Tropicalismo in Power

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Wired goes to Brazil, and paints it as a Slashdot utopia:

Brazil, in its approach to drug patents, in its support for the free software movement, and in its resistance to Big Content's attempts to shape global information policy, is transforming itself into an open source nation—a proving ground for the proposition that the future of ideas doesn't have to be the program of tightly controlled digital rights now headed our way via Redmond, Hollywood, and Washington, DC.

No surprise there either, actually. In a world divided into the content-rich and the content-poor, it's increasingly clear to those on the losing side of the divide that the traditional means of addressing the imbalance—piracy—is a stopgap solution at best. Sooner or later some country was bound to square off with the IP empire and be the first to insist, as a matter of state policy and national identity, on an alternative.

While I was interested to read about the Brazilian government's approach to Linux, pharmaceutical patents, etc., the most interesting thing I learned from the article is that Gilberto Gil is now the country's Minister of Culture. For those of you who don't know who Gil is, this is a bit like making Bob Dylan the head of the NEA.

NEXT: About That Political Capital, Mr. President

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  1. Gilberto Gil is now the country’s Minister of Culture. For those of you who don’t know who Gil is, this is a bit like naming Bob Dylan the head of the NEA.

    Cool. But, not nearly as cool as abolishing their Ministry of Culture and abolishing our government’s NEA.

  2. Jesse,

    I remember last year your posting a link (on LeftLibertarian) to an article about Lula proposing a Third World G-20 “free trade area.”

    Maybe Brazil will lead the genuine free trade alternative to the neoliberals’ GATT, NAFTA, FTAA, etc.

  3. Ah, thanks for the correction and link. I got a good laugh out of Stephen Fetchet’s complaint about Third World “freeloading” on Western aid. Translated into non-Bizarro, that means Western-owned corporations in the Third World freeloading on Western aid.

  4. Well, Brazil is an economic power to be reckoned with these days (world’s tenth largest economy as a I recall).

  5. NarcoNews had an article by John Perry Barlow in part about Gilberto Gil way back in the day right after Lula was elected:

    http://www.narconews.com/Issue29/article728.html

    Brazil under Lula has taken a much bigger interest in events outside its border — rightfully taking on the western goons Bailey shills for at the WTO meeting in Cancun, sending troops to Haiti (maybe not the best idea), forming a third world trade block (still in the process) and internally trying to change the drug laws and DeSoto style land reform. Good luck to them.

    If Brazil successfully becomes a bigger regional power it will come in line with Ted Galen Carpenters (at Cato) idea of an alternative to one world super power (the US) to decentralized regional powers like Brazil, South Africa, etc. taking more responsibilty outside their borders and thus if the US allows it of course, taking some of the SuperPower weight off our shoulders.

  6. Spur,

    There may come a point where the U.S. doesn’t really have a choice. I still think that this period of American dominance is anomalous and that sooner or later it will no longer be the case.

  7. Gilberto Gil is an awful, awful Minister. He is pushing through a project in Congress that might lead to outright censorship of movies and TV. It’s just the sort of thing that makes Reason readers’ hairs stand on end.

    There’s probably stuff about it in the NY Times. Look for Larry Rohter’s byline, he’s their man down here (and was almost expelled by our government because he said the prez is a bit of a drinker).

  8. Sure enough:

    http://www.freeserbia.net/Articles/2004/Journalists.html

    I like Gil’s music, but of course I agree with Rick: They’d be better off without such a bureaucracy in the first place. And without the media regulations described in the Times piece.

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