Locus: Revista de Hist 27 (2):245-287 (2021)

Jens R. Hentschke
Newcastle University, UK
The author argues that polity and policies of Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo cannot be fully understood without exploring the legacy of Rio Grande do Sul. The southern state’s first republican governor, Júlio de Castilhos, had taken inspiration in Auguste Comte’s multifaceted political philosophy and inculcated its authoritarian traits into political institutions. Yet, he and his followers substantially adapted Comte’s positivism to the specific economic and political circumstances in their republiqueta sui generis. In contrast to Comte, the State merged temporal and spiritual powers to pursue evolutionary political changes, a balanced socioeconomic modernisation, and the incorporation of the populus qua paternalistic public policies, and all this with a strong focus on education. Changing contexts resulted in further adjustments, when Vargas became governor in 1928: an ‘orderly’ inclusion of the opposition into the polity, a stronger state interventionism in the economy and labor market, and an experimentation with state corporatism. These experiences paved the way for this comtismo-turned-castilhismo-turning-varguismo to enter the national stage two years later. Despite all the compromises with other contenders for power that Vargas had to make thereafter, he and his gaúcho and other co-opted protégés remained united in the strong belief in technical solutions to social problems and a quest for rational institutions to carry out transformative policies. For them, the State was to be agent of development, tutor of corporate interest groups, and now also guarantor of national security. While highlighting the significant, and still underestimated, impact of French positivism on Vargas’s first 15 years in government, the article places emphasis on the pragmatic dimensions of its appropriation, propagation, and reinterpretation by two generations of state-builders.
Keywords Positivism. Brazil. Auguste Comte. Júlio de Castilhos. Getúlio Vargas
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Auguste Comte.Michel Bourdeau - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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