Gilberto Freyre asked last night that the Portuguese cultural community be considered as the model for a constructive alternative to "the pattern of supranational racist commonwealths that are threatening the world."
"A new supranational racism is the trend with some of the African and Asian leaders, and in some respects it is not unlike the racism of Hitler Germany," Freyre said. He pointed to the recent alaughter of whites in the Congo.
Communist China's blueprint for dividing the world into white and colored camps and emerging as the leader of the colored faction, "is much more racist than Communistic," he said.
Freyre spoke before a meeting of the Latin American Association which had been scheduled for the Kirkland House Junior Common Room, but which overflowed into and filled the Kirkland dining hall. The Brazilian lectured from a makeshift podium fianked by Kirkland House serving tables while his audience sat at dining tables throughout the room. Glancing up at the Kirkland decor, Freyre remarked "I like the atmosphere here--not too formal--you have managed to capture the feeling of, perhaps, a Paris cafe."
The Brazilian sociologist began his lecture by defining his concept of Lusotropl-calism-the common culture and civilization which was the unique creation of Portuguese colonists in tropical areas of Latin America and Africa.
He believes that the Portuguese were peculiarly well equipped to bring modern civilization to these areas because of Portugal's partly African tradition and its almost tropical climate. "The Portuguese neglected the cold lands they discovered because of their inclination to find in tropical environments a Messlanic invitation to expand and complement their civilization."
These tropical lands responded to the Portuguese touch, Freyre said, and fitted elements of native civilization into the Portuguese mold, Natives accepted the valuable elements in European culture rather than reacting against them as simply another intrusion of repressive colonialism.
"There has been a tendency where European and non-European societies meet for the natives to revert to tribal practices in an attitude of deep antagonism to the colonists," Freyre said.
"But Portuguese colonists did not maintain themselves as rigid European minorities." They intermarried and became part of the Mestizo populations that form a dynamic part of the societies The civilization they created is what Freyre calls Lustropicalism.
The multi-racial nature of Lusotropical civilization and its ability to harmonize modern and native forms is its genius, Freyre believes. In the face of racial appeals by Asian and African leaders, he suggests that Lusotropicalism demonstrates that supranational communities can be built with cultural rather than racial bonds.
During the question period Freyre was asked, in a variety of Latin accents, whether Angola and Mozambique did not with to rid themselves of the Portuguese and their culture. He replied that the colonies are seeking only governmental autonomy. "They are enthusiastic about a Lusotropical community provided that Portugal is a member rather than the metropolis of it."
Freyre added that Brazil is the country most fit to replace Portugal as leader of the Lusotropical community: "It is in Brazil that Lusotropical civilization has had its most vivid expression," he said.
He defended the March revolution in Brazil as "absolutely necessary. You had an interesting game going on. Goulart thought he was using the Communism but the Communists knew they were using Goulart. If the revolution of March 21 had not come, it is certain that there would have been a Communist take-over in April. Sometimes democracy must use undemocratic means to preserve itself, for there are many ready to take advantage of too liberal a regime--as in Czechoslovakia.