CXIII - A Formação Econômica do Brasil, by Celso Furtado, comments by André Bandeira

The economic formation of Brasil, written in the mid-fifties by the Minister of Planning in João Goulart's cabinet, before the military coup. It is a book on Economy History, with less Economics language than expected, but never turning into an eruditical study in History. Celso Furtado has been named the real founder of Social Science in Brazil. This is an exageration, maybe. The book is permeated by many political considerations, which are never apparent, and probably follow a political calendar, already difficult to understand, at this point in time. We never know, till what extent, the author proceeds to some kind of self-censorship. He hardly pricks the marxist membrane, which wraped so many discourses that time, in Latin America. Probably he was not a marxist, but a third-worldist, still trying to figure out what was the heritage and the Destiny of the developping countries, during those times, in the Cold War. Probably he suspected that there were no flying manuals for situations he was dealing with. Some emotions could underpin his work, and even getting him carried away into the sudden bubbles of Geopolitics. Unfortunately, what the white society in brazilian mid-fifties knew about itself, was very scant, and still, Celso Furtado was trying to articulate the pieces of his own identity. Yes, how to govern, without knowing what was being governed and who was governing? But the military knew best and Celso Furtado had to go into exile. Still, this book is amazingly well written, with short and concise chapters, able to cover in a steady pace, the most important periods of brazilian History. One interesting detail is the fact that Portugal sent between 300.000 and half million immigrants to Brazil, whereas Spain stood well below that number, in regard to the whole Latin America. For Celso Furtado, inflation doesn't come from a constellation of factors, but from an aspiration, by some social segment, in improving its own income. If it were so, monetarism -- which prescribes a steady and gradual increase of the monetary supply -- would be based on an abstract concept of administrative prudence, instead of a social objective fact. This makes out of Celso Furtado, a sociologist, before becoming an Economy Historian. But, as an Historian, the development of social structures in Brazil, are much more important than timeless concepts in Economics. He explains that the increase of income in the import sector, leads to the transfer of external agents to Brazil, who end up controlling the Export sector, and subsequently, throwing Brazil into dependence. Once, the agriculture sector is the one which is able to accumulate more futures and options, thus increasing its income, and making hard to build a native industrial capacity, able to challenge the frailty of the export sector. That means an inevitable series of inflationary strains, since the basic economic sector of Brazil hardly goes though a «creative destruction». Thus, any crisis in brazilian Agriculture, sooner or later, contaminates the other sectors. This was true in the fifties and Celso Furtado wanted that the benefits of a country where «anything one sows, always grows», wouldn't turn into a curse, while the waves of workforce, after beginning in a situation of half-slavery, would  end up in a situation of lazy self-sufficiency.


CXII (Re)leituras -- Perikleios Epitaphios, By Pericles, son of Xanthippus, comments by André Bandeira

This is considered as a monument to the concept we call «Democracy», and rightly so. It is a funereal oration pronounced by Pericles, in the context of a return from an expedition to Megara, which he led to victory. All the elements of modern «Democracy» should be found there: the concept of «isonomia» among the athenian citizens, which -- more than equality -- reveals the concept of an essential mingling within the collective of citizens; the concept of social and fortune inequality, as a lenitive for merit and not for hate; the concept of participatory democracy as an intertwinement between Politics and daily life; one may even find the rudiments of a democratic geostrategy, when Pericles vindicates that Athenians used to defend their territory only by themselves, whereas the other hellenic city-states would have had to resort to mercurial alliances. There is nothing in this oral register, reported by Thucydidis, to remind us of the list of degenerate constitutions Aristotle alluded to. But the context, which surfaces in two-thirds of the text, has nothing to do with «isonomia». As a matter of fact, the real motive underpinning the speech, it is the unsurmountable difference which Fate has cleaved between the survivors and the dead, in battle. Pericles begins by serving the speech with the rethorical humility of a person who cannot decide between those who lived to tell, and those who lived up to the deed, but didn't come out alive, to tell the story. And what is the real story? Of course, he concludes, telling that it is the merit of a democratic society, the striving of a lower class army, which covers all discrepancies with an uniform, golden isonomia, enshrined in Athens'Constitution. Of course, the speech would be different if this funereal oration would have been cast on the debris of a defeat. It is victory which pushes «Democracy» ahead. And the «isonomia» is a superb thing for absorbing casualities, when the poorer, and the weaker, are the ones mobilized to overcome the social gap, in the fog of war. There is a warlike genetical code, both in modern and in ancient «Democracy». Pericles had been consistently accused, both by his contemporaries and our contemporairies, of being a consumate demagogue, notwithstanding all his qualities. Is there a thin red line between «Democracy», and Demagogy, when we know for sure that -- if that line ever existed -- it had been hopped over, immediately after Pericles'death? We have a few elements, in this time resistant oration, to answer yes. The motive for this passionate and meticulous speech was not the one of celebrating a constitution, different among their peers. The motive was to overcome the embarrassment that Fate casted on the collective of athenian citizens, especially when the survivors preferred not to speak why some just men died, and some other just men didn't, in a battle, among many battles, they happened to fight. They left the act of speaking to someone else, someone who would be able, by means of rethoric and focus on victory (a banner soldiers know it always comes spotted with defeat), of relieving them from the embarrasment of choice. Choice among memories, among reasons, among words and thoughts. That's why this monument to the «eternal Democracy» ends up with the sentence: «Nin dè 'apolophiramenoi ón prosixei exasxtoi 'apite». And now, when you have made due lament, each for his own dead, depart...


CXI (Re)leituras -- A Mão e a Luva, by Machado de Assis, comments by André Bandeira

Hand in Glove, could well be the translation. But the title of Machado de Assis' second novel, doesn't sneak the hand in the glove straight away, because he began publishing it in serials, on a newspaper, and he wanted -- as he did several times afterwards -- to suggest  a thesis instead of putting it forward. The title is a thesis -- «rigid as a syllogism» -- and, as soon as it begins, it only has to be demonstrated, with the variations leading the reader to think he is about to pre-empt the conclusion, which inevitably comes out, conclusively. As a matter of fact, the final chapter is titled «Conclusion». And the conclusion reads as follows: the victory goes to the stronger, as later, in a more comic, probably desperate formulation, Machado de Assis said that «the potatoes belong to the victor». Who are the stronger? The self-restrained, deprived of romantic and childish illusions, not at all deprived of love, but deprived of that romantic love which gets too obsessed with love itself. In a sentence: those who look for love, never find it, because they tend to forget all the circumstances which foster love. And Love hasn't been sown, out of the limits of Paradise, just for weed around. Love serves other purposes such as survival, if not ambition, stubborness and even some caprice, which are characters secretly fighting to survive in the flood of Love, because they are not love-friendly. Guiomar -- who ends up confessing all these flaws, to her final fiancé -- is put at the beginning of the novel as the theme of a syllogism. She is chased by three suitors, Estêvão, Jorge and Luís. The first is the typical, clownish lover, of Romaticism, who goes on being rejected since the beginning, despite being the one, too, who finds the fox in the hole and who makes her run. The second, is the cousin of the pretended Guiomar, favored by her mother-in-law, a baroness who had put Guiomar in the place of her deceased daughter. But Jorge, if he has the advantage of being cold, as the thesis postulates about the cruelty of Love, still he is too much uninterested about everything. He is hand in glove with adversity, but, being born rich, he is distracted of all that really makes people run. Finally, Luís, who as the easier monossyllabic name, he is cold enough, for not expressing his love in public, nor even to himself, and has the mind busier with what makes a politician out of a lawyer. The thesis is so conspicuous now, that nobody dares to mention it. But, this very unromantic novel, full of wise and harsh assertions, discusses a syllogism which comes out of a hard settled Grand Premisse. Besides the three suitors, there are three women, the old baroness, who lost her child, the british chambermaid, Mrs. Oswald, and Guiomar, the young, stubborn (more than determined) beloved, who, being herself an orphan, and combining an attractive look with a cold mind, planned to be a teacher, just in case.But the marriage comes, decided among them, and Guiomar finds herself having an inclination in a boat which was set for sail by the older women. As the suitors follow the path of the obvious, the path turns curbed and pendular, and not all the monkeys hold their lianes. In a word: love is not what you feel, but what the object of love decides. Love is very, very much objective. Love belongs to the world of Object and all its chronicle. So, because the world of Object is so much beyond the world of the Subject, their intermitent contact makes the Subject spin away, thinking he is entering a new dimension where the dualism Subject/Object doesn't exist anymore. Better to keep itself as Subject, since Subjects don't exist but for the Object. Better existing than being loved, which is the real, uncertain bonus of that thing called «love». Better make a new syllogism, where the conclusion looms before it is deducted from the so much agressive premisses: all people love/you are «people»/you are «people» before you love.


CX (Re)leituras -- A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm, comments by André Bandeira

This crash course, by «Doctor Death», in Economics, is very much educational. One has some difficulty in handling all the different financial products, toxic and non-toxic, which flourished since 2006 or even long before, but which only recently began making part of our daily intake. Roubini is very much for History, not because it repeats itself but because the  ignorance of History tends to make us fall into the same holes, time and again. He is an ecletic: neither socialism, nor libertarianism. One has to compose with contributions of different theories in order to find the optimal mix, to save us from long and excruciating crises. But after so many financial products (which makes wonder about Schumpeter's maxim about capitalism superiority, that means, the stronger flux of technological innovations) one wonders if they wouldn't be better categorized as psychofinancial innovations. Anyway, the History of government -- I don't mean governance, most of all good governance -- is so vey much casted into the History of Economics, that libertarianism, whenever coming from specialists in Economics, graduated from the most prestigious Universities, even if they once had a crush for the artist Ayn Rand, seems to be a rightist infant disease of capitalism. Now I understand, why one of the «randists», Alan Greenspan, in his times as chairman of the Federal Reserve, was appearing once with his wallet in the right hand, and others in the left, for the speculations of the battery of journalists, which was waiting for him: he was acting as the jugglar of his own life. He was distracting us all from his three pieces suit, which represented, along with his painful looking, the depressive fall of all his youth's libertarian sprees. He was not exuberant, of course, and this was his last comment, as a fallen angel, about what was going bad in a heighty sky where everything was stumbling down. Like the old Buddenbrook, in Thomas Mann's novel, who only managed to say, in his later days: «It's funny...», Greenspan couldn't say much more than Pithya, the oracle. Of course one learns more than one thing in this superb lecture: first, there is a new product, different from all previous ones which kept Marx, Pareto, Say, Smith and Mill busy: that is the debt, in all its forms. And I ask: is it a kind of curse, deepely rooted in Mankind's mind, still able to make us all react as the guinea-pigs in the first Pavlov's experiments? The question leads us to the second lesson learned: if History cannot be ignored, besides the freshness of some raw libertarianism (which is neither coarse, nor candid, but it is certainly nude), other perspectives are also required. What made the West, as a civilization, plant and breed this new formidable tree of paradise we call debt?


CIX (Re)leituras - Memórias de um Sargento de Milícias, by Manuel Antônio de Almeida, comments by André Bandeira

The title could be translated as « A milita sargent's memoir» and it is the sole book published by Manuel Antônio de Almeida, a brazilian writer who lived fast, died young and left a beautiful image of all he could have written during the Empire, somewhere in the transition from romanticism to realism. The narrative tells the story of the lowsly educated child of a bailiff and a peasant, both portuguese, who emigrated to Brazil when King John the Sixth, escaped there, too, from Napoleon, and tried to build in Rio de Janeiro the United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil. Away from the european horrors, life was easy, funny and awkard. And it is precisely from this departing point, that the author transforms the awkwardness in a kind of tragicomic sense of life. The poor educated offspring of a relationship which begun on te boat (by means of the man deliberatly stepping on a woman's foot and this latter answering him back with a pinch on his hand)begins by ending up with the woman sailing back to Portugal in the arms of some boat captain, she had been entartaining while the bailiff was extorting money to the defendants. The boy is comitted to the godfather, a celibate barber, and, while the father is stumbling on many more loves, notably one with a gipsy, who shares him with a priest, he grows up to be a spoil, a trickster and -- just like his father -- a lovey-dovey, always prone to awkward and disadvantageous situations. First he falls for Luisinha, who happens to marry, without love, her cousin, a man who used to tell that, once he was the sole survivor of a shipwreck, after two boats collided and sank, and, as one of them left hundreds of pots afloat,  he hopped over them till he reached the beach. The other was Vidinha, a mulata, evident in her beauty, who jumped from admirer to admirer and who finally got jealous when the bailiff's son happened to stumble on someone else's woman. Finally, after many hilarious episodes, where the bailiff's son tries to reconcile his cunning and his clumsyness, Vidigal, the omnipotent militia's commander, who arrested his father, once (and him, later on) makes out of the boy, a grenadier and, after some fatal mishap which comes eventually eased by the women's implorations, a real milita sargent. Dressed up in his brand new uniform, and since Luisinha has widowed in the meantime, the offfsrping of a trample and a pinch, ends up marrying her, encercled by the women who always supported him during so many unfortunate and hillarious events. Of course, the final paragraph alludes to the next episodes (the novel began with being published in chapters, on a newspaper) where the unfortunate bailiff's son dies. The author who wrote this superb novel, lying on a bed, during a row of bohemian nights, while his friends where playing guitar and boozing around, happened himself to die, young, in a shipwreck. His sense of funny doesn't hide a bitter and looming hangover, which seems to be confirmed in a never-ending series of finals where the protagonist always ends-up in awkward situations. Nevertheless, it seems that it is not the unfortunate birth which engraves this genetic code of fate, but a bad education where the autism of a celibate barber, postured as an educator, transforms the natural rudeness of a young boy, tainted with as much desire as greed, in a series of trippings. Still, this cynicism towards the miseries of a migrant society, seem to be more pleased by the narrative of misfortunes and laughs than for the root causes, which makes out of the novel a superb romantic rot, instead of a realistic surgery. Here, the fun sight is stronger than the sun light.


CVIII - O Guarani, by José de Alencar, comments by André Bandeira

Romantic novel, written during the Empire, in Brazil. It is generally said to be the turning point towards a genuine brazilian novel, and not the repetition of any european literature. Unfortunately, after the long pages which set the scene for the final countdown, one can see that the myths, looming underneath, seem to be the same of the North Atlantic, that means, the myths generated in Eurasia, probably transfered to the New World, by sea or by land. And even if they have never been transfered that way, the common chamber, where they've been encapsulated, seems to be so resistant and wreckproof that they go on dictating to the author where to the narrative leads. There are two indians, the good and the bad. First, Peri, the tupi, and then, the collective of the Aimorés, the tapuia, who fight between themselves, as the hero against the pristine forces, in order to conquer a portuguese post, the shelter of civilization, lost in the jungle as a beacon of nobility and the safe of a virgin goddess, who happens to be  daugher of the master of the house. Of course, this Olympus in the middle of the jungle, is not deprived of its own forces of hell, notably the mercurial adventurers who are supposed to reinforce the civilization strikeforce and most of all, Loredano, the former italian friar turned into treasurehunter. The italian burns in passion for the young goddess, even at the costs of her family life, and planned to find some hidden silver mines, disclosed to him by a former moribund during the performance of his former friar's duties. These hell forces seem very similar tho the defecting gods of the ancient nordic pantheon. When the teluric forces portrayed by the warlike tribe of the Aimorés, launch their final assault on the rock, on the top of which, the remaing noblemen and servants raise their schematic cross, the ammunition house goes off with all of them, both attackers and defenders, ignited by the master of the house. One of the final images is also flaming, with the former friar, dispossed of the silver mines map and stripped out of his false identity, tied up to a pole, burning up for his treachery, in the old Inquisition way. On the other hand, the final scene is fluid and flooded with the myths of water: Peri, the good indian, who served in a pagan way the virgin goddess, without ever touching her with a finger, follows the lead of an old transatlantic myth, and while escaping from this jungle Ragnarök and facing a river flashflood, manages to rescue both, into the hole of a floating palmtree. The novel ends without ever settling whether they finally reached the next portuguese post, the place where, the good indian promised the master of the house, to deliver his precious and elusive daughter. It doesn't seem so: while escaping through the jungle, the virgin asked her devoted savage knight to come and live among the christians in her final destination, but the indian retorted that he only made himself christian to be close to her and, instead of master of the jungle and her slave, he would be there, the slave of slaves. Then, she suddenly poised to dress as an indian, and bound herself to live in the jungle, finally giving the good indian, her first kiss, after so many courtney loves, intrigues, caprices and tragedies. The whole narrative is poised to begin when the master of the house decides to go and live in the jungle, in order to keep a portuguese free soil, while the mother-country had been hopelessly invaded by the spaniards. The final love scene, derives form a common ground, where the constancy of the good indian is rooted in a paganism which precedes any physical or courtney love, and too which the blond, blue-eyed virgin, finally gives in, boarding her and her dedicated Lancelot, in a boundless sailing. And this river long, a burst of confined waters follows very well up, the first kiss, so long waited for, thus distracting the reader, of the real narrative confinement. The narrative is so full of the same clear-cut moral categories, mixing up in such a computer-game rythm and special effects, that the novel tells us a different story of the one where the stubborn daughter of a stubborn master, and the indian, survive, contrariwise to another couple: the moribund nobleman, Álvaro, first betrothed with her, and Isabel, her half-sister, beautiful bastard daughter of the master of the house -- this one, it is in fact the first, naif novel of Brasil, which goes down in flames with the rest, giving room to the superior match. The real story, which will only be dismounted in the social criticism of Machado de Assis, it is the story of a compelling and smashing Destiny, portrayed in the canine, savage, and free-willed devotion of the good indian, for his feminine master and where the courtney moral utterances of  noble portuguese are bound to be set on fire on the top of a powder keg which has not been piled up only in the unmasked friar's soul. The ending points out to a fluid errancy, both blue in the water and in the elusive virgin's eyes. The essence of the novel is cold, as the virgin's eyes, which matriarchally prevail over the black eyes of her half-sister, half indian, who always hated the good indian. The author says that the good indian never hated her back, except as a member of an enemy tribe...who's tribe ? The human race, frail, caught in the crossfire of a pagan stubborness, and still existing, despite all this romantic arsons.


CVII - Apologie de l'Histoire, par Marc Bloch, commentaires de André Bandeira

C'était le dernier livre, inachevé, de Bloch, celui fut, avec Ladurie et Braudel, le fondateur de l'École des Annales. C'était aussi un livre pour répondre à la question posée par son fils « À quoi sert l'Histoire?». On sait que l'école des Annales a récupéré le Moyen Âge et ferait le plaisir de Voltaire qui se plaignait d'une Histoire où on ne trouvait que des Rois et des généraux. Selon Bloch, le medium aevo ne serait plus la terre de personne entre la chute de l'Empire Romain et la Renaissance, mais, cela dit, la Renaissance aurait démarré déjà en 1060. On vient de revoir le Moyen Âge, maintenant -- par exemple au Brésil, dans le contexte du «journalisne historique» -- en disant que, ce temps-là, tous les jours de fête rassemblés, montaient à trois mois par an. Pour ceux qui traversent le désert d'une société mobilisée pour la perfomance, dont on vient de revoir le paganisme olympique ( et, donc, pour la guerre, puisque les jeux olympiques classiques n´étaient qu'un exercice de détente emportant sur des consèquences géo-stratégiques semblables à la détente des années de plomb, au XXème siècle), le n'importe quoi, ça ressemble au paradis.
Que profiter de cette ouvrage? Au-delà des considérations de Bloch, qui semble bien être un disciple de Bergson, en cherchant dans l'Histoire la même plasticité que le philosophe croyait trouver dans la Réalité, Bloch nous laisse, à la fin de chaque de ces cinq chapitres, des conclusions très sages, commme celle de qu'une Science n'est pas entièrement définie par son object, mais aussi par sa méthode. Il conclut aussi en disant que les causes, en Histoire, ne se postulent pas, mais qu'elles doivent être cherchées. Jusqu'un certain point, Bloch se tient à creuser la différence entre la concomitance des circonstances et l'extrait de la cause. Il semble que l'idée de causalité était sa grosse différence avec ses prédécésseurs positivistes, comme Renouvier, qui avaient -- selon lui --. écartée l'idée de Temps et d'une causalité qui consacrerait cette idée du Temps comme singularisation, innovation e propriété intellectuelle. Il demeure aussi dans des paradoxes comme celui de qu'il n'y a pas une science du Passé (réalité inachevée et continue) et que l'exigence autour des sources et des documents, n'exclut pas, ni le plaisir, ni la poésie dans le métier de l'Historien. En effet, le désir de raconter, notamment dans l'Histoire des faits singuliers, est une des richesses de l'univers de l'Historien. Ce que Bloch nous dit, c'est que ce que les positivistes croyaient comme étant «des faits» c'est déjà le produit d'une construction culturelle qui n'est pas, malheureusement, consciente, et que la conscience est indispensable comme outil du Scientifique de l'Histoire. Mais Bloch nous raconte aussi beaucoup d'anédoctes, autour de la fraude en Histoire, autour du péchè de «mensonge» en Science et sourtout, sur un impulse de suivre un récit et de le mêler avec la Science de l'Histoire. Quand on pense au nazisme, on se demande combien de fois a l'Histoire été forgée pour asservir les besoins de suivre une ligne vitale ou accomplir un sens de Destin. Et ça était si farouche, que les nazistes on du inventer une réligion runnique et souscrire à des théories comme celle de la terre creuse, pour ne pas parler de toutes leurs théories de la conspiration. Pour Bloch ça vaudrait aussi, par example, pour l'historicisme du communisme, notamment, protagonisé para Georg Plekhanov. Cela dit, on pense comment Bergson a perdu un fameux débat avec Einstein, vers le concept de Temps et comment, pourtant, son disciple Bloch a triomphé sur Durkheim, le long des faits mentaux de l'Europe. L'École des Annales est un triomphe de la méthode sur l'epilépsie des donnés et des «faits», que le patriarche du positivisme, Wittgenstein, considèrait l' «unité de compte» du Monde. Et parmi ces noms, on ne trouve que des juifs européens. S'agit-il d'une inquiètude propre au judaísme européen? Je m'en doute. Mais il s'agit certainement d'une inquiètude europeénne, probable dans des segments culturels européens où l'exercice d'autres métiers moins intelectuels, leur eu été longtemps interdite. Alors s'agit-il d'une question culturelle et historique, précisamment, celle de Bloch ? Je crois pas. En effet -- au contraire de Bloch -- il n'y pas de poésie dans le métier de l'Historien, à moins -- une fois de plus contre Bloch -- qu'on croye que la recherche continue peut être postulée, comme cause culturelle de la Science de l'Historie, laquelle n'est pas, ni du Passé, ni du Présent, ni du Futur. Cette «recherche continue» serait vraisemblablement une «cause», derrière les circonstances, qu'on peut raconter, et parler indiféremment aux sages et aux simples dans le même langage, mais elle ne serait qu'une des circonstances des événements: précisamment la circonstance moins consciente, ça veut-dire, l'idée impressioniste -- comme chez le concept de Temps en Bergson et Proust -- de la corrélation des circonstances. Enfin, un état d'âme, malgré l'examen délicat des sources et des documents. En effet, c'est que tous ces «faits et documents» ne sont plus q'une fine crôute sur la matière de l'Histoire. Si se soumettre à la fatalité de la complexité est une erreur -- et le réveil du cauchemar des narratives barbares et des récits autoritaires de l'Histoire europeénne serait déjà un fardeau si lourd qui justifierait cette faiblesse -- croire a une causalité qui sert sourtout nos besoins culturels, et états d'âme, ne sera plus qu'une éruption émotionelle. Dans un clignotage de neo-classicisme et romantisme, je dois dire que Bloch a fait un mauvais choix en se joignant aux franc-tireurs de la Résistance française de 1944. Il aurait du, plus en honneur de l'Histoire que de la Science de l'Histoire, se cacher jusqu'à la fin de la Guerre. Et que ce fusillé du 16 Juin, 1944, sous les ordres de Klaus Barbie, près de Lyon, puisse me pardonner, mais la sagesse du Temps est bien plus vaste que les enquêtes de l'Histoire.


CVI - Colossus - the Rise and Fall of the american Empire, by Niall Ferguson, comments by André Bandeira

This book, written in 2003 and published in 2004, seems already outdated. But, coming from and oxfordian and Harvard historian, not only it shows the continuities of north-american policy, but also the continuities between the British and the US Empire. The book is well sized, very well sourced and it only scratches the journalistic membrane. The author is very much seduced for what it calls the «liberal Empire», although refraining from considering the British heritage as something that the USA should shoulder. As a matter of fact, he quotes several times the tradition, both republican and democrat, in the USA, of departing from a new ground where the American Revolution stepped in, that means: a new world without colonies. But what he elaborates better on, that is the historical need for an Empire, as the best alternative, not to multipolarity (which takes time to build) but to an anarchic and opressive apolarity. The sub-title seems to be a very good publicity spot. People run to read the book, in order to find knowledge on how a generally detested thing -- imperialism -- is going to fade away and they end-up in the middle of an overt advocacy of Empire. The author recognizes that, albeit the need and some intuition of it, among the american forerunners, that the most liberal nation in the world shouldn't shy away from taking its new responsibilities, still there are some inherent contradictions which may prevent a real Empire to emerge. One is the american public debt and how the rest of the world ( for instance China) have purchased it, that meaning that foreign rivals, may steer american foreign policy. The second that is what he calls «a lack of attention», or, in other words, the lack of political will and determination in the US, in taking the reins of an imperial destiny. The first point is something that the author doesn't master very well, maybe because it is History in the making and he doesn't cover all the aspects of an economic system underpinning any historical landscape. The second is more interesting because it is a genuinely cultural matter and the author is very well equipped to measure the resiling constants of the anglo-saxon culture on both sides of the north Atlantic. Does the book end with setting a bid for someone to take the stance of a «liberal imperialist»? I do not think so. The conclusion certainly entails that not so unintended premisse but the author also recognizes, all the book long, how the genetic code of the United States is averse to imperialism. That also may mean that the new doctrines of interventionism, responsibility to protect, human rights imposed by force, etc., don't have the means for attaining those heights. Something which inevitably leads to very volatile, day-dreaming actions, so seductive as high-risk speculative bonds and potentially so toxic as the current financial crisis.