In the late nineteenth century, Brazilian élites, worried about their country's future, agonized over what they considered to be an unhappy coexistence of two nations: an urbane, coastal civilization, deeply influenced by European culture and reason, and the vast rural culture of the hinterland, as well as the poor throughout society, considered atavistic, prone to superstition, and hopelessly lost. Euclydes da Cunha summarized this view in his magisterial Os Sertbes, published in 1901, and it survived for decades. Convinced that the Brazilian racial stock was eugenically inferior to that of North America and Western Europe, intellectuals warned that the Brazilian povo was not ready for democracy, and flirted during the 1930s with such ideologies as corporatism, fascism, and paternalistic, authoritarian populism as a solution for what they considered to be the inherent flaws in the national character, caused by a deficient mass population.
Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
Editores: Ori Preuss; Nahuel Ribke
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
Universidad de Tel Aviv, Ramat Aviv,
P.O.B. 39040 (69978), Israel.
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