quinta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2013

Texto de José Reis Santos

Requiem for Portugal

When, on the dawn of April 25, 1974, Radio Renascença played Zeca Afonso’s Grândola Vila Morena, few knew that the song was the final password for the coup d’état that would overthrow Portugal’s 48 years long right wing authoritarian regime, and that we were listening to a last Mass of a defunct regime. That was the dawn Portugal waited for, “the initial and long day, which emerged from the night and the silence, to inhabit the substance of time” — as Sophia de Mello Breyner so brilliantly poeticized. It was the dawn of all hopes, all dreams and utopias. The dawn when the Portuguese people finally restored their rule, in their cities, seeing in every corner a friend, “in each person equality”. Portugal became, on that same dawn as the coup evolved to a social revolution, a “land of fraternity”, as Zeca Afonso wished, and a land of liberty, as everyone desired.
Within a generation we endowed the country with a political system suitable to fit the demands of last century’s formal democracies. We withdrew our people from a forced and obscure illiteracy and a rigid social stratification, built the most qualified generations of our history, and instilled the idea that we would enforce a culture of merit suitable to the demands of our contemporaneity. Likewise, we empowered our women and gave our minorities the rights of majorities, finally adding Equality to Freedom and Fraternity. We dreamed about a rainbow country, politically modern and economically and socially progressive, after 48 years of medievalism, painted in shades of black and dark greys.
We believed that the future would bring more equality, more equity and more social justice. For this, we tolerated the deterioration of our party system, widespread clienteles and nepotism, the return of our oligarchic and egocentric elites, the consecutive mismanagement of public affairs, and even the advent of an unprepared and ill-skilled political elite. We took it all, until our current right-wing (liberal) government, sheltered by the IMF and the Barroso Commission, cynically targeted labour rights, public services, the National Health Service and all that we built during 38 years of democracy; hitting hard our hearts, stomachs and wallets. As a result, our economy stagnated, unemployment grew, precariousness became social normality and emigration rampaged. Meanwhile, the government sponsored wild privatizations, dismantling the state and public sectors, while selling profitable public enterprises for a friendly penny. Their aim is to privatize our lives and reduce all labour costs in benefit of big companies and profits for the markets and their CEO’s.
Our livelihood and our dignity were taken away. Hope became a plane ticket or the belief that somehow we will survive this shock therapy designed by autistic economics professors obsessed with excel files — this collective coma induced by crazy Ivy League fanatics detached from social reality. Behind this treatment is the troika (and the Barroso Commission), an unelected government that decides our present and conditions our future; that condemns our dreams to death and our life to a pitiful and impoverished daily search for bread and ways to pay our rent. Troika’s aims are clear: to increase our debt, impoverish our country and the majority of our people, annihilate the economy, reduce common wages and acquired rights, destroy the social state, while enriching a minority of selected few. Their success depends on our misery.
As such, today we can no more believe in the ability of those who hold our key institutional positions. They sell our country cheap to a foreign economical occupation. Besides, our government consecutively lies and fails all targets, the President (who could dismiss the government) does nothing, and the opposition rests in its inefficiency. All we have left is the sheer force of our resistance, of our protest, of our indignation. Today, one way to preserve our dignity and fight for an alternative, progressive and fairer society, is through social protest and collective indignation.
It's not enough anymore to ask us to blindly trust the polls when mediocre elites are regularly elected. “Democracy” is not, and cannot be, an institutional excuse to convince us that the legitimizing value of the people exists only on a magic piece of paper. “Democracy” is to be lived every day, in every act of government, in each objection and counter-proposal by the opposition, in each protest or demonstration of civil society, organized or otherwise. And because Grândola Vila Morena gauges the quality of our civility, the essence of Portuguese progressiveness, we need to sing it daily, as this Mass cannot wait another four years to be sung.
The question of the day is: what to do when a government lies and deceives, when the opposition is ineffective and indecisive, when the system key holders don’t react? What are the alternatives to social indignation? Promote a riot or a general insurrection? Accept the inducted coma and lay down? Or wait for 2015, the date for Portugal’s next general elections? I do believe it is imperative to have some caution, to quickly detach us from the induced coma and demonstrate, singing with full lungs to our supreme magistrate (i.e. Portugal’s President of the Republic), that the regular working-mode of our (political) institutions are at risk, that the system is facing institutional meltdown. And therefore he needs to intervene. Urgently.
Meanwhile, I urge all European citizens, from all political spectrums, with or without political party, with or without employment, with or without hope, to join us on our peaceful protest, because what’s happening to us, in Portugal, it’s either happening to you as well, or soon will be.
And if we manage to take to the streets the noise and fervour of our indignity; if we demonstrate our unrest and just claims and display — through the strength of our numbers and the common sense of our proposals — that the boundary between bad government and institutional and social illegitimacy cannot be crossed, we will win this historical fight. We can tolerate bad governments, and vote them out when we have the chance. But governments that constantly lie, flip-flop on their electoral platform to install a minimalist, ideology-based program, annihilating our social welfare state (only to benefit the markets and their owners) — that, we cannot tolerate. Not anymore.
Civil society must then continue its noisy Requiems, this time for Portugal, critically intervening in public affairs, in order to force a regeneration of both the political and the party systems throughout Europe. That’s why you must hit the streets on March 2, and transform an announced Missa pro defunctis into an idea of the future — always to the sound of all the “Zeca Afonsos” existing throughout our indignant Europe.