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Tempo Social

Print version ISSN 0103-2070

Tempo soc. vol.1 São Paulo  2005


A dependence on politics: Fernando Henrique Cardoso and sociology in Brazil


A dependência da política: Fernando Henrique Cardoso e a sociologia no Brasil



Afrânio Garcia Jr.

Translated by Deborah Neale
Translation from Tempo Social, São Paulo, v.16, n.1, p.285-300, June 2004.




This article analyzes Fernando Henrique Cardoso's social, intellectual and professional trajectory in order to understand the different social resources and personal dispositions carried out in his career as sociologist or in his activities as a professional politician. It seeks to prove that the social capitals and the dispositions that might explain his prestige as researcher and professor of social sciences were very different from those required in the political domain, the ones allowing his fast rise to be the president of the Republic. After having examined his family origins, it focuses his scholar investments and the choice of the sociologist's occupation, a promising career suddenly blocked by the 1964 military coup. The exile encouraged new initiatives and brought him international appraisal, this moment being crowned with his access to the chair of political science at the University of São Paulo; the AI-5 enforced by the military rulers will enable him to assume a double condition, as social scientist and as an important opposition leader facing the military. Finally, it analyzes how he was able to reconvert his social and personal resources into the political profession.

Keywords: Sociology; Political field; Social trajectory; Social capitals; Dispositions.


Este artigo analisa a trajetória social, intelectual e profissional de Fernando Henrique Cardoso para entender os diferentes recursos sociais e disposições pessoais utilizados em sua carreira como sociólogo e em suas atividades como especialista da política. Busca demonstrar que os capitais sociais e as disposições responsáveis pelo prestígio como pesquisador e professor de ciências sociais foram distintos dos aplicados no domínio da política, permitindo sua rápida ascensão à presidência da República. Depois de estudar suas origens familiares, focaliza seus investimentos escolares e a escolha do ofício de sociólogo, a carreira promissora sendo bloqueada pelo golpe de 1964. O exílio permitiu a extensão das atividades e o reconhecimento internacional, reinvestidos em novo concurso para a USP; o AI-5 o conduzirá à dupla condição de cientista social e de um dos líderes da frente de oposições aos militares. Por fim, analisa-se a reconversão de seus recursos sociais e pessoais na profissão política.

Palavras-chave: Sociologia; Campo político; Trajetória social; Capitais sociais; Disposições.



In two conferences delivered in Munich in 1918, which subsequently appeared in a single book, Max Weber compared the vocation of the scientist and that of the politician, above all as far as ways of gaining access to the profession and the requirements in mental disposition were concerned: "In every case the dispositions that turn a man into an eminent thinker and a university professor are certainly not the same as those that might turn him into a leader in the practical domain of life, especially in the political domain" (Weber, 1959, p. 97). The diversification of the field of power in modern nations allows for the autonomization of an intellectual environment that is no longer subordinated to the imperatives of political or religious authorities or to economic power. The passage from the universe of intellectual activities, particularly in the area of scientific research, to the domain of political activities cannot be achieved without difficulty or a break with continuity.

The election of Fernando Henrique Cardoso as President of the Republic of Brazil seems to contradict Weber's statement, especially as his condition as 'sociologist' was presented during the whole electoral campaign as proof of his capacity to confront the challenge of the globalization of markets and at the same time to fight the growing poverty of a considerable part of the country's population. The fact that he was a 'sociologist' was recalled every time he wanted to highlight his condition as an intellectual, in an attempt to set himself apart from other political professionals and experts whose only concern was the preservation of their election mandates. Everything happened as though, to be recognized as a Statesman, it was necessary to mobilize belief in the fiction of being an expert in all debates on the future of the nation and its position on the international scene. Is there not a book containing one of his interviews, published during his mandate, entitled O presidente segundo o sociólogo [The President according to the sociologist] (1998)? Does this not betray, clearly, his intent of adding the benefits of intellectual legitimacy to those of political legitimacy?

In fact, this case in no way seems to constitute an exception to Weber's rule, reducing the value of the distinction between intellectual vocation and that of the politician1, much less something that can only be explained as being one of those "things that only happen in Brazil". The study of Fernando Henrique's social path, particularly of his subsequent transfer of the investments and social resources he had acquired as a 'sociologist' at the start of his professional career to the political field, which opened up access to the presidential mandate, can contribute to an understanding of the different types of dispositions and social capital required for the exercise of each of these two offices and for specifying the conditions of autonomization of the social sciences vis-à-vis the political universe.

It is the very nature of the relationship between the political field and the conditions under which the social sciences existed in Brazil that have largely changed over the last forty years: paradoxically, during the military dictatorship, new research centers and post-graduate programs were set up that, in constant dialogue with more advanced international literature, allowed for the multiplication of theses and innovative empirical studies, whereas the return to the rule of democracy was accompanied by a loss of impetus on various work fronts that had been opened up, especially when we consider the studies of groups of a popular origin from the city and the countryside. Perhaps the development of the social sciences under these extremely adverse political conditions resulted from the fact that many people dedicated themselves to empirical research merely because there was a lack of possibilities of following a career in politics or in top administration. The fact is that after the liberalization of the public arena, a considerable part of the effort then dedicated to research and to teaching was transferred to a dispute for state management positions, in the form either of elected posts or of positions of trust in top administration2.

One of the most significant focuses of the public debates as far as the precarious condition of the autonomy of social sciences in Brazil is concerned lies in the legitimate uses of the word 'sociology'. The dominant meaning since the end of the nineteenth century, used by authors who also aspired to political careers, most of whom were Law graduates from the upper classes, ascribes to this discipline one of the first places in the hierarchy of State knowledge and reserves it for writers whose aim is to discuss the destiny of the nation. This is completely different from the innovative sense of the function of sociologist preached by Florestan Fernandes, Fernando Henrique's guru and his Ph.D. tutor at the University of São Paulo (USP), as detailed in the title of one of his main books, The Fundamentos empíricos da explicação sociológica [Empirical foundations of sociological explanation], of 1967.


A great political heir

Contrary to the current idea, and one that has been widely publicized by the press, of a recent and costly passage from the intellectual to the political world, as seems to have been the case with writer Mario Vargas Llosa from Peru, the defeated presidential candidate in that country, it was Fernando Henrique himself who, in an interview in Veja magazine, expressed his familiarity with politics, an activity carved into his childhood experiences:

Roberto Toledo: In the book in which he talks about his experience as a presidential candidate in Peru (A fish in water), Vargas Llosa shows how he became progressively averse to political activities. Among other things, he states he hates what he calls the "evasive arts" of politicians – non-affirmative and procrastinating conversations. At first sight, when we look at Vargas Llosa and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, two intellectuals seduced by politics, we are looking at similar cases. However, it seems that the routine of political activity that Vargas Llosa disliked so much elicits the opposite reaction from Fernando Henrique: fascination. Vargas Llosa's book, therefore, would make excellent reading for finding out what Fernando Henrique Cardoso is not like. Is that right?

FHC: That's right. And this has several origins. First I was brought up in a family very closely involved with politics. So since I was a boy, a really young boy, eight or nine years old – my father was a very open and democratic person – I took part in conversations or listened in on them. In my grandmother's house it was like this: after lunch or dinner – more so dinner – political discussions used to begin. There were a lot of arguments between them. Both my father and grandfather were military men and had played a part in many episodes in Brazil's history. The other day I read an article by Sarney that mentioned a young lieutenant – or second lieutenant, as they were called at that time, who had suggested shooting the Emperor. I said: "That's my grandfather". There's a classic picture of three officers taking the exile order to the Emperor. One of them is my grandfather (Toledo, 1998, pp. 339-340).

His genealogy, as produced in the various works of a biographic nature mentioned here, bears witness to the indicators of his upscale social origin and the direct involvement of his forebears in the most relevant events in Brazil's history. His great-grandfather was head of the Conservative Party in the state of Goiás during the Second Empire, was elected to congress on several occasions and was a senator and Provincial President. His grandfather, while still a young army officer, played an active part in the fall of the Monarchy and the proclamation of the Republic, as the passage quoted reveals. This earned him the honor of becoming personal assistant to Floriano Peixoto, the "iron Field Marshal", and even of living with his father in the Itamaraty Palace, the President's official residence. He ended his career as a Field Marshal, but not before taking part in the uprising of 1922 and, together with former president Hermes da Fonseca, being imprisoned as a consequence.

Fernando Henrique's father also had a military career and took part in the lieutenants' rebellions in 1922 and 1924, which led to the revolution of 1930 and the rise of Getulio Vargas to the center stage of power. One of the future Vargas Ministers of War of the New State, Eurico Gaspar Dutra, President of the Republic after the overthrow of Vargas in 1945, had been aide-de-camp to his grandfather; moreover, his father had been an official in the office of Minister Góes Monteiro in 1934 and his uncle, Augusto Inacio do Espirito Santo Cardoso, was Vargas' Minister of War during the 1931 to 1933 provisional government. His closest family circle was at the forefront of the events of the 1930 revolution, but they also took part in opposing camps in the 1932 uprising in São Paulo. They were also close to those officers who changed the profile and composition of the Brazilian army as from the 1930s. After leaving the army in 1945 as a general, his father became a lawyer – he had qualified in Law in the 1930s – and his political involvement in nationalist causes led to his election as a federal congressman for São Paulo in 1954.

Undoubtedly, the childhood and adolescence of Fernando Henrique were full of the stories of family members who had taken part in great events in Brazilian Republican history. What the vast majority of his generation knew from history books or press reports he learned from eye-witnesses and those who took part directly in the events. For him, indeed, "these personalities […] were not taken from fiction. They were real people" (Toledo, 1998, p. 342). Both his father's narratives and the cult of family traditions that came from his grandmother imbued Fernando Henrique with a strong feeling of the heritage of political competence3, which led him to postulate: "My father was a politician. This dimension is in my blood" (Leoni,1997, p. 44).


Education as a sociologist and the early days of his career

Born in 1931 in Rio de Janeiro, the first born male in the phratry, his elementary schooling was split between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, depending on the requirements of his father's work. He had a private French teacher, which was quite common among wealthy and cosmopolitan families in Brazil during the First Republic, as the case of Gilberto Freyre also shows. He did his secondary schooling in São Paulo at a school in the Higienópolis district attended by the children of affluent families and he lives in this neighborhood to this day. In 1949, he sat the entrance exam for two University of São Paulo (USP) schools: he failed in Latin for the traditional Law School, but got into the School of Philosophy, Science and Arts that had been founded with the help of the French mission. As Irene Cardoso (1982)4 analyses so well, the establishment of this school that made founding USP possible in 1934 was part of a set of strategies of São Paulo's political elites, who, sensing they were about to lose a substantial portion of their federal power through the rise of Vargas and his connections with Minas Gerais and the Northeastern states, which had less influence on a national level, and seeing themselves cut off from the main decision-making centers after their defeat in 1932, sought to recover, by investing in science and culture, the clear national hegemony they had held during the "Old Republic" and which had been eliminated by armed force. The appeal to all that was most modern in the international world was largely reinforced by the São Paulo intention to establish itself as a state where a liberal and cosmopolitan spirit would predominate. This manifests itself in the use of French and English in the courses, given that only the German lecturers seemed to have felt compelled to teach in Portuguese.

His main teacher was Florestan Fernandes, an orphan from a humble background and a descendant of Portuguese immigrants, who was only able to complete secondary school thanks to schooling equivalence exams and who had to make a great deal of effort to be able to study under the French professors in the School of Philosophy, as well as under North American researchers connected with the "Chicago School", such as Donald Pierson, and the German anthropologists, like his tutor, Herbert Baldus, who were recruited by the rival School of Sociology and Politics. Florestan often expressed the difficulty experienced by a student from the lower classes in trying to break into the select world of the new intellectual elite; this was mainly represented by his lack of familiarity with foreign languages5. As sociolinguistic studies highlight, a precocious knowledge of foreign languages is one of the social privileges of those who are born into upper classes, but it comes across like a gift or supplementary talent that attests to the superiority or "excellence" of those individuals from an upscale background. A passionate investment in intellectual tasks and a meritocratic spirit, as well as a quest for the integration of such different traditions as those taught by the young and brilliant foreign professors, whose diversity was in no way based solely on their national origins (a fact that is clear in his latter works), are among the characteristics of the intellectual path of Florestan Fernandes. This shows both the extra investment actually required of those who broaden the sociological profile of potential students, and the possibilities that the public university provided by admitting the children of the lower classes. Although he would stress the high psychological cost of his investment in order to be able to follow the foreign professors and the literature they introduced, it is remarkable that Florestan Fernandes has always been characterized by an ongoing connection with the international world of social sciences, which is revealed both by his books, based on his field research with Roger Bastide, as well as by his repeated attempts to integrate the theoretical contributions of Émile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso and his colleague, Octavio Ianni, started their careers as researchers under the guidance of Florestan Fernandes, whose research into the social condition in São Paulo of the blacks who descended from slaves was the fruit of the insistent invitation of Roger Bastide and financing from Unesco - examining race relations in cities in the South of Brazil that were strongly marked by the European immigration of the late nineteenth century6. Both wrote their theses on the legacy of the relationship between white masters and slaves (Capitalismo e escravidão no Brasil meridional [Capitalism and slavery in southern Brazil], by Fernando Henrique, 1962, and As metamorfoses do escravo [The metamorphoses of the slave], by Ianni), a theme that as from 1933, with the publication of Gilberto Freyre's Casa-grande e senzala (The Masters and the Slaves), started to figure as one the core intellectual issues in Brazil. Studies under the guidance of Florestan Fernandes will show that industrialization and the modernization that accompanies it enhanced rather than reduced racial prejudice (Mayo, 1997). Interest in research in the southern region, in cities that had undergone strong industrial growth since the 1930s, was greater because it was a region that had welcomed a large contingent of "whites" of European origin, who did not identify with that minority of the elite that descended from slave masters and/or the agrarian oligarchy. The series of writings carried out under the patronage of Florestan Fernandes, and that widely employed the new methods of social science research applied in the USA and Europe, ensured the prestige of the "São Paulo school of sociology" and dethroned Gilberto Freyre from his position as undisputed leader of Brazilian social sciences. The attempt to reduce the contribution of Gilberto Freyre merely to situations in the Northeast, as if The Masters and the Slaves expressed only an opinion about the large sugar cane plantations of the remote country regions of the Northeast and not about the entire Brazilian reality, date from this time. Proof of the effectiveness of this strategy of intellectual competition is that many circles no longer remember that the book of Freyre's whose scope is regionally restricted is Nordeste [Northeast], published in 1936. The supremacy of the "new sociology", as practiced in São Paulo, was even more effective because it referred to the modern center of a developing nation, as opposed to the Northeast, which was clearly in decline.

A young and promising student, Fernando Henrique, became an assistant in the School of Economics at USP even before he finished his degree, when he was only 21 years old, a position he ended up losing because of arguments with the department's chairperson. Soon thereafter, however, an exam for filling a position would open the doors to permanent employ at USP. Fernando Henrique had become assistant to Roger Bastide as soon as he concluded his degree in 1953; when Bastide decided to return to Paris to enter what is now EHESS, Florestan Fernandes took over his position and Fernando Henrique became his first assistant. As soon as he was named he was elected to USP's University Council, a position that, when held at the beginning of a career, appears to be a good indicator of the social capital that he had managed to accrue.

His father was elected a federal congressman thanks to an alliance between the labor party and the communists in São Paulo. Alongside him, Fernando Henrique actively took part in the campaign for a state oil monopoly and the setting up of Petrobras. Father and son took part in countless movements and nationalist campaigns in the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, a time marked by intense debates on ways for politically, economically and culturally constructing the nation and on the means of confronting the evils of "under-development". As a militant since his days at Colégio São Paulo, the secondary school he attended, his political activities led him to accept the position of editor of Problemas [Problems], the Communist Party magazine aimed at intellectuals, and to become a member of the editorial council of the Marxist magazine Fundamentos [Foundations], founded by Caio Prado Jr. and edited by Brasiliense.

Undoubtedly, his professional investments at the beginning of his career were concentrated on his university activities, which, however, did not necessarily distance him from a political career. When he finished his doctoral thesis on slavery Fernando Henrique conducted research via questionnaires on the attitudes and visions of Brazilian industries as to the future of the economy, analyzing also the role attributed to the State in the regulation of the economic sector. The subject of this research, which attracted contributions from European and North American empirical sociology, was one of the central issues in the discussions between the various left-wing groups: would the "national bourgeoisie" be capable of creating an original development project and bringing about the country's emancipation?

To a certain degree, Marxism was a distinctive mark of the young sociologist from São Paulo. Back in the 1950s, when José Arthur Gianotti returned from France after finishing his doctorate, a group of young professors and students decided to get together to read Marx's Das Kapital. This group, which included Octavio Ianni, Ruth Cardoso, Roberto Schwarz, Michael Lowy and others, played a decisive role in the discussion of the research projects of the new generation. Florestan Fernandes, who was never invited to become a member of this group, saw this initiative as a way for the young pretenders to present themselves as pioneers, or at least as the new intellectual avant-garde. The supremacy of Marxism as a referential framework allowed them to disqualify, at one and the same time, the bibliography transmitted by the members of the French mission and the theoretical efforts of Florestan Fernandes, who was accused of eclecticism.

On the other hand, it was the creation of the Center for Industrial Sociology and Labor (Cesit), thanks to the initiative of Alain Touraine, a visiting professor at USP in 1961, which made it possible to put forward the investigations into the points of view of the industrialists and workers of São Paulo7. The center was directed by Fernando Henrique from 1962 to 1964. During this time, Alain Touraine invited him to go to Paris in the winter of 1962-1963, allowing Fernando Henrique to prepare his post-doctoral thesis, which he defended at USP in 1963. The relationship between Fernando Henrique and Alain Touraine mirrors the relationships and short stays of the sociologist abroad: in São Paulo, he worked under the guidance of the young French researchers, who left their mark on the panorama of international social sciences in the 1950s and 1960s, first as the assistant of Roger Bastide and then as Alain Touraine's right-hand man. He was also one of the main people in the reception committee for Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir when they visited Latin America in September, 1960, after the support they lent to the Cuban revolution, which led Sartre to choose him as his translator in Brazil. Thus, Fernando Henrique did not have to spend long periods abroad to become familiar with what were then the schools of thought in the international field of social sciences8. This promising career would, however, be blocked by the military coup of 1964 that forced him into exile.


International recognition of the sociologist and his return under a military regime

Exile allowed Fernando Henrique Cardoso to focus on his research work, extend his field of knowledge to all of Latin America and be invited to visit institutions of international prestige, such as the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton or the College de France. Even before arriving in Chile, he received an invitation from Spanish sociologist José Medina Echavaria, a director of ILPES, the research center set up by the United Nations in Santiago, to hold the chair of Development Sociology. Exile led him to take a direct part in debates on the transformations in the field of power in Latin America and on their economic and social effects. The dependency theory that provided him with international renown was developed during this period, in collaboration with the Chilean sociologist Enzo Falleto (1979)9. Both in Brazil and abroad, the investigations carried out by Fernando Henrique were essentially directed at analyzing the representations of industrialists and businessmen in Latin America and, above all, their relationship with the evolution of the State. Exile in Chile, in addition to allowing him to become acquainted with Latin America's elite – Isabel Allende worked under his guidance –, made it possible for him to return to Paris as visiting professor at the University of Nanterre, thanks, once again, to Alain Touraine's intervention. He took advantage of this time to draft his analysis of the research he had carried out at ILPES and to prepare the thesis that was part of the selection process for the chair of Political Science at USP, which would cut short his exile.

His return to USP, however, was short-lived: the AI-5 Act was passed on December 13, 1968 and was accompanied by the dismissal from public positions of progressive professors and researchers, the expulsion of students and the long-lasting establishment of torture as a technique for neutralizing adversaries of the military regime. The creation of a new research center (Cebrap), with financing from the Ford Foundation, allowed social science researchers and professors to carry on with their research activities without abandoning the country. As Yves Dezalay and Bryan Garth (2002) showed, a number of the dominant elite in the United States materially supported some of the adversaries of the military, especially scientists, for fear that armed struggle might be even more extensively embraced. The support of the Ford Foundation helped bring to the fore work linked to the research and teaching of social sciences, with the setting up on a scale hitherto unknown of institutes such as Cebrap, Cedec and Idesp. In Rio de Janeiro, Ford Foundation support enabled the establishment of post-graduate programs in Political Sciences at Iuperj and in Social Anthropology at the National Museum. Diversification of the disciplines, defining new types of empirical investigation and the integration of researchers with international networks, breathed new life into the practices of reconversion on the part of the young students and intellectuals who had been condemned to silence. Cebrap, under the direction of Fernando Henrique, therefore became the dominant center for conducting scientific debate on a national scale.

Besides heading Cebrap in the 1970s, Fernando Henrique became one of the main links in the chain that brought together the most diverse, and even antagonistic, of political forces. The former liberals, regrouped into a single opposition party tolerated by the military - MDB, presided over by Ulysses Guimarães – asked Fernando Henrique and Cebrap to draft a new program to be defended by the combined opposition parties. Even though Ulysses Guimarães was an old friend of Fernando Henrique's father, it was during the blackest period of the military regime that the two joined forces politically. It should be stressed that the Catholic Church, which in 1964 had become one of the supporters of the forces that legitimized the coup, started pulling away from the generals because of the systematic practice of torture, progressively making "a preferential choice for the poor". In this context, the cardinal of São Paulo, Monsignor Paulo Evaristo Arns, also asked Cebrap to prepare a diagnosis of the degradation of the living conditions of the poorest people in São Paulo, the hidden face of accelerating economic growth. This gave rise to the book São Paulo, crescimento e pobreza São Paulo, growth and poverty], of 1976, with a preface by the cardinal, in which he explained the relation between the sociological investigation into those deprived of material and cultural resources and the new basic ecclesiastical communities. Therefore, the engagement of Fernando Henrique in activities designed to reawaken scientific and professional associations of the most varied types (such as SBPC, OAB, ABI, SBS, ABA), thus forming the "mobilization of civilian society", transformed him into one of the leaders of an intellectuality interested in ridding itself of military protection and preserving internal pluralism. He therefore accumulated the prestige of an innovative sociologist and one of the leaders of the front that was politically opposed to the military dictatorship. At the end of the 1970s, with liberalization of the public space that followed the signing of the amnesty law of 1979, his return to the political scene became highly visible.


His political career in the 70s

Fernando Henrique's investment in politics became clearer in the 1970s. With his draft of the MDB program he became one of the Ulysses Guimarães's greatest 'confidants', appearing as a privileged advisor in moments of conflict with the regime. The 1978 metal workers' strike in São Bernardo, which put Lula in the limelight and opened the doors for the return of social movements to the forefront of the public arena, showed that there were many other political forces in addition to the old political liberals that had been formed before 1964. For fear of a crashing defeat in the polls, the high ranking military officers introduced secondary candidature lists for parties, a maneuver that accommodated the divergences between the allies of the military regime and accrued all of their votes. The secondary candidature list allowed for diversification in the opposition parties and that was how Fernando Henrique became a candidate for the senate in 1978 on a secondary candidature list that added his votes to those of Christian Democrat Franco Montoro, but which also allowed for the differentiation of their political programs. This election also gave Fernando Henrique the advantage of being able to conduct an electoral campaign without having to worry about his chances of victory; thanks to this he became a senator when Montoro became a candidate for governor in 1982. Since then, all Fernando Henrique's activities bear witness to the maximum concentration of efforts he puts into his political activities: his production of sociological or political science analyses, in the form of papers or theoretical essays, was interrupted in 1978. As from that date his writings took on a new tone, that of a politician concerned with defending the positions he adopts, with justifying his alliances and with seeking to broaden his electoral chances in a space that is becoming more diverse.

Unlike many intellectuals who tried to start out in political activity or return to it, the electoral strategies of Fernando Henrique show the rationalization of his accumulated political capital, starting with his consolidation of local positions and ending with his achieving the most significant positions within the national sphere. In 1985 he stood as a candidate for mayor of São Paulo; his defeat, however, did not have the same dissuasive effect upon him as is seen among many intellectuals who never stand again for electoral office. Analysis of the political career of Fernando Henrique certainly goes beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth pointing out that after the reinstatement of democracy he became an outstanding politician at a state level and a potential minister for all the presidents who preceded him, in addition to having been one of the most influential members of the 1988 Constitutional Assembly. In the Itamar Franco government he went from Minister of Foreign Affairs to Minister of Finance, with responsibility for introducing a monetary stabilization plan - the Real Plan – implementation of which over a period of time guaranteed his first mandate as president, even though victory in the first round of voting depended on an alliance with the PFL, comprised, largely, of oligarchies from the northeast whose political standard acquired a new luster during the military regime.

Having been close, up to 1979, to those who supported a wide scale renovation of the public arena, already at this time he pulled away from union leaders such as Lula and from his university colleagues who had no political capital other than that which they had obtained through their militancy. Note that after contributing to the consolidation of the idea of a workers' party, which one can follow through his comments in the newspapers that opposed the dictatorship, such as Opinião e Movimento [Opinion and Movement], he did not join his former USP colleagues, legendary names of the São Paulo social sciences, such as Antonio Candido, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Maria Isaura Pereira de Queiroz, Florestan Fernandes, Octavio Ianni and others, in setting up the Laborer's Party (PT), preferring to continue his journey in the company of those who had built up their political capital before 1964, or during the military regime. During the campaign for direct elections, his position systematically drew closer to the moderates, as he increased his distance vis-à-vis the vast majority of those connected with universities and artists. Objectively, throughout the 1980s and long before the 1994 elections, when he came up against Lula and an opposition front from the Left, he moved toward the center and the right.


The president backed by the sociologist: but which sociology?

This rapid consideration of the sociological work and the recent political career of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which undoubtedly calls for more extensive development, allows us at least to see that the dispositions and capital he mobilized to open his path toward the Presidency of the Republic are in no way the same as those used to build up the sociological work that guaranteed him his scientific prestige. An examination of his publications is the clearest indicator that politics is the career he has chose for last 25 years: if all his works prior to 1978 reflected constant concern with the constitution of the empirical material allowing him to demonstrate the sociological theses he upholds an author, the publications in the subsequent period are limited to drawing together all the arguments capable of justifying the positions he has taken and his activities in the political field. We are not attempting, here, to underscore the ideological character of these writings, but to understand that they are being used in the service of another objective, which is not that of holding a dialogue with his social scientist peer group. Undoubtedly, it was not as a result of his intellectual efforts that Fernando Henrique opened up the path of his electoral successes; as the interview quoted at the beginning of this article points out, most of the time of his presidential mandate was dedicated to guaranteeing the trust of his possible political allies and, like every political specialist, reinforcing his chances of reelection.

In a book based a dialogue with the former Portuguese president Mario Soares, Fernando Henrique reaffirms that politics "fascinates" him and provides him with "personal realization", reasons that lead him to use all of his internalized attributes as professor and researcher as resources in the "political game" (Cardoso and Soares, 1998, p. 53). To understand Fernando Henrique's fast rise to the highest level in academia, it is of little use knowing what analysis models he prepared and the theories he adopted in sociology; it is, however, indispensable to be aware of the social networks that gave meaning and substance to his activities as a sociologist, because it was the mobilization of these networks, with ends other than the production of knowledge, that enabled his political career. Max Weber's two lectures, mentioned at the beginning of this article and delivered around the end of World War I, a time of enormous disillusionment with the world of politics in Europe, show the relevance of studying the competition between specialists involved in the production of knowledge, without incorporating it into the competition mechanisms between politics experts; the three books published by, or about, Fernando Henrique during his presidential mandate seem to constitute the best proof of the appropriateness of Max Weber's proposition.

Situated at the intersection of the field of social sciences - grown larger and more diverse since the early 70s with the new amplitude achieved by social anthropology and political science – and the political field, he sought to place all the prestige acquired as a sociologist at the service of his new political activities. If Fernando Henrique was able to inherit from his father relationships of trust and prestige with politicians like Ulysses Guimarães and Franco Montoro, this was due to the opposition front to the military regime and to his position as mediator between scientists and politicians. His remoteness from the scientific community also manifested itself by means of the objects and ways of dealing with issues considered "sociological", which bring him closer to the use of sociology as practiced by those jurists revered as "social thinkers" during the 1920-1960 period, when they tried to monopolize the discussion on the destinies of the nation10. If sociology was seen, at that time, as absolutely superior to all other human and social sciences, including history, it is because the essayist rhetoric was predominant, excluding from disciplinary practices all reflection based on systematic observation carried out by the researchers themselves. An irony of destiny, it is this empirical definition of the discipline that has been one of the greatest contributions of the "São Paulo sociological school", which turned "the empirical foundations of sociological explanation" into the motto and standard of their work, thus placing the social sciences produced in Brazil among the dominant trends on the international scene. What remains of sociology when a president, in the exercise of his mandate and in the heat of movements of every type, resumes his immediate experience, and the vision that justifies it, as an analytical standard in social sciences?

Against the heteronomy of social sciences, the social history of the relationships between the political field and the area of social sciences in Brazil seems to supply powerful antidotes, in particular against the "fascination" of political power and its artifices. Sociological examination, endowed with lenses crafted by the "founding fathers" and committed to investigating the most common-place issues of these sciences, seems to prevent the innocent acceptance of "the enchanted world" of the professionals of politics.


Bibliographic references

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1. Pollak showed that Weber himself made comments that were diametrically opposed regarding the role of the social scientist faced with debates on the directions of the State, by comparing 1918 texts with his inaugural speech when he took over the chair of Political Economics at the University of Freiberg nearly thirty years before (cf. Pollak, 1996, pp. 85-114).

2. The hypotheses expressed in this paragraph is connected with their discussion in Bourdieu's annual seminar at EHESS (1997). In a session dedicated to "The national traditions of the social sciences", I was invited to reflect upon the case of Brazil. Bourdieu's comments encouraged me to reflect more deeply on the relationships between sociology and political power and to focus on them using empirical analyses; this led me to study in depth the social and intellectual path of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Together with the study of the trajectory of Celso Furtado (Garcia Jr., 1998a and b) this examination has allowed me to outline the scope of my current research on "the international circulation of people from universities".

3. The question of inheritance in Brazilian politics continues to be studied in an innovative and empirically sound manner by Letícia Canedo (2002), in whose publications on the subject appears the critical commentary of Jean Pierre Faguer, who emphasizes the richness of this line of historical and sociological investigation.

4. See in this same work the preface by Alfredo Bosi. The configuration of the foreign missions in the foundation of USP and their effects were studied in Miceli (1989). See also Miceli (1981) for an analysis of the relationship between the reconstruction of the national State as from 1930 and the autonomization of the Brazilian intellectual field.

5. An analysis of the intellectual background of Florestan Fernandes can be seen in Mazza (2003). The distant proximity to his Brazilian colleagues, who were of a higher social origin, is analyzed with great sensitivity by Pontes (1998).

6. Mayo (1997) showed how Unesco, set up after the end of the Second World war, looked for a laboratory of "racial tolerance" that would serve as a counterpoint to the non-inevitability of massacres justified by racism, such as that perpetuated against the Jews in Europe. This was the reason for choosing Brazil, which had gone through an acknowledgement of the value of miscegenation in the 1930s.

7. For the 1953-1964 period, I was able to take advantage of a project as yet not concluded of José Sérgio Leite Lopes (1990) and countless interviews carried out in France and Brazil. See also Lopes (2003, pp. 169-178).

8. A comparison with the professional career of the economist Celso Furtado, who is ten years older, is fairly illustrative: from a much more modest social and geographic background than Fernando Henrique, it was thanks to his trip to Europe as an officer with Brazilian soldiers during the Second World War, followed by studies for his PhD in France, which opened up his way to obtaining a position at Cepal in Santiago, that Furtado became endowed with the capital necessary to go into the political field, marked by the setting up of Sudene and the Planning Ministry. Persecuted in 1964, the two met in Santiago do Chile. Cf. Garcia Jr. (1998a, pp. 52-61; 1998b, pp. 123-132).

9. An excellent presentation of the questions analyzed by the "dependence theory" and the context under which it was prepared can be found in Love (1996).

10. Luiz de Castro Faria (2002, pp. 99-101) recently set out his work and reflections on the works of Oliveira Vianna and the social history of how it was received. It is worth mentioning the analysis of this intellectual as the national "Guide Lopes" (a metaphor taken from A retirada da laguna [Retreat from the lagoon], by Taunay.



Afrânio Garcia Jr. is a sociologist and researcher, attached to the CNRS (Paris) and Director of the Contemporary Brazil Research Center / Maison des Sciences de l'Homme/E.H.E.S.S.