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.