In This Review

Brazil Apart, 1964–2019
Brazil Apart, 1964–2019
By Perry Anderson
Verso, 2019, 240 pp

In this collection of essays—mostly published first in the London Review of Books—Anderson deploys mordant Marxist critiques, provocative class analysis, and perceptive political narrative to analyze the shifting landscape of Brazilian politics. In the earlier essays, he begrudgingly places some hope in the newly elected Fernando Henrique Cardoso, an intellectual “cosmopolitan prince” and president of Brazil from 1995 to 2002, only to dismiss his opportunism in later essays. Similarly, Anderson held high hopes for the Workers’ Party and for its authentic working-class leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. Anderson struggles to explain the profound moral and political deterioration of the Workers’ Party and the recent rise of the evangelical culture warrior Jair Bolsonaro, the current president. Shocking corruption scandals and prolonged austerity feature significantly in Anderson’s admonitions. He also faults the Workers’ Party for not better mobilizing and educating its members, for its “myopic philistinism” in ignoring the advice of intellectuals, and for its weak reformism and recourse to stale campaign slogans. In the epilogue, Anderson expresses fear that Brazil may be moving backward, to the type of military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, slipping into another authoritarian nightmare.