A new Brazil-US relationship can displace and replace the axis of the global order.
That displacement and replacement is already taking place.
It is not the economy or military power that determine the structure of the global order, but ideas. It is ideas that determine if and how a country exerts its power. There are countries which are economically and militarily powerful, but where the spirit doesn’t blow.
We are displacing the axis of global order in many ways: through our commitment to democracy (true commitment, not only lipservice, as we show in the case of Venezuela), through an open economy, and through shared values, mostly those that are called conservative values.
For almost 30 years now we have seen in the world a liberal, globalized economy, which is great, but it lies on top of a total absence of values, or on top of ideological values, those of what is called political correctness. And this is not working. This reliance on no values, or on the wrong set of values, is taking the liberal global economy towards a world where the liberal democracies will not be the dominant powers.
Something is wrong there. In the past, free trade served the purposes of freedom. Today, I am not sure this is the case. Free trade is essential, but free trade must, once more, be brought to serve freedom. A liberal economy can only be based on liberty, it cannot be an instrument against liberty.
The best hope we have today is to create a solid amalgam uniting an open, competitive, liberal economy, with the basis of conservative values.
We must break the perverse amalgam of the free economy with an ideological structure which is opposite to freedom. And we must prepare a new amalgam of liberal economy and conservative values, which means, an open economy and an open society. A society built around political correctness is essentially a closed society, where thought is closed from sentiment, where the road between man and God is blocked, where words are locked away from reality. A society built around conservative values is organic, it is an open system where different things can happen which could not be deduced from the terms of the system, where contact with tradition can generate true innovation. Tradition means openness because tradition is the accumulation of lived experience, and lived experienced is necessarily open to the unknown, to the numinous, to the marvelous. In the politically correct realm nothing is numinous, nothing is spontaneous, nothing is even remotely marvelous.
The blend of open economy and conservative values can only be performed inside a nation. The nation is the alchemical vase where trade and tradition can merge. The nation is still the only space where open economy and free society can blend. Because the nation is natural, as their shared etymology indicates.
Conservative values give rise to a healthy society, a cohesive and coherent society where people are happy together, and their community is built on mutual trust, not just by an accident of being thrown together in the same territory.
The policitally correct ideology gives rise to a society which is fragmented, where different groups hate each other, whithout nationhood, without a sense of belonging, where being a citizen of a certain country means no more than having a piece of paper which entitles you to some benefits, without any deeper feeling associated to it.
The West, after 1989, got used to not thinking. To take society and culture for granted, and to concentrate only on economic management. Societies lost their capacity to generate meaning. The economy and the search for competitiveness cannot generate meaning, cannot fill someone’s heart.
If there is no nation, no family, no culture, history, heroes, or tradition, the economy cannot fill your heart, and your heart will be occupied by ideology.
The indifference to the realm of values and sentiment brought us to where we are today (or to where we were until yesterday, as we are beginning to change that). Brought us to a situation where the economy, the liberal world order, is indifferent to liberty and democracy.
This is essential: the liberal economy without democracy has no future.
In Brazil, it is clear today that the liberal economic reforms can only be achieved if they are coupled with a solid conservative basis in civil society. We are lucky in that regard, because in Brazil the people who advocate for conservative causes like family values, gun ownership, who have a pro-life stance and who want an assertive foreign policy defending democracy and freedom are, most often, the same people who want an open economy, the rule of law, a political compact with no room for corruption.
Liberal economic reforms have been tried before in Brazil, but never succeeded, because there was no strong social basis to put pressure on the politicians. It’s simply that. Only a conservative, patriotic agenda can mobilize people to exert that pressure for the economic reforms.
A system will never reform itself from within. Only from the outside is that possible, only on the basis of meaning and feeling, only around the flag and the faith can the system be truly changed and reformed. Only under the leadership of an outsider like President Jair Bolsonaro can the system be challenged, as it’s happening today.
So we want economic opening and, for the first time, we think we can deliver it because we have a leader from outside the system, and because the people are mobilized.
And for that process of economic opening, the best partner is the United States, as the Brazil-US Investment Map prepared by the Brazilian export and investment promotion agency APEX is showing. Because the United States is an open economy, where the private sector is the main player, and an open society, a country that has blended together freedom and competitiveness along all its history.