produced by the bank’s highly regarded research department. The BIS publishes detailed accounts of the securities and derivatives markets, and international banking statistics. But these are largely compilations and analyses of information already in the public domain. The details of the bank’s own core activities, including much of its banking operations for its customers, central banks, and international organizations, remain secret. The Global Economy Meetings and the other crucial financial gatherings that take place at Basel, such as the Markets Committee, remain closed to outsiders. Private individuals may not hold an account at BIS, unless they work for the bank. The bank’s opacity, lack of accountability, and ever-increasing influence raises profound questions— not just about monetary policy but transparency, accountability, and how power is exercised in our democracies.

        * * *

        WHEN I EXPLAINED to friends and acquaintances that I was writing a book about the Bank for International Settlements, the usual response was a puzzled look, followed by a question: “The bank for what?” My interlocutors were intelligent people, who follow current affairs. Many had some interest in and understanding of the global economy and financial crisis. Yet only a handful had heard of the BIS. This was strange, as the BIS is the most important bank in the world and predates both the IMF and the World Bank. For decades it has stood at the center of a global network of money, power, and covert global influence.

        The BIS was founded in 1930. It was ostensibly set up as part of the Young Plan to administer German reparations payments for the First World War. The bank’s key architects were Montagu Norman, who was the governor of the Bank of England, and Hjalmar Schacht, the president of the Reichsbank who described the BIS as “my” bank. The BIS’s founding members were the central banks of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and a consortium of Japanese banks. Shares were also offered to the Federal Reserve, but the United States, suspicious of anything that might infringe on its national sovereignty, refused its allocation. Instead a consortium of commercial banks took up the shares: J. P. Morgan, the First National Bank of New York, and the First National Bank of Chicago.

        The real purpose of the BIS was detailed in its statutes: to “promote the cooperation of central banks and to provide additional facilities for international financial operations.” It was the culmination of the central bankers’ decades-old dream, to have their own bank—powerful, independent, and free from interfering politicians and nosy reporters. Most felicitous of all, the BIS was self-financing and would be in perpetuity. Its clients were its own founders and shareholders— the central banks. During the 1930s, the BIS was the central meeting place for a cabal of central bankers, dominated by Norman and Schacht. This group helped rebuild Germany. The New York Times described Schacht, widely acknowledged as the genius behind the resurgent German economy, as “The Iron-Willed Pilot of Nazi Finance.” During the war, the BIS became a de-facto arm of the Reichsbank, accepting looted Nazi gold and carrying out foreign exchange deals for Nazi Germany.

        The bank’s alliance with Berlin was known in Washington, DC, and London. But the need for the BIS to keep functioning, to keep the new channels of transnational finance open, was about the only thing all sides agreed on. Basel was the perfect location, as it is perched on the northern edge of Switzerland and sits al- most on the French and German borders. A few miles away, Nazi and Allied soldiers were fighting and dying. None of that mattered at the BIS. Board meetings were suspended, but relations between the BIS staff of the belligerent nations remained cordial, professional, and productive. Nationalities were irrelevant. The overriding loyalty was to international finance. The president, Thomas McKittrick, was an American. Roger Auboin, the general manager, was French. Paul Hechler, the assistant general manager, was a member of the Nazi party and signed his correspondence “Heil Hitler.” Rafaelle Pilotti, the secretary general, was Italian. Per Jacobssen, the bank’s influential economic adviser, was Swedish. His and Pilotti’s deputies were British.

        After 1945, five BIS directors, including Hjalmar Schacht, were charged with war crimes. Germany lost the war but won the economic peace, in large part thanks to the BIS. The international stage, contacts, banking networks, and legitimacy the BIS provided, first to the Reichsbank and then to its successor banks, has helped ensure the continuity of immensely powerful financial and economic interests from the Nazi era to the present day.

        * * *

        FOR THE FIRST forty-seven years of its existence, from 1930 to 1977, the BIS was based in a former hotel, near the Basel central railway station. The bank’s entrance was tucked away by a chocolate shop, and only a small notice confirmed that the narrow doorway opened into the BIS. The bank’s managers believed that those who needed to know where the BIS was would find it, and the rest of the world certainly did not need to know. The inside of the building changed little over the decades, recalled Charles Coombs. The BIS provided the “the spartan accommodations of a former Victorian-style hotel whose single and double bedrooms had been transformed into offices simply by removing the beds and installing desks.”

        The bank moved into its current headquarters, at 2, Centralbahnplatz, in 1977. It did not go far and now overlooks the Basel central station. Nowadays the BIS’s main mission, in its own words, is threefold: “to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in these areas, and to act as a bank for central banks.” The BIS also hosts much of the practical and technical infrastructure that the global network of central banks and their commercial counterparts need to function smoothly. It has two linked trading rooms: at the Basel headquarters and Hong Kong regional office. The BIS buys and sells gold and foreign exchange for its clients. It provides asset management and arranges short-term credit to central banks when needed.

        The BIS is a unique institution: an international organization, an extremely profitable bank and a research institute founded, and protected, by international treaties. The BIS is accountable to its customers and shareholders—the central banks—but also guides their operations. The main tasks of a central bank, the BIS argues, are to control the flow of credit and the volume of currency in circulation, which will ensure a stable business climate, and to keep exchange rates within manageable bands to ensure the value of a currency and so smooth international trade and capital movements. This is crucial, especially in a globalized economy, where markets react in microseconds and perceptions of economic stability and value are almost as important as reality itself.

        The BIS also helps to supervise commercial banks, although it has no legal powers over them. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, based at the BIS, regulates commercial banks’ capital and liquidity requirements. It requires banks to have a minimum capital of eight percent of risk-weighted assets when lending, meaning that if a bank has risk-weighted assets of $100 million it must maintain at least $8 million capital. The committee has no powers of enforcement, but it does have enormous moral authority. “This regulation is so powerful that the eight percent principle has been set into national laws,” said Peter Akos Bod. “It’s like voltage. Voltage has been set at 220. You may decide on ninety-five volts, but it would not work.” In theory, sensible housekeeping and mutual cooperation, overseen by the BIS, will keep the global financial system functioning smoothly. In theory.

        The reality is that we have moved beyond recession into a deep structural crisis, one fueled by the banks’ greed and rapacity, which threatens all of our financial security. Just as in the 1930s, parts of Europe face economic collapse. The Bundesbank and the European Central Bank, two of the most powerful members of the BIS, have driven the mania for austerity that has already forced one European country, Greece, to the edge, aided by the venality and corruption of the country’s ruling class. Others may soon follow. The old order is creaking, its political and financial institutions corroding from within. From Oslo to Athens, the far right is resurgent, fed in part by soaring poverty and unemployment. Anger and cynicism are corroding citizens’ faith in democracy and the rule of law. Once again, the value of property and assets is vaporizing before their owners’ eyes. The European currency is threatened with breakdown, while those with money seek safe haven in Swiss francs or gold. The young, the talented, and the mobile are again fleeing their home countries for new lives abroad. The powerful forces of international capital that brought the BIS into being, and which granted the bank its power and influence, are again triumphant.

        The BIS sits at the apex of an international financial system that is falling apart at the seams, but its officials argue that it does not have the power to act as an international financial regulator. Yet the BIS cannot escape its responsibility for the Euro-zone crisis. From the first agreements in the late 1940s on multilateral payments to the establishment of the Europe Central Bank in 1998, the BIS has been at the heart of the European integration project, providing technical expertise and the financial mechanisms for currency harmonization. During the 1950s, it managed the European Payments Union, which internationalized the continent’s payment system. The BIS hosted the Governors’ Committee of European Economic Community central bankers, set up in 1964, which coordinated trans-European monetary policy. During the 1970s, the BIS ran the “Snake,” the mechanism by which European currencies were held in exchange rate bands. During the 1980s the BIS hosted the Delors Committee, whose report in 1988 laid out the path to European Monetary Union and the adoption of a single currency. The BIS midwifed the European Monetary Institute (EMI), the precursor of the European Central Bank. The EMI’s president was Alexandre Lamfalussy, one of the world’s most influential economists, known as the “Father of the euro.” Before joining the EMI in 1994, Lamfalussy had worked at the BIS for seventeen years, first as economic adviser, then as the bank’s general manager.

        For a staid, secretive organization, the BIS has proved surprisingly nimble. It survived the first global depression, the end of reparations payments and the gold standard (two of its main reasons for existence), the rise of Nazism, the Second World War, the Bretton Woods Accord, the Cold War, the financial crises of the 1980s and 1990s, the birth of the IMF and World Bank, and the end of Communism. As Malcolm Knight, manager from 2003–2008, noted, “It is encouraging to see that—by remaining small, flexible, and free from political interference—the Bank has, throughout its history, succeeded remarkably well in adapting itself to evolving circumstances.”

        The bank has made itself a central pillar of the global financial system. As well as the Global Economy Meetings, the BIS hosts four of the most important international committees dealing with global banking: the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the Committee on the Global Financial System, the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems, and the Irving Fisher Committee, which deals with central banking statistics. The bank also hosts three independent organizations: two groups dealing with insurance and the Financial Stability Board (FSB). The FSB, which coordinates national financial authorities and regulatory policies, is already being spoken of as the fourth pillar of the global financial system, after the BIS, the IMF and the commercial banks.

        The BIS is now the world’s thirtieth-largest holder of gold reserves, with 119 metric tons—more than Qatar, Brazil, or Canada. Membership of the BIS remains a privilege rather than a right. The board of directors is responsible for admitting central banks judged to “make a substantial contribution to international monetary cooperation and to the Bank’s activities.” China, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia joined only in 1996. The bank has opened offices in Mexico City and Hong Kong but remains very Eurocentric. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Slovakia (total population 16.2 million) have been admitted, while Pakistan (population 169 million) has not. Nor has Kazakhstan, which is a powerhouse of Central Asia. In Africa only Algeria and South Africa are members—Nigeria, which has the continent’s second-largest economy, has not been admitted. (The BIS’s defenders say that it demands high governance standards from new members and when the national banks of countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan reach those standards, they will be considered for membership.)

        Considering the BIS’s pivotal role in the transnational economy, its low profile is remarkable. Back in 1930 a New York Times reporter noted that the culture of secrecy at the BIS was so strong that he was not permitted to look inside the boardroom, even after the directors had left. Little has changed. Journalists are not allowed inside the headquarters while the Global Economy Meeting is underway. BIS officials speak rarely on the record, and reluctantly, to members of the press. The strategy seems to work. The Occupy Wall Street movement, the anti-globalizers, the social network protesters have ignored the BIS. Centralbahnplatz 2, Basel, is quiet and tranquil. There are no demonstrators gathered outside the BIS’s headquarters, no protestors camped out in the nearby park, no lively reception committees for the world’s central bankers.

        As the world’s economy lurches from crisis to crisis, financial institutions are scrutinized as never before. Legions of reporters, bloggers, and investigative journalists scour the banks’ every move. Yet somehow, apart from brief mentions on the financial pages, the BIS has largely managed to avoid critical scrutiny. Until now.

  2. vamos lah!
    So penso que qquer partido da “justica” no conhecimento que temos seria igual as igrejas. Nao partido da justica como se ela eh “cega”, mais partido da “qquer coisa” social teria e concordo com objetivo social. Agora ao paradoxical eh o capitalismo que voce coloca como democracia e socialismo. Simples e tentou subtrair alguns pontos radicais e esta parte regenerative da politica e discussao eh muito frutifera.
    Nao concordo com constituinte. Na democracia e em 86 vimos isto, os mais organizados e forte colocam a pauta e decide. Temos de rever. Os advogados decidem como faz a lei. Os politicos eleitos lesgislariam em causa propria, no sistema onde os eleitos nao sao representativo dos cidadaos, dos bairros, dos municipios, dos estados e nem da federacao. Ai a miniria e a democracia falham. Os pobres e municipios carentes perdem, um olhar nos mais medicos e os municipal anterior e suas historia vemos, ate cidades medias de Sao Paulo perdia na saude por medicos. Ja pensou em um programa social mais professores?
    Mais no restante vamos comungando o seu deus. Kkk

  3. Credo !

    Minha avó costumava dizer que o sujeito que só estuda e não faz nada de prático, não labora, acaba ficando doido.

    Acho que aí já é caso grave, talvez de internamento em manicomio.

    Candidato da CNBB ?

  4. Até tentou………………….

    Essas sugestões metafísicas, parecem até louvaveis, mas daí darem certo, num mpais como o nosso e ainda com os abutres de plantão, tanto nacionais como transnacionais, me dão o direito de duvidar.

    Até gostaria que fosse factível, prático e saudável, mas ………………………… 

  5. A reforma que já está em curso…

    Mais complicado do que conceber o fim a história é conceber o fim da dialética. Interesses inconciliáveis tendem a não se conciliar. Simples.

    As garantias cidadãs que possuímos são frutos de momentos impares na nossa história. Até mesmo a Lei áurea é fruto de um momento de fraqueza e tibiez das classes dominantes. 

    Haja miopia para não enxergar isso!

    A nossa Constituição de 1988 mesmo com suas limitações é a síntese disso. Em qualquer outro momento de nossa história ela seria impossível inclusive na conjuntura atual.

    Os arranjamento das forças desfavorecem uma “nova constituinte” ou ainda uma “reforma política” insistir nisso é abrir o flanco para o ataque das forças políticas conservadoras que querem fazer o motor da história girar ao contrário. 

    A evidência disso é a quantidade de propostas legislativas em curso que tendem a desfigurar boa parte do arcabouço garantista constitucional – não só aspecto político penal que o termo garantismo evoca mais também em toda esfera de proteção individual e social – elas em si já representam uma nova constituinte e que está em curso, a conta gotas, a revelia do executivo que a incentivou ativa e passivamente uma vez que nome de um desenvolvimentismo frouxo abriu mãos de tais pautas e amarrou as mãos de seus antigos colaboradores a esquerda.

    A efeito cascata do abandono das pautas garantista pelo governo converteu-se na deslegitimarão dos partidos, dos movimentos sociais demais representações político-coletivas. Quanto à direita, seu poder reside no dinheiro que possui e não nos partidos por isso ela tem deixado o DEM desmoronar e o PSDB se liquefazer. No entanto a esquerda enquanto representante do interesse popular depende de organizações coletivas para sobreviver e cumprir o seu papel histórico.

    Daí o enfraquecimento da política partidária seja danosa para democracia e que possibilidade da transferência do poder de indicar candidatos se transfira para outras coletividades de interesse adverso.

    Enfim é uma temeridade advogar uma nova constituinte na atual conjuntura, mesmo porque ela já está em curso, e para o deleite dos desavisados ela aponta para direita mais retrógada e há muita pouco esforço para detê-la já que muitos progressistas têm se empenhado na arte de perseguir a própria cauda. E ainda enfraquecer o sistema político partidário é enfraquecer o sistema democrático constitucional e roldão os setores progressistas a ressalva fica a questão da barreira partidária que poderia estancar a proliferação de partidos de aluguel.        

       

     

  6. Mais complicado do que

    Mais complicado do que conceber o fim a história é conceber o fim da dialética. Interesses inconciliáveis tendem a não se conciliar. Simples.

    As garantias cidadãs que possuímos são frutos de momentos impares na nossa história. Até mesmo a Lei áurea é fruto de um momento de fraqueza e tibiez das classes dominantes. 

    Haja miopia para não enxergar isso!

    A nossa Constituição de 1988 mesmo com suas limitações é a síntese disso. Em qualquer outro momento de nossa história ela seria impossível inclusive na conjuntura atual.

    Os arranjamento das forças desfavorecem uma “nova constituinte” ou ainda uma “reforma política” insistir nisso é abrir o flanco para o ataque das forças políticas conservadoras que querem fazer o motor da história girar ao contrário. 

    A evidência disso é a quantidade de propostas legislativas em curso que tendem a desfigurar boa parte do arcabouço garantista constitucional – não só aspecto político penal que o termo garantismo evoca mais também em toda esfera de proteção individual e social – elas em si já representam uma nova constituinte e que está em curso, a conta gotas, a revelia do executivo que a incentivou ativa e passivamente uma vez que nome de um desenvolvimentismo frouxo abriu mãos de tais pautas e amarrou as mãos de seus antigos colaboradores a esquerda.

    A efeito cascata do abandono das pautas garantista pelo governo converteu-se na deslegitimarão dos partidos, dos movimentos sociais demais representações político-coletivas. Quanto à direita, seu poder reside no dinheiro que possui e não nos partidos por isso ela tem deixado o DEM desmoronar e o PSDB se liquefazer. No entanto a esquerda enquanto representante do interesse popular depende de organizações coletivas para sobreviver e cumprir o seu papel histórico.

    Daí o enfraquecimento da política partidária seja danosa para democracia e que possibilidade da transferência do poder de indicar candidatos se transfira para outras coletividades de interesse adverso.

    Enfim é uma temeridade advogar uma nova constituinte na atual conjuntura, mesmo porque ela já está em curso, e para o deleite dos desavisados ela aponta para direita mais retrógada e há muita pouco esforço para detê-la já que muitos progressistas têm se empenhado na arte de perseguir a própria cauda. E ainda enfraquecer o sistema político partidário é enfraquecer o sistema democrático constitucional e roldão os setores progressistas a ressalva fica a questão da barreira partidária que poderia estancar a proliferação de partidos de aluguel.        

  7. Terceira Via?

    Ô! Assis,

    com toda sua lucidez sobre os processos político-econômicos que você nos brinda aqui no GGN, inesperada essa sua proposta de síntese política descolada do campo das contradições. Não precisamos de mais partidos, mas de projetos que apontem para a superação dos campos em conflito, que são muitos, com lastro social. Espaços de recomposição e pactuação do que se encontra disperso e corroido por conflitos pontuais.

    Têm algum setor organizado da sociedade operando essas pactuações? Não adianta sair atrás de justificativas políticas nas proposições do Marx ou do Lenin ou do Stalin. O buraco é agora entre o pré-sal e o congresso, entre o realinhamento internacional e os esperneios dos coxinhas na rua.

    Tinha gente que preferia se queixar com o Bispo, agora, querer que o Papa resolva nossas crises seculares, …

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