Marina and I went to a dinner party at the apartment of her friend Maira. It was to be an interesting night, because Maira worked as a journalist for the landless movement. She identified herself as a Communist and was a member of one of Brazil’s many Communist parties. Her Party is called PSOL and is based on the philosophy of a thinker called Gramsci. The other guests were to be Vera, who I had previously met at the University, and her boyfriend. Vera is a patricinha. The most efficient way to explain what a patricinha is, is to say that the Portugese title of Clueless is As Patricinhas de Beverly Hills. I was looking forward to eating pasta with a patricinha and a pinko, but Vera bailed at the last minute, so it was me, Marina, Maira and her equally commie boyfriend, Joao and her veterinarian roommate. I forgot the veterinarian’s name, but she was cute.
In some ways, Maira was what you might expect. She came from a financially comfortable family and had short hair. But she was not a bad looking girl at all, and was tolerant and fun. She busted up when I offered her a high five, after she pointed out that Brazil and the United States had been the two most efficient murderers of indigenous populations in the Americas. She was funny too. She didn’t agree with Brazil’s Trotskyist party and said, “after the revolution, the will be the first to die.” Although Vera flaked, I found it interesting that a staunch Communist and an equally zealous patricinha were friends.
Coming from the states and holding a degree in economics, I was a bit curious as to how anyone could be a Communist in this day and age. I understood that Brazil was a country with some major injustices, not much different in nature from those back home. We are both good at killing Indians and ignoring the suffering of poor children. But at the same time, we were both countries with rich cultures, accessible to most people. Neither country was Cuba under Batista. A bloody revolution that would probably fail, and even if successful could easily wind up as an oppressive, totalitarian state didn’t strike me as the most prudent course of action..Besides, in both the United States and Brazil, the majority of the poor have full stomachs and color TV. I just don’t think that you can have a revolution when Seinfeild is on and I have slight moral reservations about running around butchering other people when you could be at home eating well.
So I asked Maira why she was a Communist, instead of say, a Green. She said, and everyone agreed, that the Greens were one of the most corrupt parties in Brazil, which is like having the smallest dick at a gun show. Well, OK, but isn’t a revolution basically impossible? Even if you got some headway, the US would intervene and install some murderous dictator who might massacre tens of thousands of people. Maira said, “that is a risk.” But one reason that she and her boyfriend liked their Communist party was that it was focused more on making changes within the system than destroying it. My impression was that their party was basically a version of the Greens or Social Democrats, with the preamble, “Ideally the working people of the world would unite yadda yadda yadda, and something would happen involving chains, but…” I asked what they would they would choose if they could wave a magic wand and turn the Brazilian state into either one resembling Cuba or one resembling Sweden, or perhaps France. They agreed that it was a tough question, which seemed to be their way of saying, “obviously the answer is Sweden, but ideologically the answer is Cuba.” Freud is also still taken seriously in Brazil. Still, I must make my respect for Maira explicit, before I belittle Brazilian ideologies any further. She is actually working full time to help poor people, whereas the foundation of my life is avoiding honest work by exploiting people with gambling problems so that I can buy liquor and sleep until the afternoon. A world populated by Mairas would be a world of compassion and justice. A world populated by Erichs would have a thunder dome in every major city.
The irony, particularly with respect to Marx, is that middle and upper class youth can reside in an ideological fantasy land because of extreme privilege. The Brazilian notion of a middle class person is someone who owns a beach house. It’s normal to live at home until your mid to late twenties and virtually every person I met in that range who lived on their own, still took money. Part of the reason for this is that newly minted, middle class professionals make dick. But it is also a cultural norm. I met one guy, a Marxist, who had been in college for eleven years without obtaining a degree. Now, I think parents should financially support their children into adulthood if they can, but it is taken completely for granted and the culture of insular privilege seems to foster a certain disconcertion from reality, in which there can actually exist a large association of Freudian therapists. There’s kind of a big Woody Allen movie crossed with a Rage Against the Machine concert.
I also learned that many students celebrated 9/11, actually celebrated, by going out and drinking. They thought it was a blow against imperialism. I’m not much of a flag waver. The over hyped images of Palestinians celebrating 9/11 don’t even bother me that much. I can understand that someone who lives a life of suffering,, mis-education and impotence might rejoice in a tragedy in a wealthy, adversarial country. I am much larger than the average Brazilian. I have to say, if I ran across some wealthy bitch who claimed to be a Marxist, on his way back from Freudian therapy, cheering about the fact that right wing, religious extremists slaughtered thousands of civilians in my country I think the guy would be introduced to at least one aspect of reality. Hopefully there would be a domino of epiphanies beginning` with, “hey, being hurt really hurts ” Depending on the sequence of events, I would either visit him in the hospital or request that he visit me in jail. One of us would extend our stay, depending on how explained the belief that the belief that it is OK to murder someone because of where they live is contrary to the spirit of imperialism. Someone would certainly have an extended stay when I asked what Marx would think about celebrating the death of civilians at the hands of right wing religious fanatics by buying $60 in drinks with daddy’s money while people in your own country go hungry, because it would be difficult form him to answer with a collapsed trachea.
On to more the important matter of licit drugs. Maira had been to Cuba. The most surprising account of her trip was that Cubans didn’t generally realize how many problems the poor face in the US and Brazil. They thought it was impossible that societies with so much money could be so inhumane. I always figured that the press in Cuba was constantly running stories about the homeless and uninsured in America, but perhaps not. The least surprising thing about Mairas trip to Cuba was that she had loaded up on top shelf, Cuban rum and Cigars, which she was willing to share. Because her family had come from Czechoslovakia only a generation before, Maira was the one Brazilian I met who understood my gripe against Brazil’s terrible beer. I felt like a Kansas transsexual meeting others like myself on Oprah’s stage. Marina mentioned my gripe and Maira said, “yes, my family is Czech.” I said, “so… you… understand?” She nodded and cracked open a dark, but refreshing brew that I never saw again. I liked her.