11 junho 2008

cannot beat

In a post below Joaquim set out to compare freedom under Estado Novo (EN) with freedom under the democratic regime inaugurated in 1974, which he calls Novo Estado (NE). His conclusion is that there was less freedom of expression and more freedom of action under EN than under NE. I think he is right. In other words, EN was comparatively more Catholic in its culture, and NE is comparatively more Protestant. Thus, EN was better adapted to Portuguese culture and this explains the extraordinary economic, social and cultural success of EN vis-a-vis NE.

Joaquim chooses the much lower tax burden under EN, compared to NE, to illustrate the much larger freedom of action it afforded its citizens. But there are other indicators as well. For example, present anti-smoking laws were unthinkable under EN, and so would that action-police called ASAE. There was no compulsion to attend school beyond grade 3, whereas now compulsion extends to grade 9. The bureaucratic barriers to start and operate a business or build a house were considerably less then than now. Access to a profession was considerably easier under EN than it is now (see, for one, the case of lawyers).

The freedom to commit small sins, such as speeding in the highway or avoiding taxes, was considerably larger under EN than it is under NE. And even those modern liberals who are fighting for the legalization of prostitution cannot beat Salazar's action-liberalism, for prostitution was legal for most of the period Portugal lived under EN.

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