squid in europe

Pae White, Morceau Accrochant, 2004


The clash of civilizations and Lula's speech in the European Parliament

Samuel Huntington (1927-2008) was an American right-wing intellectual, author of The Clash of Civilizations (Ed. Objetiva): essay that theorized the phase of international politics in the United States after the Cold War. “My hypothesis is that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or economic. The great divisions between humanity and the main source of conflict will be cultural. Nation-states will continue to be the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the main conflicts of global politics will be between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. Rifts between civilizations will be the battlefronts of the future.” It sounded like a statement.

In the spectrum that Huntington considered “seven or eight civilizations”, which is not clear, two stand out: Islam and the West. This is the first problem, considering the cultures existing in each civilizational entity to be homogeneous. It is too pretentious, criticizes Edward W. Said in a text entitled The Shock of Ignorance, translated by Emir Sader and included in the collection Politics and Culture (Ed. Boitempo). Neither the West nor Islam is closed in on itself. They have “a history of exchanges, mutual fertilization and sharing”. Exchanging reality for fiction is a mistake.

In effect, "they" had the Muslim terrorist Osama bin Laden. “We,” the disciples of Reverend Jim Jones in Guyana; the Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik who killed dozens of people and injured many more in Norway; the crazy Mark David Chapman who murdered John Lennon in front of the building where the former beatle lived in New York… In fact, these macabre accounts can be multiplied in any direction. They prove nothing, except the irrationality of this balance to legitimize governments.

However, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and to the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, devised by “crazed militants” and “pathologically motivated”, were presented to public opinion as proof of the correctness of the Huntingtonian thesis. Some heads of state echoed the supposed correspondence between the abstract theory and the criminal attack, with quotations from the book considered visionary. The buffoon Berlusconi went so far as to say that we have Mozart and they don't.

It is the ethical duty of any enlightened citizen to deal with the complex, without falling into the temptation of gross oversimplifications. It should also be imperative for the media, so that they do not spread and strengthen prejudices. “How inappropriate are the labels, generalizations and cultural assertions,” laments Said.

Reducing the conceptual construct of Islam to a totalitarian caricature is not a sign of intelligence. Within Islamism itself there are contradictions in relation to the religious right and the tyranny of rulers, along the lines of the Taliban, who want to regulate personal behavior, promoting “an Islamic order reduced to a penal code, stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual pursuits and spiritual devotion… The phenomenon distorts religion, degrades tradition and distorts the political process wherever it occurs”. This reveals a political instrumentalization, similar to that observed in the West with Catholic or Evangelical fundamentalism (Damares, present!).

The demonization of Islam in the West amidst the general economic crisis is not surprising, although it is unacceptable. Pockets of Islam have already spread to France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Great Britain and the United States. Perhaps stirring up the atavistic fear of the Arab-Islamic conquests from the XNUMXth century onwards. Not to mention the role that Judaism and the State of Israel can play in spreading fears. Themes that need reflection that are not subject to tactical reasons from the powers that be.

Donald Trump, in the White House, was more pragmatic, he dreamed of a wall on the border with Westernist Mexico. He chose China as a “civilization” to fight at the industrial / technological and commercial level, and Bolsonaro, as a court jester by transforming Brazil into a colony to plunder Petrobras, with the help of the Lava Jato operation, and occupy the territory of the Alcântara base to launch rockets and satellites.

Fortunately in the middle of the road there is Lula da Silva who, on November 15 of this year in the European Parliament, showed how much a true statesman is needed in such dark times to put the dots on the “i” and forget the prophecies of occasion and the future. habitus colonized by mongrel. I transcribe the first and last paragraphs of the oratory piece that received a standing ovation in the Old Continent.

In a word, Lula: “I want to start talking not about Latin America, nor the European Union, nor any country, continent or economic bloc in particular, but the vast world in which we all live: Latin Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians, human beings of the most different origins.

“We live on a planet that tries at all times to warn us that we need new attitudes and each other to survive. That alone we are vulnerable to environmental, health and economic tragedies. But that together we are capable of building a better world for all of us”.

He ended his speech with a profession of faith in the future: “We believe that we are capable of building a just economy in the world, powered by clean energy, without the destruction of the environment and free from the inhuman exploitation of the workforce.

“We believe that another Brazil is possible and another world is possible – because in the recent past we were able to build it. We can be happy together, and we will be.”

Said, for his part, concluded his libel against stupid ignorance: “The thesis of the 'clash of civilizations' is a farce like the 'war of the worlds', which serves more to reinforce defensive self-pride than to a critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time”.

The Brazilian media did not cover it. It's on a news strike.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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