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There is no detailed biography of Paulo Freire. The most complete account has been written by Robert Mackie.  Mackie's book has helped clarify some aspects of Freire's life, as well as aspects in the development of his ideas. But this work is only the beginning. Bits and pieces of Freire's life can be obtained through the many personal anecdotes with which Freire illustrates his points of view in the seminars and conferences to which he is invited each year. Brief autobiographical notes appear in a booklet entitled Concientización, published in Colombia.  Let us briefly review what is known about Paulo Freire up to his first visit to the United States. 
Freire was born of a middle-class family in northeastern Brazil -- the city of Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco -- in 1921. His father was an officer in the military police of the state of Pernambuco. Freire describes his father as a Spiritist that was not religiously affiliated, and who taught him to respect the opinions of others by respecting the religion of Freire's mother, who was a Catholic. Paulo opted to adopt his mother's religion, a decision also respected by his father. As will be demonstrated further on, Catholicism has been a very strong force in the development of Freire's thought to this day.
Freire has stated that he was already literate when he entered primary school, and that he did his first school years in a private school.  The economic depression of 1929 struck the Freire family. Freire was ten years old when he knew hunger for the first time. Still, he "shared the hunger but not the class" with the oppressed: there was a German piano at home and a necktie was considered a part of a man's proper attire. At some point, Freire faced academic problems and had trouble in being admitted to secondary school: his father had died, and as stated by Freire, 
I could not understand the lessons of primary school. I got zero. I cried, I suffered. I was hungry and feeling guilty. [Because of his bad grades.]
By 1939, the economic situation of his family had improved, as Freire's elder brothers were working. Freire was 18 years old. "I began to eat more," says Freire, "and then I began to understand everything."  His academic record improved.
By 1941 a twenty year old Freire was a secondary schoolteacher of Portuguese and a university student at a law school. He had also initiated independent studies in philosophy and the psychology of language. Three years later, with "an irresistible vocation to become a father," he married Elsa Maia Costa Oliveira, a Catholic elementary schoolteacher and later on a school director. Elsa is still his wife and the couple has five children. Freire has stated that it was "precisely after my marriage when I started to have a systematic interest in educational problems." 
By his own account, he was a "mediocre" law student, perhaps because he was more interested in the philosophical and sociological foundations of education than in the law. Nonetheless, he obtained a degree in Law and tried to practice his profession. His first case, he says, had to do with an indebted young dentist. After a conversation with this person, Freire states that he left the profession.  Another source places Freire working "for some years as a labor union lawyer." 
There is no chronology of Freire's career development in Brazil. Dates for the positions he held are, for the most part, not available. Freire has written that he worked at SESI, an agency he describes as belonging to the welfare type.  Freire directed SESI's Department of Education and Culture. Later on he was a Superintendent at this agency (1946-54). Freire says that it is from this period on that he had the experiences that would result in his now famous literacy method. 
Early in the forties, he and Elsa became involved in the Catholic Action Movement.  In 1959, Freire submitted a doctoral dissertation to the University of Recife on the subject Educaçao e atualidade brasileira (which roughly translates into "Education and the Present Moment in Brazil").  Mackie says that "not long after, the university appointed [Freire] to a chair in the history and philosophy of education."  In 1960 Freire founded Recife's Popular Culture Movement, which later on was transferred to the Cultural Extension Service of the University of Recife.  It seems safe to conclude that Freire's career development in Brazil was one of upward mobility, as an educated member of the middle class.
I think it would be helpful to turn our attention to the development of Brazil during the first four decades of Freire's life, prior to his exile in 1964. Miguel Arraes, who was Mayor of Recife and later on Governor of Pernambuco, and the person said to have been the first who sponsored Freire's experiments with his literacy method,  categorizes the modern economic development of Brazil into two major periods: (1) 1930-1945 and (2) 1945-1964. 
The first period (1930-1945), which encompasses ages 9-24 in the life of Freire, saw Brazil's incorporation into modern times. Foreign capital investments were in retreat due to the crisis of 1929 and, later on, to World War II. The developing national industrial bourgeoisie faced little foreign competition. An urban workforce had been growing, both in the industry and in the public and private service occupations during the first three decades of the century. A policy of conciliation between the national bourgeoisie and the workforce was deliberately adopted and implemented by a paternalistic government. The rural areas were relatively quiet.  Illiterates could not vote, and about 90% of the peasants was illiterate. Mass organizations and movements were limited to urban areas.
The second period, 1945-1964, was characterized by a massive penetration of foreign capital and the ultimate defeat of the national industrial bourgeoisie which emerged in Brazil during the former period. In Arraes' explanation, the core of the process was a struggle between imperialism and a national capitalism that over the fifties had a more or less liberal and populist outlook.  The overt political struggle took the form of broad political Fronts which included workers, industrialists, liberals and Communists. The banners were nationalism and the construction of an anti-imperialist (though capitalist) national economy.  The fifties were a period of rapid social, economic and political evolution. The mostly rural northeast evidenced a considerable unrest, an example of which was the formation of Peasant Leagues which demanded land for those who tilled it.  The Church became involved in the organization of rural syndicates. Political (electoral) victories blinded reformists to the reality of foreign penetration and control of the Brazilian economy. Amidst a vociferous nationalistic rhetoric, foreign capital was defeating the national industry.  Freire was in his mid-thirties.
It is important to understand that progressive forces in Brazil during the late fifties, including Paulo Freire, were not aiming at 'revolution,'  if this term is understood as armed struggle for structural transformation. The objective was democratic reform and capitalist national development.  The political programme to attain this objective was mostly formulated by the Instituto Social de Estudos Brasileiros (ISEB). It seems that ISEB was a very important entity in Brazil's development during the fifties and early sixties.  Among the intellectuals who wrote for it, we can mention Helio Jaguaribe (founder), Alberto Guerreiro Ramos, Gilberto Freyre, Roland Corbisier and Alvaro Vieira Pinto. The impact of these and other Brazilian writers upon Paulo Freire, his ideas and methods, is discussed in careful detail by Vanilda Pereira Paiva. 
In Pereira Paiva's theory, the intellectual environment of Brazil between 1930 and 1960 changed in tune with the country's social and economic transformation: what originated in the thirties as theories to defend an authoritarian government based upon a selective voting system whereby voters would be the most educated and cultured citizens, was transformed by ISEB into a defense of formal liberal democracy, and into the acceptance of universal suffrage as the foundation of democracy.  Brazilian society was seen by ISEB as moving from the closed confines of the colonial legacy (an archaic or closed society) towards a "modern" society. It was felt that new ideas were needed to orient this transition and that those who represented promising new ideas should be in control of the State. In order to obtain democratic political control it was necessary to mobilize the civil society. Political control was to be obtained through the vote. Yet, the majority of the population was seen as "unprepared" for democracy.  Education was one possible solution to the dilemma.]
Pereira Paiva states that Freire's pedagogy was an instrument of this ideological process because (1) it helped to form and mobilize the civil society for the electoral conquest of the state machinery, and/or (2) it prepared the civil society to support the reforms proposed by the State itself. The method was intended by the government as a means to readjust "archaic" ideas and beliefs to make them compatible with urban, industrial life (assumed to be modern and rational), to promote a struggle against "magical consciousness," characteristic of an "archaic" society, and to open up a discussion of themes that could make it possible to develop "new" forms of consciousness, more adequate to the new era. 
The above was not dissonant with Freire's Catholicism, as during the fifties it became increasingly common in progressive Catholic circles to state that in order to humanize people it was first necessary to offer them human living conditions, including a minimum of material conditions that would be brought by economic development. 
The practical purposes of Freire's literacy method are seen by Pereira Paiva as evidenced in the use of the words voto-povo (vote the people) as key ('generating') words in many of Freire's literacy experiments. The use of those words, she affirms, was a concrete translation of the political ideals that were behind the elaboration of the method itself. The idea, again, was to prepare the Brazilian people for participation in the electoral process (democracy) on behalf of the ideology developed by ISEB during the fifties (developmental nationalism).  This becomes transparent, according to Pereira Paiva, in the doctoral dissertation which Freire submitted to the University of Recife in 1959. She asserts that Freire's Education as the Practice of Freedom is a reformulation of his 1959 doctoral dissertation, and was first published in 1965.
Brevity precludes us from entering into a detailed analysis of the changes Pereira Paiva observes between the 1959 and 1964 versions of Freire's thesis.  Yet, the reader of Education as the Practice of Freedom can examine the influence of ISEB and its ideology of developmental nationalism, by paying special attention to the footnotes which appear in the book.
There is another aspect of Freire's work in Brazil that must be mentioned. We refer to the fact that in 1963 the U.S. AID financed the use of Freire's literacy method in Brazil. Pereira Paiva explains the incidents that led to U.S. AID assistance as an effort by the United States to prevent northeast Brazil from being influenced by the Cuban Revolution. The Peasant Leagues and the popular movements in Brazil's northeast were coupled with the formation of broad Popular Fronts for electoral purposes. These Fronts included the Communists. Pereira Paiva establishes that in 1946, the Front of Recife was created, including Communists, Socialists, Leftist Catholics, and Leftist wings of the Brazilian Worker's Party and the Social Democratic Party. Since then the electoral impact of the Front started to grow due to an increased rural-urban migration: by 1964 the city of Recife accounted for 33% of the electorate in the entire State of Pernambuco. The Fronts' strategy was to elect their candidates as mayors of the states' capitals, and later on, as state governors. This strategy succeeded in the State of Pernambuco, where in 1962 the former Mayor of Recife, Miguel Arraes, was elected governor.  The United States government panicked. 
The Cuban Revolution had triumphed in 1959. In 1961 President Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress and created an U.S. AID office for Brazil, locating it precisely in Recife. An officer of the AID, quoted by Pereira Paiva, stated that the United States government saw Brazil's northeast as an international security problem. The economic assistance provided to Brazil was intended as a weapon against a threat that the United States government thought was not "unanimously perceived in Brazil." It was a matter of defeating "the Communist threat," which the United States government saw evidenced in the Peasant Leagues and the electoral victories of the Fronts. 
Educational reforms were present in the platform of all the political candidates brought into power by the Fronts, specifically, a literacy campaign.  The "radicalization" of the northeast coincided with the availability of what appeared to be a non-threatening, cost-effective method to teach literacy. Freire was offered financial assistance by AID to experiment with his method in a large scale campaign that would be conducted in the state of Río Grande del Norte (the next one in line planned by the Front for electing as governor a former mayor). Freire's Catholicism and apparent anti-Communism  seemed to guarantee that his method, as stated by a Brazilian rightist newspaper, would not only teach illiterates to read and write, but also "to love democracy."  AID's intention was to pacify the northeast.
It is said by Pereira Paiva that Freire's acceptance of AID's offer created tensions among the forces of the Left, because the campaign was seen as a threat to the above-mentioned electoral strategy planned by the Front for Rio Grande del Norte. Tensions were eased, says Pereira Paiva, when Freire obtained two important concessions: (1) there would be no interference from authorities with his program's contents, and (2) students would be incorporated at all program levels, including program direction.  Freire, says Pereira Paiva, truly believed that U.S. financing was due to the success of his literacy technique, and that it was convenient to accept assistance. 
The program announcement (January, 1963) was welcomed by everyone, asserts Pereira Paiva, including some rightist elements. Yet, soon after, the program was denounced by the Right as "Communist."  AID withdrew its support, officially arguing "an inadequacy of the method's didactic procedures" as its reasons, but, in fact, seeing the method as a factory of 'revolutionaries'.  It was far from that, in the opinion of Pereira Paiva. Yet, the anti-Communist paranoia of the United States, as well as of the rightist elements in Brazil after the coup of 1964, gave Freire's method precisely such an aura at the international level. 
When AID withdrew its financial support, the method was ready to be launched at the national level. It had attracted the attention of the constitutional President, Joao Goulart. Plans had been laid out (end of 1963-1964) for a National Literacy Campaign using Freire's method, which was considered by the government as an instrument capable of rapidly preparing illiterates to support its liberal reforms program by means of their votes.  Christian students, on the other hand, supported the method as "a means to transform the masses into a people" without being directive. The militants in the Left saw the method as a means to initiate the political organization of the popular classes, who would be motivated by the contents transmitted by the program. Such were, in Pereira Paiva's theory, the arguments and practices which claimed to be inspired in Freire's program. As it would happen a decade later in the United States, Freire's ideas in Brazil were given the most diverse meanings due to the ambiguity of his theoretical formulations. 
A crucial issue in Brazil and elsewhere is whether or not the method is directive and if so, to what extent. Pereira Paiva says that the Brazilian Left opposed the method because it was not directive, but nonetheless, used it for the political organization of the new literates. The progressive Christians were more interested in the transformation of the illiterate into a "person," leaving untouched any specific plans for a concrete political organization. The contents of the program seemed to be adequate both for the use of populist politicians and the more leftist northeastern Fronts.  At the end of Goulart's regime, to use the method meant to defend national reforms against imperialism. The method's objective was the "democratization" of Brazil, and this could be interpreted in many ways. 
The military coup brought the reform movement to an end. Freire was expelled from his university position, arrested and jailed by the military. This increased his popularity in leftist circles as a revolutionary hero. He was 43 years old.
Through negotiations Freire was allowed political asylum in the Bolivian embassy, after which he became a political exile.  He lived in the pre-Allende Chile developing his literacy method from 1964 to 1969. Then he accepted an invitation by Harvard University to become a visiting professor. Also, late in the sixties, he spent two summers in Ivan Illich's Center for Information and Documentation (CIDOC) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and published what is perhaps his most famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In 1971 he created the Institute for Cultural Action (IDAC) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he also lived and worked with the World Council of Churches. Freire's visit to Harvard led to his evaluation of U.S. society.
IDAC has produced a series of monographs, one of which summarizes the impact of Freire's direct encounter with the United States: "Freire's illusions about democracy gave way to a more rigorous analysis of the contradictions -- existing in each society -- between oppressor and oppressed." According to IDAC, this came about due to Freire's observation of two things that struck him: (1) "massive oppression in a place which he had previously thought as the center of material prosperity," and (2) "the degree of alienation and domestication which an entire series of social control institutions imposed on large sections of the American public, including the working class."  The United States was, indeed, an alien world when compared to Latin America.
1. Robert Mackie, ed., Literacy and Revolution. The Pedagogy of Paulo Freire (New York: Continuum, 1981). The book's back cover informs us that Mackie teaches at the University of Newcastle, Australia, on the subjects of radical education and Marxist social theory. Mackie's review of Freire's life is offered in the "Introduction" Mackie writes to the book, pp. 3-8.
2. Paulo Freire, Concientización (Bogotá: Association of Educational Publishers, 1972), pp. 15-18. The publisher is an association of Catholic organizations. The autobiographical notes published in this 107-page Spanish booklet were originally written in Chile, to answer the request of Mario Moreira Alves, a Brazilian journalist who was seeking personal testimonies of Christians persecuted by the military Junta that was responsible for the 1964 coup in Brazil. Moreira Alves' El Cristo del Pueblo ("The Christ of the People") (Chile: Ediciones Erchilla, 1970) is the book in which the testimonies were published. Freire's appears on pp. 247-50.
3. The biographical notes that follow were constructed through the use of the sources quoted in the first paragraph, in addition to bits of information obtained in books which review the history of Brazil in the 20th century.
4. Paulo Freire, "The Importance of the Act of Reading,"Journal of Education, 165:1 (1983), p. 8.
5. This and other quotes from Freire I transcribed from a group of seven cassette tapes which record the proceedings of the conference "Literacy, Empowerment and Social Change," held at the University of Vermont, Burlington, April 20-24, 1981. The cassettes are divided into two groups: "Blue Series" (4 cassettes) and "Green Series" (3 cassettes), all sequentially numbered by side. Each cassette has a 90-minute duration. They were sold by the University of Vermont one month after the conference. I will identify the quotes referring to this source as either "Green" or "Blue" series, and the cassette side number in which the quote appears.
6. Green Series, Side 4.
7. Freire, Concientización, p. 17.
9. César Jerez and Juan Hernández-Picó, "Cultural Action for Freedom," in Paulo Freire, USCC/LADOC Keyhole Series No. 1, Washington, D.C., n.d., p. 29. The authors do not offer their source for this statement, which directly contradicts Freire's own account of his law career.
10. Freire, Concientización, p. 17. Freire does not offer information on his work in SESI: only the positions he held there. Through secondary sources I have found that SESI was a private entity created by employers to assist workers, through combined funds: employers contributed some monies and a portion of the workers' pay was deducted for SESI's activities. In a telephone interview with a person that knows well Freire's life in Brazil, the person told me that it was his preference not to discuss SESI or Freire's work in it. This is an aspect that deserves further investigation if we are to understand Freire's occupational life prior to the development of his literacy method. Vanilda Pereira Paiva's Paulo Freire y el Nacionalismo Desarrollista ("Paulo Freire and Developmentalist Nationalism") (México: Extemporáneos, 1981), refers to Freire's work in SESI, again assuming that the readers know what it was. She asserts that in his 1959 doctoral dissertation Freire mentions SESI as an example of "an educational work for non-assistentialist participation (...) without judging the institution [SESI] or its structure." It is the opinion of Pereira Paiva that "Freire wanted to work against the assistentialist aspect of SESI, which was fomented by employers to help the industrial workers, making them participate as if it were a matter of the workers themselves." It seems that "workers' clubs" were organized in which workers could discuss the problems of their neighborhoods and city, to give workers "a socially responsible sense." (p. 99) The bottom line, it seems to me, is to find out if this was an employer's initiative, as some persons have told me. We just do not know.
11. Freire, Concientización, p. 17. He states that, at SESI, he reinitiated his dialogue with the people. If this is the origin to which Freire traces his method, conducting research on SESI, it seems to me, would be a theme deserving the attention of researchers who are interested in Freire. Such research is out of the scope of this essay.
12. The Catholic Action Movement (CAM) and its evolution is best explained by Emanuel de Kadt's Catholic Radicals in Brazil (London: Oxford University Press, 1970). Also, see Samuel Silva-Gotay's El Pensamiento Cristiano Revolucionario en América Latina y el Caribe ("Christian Revolutionary Thought in Latin America and the Caribbean"), 2d ed. (Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Cordillera/Ediciones Sígueme, 1983). Silva-Gotay traces CAM to an encyclical of Pope Pious XI in 1931 which sought for a "third way," neither capitalist nor socialist, based upon the Christian social philosophy on capital and work, and based upon the concept of "charity." (p. 40) It advised Catholics to create corporate structures integrated by employers and workers. It gave a thrust to the aim of re-Christianization of society through the "humanization of capitalism," best exemplified in the writings of French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. CAM was far from being a 'radical' entity and Freire has explained his and Elsa's disillusionment with CAM (Mackie, Literacy and Revolution, p. 3).
13. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire y el Nacionalismo Desarrollista, p. 77, hereinafter referred to as Paulo Freire.
14. Mackie, Literacy and Revolution, p. 4. There is some confusion as to the progress of Freire's university studies. Mackie says that Freire went from high school to the University of Recife "where he studied to be a teacher of Portuguese," and makes no mention of Freire's law studies or of his graduation as a lawyer, to which Freire admits in Concientización. Freire places himself as a university law student at the age of 20 (1941) and, at the same time, as a teacher of Portuguese in a secondary school in which he worked to help his brothers support the family (Concientización, p. 12). It is not known when he returned to the university to pursue the doctoral studies which he completed shortly after 1959.
15. The Popular Culture Movement (PCM) was sponsored by the Mayor of Recife, Miguel Arraes. (See note 16 below.) The transfer of this activity to the University of Recife is explained by Emanuel de Kadt's Catholic Radicals, as follows: "From its inception in 1960 many of those who helped to direct its activities [those of PCM] were members of JUC [Catholic University Youth]. And although the leadership remained in the hands of Catholics, members of the Communist Party became increasingly influential among the rank and file as time went by. It was at least partly in reaction to this development that Paulo Freire transferred his (populist) método to the Cultural Extension Service of the University of Recife." (p. 104).
16. Mackie's Literacy and Revolution, states: "In 1962, Miguel Arraes... sponsored a programme to promote adult literacy in the municipality of Recife, and appointed Paulo Freire as its coordinator. It was in this context that the famous 'culture circles' were launched." (p. 4) Yet, de Kadt states that Recife's PCM started in 1960. (See note 15 above.)
17. Miguel Arraes, Brasil: Pueblo y Poder ("Brazil: The People and the Power") (Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1971), pp. 43-65. See also Clift Barnard's "Imperialism, Underdevelopment and Education," in Mackie's Literacy and Revolution, pp. 12-38. Arraes' book is one of the sources used by Barnard.
18. The rural areas did not show unrest until the fifties.
19. Arraes, in Pueblo y Poder, presents the events which led to the 1964 coup as a contest between segments of the ruling classes: the emerging Brazilian industrialists against the entrenched oligarchic bourgeoisie. The former were open to industrialization, the latter against. But the picture is not clear-cut, as both groups crossed lines among political parties (of which there were many). All generalizations should thus be taken very cautiously. Arraes was an actor in the events which led to the coup. He was elected first as Mayor of Recife and later as Governor of the State of Pernambuco by an alliance of "progressive" forces which included political groups ranging from liberals to Communists. Arraes considers "armed struggle" as the only option left in Brazil. Yet, I have been told that, as of this writing, he has returned to Brazil, that he lives there, and that he has even participated in an electoral campaign. This information I have not been able to confirm, but deserves to be examined in the light of Arraes' analysis and the radical positions expressed in his book.
20. Arraes, Pueblo y Poder, p. 118.
21. This unrest warrants caution when we try to understand what happened. The Peasant Leagues are an excellent example, as they have been interpreted in the most diverse ways. Arraes says: "In 1956 Francisco Juliao founded the first Peasant Leagues. Immediately afterwards, the Church launched a campaign for the organization of rural syndicates. Peasant's struggles started to have an effect in the life of some regions and the problem of agrarian reform, hidden till then because it was considered an extremely explosive issue, became an unavoidable theme." (Pueblo y Poder, p. 122.) Emanuel de Kadt's Catholic Radicals strongly criticizes Juliao, who de Kadt says "gained in stridency in the early 1960's" (p. 26) and whose motives are judged as a ploy "to advance his political career." (pp. 27-28) De Kadt believes that both the "leagues" and "syndicates" were "organizations stimulated from above and built from the top downwards," (p. 111) by which he means that these were not genuinely peasants' struggles, but organized by members of the progressive elite for a variety of purposes. The Church at first wanted to fight "Communism" but the movement of rural syndicalization got out of its hands and was taken up, against strong criticism from the Church hierarchy, by radical sectors of the Church. These radicals saw the syndicates as organizations for the revolutionary transformation of the country, through the long range (this is very important) process of conscientization. Catholic radicals were not for armed struggle (de Kadt, Catholic Radicals, pp. 112-13), at least not before the 1964 coup.
22. Arraes, in Pueblo y Poder, saw the events which led to the 1964 coup as an economic struggle within the elite. He believes that it came to a point in which the industrial Brazilian bourgeoisie did not realize that it had been conquered by imperialism during the fifties (p. 120).
23. Precisely because "the nationalist movement, formed by different parties and by men who originated in diverse social environments, brought together different interests. An industrialist, a worker, a liberal, and a Communist, all could very well be nationalists since they all opposed foreign control." (Arraes, Pueblo y Poder, p. 118.) On the stand of the Communist Party, Emanuel de Kadt's Catholic Radicals informs: "The Communists were wrong. Their conception of collaborating with 'all nationalists and democrats' in a united front, which would bring together the 'largest number of patriots, irrespective of their class position or party affiliation' certainly overestimated the 'patriotism' of the bourgeoisie as a whole, and their willingness to oppose 'imperialism.'" (p. 100) On the same subject, Arraes says that since 1954, the Communist Party adopted the line [described by de Kadt] (p. 130). All authors I have reviewed seem to agree that the popular or people's forces were very divided organizationally and programmatically, and that there was not a single group sufficiently organized to resist the bloodless coup of 1964. The feeling I get is that, for all the talk of revolution, not a single organization considered that structural reforms could be stopped by force.
24. Pereira Paiva's book (see note 10 above), although specifically devoted to examine the intellectual formation of Paulo Freire in Brazil until 1965, enters into the formation of the Brazilian intellectuals in the 1940's and 1950's, who impacted upon Freire's ideas and methods. In her opinion, the programme which emerged out of Brazil's intellectual life and economic transformation between 1930-1960 was that of developmental nationalism, a programme that was not revolutionary but reformist, and within the parameters of capitalist liberal democracy. I have accepted her conclusion.
25. See Paulo Freire's evaluation of ISEB in his Education as the Practice of Freedom (written in 1965) published in Education for Critical Consciousness (New York: Continuum, 1981): "ISEB thought of Brazil as its own reality, as a project. To think of Brazil as a Subject was to identify oneself with Brazil as it really was. The power of the ISEB thinking had its origins in this integration with the newly discovered and newly valued national reality. Two important consequences emerged: the creative power of intellectuals who placed themselves at the service of the national culture, and commitment to the destiny of the reality those intellectuals considered and assumed as their own. It was not by accident that ISEB, although it was not a university, spoke to and was heard by an entire university generation and, although it was not a worker's union, gave conferences in trade unions." (p. 40)
26. In Paulo Freire. See notes 24 and 10 above.
27. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 54. It is interesting to note that Miguel Arraes, in Pueblo y Poder, says ISEB gave the definitive theoretical base to the ideology of the national bourgeoisie, which turned 'nationalism' into its weapon. Written before Pereira Paiva's book, Arraes describes the ideological transition of ISEB's intellectuals in very similar terms to those of Pereira Paiva. "The integralist movement, of openly fascist tendencies had tried to turn nationalism into a coherent doctrinal system; the group of intellectuals for the most part integralist in origin, that later on founded ISEB, finally gave it its definitive theoretical base." (p. 129)
28. Under the impact of, among others, José Ortega y Gasset's La rebelión de las masas ("The Revolt of the Masses"), both in Europe and Latin America there was a concern among intellectuals that "the masses" had entered into the political arena, like it or not, and that "something had to be done about it." Here in Puerto Rico the concern was (and still is) present among the intellectual elite, as Pereira Paiva says it happened in Brazil. The very term "the masses," later on softened into "the people" depicts the "poor," "oppressed" or "exploited" (depending on your point of view) as ignorant, emotional, subject to manipulation-massification because they are not "educated." The drive is to "humanize" them; to turn them into "persons." In the United States it is expressed as "bringing them to the mainstream." The "masses" are not deemed capable of acting as responsible citizens unless they are "educated into" democracy. The whole thing, in my opinion, is nothing more than an elitist view held by well-to-do (including intellectuals) for whom "the masses" are felt as a threat. As a solution, the option is to manipulate them into a particular political program that can range from reforms to "revolution," depending on the preference of the elite members in charge of "humanizing" the "masses." In the particular case of Brazil it seems that there were so many different groups trying to reach the "masses" for so many different purposes, that when the coup came about to wipe them all out they were so fragmented that none could resist. The "masses," perhaps wisely, did not move a finger to stop what was being destroyed by the military.
29. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 86. Freire's method, originally developed at a small scale in Recife, was moved to the national level one year before the coup, that is, in 1963. The process will be described further on along the essay. At this moment what seems important is to observe the ways in which the mentality of the "masses" is described, and what Freire's method was intended to change.
30. Catholicism in Brazil underwent important changes between the 1930s and the 1960s. The influence of Jacques Maritain diminished as the writings of Emmanuel Mounier became known. Mounier, also French, fought during the Second World War in the French resistance, together with Communists. He opened a door to a dialogue among Christians and Marxists for the reconstruction of a Europe without wars and without class exploitation. (Silva-Gotay, Pensamiento Cristiano Revolucionario, pp. 41-42). The transition from adopting Maritain to adopting Mounier's ideas took a long time, and is a complex subject that I cannot adequately summarize here. Yet, it is important to state that by the early sixties there was a search for a non-Communist Socialism, a democratic Socialism in which the person (thus the label "personalist") would be deemed of utmost importance. The strongest advocates for the new position were the Christian university students. The position included: overcoming underdevelopment; liquidation of capitalism and private property, to be substituted by "an effective instrument for the personalization of all Brazilians; nationalization of the basic sectors of production; a planned economy based upon the principles of Christian personalism; a pluralist democracy in which political parties would side with the interests of the least-favoured classes; a government that would not be subject to capitalist pressure groups and which would promote development to benefit the people, and non-alignment at the international level." (Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 59) See Emanuel de Kadt's Catholic Radicals for more detailed information. Pereira Paiva considers that the radical Catholic university students may have had a strong impact on Freire, causing a lag between his theory and his practice that is still evident in Freire's Education as the Practice of Freedom, in which Freire quotes both Mounier and Maritain. I should add that when Freire quotes Mounier he follows the quote with an attack on "irrational sectarians, including some Christians, [who] either did not understand or did not want to understand the radical's search for integration with Brazilian problems." (Practice of Freedom, p. 12)
31. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 127.
32. A summary of the changes observed by Pereira Paiva: a transition from "an originally authoritarian position... to the defense of bourgeois democracy, and then to a less clearly defined position in the direction of a defense of the popular classes." Pereira Paiva perceives "a serious contradiction" between Freire's theory and practice due to the fragility of the theoretical formulation of Freire given the societal conflicts in which the theory was immersed (pp. 221-22). It should be clearly understood that Pereira Paiva's analysis only includes the work and theory of Freire to 1965.
33. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, pp. 20-21.
34. On the reaction of the United States to these events, John Gunther in Inside South America (New York: Harper & Row, 1966) reports: "Brazil, it seemed, might be on the way of becoming another Cuba, and this, in the Washington view, might mean in turn that all the rest of South America could be influenced to follow suit." (p. 39) Gunther adds that "this was not quite the case." A strange and fascinating book, with no footnotes or bibliography for readers to judge the accuracy of the author's work, which offers an enormous amount of economic, diplomatic and congressional data (both about Brazil and the U.S.) on the entire period, is Jordan M. Young, ed., Brazil 1954-64: End of a Civilian Cycle, Interim History Series (New York: Facts on File, 1972).
35. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 22.
36. Ibid., p. 21.
37. We have already mentioned Emanuel de Kadt's opinion on Freire's differences with Communists (see note 15 above). Pereira Paiva mentions -- but does not explain -- that there were "tensions between Freire and the communists during Arraes' electoral campaign for Governor of Pernambuco" and that this served as a guarantee against any suspicion that the Freire method might be subversive (p. 24). There is no additional information as to Freire's relationships with Communists.
38. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, p. 25.
39. Ibid., p. 24.
40. Ibid., p. 25.
41. Vanilda Pereira Paiva describes, but does not explain, this apparently sudden change of attitude towards the Freire method (p. 25). Emanuel de Kadt's account suggests that the turbulence of 1963 in which Catholic radicals entered into tactical alliances with Communists, while at the same time using the Freire method, and openly acting against the Catholic Church's hierarchy -- which was parading "the communist menace before the faithful" (p. 76) -- may have had something to do with the reaction against the Freire method. The issue is important and very obscure, in part because the 1964 coup captured and/or destroyed many documents of 1963, all considered "subversive:" "that so conveniently vague term with which to stigmatize any instrument of unwelcome change." (de Kadt, p. 151) In de Kadt's opinion, "Incitement to revolt was never Freire's direct objective as an educator, though democratization was; thus he rejected authoritarian methods in education, the social palliative of [welfareism], and the stifling of political expression through massificaçao [massification]." (p. 104)
42. Joseph Page, The Revolution That Never Was (New York, 1972), quoted among others by Pereira Paiva in Paulo Freire, as her source; p. 29.
43. The military coup made no distinctions when accusing people of subversion. See Hubert Herring, Evolución Historica de América Latina (Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria, 1972), Vol. 2, p. 1065; Mario Moreira Alves, El Cristo del Pueblo, pp. 293-95; and John Gunther's Inside South America, p. 44. Freire himself has stated: "What does leave me perplexed is to hear or read that I intended to 'Bolchevize the country' with my method. In fact, my actual crime was that I treated literacy as more than a mechanical problem, and linked it to conscientizaçao, which was 'dangerous.' It was that I viewed education as an effort to liberate men, not as yet another instrument to dominate them." (Education as the Practice of Freedom, p. 57 in his footnote 24.)
44. Pereira Paiva, Paulo Freire, pp. 25-26.
45. Ibid., pp. 26-27.
47. The proliferation of movements and entities defending reforms mentioned by Arraes (see notes 19, 21 and 23 above) in the face of a government that had been abandoned by the bourgeoisie and basing its support on a 'people' mobilized by different and fragmented groups, makes it easy to understand that this was probably the case.
48. Mackie, Literacy and Revolution, p. 5. No information is available as to the nature of these negotiations.
49. Pierre Dominicé and Rosika Darcy, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The Oppression of Pedagogy. Paulo Freire. Ivan Illich, IDAC Document #8 (Geneva, 1974), p. 25.