The Carnation Revolution turns 47

Image: Anderson Antonangelo


There was a scent of rosemary left

I know, I know... the Russian Revolution is the main paradigm, the Chinese something extraordinary, the Cuban, the most beautiful thing that speaks so much to our Latin American hearts. However, however, however, however, I confess: the Carnation Revolution, ah the Portuguese Revolution...

Salazarism, that very singular fascism, four decades of a very Iberian, reactionary and Catholic dictatorship. Led by an intellectual, it kept some distance from the radicalism of Hitler and Mussolini – Portugal remained “neutral” in World War II, and did not experience a bloody civil war like neighboring Spain.

A small country, still a colonial metropolis, backward and poor, however. Salazarism did not encourage militias, but brutally repressed them. The virulence of colonial wars in Africa…

Knowing that Brazil is Africa, it's indigenous, but it's too much Portugal. The language that is a “secret code”, the colonial heritage and its tensions. And if there was that whole bas-fond, maybe it will happen here too.

That second-tier metropolis, always waiting for Dom Sebastião. The bet on the future for the redemptive return. And aren't we also always the country of the future?

Neither Camões nor Pessoa, of course, could stop the decline – a nation (European but not mucho), trapped between a certain glorious distant past and remnants of colonial powers.

Would the old man from Restelo (Os Lusíadas) have been right? Would the vanity and greed of that quintessential nation that wanted an empire and set out to conquer the world bring fame and glory but along with disasters, dangers, storms?

Portugalzão. Little Portugal. So tiny and so predestined to greatness? Fernando Pessoa bets on the reconstruction of the history and mythology of the small heroic nation (or is it?) –  Message was published in 1934, with Salazar in power (!)

Tip of the Iberian peninsula, Saramago-like rocky raft – European detached from Europe. Far and near the Americas, Asia and Africa. So much sea, so much sea. Our slave-owning, cruel and despoiling mother, this Portugal.

And the Carnation Revolution happened, the MFA... the captains of April. The hurricane and subsequent defeat (which nevertheless shaped a much more socially just and modern new nation).

That's why I do my ritual every April 25th: listen Grandola Vila Morena millions of times (and José Afonso a lot), visiting PCP websites, reading something about the history of the Carnation Revolution, listening to Chico a lot singing both versions of Both Sea. Follow around. Some beloved friends are my accomplices in this intimate celebration, year after year. (Who says atheists don't have their ceremonies and rituals?)

To get in the mood, the password song, Grandola Vila Morena:

Our Valerio Arcary was there. An introductory article by him: “The Portuguese Revolution 1974/75: a solitary revolution”

Afterwards, just watch Maria Medeiros' film, from 2000, already classic: “Captains of April”.

The class given by Rosa Gomes, from GMARX/USP, in the Perseu Abramo Foundation course (Fascism, yesterday and today, do it!)

I also really like Lincoln Secco's book: “The Carnation Revolution: and the Crisis of the Portuguese Colonial Empire”.

Chico (I am referring to Francisco Buarque de Holanda, born in 1944, son of Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and Maria Amélia Buarque de Holanda, the greatest living artist in the country) during the middle of the dictatorship composed a song revering the carnation revolution. He wanted to be at that party for the Portuguese people, hoping for something like this to happen here.

After the defeat of the original revolutionary impulse, Chico redid the song, with small and ingenious adaptations (the party was beautiful, but they forgot a seed somewhere) preserving the aesthetic-political beauty of the work.

I can smell some rosemary, faintly. I hear signs, though. There are flowers coming, lots of flowers.

I'm seeing hope (long live Henfil)!

Lula President in 2022 is the campaign of our lives. It has nothing to do with an ordinary election. It is a cultural, political and social tsunami. Overcoming a cycle of darkness. The landmark of a new time: life x death, civilization x barbarism. The burial of Bolsonarism and neoliberalism!

But it all starts now. We are challenged to institute a political-cultural-ideological-programmatic-ethical-aesthetic disruption.

And long live the carnation revolution!

* Julian Rodrigues is a professor and journalist, LGBTI and human rights activist.


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