Edgard Carone



The trajectory of a Marxist historian at USP

“Edgard Carone” – Drawing by Vera Lucia Amaral Ferlini

After decades of work dedicated to the republican history of Brazil, Edgard Carone was considered a historian old fashioned, determinist and that operated a mechanical Marxism that substituted the subjectivity of the working class for the action of the Communist Party. The fact that he collected documents about daily life, the circulation of books and ideologies; having studied anarchism, laborism and queerism was of little importance to remove him from ostracism[I]. In the 2008st century, the XNUMX crisis, the reappearance of fascism and the post-truth led to the resumption of the Marxist tradition.

Edgard Carone's formative years (1923-2003) were marked by his entry into the History and Geography course at the FFCL at USP, but also by the adherence of his brother, Maxim Tolstoi, to Marxism. Maxim was a Youth organizer for the Communist Party of Brazil (PCB) in the 1930s and ended up trapped in the repressive wave of the Estado Novo. Edgard did not imitate him and always defined himself as a traveling companion of the communists. While Maxim had contacts in the circle of Caio Prado Júnior and the members of the São Paulo PCB, Edgard linked up with Antonio Candido, Paulo Emílio Sales Gomes, Azis Simão, Pasquale Petrone and other intellectuals who influenced him. It was through these links that he first became a democratic socialist.

Carone became famous in his youth for his collection of rare works on the history of Brazil and the labor movement. A significant part of the bibliography that appears in his books came from this personal library. My first memories of him go back to the used bookstores where I saw him carrying bags of books. Afterwards, I was able to work in his library alongside his student Marisa Deaecto.

One result of your bibliophilia is Marxism in Brazil – from its origins to 1964 which was published in 1986. As he himself declared in an introductory note to the edition, “most of the books listed… belong to the author”. It is a work that today deserves to be “completed”, as Carone did not have the information technology to carry out his research.[ii]. But other Marxist bibliophiles like Pedro Ribas[iii] or Maximilian Rubel,[iv] were not exempt from shortcomings in this difficult task of shifting the usual axis of analysis of production towards the dissemination of books. The same can be said of similar works on Trotsky.[v] and especially about Gramsci.[vi]

Edgard Carone's assessment of the spread of Marxism was a pioneering one. Long before he produced a whole range of investigations around the history of the book among us, he studied the processes and cultural limits of the circulation of socialist books. With the exception of a few isolated examples, such as Astrojildo Pereira and Edgard Rodrigues (for anarchist culture), no one has leisurely studied workers' literature. It was from Carone and those authors that I myself wrote The Battle of the Books, an outline of the history of the Brazilian left from the circulation of printed matter. A former student of Carone, Dainis Karepovs, an important bibliophile and historian, undertook the task of filling in some of Carone's gaps, in addition to studying publishers.

Carone also bequeathed us a small seminal article on the Communist Manifesto. On the sesquicentennial of publication[vii] there were at least three introductions of great historical scholarship.[viii] Unlike that classic introduction made by Harold Laski, on the centenary of the work, in 1948, these approached the problem of diffusion and reception, but without their own survey.

In Brazil, the preface that Edgard Carone prepared for the Communist Manifesto differs from those commemorative studies[ix] and is inspired by Bert Andreas, whose magnificent work is a bibliographic rarity[X]. Later, some texts on the editorial trajectory of Marxism commented on exactly the same editions that Carone consulted. firsthand (because he had them), without even mentioning him. Lack of knowledge revealed the silencing of Carone's work.

He also dealt with right-wing literature, such as “The Blue Collection”, and even wrote the articles “Literatura e Público”[xi] and “Notícias sobre 'Brasilianas', articles about forms of editorial and ideological organization that emerged in the Revolution of 1930.

Alongside his Marxist bibliophilia, it can be said that Edgard Carone's production oscillated between two themes: the Brazilian revolution and economic history.


History of the Republic

Carone's work is essentially narrative. He first put together a bibliography, collected documents, narrated political evolution and analyzed social classes, their economic position and ideologies. In the economic analysis, Carone initially pays attention to agricultural products, the keynote of our material life: Coffee, Sugar, Rubber, etc., and then Industry, Finance and Imperialism. The industry gained greater prominence after 1930.

The style was dry, direct, blunt to the point of surprising the reader with a hard sentence that synthesized the tragic condition of our history. His method was apprehended in works prior to USP's Marxism and in his contact with socialist and communist friends. The method is only revealed within the narrative itself. Carone was averse to theoretical introductions.

According to researcher Fabiana Marchetti, who wrote a dissertation at USP on Carone: “When we analyze the book Revolutions of Contemporary Brazil, we concluded that the author worked with the idea of ​​revolution in two dimensions: revolution, in the singular, and revolutions in the plural. In each one of them a conception was manifested, being that “the revolution” was in fact a deeper and more complex process that encompassed all the other social upheavals and political processes considered as revolutionary”[xii].

According to Marchetti, in the book The Old Republic II – Political Evolution the term “revolution” appears 143 times and “army” 113 (these are the highest occurrences in the vocabulary she selected). Not by chance, two terms associated with the writing of the work: a dictatorship established by the Army in 1964 through what its military leadership called a revolution.

Carone sought to study how economic, geographic, cultural and social aspects found their political synthesis in a chain of events. Its periodization followed the criterion of social conflicts: from 1889 to 1894, military governments; from Prudente de Moares to Afonso Pena (1894-1909) is the highlight of the regime, in which the predominance of São Paulo and Minas Gerais is absolute. This does not mean that there are no conflicts, but they are latent and intra-regional. The “intermittent shocks” constitute a new phase with Hermes da Fonseca and Wenceslau Braz (1910-1918): there is a catastrophic, momentary balance of opposition and situationist forces, civil and military. Social rebellions and those of sergeants and sailors were also accompanied by the intervention of the army in favor of some oppositional oligarchies.

Finally, the “period of contestations” goes from Epitácio Pessoa (1919) to the 1930 Revolution. Now, the splitting of the oligarchies (republican reaction and, in the end, Liberal Alliance), in a inter state and not just Intra, will combine with the new lieutenant phenomenon. This period had been named by him in Revolutions of Contemporary Brazil as "Rising Revolution"[xiii].


Historian of Class Struggles

            The objective and subjective position of the social classes was scrutinized in his books and became fundamental for his interpretation of the 1930 Revolution. The documentation selected by him made it possible to question the bourgeois ideology and its social self-representation; the daily life of different social groups (housing conditions, profession, food, etc.); the vision that the bourgeoisie had of the Brazilian population; the limits of liberal proposals; the fear that the intermittent spirit of revolt would consolidate in a revolutionary way[xiv]etc.

He did the same with regard to the middle class, which restricted itself to ephemeral organizations such as the tenants and consumers leagues (1922) or against high prices and in defense of secret voting and honesty. It is very difficult to characterize middle-class action because it does not assume permanent organizational forms. It is limited to maintaining a protest for an immediate problem. Carone showed in the documentation the immediacy, the unmediated character of that class's reflection and its propensity for simplistic explanations of social problems.

For him “the petty bourgeoisie imitates the movements of other classes”[xv]. The middle classes cannot even impose their own worldview for a long period, lacking a strategic program. His world view, registered in the literature of the 1920s and 1930s, is against improvisation, indiscipline and the liberal State; it demands the leadership of the uneducated people by intellectuals; defends order, anti-communism, civilism[xvi], secret ballot and return to the original republican and constitutional ideal. Its philosophy is primary. In São Paulo, it tried to set up perennial organizations such as the Nationalist Party of São Paulo, to link up with national movements such as the Nationalist League (1917) and the Youth Party (1925), but they withered.

Inflation, protective tariffs, consumption taxes, the high cost of national industry (seen as artificial) and the devalued exchange rate led the middle classes to join the proletariat and the marginalized population in urban protests. In addition to the better-known revolt against mandatory vaccination in Rio de Janeiro in 1904, there were a number of civil and military urban protests across the country. In São Paulo and Santos, for example, against the increase in tram prices, urban trains, the price of "green meat" (fresh) etc. The protests used depredations, burning of trams and trains, rallies and spontaneously formed groups in the different neighborhoods.[xvii]. But the tactic without a program was self-exhausting.

The army is another group analyzed by Carone and indispensable for his 1930 explanation. The institution gradually became the political expression of the urban middle strata. However, Carone did not lose sight of its organizational dimension. For him, there was a dialectic between hierarchy and politics that was resolved until 1916 by the command of some members of the high officials who gave direction to the institution. That is, the army is not “political” (in the partisan sense) in itself, but acts as such through its leaders.

Floriano Peixoto and his followers gave greater unity of action to the army[xviii]. Deodoro and his nephew Hermes da Fonseca, on the other hand, acted more for private interests, without a program that interested the army as a whole. In 1915-1916, with the action of the sergeants for parliamentarianism, against corruption and increased pay, the political army presents its first crack between the high officers and the rest of the troops. This became constant with tenentism in 1922.

Contrary to the violent tactic, the ideology that moved the lieutenants was centrist and moderate. After 1930 they adapted to local realities in many ways, more or less linked to the oligarchies. As representatives of the middle classes, they were unable to create permanent organizations and the 1932 revolution, for Carone, marked their decline in the face of the hierarchical army, as the direction of war operations passed into the hands of senior officers and the lieutenants were no longer able to galvanize the means. military. Finally, the 1933 elections marked the victorious return of the oligarchies to power. The example analyzed by Carone was the Clube 3 de Outubro (1930-1935), which was maintained through its connection with the provisional government machine.

Tenentism was born in 1922 as an appendix of the Republican Reaction, the name given to the dissident campaign of Nilo Peçanha. Later, tenentismo came to power alongside another oligarchic dissidence: the Liberal Alliance. And it ceased to exist in 1935. By its side, the traditional political army did not cease to act. The junta that tried to seize power before Getúlio Vargas arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1930 was an example.

Tenentism was the dual form of existence of the political army between 1922 and 1935. Later, the initiative returned to the exclusive responsibility of senior officers. For Carone, Goes Monteiro was an example of the vicissitudes of tenentism. A member of the traditional political army, he betrayed the hierarchy and became an ally of the lieutenants in 1930-1933. He progressively distanced himself from them in the name of the hierarchy, schemed to become president, engineered a coup for himself, until in 1937 he supported another coup that guaranteed Vargas' continuity as dictator.

The Army, divided into tendencies, tended to unify after 1935 on the pretext of the communist danger officially announced in the preamble to the 1937 Constitution. It became the guarantor of the agrarian groups in power and, now, also of a certain representation of industrial interests ( the rapprochement of businessman Roberto Simonsen with the government is characteristic of this). Many soldiers occupy administrative posts, but one can repeat an ironic statement by Edgar Carone: “despite the differences, the similarity with the past is great. It's just that history doesn't repeat itself exactly like it did in the past."[xx]. The ironic emphasis is on the adverb.


The Composite State

The dominant classes were studied by Carone in terms of the economic weight of their fractions and ideology. The industrialists never presented themselves with their own ideology. Fiesp's Morvan Figueiredo has the same regionalist, liberal and federalist conception as the agrarian classes. His action was corporate, as when he attacked women's rights to equal pay with men in 1939. For Carone:

“Until 1930, political power was in the hands of the agrarian classes, their domain being total and ascending, passing from municipal bodies to those of the State, from the latter to the federal level. Even if there are divisions of agrarian groups, there is a single party in each state, and the opposition is expelled from the republican parties (...). The bourgeoisie has no political role and lives subordinated to the system, while the other social classes are marginalized from the political process”.

Only in the final phase of the Old Republic did alternatives emerge, but belatedly, such as the Democratic Party of São Paulo and the Liberal Party of Rio Grande do Sul. What did the 1930 revolution change?

“After 1930 there will be a change in the almost linear agrarian domain. These classes remain preponderant, but now they are divided and subdivided, which weakens them; proletariat and middle classes vie for power and organize themselves into parties, but they are also weakened politically by their deep divisions. For its part, the bourgeoisie remains subordinate to the rural oligarchies…”[xx].

For the author, in 1930 the political system of total oligarchic dominance gave way to “composite governments”. The previous system was based on local and state ownership of farmers; and nationally in the predominance of large states (São Paulo and Minas Gerais). The new system is more complex: the middle and working classes now have more freedom of action, despite their defeat; there was the rise of Rio Grande do Sul; the agrarian classes divided; the traditional army became more cohesive and intervening and the integralists appeared. It is a different game of forces.

Finally, those at the top do not seek consensus. Carone harbored no illusions among the ruling classes, as “the lack of class tradition and the creative and pragmatic inability of the ruling classes make the need to create values ​​and base their action on them unnecessary, since the oligarchies command and are obeyed”[xxx].

We have seen that Carone understood 1930 as a moment (as a dialectical category) in which traditional forces rearranged themselves, incorporated or dominated new groups and, finally, created a situation of unstable balance of tensions and compromises. Carone maintained the idea of ​​an ideological symbiosis between the middle class and lieutenants, but also captured the organizational and corporate nature of military tensions. One would say that he deepened the Marxist reading of Werneck Sodré, without going back to the liberal theses that later rejected the class ties of the military.

On the ideological level, federalism, coronelismo, liberalism and positivism sometimes embellish pragmatic forms in which values ​​are vague and only cover up secondary divergences around the struggle for power. This explains the great bourgeois unity under anti-communism and, at other times, the division in the dispute for the government.

Carone carried out these analyzes without resorting to a prior conceptualization (populism, state of compromise, etc.), preferring to find social contradictions in events. As a historian, he made situations intelligible by narrating the facts. As a Marxist, he observed possible ruptures and class interests. Thus, the post-1930 State brought elements of a previous evolution, but it was in the concrete disputes of historical characters that that process took on a revolutionary meaning that defined a before and a after.


The Occult Criticism

Carone's reading was done at USP simultaneously with another much more influential one. At the same university, Boris Fausto did a study in 1930, ideologically situated within São Paulo's liberalism, against communism and “populism” and rejecting the middle-class identity of tenentism.

Boris Fausto's work was politically inspired, according to the author: “my dissatisfaction with the ideology of the PCB”. His explicit target was Nelson Werneck Sodré. He wanted to write a detailed monograph, but the “viable option was to write a small interpretative text, trying to destroy (…) the interpretation of the 1930 episode as the arrival of a new class to power”[xxiii].

Carone had a different view from some of the communist historians attacked by Faust, though not the opposite. Due to his early sympathies for the Democratic Left, Carone was also independent and did not join the PCB. Despite this diversity of intellectual ties, he adopted a Marxism typical of his generation and did not criticize the party, which cost him dearly academically.

Collated with some important renovating historians who emerged in the 1970s, Carone stands out for the weight of his empirical research and approach to the regional diversity of republican history. New historians wrote books with little documentary research, since their investigative north was the methodology and not the events, while Carone sought synthesis. In general, they read the process from São Paulo and the Federal District.

Fausto concluded that, despite frictions, there was complementarity between industrial bourgeoisie and agrarian classes in 1930. As for the idea of ​​revolution, he considered that it did not fit in a model defined by him as the alteration in the relations of production (in the economic instance) and replacement of one class by another (in the policy instance). This did not happen in Brazil. The collapse of the hegemony of the “coffee bourgeoisie” did not bring another class to power. There was no political rise of the industrial bourgeoisie or the middle classes, but a “power vacuum” filled by a “compromise State”[xxiii].

Another interpretative current, that of a libertarian matrix, criticized the PCB, but not exactly its historiography, but the discourse of the communists from 1928 to 1930. Later, it projected the social being of its criticism onto the PT. For her, the oligarchy has no objective existence: it was a ghost to create false divergences of interest within the ruling classes. The Democratic Party would only have created a legitimizing space for an idea of ​​revolution. Therefore, 1930 is not seen as a fact, but the basis of a speech elaborated under the victor's prism. For de Decca and Vesentini, the empirical element “1930” became an empty, forbidden, undiscussed place. Building it as a revolution, a watershed, was an ideological operation by the victors. But nothing would justify choosing a framework that interrupts and annuls the revolutionary process in its entirety.[xxv], in which there were other ideas of revolution in dispute.

At the turn of the 1970s, a political consensus was created on the Estado Novo as a totalitarian regime generated by the Revolution of 1930; the CLT as fascist legislation; laborism and communism as phenomena of the populist era; finally, the trade unionism that existed until then as a pelego. Historian Ítalo Tronca summarized those positions.

For Tronca, the “revolution of the 30s” was “the most elaborate construction of authoritarian thought in Brazil”. From 1928 onwards, there were several conceptions of revolution at stake and he showed a clear preference for anarchists. The PCB was presented as the “winner among losers”, manipulative and allied with the government to prevent the contradiction between capital and labor from emerging in the political arena. The author accused the party of being centralized, bureaucratic and fighting for union control, “in other words, the fundamental thing is that, in that period, the class was also being manipulated by those who claimed to be its only representatives”[xxiv].

He recognized that the PCB created a fact by introducing the proletariat into the political game. For the dominant groups it was convenient to recognize only a party that restricted the working class to the electoral struggle, while pushing away the anarchists who refused to accept the struggle in the field chosen by the bourgeoisie. At the end of the process there was a “double suppression of the voices of the dominated”. On the one hand, the 1930 winners suppressed the actions of the peasant workers' bloc, animated by the PCB; on the other hand, the PCB helped the bourgeoisie to hide the memory of the anarchists and to reinforce the structure of domination.

Save for a collection by Hall and Pinheiro or as a source, Carone was not considered a valid interlocutor in that debate. Conditions have changed. What was a new historiography is now almost half a century old; the new syndicalism pragmatically faced the defense of the CLT; and Lula and the PT started to value the Vargas era.



Carone did not write elegantly. He did not participate in many debates outside of communist circles, he did not write theoretical and methodological articles, in the same way that he did not comment on many American Brazilianists when speaking about Brazil. She had literary erudition and was deeply knowledgeable about the country's history. He didn't like the PT and, in the 1990s, he was closer to the PC than the B, due to the momentary disorganization of the PCB at that time. I remember seeing him alongside Paula Beiguelman in union debates. Even so, the Nucleus of Studies d'The capital of the PT honored him. Intellectuals from the PCB and other trends paid tribute to him at Unesp, Marília campus.

He came from a generation in which academic studies were not professionalized, he did not join research groups, he preferred contact within old intellectual friendship circles, trade unions and the Communist Party. He experienced the transition to academic specialization. He was also associated with others who were silenced, such as Nelson Werneck Sodré and, to some extent, Jacob Gorender.

With the end of the so-called New Republic, the opportunity arose to operate a synthesis that denies and preserves part of that liberal social criticism of the 1980s, purged of its pamphleteering and idealistic exaggerations and its cultural reductionism. The revaluation of the anarchist experience has always been fundamental, just remember the work written in the 1950s by the historian and communist memoirist Everardo Dias.

But it is worth recovering the legacy of seminal research that inserted the working class into the totality of production relations and took into account subjective and objective aspects. After all, at the union headquarters and in the party's public struggles (rallies, strikes, samba schools, sports, picnics, chess clubs, etc.) a significant part of the working class experience took place, such as job advertisements, labor claims, legal support , summer camp, parties, courses, acquisition of books and newspapers, debates and Sunday lunch.

After the end of the Soviet Union, Marxist historiography remained firm in the following years. He resisted the postmodern avalanche and reaffirmed the objectivity of historical knowledge with Florestan Fernandes, Emilia Viotti, Anita Prestes, João Quartim, Wilson Barbosa, Marly Vianna, Nelson Werneck Sodré, Jacob Gorender, Paula Beiguelman and Edgard Carone[xxv]. The return of fascism leads to the revaluation of those who fought and defeated it.

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Studio).



[I]Among the exceptions at USP who did not fail to value the studies of Carone and Werneck Sodré, we find Emilia Viotti in the 1980s. In the XNUMXst century, Marcos Silva worked for the rediscovery at USP of the historian Nelson Werneck Sodré.

[ii]Another of his students, the also left-wing bibliophile Dainis Karepovs, carried out this (still unpublished) work.

[iii] Peter Ribas, The introduction of Marxism in Spain (1869-1939). Madrid: Ediciones de La Torre, 1981.

[iv] Rubel, Maximilen. Bibliographie des oeuvres de Karl Marx with an appendix in Répertoire des oeuvres de Friedrich Engels. Paris: Librairie Marcel Riviere, 1956.

[v] Wolfgang Lubitz, Trostki, Bibliography. München: KGSaur, 1982.

[vi] John Cammett. gramscian bibliography, 1922-1988. Rome: Riuniti, 1991.

[vii] Edgard Carone, “The trajectory of the Communist Party Manifesto in Brazil". In: From right to left. Belo Horizonte: Oficina de Livros, 1991, pp.93-99. Posted in Edgard Carone: Marxist Readings and Other Studies. Org. by Marisa Midori Deaecto; Lincoln Secco. São Paulo, Xamã, 2004.

[viii] Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction to the Communist Manifesto”, in: id. about history. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1998, pp.293-308; Gareth Stedman Jones, “Introduction”, in: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto. London: Penguin Books, 2002, pp. 3-187; Claude Mazauric, “Lire le manifeste”, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Parti Communiste. Paris: Librio, 1998, pp.7-21.

[ix] [Multiple authors], KKarl Marx and Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto, 150 Years Later. Rio de Janeiro: Counterpoint; São Paulo: Perseu Abramo, 1998, pp.43-207; Several authors, Tests onlyAbout the Communist Manifesto, São Paulo: Xamã, 1998; Osvaldo Coggiola (Org.), Communist manifesto yesterday and today. São Paulo: Xamã/FFLCH, 1999.

[X] Bert Andreas, The communist manifeste of Marx and Engels: histoire et bibliographie (1848-1948). Milan: Feltrinelli, 1963. [Edition with appendix covering the years 1918 to 1959].

[xi] Edgard Carone, “Literature and Public”, In: From right to left. Belo Horizonte: Oficina de Livros, 1991, pp.37-92. Posted in Edgard Carone: Marxist Readings and Other Studies. Org. by Marisa Midori Deaecto; Lincoln Secco. São Paulo, Xamã, 2004.

[xii] Marchetti, F. The First Republic: the idea of ​​revolution in the work of Edgard Carone (1964-1985). São Paulo, master's thesis, USP, 2016.

[xiii]It should be remembered that it was Carone who consolidated the traditional division between the first, second, third and fourth republics in university circles. It did so in the documentation volumes. In the volumes of interpretation on institutions and social classes and those of the narrative of political evolution, he used the titles of old republic, new republic, Estado Novo and liberal republic.

[xiv] Casalecchi, JE The work of Edgard Carone and the teaching of history. São Paulo: Difel, s/d.

[xv]Edgard Carone, The Oligarchic Republic: Institutions and Social Classes, São Paulo, Difel, 1975, p. 182.

[xvi] Carone, Edgard. From Left to Right. Belo Horizonte: Book Workshop, 1991.

[xvii] Carone, Edgard. The Oligarchic Republic: Institutions and Social Classes, São Paulo, Difel, 1975, p.190.

[xviii] All of Carone's analysis commented here in: Carone, E. A República Nova (1930-1937). São Paulo: Difel, 1982, pp.381-394. This is the text “army and tenentism”, an appendix written in 1973.

[xx] Caron, E. The New Republic (1930-1937). São Paulo: Difel, 1974, p. 394.

[xx] Caron, E. The New State. São Paulo: Difel, 1977, p. 143.

[xxx] ID Ibid., p. 166.

[xxiii] Faust, B. Memoirs of a Sunday Historian. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2010, p.239.

[xxiii] Fausto, B. The Revolution of 1930. 5 ed. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1978, p. 113.

[xxv] Decca, E. and Vesentini, C. “The winner's revolution”, Contraponto, 1, November 1976.

[xxiv] Tronca, I. The Revolution of 1930: Occult Domination. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1982, p. 40.

[xxv] There are certainly many others of the intermediate and more recent generations.

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