Raymundo Faoro – misguided reviews

Image: Adrien Olichon


Commentary on the interpretation of Leonardo Avritzer

“Liberalism only armed against the State proved incapable, due to its elitist features, of embodying a democratic doctrine of government”. (Raymundo Faoro).

Raymundo Faoro recently received on the website the earth is round, misguided criticism by UFMG political science professor Leonardo Avritizer, who said that Operation Lava Jato was inspired by his work. O Avritzer's first article was contested by PUC-RS professor Rodrigo Ghiringhelli de Azevedo. In reply, Avritzer reinforced and added, in another text, the condemnations of Faoro, and criticized, in addition to Ghiringhelli, his colleague from the Department of Political Sciences at UFMG, Juarez Guimarães, whose assessments of Faoro the professor from Rio Grande do Sul had used in his defense. Avritzer's second article was also answered, pertinently, by Ghiringhelli.

Even so, it is worth clearing up certain misconceptions about Raymundo Faoro. Not only to defend an already dead intellectual from unfounded accusations, but because the controversy surrounding the idea of ​​patrimonialism has enormous political and ideological relevance, as it supports processes of legitimation of power disputes and political actions.

In 2018, we published an article in which we stated that “in direct opposition to the contents of Raymundo Faoro's masterpiece, Operation Car Wash (…) organized a narrative of legitimation of the fight against corruption based on a late liberal and instrumental interpretation of the concept of patrimonialism”[I]. The intellectual reference of this interpretation was former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who mistakenly interpreted Faoro's work as an anti-statist libel. Cardoso did not realize that the real villain, for Faoro, was not the State, but the elites that instrumentalize it, the famous “estata” quoted from beginning to end of his texts, the “owners of power” in the book’s title, the “ political patronage” of the subtitle – this is the focus of Faoro, who never reduced liberalism to mere anti-statism: “Political freedoms went through metamorphoses that infused content into social dynamics. Characterized, in other times, by mere distrust of political society, they embodied freedoms against the State and freedom from interventions correcting the balance between the weak and the powerful (...) The liberalism of peers, privileged people, masters (...) gave way, when it detach from economic liberalism, to liberalism tempered by the people, in the new so-called social rights. (…) Liberalism only armed against the State proved incapable, due to its elitist nature, of embodying a democratic doctrine of government”.[ii]

Cardoso did not read or did not give importance to this and other parts of Faoro. He interpreted patrimonialism as statism, an alleged populist and obsolete scheme implemented against the modernity of civil society and the market, represented, in Brazil, by the São Paulo agrarian and industrial complex. Statism, according to him, would have been exponentiated in PT governments, resulting in an obsolete and unserviceable nationalism, patrimonialism and corruption. This is because, according to Cardoso, patrimonialism would have been modernized along with the State and society, and, from this modernization and according to the new type of relations instituted between State and civil society

“Faoro's criticism of the lack of guarantees by the patrimonial State to the subjective rights of workers and the poor in general loses strength as an argument to show the harm caused by patrimonialism to the rationality of decisions. Perhaps the ability of the patrimonial state to secure such rights explains the continued adherence of diverse layers of society, including the underprivileged, to contemporary forms of patrimonialism.”[iii].(our emphasis)

The underlined passage makes it clear that, for Faoro, the main disastrous consequence of patrimonialism was social, in terms of lack of equality and freedom: lack of guarantees of the subjective rights of workers and the poor in general. Cardoso, however, maintains that, currently, the “patrimonialist irrationality” would occur just when the poor and workers got those rights via the State. Evidence for this does not present.

This argument, which links statism to patrimonialism, irrationality and corruption, theoretically conveyed by PT governments, legitimized Lava Jato. Supposed judicial fight against corruption of an anti-national and politically biased nature, which, with the support of the mainstream media, threw the country into a State of exception, in which, under the justification of the essential fight against “very serious situations of general interest”, the legal power without any observance of its legal and constitutional limits, ignoring the rights and guarantees of citizens.

Leonardo Avritzer, in fact, rebels against this Faoro distorted and instrumentalized by the elitist liberal interpretation, captained by Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Insurgency against the author, not against the concept of patrimonialism itself, which this author introduced in Brazil, based on an admittedly heterodox reading of Max Weber. In his book “O Pendulum of Democracy”, Avritzer makes wide use of the concept of patrimonialism, referring to the struggle, after the end of the military dictatorship, between the tradition of the Brazilian patrimonial State, appropriated by the elites in disfavor of the public good, and the novelty of the Social State, of a democratic and universal nature, arising from the 1988 Constitution. It correctly assesses that after the 2016 coup, the scales tipped towards the old patrimonial State[iv].

Avritzer calls the Lava-Jato operation “judicial faorism”, that is, the assumption that corruption is the biggest, if not the only, Brazilian problem, and that to end it would require a judicial activism that leads to punitivism .

Well, if there is, in Faoro's texts, constant criticism of what he calls the "bureaucratic establishment", there is, however, no focus on the common corruption of public agents, of politicians, such as the one that Operation Lava-Jato was occupied. The term “corruption” is not even used much by Faoro. But in a broad sense, much deeper than that of Lava-Jato, the issue is on its radar. Understood in a profound normative sense, as a distortion of a desirable state of affairs, the true corruption denounced by Faoro is the denial of freedom, not freedom-privilege, of the few, but freedom as a general condition of society, only attainable by a effective democratization and for a quantitative and qualitative expansion of the social bases of power. Faoro's theme is broad, it is not that of the politician or the official who pockets public money – of course he deplores such situations, but they are, for him, mere symptoms of a greater evil: the libertarian and asymmetrical pattern of power, rooted since times far away in Brazilian society.

And what, according to Faoro, could the Judiciary do on its own in relation to this? Little or nothing. There is not even a line in which Faoro defends a “punitivist judicial activism” to purge and democratize the country. On the contrary, when commenting on a certain hope in this sense expressed by Rui Barbosa, that the law and the Judiciary could, in the Old Republic, control oligarchic rural mandonism and interventionist militarism, Faoro criticizes the illusions of the former Bahian jurist and politician.[v]

Faoro recalls that this intention fails, Rui Barbosa will blame the Supreme Court judges, accusing them of fear, venality, subservience and such. The problem, however, guarantees Faoro, was not subjective, it was not a supposed “pusillanimity of men, nor (…) failure or betrayal of the body. The fate of the Republic did not depend on fifteen old men, many of whom were indisputably fearless. It was not the Supreme Court that failed the Republic, but the Republic that failed the Supreme Court. The political mission he was supposed to represent was destined for other hands, fed by real forces and not paper”[vi].

It is clear, therefore, that, if he were alive, Faoro would deplore the narrow view of corruption and the authoritarian and biased voluntarism of Lava-Jato – after all, he has always been a defender of human rights and democratic and universal law, and an enemy of the State of exception .

Avritzer also criticizes Faoro for basing his thesis that the main element of national formation is the patrimonial State, which translates into the private appropriation of State resources by private actors[vii], in two operations of dubious academic quality: “the first is to attribute this element to Portuguese education, still at the beginning of the last millennium, and to assume (...) that this patrimonial element would have been transferred and reproduced in Brazil. The second is to identify this element in all historical periods.”[viii].

This is a recurring criticism of Faoro. He would see a kind of 'historical immutability' in Luso-Brazilian society, which would disregard the specificities of each period of our trajectory. Faoro, however, does admit effective economic, social, cultural and even political changes throughout Brazilian history – absurd if he did not. The point is that, even with such changes, something remains: the elitist, authoritarian and libertarian content of power. Faoro, in this sense, sees conservatism, not immobility, in our history. He distinguishes “modernization”, the mere replacement of obsolete forms by new ones, generally emulated from abroad, from “modernity”, the latter, yes, linked to a liberal democratic political order, citizenship bias – we have constantly had the first, he guarantees, the second it even insinuates, at certain times, but is not completed, always hampered by the strength and/or plasticity of political patronage, which controls the potential of novelties to undermine the oligarchic substance of power[ix].

“The integrity of the context of power, structurally frozen, does not mean that it prevents social change (...) the permanence of the structure requires movement, the continuous incorporation of contributions from outside, acquired intellectually or in contact with developed civilizations. It favors change, in fact, the separation of a minority layer of society, sensitive to external and internal influences (...) when receiving the impact of new social forces, the status category softens them, domesticates them, blunting their transforming aggressiveness, to incorporate them into their own values, often through the adoption of a different ideology, if compatible with the domain scheme”[X].

Even, therefore, that the continuity pointed out by Faoro is not full, but that of an oligarchic substance of power, which continues to pervade the different periods of our history, one can question: is it possible for this element of continuity to last for so long, for centuries? Yes it is.

Fernand Braudel, for example, when speaking of more recent history, often limited to the very brief duration of human existences, asserts that: “these events of yesterday explain and do not explain, by themselves, the current universe. To varying degrees, actuality extends other experiences much further away in time. It is nourished by centuries passed (…) the life of men implies many other realities (…) the space in which they live, the social forms that imprison them and decide on their existence, the ethical rules, conscious or unconscious, which they obey , their religious and philosophical beliefs, their own civilization. Such realities have a much longer life than ours and we will not always have, in the course of our existence, the time necessary to see them change completely (...) Thus, a close past and a more or less distant past are confused in the multiplicity of the present time: while a close story runs towards us in long strides, a distant story accompanies us at a slow pace”[xi] .

Faoro's perception of the secular reiteration of oligarchic power in Brazilian society is a product of this distant history, "slow breathing", as Braudel says[xii]. Not only is this story Wear. There is the other, closer story, for which it makes no sense, for example, to state that the governments of Pedro II, Vargas and the military were the same thing. Despite, however, the evident specificities, the thread of a certain pattern of asymmetrical and liberating power runs through them – this is Faoro's focus.

We write “power” without adjectives (political, economic, military, social, cultural, religious, etc) because we believe that such adjectives correspond to specific manifestations of power, which are better understood if the analysis takes into account its inevitable connections with other manifestations. of power. There is nothing wrong, therefore, with focusing, say, on economic power, but if the approach is narrow and does not also take into account political and social power, etc., the analysis loses strength. Faoro's focus is political, institutional, legal, connecting these issues, in an inspired way, to economic reality. However, social considerations are lacking, on religiosity, sociability, culture, etc.

Avritzer questions, in Wear faoriana, if the content of a political institution is found in the analysis of its origin. He states that Faoro does not explain how the Portuguese State, centralized and patrimonial in the distant Middle Ages, was reproduced throughout our history, and says that for such a demonstration, “Faoro would have had to make use of a second element of Weber's work, the so-called idea-conducting social strata”. As he does not, “the transference of the court would be the Weberian half sole used by Faoro”[xiii].

First, Faoro does not credit the reiteration of patrimonialism in Brazil only the transfer of the Portuguese court here in 1808 – gives due importance to the fact, but “Os donos do Poder” is a great parade of how, in the most diverse historical conjunctures, not only in the beginning of the XNUMXth century, patrimonialism remained and renewed. The most important thing, however, is the mention of the social strata that conduct ideas. Really, it's a Weber explanatory device. The issue, however, is more than that. It is because Faoro's historical sociology is deficient. And that, as we said, analyzes of power are enriched by approaching one of its manifestations, taking into account its relations with others. And that, referring to patrimonialism, both to the organization as for legitimation from political power, it “demands” a broad perspective, not only political, but also social, cultural, etc.

Such a broad perspective is present in Weber's writings on patrimonialism in ancient China and Rome.[xiv]. Writings with a civilizational breath, which study the “other” and the “before”, respectively, of the West, as tools of comparative sociology for the great Weberian endeavor of defining the characteristics of Western civilization – and the idea of ​​patrimonialism is a crucial tool in such an undertaking. That's the relevant, the consideration of such “ideas-conducting social extracts” comes from there, from this monopolizing Weberian perspective.[xv]

Furthermore, a long-term perspective cannot be restricted to the political, legal and institutional aspects and their relationships with the economic sphere. It also has to consider the mentalities, the culture, as variables of relative autonomy, not as mere expressions of others. This is the main deficiency in Faoro's work, the “mother deficiency”, which generates mistakes such as exaggerating the narrative of political centralization and the omnipotence of the State in Brazilian history, such as considering slavery only for its political and economic consequences (the power of the slave trade and the financing/intermediation of production and export over landowners), or as the lack of a more accurate definition of what is the ruling class in the country.

Among Faoro's misconceptions, however, it is not, as Avritzer accuses, of postulating “arbitrarily the presence of liberal ideas on farms and local units of power (…) understanding the early XNUMXth century farmer as a liberal is the same as understanding the XNUMXst century Uberist as an entrepreneur. In other words, there is a fundamental misunderstanding in Raymundo Faoro's analysis of independence and empire, in the idea of ​​a liberalism without economic freedom, without horizontal relations on the farm and with slavery”[xvi].

Avritzer then cites an excerpt from Faoro whose ending makes it clear, as Professor Ghiringhelli has already noted, that the author of Os donos do Poder did not consider that the landowners would adopt a liberalism with democratic and contractualist affinities. The excerpt: “liberalism, in fact, less doctrinal than justifying: the rich and powerful landowners take care to reduce the power of the king and the general captains only to increase their own, in a new distribution of government, without generalizing to the poor classes the participation policy"[xvii]. It is clear from the passage that Faoro knew that liberalism, for them, was, at best, synonymous with political decentralization, which increased their personal power, not economic freedom, horizontal social relations or the end of slavery.

In the Regency, this political decentralization program was implemented, especially through changes in penal, material and procedural norms, which reinforced local powers. Faoro does not report the experience with good eyes[xviii]. It criticizes the artificiality, the lack of social base, of the decentralizing liberalism essay in the first years of the Regency[xx], demonstrating that he never assumed, contrary to what Avritzer claims, that there were horizontal relations and an anti-slavery mentality on the farms. And the centralizing reaction to the chaos generated by regency localism, when the very territorial unity of the newly independent country was threatened, leading countless liberals to support the precocious rise of Pedro II to the throne, such a reaction opens wide, for Faoro, the limits and contradictions of our liberalism: “Brazilian liberalism (…) coexists with the demon generated by it. To escape the despotism of the throne and the court, he surrenders to the despotism of the justice of the peace – terrified by the truculence of the backlands, he raises the imperial tiger. In the opposition, he cries out for the rights of the free man, in the government (...) he wants the eternity of power, the lifetime of the whip. There is only one path to peace: the return of the hierarchy, in a confederation of command, under the rule of an arbiter.”[xx]

The reason for this inconstancy, for Faoro: the liberalism of the Brazilian landowners at the time was a “liberalism of peers, of masters”, as he defined in the constant quotation in note 6, above, the liberalism of democratic affinities has always been a minority vein here.

Faoro, however, saw the landowners, as well as the rest of society, as victims of a minority power, embedded in the bureaucratic state, allied to the credit schemes that financed slavery and agriculture.[xxx]. Slightly exaggerated view.

First, because the mercantile system and the latifundio were not so distant or irreconcilable. Indeed, the slave trade and the financial intermediation of production and export had great political and economic relevance. In this regard, the book Archaism as a project, by historians João Fragoso and Manolo Florentino, brings crucial information[xxiii]. A crucial finding of the authors' rigorous documentary research was the fact that a significant number of these traffickers and intermediaries, who amassed enormous fortunes in cash, after a few years left such tasks and became farmers and/or large urban landowners. They literally immobilized the acquired capital, thus hampering the very development of modern capitalism – hence the “archaism as a project”, referred to by the authors. The slave trade firms, “after twenty or thirty years of continuous operation, those responsible ended up abandoning mercantile activities, transforming themselves into urban rentiers and/or lords of land and men”[xxiii]. It was not the search for greater stability, guarantee the authors, which justified this trend, but “the presence of a strong aristocratic ideal, identified with the control of men and the assertion of a certain distance in relation to the world of work. Nothing more natural, in the case of a mercantile elite forged in the midst of a system in which slave production presupposed the continuous reiteration of hierarchization and exclusion of other social agents”[xxv].

That is, a standard, the authors point out, “which is not restricted or exhausted in the market, as it has in culture – especially in political culture – a fundamental moment”[xxiv]. Fragoso and Florentino concluded that there was not so much contradiction between the hegemony of mercantile capital and the functioning of an agro-slave economy.

Second, because the big landowners – although they didn't really “manage” the country alone – were not so fragile vis-à-vis the State. The Brazilian State generally had authoritarian and centralizing tendencies. Effective centralization, desired, however, only rarely achieved. It does not mean irrelevance of the State or centralization, but relativity. The keynote in our history were compromise solutions between central power and local, oligarchic powers, such as landowners, in which one did not completely prevail over the other, in an arrangement in which, as José Murilo de Carvalho said, governing meant recognizing a certain narrowness of state power[xxv]. This limited centralization, however, does not disallow an interpretation of Brazil's heritage. Patrimonialism is not necessarily synonymous with state prevalence or robust centralization. This is demonstrated by Weber in his description of the old Chinese patrimonial Empire, with the central focus of power of the imperial court and the mandarins always counterbalanced by the focus of power of the family clans in the thousands of rural villages spread over an immense territory.

Still on Brazilian landowners and slaveholders and the liberalism of the first half of the 1800s, it is worth remembering that such liberalism was, at the very least, deeply ambiguous in its, shall we say, “democratic credentials”. If there were, even in Brazil, liberals with such credentials, called, in the jargon of the time, “exalted”, there were much more, especially among the upper classes, “proprietist” liberals, for whom liberalism was a functional reference. in the setting up of the new nation-state and in the ideology of the unconditional defense of private property. And, at the time, the property par excellence, the most precious, was not so much the land, but the slave – how, then, to demand an anti-slavery liberalism? Such oligarchic liberalism was not Brazilian excrescence. Alfredo Bosi remembers that Napoleon's Civil Code, for example, from 1804, hailed as an expression of bourgeois liberal progress in relation to the Ancien Régime, is silent on slavery, which Napoleon had reintroduced in the French Antilles shortly before. And when, soon afterwards, England, France and Holland abolished slavery in their colonies, they compensated the masters for the loss of their “properties”[xxviii].

Thus, fragile Brazilian liberalism, reduced to low-level anti-statism, is not Faoro's fault, as Avritzer absurdly puts it, when he states: “Liberalism, which in Brazil is always simplified and defended by those non-liberals as involving only the rejection of State, seems to have been inaugurated by Faoro”. Anti-statist liberalism, little or not at all democratic, is a consequence of the genetic ambiguity of liberalism in relation to democracy and also of the particular way in which it was, for the most part, instrumentalized in Brazil.

In addition to these criticisms, which we seek to refute here, Avritzer also makes gratuitous personal attacks against the author of “The Owners of Power”. As the excerpt: "it is easier to understand Lava Jato based on another Faoro (...) the one that, during the constituent national assembly, placed the OAB in 10 different places in the Constitution, opening space for legal corporatism and for peer protection structures (…) that generate distortions in the criminal process”[xxviii]. Even Faoro's scathing critics, such as Jessé Souza, recognize his role in favor of democratization as president of the Brazilian Bar Association and as a public intellectual. Avritzer even invests against this.

Raymundo Faoro was president of the OAB from April 1977 to April 1979. He came to office in the wake of a broad class mobilization that meant, according to Giselle Citadino, . “the rupture of what historically was part of the Brazilian legal culture, that is, the bond between graduates and governments”[xxix]. During his tenure at the OAB, Faoro constantly received death threats over the phone. And in 1980, shortly after leaving the presidency, the OAB suffered a bomb attack that killed its secretary Lyda Monteiro da Silva. It was in this political environment that the jurist from Rio Grande do Sul and other colleagues courageously placed the OAB as a reference for society in the struggle for redemocratization.

In 1981, Faoro launched a book, Constituent Assembly: legitimacy recovered, which had, guarantees Gisele Cittadino, “decisive importance for the course of our constitutional law. It represents, in the period preceding the convening of the Assembly, the reference text of Brazilian constitutionalists. All discussions on the form of convening, operating process and effectiveness of the Constituent Assembly will be guided by this text”[xxx].

There is not, in this book, a single word about placing the OAB in various places in the constitution, feeding legal corporatism[xxxii]. How, in what way, during the 1987-1988 constituent, Faoro's mandate in the OAB from 1977 to 1979 or the content of his seminal book placed the OAB in various places in the constitution, feeding corporatism? Such a serious accusation is without foundation. If Avritzer has them, he must provide them. Otherwise, it strengthens the current sad trend, for which Lava Jato collaborated so much, of accusing itself in the void.

Another gratuitous and unnecessary personal attack: Avritzer writes that Faoro's texts on the Empire are, “according to some”, the worst ever produced on the subject. Who are these “some” and how did they arrive at this “title” of “the worst”? Did you do a survey, a poll? Anyone has every right to criticize Faoro's text about the Empire, but why this aggressive adjective: “the worst”? It is curious that among these “some”, there are not historians of the caliber of Evaldo Cabral de Mello, for whom Faoro’s analysis “is particularly happy with regard to the monarchical period”[xxxi], or by Francisco Iglésias, who stated that what Faoro says “about the breakdown of the monarchy and republican propaganda is of excellent quality and contains original approaches. The role of abolitionism and military issues has an enriching treatment of the themes”[xxxii]

Would Mello and Iglésias be other representatives of the “laudatory essayism” to which Avritzer refers to also disqualify his UFMG department colleague, Juarez Guimarães? Certainly not. Distinguished historians do not hesitate to make some criticisms of Faoro's texts, although they are frankly complimentary of his work as a whole.

The same case of Juarez Guimarães. The “proof” provided by Avritzer that this also represents “laudatory essayism”, and not “critical social science”, is that Guimarães does not contest the supposed Faorian argument that the transfer of the Portuguese royal court to Brazil is the only reason by which the Brazilian State would have been founded without a contract of self-government. Yes, do not dispute. Simply because there is not, directly or mediated, this argument in Faoro.

Juarez Guimarães subscribes to certain criticisms of Faoro – basically listed here, and already present in the doctoral thesis by Rubens Goyatá Campante, supervised by him and later transformed into a book[xxxv]. Such criticisms do not, however, nullify the consideration of the quality and relevance of Raymundo Faoro's work, and the civilizing role that his figure played in Brazilian life.

Relevance and civilizing role because Faoro is part of a group of Brazilian thinkers who built what UFMG philosophy professor Ivan Domingues calls the “paradigm of formation”, the approach of our historical construction to build interpretations[xxxiv] about who we are as a country and a nation. A tradition that has reached such a level that Domingues longs to see Brazilian philosophy reach it, because, he guarantees, “he left us these masterpieces, which are the books by Antônio Cândido (literature), Celso Furtado (economics), Gilberto Freyre (family ), Raymundo Faoro (patronage) and Caio Prado Júnior (nation)”[xxxiv]. Domingues does not qualify these books as masterpieces because he considers them perfect, but because he knows that each one of them offers, in his own way, a high level of dialogue and reflection on Brazilian characteristics and challenges.

Dialogue and reflection, however, must be honest, and initiated from a reasonable understanding of these works, in their own contexts and conditions of elaboration. Remembering that there is no way to be universal without being really Brazilian, or how to understand the world without understanding Brazil and its thinkers.

* Rubens Goyatá Campante He holds a PhD in political science from UFMG.


[I] Guimaraes, Juarez R.; Campante, Rubens G. “Raymundo Faoro versus Operation Lava Jato”. Available at: https://www.cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/Politica/Raymundo-Faoro-versus-Operacao-Lava-Jato/4/41637

[ii] Faoro, Raymundo “The State will not be the enemy of freedom”. In Guimarães, Juarez (org). Raymundo Faoro and Brazil. São Paulo: Ed Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2009, p. 22.

[iii] Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. Thinkers who invented Brazil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2013, p. 259-260.

[iv] Avritzer, Leonardo. The Pendulum of Democracy. São Paulo: Ed However, 2019. Some excerpts in which Avritzer uses the concept of the patrimonial State: “Until our democratization, in 1985, we had a patrimonialist and developmentalist State in Brazil (...) a historical process of appropriation of the Brazilian State by different groups state or parastatal.” (pg 74) “In the Brazilian case, we have a liberalism (...) that never broke with the structures of the patrimonial State.” (pg 82). “Neither the 1988 constitution nor the changes made by the FHC government managed to break with the old heritage capture of the Brazilian State. These characteristics would expand in the Lula government” (p. 85) “the proposal of the new government (Bolsonaro) is the dismantling of the social State and the preservation of the patrimonialist State” (p. 109).

[v] “To control the military and avoid stateism, Rui Barbosa assumed that the law would put an end to the mismatched currents. The law, not as an abstract entity, on paper, but guaranteed by the judiciary, under the aegis of the Federal Supreme Court. The 'government of judges' (…) would be the arbiter (…) against the excess of mandonism in all its violence and trickery.” Faoro, Raymundo. The owners of power: formation of Brazilian political patronage. Sao Paulo: Ed. Globo, 1998, p. 669.

[vi] Faoro, 1998: 670.

[vii] Thesis with which, as we saw above, Avritzer agrees.

[viii]Avritzer, Leonardo. “The end of Lava Jato and the pathetic Barroso”.

[ix] Power based on force and manipulation, not authority or legitimacy, guarantees Faoro. If it were, the immutability of this power structure would be relativized. Legitimacy tends to change, unlike power based solely on coercion. “Legitimacy is not synonymous with immutability just because it orders power relations in a lasting way. By being sustained by trust, which comes from below, renewable and open, it stimulates change, innovation and movement”. Faoro, Raymundo. Constituent Assembly: legitimacy recovered. São Paulo: Ed Brasiliense, 1985, p. 54.

[X] Faoro, 1998: 745.

[xi] Braudel, Fernand. Grammar of Civilizations. Sao Paulo: Ed. Martins Fontes, 1989, p. 18.

[xii]Braudel, 1989: 19.

[xiii] Avritzer, Leonardo. “The legacy of Raymundo Faoro”. Available at: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-legado-de-raymundo-faoro/

[xiv] Respectively, the study on the old Chinese Empire “La Religion de China” in Weber, Max. Essays on the Sociology of Religion. Madrid: Taurus, 1987; and the chapters “Roman Republic”, “Roman Empire”, and “The social causes of the Decline of Ancient Civilization” in Weber, Max. The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations. London: Verso, 1998.

[xv]Such consideration, however, suffers from a certain elitism. In his comparative studies of civilizational scope, which take as their starting point the approach of the great world religious systems (Judaism-Christianity, Islam, Confucianism-Taoism, Hinduism-Buddhism), Weber maintains that certain dominant groups defined, to a large extent, the lifestyle and basic worldview of these civilizations from their own lifestyle and worldview. He calls these groups (the Confucian mandarins, the Hindu Brahmins, the Hebrew prophets) träggers – carriers, loaders, beam, support. Without denying the historical importance of these social strata, does the lifestyle and worldview of complex civilizations such as these reflect only the characteristics of these dominant groups? Were other, non-dominant groups merely blank slates, always passive spectators of the macro historical construction of their societies? Weber's background and worldview were elitist. Not a crudely and vulgarly material, economic, “bourgeois” elitism, but an existential elitism. He was a humanist, no doubt, but an aristocratic humanist, not exactly a democratic one – like Faoro. As an aristocratic humanist, despite all the wealth and erudition of his comparative historical sociology, Weber found himself constrained, in his taxonomy of ideal types of domination, to analyze authority from the point of view of the dominated. An essential approach, because, as Faoro assures: “Power is a necessary attribute of rulers, while authority is always based on the ruled”. Faoro, 1985: 52.

[xvi] Avritzer, Leonardo. “The legacy of Raymundo Faoro”. Available at: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-legado-de-raymundo-faoro/

[xvii] Avritzer, Leonardo. “The legacy of Raymundo Faoro”. Available at: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-legado-de-raymundo-faoro/

[xviii] “On impotent and nullified municipalities, the Code of Criminal Procedure fell, reactivating the justice of the peace with powers greater than those outlined in the Constitution (…) the leap was immense: from the centralization of the Philippine Ordinances to copying English localism (… ) the procedural statute (…) guarantees the autonomous authority of local chiefs, masters of justice and policing. On the other hand, the financial incapacity of the city councils, which the regency did not care to remedy, left them helpless in the face of economic power, concentrated, in the interior, in the hands of landowners and landowners”(…) the seed of caudillismo, jugulated for a century and a half, it sprouts and projects its lush trunk over the interior, without law, without order and without a king”. Faro, 1998: 306/307

[xx] "While the self government Anglo-Saxon, imposed on Brazil by copying the North American model, operates articulated to the social bases of the integrated community, with the center in the families and in the association of local groups, organically elective, the legal system imitated here finds nothing to sustain the building ”. Faoro, 1998: 310. Do not see, in this quotation, a naively apologetic posture of capitalism in the central countries or a linearly evolutionary conception of history – accusations already made to Faoro, and, once again, unfair. Just pay attention to excerpts like this one: “Liberal and Marxist criticism, by admitting the historical reality of the patrimonial State (...) start from the assumption of the transience of the phenomenon, either as an anachronistic residue or as a transitional phase. Both compare the imperfect statue to an ideal type (…) The point of reference is modern capitalism, as proclaimed by Adam Smith, Marx and Weber, treating divergent styles as if they were detours, shady shortcuts, deforming revivals. Over a finished, complete world, or on the way to reaching its ultimate and close perfection, the view dives into the past, to rebuild it, giving it a retrospective sense, in a linear conception of history. The past has, however, its own guidelines, its course (…) the work of men and of non-homogeneous circumstances. The historian (…) eliminates the irrational element of events, but, in this operation, creates a rational order, which not only because it is rational will be true. Capitalist society appears to the dazzled eyes of modern man as the ultimate achievement of history – non-capitalist societies degraded to imperfect stages.” Faoro, 1998: 735.

[xx] Faoro, 1998: 310.

[xxx] “Liberal tobacco, tenuously spread over the country in twenty years of disappointments, would not remove the foundations laid by the houses of Avis and Bragança. All power emanates from the king and returns to the king; individual autonomy, the proprietor's safety from governmental command will only be the subversive expression of anarchy (...) over the dominated society, a colonizing, minority reality, drives the landowner and prevents him from caudillista pride”. Faoro, 1998: 335.

[xxiii] Florentino, Manolo; Fragoso, John. Archaism as a project: Atlantic market, agrarian society and mercantile elite in a late colonial economy: Rio de Janeiro, c. 1790-c. 1840. Rio de Janeiro: Ed Civilização Brasileira, 2001.

[xxiii] Florentino, Fragoso, 2001: 228.

[xxv] Florentino, Fragoso, 2001: 231-232.

[xxiv] Florentino, Fragoso, 2001: 236.

[xxv] CARVALHO, José Murilo de. The construction of order – the imperial political elite. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1980.

[xxviii] Bosi, Alfredo. “Raymundo Faoro, reader of Machado de Assis” in Guimarães, 2009. Faoro is fully aware of the elitist and proprietary features of this first liberalism, how much popular pressure was necessary for it to move towards democracy; “In the first blows against (despotism) dealt, there was the liberal care, also understood in its economic sense, to protect property, which resulted, in certain historical moments, in the degeneration of the principle. To safeguard property, political liberalism was sacrificed. It so happens that, historically, liberalism was not, in its origin, democratic, but bourgeois and, in many residues, aristocratic. Growing democratization, however, showed that democracy, in order to preserve and develop, could not be dissociated from liberalism, which, in turn, divorced itself from the reverse economic being. Democracy, it can be said, democratized liberalism, expanding it into rights concerning social participation”. Faoro, 1985: 13.

[xxviii] Avritzer, Leonardo. “The legacy of Raymundo Faoro”. Available at: https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-legado-de-raymundo-faoro/

[xxix] Cittadino, Gisele. “Raymundo Faoro and the reconstruction of democracy in Brazil” in Guimarães, Juarez (org). Raymundo Faoro and Brazil. São Paulo, Ed Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2009, p. 35.

[xxx] Cittadino, 2009: 35.

[xxxii] It is a theoretical book, in the best sense of the word, theory in the language of political philosophy, in which themes such as liberalism, democracy, power, force, authority, legitimacy, and, of course, the Constitution and constituent power. Always from a non-elitist perspective. of a liberalism political, which goes far beyond its economic facet, which criticizes “the automatic and fallacious confusion between political liberalism and economic liberalism, without paying attention to the fact that, at the root of the former, there is a democratic component that time would reveal: the democratic self-determination of the people . (...) Economic liberalism, to save its ends, often divorces itself from political liberalism, handing over, in renunciation of self-determination, to technocrats and the elite the conduction of the economy.”. Faoro, 1985: 34.

[xxxi] https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/mais/fs0204200014.htm

[xxxii]Iglesias, Francis. “Revisão de Raymundo Faoro” in Guimarães, 2009: 58.

[xxxv] Campante, Rubens Goyatá. Patrimonialism in Brazil: corruption and inequality. Curitiba: Ed. CRV, 2019. The central argument of the book is that patrimonialism must be understood as a political power with a substantially private content, and not a public one, since it is based on acute asymmetries of political, social, economic, cultural power, etc. Corruption, wrongly attacked and politically biased by Lava Jato, is a corollary of this non-republican and asymmetrical power structure. Fighting corruption, therefore, is fighting for the deepening of democracy, against patrimonialism and inequality.

[xxxiv] And as Francisco Iglésias points out, the richness of works such as Faoro's is in the interpretation, in the idea of ​​Brazil they present.

[xxxiv] Domingues, Ivan. Philosophy in Brazil: legacies and perspectives. São Paulo: Ed UNESP, 2017, p. 50.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank