Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos – III


By Christian Edward Cyril Lynch*

Third article in a series on the life and work of the political scientist.


The book The Brazilian political imagination: five essays in intellectual history (Revan, 2017) brings together for the first time the set of five essays written by Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos between 1965 and 1975 and which resulted from the first systematic and exhaustive research carried out – still unsurpassed today – on Brazilian political thought.

His research on Brazilian political thought began in 1963, when he was head of the philosophy department at the Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasileiros (ISEB). It began at the request of Álvaro Vieira Pinto, his former professor at the National Faculty of Philosophy and, at the time, director of the institute. Vieira Pinto intended to supply the lack of bibliographic records that could be used as an adequate source of consultation, capable of expanding the recognized canon of representative works of Brazilian philosophy.

In the company of Carlos Estevam Martins, Wanderley Guilherme dedicated himself to reading works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the rare books section of the National Library and in the library of the Social Service of Commerce (SESC). As he progressively lost interest in the more metaphysical themes of this literature, Wanderley discovered, as if by chance, works by several of the authors listed as philosophers, and others not included in this category, which dealt with society and politics in Brazil in the XNUMXth century. .

Wanderley then began his process of “conversion” to the social sciences to the detriment of philosophical production (although not of philosophical themes, whether in epistemology or political theory, as his production shows). Probably, this Isebian moment also comes from the discomfort with the prevailing ways of treating Brazilian thought, discomfort that, formalized as a theoretical problem, will be at the origin of his texts on the subject. Within the ambit of ISEB, the possibility of considering Brazilian thought in the past as relevant was practically excluded, given that there it was conceived that the colonial nature of the country made any autonomous and consistent intellectual production impossible.

It was also during his Isebian period that he came into contact with the works of Guerreiro Ramos on Brazilian political thought. As is known, Guerreiro was the only professor at ISEB who drew attention to the fact that, despite the slow process of overcoming their “colonial” cultural condition, there would be a lineage of Brazilian intellectuals who, since the nineteenth century, had already would come to stand out in the struggle for the autonomy of national thought, and whose contribution should be rescued, in the context of establishing a Brazilian social science.

In fact, contrary to what the hegemonic perspective within ISEB assumed, and in line with what Guerreiro Ramos claimed, Wanderley Guilherme's initial readings at the National and SESC Libraries suggested to him not only that there was originality in Brazilian thought prior to the 1950, as he was drawn to the fact that, considered original by the members of the institute (mainly by Hélio Jaguaribe), the Isebian theses were already, in part, formulated by works whose reading had been neglected by almost all of them, due to their submission to the supposed colonial mentality of the country.[I]

The affirmation of the existence of a Brazilian intellectual elite whose thought should be studied by those who sought to understand Brazil's contemporary dilemmas constituted, since that time, a thesis and a horizon of Wanderley Guilherme's research on Brazilian political thought. So it was that the collection of that first bibliographic material motivated him to want to expand it; he now said he intended to carry out a survey “as complete as possible of Brazilian thought, philosophical, social and political, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and also intending to isolate some constants of Brazilian intellectual development” (Santos, 1965, p. 93 ).

The new survey would begin in 1964 and should last about two years. With the military coup and the closure of the ISEB by the new regime, regular research was only resumed the following year, in the context of the creation of the former University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ, currently IESP-UERJ). The investigation would unfold until at least 1978, comprising the production of six reference articles or essays, which will be the object of our analysis in this article. They are: (1) “Preliminaries of a Sociological Controversy” (1965); (2) “The Brazilian Political-Social Imagination” (1967); (3) “Bibliographic Guide of Brazilian Political-Social Thought” (1967); (4) “Roots of the Brazilian Political Imagination” (1970); (5) “Paradigm and History: the bourgeois order in the Brazilian Social Imagination” (1975); (6) “Liberal Praxis in Brazil: proposals for reflection and research” (1978). The content of each of these texts will be examined here in order to, in the end, make an assessment of the contribution they made to the study of Brazilian political thought.

“Preliminaries of a Sociological Controversy” (1965)

The first result of the research undertaken was published in September 1965, in an article entitled “Preliminaries of a Sociological Controversy”, in the journal Brazilian Civilization Magazine. The article disputed with the political scientist Antônio Otávio Cintra, who had previously bet on the reorientation of Brazilian social science from the North American empirical-quantitative paradigm.

Taking the side of comprehensive sociology against positivism, Wanderley Guilherme argued in this first article that human and social facts would not only possess a brute, objective existence, such as natural phenomena, but would also incorporate a meaning that gave it its properly human character. For these reasons, the problem of developing a Brazilian social science was not limited to the acquisition of modern investigation techniques; it had a historical connotation that could not be ignored (Santos, 1965, p. 84)[ii]. While agreeing with the need for rigorous working methods, one should not go so far as to oppose quantitative and qualitative techniques.

Furthermore, the opposition between comprehensive and generalizing sociology did not exhaust the alternatives in the field of social science. Dispelling dogmatic postulations thus seemed indispensable to “think about the problem of science in general, and of science in an underdeveloped country, in particular” (Santos, 1965, p. 92). Brazilian intellectual production needed to be investigated without preconceived certainties, not for the purposes of an antiquarian or evolutionary inventory of the prehistory of Brazilian social sciences (as Florestan Fernandes seemed to have done), but to “understand how the truth emerges, or begins to emerge of the error itself” (Santos, 1965, p. 85).

Given that “Brazilian social thought” had not yet received any systematic treatment and the Isebian methodological controversy had been interrupted with the closure of the institute in 1964, Wanderley defended the resumption of research and presented, in the article, his first hypotheses and concepts about what he still called it “history of ideas in Brazil”. In his opinion, a preliminary reading of the examined material revealed that, contrary to what was believed at ISEB, the critique of the subordination of Brazilian thought to European formulas was old: the debate around the “problem of the subsidiary character of Brazilian intellectual production ” was already “in a larval state” in the great debates of the nineteenth century (Santos, 1965, p. 86).

Although the category of cultural alienation had represented an advance, Wanderley Guilherme argued that, by distinguishing between alienated thinking and “authentic” thinking, the Isebians had confused the name with the concept and reduced alienated thinking to the condition of wrong thinking, which did not seemed reasonable to him. If, despite the “alienated” theories that guided it, Brazil managed to resolve decisive issues in its history – such as independence, the abolition of slavery and industrialization –, one of the two: either the theories adjusted to the Brazilian reality ( which contradicted the hypothesis of alienation as a concept), or historical evolution had taken place at random in relation to national consciousness (which contradicted the Hegelian hypothesis that history had a logic).

For Wanderley, the first was the correct hypothesis: Brazilian intellectuals pragmatically handled foreign intellectual products, “transfiguring them into their original meaning and adapting them to the prevailing conditions in the country”. Predominant in Brazilian academic analyzes that used the category of alienation, the Hegelian cognitive apparatus was incapable of conferring intelligibility on the real intellectual process (Marx himself, he remembered, ended up preferring to embrace the category of “praxis”) (Santos, 1965, p. . 94). Rather than “alienation”, the most appropriate concept to describe the process used by Brazilians to assimilate foreign theories was “mediation”.

“Bibliographic Guide of Brazilian Political-Social Thought” (1965)

Assisted by a group of fellows[iii], Wanderley Guilherme sought to define, within the universe of Brazilian works and authors, those who could be listed as constituting the “Brazilian political-social thought”. Based on research in books, journals, bibliographic bulletins and publishers' archives, he and his team compiled a broad list of political and social analysis works published between 1870 and 1965; this listing would only be published 35 years later: the Bibliographic Script of Brazilian Political and Social Thought (Santos, 2002, p. 259-267).

Texts dedicated to methodology were excluded from the list; those considered strictly historiographical, anthropological, economic and social psychology, as well as works dedicated to exposing or criticizing the thinking of certain authors (Santos, 2002, p. 13-14). Selected from a bibliographical research carried out in 45 bibliographical volumes and 23 collections of periodicals and bulletins, the impressive list of three thousand texts is organized in two sections: in the first, articles published in periodicals are listed; in the second, the books.

The two lists are equally periodized based on three moments in the political chronology of Brazilian history: 1870-1930; 1931-1945; 1945-1965. The final chronological framework is clearly pragmatic: it coincides with the moment when the bibliographic survey was carried out (1965). However, the starting point does not find explicit justification, neither in the listing itself nor in the articles published immediately before and after.

However, understanding the choices of those time frames is relevant insofar as it clarifies what Wanderley considered not only as the period par excellence of Brazilian political thought, but also the reasons for such consideration. Both for him and for Guerreiro Ramos, the study of that thought was particularly relevant, not exactly because it represented a contribution to the “progress of the social sciences” (an expression that guarded the positivism of which he was skeptical), but because it contributed “to the knowledge of political processes Brazilians” (Santos, 1970, p. 147).

In other words, Brazilian political thought represented a precious source of explanatory hypotheses for all those interested in understanding “political current affairs” from the perspective of the dynamics of national modernization (the “Brazilian revolution”). Now, the “current” began with the democratic regime after the fall of the Estado Novo and therefore corresponded to the period between 1945 and 1965. The “Brazilian revolution” began with the Revolution of 1930, and it is to be assumed that the most hypotheses fruitful information about that process had been produced in the following fifteen years (for this reason, Wanderley would devote the best of his efforts to examining precisely the Brazilian production of the “Era Vargas”, that is, the so-called “authoritarian thought”).

With regard to the initial date of 1870, it is symptomatic that the road map adopted the same initial research framework that Guerreiro Ramos had adopted in 1955 in the Efforts to Theorize the National Reality[iv]. The reference must have been taken from one of Guerreiro's favorite authors, who was Sílvio Romero, the first for whom the year 1870 marked the advent of the scientific intellectual paradigm in Brazil insofar as it marked the passage from romanticism to realism; from slave labor to wage labor, from monarchy to republic; the rise of the Army, economic imperialism and the first nationalist outbreaks[v]. Thus, also for Wanderley, that would implicitly be the starting point of the period “predecessor of modern times”, which began in 1930 (Santos, 1970, p. 147).

“The Brazilian Social-Political Imagination” (1967)

With the objective of critically examining the disdainful way in which Brazilian social science had considered until then the “history of Brazilian political-social thought”, Wanderley Guilherme published in 1967, in the Data Magazine, his second article on the subject: “A Imaginação Politico -Brazilian Social”. To characterize the status of his research object, it was not possible, at that point, to circumvent or ignore the quarrel that took place in the 1950s between Guerreiro Ramos, in Rio de Janeiro, and Florestan Fernandes, in São Paulo, over the scientific or -scientific, respectively, of Brazilian intellectual production.

Between two pitfalls – framing the type of intellectual reflection that characterized Brazilian political thought as scientific, according to the nationalized perspective of science adopted by Guerreiro, or labeling it pre-scientific, based on Florestan's universalism –, Wanderley preferred to escape the dilemma in opting for a kind of middle ground. If it did not seem reasonable to him to “consider rigorously scientific” the type of reflection characteristic of Brazilian political thought, it also seemed wrong to discard them “through the vague, imprecise and, therefore, unscientific designation of 'ideological and scientific'” (Santos, 1967 , p. 182).

In search of an intermediate category, he resorted to that of “social imagination”. The concept had been forged shortly before by Wright Mills in a text in which he sought to draw attention to the socio-scientific intuition that guided the work of social agents such as journalists, educators and liberal professionals. They did not belong to the academic-scientific milieu, it is true; not for that reason, however, did they produce reflections devoid of value or meaning. To understand their world, people needed a quality of mind (an “intuition”) that would help them “to use information and develop reason”, a quality “that journalists and teachers, artists and audiences, scientists and editors they are beginning to expect what we might call the sociological imagination” (Mills, 1965, p. 11 and 25).

Wanderley then adapted Mills' category to designate the more specifically political type of reflection produced in Brazil by those public intellectuals, expressive, according to him, of the set of intellectual representations of the political process disseminated in the national public space since independence: it was the “Brazilian political imagination”[vi]. Acting within the public sphere, that “public intellectual” was not a social scientist, but neither was he limited to being a vehicle for commonplaces.

The “opinion makers” were people who rationalized political events, interpreting and explaining them to the general public. They thus converted private opinion into public belief. The conflicting assessments of political issues stemmed mainly from variations in the personal expertise and inner disposition of these opinion makers, depending on the pressing time, the availability of heterogeneous and fragmentary data, the inner disposition and personal expertise. Furthermore, the political imagination was bound up with both the past and the future.

To the past, because the multiple previous events came together in a first rational explanation about what had happened; to the future, because the political imagination would guide the horizon of expectations within which political actors moved. If all people acted according to an assessment of the possible consequences of their actions, their actions depended on the worldview provided to them by the political imagination. This is why it was “the first laboratory where human actions (…) entered as raw material, were processed and transformed into political history” (Santos, 1970, p. 138).

At this point, Wanderley Guilherme harshly criticized all previous studies, carried out with a view to framing Brazilian political thought. The analysis criteria adopted so far were based on rationalizations post fact – as the one according to which the entire Brazilian cultural past would have been alienated, essayistic and non-scientific; or colonial and not national. In addition, of an institutional and evolutionary nature, the interpretative matrices employed depended excessively on temporal accidents.

The “stage” scheme of “institutionalization of scientific-social activity” adopted by Florestan to assess the scientific or pre-scientific character of autochthonous sociopolitical production was criticized by Wanderley as “rudimentary”; it was based on an unacceptable historiographical positivism, because it multiplied anachronisms. Under fire, Florestan's criterion, which disqualified Nabuco, Uruguai and Azevedo Amaral as pre-scientific, also disqualified Marx, Comte and Spencer (Santos, 1967, p. 186).

But it was not just the method adopted by the revered master of USP sociology that seemed “rudimentary” to him. It also seemed inadequate to him to study the “evolution of sociological thought in Brazil” like Djacir Menezes and Fernando Azevedo, classifying texts as naturalistic, historical, anthropological, legal and scholastic according to their manifest characteristics. Guerreiro Ramos was the only scholar who preceded him whose work had effectively contributed to the study of the “history of Brazilian political-social thought”.

Despite some snags[vii], Guerreiro’s contribution had been “incomparably more fruitful than that of all the others”. In addition to abandoning the premise that the articulation of Brazilian cultural production was irrational or arbitrary in relation to the real sociopolitical process, Guerreiro Ramos rejected the formal-positivist criterion dependent on “accidents of temporal chronology”, preferring to classify authors according to their inductive or inductive character. deductive aspect of their analyzes and establish a set of explanatory categories of the dichotomy present in them[viii].

It was therefore necessary to investigate the clues left by the author of the Sociological Reduction, correcting any deficiencies, excesses or gaps. Before, however, it was necessary to carry out the “survey (bibliographic) rigorous analysis of the Brazilian cultural past” (Santos, 1967, p. 190).

“Roots of the Brazilian Political Imagination” (1970)

The fourth product of Wanderley Guilherme's research was the text he called “Roots of the Brazilian Political Imagination”, which emerged from a conference script given at the University of Berkeley in early 1969 and presented months later at a seminar at Stanford University, where he was doctorate degree. Translated into Portuguese, the text was published the following year as an article in Data Magazine, and aimed to identify the dichotomous patterns of explanation that, according to Wanderley, prevailed in the modern Brazilian political imagination: “The tendency to represent social life as the continuous struggle between two clusters of conflicting phenomena is the most important feature of the Brazilian political imagination ” (Santos, 1970, p. 137).

Taking the political literature produced in order to understand the military movement of 1964, in previous years, Wanderley stated that, regardless of their favorable or unfavorable value judgments regarding the event, the authors tended to explain it from a polarized perception of the set of causes and phenomena, as if Brazilian political history could be reduced to a bipolar dynamic. Mass participation, communism, corruption, administrative disorder, demagoguery, governmental inefficiency were phenomena that, although independent of each other, were always presented as a block by those who defended the coup d'état.

His opponents, in turn, acted in the same way by linking, on the positive pole, the defense of democracy to that of executive power, industrialization and national independence, and agglutinating, on the negative, imperialism, ruralism, legislative power and authoritarianism – as if all these phenomena were connected.

What defined the explanatory standard of the Brazilian political imagination was, therefore, the dichotomous perception of the conflict demonstrated by analysts[ix]. What are the origins, however, of such a pattern? Here Wanderley Guilherme refused the two “easy answers”, which would be available in the mainstream academic: either the dual pattern resulted from the analyst's “ideology”, contaminated by the world view of the class to which he belonged; or it resulted from an objective reading of the political reality itself, effectively marked by the agglutinated opposition of the referred phenomena.

The first answer reduced the ubiquity of the dichotomous pattern of explanation to the status of a mere accident and was therefore not plausible. The second answer presupposed such a crystalline structure of the forces in conflict that it would not allow for different interpretations of the event – ​​which was evidently not the case. Wanderley advanced an alternative answer: the dichotomous explanatory patterns resulted from a political culture that provided the producers of the Brazilian political imagination with their “latent pattern of analysis”.

In other words, there was a historically and culturally sedimented paradigm of dichotomous explanation long before the 1964 movement. In addition to socialization in basic social norms and values, the political maturation of a community went through the intellectual conversion of its analysts to certain forms of perception. socially crystallized in culture, and who were relatively autonomous both from the places they occupied in the socioeconomic structure and from the empirical everyday life of politics. This was the main reason why the study of Brazilian political thought became essential; without it, it would be impossible to know the development of the patterns of analysis that prevailed in political analysis (Santos, 1970, p. 146).

The question regarding the scientific or non-scientific status of Brazilian thought thus lost all importance. Even if it eventually did not contribute to “the progress of the social sciences”, its study was essential for “the knowledge of Brazilian political processes” (Santos, 1970, p. 147). The first and decisive step on this path, therefore, involved overcoming the scientistic prejudice, spread mainly by Florestan Fernandes, which prevented “Brazilian intellectual history” from being known and examined, beyond institutional accidents.[X].

Naturally, the recognition of a Brazilian political culture included – as it still does – the risk of attributing the characteristics of Brazilian thought to the “Brazilian character” or to a “national psychology”. Wanderley Guilherme circumvented this risk by calling attention to the historical and “modern” condition of the dichotomous style of political perception, which emerged only at the end of the XNUMXth century.

In the imperial period, another type of analysis would have prevailed, which saw politics as a permanent dispute for power on the part of skilled and experienced men, whose political orientations varied according to the tactical results produced. For this “Machiavellian” style of analysis, human behavior was marked by unpredictability: there was no rationality a priori capable of explaining political history, which limited itself to recording “the successive results of successful political movements”.

It could not be, therefore, neither the “necessary projection of aggregate social and/or economic shocks, nor the faithful mirror where one could see the ethical character of the time”[xi]. The change in political analysis would have started at the beginning of the Republic, with the slow decline of human agency as the raw material of explanation and its replacement by economic and social issues. For some of its first analysts, it was already necessary to decide on two potentialities of a country – either industrial, economically autonomous, politically independent and sovereign, or monoculture, economically dependent and politically colonized.

Euclides da Cunha would have been the first great author to establish “the intellectual formula for the political analysis that was to come: discover a dichotomy to which the origin of eventual crises could be rationally attributed; trace the formation of the dichotomy in the national historical past; propose a political alternative to reduce the dichotomy”. This was the “basic structure of the paradigm”[xii] analysis that, during the First Republic, would be repeated by Alberto Torres, Oliveira Viana and Gilberto Amado – authors of studies also marked by “contrasts, oppositions and polarizations” (Santos, 1970, p. 150)[xiii].

In this paradigm shift process, the 1930 Revolution had been the watershed, by generalizing the dichotomous pattern of explanation and, with it, the conviction that the origins of the latent crisis that crossed Brazilian society should be sought in the unfolding of some contradiction (Santos, 1970, p. 152). During the first half of the 1930s, all leading analysts, regardless of their ideological positions, would have resorted to the dichotomous standard of explanation. They were reformists, like Virgínio Santa Rosa, Martins de Almeida, Menotti del Picchia and Agamenon Magalhães; they were conservative, like Alcindo Sodré, Plínio Salgado, Miguel Reale and Jaime Pereira; there were even the undecided ones, like the young Afonso Arinos.

The dichotomous style reached its apex after 1935, with the publication of “three of the most important books of the Brazilian political imagination” – Brazil in the Current Crisis, Brazil's Political Adventure e The Authoritarian State and the National Reality, by Azevedo Amaral, and “the most abstract theory that this dichotomous approach” would have produced: The Private Order and the National Political Organization, by Nestor Duarte.

After the intellectual lethargy imposed on the field of political analysis by the Estado Novo, the dichotomous approach returned with force in the articles of the Notebooks of Our Time and in the intellectual activity of ISEB, consolidating itself as the paradigm of reflection within which the Brazilian intelligentsia of its generation (that is, the 1960s) matured. Once the existence of a “historical residue of a long tradition of political analysis in Brazil” was proven (Santos, 1970, p. 155), Wanderley Guilherme highlighted that it would be extremely productive for analysts of current Brazilian politics to resume, develop and verify certain hypotheses explanations aired by post-revolutionary authors: “Among contemporary theories, there is hardly any good hypothesis about politics in Brazil that was not developed during the 30s” (Santos, 1970, p. 156).

“Paradigm and History: the bourgeois order in the Brazilian social imagination” (1978)

At the end of the 1970s, Wanderley Guilherme published the two most important texts of his research: “Paradigm and History: the bourgeois order in the Brazilian social imagination” and “Liberal Praxis in Brazil: proposals for reflection and research”. Both had already circulated in mimeographed copies, arousing both enthusiasm and controversy; so that, when published, they became unavoidable references for the study of the subject within the social sciences.

The main novelty that can be seen in them resides in the attempt to frame the nature and trajectory of Brazilian political thought in the broader framework of the problem of establishing a liberal society in Brazil. From the methodological point of view, the presentist concern that had prevailed since the beginning of the research was significantly attenuated, which resulted in the exclusion of the bulk of the imperial period as a “prehistory” of our thought, through a deepening of the historical dimension of the study. In addition to claiming history in the title of the first text, Wanderley traced his study back to the imperial period prior to 1870 and embarked on a more contextualized analysis.

“Paradigm and History: the bourgeois order in the Brazilian social imagination” was a much expanded consolidation of previous texts, through which Wanderley systematized and updated his reflections, introduced new hypotheses and digressions and, finally, an unprecedented development[xiv]. Although the text flows without divisions, it is possible to identify three parts.

After an introduction on the formation of social sciences in Brazil, the first takes stock of the “state of the art” taking as a starting point the three matrices (institutional, sociological and ideological) that social scientists would have used to study the intellectual history of the country.

The second presents, after a brief methodological interlude, two alternative ways of ordering Brazilian political and social thought, according to the manifest content of the works or the styles of analysis adopted.

The third and last part of the text inquired about the origins of the dichotomous pattern of analysis, concluding that there were two lineages of political analysts, both committed to building a liberal society in Brazil, although they differed in terms of the means to achieve this end.

In the introduction, Wanderley Guilherme stated that, as everywhere else, the social sciences would have emerged and developed in Brazil due to the combined influence of the acclimatization of knowledge produced in central countries and the internal stimuli of national history. Because each country and its culture acquired “national individuality while becoming part of universal history”, the polarization between science and non-science, universality and particularity was overcome (Santos, 1978a, p. 17). The different tones acquired by the social sciences in each country resulted from the way in which each nationality absorbed and disseminated foreign production and from the interaction between national events and its scientific reflection.

Continuing with the work of breaking with the predominant institutional matrix in the analyzes and with the consequent opposition between social science and essayism, Wanderley declared that the process of emergence of national science began with “the insertion of Brazil in universal history”, that is, with the country discovery; however, he recognized that, given the close linkage of the Portuguese State to the Second Scholasticism, scientific modernity in our world dated only from the Pombaline period[xv].

The proclamation of independence had triggered a new phase and, consequently, of Brazilian intellectual development, operated by the higher education schools of the Empire and reverberated by the parliamentary and journalistic tribunes. Thanks to the foundation of the first higher schools of political, social and economic sciences, the type of socio-political reflection produced in Brazil rose in quantitative and qualitative terms between 1919 and 1935; As for the attempts to inventory the national social heritage, the thesis was reiterated that the 1920s and 1930s had been the privileged moment of Brazilian political and social reflection, limiting the authors of the 1950s and 1960s to reproducing them in a more sophisticated way.

The mistaken perception that the “dawn of Brazilian thought” and the consequent disregard for previous intellectual production dated from this time were attributed, firstly, to the authoritarian interval of the Estado Novo, which interrupted the stimulating “efforts to theorize the national reality” (Santos , 1978a, p. 23)[xvi], and secondly, the overestimation of the impact represented by the founding of new schools of social sciences, directed by foreign professors.

It was at this point that Wanderley Guilherme re-presented, updated and enlarged, his critical diagnosis of the “state of the art” in the field of studies of Brazilian political-social thought. The novelty was due to the inclusion of authors of more recent production in the area[xvii]. The existing analyzes could be grouped according to the criteria employed in it: the institutional, the sociological and the ideological. The passage relating to the first of those matrices repeated, with few stylistic changes, the passage from “The Brazilian political and social imagination” that recriminated the previous studies by Costa Pinto, Fernando de Azevedo, Djacir Menezes and Florestan Fernandes for giving centrality to the emergence of institutions superiors in social sciences.

The reference to the sociological and ideological matrices, however, was a novelty: the sociological matrix would be characterized by being guided by the characteristics of the socio-economic structure in an attempt to explain the variations that occurred in the content of the concerns of social researchers. Such variations could be due to changes in the socioeconomic structure (Florestan Fernandes) or to deduce the attributes or dimensions of social thinking from those of the social process (ISEB).

It so happens that most of the authors framed in this matrix, like Edgar Carone, would content themselves with describing certain aspects of the social framework and exposing the authors' ideas, on the assumption that there was a relationship of evidence between the two. Florestan's texts on the formation of the social sciences in Brazil would have been nothing more than frustrated attempts at the sociology of knowledge. Although his analyzes were the “most stimulating and fertile of suggestions” among those produced by the “sociological matrix”, the revered head of São Paulo sociology had failed to allow himself to be carried away by the belief that “the simple enunciation and description of the attributes of social processes would be evidence enough to demonstrate the relationship of functional dependency between the content that is thought and the empirical unfolding of social history” (Santos, 1978a, p. 28 and 31)[xviii].

With the examination of these authors, Wanderley opened the second part of the text with a question: would there be an appropriate way to examine the authors who composed Brazilian political thought, in order to do them justice as analysts? If so, what would it be? At this point, he embarked on an interesting methodological interlude, during which he explained that there was no method that could be pointed out in advance as adequate: “There is no single history of political and social ideas in Brazil, nor of social disciplines, when already institutionalized , which allows discarding the others as false (...). Everything depends on the usefulness of the objective in view” (Santos, 1978a, p. 57).

Here, underlying the discussion, was the problem of uniqueness or multiplicity of objects to be known. If the researcher believed in the real and unique meaning of social phenomena, he should, in the manner of Hegel, articulate them conceptually and their temporal development, disregarding as irrelevant everything that conflicts with him. If one believed, however, in the multiplicity of objects to be known, the researcher should recognize that any ideas elaborated in a given historical moment produced consequences, many of which were unexpected.

It seemed to him that, in matters of social sciences, this relativist epistemology was the most appropriate one to follow.[xx]. It was thus possible to investigate the history of ideas with different aims, such as verifying their impact on the perception of problems; that of assessing the most influential intellectual paradigms of a given period; that of examining how ideas were mobilized to attack or defend a given political organization; or to ascertain its effect on the methodologies employed.

In this field of recognized possibilities, Wanderley pointed out two possible ways of describing the “evolution of the social sciences in Brazil” (that is, the history of Brazilian political-social thought). The first possibility of description adopted the manifest content of published works as its guide. This orientation constituted an important novelty in the research.

Until then, Wanderley Guilherme's exclusive concern had been to understand how the analysts of the past (his "predecessors", so to speak) had represented the Brazilian political dynamics after the 1930 Revolution and raised their results to the status of a "science". politics” valid as “imagination”. For this reason, Wanderley's previous texts showed no interest in examining Brazilian thought in itself, as a set of propositions or world views of each author - a hypothesis that would lead him to examine the manifest content of discursive propositions within the framework of their respective historical contexts.

Likewise, for the same reason, the research had as its starting point the year 1870, leaving in the background most of the monarchic period, implicitly seen as a “pre-modern” era of Brazilian reflection. These shortcomings, Wanderley now sought to remedy, at least in part, throughout the seven pages in which he described the evolution of “Brazilian political and social thought” since independence, based on the themes addressed by the works that composed it, and relating them to to the political agenda of each period of our history.

The more or less implicit assumption was that the different stages of the national construction process required specific and successive needs or tasks from the political class, which appeared reflected in the works produced in each of them in an environment of debate.

Thus, after independence and during most of the XNUMXth century, the problem of the organization of the national State would have dominated the production of Brazilian political thought and, as such, gathering around it the most relevant political analyzes elaborated in the period – those of the Visconde de Uruguay and Joaquim Nabuco[xx].

The First Republic, in turn, witnessed the production of complex analyzes of Brazilian social and political organization – and here, the names of Alberto Torres, Oliveira Viana and Gilberto Freire were cited with emphasis.[xxx]. However, even if attenuated, Wanderley persevered with the thesis that the first decade of the Vargas Era would have been the period par excellence of Brazilian political thought; period when “the most astute analyzes of the national political process” were produced.

So much so that the importance of the intellectual production of the First Republic was rooted above all in the fact that its agenda had intellectually “prepared” the analysts who would work between 1930 and 1937; Likewise, it was reiterated that the repertoire of problems set in those years was the same as, “under the most varied linguistic guises, has been transmitted from generation to generation, until today” (Santos, 1978a, p. 39). In other words, it was in those seven years that the agenda of modern Brazil emerged and it was because of it that, for better or worse, the greater or lesser interest in studying other historical periods was justified.

In the “contemporary” period (1945-1964), Wanderley once again highlighted the intellectual production of ISEB and the observations left by Hélio Jaguaribe and Guerreiro Ramos on the relationship between political leadership and their styles – the only ones that seemed to him to escape “the conventionalism at times”. sometimes solemn, but no less banal, of academic Marxism”. In his opinion, the merit of the Isebians lay mainly in the fact that they practically limited themselves to developing themes favored by Brazilian political thought during the 1930s.[xxiii].

Highlighting, finally, the successful institutionalization and expansion of the homonymous courses, which occurred during the previous two decades, Wanderley concluded the narrative of the evolution in Brazil of the social sciences – that is, of the history of Brazilian political thought, taking as a criterion the content texts manifest.

In turn, the second possibility of rational ordering of that development resided in the description of the ways in which social reality appeared structured in the analysts' perception. Then followed a modified reproduction here and there, although without changing the general orientation, of the argument around the paradigms of perception of political conflict – the “Machiavellian” and the “dichotomous”, outlined in “Raízes da Imaginação Política Brasileira”.

If the pages dedicated to the republican period do not present significant alterations in relation to the text published eight years earlier (only small deletions and a greater development of the passage dedicated to Martins de Almeida), the same cannot be said of the treatment given to the authors of the imperial period , which was clearly more refined than in previous texts. Although he reiterated that monarchical thinkers nurtured an individualist view of political conflict, it now seemed to Wanderley Guilherme that only pamphleteers, such as Ferreira Viana, were limited to it.

There were two more complex groups of authors, which displayed different characteristics. The first group, of which Zacarias and Tavares Bastos were exponents, would analyze the Brazilian reality through the prism of the doctrines in vogue; the second was more concerned with the effectiveness of those doctrines based on a “sociological” examination of the country's reality – and here the paradigmatic author was the Viscount of Uruguay.

This greater sophistication in the classification of imperial authors anticipated the last and probably most important part of the text, which consisted of asking – which he had not yet done – about the reasons for the formation of a political tradition or culture in Brazil that saw reality dichotomously. . It was as if there were two “sets of attributes and/or social processes that can only exist simultaneously”; as if the conflict unfolded “according to the rules of zero-sum games” (Santos, 1978a, p. 42).

To answer that question, Wanderley advanced the proposition that, in fact, all Brazilian political thought (or at least its main and most valuable part) was driven by the need to overcome the authoritarian, fragmented social reality, which was seen as backward. , for the realization of an ideal of a liberal and capitalist ("bourgeois") society, which was seen, in turn, as modern. It was for this reason that analysts tended to present their arguments in a polarized way: because they united, on the one hand, what was perceived as backward, and on the other, what was perceived as modern.

Although they agree on the goal to be achieved, our authors would differ on the most convenient strategies to achieve that goal. Since the Empire, one could identify the presence of two families or intellectual lineages of Brazilian political thought, agreeing on the ends, but diverging on the means. Conservative politicians and authors (the “saquaremas”), such as Visconde de Uruguai, would have perceived that the State was a privileged agency for social change, as only it could create conditions for the practical realization of dominant political preferences and values, that is, the establishment of a liberal order.

Hence his defense of the expansion of state regulatory capacity, embodied in a centralized and bureaucratized state, without which privatism, fragmentation and slavery could not be overcome. This strategy clearly contrasted with that adopted by liberal politicians and authors (the “luzias”), such as Tavares Bastos, who, by claiming decentralization and parliamentarism, incurred in an “institutional fetishism” by assuming, in an anti-historical and universalist way, that “the institutional routine would create the political and social automatisms adjusted to the normal functioning of the liberal order”[xxiii].

At this point, as can be seen, the Empire ceased to be a kind of “prehistory” of modern Brazilian political thought to become the time of gestation of the main cleavage that crossed it: that of the different strategies pursued by authors in the search for the same model of political modernity. Indeed, as a result of the consecration of the dichotomous style of analysis, the break between the twentieth century and the nineteenth was now revealed to have been more apparent than real.

By highlighting the gap between the real country and the legal country, refusing institutional fetishism and discrediting the possibility of a liberal order without State intervention, the “authoritarian” thinkers of the 1930s now emerged, in Paradigm and History, as the “true continuers” of the saquaremas of the Second Reign. It was the persistence of the oligarchic and landlord structure that justified the imperative of “continuing to expand the regulatory and symbolic capacity of public power and to guarantee its extractive capacity with the objective of financing the expansion of modern bourgeois Brazil”[xxv].

Despite differing on the function of public power and other minor topics, all of them – especially Oliveira Viana de Brazilian Political Institutions – speculated about the most appropriate way in which Brazil could achieve the liberal order. In the meantime, the national State needed to be strong; only afterwards, he could be weak, according to the liberal model. The theme and conception of society of the authoritarians of 1930, in turn, reappeared in the 1950s in the Isebian production of Guerreiro Ramos and Hélio Jaguaribe, who, through national-developmentalism, continued to claim the expansion of the bourgeois order. Meanwhile, cultivating institutional fetishism, the udenists continued to behave like the lugias, demanding a classical liberal institutionality that, in that context, could only benefit oligarchic privatism.

However, Wanderley Guilherme stressed that the picture was undergoing an inflection at that moment (1978): the military regime had created a market society on a national scale and had reduced our secular backwardness to the condition of residue. Because of this, traditional defenders of instrumental authoritarianism had passed – they too! – to demand the advent of classical liberal institutions.

The risk this time was that, once again, Brazil would fall into the opposite extreme, with the transition from authoritarianism to an oligarchic liberal regime, led by a minimal State, encapsulated by private interests, disengaged from facing the immense social liabilities. Without a strong democratic state, any prospect of social improvement would be illusory.

“Liberal Praxis in Brazil” (1978)

The second text published as a book chapter and which dealt with Brazilian political thought was called “Liberal Praxis in Brazil: proposals for reflection”. It was a test[xxiv] about the vicissitudes faced in Brazil for the implementation of the liberal order, understood as “a certain vision of how society and government should be organized in opposition to the religious control of society and the establishment of an agenda of public properties by any power transcendent to society” (Santos, 1978a, p. 68).

This essay was based on the conclusions of “Paradigma e História” regarding the quasi-consensus of Brazilian political analysts throughout national history around the need to build a modern liberal society and their essential divergence regarding the means of forging it. The liberal praxis of the title of the text referred, therefore, not only to the attempts undertaken to create that society, but to the difficulties encountered in the midst of that task. The first part of the text comprised an interpretation of events related to the historical process of construction of the Brazilian liberal order, intended to demonstrate that the adoption of liberal policies often produced effects contrary to those intended by its coryphaeus.

The dilemma of liberalism among us would have been unequivocally exposed for the first time by Oliveira Viana: it was not possible for a liberal political system to yield adequately in the context of a familistic, authoritarian and parental (that is, anti-liberal) society. In order to reach the democratic order more quickly, instead of a classical liberal system of institutions, a certain dose of authoritarianism capable of crushing the obstacles to its advent present in backward society was needed.

Here, one could feel the full impact of the reading of “Brazilian Political Institutions” on the interpretation of Wanderley Guilherme which, later leading him to the reading of Visconde de Uruguai (author whose work was outside the initial bibliographic framework of the research), allowed to found the Isebian intellectual tradition in a much more remote past than he could have imagined. Although described at the end of “Paradigma e História”, only now were the two main traditions of Brazilian political thought duly named: that of doctrinal liberalism and that of instrumental authoritarianism (Santos, 1978a, p. 93).

Doctrinaire liberals were those political actors and respective associations who, since the “Luzias” of the 1920th century, conveyed the belief that “political-institutional reform in Brazil, as in any other place, would naturally follow the formulation and execution of suitable general rules”. Led by Rui Barbosa and Assis Brasil, the doctrinaire liberals of the XNUMXs believed that, in order to overcome the backwardness, clientelism and fraud that characterized the Republic, it would be enough to eliminate corruption and renew the governing personnel through healthy institutional reforms; these, in turn, would produce electoral fairness, independent judiciary and professional bureaucracy.

However, after the 1930 Revolution, it became clear that Getúlio Vargas preferred to follow the path opened up by the tenentista movement. Although they also aspired to the liberal order, the “new saquaremas” realized that the institutional prescription given by doctrinaire liberals would not be enough to achieve those ends. Getúlio also realized that the reintroduction of a classical liberal institutional framework would restore power to the oligarchies that had enjoyed it during the First Republic.

After the fall of the Estado Novo, the doctrinaire liberals reorganized themselves in the National Democratic Union, whose agenda did not differ, in substance, from that followed in previous decades. The big difference was in the change of tactics: after the second consecutive defeat in the presidential elections for the representatives of Getulismo, in 1951, the liberals started to resort to coup d’état, based on the supposed manipulation of the ignorant and needy electorate by the forces of “populism”. In this context, for them, of mocking the “spirit” of constitutional institutions, doctrinaire liberals felt comfortable trying to prevent the deepening of political degradation and the retreat to authoritarian populism by openly calling for a military coup[xxv].

With regard to the other intellectual “family”, it was necessary to distinguish between two types of supporters of authoritarianism, present in Brazilian political thought: the first would be ontologically authoritarian, while the second would be only instrumentally. Among the former were, for example, the integralists, such as Plínio Salgado, who founded authoritarianism on the natural inequality of men, which justified the circumscription of the exercise of power in the hands of the most capable.

Among the ontologically authoritarians were also Azevedo Amaral and Francisco Campos, for whom, although men were naturally equal, the authoritarian exercise of power would have become inevitable in modern times, marked by the advent of the masses: the rise in the social cost of conflicts had made it indispensable the use of authoritarianism as a technique of government everywhere. Only the strong State was still able to face the new challenges related to the preservation of social peace and progress.

Despite the possible differences in the reasoning of their thoughts, however, Salgado, Amaral and Campos were in agreement when they considered authoritarianism a permanent political remedy, and not a transitory one, for the Brazilian political order. It was at this point that they distanced themselves from “the oldest and most resistant form of authoritarian thought in Brazil”: that of instrumental authoritarianism (Santos, 1978a, p. 103). Since at least the independence of the country, the belief that it would be up to the State to “set the goals for which society should fight, because society itself would not be able to set them, with a view to maximizing national progress”, against the forces of backwardness and parochial interests[xxviii].

Distinguished, therefore, from the ontologically authoritarians, the instrumentalists also distinguished themselves from the doctrinaire liberals for not believing that social change could be inferred from the mere establishment of liberal political institutions. Believing that “the authoritarian exercise of power, due to its greater reformist potential, would be the fastest way to build a liberal society”, it seemed legitimate and adequate for the instrumentalists to leave the State “to regulate and broadly manage social life” (Santos, 1978aa , p. 103).

The paradigmatic book of this way of thinking would be Brazilian Political Institutions, by Oliveira Viana, author followed by Virgínio Santa Rosa and Martins de Almeida, albeit with variations, regarding the reform agenda. After making considerations about the difficulties faced in Brazil for the realization of the instrumental authoritarian project, both in the Estado Novo and during the military regime, the conclusion once again highlighted – like that of “Paradigma e História” – the need to join, to the ideal of political freedom, that of social justice, which required separating political liberalism from economic liberalism.

Conclusion: the balance of a research

Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos' research was the first major milestone in the study of Brazilian political thought in the field of social sciences.

First, it produced a disciplinary framing of the object. His pragmatic-moderate epistemological perspective allowed him to overcome the dilemmas hitherto imposed by the resulting oppositions, whether from the philosophical Hegelianism predominant at ISEB – “critical conscience”, “authenticity”, “national thought” versus “naive consciousness”, “alienation”, “colonial thinking” -, whether from the scientific positivism espoused by USP sociology in the mid-1950s – stamped in the opposition “science” versus “non-science” or “essayism” –, and which resulted in the contempt of Brazilian thought as peripheral or inferior.

The formation of national scientific knowledge no longer depended either on the reliable transplantation of foreign processes (Florestan) or on the need to found a national social science (Guerreiro). On the other hand, contrary to what was supported by academic Marxism, Brazilian political thought was also not reduced to an ideological expression of the class to which its authors belonged.

If, without a doubt, the peripheral condition of Brazil was reflected in the national intellectual production, its main result was not a reflection of inferior quality, but the dichotomous approach adopted by national authors committed to the modernizing ideal, which led them to list, in on the one hand, the causes that contributed to the perceived delay and, on the other, the factors that could lead to its overcoming.

In summary, from Wanderley Guilherme's research emerged the thesis that there was a national political culture; that Brazilian political thought was its intellectual product par excellence and that it was not possible to understand the turbulent Brazilian political process without studying it.

Secondly, with the research a clear definition of its statute and its competent baptismal name emerged: it is about studying the “Brazilian political and social thought” and, in particular, the “political imagination” present in it. Although the expressions seem interchangeable, the first is broader than the second. Brazilian political-social thought – also referred to as “Brazilian intellectual history”, “Brazilian social thought”, “Brazilian social and political thought”, “Brazilian political thought”, “history of political and social ideas in Brazil” – consisted of in “articles and books written by Brazilians whose object of study are substantive social or political aspects of Brazilian society” (Santos, 1970, p. 147).

By contrast, “political imagination” did not refer to political-social thought as a universality of writings, but “to the kind of political assessments that some men of educated insight, committed to the public in one way or another, are compelled to make (… ) in order to offer a rational explanation for their audiences” (Santos, 1970, p. 137). For Wanderley, above all, it was important to “know the Brazilian political processes” by detecting the “political imagination” diffused in “Brazilian political and social thought”.

Wanderley Guilherme's primary concern was to guarantee the “Brazilian political imagination” the dignity that was contested by Florestan Fernandes' sociology due to its ideological and non-scientific character. Hence the expressions “political imagination”, “social imagination”, and “political-social imagination”, employed since the beginning in a polemical way to oppose the idea of ​​reducing relevant thought to “social science”. It was these efforts that contributed to the formation of Brazilian political science not suffering the solution of historical continuity that had occurred in the formation of sociology in São Paulo[xxviii].

However, the name that prevailed to designate the discipline was not “Brazilian political imagination”, but “Brazilian political-social thought”. Even in “Paradigma e História”, the expression “social imagination” is restricted to the title, not being repeated throughout the pages; in them, Wanderley replaces it with another, which gained greater passage in academic circles: “political-social thought”.

This change in terminological preference did not result in substantive alterations in the perspective that was inaugurated with the term “imagination”; it signaled a waning of the need to use that specific term to refer to the phenomenon that it was important to explain and analyze. It seems plausible the hypothesis that, until the texts of the mid-70s, more relevant than determining the most precise term for the characterization of the object of study was to criticize the basic duality “ideology vs. science”, which should be eliminated in order to assert the dignity and relevance of Brazilian political reflection prior to the constitution of the social sciences and, probably, their continuity in the reflection produced by opinion makers not dedicated to the scientific study of society, and independently of the results of these sciences.

Once the dignity of the object was guaranteed, Wanderley was unconcerned with further critical elaborations around the term that baptized the field; thus, it was the set of “Brazilian political and social thought” that began to enjoy the positivity that, in the first texts, seemed reserved only for the “Brazilian political imagination”.

Thirdly, the research delimited the perimeter of Brazilian political thought within the scope of the social sciences. By deliberately excluding from the research “strictly historical, anthropological, psychological, economic, methodological and scholastic works” (Santos, 2002, p. 14), Wanderley organized the field of study of “Brazilian political thought” itself. Thus, in pursuing the way in which politicians and political analysts diagnosed Brazilian society for practical purposes of political intervention, he moved away from the comprehensive “histories of ideas in Brazil”, as were the histories of philosophical ideas by Miguel Reale and Cruz Costa, but also the amorphous “social thought” of Djacir Menezes.

More importantly, Wanderley clearly distanced the field of Brazilian political thought from the perspective outlined at the same time by Antônio Cândido's socio-literary criticism – which would be so important in the future configuration of a field of interdisciplinary studies – that of “social thought in Brazil”, understood ecumenically in the manner of a “history of Brazilian culture”. Thus, for example, the absolute priority given to the political is evident when Wanderley defines the intellectual production mode of the social scientists at ISEB as a paradigm of Brazilian thought.

It would have been “eminently political” because “its studies, investigations and analyzes looked for problems, and examined them from an angle fundamentally committed to action, interested in producing an understanding of the issues, close to the formulation of political strategies” (Santos, 1978a, p. 40). It is for no other reason that, elsewhere, Wanderley Guilherme is not satisfied with the exclusion, by Florestan Fernandes, of the name of Azevedo Amaral from the list of so-called “scientific” authors, of which Gilberto Freire, however, was a part. All the qualities that Wanderley attributed to Azevedo Amaral referred to his ability to analyze strictly political phenomena – such as the “systematic exploration he made of the connection between authoritarianism, mass society and the demonstration effect” (Santos, 1967, p. 187) .

Therefore, it was no longer a matter of “Brazilian social thought” understood as the history of Brazilian culture, nor of “Brazilian social and political thought” understood as a set of analyzes left on politics and society. Analyzes of Brazilian society were only of interest to Wanderley Guilherme's research, therefore, to the extent that they led to the furnace of “political imagination”. The evolution of the titles of the published texts mirrors his growing desire to specify the research object as eminently political: in “Controvésias”, the object was designated as “Brazilian social thought”; in “Imagination”, it had become “political-social imagination”; in “Raízes da Imaginação”, it was purely about the “Brazilian political imagination”.

It is true that, in “Paradigma e História”, the expressions “social imagination”, “political and social thought”, “political-social thought” and “social thought” were used as if they were interchangeable. This occurred, however, in this text, for a punctual and contingent reason: by consolidating and expanding the previous texts, the essay also aimed to trace “the evolution of social sciences in Brazil”, and not only of political science. Present in that text, the author's eventual returns to the expression “social” should not, therefore, deceive us.

In addition to the precedence established in the designation most frequently used by him – political-social thinking –, this perspective of subordination of the social to the political is revealed in an inescapable way when Wanderley articulates the question that guides his research: “From what mode the reality social appears structured in the perception of analysts social from past? Particularly, as you see the unfolding of the dispute political?” (Santos, 1978a, p. 41). Hence, it can be said, with some certainty, that his research is constitutive of the field of studies of Brazilian political thought within the scope of the social sciences.[xxix].

Fourthly, Wanderley Guilherme's research resulted in the characterization of Brazilian political thought as indissolubly linked to practice. The active, pragmatic character of that “imagination” was oriented towards providing “schemes” of rational explanation that ordered, making legible, the dispersed data, of a heterogeneous nature, mobilized by the political analyst. If imagination necessarily operates from the ordering of what has already happened, it establishes the horizon of possibilities in which any political action can be conceived and carried out.

In this sense, the product of its elaboration has a direct impact on the present context, guiding and rationally legitimizing the conduct of its actors (Santos, 1970, p. 138). It is this same decisive pragmatic element that, in “Roots of the Brazilian political imagination”, is found underlying the concept of “praxis” that will later serve for the analysis of Brazilian liberalism present in Bourgeois Order and Political Liberalism. Though the notion is vague, the pragmatic element is inescapable.[xxx].

The slight changes in the wording of the article when the second edition of Liberal Praxis in Brazil, twenty years later, have not changed the main formulation of their concern with “ideas translated into behavior – and with political ideas as strategic guides for action” (Santos, 1998, p. 9). In this sense, what remains is the conviction that, unlike sociological theory or philosophy, political theory is always linked to practice and, for this reason, its study can never be eliminated. beforehand under the pretext of its non-scientific or ideological dimension.

This examination of Wanderley Guilherme's research cannot end without touching on the point of greatest controversy in her research: the qualification of “instrumental” she conferred on a part of Brazilian authoritarian thought, as well as its developments. At a time when Iberian and Latin American political scientists were discussing the issue of authoritarianism against the backdrop of the difficulty of rooting democracy in their countries, it was a real provocation to qualify an author like Oliveira Viana as a liberal in terms of purposes and values. .

Undoubtedly, a significant part of the controversy unleashed by Wanderley is due to the fact that there is not much clarity or security around what in his last two texts means “bourgeois order” and, mainly, “authoritarianism”. Be that as it may, one forgets that, in his interpretation of Oliveira Viana, Wanderley Guilherme was based on a reading of Brazilian Political Institutions – political work par excellence by that author, who does not, however, address the issue of capitalism or the market, nor does he defend any regime of exception.

In this context, as long as the concept of “bourgeois order” is understood as equivalent to the democratic rule of law and one takes the concept of “authoritarian state” in the sense that, in that work, Oliveira Viana himself lends it to it – that of a modern state, interventionist and, as such, focused on social well-being and the guarantee of civil rights –, its qualification as instrumental authoritarian remains relevant[xxxii]. Besides, Wanderley doesn't just have flowers for Oliveira Viana: he criticizes him more than once[xxxi].

With regard to the consequences of this controversy, the audacity of valuing Oliveira Viana when his books were at the head of some of the most important figures of the military regime (such as Golbery do Couto e Silva and Ernesto Geisel) exposed Wanderley Guilherme to the hazards of being attacked right and left as sympathetic to authoritarianism; for both the one and the other, he would have simply incorporated – in Bolívar Lamounier's expression – the “self-image of Brazilian authoritarian thought”.

However, in view of a careful reading of their texts, the challenge seems lacking in foundation, for several reasons. The first and most evident lies in the fact that in these texts we find frequent criticisms of authoritarianism, both in the Estado Novo and in the military regime.[xxxii]. Furthermore, contrary to what is generally believed, Wanderley never presents the Estado Novo or the military regime as materializations of “instrumental authoritarian” thinking. On the contrary, what is affirmed is that, because they were purely authoritarian, the experiences of the Estado Novo and the military regime would have been frustrated opportunities for the implantation of instrumental ideals.

More: the Jango government itself was presented as a failed attempt at instrumental authoritarianism. This meant two things: first, that the instrumental mentality was not exclusive to the right, but could also be embraced by the left; second, that instrumental authoritarians suffered, as much as doctrinaire liberals, from the vicissitudes of political reality. The problem of liberal praxis in Brazil, therefore, did not concern only the inability revealed by doctrinaire liberals to realize the bourgeois order based on the importation of liberal institutions, but also the inability demonstrated by instrumental authoritarians to materialize a political and institutional order that did not was purely authoritarian (Santos, 1998, p. 49-51).

Wanderley Guilherme's apparent sympathy for instrumental authoritarians should be better attributed to two other, less controversial factors. First, analyzes throughout history made by the instrumental authoritarian “lineage” seemed to him to be qualitatively superior to those made by doctrinaire liberals.

In addition to perceiving that the same institutions did not always produce the same effects everywhere, due to the variability of culture and the stage of development of political communities, the instrumentalists believed that the construction of order did not happen spontaneously, by mere power of the social game, as pure liberals believed; for instrumentalists, the social world was supported by concerted political action (Santos, 1978a, p. 49-51). That is, its world view was, at the same time, more “political” and “realistic” than that of its competitors; therefore, it was closer to Wanderley's ideal of political science.

Secondly, in a universe devoid of liberalism with a democratic and national vocation, instrumentalists would almost always have been the social bearers of the progressive values ​​with which our author identified. Throughout Brazilian history, the Saquarema statesmen of the 1830s-1860s, the leaders of the tenentista movement in the 1920s and 1930s, and the national-developmentalist intellectuals of the 1950s-1960s seemed to him to have better represented the national interest and the cause of democracy than the doctrinaire liberal graduates, always linked to state oligarchies, refractory to social equality and supporters of free trade.

This sympathy by Wanderley Guilherme for the values ​​defended by the instrumental authoritarians does not imply, however, reducing him to the condition of one of them, but recognizing that, for the historian of political ideas, it is not illicit to identify the progressive dimension of those movements, actors or even regimes politicians who, despite being authoritarian, seem to have contributed, in certain historical contexts, to the advancement of the national cause.

In summary, while producing his research on Brazilian political thought, Wanderley Guilherme was not enchanted by the instrumental authoritarian agenda he had discovered, but was concerned with breaking the dilemma between oligarchic liberal order and progressive authoritarianism in which the political history of Brazil seemed to be imprisoned, distinguishing between political liberalism and economic liberalism to condemn the authoritarian State without condemning the interventionist State, which was indispensable to reduce the immense social liabilities of the country[xxxv].

In the context of the detension of the military regime, Wanderley warned of the danger of replacing the nationalist authoritarianism and intervention of the military by the atomistic and oligarchic liberalism that a portion of the opposition to the regime dreamed of – which, according to him, had an “udenoid” mentality, being true “Conservative wolves transfigured into progressive lambs”[xxxiv]. Future democratic institutions should not be designed either according to the liberal doctrinal model or the instrumental authoritarian model (at that point, he said, disappeared due to exhaustion).

It was imperative that a liberal democratic state emerge from the dictatorship that was not minimal; a State sufficiently robust to devise public policies capable of raising the population's standard of living “to higher levels of collective well-being” (Santos, 1978b, p. 80). In the final paragraph of “Paradigm and History” he returned to the subject: “The main contemporary political question consists of designing institutions capable of restoring to the members of the community the civil and political rights that are already part of the patrimony of civilization, without, however, allowing that predatory privatism, under the propaganda of libertarian humanism, appropriates social decision-making mechanisms” (Santos, 1998, p. 56).

Now, this was not, of course, an instrumental authoritarian position; was a social-democratic position: “The conversion of an authoritarian system into a stable democratic regime depends on the existence of a strong democratic socialist party, capable of competing on the right against parties that, in the name of human freedoms, wish to make survive as long as possible. a socially and economically unjust order possible, and capable of competing on the left against the parties that, in the name of social justice, consider the question of democracy a question of fools or madmen. Socialist and democratic parties tend to become the political center of history” (Santos, 1978b, p. 16-17). It is not just the interpretation of Brazilian political thought, resulting from the research, that seems to be up to date; the ideological program underlying it, as well.

*Christian Edward Cyril Lynch He is a researcher at the Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation and professor of Political Science at the Institute of Social and Political Studies at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (IESP-UERJ).

Originally published as an introduction to Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos' book, The Brazilian political imagination: five essays in intellectual history, edited by Christian Edward Cyril Lynch (Revan, 2017).


CAMARGO, Aspásia de Alcântara (1967). “The political theory of Azevedo Amaral”. Data, 2/3, 1967, pp.194-224.

MILLS, Wright C (1965). The Sociological Imagination. Translation by Waltensir Dutra. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar Editores (https://amzn.to/47F31wz).

MOREIRA, Marcelo Sevaybricker (2008). The critical dialogue with the polyarchic theory in the political thought of Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos. Dissertation in Political Science. Belo Horizonte: UFMG.

RAMOS, Alberto Guerrero. (1962). The Crisis of Power in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar.

______________ (1995). Critical Introduction to Brazilian Sociology. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ (https://amzn.to/3QPF6oj).

SANTOS, Wanderley Guilherme dos (1965). “Preliminaries of a methodological controversy”. Brazilian Civilization Magazine, 5/6: 53-81.

______________ (1967). “The Brazilian political-social imagination”. Data – Journal of Social Sciences, 2/3: 182-193.  

______________ (1970), “Roots of the Brazilian political imagination”. Data – Journal of Social Sciences, 7: 137-161.

______________ (1978a). Bourgeois order and political liberalism. Sao Paulo: Two Cities.

______________ (1978b). Power and Politics: chronicle of Brazilian authoritarianism. Rio de Janeiro: University Forensics.

______________ (1988). Paradoxes of Liberalism: theory and history. Sao Paulo: Vertex.

______________(1993). Memorial presented by Wanderley Guilherme to the Department of Social Sciences of the IFCS of UFRJ for the Competition for Full Professor of Political Science.

______________ (1998). Decades of Amazement and a Democratic Apology. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.

______________ (2002). Bibliographic guide of Brazilian Political and Social Thought (1870-1965). Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG; Rio de Janeiro: House of Oswaldo Cruz.


[I] According to the author himself, this criticism of ISEB's self-image was the main content of his last course at that same institution, shortly before its closure by the military dictatorship. Biographical information is taken from two main sources. The first is the interview included in Annex II of Marcelo Sevaybricker Moreira's master's thesis, The critical dialogue with polyarchic theory in Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos's political thought, defended at the Department of Political Science at UFMG in 2008. The second is the Memorial presented by Wanderley Guilherme to the Department of Social Sciences of the IFCS of UFRJ, in 1993, for the Competition for Full Professor of Political Science.

[ii] Five years later, in another article, written during his doctorate in the United States, he would repeat that he was still not convinced of the “sterility” of the sociology of knowledge (Santos, 1970, p. 142).

[iii] According to the author, Aspásia de Alcântara Camargo and Sonia de Camargo collaborated in the work of consulting the bibliographic and editorial lists, as well as in establishing the final list. As a result of this same research, Aspásia published an article qualified by Wanderley as “excellent” (See Camargo, 1967).

[iv] Although he also does not explain the reason for the choice, Guerreiro hints that that year would mark a relevant moment of inflection in the process of modernization of Brazilian political and social structures (Ramos, 1995, p. 81).

[v] Wanderley himself would later explain the reasons for his choice. The 1870s were a particularly relevant moment for Brazilian political and social reflection, as the issue of slavery entered the political agenda; the Republican Party was founded and the eclecticism that had prevailed until then began to be replaced by different evolutionist perspectives (Santos, 2002, p. 143-145; 1978, p.88-89). In the 1990s, Wanderley included relevant works, books and monographs produced in the decades prior to 1870 in the published version of the Roteiro.

[vi]“Here, 'political imagination' refers to the kind of political assessments that some men of educated insight, committed to the public in one way or another, are compelled to make. Lacking the time and/or ability to conduct careful research, these analysts are forced to mobilize all available information in order to offer a rational explanation to their audiences. It is natural, therefore, that the final product is an illustrative mixture of economic data, social indicators, cultural traits and political rumours, and that the main sources of elaborations are political journalists, economists and political leaders” (Santos, 1970, p. 137 ).

[vii] There were three errors committed by Guerreiro Ramos: the division of Brazilian socio-political literature into colonial and non-colonial (which, for Wanderley, seemed like a variation of the science/pre-science dichotomy); the lack of a more exhaustive survey of the Brazilian bibliography of the past, and the lack of rigor with which he would have analyzed Brazilian thought in the thirties.

[viii] “Guerreiro Ramos considers it necessary to establish the logic, so to speak, of this production. This means that, whatever the value of Brazilian intellectual production in the past – pre-scientific or alienated, whatever the name – may have been, its articulation is not irrational or random. There is a reason that explains the Brazilian theoretical production and its articulation in history, and this reason is not just an ex post reference to the economic and social context (…), but includes its necessary theoretical determination. And with that, Guerreiro Ramos' text unveils part of the very object of the history of thought, entirely unsuspected in all others” (Santos, 1967, p. 189).

[ix] “These are the elements that form the core of the Brazilian political imagination: first, a dichotomized common style of political perception, leading to a clustered and polarized view of reality; then a divergent persuasion regarding the prima facie causal factors of political life; finally, the personal expertise responsible for greater or lesser skill in manipulating the basic schema and available information. These are the facilities with which the laboratory of imagination produces a representation of Brazilian history and, to a greater or lesser extent, helps to shape public political beliefs in Brazil” (Santos, 1970, p. 145).

[X] At this point, the criticisms of previous approaches made by other social scientists were reiterated, with regard to their scarcity and their institutionalist bias, which resulted in the contempt of Brazilian political thought “for the sole reason that it was produced before the creation of the schools of social sciences”. Only 12 texts written in previous years would have been dedicated to understanding, ordering and criticizing Brazilian political thought. They would have been, in chronological order: 1) Fernando de Azevedo, A Cultura Brasileira – introduction to the study of culture in Brazil (1943); 2) Djacir Menezes, La Science Politique au Brésil au cours des trinte dernières années (1950); 3) Costa Pinto and Edson Carneiro, The Social Sciences in Brazil (1955); 4) Guerreiro Ramos, Politically Oriented Efforts to Theorize the National Reality from 1870 to the present day (1955); 5) Guerreiro Ramos, The Ideology of Jeunesse Dorée (1955); 6) Guerreiro Ramos, The Sociological Unconscious – study on the political crisis in Brazil in the 1930s (1956); 7) Djacir Menezes, La Sociologie au Brésil (1956); 8) Fernando de Azevedo, The Sciences in Brazil (1956); 9) Florestan Fernandes, Science and Society in the Social Evolution of Brazil (1956); 10) Florestan Fernandes, Historical-Social Development of Sociology in Brazil (1957); 11) Florestan Fernandes, The Standard of Scientific Work of Brazilian Sociologists (1958); and 12) Guerreiro Ramos, The Ideology of the Order (1961).

[xi] The best example of the “Machiavellian” analytical pattern was Um Estadista do Império, by Joaquim Nabuco. In that work, politics was seen “as the arena where individual abilities come into dispute, the emperor himself being taken as a privileged actor, to whose actions both good and bad events are attributed, depending on the party in power”. The only possible exception in the period to the Machiavellian pattern seemed to him the famous pamphlet by Justiniano da Rocha: Action, Reaction and Transaction. (Santos, 1970, p. 148-149).

[xii] See Santos, 1978a, p. 45.

[xiii] In passing, Wanderley comments that the discussion around race almost always had the purpose of pointing out the way in which the “Brazilian type” was constituted and describing the historical formation of the dichotomy. But this would only be true for “serious analysts”, which would not be the case for second-rate analysts, such as Paulo Prado (Santos, 1970, p. 151).

[xiv] The text Paradigm and History was prepared for the Cândido Mendes University in February 1975 to serve as preparatory material for a collective work requested by UNESCO on the development of the social sciences in several countries (Brazil, Russia, Holland, Australia, Tunisia, Tanzania and Cameroon (Cf. Santos, 1978a, p. 15; and Santos, 2002, p. 65.)

[xv] This narrative to Oliveira Martins, who attributed the cultural backwardness of Portugal to its jettisoning of modernity by the work of the Counter-Reformation and the Second Scholasticism, apologetics of the modernizing work of Pombal, was incorporated by Wanderley through the “excellent works” of Paulo Mercadante and Antônio Paim, then involved in the production of histories of ideas in Brazil from the broad angle of philosophy (Santos, 1978a, p. 59).

[xvi] Here, the allusion to the homonymous text by Guerreiro Ramos was expressly and deliberately made.

[xvii] In addition to the two articles published in Revista Dados, already examined here (the 1967 and 1970 ones), they entered the scope of the analysis: The ideology of colonialism, by Nélson Werneck Sodré (1961); Blue Collection: Petty-Bourgeois Criticism of the Brazilian Crisis of 1930, by Edgar Carone (1969); Ideology and authoritarian regimes, by Bolívar Lamounier (1974); and Integralism: Brazilian fascism, by Hélgio Trindade (1974).

[xviii] As for the third matrix – the “ideological” one – I will address it at the end, for reasons that will be easy to understand.

[xx] “Every social act – and the production of an idea is a social act – is both below and beyond the intentions of those who performed it. On this side, because the objectives sought are often not achieved with it and, furthermore, because effects not anticipated by the author are produced. When one seeks to know a social act, as a result, one is not a priori determined by the univocity of the object, which would mark in advance the only significant knowledge about it, but on the contrary this object is conceptually constructed, which thus participates in two orders: the order of articulation of phenomena and the order of articulation of concepts” (Santos, 1978a, p. 34).

[xx] The authors cited by Wanderley during the Empire are: Pimenta Bueno, Uruguay, Zacarias, Torres Homem, Justiniano, Ferreira Viana, Frei Caneca, Tavares Bastos, Belisário, Tobias Barreto, Sílvio Romero and Joaquim Nabuco (Santos, 1978a, p. 35- 36).

[xxx] During the First Republic, “themes related to the historical formation of the country, the interrelationships between its economic and social structure and its political structure, the problems of political oligarchization, its conditions and effects, the game of races, the conflict potential between them and the type of social organization likely in a country like Brazil, the function of the State, the limits of privatism and the definition of the legitimacy of public power”. The cited authors are Alberto Torres, Oliveira Viana and Gilberto Freire – the latter, in particular, are praised as “sophisticated and astute analysts” (Santos, 1978a, p. 37).

[xxiii] “In reality, there is practically no hypothesis or idea developed by ISEB that had not been previously voiced. ISEB merely polished them, gave them a formulation in step with the times and, above all, disseminated them among a much larger university and intellectual audience than was available to Sousa Franco, Amaro Cavalcanti and Serzedelo Correa” (Santos, 1978a , p. 40).

[xxiii] Still: “The institutional fetishism of the liberals contributed to the minimization of historical analysis, since the conjunctural circumstances were irrelevant. Institutions were institutions, and the whole political problem consisted in removing obstacles to their free functioning, namely, the power of the monarch. For the conservatives, the essence of the action consisted in taking advantage of the occasional opportunities that arose, through the political struggle, and creating the conditions for the functioning of the bourgeois social order” (Santos, 1978a, p. 51).

[xxv] “It is a market society, the reign of bourgeois privatism and individualism, which is at the end of the authoritarianism of the 30s” (Santos, 1978a, p. 53).

[xxiv] This essayistic character of the text was attributed to the circumstances of its elaboration for a seminar at the University of South Carolina. As he worked in the US and did not have a bibliography at hand, Wanderley opted “for an essay of reflection on the theme, rather than for more solid research, which would be impossible, with more assertive and empirically supported conclusions” (Santos, 1978a, p. 65). When the second edition of the text was published, in 1998, he reiterated that, “without easy and immediate access to the relevant literature”, he would have been forced to adopt “the formula of an organized and succinct report” (Santos, 1998, p. 61 ).

[xxv] It was what transformed “the UDN, a liberal party in terms of its economic outlook and its rhetoric, into the most subversive party in the Brazilian political system from 1945 to 1964, when the doctrinaire liberals judged, only to taste disappointment, that they had finally came to power” (Santos, 1978a, p. 99).

[xxviii] “Political liberalism would be impossible in the absence of a liberal society, and the building of a liberal society requires a state strong enough to break the bonds of family society. And authoritarianism would be instrumental in creating the social conditions that would make political liberalism viable. This analysis was accepted, and followed, by a relatively large number of politicians and essayists who, after the Revolution of 1930, fought for the establishment of a strong government as a premise for the destruction of the foundations of the former non-liberal society” (Santos, 1978a, p. 106).

[xxviii] Examining the swift and successful process of institutionalization of Brazilian political science in the 1960s, Bolívar Lamounier argues that “the existence of an important tradition of political thought, prior to the economic growth and urbanization booms of this century, and even to the establishment of the first universities. Not only would there be a “remarkable continuity” between this tradition and institutionalized political science, but it would have been the prestige of this tradition of Brazilian political thought that legitimized “the development of political science from 1945 onwards”. When referring to the general orientation of studies in social sciences at USP, set by Florestan Fernandes in the sense of breaking with that tradition, Lamounier points out that it had resulted in a growth “to a certain extent against political science, understood as a special discipline” , taking the form of “a sometimes exaggerated sociologism, insofar as it did not direct attention to properly political or political-institutional themes” (Lamounier, 1982, p. 407, 409 and 417).

[xxix] This founding character of the research is recognized even by its critics: “Guerreiro Ramos and Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos were probably the first to highlight the importance of Brazilian political thought prior to 1945” (Lamounier, 1982, p. 430). More recently, the reference made by Gildo Marçal Brandão is worth mentioning: “It is fair to remember that it was Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos who first and most energetically reacted against the attempt to transform the academic division of intellectual work into a criterion of truth, at the very moment when such a perspective began to become hegemonic. No matter how many objections one may make to his critique of the periodization of the history of Brazilian political thought by the stages of institutionalization of social-scientific activity, his reaction not only created a niche for all those who rejected scientism – which had its moment of truth as combat weapon against intellectual dilettantism – as it contributed to legitimize work with the history of ideas at the university, by refusing to see them as a variable dependent on institutions. The term 'political-social thought', which strictly speaking would be more appropriate to characterize the nature of the reflection, was also presented by Santos and recently reaffirmed” (Brandão, 2007, p.25).

[xxx] “I will be concerned not only with the political ideas that presided over, preceded or rationalized the unfolding of Brazilian history, or with 'neutral' and 'objective' facts, but mainly with political action, as ideas translated into behavior, and with political ideas as strategic guides for political action. this is the meaning of praxis that I adopt in this book” (Santos, 1978a, p. 67).

[xxxii] In the conceptual system of Brazilian Political Institutions, “liberalism” refers to the individualistic State of the XNUMXth century, oligarchic, politically weak and socially and economically absentee; while “authoritarianism” means a contemporary, intervening State, focused on social well-being, guaranteeing the civil rights of the population. This is how modern social democracy was anchored, in the USA, France or Great Britain, in an “authoritarian” State, that is, endowed with authority, “present”, “acting”. The difference was that it did not assume unique forms, presenting some variations, according to the cultural peculiarities and stages of development of each country.

[xxxi] Wanderley criticizes Oliveira Viana for his belief in the advent of an unlocatable ruling patriotic elite, which would change Brazilian political culture and for his inability to apprehend the transforming meaning of urbanization and industrialization experienced by Brazil from 1930 onwards, referring to him, still at the end of life, as an essentially rural country (Santos, 1998, p. 49).

[xxxii] “The coup d'état of 1937 and the political sequences to which it gave opportunity paralyzed, through coercion and propaganda, the incessant and multiple intellectual activity that sought to conceptually represent not only the past, but, in particular, the virtualities of the Brazilian political and social process. Besides, what could speculation and research be worth after 1937 if policy directives, official interpretations, definitive judgments about the truth of social phenomena were decided bureaucratically by the men in government and their immediate advisors according to the conveniences of Power? The post-1937 system did not differ in this regard from any authoritarian system, of any orientation. Controversy of ideas gave way to official doctrines and, in fact, even to persecution and imprisonment of rebellious intellectuals. Thus, debate and polemics were extinguished and, with them, the stimulus to research and investigation” (Santos, 1978a, p. 39).

[xxxv] The solution to the problem of authoritarianism depended intellectually on “a positive theory of the democratic state” that he would produce in the essays “In defense of laissez-faire: a provisional argument”, from 1979, and “The limits of laissez-faire and the principles of government”, from 1982. Cf. Santos, 1988.

[xxxiv] At the same time that he was composing Paradigma e História and A Praxis Liberal no Brasil (1974), Wanderley highlighted, in newspaper articles about the political situation at the beginning of the Geisel government, the need to “sustain the defense of civil rights and minorities without necessarily claiming the implantation of a society where the market is the exclusive mechanism for allocating resources and distributing goods (…). The incidence of authoritarian systems in the contemporary world poses the challenge of reconciling public freedoms with the limitation of exclusively predatory privatism” (Santos, 1978b, p. 35-36).

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