Will Brazil Give Its Grandchildren the Chance for All It Denied Its Children?

    Brazilian high school classroom

    Brazilian high school classroomLast month the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) marked its 85th birthday. The Republic was only 33 years old and Abolition, 34, when the party was created, conveying the certainty of the Communist utopia and a revolutionary strategy: taking power and nationalizing the means of production to construct an egalitarian society.

    Brazil had an active militancy organized around that utopia and that revolution. Thanks to them, the PCdoB, as well as the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) and the groups of the left linked to the Catholic Church were decisive in the political education of entire generations of Brazilians, even those not in agreement with those ideas.

    By means of those dreams and that combativeness a generation came to know and position itself in favor of or against Marxism, Liberation Theology, Developmentalism and even, through opposition, the global Capitalism prevailing today.

    But the utopia gave way to perplexity and the revolution, to accommodation.

    At the beginning of the 21st century, the heroes have become bureaucrats; militancy has transformed itself into affiliation; the trenches have become the public posts; the parties have turned into acronyms; history has became imprisoned by politics. Those today affiliated to parties called leftist have fallen into perplexity and accommodation.

    In the commemorations of its 85 heroic years, the PCdoB is no exception: The Workers Party (PT), the Socialist People’s Party (PPS), the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and my own Democratic Labor Party (PDT) have also fallen into perplexity and accommodation.

    Our challenge is to shake the youth from their indifference, once again giving them a utopia and a revolution. Extracting them from their disenchantment or, worse, their petty fights, limited to posts and salaries, or, even worse, from their drugs and criminality.

    Utopia is no longer Socialism or Communism. Nor is it the simple continuity of economic development, which today is heating the planet and is responsible for the "apartação," the separation in society that despoils nature and concentrates opportunities and income.

    In our reality, the maximum utopia is the guarantee of the "same chance" for each Brazilian: the dream that at birth every citizen will receive equal opportunity to develop his or her potential. To utilize his or her effort with the same chance, independently of the income of the family into which he or she is born, the class, the race, and even of his or her physical or mental deficiencies that can be accommodated.

    Thanks to their vocation, talent and persistence, some will be more successful. But all will have the same chance. The road for this utopia is education: a revolution in education capable of making, in a short time, the schools of the poor in the favelas the equivalent in quality the schools of the rich in condominiums.

    When this happens, the favelas will not be poor and the condominiums will have no need for walls. Brazil will have torn down the wall of its internal inequality and the wall of backwardness in relation in the developed countries.

    It will, moreover, be the school that successfully guarantees the same chance for the generation of today and for the future generations to impede the monumental tragedy of global warming. It is education that will permit changes in consumption habits and will offer the technology for the scientific and technological revolution that can reverse the ecological disaster.

    The same chance through education. That is the only utopia and it is a good one, achieved democratically without demanding economic or fiscal irresponsibly, authoritarianism, or the breaking of rules. It is possible but difficult, due to the vice of the old utopias, which were abandoned by the accommodation of the militancy but still boast of theories as the way to avoid accommodation. Ancient words masking the passivity.

    We have already deceived our children with the promises of Communist equality; we have already thrown them into desperation and accommodation. Perhaps there is still hope of waking our grandchildren to the struggle for an educational revolution that will offer the utopia of the same chance for all.

    Cristovam Buarque has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PDT senator for the Federal District and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04). He is the current president of the Senate Education Commission. Last year he was a presidential candidate. You can visit his homepage – www.cristovam.com.br – and write to him at mensagem-cristovam@senado.gov.br

    Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.

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