Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to the Study of Culture in Brazil

By Fernando de Azevedo; William Rex Crawford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR .
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL EVOLUTION

The colonization of Brazil, its forms and objectives -- (a) The fixation of man on the land -- The feudal experience -- The shock of three races and cultures -- Colonial society -- The reign of sugar -- The splendor of rural life -- (b) The penetration and conquest of the land -- Internal migration and the entry into the back country -- The bandeiras -- Mass phenomena -- The dislocation of the frontier -- The reign of metals -- The formation of the mind and of the national unity -- (c) The independence of the land -- The patriarchal economic regime -- Nobility and rural aristocracy -- The bourgeoisie of the cities -- Individualism and the precursors of democratic ideology -- The second Empire and political unification -- Politics and romanticism -- The abolition of slavery -- (d) The democratization by land -- The persistence of the social and economic structure -- The Republic -- The regional spirit -- The federative system and political parties -- Political professionalism -- Immigration and the single-crop cultivation of coffee -- Small property cutting up the plantations -- The rise of industry -- The evolution of contemporary society.

IT MAY SEEM AUDACIOUS to attempt to reduce to a brief synthesis a picture of the origins and evolution of the forms of social and political structure which Brazilian society has assumed from the time it began to be formed in the first century and down to our days. But, difficult as a task of this kind may be, and although it is in its nature one always open to corrections as a consequence of later researches, the local studies and monographic investigations which have already been made permit us to bring together the elements at our disposal in order to obtain a broad vision of the whole. Moreover, if we consider the importance of the function which physical, demological, economic, and urban factors exercise in the process of social and political evolution, the major lines of this synthesis, so useful and in fact necessary to the study of our cultural evolution, already stand out with such clarity that it will not be necessary to do more than detach them from the facts studied and accompany them in their development and present them with as great precision, rigor, and detachment as possible. The difficulty of a synthesis, which is only the result of the documentation furnished by specialized monographs and analytical work, is not only the insufficiency of work of this order, of research and investigation, but the temptation to which so many are accustomed to yield, through taste or excessive care not to neglect any detail, embarrassing themselves with a multitude of "little facts." Now, whatever may be the determining role of the little facts, they should not make us forget general tendencies, explicable themselves by general causes. "To discern in the whole of historic events dominating general facts, which furnish as it were an armature or skeleton, to show how to these general facts of the first order there are subordinated others, and to go on thus until one arrives at the detailed facts which can offer a dramatic interest and pique our curiosity but not our philosophical curiosity" -- thus Cournot defined the object of his Considerations, which

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