2010-05-23

 

World without PIGS: an alternative History

Without Greece, there would be no German philosophers. All of Europe would be like the forgotten (Europeans of the) Georgia back-country in Deliverance: where homo-eroticism is enforced by the NRA gun, rather than the naked statues of our national galleries.

Without Italy, there would be no German (Holy Roman) Kaiser. All of Europe would be in a permanent war among unwashed, illiterate troglodytes.

Without Spain, there would be no planetary glory for the Habsburgs. There would be no European financial might, without the silver and gold brought by Spain from the Americas---which the Habsburgs spent in war after war throughout Europe, resulting in debt after debt, and which also ultimately funded the economical and social empowerment of the Dutch, England, and France.

But without Portugal, Germany would probably be a province of Turkey. It is not just that without Portugal there would not be the 500+ year-long European dominance of the planet, now seemingly on its final stretch---allowing Germany to be the World's first or second larger exporter. An often forgotten effect of the Portuguese absolute dominance of the African and Asian oceans for 150 years, was the weakening of the power of the Sultan of Cairo and the Ottoman (see, for instance the Battle of Diu). The Portuguese opened a military front from the East against those two Muslim powers, taking away their main source of revenue: all eastern trade, chief among it, the spice trade. With this unprecedented coup (Portugal, was after all the first planetary-scale, maritime Empire), Europeans were able to contain the rapid Islamic expansion. Without the Portuguese Eastern front and trade control, and the Spanish Gold from the Americas which served Charles V and his (and Isabel of Portugal's) "Kaiser" descendants well, all of Central (if not indeed all of) Europe would be Ottoman.

So, people of Germany and Europe, while the so-called PIGS certainly need to get their act together, think of how indebted you are to us. RESPECT!






Língua - Caetano Veloso

Gosto de sentir a minha língua roçar a língua de Luís de Camões
Gosto de ser e de estar
E quero me dedicar a criar confusões de prosódia
E uma profusão de paródias
Que encurtem dores
E furtem cores como camaleões
Gosto do Pessoa na pessoa
Da rosa no Rosa
E sei que a poesia está para a prosa
Assim como o amor está para a amizade
E quem há de negar que esta lhe é superior?
E deixe os Portugais morrerem à míngua
"Minha pátria é minha língua"
Fala Mangueira! Fala!

Flor do Lácio Sambódromo Lusamérica latim em pó
O que quer
O que pode esta língua?

Vamos atentar para a sintaxe dos paulistas
E o falso inglês relax dos surfistas
Sejamos imperialistas! Cadê? Sejamos imperialistas!
Vamos na velô da dicção choo-choo de Carmem Miranda
E que o Chico Buarque de Holanda nos resgate
E – xeque-mate – explique-nos Luanda
Ouçamos com atenção os deles e os delas da TV Globo
Sejamos o lobo do lobo do homem
Lobo do lobo do lobo do homem
Adoro nomes
Nomes em ã
De coisas como rã e ímã
Ímã ímã ímã ímã ímã ímã ímã ímã
Nomes de nomes
Como Scarlet Moon de Chevalier, Glauco Mattoso e Arrigo Barnabé
e Maria da Fé

Flor do Lácio Sambódromo Lusamérica latim em pó
O que quer
O que pode esta língua?

Se você tem uma idéia incrível é melhor fazer uma canção
Está provado que só é possível filosofar em alemão
Blitz quer dizer corisco
Hollywood quer dizer Azevedo
E o Recôncavo, e o Recôncavo, e o Recôncavo meu medo
A língua é minha pátria
E eu não tenho pátria, tenho mátria
E quero frátria
Poesia concreta, prosa caótica
Ótica futura
Samba-rap, chic-left com banana
(– Será que ele está no Pão de Açúcar?
– Tá craude brô
– Você e tu
– Lhe amo
– Qué queu te faço, nego?
– Bote ligeiro!
– Ma’de brinquinho, Ricardo!? Teu tio vai ficar desesperado!
– Ó Tavinho, põe camisola pra dentro, assim mais pareces um espantalho!
– I like to spend some time in Mozambique
– Arigatô, arigatô!)
Nós canto-falamos como quem inveja negros
Que sofrem horrores no Gueto do Harlem
Livros, discos, vídeos à mancheia
E deixa que digam, que pensem, que falem


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Comments:
Gee, I've got to disagree: not with the surface but with the bottom of it all. Countries, whatever that means, are not equal to individual persons and shouldn't been treated as such. They don't have rights, individuals have. People deserve respect not entities like countries. Also, if you identify yourself with people who lived more or less in the same place you are now (most of them which are not your ancestors at all) and claim the glory.. shouldn't you take also the responsability for their atrocities?
Well, I don't claim the glory of Cervantes neither feel obligated by the extermination of indigean cultures in south America just because by passport says I'm spaniard. I did not choose this tribe, I'm trapped hereand try to survive.
 
Those are all good points. I do think we all need to consider both glory and responsibility for present and past actions of the collectives we are parts of---at least when we are still receiving benefits and liabilities from our collective history.

What I want to ultimately emphasize is that the the collective history of Europeans is much more intertwined than the nationalistic narrative (i.e. bullshit) that the XIX and XX centuries imposed on us. So all this story of PIGS and northern and central European countries like Germany now suffering the weight of their southern partners is only a part of the story. None of these northern European countries would be where they are if the southern countries had not produced (and ultimately exhausted themselves in) their World Empires.

It is time to acknowledge that, from a planetary viewpoint, we Europeans are all part of of the same human "eigenvector". France, Germany, Scandinavia and the like would be probably poorer than Africa right now if it weren't for the Portuguese and Spanish (and their offspring/parasitic British and Dutch) Empires.

My point is that we should just stop this crap and start working for greater European integration with respect and without the typical xenophobia we get from the North---perfectly visible in the PIGS acronym.
 
Respect is something you need to earn, not something you deserve, and you're not going to earn any by self-pity, inverse snobbery or counterfactual history.

Attitudes like those are not confined to the countries of southern Europe, they're found in the north of England, especially Liverpool.

Forget Europe. Portugal didn't get rich in the past by ignoring Asia, it got rich by trading with it. Os teus egrégios avós ficariam espantados à falta de interesse comercial português na Ásia. By the way, 'arigato' in Japanese is NOT a Portuguese loanword.

Stop taking offence on behalf of other people, or your country. It's even more tribal and primitive than supporting a football team.

One of the nicest people I know is from Belgium, but that doesn't mean I hold her personally responsible for what her country did in the Congo or for the maladministration of her country today.

If I only chose friends on the basis of how well-governed their countries are, I'd only be friends with people from Switzerland or Singapore, and that fills me with horror. Thankfully I don't, as many of my friends are from Portugal and East Timor, and I find them more interesting.

 
Respect is something you need to earn, not something you deserve, and you're not going to earn any by self-pity, inverse snobbery or counterfactual history.

Attitudes like those are not confined to the countries of southern Europe, they're found in the north of England, especially Liverpool.

Forget Europe. Portugal didn't get rich in the past by ignoring Asia, it got rich by trading with it. Os teus egrégios avós ficariam espantados à falta de interesse comercial português na Ásia. By the way, 'arigato' in Japanese is NOT a Portuguese loanword.

Stop taking offence on behalf of other people, or your country. It's even more tribal and primitive than supporting a football team.

One of the nicest people I know is from Belgium, but that doesn't mean I hold her personally responsible for what her country did in the Congo or for the maladministration of her country today.

If I only chose friends on the basis of how well-governed their countries are, I'd only be friends with people from Switzerland or Singapore, and that fills me with horror. Thankfully I don't, as many of my friends are from Portugal and East Timor, and I find them more interesting.

 
Dear Ken,

Thank you for your comment. I don't completely get your point, though. I said nothing about friendship or anything like that. The point of my article was indeed to counter the racist talk underlying the PIGS moniker, so used then by English magazines like The Economist. I wanted to be as aggressive as that term is. I disagree with you that such counter-response is not useful.

Just a few other things: the historical facts (as much as historical data can be facts) are not invented, namely the gold of Spain used to fuel the Hapsburg wars against the Ottomans, and the weakining of the Sultan of Cairo via Portuguese dominance of the Indian ocean. The possible consequences that could follow had those and other historical facts not happened, can certainly be entertained via historical fiction, hopefully with the effect of having Europeans respect their common history---my goal.

The question of Arigato/Obrigado is not fully linguistically settled, as far as I understand. But I did not raise that here---Caetano's song can be understood simply as a cosmopolitan ingredient in his tropicalista stew, especially given the rich cultural exchanges between Japan and Brazil.

In any case, the Portuguese influence in Japan is in several other words like Tempura (and vice-versa), though perhaps the biggest impact was with the introduction of firearms (which changed the existing civil war and lead to unification of japan).

Finally, I completely agree with you that it is shocking how little commercial attention the Portuguese pay to Asia! Two of my favorite places on earth are Macau and Nagasaki, where I feel completely at home. Despite the fact that Portuguese is an official language of China, I am heartbroken by how little my countrymen understand the opportunities there and elsewhere. I have learned Japanese and engage as much as possible, but, alas, I am not a businessman.

Luis Rocha
P.S. I COMPLETELY disagree that Switzerland is well-governed. It is an outlier country, as most countries cannot afford to count on so much money that is laundered from all sorts of illicit business around the World.
 

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