The dinner


By Lincoln Secco*

On February 20, 1933, on a Monday afternoon, 24 German industrial tycoons were received at the palace of the President of the Reichstag. They were greeted one by one by Hermann Göring as they awaited the Führer's arrival. Suddenly Hitler entered the room and began to speak. Some were seeing him for the first time. He was affable, after all, the March elections were approaching. He spoke for half an hour and withdrew. Then, Hjalmar Schacht, the receptionist, shouted: “To the Cashier!”. The scene is narrated by Éric Vuillard in his beautiful book The Order of the Day, (Editora Planeta) whose style is reminiscent of how much historical science can touch art.

Schacht had met Hitler at a dinner at Goering's home three years earlier. In March 1933, after the Nazi election victory, Schacht assumed the presidency of the Reichsbank. However, he did not belong to the elite new rich who rose directly from the militias and the party. He had previously held the same post during the Weimar Republic.


Our story seems less tragic, its characters less relevant and the pantomime has been replaced by lives. In a deindustrialized economy, classes are undefined, with the exception of the agrarian oligarchy. That's how it was in the Old Republic, as historian Edgard Carone has shown. This is how it is in the post New Republic, as the share of the manufacturing industry in GDP reveals and our vibrant agribusiness, with its low capacity to add value, informs us.

Under the hegemony of the landowners and the domination of the militiamen, the 1988 Constitution could become as fictitious as that of 1891 or as insignificant as that of Weimar under Nazism.

If so, then we can mistake the clown for the mime; Skaf by Krupp; Riachuelo by Siemens; Hans von Loewenstein zu Loewenstein for “Véio da Havan”; the brilliant opportunist Schacht for a Minister resentful of his colleagues at PUC; tragedy for farce.

rice with duck

On June 11, 2019, on a Tuesday, President Bolsonaro spoke to 50 businessmen at Paulo Skaf's house. While they dined on rice with duck and a rack of lamb, the party's animator, Paulo Guedes, reassured those who still doubted the liberal conversion of the “Myth” and displayed his commitment to ending the retirement of the working class as proof.

It is true that some important names did not appear. But the Feffers, Ometto, Diniz and Brandão were there. As in the past, they attended the tables of other presidents. And they have also converted to Democracy, as many times as necessary. What matters is that they loyally served their country and its profits.

We don't know what they thought of the effects of economic policy on GDP. They didn't even agree with The Wall Street Journal which commends the government for exposing “local industries long accustomed to protectionism to the challenges of free trade”.

Unlike his German counterpart, the Brazilian minister will not create bonds to finance industrial investment, nor will he build an Autobahn or anything else. In liberal theology, money is born from financial tricks and not from production. And in the fascio-evangelical ideal of the lumpen bourgeoisie, the prosperity of others does not belong to the kingdom of this world.

After all

Éric Vuillard shows how Siemens, Krupp, Opel and all the big German capitalists financed Hitler; how Austrian conservatives tolerated Nazism until they were overtaken by it; how Western appeasement paved the way for World War II. But fundamentally, he reveals to us that afterwards the same businessmen who donated astronomical sums to the Nazis, negotiated until the last penny the indemnities to the surviving Jews who worked as slaves in their companies.

How long this experience will last is impossible to predict. For now, those who were bitten by the beasts they themselves took from the zoo are already repentant. It's already a considerable number. However, there are still many others who are waiting for the secret weapon that the Führer has, but never used.

*Lincoln Secco He is a professor at the Department of History at USP

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