According to Napoleon, what moved humanity was greed and fear. A great connoisseur of human nature, Napoleon also had a solid classical education, so he was able to draw inspiration from a speech by a 19th century Athenian politician. V BC, who considered that what mattered to mankind was interest, fear and honor. It was a more complete and more balanced formula, but the great emperor, a pragmatic and hurried genius, thought he could simplify and do without honor. In Portugal – and to a large extent in much of the globalized world – simplification has widened and fear has also diminished. Fearless, and dispensing honor, greed alone has taken over the reins of this garden planted by the sea. The result is in sight, so it will not be enough to work for recovery and economic development now. Our priorities will have to consider the reintroduction of fear and, above all, the restoration of honor on a highly visible pedestal.
Portugal are not doing well and are likely to get worse. Only the traditional moderation of customs and the cushion of European funds allowed us to live without worries until the bells rang. As Warren Buffet would say, at low tide you can see who has a swimsuit, so homemade thugs just ceased to be our pride and sympathy when at low tide the harsh reality set in. is imposed. diaphanous fantasy.
To remedy the evil of this collective drama, the easy reflex is to attribute the blame to the system, whether it is capitalism or democracy. End with one, the other or both, and salvation, some will say, will await us. But so that we don’t all fall into hell, it’s worth looking at what went wrong and figuring out what needs to be done to correct the path. Because the alternative is hell.
Capitalism is not a perfect system. The difficulty begins just when you want to define exactly what capitalism is. From city capitalism of the Italian Renaissance to Victorian imperialism of the century. XIX, to the American West, to the social-democratic capitalism of Northern Europe, to Chinese capitalism – which has the particularity of being led by a Communist Party which defines itself as anti-capitalist – the list is endless and the forms that takes capitalism, They are too. To simplify, we can accept that a system is called capitalist in which an individual can create and hold wealth, as opposed to a system where he cannot.
In contrast to capitalism are models of social organization where the right to individual wealth is not allowed. Religious communities are there and since the end of the century. XIX, Marxist Projects for the Salvation of Humanity, which assume the mission of creating egalitarian societies, stripped of private property, to which the fundamental source of injustice is attributed. Today, it is clear why these beliefs were originally fertile ground in the savage capitalism of the century. XIX, as well as in the incredibly unequal Russian society of the Czars. However, the prophecies of the end of capitalism sinned by overt exaggeration and Western capitalists were moving in them, beginning to integrate issues of egalitarianism, social responsibility and, now, the century. XXI, environmental concerns. In contrast, anti-capitalist redemptive experiments were occurring in various parts of the globe. However, one conclusion can be drawn from all of this: Economic success has never been achieved in this way despite the dramatic sacrifice of freedom. For those who defend the end of capitalism, dreaming of the path from socialism to communism, today an (unguided) visit of the Venezuelan or North Korean models would be enough to shed light. This is clearly lacking for who, as incredible as it may seem, declares himself an admirer of the potentialities of these exemplary hells.
Capitalism and democracy are not options for which alternatives should be sought. These are the foundations of our existence as free citizens
If the liquidation of capitalism does not solve the crisis and, on the contrary, exacerbates the problem exponentially, is it necessary to liquidate democracy? The vertigo of these types of solutions has the advantage of simplicity and even works sometimes, as in one-party China. But is this what we as living beings aspire to? Be part of a cog where freedom is seen as a sin that we must purge?
The temptation to abandon democracy in times of crisis to solve urgent problems is part of the traditional recipe, both on the right and on the left. The result is not, in substance, very different since, as Albert Camus said, fascism is the glorification of the executioner by itself, while communism, more dramatic, is the glorification of the executioner by its victims. In one or the other solution, man ceases to exist in the name of his alleged savior, but who, as Camus said, is in fact his own executioner.
Capitalism and democracy are not options for which alternatives should be sought. They are the foundations of our existence as free citizens living in prosperous societies and are fundamental requirements of any constitutional order. But for capitalism and democracy to provide the answers that societies need to function in harmony, it is necessary to find ways to protect the public interest. It’s something the Greeks discovered over 2,500 years ago, but today it’s a little-known concept in Portugal.
Partisan domination of the state apparatus and subjugation to economic powers have given us incompetence and corruption as a rule of service to the public. And without solving this, the state can only be an obstacle and an accomplice in the failure that we want to overcome. We deserve more
Today’s economic stimulus package is not enough to save the country. The two pillars of which the Athenian politician spoke were still to be found: fear and honor.
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Fear will have to be recovered through the exercise of justice which, in Portugal, has disappeared and left greed at liberty. If this front is not resolved, with the creation of case law and the means that we do not currently have, as soon as the miraculous European funds disappear, we will wake up to a reality that will be brutal.
Honor is, of the three pillars, the most difficult to apprehend, because it is very dependent on the weather and the local culture. But why not consider that honor means duty fulfilled in a righteous and honest manner, both on the part of the citizens towards society and on the part of the state towards the citizens? If the promotion of the exercise of honor by citizens and businesses is possible through civic initiatives and self-regulation, we urgently need a State that fulfills its duty and is efficient and independent. in the exercise of the functions entrusted to it. And if there is one thing that is clear with the succession of crises that we are going through, it is that the State is essential to solve the problems of societal survival, which private interests do not understand or recognize. The illusion of the minimal state is dead with these crises, but what we have in Portugal in many areas of the public service is its denial, despite the islands of excellence that remain thanks to the dedication of some. Partisan domination of the state apparatus and subjugation to economic powers have given us incompetence and corruption as a rule of service to the public. And without solving this, the state can only be an obstacle and an accomplice in the failure that we want to overcome.
We deserve more.