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Frederick Douglass, one of the most prominent figures in African-American and United States history, was born a slave, but escaped to the North and became a well-known anti-slavery activist, orator, and author. In The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass, Nicholas Buccola provides an important and original argument about the ideas that animated this reformer-statesman. Beyond his role as an abolitionist, Buccola argues for the importance of understanding Douglass as a political thinker who provides deep insights into the immense challenge of achieving and maintaining the liberal promise of freedom.

Douglass, Buccola contends, shows us that the language of rights must be coupled with a robust understanding of social responsibility in order for liberal ideals to be realized. Access this eBook from one of our digital partners Table of Contents Introduction. Spragens, Jr. According to these political scientists, "stable and robust democracies" are "the historical result of two simultaneous and equally indispensable vectors: that of the continuous improvement of living conditions, reducing, as much as possible, income and wealth inequalities, on the one hand, and of persistent and progressive political-institutional action, on the other " LAMOUNIER, , p.

Lamounier thus emphasized the importance of "crafting, from which every political institution worthy of the name is a historically cumulative result" LAMOUNIER, , p. Although the autonomy of institutions was not absolute, there was no doubt "that their institutionalization is a key issue in the evolution of what we now understand as representative democracy" LAMOUNIER, , p. From this perspective, Lamounier once again condemned the Brazilian authoritarian tradition that resulted from three currents: positivism, Marxism, and culturalism.

Guided by the ideal of republican dictatorship, which echoed through the works of Alberto Torres, Oliveira Vianna, Francisco Campos and Azevedo Amaral, positivism underpinned authoritarianism in the first half of the century, later giving way to Soviet-inspired Marxism. The culturalism of the early days of social science had also contributed to authoritarianism by lending "a supposedly scientific legitimacy to an authoritarian project that was gradually fleshed out before gaining ascendancy with the Estado Novo" LAMOUNIER, , p.

Nothing could be more different from Ruy, with his liberal and progressive stance, open to the improvement of institutions through the incremental influence of social dynamics:. For Oliveira Vianna, the social and political ills of colonization were to be understood as 'culture', which, for him, was equivalent to destiny.

For Ruy Barbosa, on the contrary, they were the inevitable environment for political action and the raw material on which work on institutional construction would take place: a terribly adverse environment, no doubt, but not as adverse as when adding to it the definitive sacrifice of the freedom LAMOUNIER, , p.

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He had realized that "institutional construction was the alpha and omega" of democracy and, imbued with that certainty, decided the Republic should be civically shaken out of its lethargy when the regime accommodated itself "to very low standards of performance" LAMOUNIER, , pp. Barbosa's institutional imagination, expressed in the Constitution and his later struggle for the authenticity of the democratic regime, was linked to the growing political influence of progressive middle- class sectors, led by tribunes like himself, who were politicians, jurists and intellectuals: "There will always be deliberate action by individuals and groups with a view to the formation of democracy; is that crafting in which politicians, jurists and intellectuals normally have a predominant role, paving the way for the progressive political participation of the majority of citizens" LAMOUNIER, , p.

The middle class was considered by Lamounier to be a kind of universal class, that is, as the collective actor best identified with the ideals of democracy. For this reason, the status of hero of the middle class, not only did not remove from Barbosa the vocation of universality, it reinforced it. For all this, the alternative to authoritarianism proposed by Barbosa was the most correct one.

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It was based on a form of presidentialism similar to that of the United States, which maintained a rational and stable parliamentarism, as well as an autonomous judiciary, a vigorous federation and broad municipal autonomy: "The institutional foresight of Ruy Barbosa is far more adequate than that of his critics, if we evaluate it in terms of our political evolution throughout the whole century, and also in relation to what contemporary political science has been saying about the historical process of the development and consolidation of democracies" LAMOUNIER, , p.

Fifteen years after his essay on Ruy Barbosa, Lamounier published two books dedicated to discussing the relation and role of intellectuals in the production of thought: Tribunos, profetas e sacerdotes Tribunes, prophets and priests and Liberais e antiliberais Liberals and anti-liberals He believes that ideas matter and that intellectuals play an important role in influencing "the evolution of the political system in a liberal or anti-liberal direction" LAMOUNIER, , p. Based on this premise he constructed a typology of intellectuals who played key roles in the construction of ideologies and defense of certain regimes throughout the twentieth century.

The first was that of the 'tribune', who was driven by a desire to intervene in reality in the name of an ideal, acting in the defense of a group, person or institution, such as Emile Zola in the Dreyfuss affair LAMOUNIER, , p. The 'prophet', meanwhile, was a visionary bearing a message of salvation that pointed towards the redemption and transformation of men. The third type, the 'priest', was responsible for knowing and observing scriptures considered sacred, preserving the integrity and correction of orthodoxy.

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Carl Schmitt and Giovanni Gentile were the priests of fascist holism in Germany and Italy, respectively. Lenin was a prophet before the Russian Revolution and a priest after it. As can be seen, the tribune is presented as a positive type of intellectual, because he is committed to the defense of liberalism and, by extension, of democracy.

Meanwhile, the prophet and the priest are the negative, anti-liberal types because their dogmatism would lead them to arrogate to themselves the knowledge of the true identity of men and the meaning of their historical action. In short, the twentieth-century 'drama' had ended in the permanent conflict between the 'tribune', the liberal apostle of a 'common humanity', and 'priests' and 'prophets' representing authoritarian and totalitarian ideologies, who subordinated the individual to 'totalities' such as the nation, the people or the proletariat LAMOUNIER, , p.

By restating the dichotomy that characterized his classification of Brazilian thought, though here on a larger scale, Lamounier sought to narrow its positive pole, making liberalism, democracy and market inseparable: "The term liberalism is consubstantial with democracy; we can even say, with some redundancy, that it is the political theory of liberal, or representative, democracy" LAMOUNIER, , p. In his view, the liberal ideology was characterized by "the recognition of the public and the private as distinct and equally legitimate spheres — including the private economic sector and the great variety of associations subsumed within the notion of pluralism" LAMOUNIER, , p.

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  • In order to understand the dynamics of how such intellectuals have acted historically, Lamounier adopts a scheme that identifies the development of liberal democracy across three successive stages: the construction of the State, industrialization and thematization of democracy LAMOUNIER, , p. By shifting his typology to the examination of the intellectuals who have influenced Brazilian thought, instead of associating the process of national construction with the Empire, Lamounier takes as his starting point the First Republic, arguing that the Constitution "maintained the liberal spirit of the Monarchical Charter of " LAMOUNIER, , p.

    The very conception of instrumental authoritarianism destroyed the possibility of an autonomous organization of society. The second round between liberalism and authoritarianism occurred around the model of industrialization in the s. The new avatar of anti-liberalism was the national-developmentalist movement, which brought together remnants of Vargas-style fascism, communism, and integralism to advocate the "strong intervention of the State, both business and regulatory, in the economy" LAMOUNIER, , p.

    Putting an end to disputes over different possible models of modernization and democracy, the coup of had brought the intellectuals' focus back to the nature of the dictatorial regime, thereafter devoting itself to investigating how military government could act to promote the expansion of capitalism in the country. Driven by the spread of Marxism in academia, anti-liberal alternatives to democracy and the market returned to the scene, endangering the third stage of the development of democracy, which was that of its explicit thematization from the s onwards.

    Lamounier's concern with exorcising the historical tendency of the Brazilian intelligentsia towards anti-liberalism culminates in an effort to redeem the country's liberal tradition. The faith that intellectuals like Ruy Barbosa invested in representative institutions derived from a clear-headed perception that only the promotion of free expression of interests in both the market and society could promote Brazilian development in a positive direction.

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    The novelty here was the inclusion of a new exemplary liberal intellectual, Sergio Buarque de Holanda, whose work proved how far the Iberian origin of Brazilian society had produced enormous obstacles to the constitution of a "truly legal and impersonal state" LAMOUNIER, , p. Barbosa and Holanda served as models for all those who, against the authoritarian tendency inherited from colonization, sought to contribute to the construction of a truly democratic political culture in Brazil. Firstly, it made it a respectable object and discipline of study. By criticizing abstract and ethnocentric conceptions that restricted interest in political theory to that produced in the core countries, he highlighted the importance of studying intellectual history to understand the specific dynamics of late industrializing societies.

    He denounced the ethnocentric tendency of the latter's intellectuals in believing in the heuristic value of such theory, dismissing it as an ideological farce when compared to the supposed organicity and coherence operating in core countries. He described the typical mechanism via which they were produced, which, on the one hand, applied "the whole system of political and social concepts" to the study of "Brazilian history and society", while remaining "in tune with the "widest-ranging trends on the world stage" LAMOUNIER, , p.

    The study of Brazilian thought should understand how individuals or groups acted as agents, defined interests and projected themselves into new horizons of social coexistence. In this way, he revealed how intellectuals' ideological formulations invoked diverse visions of future, pointing to different alternatives for the process of capitalist modernization and the consolidation of democratic institutions in Brazil. But Lamounier also contributed to freeing the study of Brazilian thought from the economistic and sociological approached that dominated in academia, defending the relative autonomy of politics from the economy.

    He criticized contemporary Marxism's lack of sophistication, limited to the production of "schematic analyzes in which the agents of historical events appear as carriers of universal consciousness who, therefore, can be known in advance" and who, looking at Brazilian intellectuals, identified precisely a "lack of these universal contents" LAMOUNIER, , pp. Especially relevant was his concern with preventing a repetition, in political science, of the scientific rhetoric that in the case of sociology had caused a rupture with lines of thought that had preceded academic institutionalization.

    However, it is in the study of intellectual traditions that Lamounier's contribution can most clearly be seen: of having redeemed the study of the liberal tradition, which, since the s, had carried the stigma of alienation imbued by nationalist scholars, such as Oliveira Vianna, Guerreiro Ramos and Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos. He was the first political scientist to show that, for authors like Tavares Bastos, Ruy Barbosa, or Assis Brasil, liberalism's famous idealism functioned as a critical theory of reality, designed to model reality while departing from the ideal of freedom.

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    Liberal idealism, far from dispensing with realist diagnoses, provided its advocates with a rhetoric of indignation designed to mobilize public opinion through parliamentary, journalistic, or judicial platforms to move it towards freer and fairer standards of collective life. In late-industrializing societies, as was the case in Brazil in particular, and Latin America generally, it was strategic to resort to institutional engineering on a larger scale. This was a crucial instrument that would induce behavior change in the population towards supposedly more civilized standards, by instilling values proper to liberal and democratic political culture, such as a love of freedom, individual responsibility, work ethic, valuing civic life, etc.

    This framework did not indicate that liberals were alienated from Brazil's reality, including in terms of their knowledge of its political culture, which they understood as being backward.

    Rather, what distinguished them from the so-called 'authoritarians' was their greater optimism, stemming from a cosmopolitan philosophy of history as progress, which made them less pessimistic about the resilience of colonial heritage. However, not everything in Lamounier's interpretation can be assessed so positively. In particular, we can detect a certain analytical impoverishment in his more recent analyzes, characterized by his efforts to convince the public that liberalism is the only ideology that is both truly 'realist' and beneficial for Brazil.

    This loss of sophistication can be measured in the first place by a tendency to present an increasingly sharp — we might even say, Manichean — dichotomy between the positive pole of liberalism, associated with the market and democracy, and the negative pole of 'anti-liberalism' or 'authoritarianism', bringing together disparate ideologies such as socialism, fascism and conservatism. This dichotomy, we should note, is presented through explanatory schemas that are unconvincing, both historically and conceptually. Secondly, it is clear that his analysis has failed to keep up with developments in the literature on ideology and political thought in recent decades.

    This can be seen by a quick glance at the bibliographies of his latest books, which include few references published after He insists on exclusively discussing Santos, as if the current state of the field were still the same as thirty years ago. These issues explain a number of shortcomings in his analyses that have undermined claims made in his earlier works.

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    Here we will mention the most important of these. The first concerns a growing tendency to offer ethnocentric simplifications similar to those he had criticized in Linz's work in Although Lamounier stresses its importance, Brazilian thought tends to be presented as a mere echo of the ideologies produced elsewhere, and as no longer having the peculiarities he had previously implied. He treats human nature as if it were the same everywhere and the historical process a kind of universalistic evolutionism, ignoring the fact that the distinct perceptions that the intellectuals of backward countries hold about their place in the world also affects the ways in which they absorb foreign ideologies.

    Likewise, there is a problem of analytic bias. Since, according to the interpretation embraced by Lamounier, Brazil was born lopsided, patrimonialist and authoritarian due to Iberian colonization, the only ideology that could be of any benefit to it is liberalism, whose ideals and institutions have the power to embed the market and representative democratic institutions. In sum, Lamounier's analyses as a student of Brazilian political thought became increasingly consistent with those formulated by the liberal authors he studied, as if the subject of this knowledge were dissolved into its object.

    Another negative point lies in the desire to present liberalism as the only true and desirable ideology, presenting all others as built around obscurantist ideals.