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Where we went wrong

Senator Cristovam Buarque, Ph.D. former professor and Rector of the Universidade de Brasilia. Former governor of Brasilia - Federal District - from 1995 to 1998. Former Minister of Education between 2003 and 2004. Was elected senator by the Federal District in 2002 to this date. He is a member of the Brazil Monitor Editorial Council


by Cristovam Buarque

The journalist Paulo Guedes wrote on this page, on 06/19/17, “the Social Democratic parties that have been directing us for more than three decades must explain our political degeneration and the poor economic performance.” I add: “the persistence of poverty and inequality, social disintegration, widespread violence, disenchantment of young people with politics and tolerance for corruption.”

One explanation: we did not tune into the “spirit of time”, we lost the transformative force. As reality transformed, we continued with the ideas of the past. We do not understand that today the division between present and future is more important than between capitalists and workers; nor that these were divided between modern, with good patterns of consumption, and traditional poor and excluded, with an “invisible Mediterranean” separating them. Nor do we accept that trade unions represent the modern sector. We prefer to defend the rights of State employees than the quality of public services; We ignore that State is not synonymous with Public, under false concept of equality, we abandon the recognition of merit of some professionals.

Opting for the dispute between corporations, capitalists or workers, we govern without seeking social cohesion and historical direction. We replace proposals for a better world for future generations, by promises of greater consumption in the present; We create consumers, not citizens. We fell into electoral opportunism by promising that everyone would cross the “invisible Mediterranean” with only “scholarships” and “quotas” for poor and tax exemptions for entrepreneurs. We do not realize that the exhaustion of fiscal and natural resources demands austerity in spending and efficiency in management. We accept populist irresponsibility without seeing the risks of inducing inflationary and authoritarian solutions in the future.

We do not understand that social justice comes from the correct and responsible application of efficient economic results or that in the global world there is no future for economies driven by isolated nationalism; Nor do we recognize that the Capital of the 21st Century is in the Knowledge to innovate and use the new intelligent machines. There was a lack of understanding that efficiency and justice will not come from the state’s occupation to subordinate economies under partisan control, but from education for all, children of the poor and the rich in schools of the same quality. We do not believe that quality educational equality would have been our new flag.

In place of giant lying in splendid cradle, we leave a Brazil tied in old fashioned corporate ties. Our intellectuals settled in old ideas, party affiliations, fascination with leaders. We replaced ideas by slogans, philosophers by marketers. We fall into false narratives and come to believe in our own lies. Prisoners of political parties without ethics and programs, we exchange principles for prejudices. Lost, we fall into populism and corruption, which lives next to you. And we have not yet looked at our own actions, nor apologized to the history and the people.