The forgotten compensation

Claud Lovat Fraser, The Slave Market, 1912–13


The initial capital of elite families came from slaves, the large and hidden initial capital of almost all large Brazilian businessmen

A great discomfort affects the “progressive bourgeoisie”.[I] Self-declared bearer of the Enlightenment with a small i, she rejects social poverty and, for some, inequality in very particular terms. Its members assume the role of an “enlightened” class, demanding taxation of the richest and social programs for the poorest while the institutions they own send profits and dividends to their national accounts and offshore.

Contrary to the tearful cries of the owners, their institutions defend the permanence of this accumulation by demanding the end of the constitutional floors for education and health and the linking of Continuous Payment Benefits (BPC) and the minimum wage to inflation.

This bourgeoisie seeks to assume what some 20th century authors fancifully deposited on their nineteenth-century ancestors, a bourgeois mentality that would have built a capitalist society. Today billionaires, the descendants of 19th century slave owners present themselves socially as philanthropists, intellectuals and artists while receiving tax-free profits and dividends from a racialized working class.

Brazilian society is what its ancestors built, and their descendants are heirs with the responsibility for conservation, just like a monarchy. But it's a monarchy cool, in the style of the Englishwoman presented by tabloids and the Globe News.

According to a report published in Folha de São Paulo,[ii] Neca Setubal sought to cure the evil of being bourgeois with therapies. Imagine the psychologist: “It’s not your fault for being rich. Her Souza Aranha ancestors enslaved Africans because it was the structure. What could they do? You are a victim! Repeat: you are a victim.” The family constellation arrived with force for the billion class. 

The Setubal family is a direct descendant of the Souza Aranha family, or more precisely of the patriarch Francisco Egydio de Souza Aranha, one of the biggest slavers in Brazil, when the state of São Paulo concentrated the country's slaves through interprovincial trafficking under the coffee cycle . In the Itaú-Unibanco family tree, Francisco Egydio de Souza Aranha had 10 children, 8 of which were unnamed. Who are?

In Rio Claro, a few kilometers from Campinas, where Francisco lived, the Baron of Grão Mogol was famous for “orgies with slaves in the basement”.[iii] It is a mixed country, without a doubt! What a unique formation, as very literate people said, from Gilberto Freyre (heir of enslavers) to Joel Pinheiro (heir of enslavers). A country of owners who raped their goods, which they could not say no to because they were commercial things.

Baron Grão Mogol was a good guy. He raped, but when the State started paying compensation after the enactment of the Sexagenarian Law, it promoted a “manumission”. Warren Dean showed that, between 1885 and 1887, there were only three manumissions without compensation. For service, “including fixed-term”, there were 181. According to the Sexagenarian Law, that is, for compensation, 543.[iv] It must be the fluid profile of Lusotropicalism mixed with the capitalist mentality.

One of the sons assumed by Francisco Souza Aranha, Olavo became a banker with the capital from the exploitation of slaves on his farms. It is the diversification of coffee capital in its essence. There was so much capital that farming did not represent a sustainable investment. His son Alfredo founded the Banco Central de Crédito.

Nothing new: his great-uncle, Joaquim Egydio de Souza Aranha, Marquês de Três Rios, founded the Bank of Commerce and Industry of São Paulo in 1889. His daughter Maria married Eudoro Libânio Vilela, director of Alfredo's bank. Hence the Vilela family. Olavo Setubal worked at the same bank as a director. Olavo was the son of Francisca Egydio de Souza Aranha and Paulo de Oliveira Setubal. Olavo is the father of Maria Alice Setubal, known as Neca Setubal, with Mathilde Lacerda de Azevedo, known as Tide Setubal, the person honored at the famous foundation. Tide was the daughter of Antônio Lacerda Franco, who is the son of Bento de Lacerda Guimarães, the Baron of Araras, a slave owner from the Limeira region, with his cousin, Manuela Assis de Cássia Franco. Marriage is the main business.

The same happens with Moreira Salles, another branch of Itaú-Unibanco. It would be easy to relate the family to the investment of slave capital, land and coffee. In the 1880th century, one of the family's patriarchs was Colonel Saturnino Vilhena de Alcântara, one of the largest owners of slaves and land in Pouso Alegre (MG), becoming a major landowner in the 1890s. From 1910 to 35 , carried out XNUMX property transactions,[v] Specializing in buying and selling properties.

The Moreira Salles family joined the Saturnino Vilhena family through the marriage between João Theotônio Moreira Salles and Lucrécia Vilhena Alcântara. The origin of the Moreira Salles family is strangely omitted. The impression is given that they were besiegers, but as Brandão recalls, “his marriage to a daughter of a traditional family in the region, the Vilhena de Alcântara, is a demonstration that his social origin was probably not that of a simple son of field workers.”[vi]

The family's initial capital came from enslaved people, the large and hidden initial capital of almost all large Brazilian businessmen, especially in São Paulo and Minas Gerais, who today call themselves entrepreneurs - according to the family trunks infographic, the "6th generation of entrepreneurs” from the Setubal, Vilela and Moreira Salles families. Many of Brazil’s “great businesspeople” are descendants of slave owners. The heirs inherited – here pleonasm is useful – the capital of primitive accumulation on the exploitation and commercialization of Africans and descendants of enslaved people. In the structure of the wealth composition of the six largest owners of Pouso Alegre, for example, 43,5% corresponded to rural properties and 42,5% to slaves.[vii]

In the 1890s, Saturnino invested his capital in properties, specializing in buying and selling properties. Over time, he preserved only one property in his name, selling all the others. João Moreira Salles, the most recognized patriarch, worked at Casa Ideal, owned by his godfather Adriano Colli. The bibliography of the Moreira Salles Institute[viii] he says that “he did so well that he took over management of the store as a teenager”, but it is more obvious and likely that his godson took over management from his godfather, all in the family due to the social sponsorship relationship at the time. With “his godfather’s recommendations”, he worked in a haberdashery in São Paulo.

In 1909, João returned to Cambuí, where he married two years later with Lucrécia Vilhena de Alcântara, daughter of Colonel Saturnino Vilhena de Alcântara. From there they went to live in Guaranésia, a city on the coffee route, where he opened a dry goods and haberdashery store, “benefited by the former boss”. At that time, with capital from the Vilhena de Alcântara family, he established himself as a commercial representative. In 1917, he moved to Mococa, a city in the state of São Paulo, where he opened Salles e Alcântara in partnership with his brother-in-law Pardal Vilhena de Alcântara. With this family business, he expanded the range of cities offering farmers bank credits.

When he moved to Poços de Caldas, in 1919, he represented 13 banks as a commissioner. He bought out his brother-in-law four years later. The following year, he received authorization to be a session banker. In 1931, he received authorization to open Casa Bancária Moreira Salles. Soon, what was initially land and slaves was converted into banking capital in the expanded accumulation of capital linked to coffee and industry. Sin was transformed into forgiveness, illness was eradicated and life became spring.

Walther Salles, João's son, had been left to be raised with his grandparents. In 1939, Walther became a shareholder of Banco Machadense and President of the Board of Directors of Banco do Distrito Federal (Rio de Janeiro). In 1940, Banco Machadense and Casa Bancária dos Botelhos joined together. Banco Moreira Salles was born from the merger. Casa Bancária Botelhos belonged to the Botelhos family, slave owners and large owners of the city of… Botelhos, which gained the family name because Joaquim Botelho de Souza donated the land on which the village and headquarters dedicated to São José were built.

As can be seen, marriage is an instrument of capital accumulation:

Souza Aranha married Setubal
Who married Vilela.
Souza Aranha-Setubal-Vilela
Married Moreira Salles
Who was already married to Vilhena de Alcântara
Who married Botelho
When the flesh melted.
In this story there is no J. Pinto Fernandes.
It's forbidden!

The capitals of the Moreira Salles family have at least two family origins from Imperial Brazil: the Vilhena de Alcântara family and the Botelho de Souza family. In the Instituto Moreira Salles exhibition, the city named after the Botelho family is replaced by a “nearby city”. It is not enlightenment to reflect a Saudi reality. But nothing that can't be fixed.

The adulatory text of the Moreira Salles Institute is forced to state that João Moreira Salles started to invest in western Paraná, where he founded a city called… Moreira Salles. But how to justify it? Making him a hero, because “at just over 60 years old, João Moreira Salles decided it was time to play the bandeirante and decided to colonize a part of that wilderness”. It makes sense! There is a coherence there: a bandeirante.

Entities of the black movement, correctly, demand monetary and political reparation from Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal for their participation in slavery and the transatlantic and interprovincial trafficking of Africans. The order is correct but incomplete. The achievement of this incompleteness, or rather, the continuation of the exclusive denunciation of the two public banks could result in an evident cowardice in the face of more difficult and complex actions regarding private capital. Public banks were controlled by slave families. The result of capital accumulation during colonial slavery was the diversification of coffee capital. It is necessary to follow the trail of capital. The Itaú-Unibanco bank is a great start.

The accumulation that hinders Neca Setubal's dreams on her goose feather and satin pillow

The Itaú-Unibanco bank has a long and profound history of articulating public policies. Today, for example, Fundação Itaú Social focuses on education and sustainability, demonstrating great insertion in state and municipal departments and in the MEC to promote public policies in line with the Todos pela Educação program.

One of the foundations that establishes a “partnership” with Fundação Itaú Social is Fundação Tide Setubal. The Moreira Salles family directly runs the Moreira Salles Institute, focused on cultural activities and projects. Both families are highly involved in the infamous “social projects”.

But this is cosmetic. The truth is that the Itaú-Unibanco bank has a strong political articulation throughout the 1964th century – inheritance of the symbolic and social capital of the “patriarchs” of the 1965th century. Without their relationship of unconditional support for the Civil-Military Dictatorship, the Setubal and Vilela would not have been able to build Banco Itaú as a large financial complex. With the Banking Reform of XNUMX-XNUMX, initiated two months after the Coup, Itaú “was able to build its investment bank, concentrating on the purchase of smaller banks, such as Banco Sul-Americano, Banco Americano, Banco Aliança, Banco Português do Brasil and Banco União Comercial. It became, in a very short time, one of the largest banks in the country.”[ix]

As guarantors of the financialization of the economy in the 1990s, Itaú families have never profited so much. But even so, the merger of the two banks (Itaú and Unibanco) had a method. The structural remodeling of the two banks with the financialization of the economy based on the rollover of Public Debt included Pedro Malan, FHC's finance minister, as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Unibanco in 2003. In 2008, Itaú and Unibanco came together, making with Pedro Malan changing his position a year later to that of President of the International Advisory Board of the new bank. Given mission is accomplished mission.

Brazilian banks profit in any context. When the pandemic began, the Central Bank released R$1,2 trillion to private banks from compulsory deposits, arguing that the measure was a precaution in the face of a likely liquidity and credit crisis. However, as reported, the banks did not release the resources, since the criteria for granting credit depended on the analysis of risk factors. As risks increased, credit was obviously not released because objective conditions were worse for small and medium-sized companies – an excuse, let's face it. The banks privatized the compulsory deposits.

In 2019, the profits of large banks grew 18%, even in the face of economic stagnation. When analyzing the five main banks, three private, profits increased by 30,3%, reaching a total of R$108 billion. The biggest nominal profit was that of Itaú-Unibanco, an impressive R$28,4 billion. The banks closed 898 branches, led by Banco do Brasil, which was sent by Paulo Guedes to privatization, with emphasis on the fraudulent deal with BTG Pactual in the middle of the pandemic.[X]

Income classes D and E had a reduction in income. Inequality has increased in the last 17 quarters up to 2019. From 2014 to 2019, the labor income of the poorest half of the population fell by 17,1% while the income of the richest 1% rose by 10,11%. The income of the segment of the population considered middle income class (positioned between the middle 40%) fell by 4,16%. Breaking down the richest 10%, it appears that the richest 5% increased their incomes by 4,36%.

In 2014, the profit of the five main banks grew 20% (R$55 billion). In 2015, Itaú-Unibanco alone made a profit of R$20 billion, an increase of 15,4%; total assets reached R$1,4 trillion, an increase of 12,4% compared to 2014. In 2016, the profit of the main banks jumped to R$60 billion, even with the 3,6% recession.

In 2017, Itaú-Unibanco achieved a profit of R$24 billion, and the main banks made a profit of R$63 billion, an increase of 14,6% compared to the previous year. In 2018, Itaú-Unibanco's profit was R$25 billion and the banking sector's total profit reached R$100 billion, the highest in history until then. Finally, in 2019, Itaú-Unibanco's profit reached R$26,5 billion. The profit of the four largest banks, excluding Caixa Econômica, reached R$81,5 billion, another historic record.

In 2016, around 2,5 million people earned R$270 billion in profits and dividends without any taxation. Between 2013 and 2017, the Moreira Salles family received R$4,1 billion in profits and dividends as Itaú shareholders. In total, the three families that control the bank received R$9 billion. As there is no taxation of profits and dividends in Brazil, due to Law No. 9.249/1995, the resources were transferred in full.

Let's not even go into the merits of niobium for the family, a totemic object of Bolsonaro's that was replaced by chloroquine in the pandemic, but the fact is that, in addition to the exploitation of capital over work, families are swimming in the institutional mechanisms for transferring income from labor through the State, transforming it into capital income.

The 2,5 million people correspond to approximately 1% of the population. It follows that capital income for the richest 1% is at least a substantive part of the composition of their wealth. We are not talking about mere workers who ventured with a few reais in the stock market, despite the pathetic advertisements of investment agencies.

We are talking about the financial high bourgeoisie (including agribusiness), the traditional middle class of capitals and large cities, the industrial bourgeoisie, which has given up producing or seeing its production with any expectation of expansion, and a few outsiders, the exception turned into rules in investment agency advertisements. With some investigation, a new Betina is discovered for everyone's amusement, who would be a outsider, but who gained his initial capital from the traditional middle class daddy.

In 2020, just before the pandemic, banks distributed R$52 billion in dividends to their shareholders, with the exception of Itaú-Unibanco, which distributed just over 60% of 2019's net profit, claiming that times would require banks to open their credit portfolio – which was not proven, the portfolio was closed; as Paulo Guedes himself confessed, the banks took the compulsory money and kept it in the safe, causing commercial associations to publicly complain about the banks.[xi]

Translating everything as simply as possible, bank profits reached record after record from 2014 to 2019, while the income of the poorest decreased year after year. As a gift to this process, Brazilian billionaires became US$34 billion or R$170 billion richer during the pandemic, which corresponds to 70% of the increase in wealth of all billionaires in Latin America. At a time of the biggest drop in Brazilian GDP in history, the largest number of unemployed people, the growth of informality, the brutal drop in workers' income, billionaires became richer.

Oxfam's research Who pays the bill? shows that Brazilian billionaires became richer due to the pandemic precisely when industry, services and commerce had their biggest drops in recent history. The recent research by Gobetti, from Fundação Getúlio Vargas, showed that the richest increased their income by 49% and the richest 0,01%, something around 15 thousand people, increased their income by 96% of 2017 to 2024. Overall, the richest 5% now hold 40% of national income. In the same period, the poorest, including the middle class, increased their incomes by just 1,5%.[xii]

This allows us to present three aspects of contemporary financial capital: (i) large capitals are predominantly disconnected from industrial and commercial capital; (ii) big capital is immersed in rent-seeking; (iii) rentiers live on three conditions in their capital that overlap with other capital (industrial and commercial):

(a) part is the transfer of labor income to capital income through the Public Debt system and the regressive tax system. (b) Part is fictitious. (c) Part comes from tax havens and the relationship between unpaid tax, capital investment and money laundering.

How is this disparity possible? If the cake grew, following the false thesis of Brazilian liberalism, it is possible that the income of the poorest would fall less or not at all. But the false thesis also tends to argue that in a recession everyone loses. It wasn't the case. In the recession, millionaires and billionaires won, and not only did they win, they also established the pillars of ordinary and sustainable growth through counter-reforms, such as labor and social security. This disparity can only be explained by exploitation and inequality.

If banks grew amid stagnation, recession and low growth, it is obvious that they grew amid the appropriation of labor income. Likewise, income segments A and B did not create more value (and nor could they); they appropriated value in the form of labor income. Therefore, income segments A and B and banks appropriated the socially produced mass of value through institutional mechanisms of income transfer from the poorest to the richest, from labor to capital. As Thomas Piketty reminds us, if capital income grows more than total growth, it is because there has been a concentration of capital income.

But what does this have to do with race? As the world of work is racialized, in which the poorest are black, expressing itself in a labor income inequality of R$808 billion between white workers and black workers, according to the Locomotive Institute;[xiii] how the greatest loss of income occurred among the poorest and most miserable; as it is statistically known that proportionally the poorest are taxed more by the State; as the State is a major transferor of resources through Public Debt (official public debt plus committed debt) to banks and “investors”, it is concluded that, proportionally, bankers (billionaires) and income segments A and B they appropriated and enriched themselves on the labor income of black workers.

Is it possible that a banker is not racist? Depending on a mercantile identity vision financed by the bankers' own foundations, yes, as racism can be overcome through anti-racist and/or prejudice-free education. Racism would be a cognitive and psychic issue. Yes, because banks become socially responsible for placing black people in their advertisements and in some work positions, showing the infamous diversity of the Brazilian people – Itaú-Unibanco is quite competent in this type of advertising in a very similar way to Globo network.

But the scientific data is that banks were born from slavery, from the exploitation and genocide of Africans; and they profit from the transfer of income from labor income into capital income, especially from workers descended from Africans once enslaved by the ancestors of the “progressive bourgeoisie” and the “proud bourgeoisie”.

Moreira Salles factor: the cinematic hobby to alleviate the banker's guilt

This short story, in itself, would be enough to confirm the historical relationship between racism and capital accumulation among billionaires and some Brazilian millionaires. No, they are not entrepreneurs who were born out of nowhere, with sweat and effort. They descend from slave families who sold Africans and their descendants for coffee farming. They exploited us to death. This is the origin of the initial capital of the six generations of “entrepreneurs” at the Itaú-Unibanco bank. But, in addition to economic and historical constraints, we need to analyze sociological constraints.

Let's talk about the current João Moreira Salles and Walter Moreira Salles – the reproduction of names and control over the family, including the symbolic weight of the name, marriage and reproduction, are economic factors, as occurs with the current Paulo Setubal, Olavo Egydio and Alfredo Egydio, as well as with the Marinho family, in which Roberto became the surname.

The current Salles heirs work as filmmakers. The preference for a cultural institute also belongs to a professional choice (sic!). João Moreira Salles is a screenwriter, documentary filmmaker and producer. He created the magazine Piaui, had great relevance for the return of the audiovisual industry at the end of the civil-military dictatorship and the cultural hecatomb of Fernando Collor's government. Directed the documentaries News of a particular war – in partnership with Katia Lund –, critical of the relationship between police, violence and drug trafficking; intermissions, about behind the scenes of Lula's presidential election in 2001; It is Santiago, a play about his butler that had 30 transcribed pages of passages about the European aristocracy.

His brother Walter directed Central do Brasil, one of the main films of Brazilian cinematography. Dora's journey towards redemption, from indifference to Josué to the monocle photo of the two of them together next to Father Cícero, is, without a doubt, one of the best portrayed journeys about Brazilian adversities. Even though the film was not scripted by the brothers, Walter's direction exposes the sensitivity, complexity, contradictions, paradoxes and hardships of the text, transforming it into a text about the text.

A journey from the holder of power (reading and writing) over the dispossessed, who can even decide whether or not to send the letter, to a desperate woman who is welcomed into Josué's lap, something that could only happen after a journey to the center of Brazil. From Central do Brasil to Centro do Brasil, a place of passage to the real Central do Brasil, a space of redemption and accommodation. Only after this (re)meeting was Dora able to return.

But let's take Santiago, where the family's journey is absolutely made explicit. João Moreira Salles made a piece about himself and the documentary, not the piece itself, but the process. João manages to determine Being-in-itself and Being-for-itself – it is a good object of study to understand Jean-Paul Sartre and the expression of anguish and nausea. The documentary was shot in the 1990s and abandoned in 1992; it was resumed in 2005, when João Moreira Salles noticed the discomfort, which made him become documented not as a person, but as a subject in a power relationship with antagonistic poles. The end of the documentary is distressing for the documentary filmmaker as he realizes that the scenes were made based on the power relationship between the boss's son and the former butler.

João Moreira Salles tried to build a perception in the viewer that would reproduce his nausea when he saw himself giving orders for staging and disregarding the ex-butler's only attempt to be spontaneous, allowing himself to conclude that the power relationship between documentary filmmaker and documented overflowed into the power relationship between worker (employee) and bourgeois (owner's son, boss's son and heir).

“Stay in that position, think about your grandmother and my mother for a while” and “I just want you to talk…” show a transubstantiation of the documentary filmmaker’s desire into the documented/directed spirit of Santiago. When Santiago proposed to tell why he “belongs to the nucleus of cursed beings”, his only spontaneous moment, recorded on audio with the camera off, João Moreira Salles replied that “that doesn’t need to happen”, repeated affirmatively by Santiago: “that doesn’t it needs". Then, he told the story that João wanted, starting with “Joãozinho”.

“Joãozinho” or “wonderful Joãozinho” is Prudêncio’s “nhonhô”, in which, even after being free, he acts cognitively with Brás Cubas under the suggested imposition of the economic-social structure using the typical terms of the relationship between master and servant when legally not It's more of a servant. Just like Prudêncio, Santiago also could not free himself from the historically and economically constituted relationship.

João Moreira Salles concludes that the power relationship has not been overcome. It is the cornerstone of the relationship that is expressed not only between Prudêncio and his slave, but in the free Prudêncio who sees himself as a servant of Brás Cubas, the former owner, while whipping his merchandise. The butler found himself a butler in front of the boss's son, even though he was no longer a butler.

The point is that you can't, even if João Moreira Salles wanted to or wants to. Not only because of Santiago, but because of João, who continued to be the bourgeois pole in the formation of Santiago's worldview. João did not stop being the bourgeois pole for João, otherwise he would not give acting orders. As Sartre says, it is a burden that could only be overcome with a new society. If João intends to build a work that represents the individual who realizes the encounter between the phenomenon and the essence, anguish and nausea will be the expressions of impossibility.

João Moreira Salles is a banker in a capitalist society. This is his profession in the reproduction of social relations. João is a banker. João is not a filmmaker. This activity is a full-time hobby, faithfully fulfilled because he is a bourgeois who does not work – like all bourgeois –, having full free time for his favorite activities.

In the same way that João Moreira Salles found that the economic-social determination of the power relationship prevented him from reaching the essence of Santiago, any supposedly progressive bourgeois must conclude the same in relation to black workers – the new fetish of neoliberal advertising . There is no way to be anti-racist while being an active agent of a structure that reproduces racialization as a superstructuring pattern of capital accumulation.

The enlightenment of a literate formation does not impact exploitation and racialized inequality (economy) and legal-police violence (State). If it impacts, it would be in the presentation of representation, which has its sociological and psychic relevance to the black population, but, when disconnected from the dimension of the reproduction of black life (economy), it is nothing more than a conservative element with both feet in naturalization of racism.

As research attests The implications of the Brazilian tax system on income inequalities (2014) and Profile of Inequality and Tax Injustice: Based on Income Tax Filers in Brazil 2007-2013 (2016), by Elivásio Salvador, and data from Oxfam, black women pay the most taxes proportionally to their income. With a regressive tax system, the upper bourgeoisie pays on average less than 8% of their total assets and profits, since there is exemption from taxation on profits and dividends. In estimates, while the richest 10% have 33% of profits and dividends in total income, the richest 0,2% have 70% of profits and dividends in total income.

The major creditors of public debt are banks, investment funds and pension funds. If the average payment of interest, amortization and debt in recent years is 50% of the budget, it is concluded that banks and income segments A and B appropriate a large part of the federal budget. But the issue is not just that. In addition to the form of public debt – beforehand, there is no problem with the State having public debt – there is the problem that the budget is made up of taxes paid by workers and proportionally in greater amounts by black workers, with special emphasis on black women.

Here's the rub: a significant part of the profits and dividends distributed to the Setubal and Moreira Salles families are originally resources coming from taxes that fall more heavily on black workers. Financial institutions defend the maintenance of such a structure, and it is therefore hypocrisy to finance small cultural and social movement projects with “own resources” when they are made up of appropriation through interest on income from work.

The defense of racism as a cognitive-behavioral element allows the middle class and the bourgeoisie to lead popular movements to a controlled progressive position, which reinforces and reproduces the economic mechanisms for reproducing racism, as it leaves the structure of reproduction of exploitation intact. and racialized inequality. In short, the anti-racist superhero wins when the powers of racism remain intact for the superhero's capital accumulation.

Of course, the Moreira Salles family was used as an ideal (but real) type because it was intellectually far superior to the cognitive average of the traditional Brazilian bourgeoisie and middle class, which are usually mediocre. It is very likely that, individually, the Moreira Salles brothers are not prejudiced from a behavioral point of view, and that they are quite regulated about what they say and how they behave in a critical way towards any racist, misogynistic and homophobic practice. However, this is exactly the economic-political paradox of the class struggle that turns into guilt in the self-proclaimed progressive bourgeoisie.

I call the Moreira Salles Factor the real and concrete impossibility of the bourgeoisie being anti-racist,[xiv] even if individually and behaviorally I try not to be prejudiced or racist. A kind of concept that summarizes this paradox. In short, not just any white person can be anti-racist. On the contrary, potentially, even if he could supposedly be cognitively free from prejudice, the bourgeois – in Brazil, on the planet and in the universe – is racist because he is an active agent and appropriator of capital over the racialized working class.

This rule applies to everyone who makes efforts to control individually racist practices and the “democratization” of representation, but who ignore the need to destroy the economic mechanisms of exploitation, racialization and racialized inequality, keeping their accumulation intact.

This sociological data does not conflict with historical data, largely constructed by their ancestors. On the contrary, they only became bankers because their ancestors accumulated capital on enslaved Africans, and they only remain bankers because the mechanisms of exploitation historically built by their ancestors are positively reproduced by them for themselves.

Liberation from guilt involves the construction of another society, or rather, progressive billionaires who have guilt will only stop having it when they stop being bourgeois. The other solution is to reproduce, although existentially with antagonistic content, the African mothers who jumped with their children overboard from the ship that imprisoned them.

*Leonardo Sacramento is a teacher of basic education and pedagogue at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Discourse on White: Notes on Racism and the Apocalypse of Liberalism (Mall). []


[I] This article is based on chapter IV of the book Discourse on white people: notes on racism and the Apocalypse of liberalism, released in 2023 by Editora Alameda.

[ii] Available in

[iii] DEAN, Warren. Rio Claro: a Brazilian system of large plantations (1820-1920). Translated by Waldívia Portinho. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1977, p. 130.

[iv] DEAN, Warren. Rio Claro: a Brazilian system of large plantations (1820-1920). Translated by Waldívia Portinho. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1977, p. 133.

[v] VALE, Fernando Henrique do. Supply economy in an agro-export economy: the municipality of Pouso Alegre/MG in the transition to the 20th century. (Master’s in Economic History). Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences of the University of São Paulo. São Paulo, 2018.

[vi]  BRANDÃO, Rafael Vaz da Motta. The Moreira Salles, the Setúbal and the Villela: finance and power in Brazil, p. 274. In: The owners of Capital: the trajectory of the main business families of Brazilian capitalism. (Org.) CAMPOS, Pedro Henrique Pedreira; BRANDÃO, Rafael Vaz da Motta. 1st ed. Autography: Rio de Janeiro, 2017, p. 271-314.

[vii] SAES, Alexandre Macchione; AVELINO FILHO, Antoniel. Slavery and the trajectory of local elites: Campaign and Pouso Alegre in the twilight of slavery. Culture, History and Heritage. V. 1, n. 1, 2012.

[viii] PAULA, Sergio Goes de. João Moreira Salles, the patriarch. IMS, 9 Apr. 2018. Available at: Accessed on: July 10th. 2020.

[ix] SACRAMENTO, Leonardo. The Birth of the Nation: How Liberalism Produced Brazilian Proto-Fascism. Vol. II. São Paulo: Editora IFSP, 2023, p. 90. Available at

[X] Available in

[xi] Available in .

[xii] GOBETTI, Sérgio Wulff. Concentration of income at the top: new revelations from IRPF data (Parts I and II). Fiscal Policy Observatory, FGV, 2024. Available, respectively, at e

[xiii] Available in

[xiv] In the book Discourse on white people: notes on racism and the Apocalypse of liberalism, the Moreira Salles Factor is also applied to the traditional middle class.

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  • 40 years without Michel FoucaultVenice 13/07/2024 By VINÍCIUS DUTRA: What still remains admirable in Foucault's way of reflecting is his acumen in contesting ideas intuitively accepted by the critical tradition of thought
  • What time is it on the NATO war clock?Jose Luis Fiori 17/07/2024 By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI: The hands of the “world war clock” are moving faster and faster
  • Unicamp at the moment of truthPalestinian artist culture 13/07/2024 By FRANCISCO FOOT HARDMAN: On August 6th, the Unicamp University Council will have to decide whether to suspend current relations with one of the institutions involved in the massacre in Gaza
  • Letter from Berlin — war and the old devilFlávio Aguiar 2024 16/07/2024 By FLÁVIO AGUIAR: There is a burning smell in the air of Berlin. And there is no Wald (forest) on fire, despite the summer heat. The burning smell actually comes from the Federal Government headquarters
  • Marxism and politics — ways to useLuis Felipe Miguel 15/07/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: Author's introduction to the recently published book
  • An endless cyclepalestine street people 16/07/2024 By BRUNO HUBERMAN: The Zionist left attacks the Palestinian struggle for decolonization
  • Antigone in the classroombooks and reading 17/07/2024 By GABRIELA BRUSCHINI GRECCA: The present time has proven increasingly essential for us to regain contact with Greek tragedies
  • Stalinist episodes in BrazilOld pictures 14/07/2024 By ANGELA MENDES DE ALMEIDA: A story woven together with untruths, but which, much later, ended up coming out into the light of day
  • After neoliberalismELEUTERIO2 18/07/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: The inability to think of capitalism as a social system formed by structuring social relations
  • The night the French Revolution diedstick 0406 01/07/2024 By MARTÍN MARTINELLI: Preface to the book by Guadi Calvo