This work aims to establish a critical analysis on the real need to formulate a new constitution.
It is undeniable that the 1988 Brazilian Constitution reflected, in a large extent, a portrait painted mainly with the colors of People Power.Power that assured a wide range of rights, in an extent never seen so far, that guaranteed the freedom of thought and freedom of manifestation. Not to mention the social rights (health, education, housing, maternity protection, women, indigenous people, children, workers, consumers etc.) and the possibility of expropriation of rural properties for social purposes, named Agrarian Reform, of those ones not fulfilling its social function.
It is essentially a popular Constitution. A masterpiece including diffuse and collective rights. A bold text where lies the basis of a true social revolution. Brazilian society has advanced in relation to open discussions on racial and gender issues, and has implemented policies to combat discrimination and social inclusion. An unprecedented advance guaranteed by the constitutional principle of non-retrocession. Nevertheless, the level of implementation of the constitutional rights provided is still low, which is an important factor of frustration forthe Brazilian people. Actually, from the 382 constitutional rules, 119 are still to be regulated. Anyhow, citizenship is always a concept under construction, eternally unfinished.
In this sense, nothing justifies the need for a new Constituent Assembly, which is lately at the national political agenda. This kind of discourse emphasizes one side of the story, i.e., the unfulfilled rights, without giving the credits to the popular gains and aspirations. Aspirations that were never intended fully or immediately effective, once subject to the reality, materiality and tensions of power; in short, to the dynamicity of the contemporary world. It is a disguised speech, which draws attention only to what has not been accomplished, and jeopardizes the greatness of what has already been developed in the Brazilian society or that is intended to develop with respect to social rights and achievements since 1988.
With that respect, in the words of Mr. Carlos Ayres Britto, former President of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, "Congress does not have constitutional powers to convene a constituent assembly, since no constitution has a suicidal vocation. (…) Anyone who convenes the Constituent Assembly will do it on the sidelines of the Constitution”, even more in a time of social apprehension, as in the current conjuncture.
Opposing truth and reality, the Constitution, in fact, is what it is. The Constitution is the absence of doctors at public hospitals; the Constitution is the 60,000 Brazilians deaths/year by violence; the Constitution is the 13 million people unemployed etc. However, there is nothing to prevent the constitutional text from setting the patterns and types of citizenship that it intends to achieve. That means,economic reality, by itself, cannot justify a newConstitution. It is not reasonable to blame the Constitution for the economic downturn, but economic agents and police makers.
In spite of being remarkably progressive, the Constitution had its strong instruments of wealth distribution transformed into powerful mechanisms of regression and accumulation. Indeed, that is a remarkable contradiction pointed out by many, i.e.,the Constitution that distributes wealth, with norms focused on social assistance, healthcare, social security and education, is the same Constitution thatcreates mechanisms of income concentration, especially from income tax and public debt service. Aspects that explain, to some extent, the small progress of the Constitution with regard to social effectiveness, but yet so far from justifying a broad review of it.
The programmatic pattern of BrazilianConstitution began to suffer constant offensives fromthe new liberalism, giving rise to counter-reform movements, reversing the socio-constitutional logic direction to a financial view. In a recent period, the new fiscal regime, the social security reform, together with the high school and labor reforms ended up by transferring to the State the costs of extending poverty due to unemployment/underemployment, with a rise in the rate of diseases and accidents, with a strong pressure on social security.
Finally, the 1988 Constitution re-founded the Brazilian society; a society that, yet unequal, no longer tolerates inequality. A proposal for a new Constitution must be the result of a rupture with the prevailing order and even though assigning priority tothe question heading this article: Who benefits? Only three people are able to answer it: the first, the people; the second, the people; and the third, the people. The same people who are still "waiting in the queues of bus stops, looking for a place to go; running and not to giving up their hunger wages. It isthe hope they have in this movie as extras scenes, on a train to the stars, after the slave ships…” as Cazuza immortalized in his musical poetry thirty years ago.