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Six interpretations of the Brazilian social formation

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

Latin American Perspectives, Issue 40. Vol. II, no.1. Winter 1984: 35-72.

Abstract: The author describes two theoretical interpretations of pre-1964 Brazil and four others regarding the post-1 964 period. The first two are the interpretation of Brazil as having an agrarian vocation, which expresses the dominant ideology of raw materials export model, and the national-bourgeois interpretation which stems from the industrialization process. The latter interpretation encompasses the visions of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), the Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasileiros (ISEB), and the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB).After 1964, there emerges, in the right, the authoritarian-modernizing interpretation. In the left, there are (a) the imperialist over-exploitation interpretation, one which ascribes the underdevelopment of Brazil to imperialism, offing socialism or fascism as national alternatives (b) the functional-capitalistic interpretation, which departs from the notion that Brazil has always been a capitalist country or, at least, that the pre-capitalist social structure was functional for the emergence of capitalism and (c) the new dependency interpretation, emphasizing the new events of the 1950s, notably the expansion of multinational corporations within the Brazilian industrial sector. These new realities preempt, on the one hand, the national-bourgeois interpretation and, on the other, establish the basis for a new developmental model.