Brazil has great potential to hold a position as a world leader. The prospects for middle class growth is significant. There are ample resources. Culturally, they are cool – they can dance, create great music and produce incredible athletes. There are a lot of Brazilians to idolize. (I believe there is a correlation between the cool factor and world domination. Throughout history, the powers that be – Rome, Egypt, France, etc. – were admired for their culture. This applies to unfortunate periods of world leadership as well, for example, Hitler gained followers because he was charismatic – Castro too. It’s why China will never really get a grip on it. Please, no offense to my Chinese friends and readers, but when’s the last time you heard a Chinese hit that you could dance to. And that “one child” law – not cool. No cool leaders coming out of the country either. Know when the U.S. really took a turn to drive the globe? When JFK was President, probably one of the coolest world leaders to date. Alas, )
But one of the factors that is going to hold Brazil back is also cultural. There is a ruling class here and it’s made up of the wealthy. Nepotism runs amuck. This means that the decision making layer of the country is metaphorically “fat and lazy.” There is very little motivation for a rich kid to work his or her butt off to develop new technology or new ideas. And they only way a middle class or poor kid can get ahead is if HE can play soccer.
The recent death of Steve Jobs (sob!) highlights the impact of a society that allows for the American Dream. Steve came from a middle class background, didn’t finish college, yet went on to create multiple businesses that changed the world as we know it.
Two of my favorite college commencement speeches, speeches that outline how possible it is to achieve your dreams, given the right societal structure, were conducted by Steve Jobs and J.K. Rowlings. Of course, J.K. Rowlings is British, but Britian is another society that has allowed for talent to rise to the top. And the U.S. certainly contributed to the incredible distribution and sales of the Harry Potter series and the author’s unprecedented success.
For the Brazilians who aren’t familiar with the hope and blind faith of the American Dream, and for those Americans who need a reminder, I’ve included both speeches below (J.K.’s is in two parts):
There’s is also something to be said for having a sense of humor. When’s the last time Hu Jintao told a joke? (A real one.)
But maybe I’m just an ignorant American. Would love to hear some counter arguments on the subject.