Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Power and Ideology in Brazil

Power and Ideology in Brazil

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Power and Ideology in Brazil
    Book Description:

    Drawing on personal interviews with over 250 Brazilian leaders in industry, banking, politics, labor, the civil service, and the church, Peter McDonough challenges the conventional notion of elites in authoritarian regimes as unideological pragmatists. He demonstrates that the Brazilian

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5453-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
    (pp. 3-52)

    In 1964, the military seized control of the government in Brazil in order to avert what they and their upper- and middle-class allies saw as the menace of radical, mass-based rule. Popular organizations such as the peasant leagues were disbanded or their leadership replaced, as happened with the labor syndicates, or, as occurred with the political parties, they were reorganized in such a way as to diminish the threat of mass participation. The insulation of elites was preserved against the pressures attendant upon structural transformations in the larger society.

    The novelty of this situation was not that the military intervened...

  2. PART ONE Structures of Power

    • ONE Mobility and Recruitment
      (pp. 55-84)

      Almost all Brazilian elites are mobile; they do not form a strictly hereditary caste. The important questions have to do with the variable range of mobility of elites from diverse social origins and with the differential effects of class and education, among other factors, on their career trajectories.

      Whatever the mix of devices they use to reach their positions, the upward mobility of Brazilian elites is a significant fact in itself. Revolutions open channels of mobility. The Brazilian system may be more restrictive in this regard than leftist movements, at least in their early days. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of...

    • TWO Networks
      (pp. 85-106)

      The safest and least interesting assumption about elite networks in Brazil and elsewhere is that their full complexity will always be shrouded from view. Not even the members of these networks, much less outside analysts, can be expected to be aware of all the ramifications of social ties, even when they agree on the basic contours of the power structure.¹

      This observation relieves us of the naive assumption that a conspiratorial consciousness guides whatever regularities are encountered in elite linkages. Instead, it turns analytical interest toward the structures of elite relationships that do not depend on purposeful manipulation and that...

  3. PART TWO Ideologies

    • THREE Orientations toward the Distribution of Power
      (pp. 109-129)

      Brazilian elites are well acquainted with the intricacies of their own niches within the structure of power. Even if corners of it go unnoticed, the overall configuration is easy to make out. However, the ability of the elites to comprehend the disposition of power, while less acute than might be expected of expert practitioners, is not a crucial issue here. The central question involves the degree to which the elites see beyond their immediate quarrels and envision something approaching a redesign of the power structure itself.

      In effect, three issues are involved. First, the elites are split into various groups...

    • FOUR Developmental Priorities
      (pp. 130-168)

      Brazilian elites not only want changes in the structure of power, they are also unanimous about whose power should be reduced. The military, the multinationals, and thetécnicoshave transgressed the norm of limited pluralism. The gravity of the situation could be dismissed were it only a matter of grumbling from expected quarters—from the opposition politicians, for example, whose business it is to criticize the regime. But this is plainly not the case. Although the conservative and ambivalent elites, such as the labor leaders, are less enthusiastic about direct confrontation than the progressives, they all become contumacious when faced...

    • FIVE Ideologies and the Limits of Legitimacy
      (pp. 169-203)

      If political legitimacy has any meaning at all, it goes beyond the short-term, group-specific interests of powerful actors and establishes the ground rules by which they are to live with one another in the midst of inevitable conflicts. Legitimacy does not derive from or necessarily produce agreement on policy issues; this is a phantasmagoric and apolitical standard even in authoritarian systems. Instead, it stems from an understanding among the principal rivals for power regarding permissible gains and tolerable losses.

      These premises have several implications. First, the question is not whether the authoritarian regime in Brazil is legitimate; I assume that...

    • SIX Mutual Perceptions
      (pp. 204-227)

      Theories of political change are replete with references to coalitions between vast elite estates—between landlords and industrialists, between technocrats and the military, and so on—just as they abound with analyses of the conflicts between these groups and their opponents—between industry and labor, between bureaucrats and politicians, and the like. The imputation of broad motives to a series of more or less homogeneous collectivities can be useful to block in major lines of conflict, and heuristic simplification is an acceptable device in attempting to construct theories of long-run transformation.

      At the same time, elite perceptions (of the populist...

    (pp. 228-246)

    At one level, this has been a study of the organization and ideology of Brazilian elites. It has been less an examination of how the elite fraternity operates than an analysis of how the elites themselves think they and their allies and their rivals maneuver within and against the authoritarian system.

    On another plane, I have concentrated on some of the factors contributing to the undoing of authoritarianism in Brazil, as well as on the elements that have made this decline so protracted and uncertain. The analysis of what happened in the minds of elites to diminish the legitimacy of...

  5. Appendix. The Nature of the Evidence
    (pp. 247-294)