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A Thesis Submitted in Partial

Fulfillment of the Requirements

for the Degree of

Department of Sociology and Anthropology




I would first like acknowledge the work of the scholars on which this study draws, in particular that of Dr. Goertzel at Rutgers University. I would like express my gratitude to the department for supporting my efforts to synthesize what I learned about sociology in the classroom with the practical sociological lessons I learned outside of it. Thank you to Dr. Heyl for her endless encouragement and support, to Dr. Stivers for bearing with me over the long course of this project, and to Dr. Beck and Dr. Hunt for their willingness to work with me. I need to acknowledge Dr. Manjur Karim at Culver-Stockton College for rousing the intellectual curiosity that led to this thesis, and must mention Sean Noonan and Enio de Paula Oliveira for familiarizing me with critical theory. Thanks to Dr. Otávio Dulci at UFMG and to the people of Brazil for turning me into not only a brasileiro de coração, but a citizen of the world as well. Finally, a special thank you to the women in my life whose encouragement and support I will always deeply appreciate.




Statement of the Problem 3

Research Question and Hypothesis 4

Literature Review on Cardoso and Dependency Theory 4


Endnotes 61

Senator from São Paulo 67

Foreign Minister 84

Finance Minister 84


Economic Indicators 89

Social Indicators 104

Administrative Reform and Privatization 114

Cardoso the Ex-President 117


Summary 124 Conclusions 127

Observations 128

The Ethics of Responsibility and Conviction 131


APPENDIX: Curriculum Vitae of Fernando Henrique Cardoso 143
Table Page
1. Food Production Growth 1994-2000 102

Figure Page

1. Inflation1983-2001 (Monthly Broad National Consumer Price Index-IPCA) 86

  1. Foreign Trade (US$ billions) 88

  2. Direct Inward Investment (US$ billions) 89

  3. Unemployment Rates in the Metropolitan Regions 90

  4. Share of the Population below the Poverty Line (%) 91

  5. Minimum Salary (annual averages, deflated by Consumer Price Index-FIPE, Economic Research Institute, in $R for April, 2000) 93

7. Minimum Salary/Basic Basket Ratio 95

  1. Household Income (per capita, $R for 1999) 96

  2. Grain Production (millions of tons) 97

  3. Meat Production (millions of tons) 98

  4. Human Development Index (HDI) 100

  5. Infant Mortality (per thousand babies born alive) 102

  6. Life Expectancy at Birth (years) 103

  7. Illiteracy 105

  8. School Services by Age Group 106



Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former two-term President of Brazil and currently distinguished professor-at-large at Brown University, is a contradictory personality for many. Cardoso is well known among scholars and academics worldwide as an eminent Marxist sociologist, former President of the International Sociological Association, and left-wing activist whose study of dependency and development has had an enormous impact on the debate over the future of Latin America for the past 30 years. In Brazilian intellectual circles, Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s place is considered to be alongside the greatest Brazilian thinkers of the twentieth century. Included among them are the historian and economist Caio Prado Jr., Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, sociologists Gilberto Freyre and Florestan Fernandes, and economist Celso Furtado.

Upon Cardoso’s landslide victory in 1994, Brazil became the first country to elect as President a professional sociologist. Cardoso’s rise to power took place via an academic career highlighted by exile to Chile and forced retirement by the military and a political career highlighted by Brazil’s return to democratic rule in 1985 and victory over her long-standing battle with hyperinflation in 1994.

Hyperinflation had defeated several previous administrations and appeared to be a problem for which there was no solution. When Cardoso, however, in his post as Finance Minister, succeeded in conquering hyperinflation by instituting an economic plan named after a new currency, the real, he gained international recognition and tremendous local popularity. Cardoso easily won the subsequent presidential race by an outstanding margin. Once president, Cardoso embarked on a social democratic political agenda geared towards free-market economic liberalization and institutional reform and a focused social agenda geared towards progressive governance in health, education and the elimination of poverty.

Cardoso can additionally be remembered for the place he secured in political folklore while serving as finance minister, this due to an infamous report by Oliveira and Seidl in the daily Folha de São Paulo stating that he told a group of businessmen to, “forget what I wrote” [as a sociologist] (Oliveira & Seidl 1993). Though Cardoso denies ever making this comment (Folha de São Paulo 1996:4), it has had a resounding impact on the image Brazilians and others skeptical of politicians, intellectuals or both have of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. As can be gleaned from this quote, many see an impossible contradiction between Cardoso’s identity as both a Marxist sociologist and free-market president of Brazil.


Statement of the Problem

On both sides of the spectrum, many are confused with Cardoso’s stand as a social democratic free-market reformer and are troubled by his refusal to apologize for either his past or his present. Critics argue that President Cardoso offers a conception of economic and political development that is inconsistent with that which was set forth by Professor Cardoso earlier in his career: the developmental path Cardoso has put Brazil on as President is the very path Cardoso warned against as a professor. While Cardoso’s academic writings were filled with discussions of capitalism, class exploitation and a commitment to socialism, by contrast Cardoso’s presidential policies reflect a commitment to the expansion of entrepreneurship, free enterprise and integration of Brazil into the framework of global capitalism. Any discontinuities to be found in terms of these commitments have thus been perceived as either a betrayal of Cardoso’s academic position or his political stance.

To Cardoso’s credit, supporters argue that he is the first professional sociologist to become Head-of-State, and is the most distinguished Marxist scholar to lead a nation since the death of V.I.Lenin (Goertzel 1997). As a sociologist, they argue, Cardoso has shown a profound understanding of both history and class struggle, and has demonstrated this understanding as a respected statesman through administration policy geared toward development within the framework of globalization and reformist capitalism.

Research Question and Hypothesis

The research question is whether and to what extent continuity exists between what Fernando Henrique Cardoso published as a sociologist and what he accomplished as a senator and President of Brazil. My hypothesis is that the demands of politics in a postmodern world have forced Cardoso to give way to political expediency in betrayal of his Marxist sociological orientation.

Literature Review on Cardoso and Dependency Theory

Fernando Henrique Cardoso and dependency theory go hand-in-hand. Dependency, however, is a nebulous concept that has been used to lump many perspectives and writers together, even though their conceptions differ. The Dependency Movement: Scholarship and Politics in Development Studies by Robert Packenham (1992) summarizes the dependency perspective, particularly its origins, themes and variations. Packenham illustrates that the Marxist roots of dependency theory as a perspective were derived as a reaction against modernization theory. Packenham illustrates how the perspective evolved into its holistic and unorthodox forms.

Both holistic and unorthodox dependency are Marxist approaches concerned with the forces and relations of production applied to the development of the periphery. The unorthodox approach, however, stresses that dependency is mostly a sociopolitical phenomenon insofar as economic development will take different directions depending on the particular socio-historical and political context of a particular peripheral country or region. Cardoso is classified by Packenham as the primary unorthodox dependency theorist due to his understanding of sociopolitical phenomenon and emphasis on the dialectical aspect of historical materialism which realizes that at times nations must often embrace values and activities that can be at odds with Marxist premises and affirmations. For unorthodox thinkers, dependency and development can co-exist if the form of what Cardoso (1973) terms associated-dependent development.

T. dos Santos (1971), Andre Gunder Frank (1979) and Immanuel Wallerstein (1984), by contrast, represent the holistic approach, which presupposes development in the periphery will assume the course it took in the core. This approach emphasizes unequal exchange vis-à-vis colonialism and sees dependency and development as being mutually exclusive economic processes. Dependency necessarily leads to marginality, stagnation and the reproduction of underdevelopment.

Although Packenham’s book does enable one to come to an understanding about what dependency theory is, it also makes it clear that dependency theory as a concept is as complex to understand as is Cardoso himself. Although there is common ground to be shared among dependency theorists, any straightforward notion of dependency theory is an abstraction considering that many of the writers lumped together in dependency bibliographies could scarcely bear to sit together in the same conference room, so profound are their differences in understanding Latin America (dos Santos, as referenced in Packenham 1992:24-25).

Packenham criticizes Cardoso as being eclectic, ambiguous and contradictory, since he mixes Marxist elements with Weberian and other non-Marxists theoretical orientations and formulates interpretations that change depending on the emphasis and meaning attributed to the concepts used. Packenham states that many of the contradictions inherent in Cardoso’s unorthodox approach “are facilitated and complemented by a series of devices-- ambiguous words and phrases, nonparallel constructions, false opposites, nonsequiturs, polemical appeals, and so forth-- that obscure the contradictions and deflect attention onto other issues” (Packenham 1992:82). Some of this ambiguity may have arisen during the translation of Dependency and Development in Latin America to English, or may be explained by the fact that instead of writing in his native Portuguese, Cardoso wrote the book in Spanish, which he was just mastering at the time. At any rate, Cardoso’s supporters are much more numerous than his critics.

Black (1998) notes that both Cardoso’s evolution and the evolution of dependency ideas are analogous in several key ways. Both were born into a time of dynamic change in a Latin America that was rapidly modernizing and industrializing. Both were influenced by ideas from abroad, especially those that came out of Europe’s tumultuous experience with nationalism and Marxism. Like Cardoso, dependency was “absorbed abroad, extolled and applauded at home, critiqued everywhere, perceived, misperceived and polemicized” (Black 1998:37). For Black, since some writers, including Packenham, argue that Latin America today is more dependent on international capital and decisions made by institutions such as the IMF and World Bank than during the height of dependencia, the dependency school no longer holds advocative power and should be referred to in the past tense (Black 1998:37). Others argue that dependency theory remains alive and well, noting the vast literature produced on the subject every year and its continued broad international repercussions (dos Santos 1998).

For Cardoso, dependency theory was never a theory so much as simply a way of understanding the relationship between the productive forces of capitalism in the core and the class structure of a particular developing country in the periphery. Or rather, a framework for analyzing “situations of dependency,” which “are nothing more than the particular ways in which the impact of the international capitalist system whose dynamic centers are not in the third world are received through the internal political and class system of a specific peripheral country or region” (Larain 1989:159). In Latin America, the combined, three-way influence of the State, the industrial bourgeoisie and international capital has resulted in the region moving out of the stage of “import substitution” to what Cardoso terms “the internationalization of the domestic market” (Cardoso & Faletto 1979).

Cardoso himself, along with critics such as Packenham (1992) and supporters such as Goertzel (1999), stress the importance of his prior sociological work in fully understanding his position on dependency and development in Latin America. In an interview in the Folha de São Paulo, Cardoso claims that in order to understand Dependency and Development in Latin America, one must understand his preceding studies on slavery and the Brazilian entrepreneurs (Freire 1996:4). These interviews are useful to see how Cardoso understands his own work. Cardoso (2004) has continued to comment on dependency since he left office in his role as professor-at-large at Brown University. The Instituto Fernando Henrique Cardoso (IFHC) in São Paulo contains the most complete archive in the world of Cardoso’s academic work, documents and other materials related to Cardoso’s life as an intellectual and politician.

Cardoso’s dissertation on slavery (1962) and his work on industrial entrepreneurs (1965) preceded his dependency writings but were essential to their formation. Cardoso’s dissertation on capitalism and slavery in southern Brazil and his work on industrial entrepreneurs are elaborated on in Goertzel (1999) and Kahl (1976). Neither of these works has ever been translated in its entirety into English. Cardoso’s most recent book (2001a), Charting a New Course: the Politics of Globalization and Social Transformation, is to date the most complete work in English that contains selections of both Cardoso’s academic and political writings.

In his article, “Social Democracy Moves South,” Albert Hirschman notes the minimal attention that was given to the election of Cardoso in the United States and referred to it as a “point of light” in the hemisphere (1995:202). British sociologist Anthony Giddens (2000) labels the social democratic approach Cardoso identifies himself with the Third Way. Third Way politics represent a middle ground between unbridled neoliberalism (in the European, free-market sense of the term “liberal”) and communism. Social democratic parties are among the largest parties in most countries in Europe, and it may very well be that perhaps globally more people share the basic ideals of social democrats more than of any other political movement. The third way debate is being conducted by left-of-center parties and intellectuals in the context of a newly globalized society. Cardoso, Britain’s Tony Blair, Spain’s Felipe Gonzalez, and President of the European Commission Romand Prodi, all endorse the Third Way as a global attempt to apply progressive values of the left in new ways. Power (2001) comments on Cardoso’s Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) and likens the relationship between Cardoso’s approach to the Third Way to that of Tony Blair. For Blair’s New Labour party, the crucial ingredients of a third way political morality revolve around the establishment of community. As an alternative to the crude individualism of the Thatcherite entrepreneurial culture on one hand, and the “Old Labour” collectivism that squashes individual initiative and rights, on the other, community emerges as the organizational center of the state. “Community becomes the means with which to limit the blunt policy instruments and insensitivities of the state, and the neoliberal reliance on homo economicus, a soulless profit-maximizing individual existing in a society-less world” (Krieger 1999:144).

C. Wright Mills’ chapter on the social democrats in The Marxists (1963) is useful to situate Cardoso’s social democratic approach against the backdrop of history and other leftist approaches. Mills uses Karl Kautsky’s (1902) distinction between reform and revolution to eliminate some of the prejudice and ambiguity inherent in the concept of revolution for social democrats, which can be used to imply many things-- the least of which includes the use of force.

The contrast between reform and revolution does not entail the use of force in one case and not the other. Every juridical and political measure is a force measure representing the use of force by the State, but not every street fight or execution constitutes the essentials of revolution in contrast with reform (Mills 1960:159-160). Moreover, whereas some understand revolution meaning the force of barricades, guillotines, September massacres or a combination thereof, social democrats would seek to take the pain from the word and use it in the sense of great but imperceptible and peaceful transformations of society. For example, revolutions brought about by forces ranging from that of agriculture, internal combustion or information technology, to techniques of controlling formal organizations through bureaucracy, or of organizing political life through democracy. This distinction is important to make in light of Fernando Henrique Cardoso being called a reformer, and one who has played a key role in revolutions both violent and peaceful in nature.

Ted Goertzel’s (1999) biography of Cardoso and his supplement (2002) to it are key in terms of profiling Cardoso as an academic, but most of all as a politician. There are no other books in English that I have found which do this as comprehensively as Goertzel’s. Goertzel, a Brazilianist and sociologist at Rutgers University, maintains a website, which contains an excellent selection of articles, supplements, photographs and statistical information about the Cardoso and Lula presidencies. Statistical information compiled by Eduardo Graeff (2001) for use in a presentation Cardoso gave to congress before he left office called “Seven Years of the Real: Stability, Growth and National Development” (Cardoso 2001b), is instrumental in constructing Cardoso’s presidency and is available to anyone via Goertzel’s site. Also of interest is Goertzel’s (2004) summary of Carlos Michiles’ (2003) recent book on the similarities between Cardoso and German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. While no one claims that Cardoso and Habermas were significant influences on each other, they both came to similar conclusions about the indispensability of democracy and the necessity for non-violent social change through civil society and public debate. For Cardoso, Habermas is right to say that in any public debate, only the proposal supported by the best arguments should prevail (Cardoso 1996:18). Cardoso (1996) comments extensively on democracy and the importance of public debate in a speech he gave at Stanford University called “In Praise of the Art of Politics.”

For a specific outline of the Cardoso presidency see the work of Purcell & Roett (1997), which contains a selection of essays that address the economic, social and geopolitical challenges the Brazilian government faced. For a specific outline of Cardoso’s sociology, Joseph Kahl’s (1976) Three Latin American Sociologists devotes a chapter to Cardoso, which includes a discussion of his work on slavery, industrial entrepreneurs and dependency.

The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-85 by Thomas Skidmore (1988) is useful in understanding the dynamics of the most important post-war period for Brazil before the Cardoso presidency, the twenty-one year period of military dictatorship that began in 1964. Skidmore, who is perhaps the best-known Brazilianist, has been critical of both the Cardoso administration for spending too much time passing reelection legislation at the expense of social reform, and the Lula administration for trying to implement too many social reforms at once (Hollanda 2003). Peter Kingstone’s Crafting Coalitions for Reform (1999) is useful to understand the political changes Brazil underwent since the return to democracy in 1985.

Several books on Brazilian and French history were useful to understand the historical context in which Cardoso worked. For accounts of Brazilian history from 1500 to the end of the 20th century, see Levine (1999) and Fausto (1999). Few nations, however, better represent the changes experienced by humanity since the Second World War than France. Cardoso can be included in the list of great 20th centuries intellectuals who cite France as having had a major influence on their thought. For accounts of post-WWII French history see Gildea (2002) and Stovall (2002). For a comprehensive account of France during May of 1968, see Prelude to Revolution by Daniel Singer (2002). For an account of Cardoso’s personal involvement in the events that took place in France, see the interviews Cardoso gave to de Toledo (1998), where he describes what happened and reflects on a variety of associated subjects. Also, see earlier interviews in Cardoso (1983).

A personal interview was conducted with Dr. Otávio Dulci, a sociologist at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), who’s book demonstrates that the study of Brazilian political parties is indespensible when studyinig Brazilian politics (Dulci 1986). Dulci, like many other Brazilian sociologists, has known Cardoso personally for many years. Dulci shed light on the political folklore by noting Cardoso’s long history of involvement with the media. For Dulci, Cardoso’s “forget what I wrote” comment demonstrates Cardoso’s sense of humor. If it were made at all, Cardoso meant the comment as a simple piada, or joke in the well-known Brazilian cultural tradition of playfullness. “Forget what I wrote” is an example of how Cardoso liked to toy with the press from time to time (Dulci 2001). Dr. Riva de Paula Oliveira, formerly of the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (UFOP), and currently a researcher at Harvard Medical School, was also interviewed to gain first-hand insight on the problems and challenges faced by university professors in Brazil (Oliveira 2004).

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