Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„A new model for society“ – Frei Betto, Brasiliens wichtigster Befreiungstheologe.

When I participated in the World Social Forum for Latin America on April 15 in Rio de Janeiro, I enquired: faced with the present financial crisis, what should be saved, capitalism or humanity?  The answer, apparently, is obvious. Why the adverb ”apparently? It is very simple: many believe that there is no future for humanity without capitalism. But has it had a past?  


      In the almost 200 years of the prevalence of capitalism the balance is excellent if we consider the quality of life of 20% of the world population who live in the rich countries of the Northern hemisphere. What about the remaining 80%?  It is also excellent for banks and large corporations. How to explain, however, in light of elementary ethical and humanitarian principles, the following data provided by the UN and FAO: of the 6.5 billion people who today inhabit the earth, almost 4 billion live below the poverty line, 1.3 billion are below the line of abject poverty and 950 million suffer from chronic malnutrition.     

If we want to gain any profit from the present financial crisis we need to think about how to change the course of history and not merely how to save corporations, banks and insolvent countries. We must go to the root of the problems and advance as quickly as possible in the construction of a new society based on satisfying social needs, of respect for the rights of nature and for popular participation in a context of political freedom.

The challenge consists in building a new economic and social model which places finances at the service of a new democratic system based on satisfying every human right: the right to decent employment, sovereignty regarding food production, respect for the environment, cultural diversity, social and solidary economy and a new concept of wealth.

The present financial crisis is systemic and of civilization, demanding new paradigms. If the medieval period held faith as a paradigm and the modern held reason, the post modern cannot commit the mistake of turning the market into a paradigm. We are all in the middle of a crisis which is not merely financial; it also involves food production, the environment, energy, migration, the society and politics, i.e. a profound crisis which places production, commercialisation, consumerism and being human at risk. It is a crisis of values.

Once the financial ”bubble slows down it will be useless for governments to try and convert the tax payer™s money into a life buoy for insolvent private conglomerates. The crisis demands finding a way out which is capable of overcoming the economic system which exacerbates social inequality, favours xenophobia and racism, criminalises social movements and generates violence. A system which tries give priority to the private appropriation of profits above universal human rights, private property above the common good and insists in reducing people to the condition of consumers and not in promoting them to the dignity of citizens.

The United Nations must be transformed, reformed and democratised into an adequate forum so as to co-ordinate solutions and answers to the present crisis. It is necessary to implement international mechanisms for the control of movement of capital, of the regulating of free trade, of the supremacy of the dollar and offshore accounts and to secure financial stability on a world scale.  

We will not find a way out if we do not take into account that new values should be rigorously enforced such as declaring absolute poverty, particularly in the form of malnutrition, morally unacceptable. It is necessary to build a political culture of sharing the Earth™s goods and the fruits of human labour and move from globocolonization to the globalization of solidarity.

The Millennium Targets and particularly the seven basic objectives of the 1995 United Nations Programme for Development should serve as the basis for an agreement for a new civilization: 1) universal primary education, 2) an immediate reduction of 50% in adult illiteracy, 3) primary health care for all, 4) the elimination of serious malnutrition and a 50% reduction in moderate malnutrition, 5) family planning services, 6) fresh drinking water within the reach of all and 7) low interest credit for social enterprises.

Historical experience shows that putting these targets into effect demands profound structural transformation within today™s predominant model of society so as to reduce significantly the deep asymmetry between nations and inequality between people.

*Frei Betto is a writer and co-author with Luis Fernando Veríssimo and others of ”O desafio ético (The Ethical Challenge) (Garamond).

Copyright 2009 by Frei Betto. Without prior authorization, the reproduction of this article is forbidden by either electronic or printed means.  Contact: MHP “ Literary Agents. (E-mail: mhpal@terra.com.br)

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.








Dieser Beitrag wurde am Sonntag, 26. April 2009 um 01:02 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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