Época, February 3, 2001

Translated by Assunção Medeiros

“Lost, I contest myself”
(Chico Buarque de Hollanda, in Calabar)

What happened in Rock in Rio is the living image of the national schizophrenia. The guy dresses himself up as an American, jumps and dances all day long to the sound of American music and, when he sees on the screen the flag of the United States, gets inflamed with patriotic feelings and cries against cultural colonialism. After that he keeps on jumping – and throws cans in protest on the head of Carlinhos Brown, when he wants to spoil the festival of Americanisms by playing music from Bahia. Have you ever seen something like this? It’s Olívio Dutra drinking Coca-Cola inside a bowl of chimarrão – to hide it – and making a speech against the “black water of imperialism”.

But, in the Social Forum of Porto Alegre, this image acquired body, life and movement: amidst the boo-hoos and cries against the New World Order, the illustrious assembly manifested its love for the global labor law, to the unarming of the civilians, to preferential racial quotas, and to the control of the Internet – four fifths of the program of the New World Order. The remaining fifth was object of debate only because the participants want to do all this with the economic procedures from Cuba, from Vietnam and North Korea. That most certainly will not be reason for discussion for very long, because the New World Order knows how to respect the independence of the nations and how to leave them alone, in a stinking hole, when they make the preferential option for suicide. With the greatest tranquility, it turned its back to the peoples of Africa, that used to cry in rebellion against the international capitalism that would not leave them alone, and now foam at the mouth with hate towards the international capitalism that abandoned them. In the future socialist Brazil, while we fight like maniacs for a rat leg to eat, Olívio Dutra, showing us with indignation an empty can of Coca-Cola, will say that it is all the fault of the goddamned Ford that abandoned him when he most needed it.

When I say this country is crazy, insane, needing urgent psychiatric care, people think I am joking. But look at the number of our countrymen that announce socialism to us with the seriousness and the deliberation of someone who had in his hands a saving remedy. The richest and most powerful socialist state that ever existed was the URSS. It was the second industrial power in the world. If Brazil implements socialism today, it will take us half a century, at best, to reach the level of development that the URSS had when, in 1991, it fell apart. How high was this level? According to official data, the average soviet citizen, in 1987, received half the ration of meat that a subject of the czar ate in 1913. The blacks under the apartheid in South Africa had more cars per capita than the soviets. In 1989, with no war or anything like that, there was food rationing in Moscow. The average family (not average, poor), with four members, were pressed together inside a three-square-meter room like the people that live in our favelas. A factory worker, after having worked for a whole year, would earn half of what an American unemployed mother would get in a month from social security. All of this, of course, in the more developed regions. In the periphery – Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan, for example – 93% of the houses had no sewage and 50% no piped water. The atmosphere was the most polluted in Europe and the investments in health were the lowest in the industrialized world.

But the socialism to which the Brazilian are asking for recipes of prosperity is not even the one from URSS. It is the one from Cuba, from North Korea, from Vietnam, places where a Russian would only go because of that spirit of patriotic sacrifice with which a British officer from the 19th century, leaving the comfort of his London club, would venture into the forests of Sudan, among mosquitoes and orangutans, for the glory of the Queen. And they say that I’m the one who’s nutty.