capital republic

Image: Wassily Kandinsky


Presentation of the recently released new edition of Décio Saes’ book

It is with great pleasure that we present the second edition of the book Republic of capital: capitalism and political process in Brazil, by Décio Azevedo Marques de Saes. The first edition brought together a set of seven articles accompanied by a general introduction that addressed the following themes: the character of the bourgeois political revolution in Brazil, the nature and changes in the forms of State and political regime in the country, the role of the State and of class conflicts in the national political process in different historical contexts, ranging from the transition from modern slavery to capitalism to the neoliberal governments of the 1990s.

The work stands out for the broad panorama presented about the political-institutional changes and class conflicts of the republican period, establishing a series of theses and concepts on Brazilian social formation, inspired by an original reading of structural Marxism by Louis Althusser and Nicos Poulantzas. In comparison with other influential theoretical perspectives in the Brazilian political-intellectual debate, the interpretations of Brazil present in the chapters gathered here continue previous works by professor Décio Saes, such as: the book resulting from his doctoral thesis entitled Middle class and political system in Brazil, released by the publisher TA Queiroz in 1985, and the seminal work corresponding to his professorship thesis and which became one of the unavoidable references to address the theme of the bourgeois revolution in Brazil: The formation of the bourgeois State in Brazil (1888-1891), published by Paz e Terra also in 1985.

In this edition, we maintained the articles published in the first, but their arrangement was changed with a view to carrying out a type of aggregation by thematic blocks. Certainly, the reader will find intersections between themes and research problems when reading the book in its entirety, but we consider it important to do this aggregation for didactic exposition purposes.

Furthermore, six texts that were not included in the previous edition were included in this edition, thus creating a significantly expanded version of the book. We kept the Introduction from the first edition and the chapters grouped into thematic blocks were organized as follows:

Block 1. Bourgeois revolution in Brazil. Chapters: “The participation of the Brazilian masses in the anti-slavery and anti-monarchical revolution (1888-1891)”, published in the first issue of Brazilian Journal of History in 1981; “Florestan Fernandes and the bourgeois revolution in Brazil”; and “The evolution of the State in Brazil (a Marxist interpretation)”, texts that had already been published in the original version of the book;

Block 2. Assessment of the impacts of the bourgeois revolution in Brazil on the political-institutional and economic configuration of the republican period. Chapters: “Capitalism and political process in Brazil: the Brazilian path to the development of capitalism”, published in Campineiro Geography Bulletin in 2016; “Democracy and capitalism in Brazil: balance and perspectives”, present in the first edition; “The question of the evolution of political citizenship in Brazil”, launched by the magazine Advanced Studies in 2001; and “Social rights and transition to capitalism: the case of the Brazilian First Republic (1889-1930)”, published in Sociology Studies in 2006.

Block 3. Classes and class conflicts in the long history of Brazilian politics (1889-1989). Chapters: “Capitalist state and ruling class”, published in the magazine Marxist Criticism in 2001; “Middle class and politics in Brazil (1930-1964)”, which makes up volume 10 of the collection History of Brazilian Civilization, organized by historian Boris Fausto; in addition to the article already published in the first edition of the book: “State and social classes in Brazilian capitalism in the 70s/80s”;

Block 4. From the transition to the democratic regime in the 1980s to neoliberal politics in the 1990s. Chapters: “The question of the transition from the military regime to democracy in Brazil”; “Neoliberal politics and the conservative political field in Brazil today”; and “Populism and neoliberalism”, all of them published in the original version of the book.

We could not end this presentation without offering some thanks. Firstly, to our great master, Professor Décio Saes, a central figure in the formation of several generations of students, researchers, teachers and political activists, as well as in the renewal and updating of Marxist political theory and the dissemination of critical theory about Brazilian capitalism from the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences at Unicamp.

The professor entrusted us with the task of preparing this presentation and we are grateful for his generosity. We would also like to thank the initiative to republish this work by the publisher Boitempo, especially Ivana Jinkings, for accepting the proposal to publish an expanded version of the book.

*Angelita Matos Souza is a political scientist and professor at the Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences at Unesp. She is the author, among other books, of PT Dependency and Governments (Appris). []

*Danilo Enrico Martuscelli is professor of political science at the Federal University of Fronteira Sul (UFFS) and editor of the blog marxism21.


Décio Saes. Republic of capital: capitalism and political process in Brazil. São Paulo, Boitempo, 2023, 304 pages. []

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