Brazil quotes Goebbels on need for ‘national’ art

Brazil quotes Goebbels on need for ‘national’ art


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2020

Brazil’s culture minister Roberto Alvim, a former military man, is under attack for recycling a speech by Joseph Goebbels in favour of ‘heroic’ and ‘national’ art.

As he speaks, Wagner’s Lohengrin plays in the background.

Nice people.

UPDATE: He’s been fired.


  • V. Lind says:

    Not just under attack — fired, and quickly. Not a fan of Bolsonaro but he did not waste any time stamping this out.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    The latest reports indicate he has been fired.

    The wikipedia page on him suggests it is about one sentence that is constructed similarly although rather different in intention.

    But the choice of Lohengrin remains a head-scratcher.

    South America was pretty much “whatever” on WWII until they saw who was going to win, so I’m not surprised someone is reading Goebbels and thinking it is just art commentary.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    What a shame that most Latin American countries are run by either hopeless leftist populists or alternatively fascists. As a result there is not a single thriving country among them. Europe should take heed, that populism does not lead to happy outcomes.

    • Christopher Culver says:

      “As a result there is not a single thriving country among them.”

      Chile isn’t thriving? Wealth disparity and university education is an issue, as the recent protests show. But all in all the standard of living in Chile differs little from Western Europe or North America. Also, Uruguay has been a stable, developed country for long years now, and while we hear little about it because it is small and boring, if you went there you wouldn’t think that it is a suffering country in the least.

  • PHF says:

    He was fired earlier today, he even looks pretty like Goebbels. Karmic joke.

  • anon says:

    This was advocated by the Kampfbund der deutsche Kuenstler (Fighting Group for German Artists) during the Third Reich:

    “Since we do not value, that a watered down internationalism is identified with German artistic genius, we must require, that in the future German art is represented abroad only by German artists, that carry in their person and their attitude of mind the seal of the purest Germaness.”

    [Reference: “Kulturrede beim Reichsparteitag 1933 in Nuernberg”, Baustein zum National-theater, I/3, December 1933, pg. 67.]

    Makes one think of a European orchestra that to this day doesn’t have any fully Asian members. They tell us, of course, that none have ever been good enough.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There we go again….

      ‘Because we are now – after ages of racism – progressive, modern, diverse and totally free of any prejudice of any kind, we want it to be strictly forbidden to want to be a local orchestra. Thou shalst be free as thou art told!’

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Oh, my…. those Boys from Brazil are at it again!

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Too stupid to be taken seriously – maybe the man was making jokes? Anyway, that reminds me of a recent funny hoax using a Nazi text:

  • John Borstlap says:

    If one had predicted, to a well-informed intellectual at the end of the last century, stories like this one, and the (re-)emerging of rightwing extremism, fascism, antisemitism, jihadism and primitive nationalism in the early 21st century, one would have been nailed as a paranoid crank. And yet we witness the reality of it.

  • HugoPreuss says:

    Which explanation is worse? He *knew* it was a Goebbels quote and used it anyway. Or he didn’t know it and just felt that it was a great idea and a fitting way to express what he wanted for Brazil? I’m really torn between these two explanations and which one is worse.

    At least he was fired. Even a neo-fascist like Bolsanaro apparently draws a line at using Goebbels as a role model. If only for purposes of window dressing.

  • Smith Ellison says:

    Today it seems to be dangerous to have an own opinion, where one values ‘heroic’ or ‘national’ art.

    Because people who seemingly dislike any national pride, immediately (out of the blue) summon Nazis (here with image), in order to colour national pride with an immediate stench of gas, and death.

    Congratulations, you’ve just pulled a Reductio ad Hitlerum!

  • Trickery Party says:

    Wow. What is this?

    A desire for national art.

    And a forcibly placed picture of Goebbels and Hitler — completely unrelated, and there only for one single reason: to manipulate.
    What is this inappropriately placed picture of Goebbels and Hitler telling us?
    Honestly. That’s pretty cheap and low. Sortof reminds me of Guy Deutscher who recently also used that cheap trick.

    • Vivianne L. says:

      Yes. There should be no need, to always ensure that you have a different opinion than Hitler or Goebbels.
      We really do not need that kind of thought police.

      I happen to like Bronisław Huberman’s recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto. So does Hitler, because he had that recording in his “Führerbunker”.

      I dislike modernism. So did the Nazis.

      What does this tell us?
      That I’m a bad guy?
      That the Nazis had good taste?

      It tells us that we should not enslave thoughts (or push guilt) by comparison and association.

    • anon says:

      So what would this “national art” be in a borderless Europe where most larger cities have huge populations of foreigners? What would it be in Frankfurt, for example, where half the city’s residents are foreigners? Would it be based on race, on some sort of special “breed” that represents the genius seed of the nation state, while the other half of the city remains ineligible to create this “national art?” What is national art where cheap flights connect most EU cities within 90 minutes? What aesthetic criteria would define this “national art?” And since you mention the recent comments of Guy Deutscher, how would this “national art” be perceived if written by composers working in the Fuehrerbau which houses Munich’s University of Music? One thing is certain, groups like the AfD, FPO, Brexiteers, and Trumpistanis would love the idea.

      • Wiley North-West says:

        What a misunderstanding!

        Europe is not borderless.

        Though yes I agree, the actions of e.g. German politicians have for years been such, that one could really speak of a borderless country; which takes in and tolerates illegally entered people.

        Your question as to what “national art” in Frankfurt should be, highlights the misunderstanding.

        You see… Frankfurt and Germany have been for years been busy, cancelling out their German-ness.

        So should the Muslims in Frankfurt participate in any ‘national German art’. No, they should keep their own culture, are and music.
        The problem occurs when there are so many (!) foreigners in Germany, that the original autochthonous culture, identity, language, art and people are effectively diminishing…. to the extent that tourist-visitors to the country avoid those places, since their aims in visiting a country is to experience it’s own culture. Frankly: You don’t go to Germany to see Burka-clothed women, see shisha-bars, and Muslim markets.

        You mentioning of “cheap flights connect most EU cities within 90 minutes”, does not mean that passport and border should be trampled upon, and that it should become a borderless wilderness, where anything goes; and where all national identities, customs and traditions are to be eliminated and trampled upon.

        • anon says:

          Ah, I see. Germany is being taken over by burka wearing aliens, shisha-bars, and Muslim markets. So the AfD was right all along.

          And the horrors of London where literally 300 languages are spoken. At the 2011 census, London had a population of 8,173,941. Of this number 44.9% were White British. 37% of the population were born outside the UK, including 24.5% born outside of Europe.

          Never mind, we can cure this with a program of ethnic cleansing in the Vaterland! Whoops, I mean Fatherland. A return to the Leitkultur as the Germans say. Brexit will be such a great step forward in stopping incessant cultural pollution and return Britain’s national purity. And while we’re at it, we need culture police to make sure people are of the proper pedigree and race. Something along the lines of the Nuremberg Laws would once again restore a true national culture. We could even get rid of the Irish and mongrel Americans…

          • Wholesome Bread'n Butter says:

            Well I guess as long as YOU have foreigners cleaning your toilets, or serving you expensive meals in posh chick high-class restaurants; and you go home to your place, in a rich suburb, delving in decadence; and knowing that you have a whole lot of cash, bank-money and power, all things will be alright.
            Particularly when you are so certain that YOU have the correct view!

            Comfy lifestyle. Posh. High class. Elitist.
            You don’t see things around you:
            – You don’t take public transport. You take a cab.
            – You don’t do bed-and-breakfast, you step into 5-star hotels.
            – You don’t care about your culture. You pick and choose it carefully, since for you it is a good that you can buy.
            – There is nothing worth fighting for. Everything is a commodity that can be had, at a high enough price.
            – And you know that there are similar people with which you can engage, and who will more than gladly follow your endeavors, the facade of rich elitist culture, that you so love.
            – From Israel, to Cambridge, to Vienna … what a jet-set lifestyle.

            Good luck with that! Good luck.

          • MonCherri says:

            As if
            – keeping borders open
            – ethnic cleansing
            are the only two options there are.

            PS: 300 languages spoken in London. Must be an elite linguist’s dream.

  • Carlos says:

    Some comments make clear that some people here did not understand exactly what happened.
    The matter is not the praise of national art or the conservative approach.
    If it were only for these issues, President Bolsonaro would NEVER have fired Mr. Alvim.
    But he fired him. Why?
    The scandal was the fact that he QUOTED, LITERALLY, at least two excerpts of Goebbels’ speeches.
    Attention: it was not a remote inspiration, it was LITTERAL QUOTE.
    Not only this. The aesthetic of the video was planned to Mr. Alvim seem Goebbels (including the hair, the clothes, the scenario).
    Alvim is not a military man (the information in the post is not correct).
    He is an actor and a theater director.
    He denies, but he knew exactly what he was doing.
    Here in Brazil, nobody has the slightest doubt about these facts, including among leading members of our far-right government.
    Why did Mr. Alvim do this?
    Personal conviction? Maybe. But even mental insanity has been considered by some people (including by Olavo de Carvalho, former astrologist and self-nominated philosopher, who is the most influential alt-right ideologist within the government. Alvim was appointed with Olavo’s endorsement).

    • Tony says:

      Olavo de Carvalho is as self-nominated philosopher as you’re a self-nominated commenter. Have you ever read or you just reproduce what the ill-minded, ignorant, corrupt and degenerate “intelligentsia” in Brazil says?Read his books and you’ll know HE IS a philosopher, even if you dislike his ideas on politics, which I’m sure you ignore or only know the distorted mediatic version.

      • Carlos says:

        Well, I’ve been reading Olavo de Carvalho since the 90s.
        Dear Tony, the difference between us is that I do not read ONLY Olavo de Carvalho.

    • Sanity says:

      So very well said, Carlos. Bravo!!!