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New Left Review I/25, May-June 1964

Introduction to Ianni on Brazil

Brazil is the first latin, fifth largest and eighth most populous country in the world today. It is nearly three times as vast as the aggregate area of India. Its rate of growth is three times as rapid. Yet it receives almost no attention in our parochially Anglo-Saxon and Commonwealth-obsessed press and publishing houses. Even the recent coup has not substantially altered this situation. In this issue Octavio Ianni, sociologist at Sao Paulo University, author of books on slavery and capitalism in Brazil, As Metamorfoses do Escravo (1962) and Industrializaçao e Desenvolvimiento Social no Brasil (1963), presents a general theoretical analysis of Brazilian society today. His method is to take the period from 1930 to 1964 as a unit, and to examine its fundamental characteristics from a number of—overlapping—perspectives. Thus the same events and mechanisms reveal themselves successively in a variety of different lights. Together, Ianni’s analyses compose a comprehensive account of the transitions and contradictions of contemporary Brazil. His structural study necessarily omits the narrative background to the sociological changes it discusses. It may therefore be of use to recapitulate very briefly some of the main events of Brazilian politics since 1930.

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