Yankee colonialism

Lincoln Seligman, Wrapped Wine Bottles, 2012.
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By RUBENS RUSSOMANNO RICCIARDI*

We can understand the cultural invasion from two axes: ideology and language. On issues of ideology, the Minister of Culture promotes the most reactionary neoliberalism

Of the most important dates – if not the most important – among Brazilian holidays, Black Consciousness Day could have been designed to launch public policies that combat racism and promote equality and social justice. Nothing better, to oppose the violence of prejudice, than the support of the painful lessons of history, valuing, in particular, the Brazilian arts themselves in the richness of their world.

Just remember, for example, that Brazil is the country with the most great black artists in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. Invisible since the horrors of positivist eugenics in the Old Republic, there is much to be done to reconstruct the memory of black Brazilian artists. We need initiatives that raise esteem, praising the extraordinary merits of all this production in music, visual arts, architecture and literature, among other arts.

We can mention black Brazilian artists such as Antonio Manso, Manuel Dias de Oliveira, Antônio Francisco Lisboa (Aleijadinho), Domingos Caldas Barbosa (Lereno Selinuntino), Valentim da Fonseca e Silva (Mestre Valentim), José Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Joaquina Maria da Conceição (singer Lapinha), José Maurício Nunes Garcia, João de Deus de Castro Lobo, Manuel José Gomes and his son Antônio Carlos Gomes, Estevão Silva, Antônio Frederico de Castro Alves, José Maria Xavier, Maria Firmina dos Reis, Henrique Alves Mesquita, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Anacleto de Medeiros, Artur Timóteo da Costa, Francisca Edviges Neves (Chiquinha Gonzaga), Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto, João da Cruz e Sousa and Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho (Pixinguinha) – just to remember some of them the oldest ones.

How much research and how much artistic production could not be promoted, with all dignity, just around our great black artists of the past. The same goes, of course, for black artists of the XNUMXth century and, in particular, contemporary artists, who work in the poíesis and praxis in all arts, currently in force in Brazil – arts that are extrinsic to the cultural industry with a Yankee-American hue.

However, in the official name of the Federal Government of Brazil, Mrs. Margareth Menezes da Purificação Costa, the current minister of [the] culture industry, published Decree No. 11.784, of November 20, 2023, providing “on the national guidelines for actions to value and promote culture hip hop”. Instead of batuque, lundum or samba, the minister opted to promote a genre of the US culture industry, with its unavoidable neoliberal implications and also replacing the potential of the art of sound in time (music) with the reductive condition of media communication.

I'm not criticizing the genres of the American culture industry in and of themselves. May they continue to prosper and dominate the entire world. Around here, many communicators are also successful neoliberal entrepreneurs, who deserve our admiration. There are Brazilian agents from funk,for example, who became millionaires due to the accumulation of capital: they are also bank owners. It requires competence and talent to be a successful communicator. Just like the university backcountry (which is neither backcountry nor university), there is also the hip hop: the university jester (which has nothing to do with the medieval genre).

As communicators, the culture industry's players are splendid: erudite and charismatic, they teach courses at the most respectable universities abroad and influence an entire generation of young people – who recite their rhymed verses by heart and skip. The only question I ask is to what extent should the culture industry with a Yankee-American hue benefit from the Brazilian budget?

We remember that, in Brazil, as it receives so much priority from public funds, only the culture industry is rich – while the arts remain poor. Our artists, extrinsic to the culture industry, barely eat the crumbs that fall from the table of the lords of showbiz. It is this logic, foreign to Brazilian arts, that we intend to perpetuate. With this decree, the Lula Government's efforts at international alignment via BRICS are also nullified: we remain a colony, whose culture [industry] is imported from the USA and reproduced here.

Now, the repeated “cultural invasion” (Paulo Freire’s concept) is being encouraged by the Brazilian State itself. There is no point in our international diplomacy seeking our sovereignty, autonomy or political-economic independence if, in terms of cultural policies, we commit this intellectual suicide – by outsourcing our intelligence. Yes, because, with such a sterile assimilation of hip hop, we continue to think and act in accordance with the mass culture of the foreigners. This neoliberal and open submission to the USA is unacceptable.

Am I exaggerating? All we need to do is check the terms in English established in the minister's official decree, which become Brazilian public policy: hip hop, disc jockey – DJ, breaking, DJing/turntable, beatboxing, MCeeing, rap, freestyle, graffiti writing, street dancing, popping, boogaloo, locking, hip-hop freestyle dance, waacking, house, breaking boy – B-boy, breaking girl – B-girl, jam, cypher, slam/poetry slam e crew – not even the most imperialist ideologues of new left would be capable of so much patriotism, when promoting the Yankee-American culture industry in an official state document.

Colonialism is a one-way street. In Recife, young people practice breakdance. But no young person in New York dances the frevo. And speaking of Pernambuco, the minister needs to read Paulo Freire, as well as reflect on his aforementioned concept of “cultural invasion”. In the early days of neoliberalism, also Ariano Suassuna – our Don Quixote! – elucidated the Yankee-American cultural invasion: “in the past, to conquer and subordinate a country, the United States sent armies. Today, they send Michael Jackson and Madonna.”

After a few decades, there are revisited, among other genres, the gospel: funk and the hip hop, guaranteeing colonial rule. I no longer know which is worse: saluting the US flag or propagating your neoliberal culture industry in our country.

Still according to Paulo Freire, in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, it is always more beneficial, in the educational process, the viability of a dialogical condition, of a fruitful dialogue, when one actually hears the voice of the oppressed, as the popular masses are oppressed to conquer the oppressor, through propaganda well organized, whose vehicles are always the so-called means of communication with the masses (we do not criticize the means in themselves, but the use given to them) – as if the reiteration ad nauseam this alienating content already made it a popular art and not what it really is: an instrumentalized communication.

For the Pernambuco thinker, due to the conquest of the oppressor, the dialogical condition is reduced to an anti-dialogical imposition, in which dialogue becomes impossible beyond the cultural domain – thus annihilating any and all artistic, scientific or critical potential. philosophical.

Finally, we surprise, in the theory of anti-dialogical action, another fundamental characteristic: the cultural invasion that serves conquest. Disrespecting the potentialities of the being to which it conditions, cultural invasion is the penetration that invaders make into the cultural context of the invaded, imposing on them a reductive cut of reality – a cut that only interests the invaders. Thus, in the cultural invasion, the invaders stop the inventiveness of the invaded, inhibiting their emancipation as a poetic construction – which has to do with the poíesis, that is, with the critical-inventive elaboration of the language work.

In this sense, undoubtedly alienating and undertaken softly (without it even being noticed), cultural invasion is always a violence against the being of the invaded culture – which loses its originality or is threatened with losing it. This is why, in cultural invasion, as in all forms of anti-dialogical action, the invaders are the authors and the actors of the process, its subject; the invaded, their objects. Attackers model; the invaded are modeled. Attackers choose; the invaded follow their option.

The cultural invasion also has a double face. On the one hand, it is already domination; on the other, it is a tactic of domination. In other words, attackers act; the invaded have the illusion that they act, in the actions of the invaders. It is important, in the cultural invasion, that the invaded see reality from the invaders' perspective – thus, we even import the US mentality. The more mimicked the invaded are, the better for the stability of the invaders – that is, when the invaded only imitate the cultural [industry] of the dominant metropolis, without contesting issues of ideology or language.

This process anticipated by Paulo Freire, with the passive and uncritical assimilation of genres from the Yankee-American culture industry, has already been occurring ipsis litteris on the outskirts of Brazilian cities. In fact, they become pseudo-peripheries as a cultural resonance of New York or Los Angeles – they do not represent the voice of the periphery, but rather of the great centers of capital.

As already mentioned, we can understand cultural invasion from two axes: ideology and language. On issues of ideology, the minister promotes the most reactionary neoliberalism – the dream of every entrepreneur in the culture industry is to become a poster boy for banks or beer fake. From the perspective of language, not only is artistic invention repressed because there is no freedom – everything conforms to the format of a rigid standard – but Brazilian arts remain invisible, especially popular arts originating from our immense country. , as Brazilian genres are being replaced by the Yankee-American culture industry.

Therefore, we are only left with the sadness of experiencing the oblivion of Brazilian arts – an oblivion promoted by the status of an official policy: the end of our intellectual and artistic emancipation is decreed. Still, we continue to support President Lula's government. Only, if the left is not self-critical, nothing will be. And let us proceed with hope, with confidence and hand in hand, in solidarity and willing to fight, just as João Cabral de Melo Neto's roosters teach us – those who, from the depths of the darkest night, announce the dawn, the arrival of the morning !

*Rubens Russomanno Ricciardi He is a professor in the Department of Music at FFCLRP-USP and conductor of the USP Philharmonic.


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