Eduardo Lourenço left us. With an advanced age and an extraordinary life, we can only celebrate his passing between us and respect his memory. It was one of the most brilliant to think of Portugal, our place and vocation in the world. It leaves a vast work, among books and conferences, essential for those who want to understand what we are and where we can go.
I do not say that it has left a legacy of absolute truths, but it has always been deep and rigorous enough to deserve to be taken seriously. Of his caliber, only Adriano Moreira remains, another reference of structured, serious and rigorous thinking; another consequent view of portugality.
Those who follow French, English, Italian or Spanish life can easily think of a handful of names that are references to the thought and culture of these countries, with a habitual presence in the public space. In fact, the public space reserves an area for debate, controversy, reflection on the nation, or nations. The Germans do it with equal profusion and quality, but perhaps less accessibility and "democracy"; the academy studies the people, but does not look for them with enthusiasm. This realization of realities that are very close to us, has for a long time left me with enormous concern, and the departure of Eduardo Lourenço is a good excuse to return to the topic.
The dryness of structured thinking about Portugal and Portugal is absolutely frightening. The way we slowly reject the culture and intellectuality of public space, devaluing, condemning and condemning us.
The contempt for which we vote in literature, history and philosophy affects the way we see politics and sociology, and the way we act in the economy. Yes, the priority should be this, first, knowledge, consolidation, and then action. On the contrary, the subordination of everything else to the economy, is the roadmap for a nation without a soul.
I was careful to see when Mário Viegas or Natália Correia disappeared from the small screen, and I notice that as the concrete flooded us, paid for with “easy” EEC money, the trace of the culture that still remained persisted in the public space. The Portugal of concrete, of easy and shiny money, buried Portugal that insisted on thinking. The intellectuals that existed took over the house, had lost the vigor that the dictatorship had stimulated, were not careful to stimulate the next generation, gave up the country and withered away. Education policy took care of the rest.
This turning point, which materializes with the death of Sá Carneiro and Adelino Amaro da Costa and the beginning of Soares' political decline, marks the divorce between politics and culture. The new political class, which came to power in the mid-eighties, occupies the space, takes care of everything and sees the country as a great business opportunity.
Culture, in its most diverse forms, enters the column of costs to be avoided in the balance sheet of the new order. Entrepreneurship was the cure for diseases like literature or philosophy. The new polished marble would make Jerónimos' corroded limestone forget. A stunning vehicle would stifle any PhD in philology. A resplendent room in "Olá" or "Caras", started to contrast with the privacy of a library. Dedicated banking service is now worth more than an office at the university. Someone called this a successful Portugal.
Politics was gradually populated by a new caste. People like Jaime Gama, Vasco Graça Moura or Raul Miguel Rosado Fernandes were more and more a flower in the lapel of a regime with a bad conscience. The path had no return.
I am deeply convinced that the deepest reason for our structural backwardness is cultural. It is the heaviest legacy that Salazar left us; the anthropopessimistic vision of a people who want to be meek, little educated and even less cultured. That “poor but honorable” thing, the death of the broader horizons. An invoice that we paid until today. But, even so, Salazar had an idea of Portugal and culture, allowed elites, let knowledge, art and thought spread, despite censorship. On the other hand, repression, as a stimulating spring, did the rest. The people having remained in the dark, there was, nevertheless, a reasonably interesting and numerous elite. To the extent that it was not known to renew and pass the concrete test.
This desolation remains. The orphanage of Lourenço and Agostinho, the longing for Adriano's words and his eyes on António Barreto, Jaime Nogueira Pinto or José Gil. Huge and frightening dryness. Yes, it scares that there is no start in the country where Boaventura Sousa Santos is treated as a thinker.
The author writes according to the old spelling.