Contradictions and crisis in the sub-imperial south: the case of Brazil today

Jonas Van Vossole


Ruy Mauro Marini’s 1972 analysis on how Brazil - as a semi-peripheral country - developing its own form of imperialist politics, was confronted with the limits of its own dependency of international capital, never seemed so actual as today. Since the turn of the millennium we have seen the rise of Brazil, as one of the BRICS, the new Global imperial players, based upon a boom in commodities and a fragile national interclass compromise led by the PT. Increasing foreign investments in Latin America and Africa - particularly in commodity markets - by Brazilian multinationals such as Vale, Petrobras, the agro-industry and Brazilian banks, were accompanied with an increasingly assertive position of the Brazilian state in its sphere of influence and on the world stage. Examples are the tensions with Paraguay and Bolivia, its role in Haiti, its critique of the existing institutionalization of Global governance institutions and its affirmation as the global Eco-power in Climate policies.

The recent crisis however, has shown that the Brazilian political economy is not just marked by imperialist dynamics, but equally shows a strong dependency on global capitalism and central imperialist powers. At the same time that climate governance is increasingly confronted with a legitimacy crisis, contracting export-markets, capital-flight and exploding bubbles of financial speculation have thrown the Brazilian economy back into a deep crisis, weakening both its internal economy as well as the legitimacy of the state itself: a situation marked by a rise of social struggles and the delegitimation of the political and judicial system in corruption scandals, culminating so far in the widely contested parliamentary-judicial coup against former president Dilma Rousseff.

Imperialism - crisis - Latin America