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New Left Review I/190, November-December 1991

Paul Cammack

Brazil: The Long March to the New Republic

At the end of 1989, Brazilians voted in direct presidential elections for the first time since the military seized power in 1964. After an inconclusive first round, victory in the second went to Fernando Collor, an independent conservative, by a small margin over Luis Inacio da Silva, universally known as ‘Lula’, the leader of the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) founded only ten years earlier. Collor took office in March 1990, and completed his first eighteen months in power in the midst of a deep economic and political crisis which continues today. In this article I seek to place the present moment in historical context. Over a quarter of a century ago, on the eve of military intervention, Brazilian sociologist Octavio Ianni saw Brazil as poised between a developing but dependent capitalism (as a potential junior partner of international capitalism), and socialism. He hoped that despite the immaturity of the proletariat, it might take advantage of divisions between the industrial and agrarian bourgeoisies to take the political future of the country into its own hands. [1] Octavio Ianni, ‘Political Process and Economic Development in Brazil’, nlr 25, May–June 1964, pp. 42–52 (Part I), and nlr 26, Summer 1964, pp. 50–68 (Part II). He traced the character of Brazilian politics to the failure of the industrial bourgeoisie which appeared under state tutelage after 1930 to consolidate itself as a united class. As a result,

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