Em maio de 2012, o autor destas linhas frequentava um curso preparatório para o difícil e concorrido concurso do Itamaraty. Faziam três anos que a revista The Economist estampara em sua capa um Cristo Redentor em forma de foguete, acompanhado da chamada retumbante: “O Brasil decola!” Éramos a sexta economia do mundo, o país vivia um clima de euforia e sonhos de grandeza, e a sua escolha para sediar a Copa do Mundo de futebol dali a dois anos (a “Copa das Copas”, na hoje tragicômica expressão da semi-presidente Dilma Rousseff) parecia confirmar o seu estatuto de potência econômica emergente.
Numa aula de redação em inglês, foi proposto aos alunos que discorressem sobre a moção: Brazil is no longer the country of the future. It is the country of now [O Brasil não é mais o país do futuro. É o país do agora]. O meu posicionamento sobre a moção é o curto ensaio seguinte, que mantenho em inglês (posto que macarrônico), não apenas por ter sido escrito originalmente nesse idioma, mas por ser o inglês a língua por excelência do ceticismo, a língua de David Hume.
When, in 1941, the Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig published his now eminent book "Brazil, land of the future", one could easily understand his reasons. Anguished and depressed by the extending power of the Nazi regime and anti-Semitic ideology all over Europe - a fact he had been noticing notice of since the end of World War I - he must had found a huge relief when, running away from the long winter of those European years, he eventually ended up in a kind of tropical paradise of cordiality and "racial democracy”, as Gilberto Freyre had supposedly stated less than ten years before. From his perspective then, the Brazilian society showed up as a fresh sea of possibilities. However, regardless of the hopes that the new bright and sunny country had infused him with, the fact is that Zweig still committed suicide just one year after the book had been published. On February 23, 1942 a barbiturate overdose cut short the future of the inventor of "Brazil, land of the future". This got to mean something!
Since Zweig's book came to light, the idea of Brazil as the land of the future started to be manipulated for political and official reasons (although the author was originally referring to some positive features of the Brazilian people rather than of the Brazilian government). The idea was omnipresent, for instance, through the industrialization process in the JK years. The same could be said of the so-called "Brazilian Economic Miracle", during the military dictatorship, when, despite all the political turmoil, economic growth was even bigger than today, when Brazilian economy occupies now the sixth position in the international GDP rank. In sum, what was first an authentic compliment made by an astonished foreigner suddenly became a boasting patriotic motto with at least two not so flattering implications: first, the use of an old-fashioned concept of unilinear and homogeneous progress, as if all the peoples of the world must reach the same peak; second, the exclusive focus on the economic aspect of the so-called "growth", as if this factor alone could guarantee a nice quality of life for the population in general. The utopian idea of a previously known future precludes any realistic consideration of concrete problems of the present. And a more realistic approach would perhaps indicate that Brazil is indeed the country of now… just like any other.
At this point we must ask ourselves: how is the Brazilian "now" faring after all? On the one hand, there are some undeniable improvements that must be considered. In the last twenty years, the strengthening of the Brazilian currency and the relative stabilization of Brazilian economy allowed some great social achievements, the most important of which being maybe the improvement – albeit unsustainable – of the quality of life of the downtrodden. Also, along with the other BRICs, Brazil reached a significant position – albeit not always for good reasons – in the international political scene. On the other hand, no society should feel satisfied in face of a tragic and alarming reality: throughout the past decade, Brazil has maintained an average of roughly 50,000 homicides per year. According to a recent report on the statistics of Brazilian violence (Mapa da Violência 2012), in Brazil, where there are no formal territorial battles, civil war or religious and ethnic disputes, more people were killed in the last four years than in the twelve major armed conflicts all over the world.
This kind of data alone should prevent any society from endorsing the government’s self-boasting motto. In the sense in which has been used, the idea of Brazil as the “country of now” is nothing more than a re-edition of those old jingoistic slogans such as “Brazil, love it or leave it” with an extra Fukuyaman flavor, as if Brazilian history were definitely finished. The September 11, 2001 attacks in Manhattan proved that Fukuyama was deeply wrong. Will “the country of now” need some kind of dramatic lesson as well?
Rio de Janeiro, 01 de maio de 2012
Escusado dizer que, se o ceticismo me livrou de fazer papel de bobo, a carreira diplomática foi por água abaixo...