Let’s stop aping the US

It’s time to shop around and stop following blindly the Americans. In some ways
we are already better. For example, we reject the hyphenation of our nationality. We
are not Native Brazilians (meaning Indians), African Brazilians (meaning Blacks),
Luso-Brazilians, Italo-Brazilians, Nipo-Brazilians. We are Brazilians. Simply.

“The true direction of Brazilianhood is to march toward West,” preached the cowboy strongman Getúlio Vargas,
who ruled the country legally or illegally, by hook or by crook from 1930 to 1945 (with an elected recall in
1951-54). In our day and age, Vargas would perhaps wave the same flag. But for reasons of opportunity, very different from
his nationalistic demagoguery, “corporativist” and fascistic leanings, and the policies of “profiteurism” he introduced into
the country’s institutions.

Westward, Ho! indeed, since advancing to the West you end up at the Pacific Rim. The immense Pacific Ocean
and its whole new economic constellation that has supplanted the traditional Oriental order.

Warbroken, devastated, and militarily demoralized a few years ago, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia now comprise a vibrant industrial-financial complex that competes with yesterday’s military
victor. How did they get there? Through a new kind of democracy-with-discipline, with patient observation and
imaginative research. And the expectation of a fairly long wait from idea to achievement to success.

Many years ago, an American inventor, Weltmark, had his color TV rejected by the US authorities for not being
black-and-white compatible. NHTS was the winning American standard, pushed by RCA. A small and obscure
Japanese company bought the Weltmark patents, researched and experimented tirelessly with them. At long last, it became
SONY, the brightest color TV this side of the German PAL standard. Today, Sony is a worldwide power. In America it
controls film and record companies, movie chains, and has a wide variety of performers under contract.

Who had heard of Toyota outside Japan? It was an ancient and respected domestic carmaker. After the war it
invaded the US, where it is now a partial partner of General Motors and manufactures in California the Geo line: Storm,
Prizm, Metro.

For Brazilians the conclusion is obvious: we should look around for another star to hitch our economic chariot on.
A slavish, broadside imitation of all things American may bring us ruin in a world that is increasingly “One Market.”
As articles appearing in News from Brazil have pointed out, let’s judiciously follow, introduce, imitate, copy only
such theories, tactics, procedures, things that can be thoroughly Brazilianized, or which have been already
universalized elsewhere.

For too long have our economic policies been closely tied to the US ones. The present might be the moment to
break away and shop around. With the full understanding, of course, that the “Asian Way” must be thoroughly investigated.
And rejected in those parts that may be abhorrent to the Brazilian Way.


As a citizen of Brazil, a country of immigrants, I see that we already do many things better than the Americans.
For instance, when we quietly reject the hyphenation of our nationality. We are not a bunch of Native Brazilians
(meaning Indians), of African Brazilians (meaning Blacks), Luso-Brazilians, Italo-Brazilians, Nipo-Brazilians.

We are simply Brazilians, without handles, and our different nationalities bring together our many talents and our
own jeitinhos, the same way we may lunch on
kibe or teriyaki, and dine on
pizza, paprikash tchirke, or rodízio de
, enjoying on Saturdays a heavy load of
feijoada, or bacalhoada, or callos a la
. All of the above helped down the hatch by a

caipirinha caprichada, or a
kaipirovshka estupidamente gelada. Or, in a more petty bourgeois manner,
with a hamburguesa, a Skol or a modest
guaraná espumante.

All of which shouldn’t stop us from learning, getting information, researching, and discussing, from Monday
through Friday, the relative merits of the different systems. Then we may get to know, for instance, about the dark side of
the American Way which engendered, among other sensational news stories, the Menéndez Brothers, rich guys who
killed their mother and father accusing them of abusing sexually their kids; the sordid “sporting” exploit of Tonya Harding,
the uncontrollable urge to win at any cost, even breaking the legs of a team mate; or the horror story of the druggie who
cut open his wife’s abdomen to “save” a fetus from her demonic influence; or Milliken who stole millions in criminal
stock manipulations, or Aramony who embezzled millions from the premier American charitable organization, the United
Way; and the anti-Semitic, anti-Black armed Militias.

Above all, now that the world is in a state of flux, Brazilians should be extra-cautious about once again “taking
the wrong streetcar.” It would help, though, if they remembered that Kung Fu-Tsu, whom we call Confucius,
“discovered gunpowder” during the 5th century BC Chou dynasty, at a time when the Chinese wallowed in corruption,
greet, immorality, dishonesty, hypocrisy and other shortcomings we all have seen at close quarters. He preached a
rededication to the fundamental virtues of ALL citizens hard work, obedience to the law, honoring the parents and the whole
family, avoid waste, and save.

Which were, more or less, the same great virtues Brazilian citizens practiced under the rule of Peter II and for
about half a century under the Republic. Let’s resurrect as
heroes in today’s parlance men like Prudente de
Morais, Campos Salles, Rodrigues Alves, Affonso Penna, who were not after the fast buck, the permanent search of
reelection, and did not buy popularity by giving sinecures away.


And if Asians, Europeans, Americans, Africans, and Oceanians can teach us, counsel us, and help us, let’s say
welcome and thank you, and keep alert against the shameless scoundrels and nincompoops in our midst. No need to execute
them: just display them on a public pillory for several days at a stretch. A São Paulo building company could easily design a
21st century pelourinho.

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