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Economy & Energy
No 32: June - July 2002  
 ISSN 1518-2932

seta.gif (5908 bytes)No 32 Em






e&e No 32

The New Utopia

The Brazilian  Electric System

Letter to Professor N.

The New Utopia

Carlos Feu Alvim

Our generation (those born in the forties) grew with the illusion that we were changing the world. The paths followed were different and not always convergent but we all (or a good part of us) had an ideal and we pursued the utopia of a better country in a world that would be freer, more just, and more humane and that would have more solidarity. 

It did not take a long time for us to perceive that the JK years were not a natural fact of life. But Jânio’s unbalance, Jango’s inconsistencies and the military regime night[1] did not efface our hope since and in spite of everything, Brazil was growing and was changing. Even the lost decade of the eighties was one of willful reaction against adversity, when the Country reacted against the crisis by facing the challenge (restricting ourselves here to the energy area) of producing petroleum in deep waters, of pioneering the alcohol effort, of constructing Itaipú and enriching uranium and reconstructing democracy as well.

The nineties were the years of neo-liberalism’s laissez faire and, paradoxically, of neo-interventionism in the currency, foreign exchange and interests. Years of non-planning, of destructing the Government’s capacity of intervening in the industrial, educational and development policies. Since power should be exerted, the market got a helping hand from the brutal interventions in the financial variables, whose long and medium term consequences never were nor are correctly evaluated.

The market god would solve everything, external investment would substitute the internal saving, modernity would eliminate backwardness, and opening to the market would rescue us from underdevelopment. Competitiveness would make us competitive. Children would have the right to choose between school and the streets, protected by the new children and adolescent statute and assisted by NGO. Partnerships with private initiative would solve problems that the Government could not solve.

The old-fashioned Brazilian entrepreneurs would be forced to manage their business without any protection from the State and even under severe interventions on foreign exchange and interests. As compensation, they would be free from the “excessive” rights of the workers and structural reforms would alleviate the taxes burden. Except for “state careers”, the public function would be destroyed and the privileges of public servants would be revoked [2].

Less government was the motto, plans and sectorial policies were things of the past. Privatization would bring better services and smaller tariffs.  Reactions against the destruction of the national production capacity, against the dismantling of efficient companies (even though state-owned) and against the deterioration of excellence centers were only corporative reactions. The end of ideologies was proclaimed and, in some way, that of the nations.

Things did not work? Reforms should go deeper. Reforms have led to disastrous results? They were carried out irresponsibly and corruption was rife. Tariffs have climbed and services were not improved? Failures occurred in the privatization process and tariffs were compressed and unrealistic in the past. 

Ideas have changed and will change History. If ideologies are ideas transformed into dogma, then the lack of ideas means “the end of History”. Great changes in the destiny of nations were based on ideas and even ideologies. It was a revolution in the form of thinking that created and perpetuated the Greek civilization. A new idea about government form and the role of the state created the Roman Empire. The idea of Republic raised the importance of France in the world and gave birth to the nation, hegemonic nowadays, of the United States. Nazism recovered Germany but it also generated the larger disaster of the human race. Ideas have also created Israel and they drive the Islamic revolution. Marxist ideas produced the Soviet Empire. From the same ideas and from an ideological reform a new China was created.

Only hope was left for man when he opened the Pandora box. One of these days, a marketing expert, spokesman of the new gods, said that the people vote on those who bring them hope. We do not want to, and we should not, go back to the past, on the opposite, we need for Brazil [3] a new vision for the future: a new utopia.

[1] President Juscelino Kubitscheck (1956-1960) adopted a development policy and moved the capital city from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia; Janio Quadros stood down the Presidency in 1961 after 6 months in power and was substituted by Vice- President João Goulart who in turn was ousted by a military coup in 1964.

[2] It is interesting to notice that these “state careers” do not include functions related with education, health and safety that were regarded as the main responsibilities of the State.

[3] South America and perhaps the World need it as well.

Graphic Edition/Edição Gráfica:
Editoração Eletrônic

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

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