Brazil at a crossroads: to prolong dependency or complete its reinvention?
Celso Furtado, one of our best names in political economics, and an attentive observer of world economy transformational processes, as contrasted with those of Brazil, wrote in his book, Brazil: construction interrupted (Brasil, a construção interrompida. SP, Paz e Terra, 1992): “In half a millennium of history, beginning with a constellation of misdeeds, crushed indigenous nations, slaves transplanted from another continent, of European and Asian adventurers seeking a better destiny, we have become a people with an extraordinary multifaceted culture, a country without parallel for its territorial immensity and its linguistic and religious homogeneity. But we lack the experience of crucial tests such as those experienced by other peoples whose survival was threatened. We also lack a true knowledge of our possibilities, and above all, of our weaknesses. But we are aware that historic time is accelerating and that the accounting of that time runs against us. It is important to know whether we have a future as a nation that participates in the construction of human progress, or whether the forces will prevail that threaten to interrupt our historic process of formation as a Nation-State.» (Paz e Terra, Rio 1993, 35).
We must recognize that current Brazilian society has seen significant advances under the governments of the Workers Party, PT, (from the Portuguese, Partido dos Trabalhadores). The degree of social inclusion realized, and the social policies that benefit millions of Brazilians who had always been marginalized, have a historic dimension, the meaning of which we still have to fully evaluate, especially as compared to prior historical phases, when the traditional elites maintained hegemony because they always used the power of the state for their own benefit.
But these advances still are not proportional to the size of our country and of our people. The June 2013 demonstrations showed that a large segment of the populace, particularly the youth, are not satisfied. The demonstrators want more. They want a different type of democracy, a participatory democracy. They want a republic not of shady deals, but of a popular character; they justifiably demand transportation which does not rob so much time from their lives; basic hygiene services; and educational opportunities that help them to better understand the world and to improve the types of jobs they may chose. They demand sanitation services with a minimum of decency and quality. In everyone a conviction is growing that an infirm and ignorant people will never make a qualitative leap towards a different form of a less unequal society, and, therefore, as Paulo Freire used to call it, of a less evil society. The PT must be up to those new challenges, and either renew its agenda or pay the price by losing power.
We are approaching that which Celso Furtado called the “crucial challenges”. Perhaps as never before in our history, we have arrived at the critical moment of the “challenges”. The next election, as I see it, will have a singular characteristic. Given the acceleration of history, stimulated by the systemic world crisis, we will be forced to make a decision: either we take advantage of the opportunities offered by the profound crisis in the primary countries, reaffirming our autonomy and guaranteeing our future, autonomous but in a relationship with the totality of the world; or we waste them, and we will live bound by the destiny forever defined by those who would condemn us to be only providers of the natural goods they lack, and in that way they once again will colonize us.
We cannot accept this strange international division of labor. We must again look to the dream of some of our finest analysts, of the stature of Darcy Ribeiro and Luiz Gonzaga de Souza Lima, among others, who proposed a reinvention or re-foundation of Brazil on our own terms, born of our civilizing experience, so highly prized by Celso Furtado.
This is the challenge urgently presented to all the social organizations: will they help with the reinvention of Brazil as a sovereign nation, conceived in the framework of the new planetary consciousness and the common destiny of the Earth and humanity? Could they be co-midwives of a new citizenship –the co-citizenship and the Earth-citizenship– that relate the citizen with the State, the citizen with other citizens, the national with the world, and Brazilian citizenship with planetary citizenship, thus helping to mold human evolution? Or will they be accomplices of those forces that are not interested in the construction of the Project-Brazil, because they want to include Brazil in the world-globalized project in a subordinate and dependent form, with the advantages ceded to the wealthy classes that always benefit from this type of alliance?
The next elections will shed light on these alternatives. We must decide where we will stand. The situation is urgent because, as Celso Furtado warned with great concern: «everything points to the inviability of the country as a national project» (op. cit. 35). We do not want to fatalistically bow to this grave warning. We must not accept defeat without having engaged all the battles, as Don Quixote would teach us in his hope filled poetry.
There is still time to make the changes that can reorient the country to its true path, especially now that, with the Ecological crisis, Brazil has acquired a decisive weight in the balance and the equilibrium sought for planet Earth. It is important to believe in our possibilities, even, I would say, in our planetary mission.
Free translation from the Spanish by
Servicios Koinonia, http://www.servicioskoinonia.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.