I admire Brazil most for its self-possession. Its culture is uniquely distinct and, as I will write about next entry, it even follows political and economic policy that is out-of-step with the dictates of first-world orthodoxy. For the most part, the country’s self-possession is accidental– it’s the sole Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas, and its large population and young median age allows its large market and wealth of human resources allows it to be more self-contained than other countries.
One of the reasons Brazil is unique is that it does not have a role model to emulate, as do other countries in the region. The rest of Latin America is Spanish-speaking and looks for cultural references in the hispanic U.S., especially Florida, Texas, New York and California. Brazilians don’t look to the U.S. to the same extent. Proportionately few Brazilians live there and it’s relatively farther away than 80% of other Latin American countries. Spanish-speaking countries also look to Spain, a not insignificant country with a vibrant culture and sizable economy. Portugal…well, it’s no cultural or economic powerhouse.
Thus Brazil is to some extent an island onto itself, self-generative, relying on its own wherewithal for its culture. It is little wonder that when most people think of Brazil they picture a culture of great vitality. It’s a country of self-creation.