Simone de Beauvoir and Portuguese Fascism – Simone de Beauvoir e o Portugal dos Pequenitos
While researching for one of my essays I came across this passage, on a completely random pages of “The Ethics of Ambiguity”. On page 93, Simone de Beauvoir discusses existence and oppression, folkore and fascism.
Andava eu em pesquisas e investigações para um dos meus ensaios finais e, numa página aberta ao calhas do “Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté “, encontrei esta passagem. Na página 93, Simone de Beauvoir discute a existência e a opressão, o foclore e o fascismo.
But, on the other hand, we know that if the past concerns us, it does so not as a brute fact, but insofar as it has human signification; if this signification can be recognized only by a project which refuses the legacy of the past, then this legacy must be refused; it would be absurd to uphold against man a datum which is precious only insofar as the freedom of man is expressed in it. There is one country where the cult of the past is erected into a system more than anywhere else: it is the Portugal of today; but it is at the cost of a deliberate contempt for man. Salazar has had brand-new castles built, at great expense, on all the hills where there were ruins standing, and at Obidos he had no hesitation in appropriating for this the funds that were to go to the maternity hospital, which, as a result, had to be closed; on the outskirts of Coimbre where a children’s community was to be set up, he spent so much money having the different types of old Portuguese houses reproduced on a reduced scale that barely four children could be lodged in this monstrous village. Dances, songs, local festivals, and the wearing of old regional costumes are encouraged everywhere: they never open a school. Here we see, in its extreme form, the absurdity of a choice which prefers the Thing to Man from whom alone the Thing can receive value. We may be moved by dances, songs, and regional costumes because these inventions represent the only free accomplishment of peasants amidst the hard conditions under which they formerly lived; by means of these creations they tore themselves away from servile work, transcended their situation, and asserted themselves as men before the beast of burden. Wherever these festivals exist spontaneously, where they have retained this character, they have their meaning and their value. But when they are ceremoniously reproduced for the edification of indifferent tourists, they are no more than a boring documentary, even a odious mystification. (…) In like manner, all those who oppose old lace, rugs, peasant coifs, picturesque houses, regional costumes, hand-made cloth, old language, etcetera, to social evolution know very well that they are dishonest: they themselves do not much value the present reality of these things, and most of the time their lives clearly show it.
in “The Ethics of Ambiguity”, 1948