renato janine
Renato Janine Ribeiro at a ceremony as Minister of Education. Photo: José Cruz / Agência Brasil / Public Photos

I am not questioning others, those who disagree with us. I'm saying that we ourselves, who consider ourselves progressive, whether in customs or politics, need to be ashamed of ourselves. It's been two or three years since we've been through a severe crisis, and we feel disarmed, not knowing what to do. We should have learned.

For the simple reason that, in the last 60 or 70 years, the times of crisis, of dissatisfaction, of discouragement have been longer than the moments of satisfaction, euphoria or contentment with our social and political life. By the account that I will do now, in this period we had more than 40 bad years, versus two decades of optimism and confidence. Two bad years for every good year. Why, then, every time we experience a disaster, do we feel aimless, not knowing what to do? We should have learned by now, at least the older ones.

I begin with the suicide of Getúlio, in 1954. Brazil only regains its spirits with the optimistic five years of Juscelino Kubitscheck. Then he experiences the crisis of Jânio and Jango, the repression and revolt after the 1964 coup – and he only regained optimism during the period of the Medici dictator. Note: I am not making political judgment. I just want to check the times when, rightly or wrongly, Brazilian society looked at the present and the future with confidence.

After Medici, there were 21 years of crisis, until the Real Plan, in 1994, stabilized the currency. Fernando Henrique's first term is satisfying – but not his second. Lula, in his two terms, makes Brazil know almost ecstasy, so much so that he leaves the government with an approval rating around 80%. But, since Dilma's third year, we have entered a crisis that has only gotten worse.

Doing the math: JK, Medici, FHC 1, Lula, Dilma 1 add up to about 23 years of trust (I repeat, justified or not, whether we like it or not). And that, against 40 years of depression.

So we had four decades to learn to deal with frustration. It is understood that the younger ones, who have been supported by FHC-1 for four years and some 11 PT members, are less prepared to deal with difficulties. But Brazil, as a whole, should have learned to deal with its problems and face them.

Why didn't we? Because we outsource our policy. This is not from yesterday. It is a long historical trajectory, which remains strong.

We blame others for what happens. I think that the use of the third person plural to talk about frustrations and prohibitions (“they closed that street”, “they increased the price of gasoline”) has decreased. That's a good sign! We omitted the subject when we were going to talk about bad things. It was a hidden “they”, wanting to blame the other and at the same time being afraid to identify them. This improved, perhaps, in language.

But we still don't feel responsible for the social and political disasters.

Being responsible is not being guilty. It's the fault of the person who did the wrong thing. It is the responsibility of the person who will resolve the error, even someone else's. Whoever gets elected in 2018 will run a fractured country. Problems may not be his fault, but it will be your responsibility to fix them.

Worse than that, we don't learn to react or act. Three governments were overthrown for being leftist – Getúlio, Jango, Dilma. The reaction to his depositions was weak – except in the first case, but that was because Getúlio committed suicide, which was the extreme solution to delaying the military coup for ten years. But we don't build strategies, or psyches, to resist setback or advance.

I saw this when I was Dilma Rousseff's Minister of Education for six months in 2015. I entered the government faced with the possibility of her impeachment, I was exonerated (to make room for the PMDB) when impeachment was already a possibility. But what surprised me the most, negatively, was the attitude of the beneficiaries of PT's social inclusion programs. (You see, whoever destroyed the government is not exempt from blame: but I question why those who defended it defended it so badly or so little).

Looking at the MEC, the beneficiaries of public policies were not in solidarity with the government that had opened up so many opportunities to them, more than doubling the number of admissions to federal universities. I had the impression that the people who came to me at the MEC did not read the newspaper, did not listen to the radio, did not watch TV, did not open the Internet: because they seemed to be the only ones in Brazil not to realize that we were experiencing a severe economic crisis. They seemed to believe there was enough money to do whatever they wanted.

I ask myself: is it possible to do politics without having the means to deal with difficult moments, with skinny cows? Can you make a policy that is only for the lucky moments? All that the left will know how to do is distribute wealth better, when there is wealth to be distributed? Will he not know, when money is lacking, how to act to produce wealth? Marx would find this absurd. And it is.

In short, anyone who wants to do politics has to prepare for the good times and the bad. Brazil has had two bad years for every good year in the last 60 years. So, how not to know how to deal with it? Now I'm not just talking about the left, I'm talking about society as a whole. It seems that this has been anesthetized because from 1994 to 2014 we had, in my estimation, three good years for every bad one. We forget the long bad years of the military dictatorship. But the moral of the story is that it is precisely in difficult times that we need to show resilience and know what to do.

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