“Is Brazil Sliding Toward the Extreme Left? – Notes on the Land Reform Program in South America’s Largest and Most Populous Country”, Carlos Patricio del Campo, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 1986, pages 15-32 – www.tfp.org)
According to a simplistic and biased notion widely disseminated in North America and Europe, the great Brazilian cities are enormous slums —or favelas (1) — where oppressed, revolted mestizo workers live in misery. Here and there, “archipelagos” of sumptuous palaces, hotels and places of amusement emerge to dot this sea of slums. The few bourgeois neighborhoods are scandalously opulent, while the neighborhoods of the enormous bulk of the population are scandalously wretched.
According to this conception, the situation of the field hands, and especially that of the so-called bóias frias (cold vittles) (2), is supposedly analogous and even worse.
This immense imbalance, the biased rumors say, creates the ideal conditions for a communist revolution.
And therefore, these rumors conclude, there cannot be any serious anticommunism that does not recommend the immediate modification of this explosive state of affairs.
Furthermore, such a danger cannot be avoided definitively by means of mere police repression of communist propaganda, nor by anticommunist ideological propaganda. For an anticommunism that is a mere police action produces short-term and partial results since it attacks the evil in its effect, which is the social revolution, and not in its causes, which are moral corruption and misery. And without denying that police repression has its place in the prevention and repression of terrorism, guerrilla activity, rural and urban agitation, and social revolution, it is patent that, by itself, it does not bring a final solution to any problem.
A similar evaluation is made of the efficacy of anticommunist ideological polemics, whether it be a question of opposing economic, philosophical, religious or political currents.
Such polemics could immunize some people from among the more cultured classes against communist propaganda. Here, it has a role to fulfill. This role is quite important in Latin America, especially in regard to the antagonism between Catholics of certain veins of “liberation theology” inclined toward communism, and Catholic anticommunists like those who make up the TFP.
Nevertheless, they say that, by itself, it would only have a partial efficacy in anticommunist action.
Because—to continue to speak in accordance with these tendentious rumors—the cause of the crisis does not lie with the educated minority, whom polemics can influence, but in the revolt of the immense majority of the population, which is supposedly made up of starving people, be they slum dwellers or rural workers.
Consequently, still in accordance with the tendentious panorama expounded here, in order to thin down the ranks of the communist parties and groups, and to dismantle them, it would be indispensable—and sufficient—to bring this general misery to an end. Wherever it exists, the social question allegedly is above all a “problem of empty stomachs.” And there would only be a solution to the degree that the “problem of empty stomachs” were resolved.
This viewpoint should naturally lead an analytical observer to inquire what might be the real cause of so much misery. The answer is supposedly very clear: It is the excessive concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the consequent poverty in which the rest live.
And what is the cause of this imbalance? This also is supposedly very clear: the present socioeconomic structures, whereby “the rich become richer, and the poor, poorer.”
Consequently, the great policy that an enlightened anticommunism ought to desire for Latin America would essentially consist of a reform of the existing social structures. Such reform should entail the redistribution of wealth so as to drastically remedy the appalling disparities and prevent their reappearance.
In practical terms, three reforms should be undertaken as soon as possible:
- Land reform, that is, the elimination of large and medium properties, of the system of wage compensation, and of sharecropping. This would have as a corollary the elevation of the manual laborer to the condition of independent tiller of a single family supporting tract or possibly even the adoption of radical forms of collective property (assentamentos, “rural communities,” etc.), as proposed in Brazil’s current land reform program.
- Urban reform. Initially, this would entail no less than a virtual transfer of urban real estate from thelessors to the lessees. This first step would in no way forestall more drastic, ulterior measures.
- Industrial or commercial business reform, which would require the employees’ mandatory participation in the business’ management, profits and even ownership. This participation would result in the elimination or marginalization of the individual proprietor in the business (3).
* * *
Even a fleeting consideration of the foregoing inevitably gives rise to some questions:
– How, precisely, would this reformed socioeconomic structure differ from the communist regime that many naïve people claim it would avert?
– Even if there were some difference between this model and communism, would this reform really prevent communism? Or would it rather lead to a situation so similar to communism that it would be tantamount to a communist victory?
– Once implemented, could this regime be prevented from bearing the same fruits in Brazil, as well as in Latin America in general, as it does in unfortunate Russia? Those fruits have reduced Russia to a state of miserable slavery that Cardinal Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, labeled “the shame of our time” (4).
In this regard, it is important to note that the local communist parties ardently advocate the application of these reforms throughout Latin America.
Even the communist press of Moscow itself has shown signs of its commitment to the realization of structural reforms in Brazil. The following TASS release, published on the first page of Pravda, is an example of this:
“Rio de Janeiro—A meeting of the cadre of the PCB [Brazilian Communist party] has just been held in this city. The PCB has only been legal for an insignificant period of its more than 60 years of existence. After the revolution of 1964, it was driven underground. The country sees this first legal meeting of the party leadership as a milestone in the life of Brazilian communists.
“The document drawn up at the meeting stresses that the communists consider ensuring the unity of all the country’s progressive forces a fundamental task.
“The document states that the PC at present highly recommends stepping up the fight against inflation, the implementation of land reform, the stabilization of wages, the right to strike, greater investment in state enterprises, tax reform and other socioeconomic measures that are in the interest of the working masses” (5).
All of these reforms are part of a move, obviously carefully formulated by experts, that follows the general line of achieving the latest goals sought by international communism.
* * *
The capital question that comes to mind after being presented with this pessimistic picture of the socioeconomic situation of the Brazilian population is whether the picture is objective. Are the rich and well-to-do so few? Are the poor so overwhelmingly numerous? Is their misery so dismal?
The only possible answer one can make to this question is a flat denial.
An objective clarification of the facts on this matter is undoubtedly of the utmost importance, for an erroneous conception of Brazil’s socioeconomic condition is widely held by large noncommunist sectors of American and European public opinion. This false conception has also gained ground in certain unconditionally anticapitalist ambiences left over from Nazism and Fascism. And it has already been introduced into genuinely anticommunist but uninformed sectors as well.
So, it is not surprising that, on the basis of this deformed vision of what Brazilian reality is, even authentic anticommunists may be led to adopt a concessive and ineffectual style of anticommunism, that of a dialectic partner, and not an antagonistic adversary of communism—a “fellow traveler” and not an opponent. In other words, these naïve anticommunists are led to practice exactly the style of anticommunism that the communists desire!
This tendentious visualization of the Brazilian socioeconomic situation is in fact a mere myth.
Lamentably, this myth finds a growing acceptance here and there in the organs of the center and center-left media infiltrated by procommunist elements. Through this means, it becomes credible to some sectors of the public despite its patent lack of support in reality.
And this is understandable.
Since Brazil has about 135 million inhabitants scattered over more than 3.2 million square miles (8.5 million square kilometers), it is difficult for all Brazilians to know every aspect of their country. Moreover, the hustle and bustle of the big cities leaves few people the time for a careful reading of the major newspapers, let alone time for a careful, leisurely examination of conditions in the slums and rural areas.
At times this leads the more credulous to readily accept the myth of a misery existing in more remote areas of their own states (and a fortiori in other areas of the country) as reported in certain center and center-left media and loudly proclaimed by communist propaganda.
Repeated insistently, such a portrayal can have a real persuasive power over the human mind, even when unaccompanied by serious proofs. Napoleon used to say that “repetition is the best rhetorical device.” And already before him, Voltaire used to recommend with greater talent and even more cynicism: “Lie, lie. Something will always stick.”
This reminds me of an experience I had in Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul.
It happened in the 1960s. I was engaged heart and soul in the campaign against the land reform demanded by the leftists and then-President João Goulart.
One of the richest and most important rural leaders of this great southern state came to visit me at my hotel. My objective during the visit was to move this large landowner to join the effort against land reform, which was already beginning to take shape in his state. However, none of my arguments could prevail over his apathy. At a certain point, this latifundiários explained himself: “Professor, don’t worry about land reform. As you rightly affirm, it is certainly inappropriate for Brazil. However, I know that the federal government is only approving it for Pernambuco. In other words, it is proposed for Brazil as a whole, but once the situation in that state is straightened out, no one will speak of land reform any more.”
This rural leader from Rio Grande do Sul confided this political insight to me, knowing that I was born and resided in São Paulo, also a southern state, far from Pernambuco. Little did he know that I am relatively well acquainted with what is happening in the great northeastern state of Pernambuco, whence my father came and where, in addition to a whole array of relatives, I have cherished friends. I therefore had trustworthy information to refute the concept that this southern latifundiário had formulated of the socioeconomic situation of the Brazilian Northeast as a basis for his thinking.
I thought to myself: “No doubt there will be some large Pernambucan landowner in Recife like this one from Rio Grande do Sul who, in order to dissuade me from fighting against land reform, will tell me the same story but referring it to Rio Grande do Sul . . . And he in his turn will present me a frightful picture of the socioeconomic reality on the Pampas.”
These considerations highlight the importance of refuting the myth of Brazilian misery, which is presented as sufficient grounds not only for land reform, but also for the other structural reforms demanded by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) as well as by the communist parties and political corpuscles.
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The comparison of the main Brazilian cities to seas of misery dotted with a few “archipelagos” of luxury clashes with the obvious truth. It can only be the result of irresponsibly unilateral documentaries or of “chaperoned” visits led by guides who endeavor to show tourists and socioeconomic researchers only one side of the truth. While these large cities can be aptly compared to seas, they cannot be termed “seas of misery.”
In fact, the greater part of each of these cities is made up of upper- and middle-class neighborhoods, as well as lower- and working-class neighborhoods whose inhabitants have sufficient, and often even ample, means of existence.
Despite the outward appearances peculiar to the slums, even there not all is poverty. Their appearances are more a reflection of a common indifference to the comfort and decoration of their own dwellings that some people in warm climates have, in contrast to the attitude of people who live in areas with four seasons and who need a warm, well-protected house because of the long hours they spend indoors during the cold winters. A visitor to these shanties will find in most cases a certain lack of concern for the appearance of the habitation, but, at the same time, significant traces of comfort, as in many cases, running water and electricity, very modern sound equipment, color TVs, refrigerators and gas stoves. In many cases, he will see a car belonging to the head of the household parked in front of the door.
Incidentally, it must be added that the slums are not so numerous or extensive as a certain propaganda would have us believe. In fact, it could be said that they constitute islands of scarcity in the veritable seas of sufficiency and even abundance that are the megalopolises of today’s Brazil.
An analogous observation could be made about the conditions of the manual agricultural laborer. When working regularly on the farms, these people usually live in “colonies,” a grouping of generally spacious and clean houses, many with all the modern conveniences, built at the landowner’s expense right on the property. The landowner also usually puts some areas of the farm at the workers’ disposal, where they may grow crops or raise animals for their own consumption or even for sale.
In the case of the bóias frias, it is true that they have no stable residence or social security, and work—in those intermittent periods when they do work—more hours a day than the regular employees. But it is also true that the wages they receive compensate generously for these inconveniences as they are considerably higher than those received by regular workers.
Moreover, because of their peculiar way of being, certain Brazilians from the countryside, who have a strong dose of Indian blood in their veins, prefer this almost nomadic life to a stable job on a farm.
Doubtless, there are also pockets of real misery that vary in size from one city, or rural area, to another. But they are not of such proportions that they, by themselves, make a social revolution probable.
In clarifying this misleading picture—the pretense for the land reformers’ campaign—we are not writing off the need for swift and efficient measures to better the lot of the truly needy among the urban or rural working class.
Rather, what we aim to counter is a warped, revolutionary view of reality that was forged specifically to bring about in Brazil a class struggle of unpredictable proportions that will resolve nothing but, on the contrary, will make everything worse.
There is no single cause, but many, for the existing pockets of misery, and the present socioeconomic structure is not one of them. Moreover, a careful, impartial analysis of the Brazilian reality cuts the ground from under the Marxist slogan that in the present Brazilian socioeconomic system “the rich become richer, and the poor, poorer.”
So, the problem of these pockets of poverty can be resolved without any reform of the country’s socioeconomic structures.
In the specific case of the countryside, there is no reason to change the present system of landownership, where large, medium and small properties tranquilly coexist. The large properties, which are a particularly characteristic phenomenon of the agricultural frontier, normally tend to break up as the frontier recedes from them during the excellent process of agricultural expansion. So also, new resources (roads, commercial centers, etc.) spring up, facilitating the establishment and survival of small properties.
The greatest imbalance in landownership in Brazil lies in the fact that the government owns at least 864 million acres of land (350 mil- lion hectares). These unoccupied government lands constitute the greatest unexploited agricultural area in the world (7). The demographic surplus of certain regions of our agricultural zones should be directed to this fabulously large latifundio by means of a well- planned colonization policy. In this way, these unoccupied government lands would gradually become private property as the agricultural frontier of the country encompassed them too.
Furthermore, does a mere reform of structures, with its consequent redistribution of wealth, remedy hunger and destitution? Or does it rather have a negative consequence on production, thus only worsening the problems it is meant to resolve? These are questions one should ask those who, panicking at the sight of the mythical figure of the revolted famished masses, imagine that communism can be avoided by the establishment of a regime that, in actuality, possesses all, or very nearly all, the characteristics of a communist regime.
Some will answer these questions, which the notorious and even scandalous failure of socialist and communist regimes force on us, by stating that even if redistribution does not diminish hunger, at least it makes revolt impossible. Because in the reformed structures, the poor, even the famished, will no longer have a rich class to rise up against, and revolt is precisely the most favorable environment for the spreading of communist propaganda, they say.
Given its utopian nature, this consideration lacks substance. It is founded on the false premise that it is possible to establish a perfectly egalitarian society, when in truth such a society would run counter to the free nature of man, who tends to develop his potentialities and, consequently, to differentiate himself from his fellow man. Complete equality would be impossible even under an iron-fisted dictatorship. In communist countries, which decades ago tried to establish social equality, what really exists is an abysmal and cruel class differentiation where a very few enjoy privileges while the rest of the population lives in the most complete misery.
Let us make here an observation of a doctrinal nature.
Complete equality, besides being unattainable, is not even desirable because, contrary to what the egalitarians imagine, it would constitute a grave injustice.
It would be unjust to impose equality in a universe wherein God, for the highest of reasons, created an order of things where all beings are unequal—including, and principally, man (8).
According to Saint Thomas’ teaching, the diversity of creatures and their harmonious hierarchical gradation in themselves constitute a good because they permit God’s perfections to shine forth even more in creation as a whole (9). For this reason, in a world where all creatures were equal, the likeness between creature and Creator would have been eliminated to the greatest possible degree.
So, justice lies in inequality.
But one must not conclude from this that the greater the inequality, the more perfect the justice. For God did not create terrifying and monstrous inequalities, but rather inequalities proportional to the nature and the good of each being and proper to the general ordering of creation.
Also, one should not conclude from this that inequality is always and necessarily a good.
All men are equal in their nature; they are different only in their accidents. The rights of men stemming from the simple fact of being men (such as the right to life, to personal honor, to conditions sufficient. for a dignified existence, to work, to acquire property, etc.) are the same for everyone. And the inequalities that attempt against these rights must be considered contrary to the natural order established by God. However, all accidental inequalities in keeping with these limits, such as those coming from virtue, talent, strength, capacity to work, beauty, family, education, tradition, and so on, are just and in accordance with the natural order.
Having concluded this doctrinal observation, it is worthwhile to emphasize furthermore that it is by no means a sure thing that the psychological route of the famished poor will inevitably lead to the revolt that the reformists brandish like some invincible scarecrow in order to destroy certain landowners’ will to resist.
It is not true that revolt can spring up only among the famished and the poor. Nor is it true that hunger and misery necessarily produce revolt.
On one hand, there are several reasons—not all of which concern material possessions—why the existence of inequalities alone, even in the absence of poverty, can give rise to revolt. For instance, the cravings of self-love and pride can provoke envy, which, in turn, easily degenerates into revolt. For example, it was not for economic motives that at the very beginning of history Cain killed Abel, nor was it for such motives that toward the end of the 18th century Philippe Egalité revolted against his cousin Louis XVI. Envy so easily leads to revolt that it is a sentiment systematically exploited by demagogues striving to lead hungry masses into social revolution. They would not need to do this if hunger in itself were a sufficient factor to bring about social upheaval.
On the other hand, hunger alone—reflected not only in lack of foodstuffs, but also in the difficulties in obtaining them, such as waiting in line, rationing, and the like—may not even constitute a factor for revolt. Indeed, it is not rare for the masses to gradually and inadvertently become inured to hunger. And what goes unnoticed does not rile people up.
Famished populations can also be reduced to silence and inertia through terror of police repression. In this case, hunger can even be utilized by those in power as a means to break the spirit of certain populations and thus prevent possible revolutionary outbreaks. This is what one makes out in some countries behind the Iron Curtain.
So there is no reason to see an automatic cause-effect relationship between hunger and revolt. Whoever sees such a relationship shows that his vision of the psychological reactions of men as well as of multitudes is simplistic and very insufficient, to say the least.
* * *
Certain aspects of Brazilian reality, usually underestimated by leftist propaganda, must, nevertheless, be clearly understood by anyone who wants to grasp what the real communist danger in present day Brazil actually is and how a genuinely efficacious anticommunism in this country ought to be.
Furthermore, one must not consider communist agitation in Brazil as a mere resultant of causes generated solely by the national situation. To a considerable extent, this agitation also results from the propaganda, psychological warfare and terrorist activities that international communism directs from Moscow, Havana and other centers. This action aims at transforming Brazil and the rest of Latin America into a group of soviet-style socialist republics under the rod of Soviet Russia’s command.
Furthermore, the scope of communist propaganda extends beyond the multitudes. It is also directed at influential sectors of the existing socioeconomic structure, where it finds and places recruits in key posts so that this very structure may be simultaneously misinformed, led to the adoption of a defeatist policy and, finally, betrayed from top to bottom and from inside out by “useful innocents,” “fellow travelers” and opportunists of all sorts.
The agencies responsible for national security cannot stand idle in face of this action of international communism.
It goes without saying that to be efficient, the action of these agencies need not be arbitrary, let alone cruel. The only effect of cruelty and arbitrariness—which are intrinsically evil—is to provide communist propaganda with pretexts to attack, disregard and, finally, render almost impossible the defense of national security, which is intrinsically good.
Another element that should be kept in mind is the conspicuously small impact that openly communist propaganda has on the Brazilian population.
During most of the period of the military governments, the main target of repression was violent, terrorist communism, which was organized by the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B).
The communists who engaged only in propaganda activities were allowed a considerable margin of liberty. They were usually oriented by the clandestine Brazilian Communist party (PCB), which preferred ideological and peaceful methods of action. This explains the large-scale infiltration of young communists into university and high school faculties, the seminaries and the media, all of which took place freely under the military regime.
Under that regime, bookstores specializing in the sale of a broad cross section of communist books and magazines also functioned freely in the country. Much of this literature had been translated from other languages and was offered at such low prices that one perceived covert financing for its publication.
During the period when the military regime permitted open propaganda for the free action of all kinds of political parties, both the communists of the PCB as well as those of the PC do B were being presented to the public as self-sacrificing and idealistic citizens. The terrorists were sometimes even presented as martyrs!
This led to the formation of a movement of opinion favorable to amnesty for political crimes, liberty for political prisoners, and the legal and ostensive regrouping of both communist parties. This movement only achieved success because it disguised its communist ideological origin, and because of the massive and continuous support given to it by certain macrocapitalist sections of the media.
Yet, once all this had been obtained, and the leaders of the PC do B had been freed and the greatest freedom had been given to the communists to gather, organize and set out for action, what was the popular influx into the ranks of the communists? Ridiculously small.
For example, on March 23-24, 1985, the PCB and the PC do B held separate events in São Paulo and other state capitals of Brazil to commemorate the 63d anniversary of the foundation of the first Brazilian communist party.
In Agua Funda Park, made available by the secretary of agriculture of the state of São Paulo, the PCB festival “included artists’ performances, displays, debates and awards, all done in a bazaar-like atmosphere. The attendance of the two days totaled 5,000 people” (10). In passing, let it be said that the displays featured books of propaganda coming from Russia, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and other communist countries.
The PC do B’s event took place in the Gymnasium of Pacaembu on March 24 and was attended by Vice-governor Orestes Quércia, State Secretaries Almino Affonso, José Serra and Caio Pompeu de Toledo, and Mayor Mario Covas. The public was mostly made up of slum dwellers and other people of humble stock, herded and transported to the Gymnasium in 80 buses of the Municipal Company of Collective Transport (CMTC), the city’s own bus company. The greatest concentration of people—around 2,500—occurred at 3:00 p.m. and gradually diminished during the four-and-a-half-hour musical show that preceded the actual meeting. The public seemed to be more interested in a soccer game being played in the Municipal Stadium next door. When the meeting itself began, there remained only some 1,500 people, whom a claque of about 300 hard-core members of the PC do B unsuccessfully tried to animate (11).
Two days later, the legislative assembly of São Paulo promoted an extraordinary session of support for the legalization of the PC do B, at which 250 supporters of the party appeared! (12)
It is most apropos to also mention the failure of the latest strike of the São Paulo metalworkers, in April 1985. Without passing judgment on the precise ideological position of all its mentors, it nonetheless remains a fact that the strike’s success was ardently desired by the communists. And had they been strong enough, they would certainly have taken things to a successful conclusion. Afterward, according to their well-known salami tactics, the next step would have been to decide whether or not to maintain as apparent leaders of the strikers’ movement those noncommunist sympathizers who had provided the strike’s initial impulse.
Since the greatest industrial and worker concentration of South America is in São Paulo, the failure of the strike shows that the ideal breeding grounds for an explosive communist revolution is not in Brazil.
In order to hide this reality, a certain number of Red activists generally show up with their typical banners at public demonstrations of noncommunist groups. They thus try to give the impression that they form a prestigious auxiliary force. But this bluff fools no one.
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At this point one could ask: If communist influence over the masses is so minute, why should we fear the communist danger in Brazil? Does such a danger really exist, or is it just a chimera?
The communist danger does exist, especially in its diffusion in religious guise by followers of certain currents of the so-called liberation theology.
The true scope of this danger can be fully grasped only by he who considers the truly unparalleled influence that the Catholic Church now has and has always had in Brazil and in all of Spanish America since the time of the Discoveries.
For the reader to have an idea of this influence, specifically in Brazil, let him imagine a hypothetical coalition between the three branches of government (the executive, legislative and judicial) and the mass media, rightly called “the fourth branch,” all aligned against the Catholic Church.
Despite the enormous potential influence of these four branches over public opinion, such an anti-Catholic coalition could make only insignificant inroads in swaying the public opinion of South American countries.
The several times it was tried, such a coalition not only gained nothing, but was even counterproductive. Such was the case in Brazil at the time of the Religious Question (1872-75), when the bishops of Olinda and Pará, with the approval of almost the whole Brazilian episcopate, fought against imperial regalism by publishing a papal document that the emperor claimed the right to silence in Brazil. This confrontation, in which the spiritual power came out victorious, furthermore brought about, as is generally known, a true revival of religion in our country.
This brings us to the conclusion that, in Brazil as, by the way, in all the South American countries, there are not only three official branches of government and one extraofficial fourth branch. The facts demonstrate that the bishops’ conferences constitute a veritable fifth branch (13). For example, in Brazil, no leftist or centrist partisan current (there is no rightist party at all) has an impact comparable to that of the CNBB. This becomes evident when one observes that it is the great promoter of land reform and urban reform, awaiting the day when it will act in favor of business reform. None of these reforms would be possible without the support of the bishops’ organization.
The most practical way for communism to make itself master of the country is to conquer for its adepts, sympathizers and “useful innocents” positions exercising magisterial and command functions inside this fifth branch and thus make it an instrument for communist propaganda. Consequently, the best form of anticommunist action is to obstruct this tactic of infiltration.
The doctrinal debate for or against communism waged in Catholic circles is, therefore, of capital importance in this fray between communism and anticommunism.
Mere philosophical, sociological or even economic controversies regarding communism and capitalism, though undeniably far-reaching in Brazil, cannot be compared to the public impact of procommunist and anticommunist controversy within Catholic circles.
In Brazil, this controversy has two poles. On one side are those who adhere to a certain “liberation theology”—these are openly esteemed by the CNBB (acting through the Basic Christian Communities [BCCs]). And on the other side is the TFP.
Little by little, as this so decisive controversy goes on, one side or the other gains the sympathy and even the support of the whole Brazilian nation, whose great majority was until recently somewhat indifferent to problems of public life.
However, it would be false to imagine that the petty bourgeoisie and the working class are opting for the communist side, and the high and middle bourgeoisie for the anticommunist side.
On the contrary, the advanced left (when it is not communism properly so called) is making its greatest conquests mainly in the highest bourgeoisie and to a considerable although lesser degree in the middle bourgeoisie; while the layers most resistant to the seductions and pressures of the left are found among the petty bourgeoisie and the working class.
This was demonstrated by the results of the November 1985 municipal elections in the city of São Paulo, capital of the state of São Paulo. Senator Fernando Henrique Cardoso ran for mayor, and with the open support of communists and socialists, as well as the “Catholic left,” he obtained a definite majority of votes in the middle and upper bourgeois neighborhoods. But the opposing candidate Jânio Quadros, who advocated a certain center-right stance, won the elections by the votes he secured from the petty bourgeois and working-class neighborhoods.
In other words, it is obvious that the problem of communism versus anticommunism in Brazil is not primarily one of class struggle. On the contrary, it is above all an ideological fight. However much this affirmation may surprise foreign observers or students of our affairs, it is nevertheless true. The facts are there to prove it.
The Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) is a civic organization drawing its inspiration from the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church. It specializes in carrying out a peaceful, ideological action of an anticommunist character mainly in Catholic circles.
An enormous list of undertakings carried out in the course of the two and a half decades of this action is readily accessible in the book Tradition Family Property: Half a Century of Epic Anticommunism (14). This work tells the story of the principal campaigns carried out by the organization as well as the assiduous publicity uproars that were organized against it up to 1980.
The autonomous sister TFPs or TFP bureaus, in 21 other countries of the Americas, Europe, Australia and Africa, are also brilliantly carrying on an analogous ideological action in the ambits of their respective countries.
The intellectual work of the several TFPs is quite ample and includes more than 30 published books, besides large collections of newspapers, magazines, position papers, press releases and so on.
This voluminous intellectual work takes in important aspects of the religious, philosophical and historical panorama. However, it would be obviously incomplete if it did not also include important studies of the socioeconomic order encompassing the full scope demanded by the nature of the subject.
Mr. Carlos Patricio del Campo, who has a bachelor’s degree in agronomic engineering from the Catholic University of Chile and a master of science in agricultural economics from the University of California in Berkeley, has systematically coordinated these studies since 1980.
In the present work, he examines a specific angle of great importance in the controversy spreading throughout Brazil regarding President José Sarney’s implementation of the Land Statute and of the National Plan for Land Reform (PNRA).
In this study, Mr. del Campo effectively dismantles, through sound documentation, the myth of generalized misery in Brazil’s rural areas and analyzes the role of agriculture in the national economy. From it, one can conclude that the present agrarian structure provides the activities in the fields with the necessary conditions to yield a balanced result. But he also adds that this result could be much better if our economic policy as a whole had not, for so long, gravely and systematically penalized rural activities in favor of an industrialization to a considerable degree immature, artificial and excessively hasty, whose harmful fruits he enumerates and analyzes with much insight.
Among the array of bad effects on rural activities that the aforementioned industrial surge produced, the author mentions the disinterest of the leaders of our public and private economy in the rich advantages that the national economy could derive from a full exploitation of the inestimable potential of our waterways.
The solid, documented work of Mr. del Campo shows, with unmistakable clarity, the inadequacy of the plan for drastic dismemberment of private lands, with whose effects the Brazilian government will have to deal from now on. And it will have to take on that problem at a time when it is already so deeply indebted in the internal as well as the external market and weighed down even farther with the ruinous socialization of a considerable part of the national industrial sector (carried out especially in the Geisel government).
So the present economic policy, instead of taking advantage of the unexploited or practically unexploited potentialities of an immense ensemble of empty and unused government land (the largest reserve of unexploited land in the world), is obsessively determined to implement a land reform that will ruin large, medium and small rural proprietors and to establish, under the euphemism of assentados (“settled ones”), a class of muzhiks, with titles to mere possession of glebes. They really will be muzhiks, because they will be forbidden to expand their full working capacity in rural activities, since it will be extremely difficult for an assentado to rise to the condition of proprietor (15). And the running of the agricultural life of the country will be left substantially in the hands of government departments and in those of a coop system that in the final analysis will be run by the state (16).
What a difference between this new situation and that of countless tenant farmers—Brazilian or immigrant—who over the last 100 years were able to advance from wage earners to sharecroppers or even small landowners! They or their descendants later rose to the condition of medium or even large landowners.
Against the backdrop of this broad picture, Mr. Carlos Patricio del Campo examines in this book several aspects of the problem of rural landownership that were awaiting the talent and scientific rigor of his analysis to make them widely known. This work comes to light at a most opportune moment (17).
The TFP is circulating this work without fear of rebuttals. Rather it considers more probable that the work will not move the apologists of land reform to break the cautious silence with which they have received the previous publications of the TFP on the matter.
Yes, theirs is a cautious silence that begets no religious, philosophical, historical or socioeconomic argument. A silence that is only broken from time to time by blasts of gratuitous and frustrated defamation through furious nationwide media uproars.
As if disinforming and insulting were a valid means of reply!
PLINIO CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA
- The wordfavelasis used to designate conglomerates of precariously constructed urban habitations thrown together in a disorderly, although not infrequently picturesque, way on empty lots or on not too carefully laid out lots without regard to the municipal norms for street layout and construction. As a consequence of these factors the installation of public services in the favelas encounters many difficulties and most of the time is done in an inadequate way. The favelas exist conspicuously in the largest state capitals of Brazil, but their true physiognomy as well as the socioeconomic profile of the populations that inhabit them have been very much disfigured by propaganda, which sometimes exaggerates their picturesque character beyond credibility for the effects of tourism, and sometimes exaggerates their misery for the effects of social revolution.
- Bóia-fria(bóia being a popular term for food) is a nickname for the field hand who does not work on the farm on a permanent basis, but only during the sea- sons when there is a greater need of man power. The number of bóias-frias has increased mainly for two reasons. First, because of the onerous labor legislation, the farmer prefers to hire seasonal workers; and second, the introduction of mechanization and monoculture in several regions of the country has made the hiring of hands more of a seasonal need, thus favoring the multiplication of the bóia-fria.
- Meeting inItaici(São Paulo) in 1980, the 18th General Assembly of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) issued a document titled “The Church and Problems of the Land,” in which it vainly called upon the people to press for a land reform program of a socialist and confiscatory character. In passing but no uncertain terms, it also proposed a change in the system of urban property ownership. On March 30, 1980, the first issue of The Voice of Unity, the official organ of the Brazilian Communist party, carried an open praise of the document released by the CNBB:
“The document The Church and Problems of the Land‘ . . . can be considered a milestone among the efforts the CNBB has devoted to the land problem for about 28 years, not only in the field of theoretical studies, but also in that of practical action through its pastoral policy on landownership. The importance of the document is above all due to its unequivocally critical stand on both the capitalist regime and the model of economic development imposed on the country by the several military governments. In this light, the margin by which the document was approved –172 votes in favor, 4 against, and 4 abstentions—takes on a special meaning, for never before had so many votes in favor of progressive positions been obtained within the CNBB.”
And it concludes: “By clearly condemning capitalism and the present economic model and by declaring itself in favor of an authentic land reform, the 18th General Assembly of the CNBB gave a valuable contribution to what the Itaici document itself calls `the building of the new man, the foundation of a new society.’ “
A detailed analysis of “The Church and Problems of the Land” can be found in I Am a Catholic: Can 1Oppose Land Reform? by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and Carlos Patricio del Campo, Editora Vera Cruz, São Paulo, 1981.
The CNBB also demands global changes in the present sociopolitical/socioeconomic model in its document “Urban Land and Pastoral Action” (CNBB Documents Collection, no. 23, Edições Paulinas, São Paulo, 1982), approved by its 20th General Assembly, in February 1982 (cf. ibid., no. 116).
A critical analysis of this document can be found in the book The Basic Christian Communities, So Much Talked About and So Little Known: The TFP Describes Them As They Are (Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Gustavo Antonio Solimeo and Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, Editora Vera Cruz, São Paulo, 1982, pp. 48-50).
In the main text proposed for the Fraternity Campaign of 1986 (Land of God, Land of Brothers, CNBB, Brasília, 1986), the CNBB insisted once again on the need to urgently implement land and urban reform. The Federal Congress of Brazil is now considering Bill no. 775/83, already in the phase of final approval. This bill is euphemistically called “On the Use of the Land and on Urban Development” and amounts to a drastic urban reform.
A bill by Sen. Cid Sampaio, of Pernambuco, which represents an important step toward the establishment of business reform is also going to be taken up by the Federal Congress.
So, at the very moment when land reform is being vigorously applied, urban reform and business reform are marching with determined steps into the Brazilian panorama. The joint application of the three reforms will amount to the elimination of the right to property in Brazil.
- In theInstruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation,”of August 6, 1984, the Cardinal affirms: “A major fact of our time ought to evoke the reflection of all those who would sincerely work for the true liberation of their brothers: millions of our own contemporaries legitimately yearn to recover those basic freedoms of which they were deprived by totalitarian and atheistic regimes that came to power by violent and revolutionary means, precisely in the name of the liberation of the people. This shame of our time cannot be ignored: while claiming to bring them freedom, these regimes keep whole nations in conditions of servitude that are unworthy of mankind. Those who, perhaps inadvertently, make themselves accomplices of similar enslavements betray the very poor they mean to help” (Daughters of St. Paul, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1984, p. 32 [Vatican English translation, emphasis added]).
- Pravda, June 5, 1985. Emphasis added.
- Large landowner.—TRANS.
- Regarding the area and agricultural usefulness of government lands in the Amazon region, see AnnaLuizaOzório de Almeida, “Perverse Selectivity in the Settling of Amazonia,” Economic Research and Planning, vol. 14, no. 2, August 1984, pp. 353-398; Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and Carlos Patricio del Campo, Private Property and Free Enterprise in the Agro-Reformist Whirlwind, Editora Vera Cruz, São Paulo, 1985, pp. 162-164.
- Cf. Matt. 25:14-30; 1Cor. 12:28-31; Saint Thomas Aquinas,Summa contra Gentiles, bk. 3, chap. 57.
- Cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas,Summa contra Gentiles, bk. 2, chap. 45; idem,Summa theologica, la. 47, art. 2.
- Jornal do Brasil,March 25, 1985.
- Cf.Catolicismo, no. 412,April 1985, pp. 10-11.
- Cf.ibid.,p. 11.
- For more details and documentation see Corrêa de Oliveira, G. A.Solimeoand L. S. Solimeo, The Basic Christian Communities, pp. 51 on; Corrêa de Oliveira and del Campo, Private Property and Free Enterprise, p. 13; Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “The Importance of the Religious Factor in the Destiny of a Key Block of Countries: Latin America,” speech written for the Meeting of the Board of Directors of the International Policy Forum held in Dallas on April 26-27, 1985, and published in abridged form in the TFP Newsletter (vol. 4, no. 13, 1985, pp. 10-13) under the title “South America: Dangers and Opportunities.”
- Originally published in Portuguese with the titleMeioSéculo de Epopéia Anticomunista (Editora Vera Cruz, São Paulo, 1980), this work has gone through four printings in Brazil and one edition in Spain (Medio siglo de epopeya anticomunista, Editorial Fernando III el Santo, Madrid, 1983). It was published in English by the Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc., P.O. Box 249, Mt. Kisco, N.Y. 10549, with the title Tradition Family Property: Half a Century of Epic Anticommunism.
- For more details and documentation see Corrêa de Oliveira anddelCampo, Private Property and Free Enterprise, pp. 71-75.
- Cf.ibid.,pp. 22-23.
- This work is being distributed by the TFP because of its excellent and timely considerations regarding the socioeconomic reformist movement in Brazil. This movement, its doctrine and its methods can be the object of an evaluation in the light of Christian ethics by an organization like the TFP. Its work having a doctrinal character, the TFP has never shied away from similar tasks.
Some of the evaluations made by the brilliant author of this work, however, refer to purely economic questions that do not have a proximate relation—or do not have any relation at all—with the doctrinal positions of the TFP. By publishing them, this organization does not ipso facto endorse them. It merely recognizes their complete defensibility, and believes that publishing them is a considerable enrichment of the ongoing debates about the issue.
This is particularly the case regarding the position the author takes on the Brazilian foreign debt, a matter about which the TFP has not yet expressed itself. Furthermore, only very special circumstances could give rise to a declaration of the organization in regard to this topic.