Book Reviews

28 março, 2006

26) Sobre capitalismo e religião: follow-up do debate

Transcrevo a seguir mensagem de comentários à resenha postada anteriormente sobre livro tratando das relações entre cristianismo e capitalismo...

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There are two problems with both Stark's analysis (which I am looking forward to reading) and Stillman's:
1. They treat "christianity" as a unified phenomenon
2. They fail to distinguish between the adoption of rationality by individuals belonging to the elite, and the adoption of rationality by a whole culture (specifically, by those classes in the culture which did NOT belong to the elite).

The cultural adoption of reason was surely confined to the Protestant part of Christiantiy? (As distinct from the adoption of reason by individuals and groups belonging to the elite, which was possible everywhere in the world).

What divided Protestantism from both the older Eastern Orthodox Churches and the newer Roman Catholic Church was that Protestantism created a popular culture of literacy and debate:
(a) by teaching the general populace to read (earlier, only priests and nobility were taught to read anything at all), and
(b) by encouraging the populace not only to read, but in fact to read the Bible itself and understand it for themselves, and argue about their individual understanding ("schism" is clearly a dirty word for Roman Catholics, but was not seen as a particular evil, at least by the Radical Reformers, though the Magisterial Reformers did sometimes act as if it was a problem)

In any case, the result was an enormous cultural gulf, not only between the Christian world and the other parts of the world, but specifically between the Protestant and other parts of Europe. (I recollect that, in a Roman Catholic school to which I went for part of my schooling, Roman Catholic students were discouraged from reading the Bible and, if students objected and insisted, they were "allowed" to read the merely the four Gospels - and that was in the 1960s! Student questions were routinely with "That is a mystery!" BTW, lay Roman Catholics were allowed to read the Gospels only after the Second Vatican Council, so the school was not unusual in its stance.)

What made the enormous cultural gulf possible was that Protestants accepted the "priesthood of all believers" (that is, they accepted the right of everyone to think for themselves) whereas the Roman Catholic Church accepted (and still accepts) the priesthood only of certain special individuals who undergo particular rites and submit to the intellectual limitations imposed on them by their traditions (expressed by the Pope in Council, speaking ex Cathedra) - in other words, even priests are not allowed to think for themselves (they can of course think by themselves, which is a different matter).

We may not like Stark's explanation, or Weber's explanation, but the fact remains that the Protestant parts of Europe became, as it seems to me, the most politically free as well as the most economically vibrant and scientifically advanced parts of the world till the 1880s, when the USA began to equal them - and the USA was itself culturally formed much more by Protestantism than by any other culture at least till the election of the first Roman Catholic President, John F Kennedy, in 1960.

Prabhu Guptara

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27 março, 2006

25) Capitalismo e religião: tudo a ver?

The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success
by Rodney Stark

The Reason for Everything
A Review by Alan Wolfe
The New Republic Online
Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

"Had the followers of Jesus remained an obscure Jewish sect," concludes Rodney Stark in his new book, "most of you would not have learned to read and the rest of you would be reading from hand-copied scrolls." I had always known that Jesus Christ was a pretty important person, but I had not quite realized that were it not for him, there would be no one to buy Rodney Stark's books.

Jesus, Stark goes on, is responsible for more than liberating us from scrolls; to him goes the credit for all of Western civilization. If he had remained a Jew, we would live in a despotic world bereft of science and reason. Lots of women would die giving birth, and a significant percentage of children would not live past age five. Firmly ensconced in the dark ages, our societies would be horrendous places to inhabit, lacking "universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos."

Thought experiments have their place, but Stark's, it must immediately be said, is vile: even the most notorious anti-Semites give Jews credit for the banks. What respectable academic discipline would even consider Stark's ugly little scenario? It would not be called history. While there has been a flurry of interest in "counterfactuals" among historians -- would the world have been better off, Niall Ferguson has asked, if Britain had not entered World War I? -- most such efforts are little more than "parlor games," as E.H. Carr once characterized them. If they serve any serious purpose, it is to suggest the importance of caprice in human affairs. But Stark's counterfactual is triumphalist rather than tentative. We are not meant to reflect that any religion might have emerged out of the Roman Empire to become number one in the world rankings and that Christianity just happened to become the Duke among faiths. Stark proposes his hypothetical only to gloat over Christianity's inevitability. How foolish to think that the Jews -- like the unfortunate Arians, Nestorians, Donatists, or Manichees -- could have launched the modern world into being.

Of all kinds of historians, students of intellectual history would especially refrain from Stark's speculative fancy. Even after Jesus transferred away from the Jewish team, those obscure sectarians managed to produce Maimonides roughly a century before the Christians begat Aquinas. In this, they had something over the Arians after all. But because Stark wants to prove that "Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth," Maimonides, to whom Aquinas was more than willing to acknowledge his debt, makes no appearance in The Victory of Reason. Nor does the Jew Spinoza, born in the same year as John Locke, although Locke, a Christian, can be found three times in Stark's pages. Intellectual history would not leave out so many intellectuals.

Nor would social scientists allow their minds to wander where Stark's does. Max Weber did not write The Protestant Ethic and the Absence of Capitalism. The quintessential German mandarin, Weber laced nearly every conclusion he reached with qualifications. Even when searching for causality, he was sufficiently repelled by Marxism to avoid reducing all of history to one guiding mechanism. Filled with a Lutheran sense of responsibility, which Stark mistakenly describes as "academic anti-Catholicism," Weber cautioned social scientists to "recognize 'inconvenient' facts." Weber may not have had a sense of humor, but he did have an ironic disposition; he knew that human beings act rationally as well as irrationally, and he fully understood that those who try to do good in the world can end up doing bad.

Rodney Stark presents himself as the anti-Weber; The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, in his view, is not only wrong, it is so obviously wrong that no one could be expected to take it seriously. About that, Stark is mistaken; books such as Weber's make their contribution to ideas not by being correct in every particular, but by establishing whole new lines of inquiry that survive for decades. But Stark is right to contrast himself to Weber more generally, for missing in Stark's book is Weber's care and caution, while present in abundance is the simplification, the mono-causality, that Weber abhorred. Consider one sample of Stark's writing:

During the past century, Western intellectuals have been more than willing to trace European imperialism to Christian origins, but they have been entirely unwilling to recognize that Christianity made any contributions (other than intolerance) to the Western capacity to dominate. Rather, the West is said to have surged ahead precisely as it overcame religious barriers to progress, especially those impeding science. Nonsense. The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.

It would be difficult to imagine four sentences more antithetical to the spirit of Weber than those. When Stark chooses an adjective, he chooses the strongest one he can find: "entirely" appears twice in this passage. When he makes a generalization, he ignores evidence to the contrary; scholars such as Perez Zagorin recognize the contribution Christianity has made to tolerance. When he rejects the conclusions of others, he does so root and branch by calling them "nonsense." When he describes the party he favors -- the Christians -- he cannot help but call them "devout," which he always means as a compliment. Finally, Stark owes more to Lenin than to Weber; agitprop, disdain, perfect certainty -- all the Marxist arsenal is here, deployed not on behalf of class struggle but in the name of religious sectarianism.

Stark's proper academic discipline is what used to be called apologetics. (It still is taught at an occasional seminary or faith-based college.) He would return scholarship to an era in which the techniques of inquiry were marshaled to defend one faith against another -- against all others. University Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, Stark attributes the triumph of science to Christianity, but he does not tell us whether Jesus is also responsible for modern sociology. He should have pondered that question, for if an approach to the human sciences premised on disinterested inquiry and respect for the empirical realities of the real world represents one step in reason's victory, Stark himself has never been touched by the spirit of reason that he celebrates.

Let us begin at the beginning. Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles, Archimedes, Euclid, Galen, Cicero, Plautus: none of them was Christian. Yet the classical world produced two philosophers that would rank on any list of the world's greatest, a superb literature both comic and tragic, art that remains on display in every great museum, principles of geometry still taught today, the theory of the atomic composition of matter, the basic principles of medicine, the art of rhetoric, an empire or two, and engineering projects capable of inspiring awe. So the first challenge facing Stark's thesis is the need to explain away the accomplishments of classical civilization.

Greek science may seem impressive, Stark responds, but it was not really scientific; instead, the Greeks pioneered "lore, skills, wisdom, techniques, crafts, technologies, engineering, learning, or simply knowledge." Science, we are told, has two components: theory and empirical research. Any Greek thinker who engaged in one never engaged in the other: "either their work is entirely empirical or it does not qualify as science for lack of empiricism, being sets of abstract assertions that disregard or do not imply observable consequences." Stark concedes that Democritus was on track when he proposed the atomic theory of matter, but he never was able to "anticipate scientific atomic theory." As a result, his findings constituted sheer luck, or, as Stark calls it, "a linguistic coincidence." The atomic theory of matter is no more scientific then the speculations of Empedocles, who believed that all matter was composed of earth, air, fire, and water.

There are many ways to evaluate the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans. One -- the most obvious -- is to compare them with other civilizations of their time. By that standard, their discoveries really do amount to a golden age of creativity. Stark forbids himself to take such an obvious path, unprepared as he is to accept that any non-Christian, under any conditions, could ever rank number one (Stark's way of thinking really is this vulgar) in anything. And so he proposes another method: modern science as we know it depended on the scientific revolution launched in the sixteenth century; classical Greece existed before the sixteenth century; therefore classical Greece's accomplishments were not scientific. This is like saying that the Greek god Mercury, however swift, was a failure because he holds no running records in the National Football League.

Not only is Stark's reasoning anachronistic, it knows nothing of how scientific discovery really works. Yes, there was a great scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There may, for all we know, be another one in the twenty-second or twenty-third century. If that were to occur, many of the conclusions that contemporary scientists have reached will be overturned. But this does not make the theory of relativity or natural selection unscientific now. What we know now about the natural world is the best available knowledge to us. What the Greeks knew then about their world was the best available knowledge to them. Scientific revolutions do not obliterate what scientists used to believe so much as they build upon -- and then radically surpass -- earlier contributions. When Newton said that he stood on the shoulders of giants, Stark tells us, he could not really have believed such a thing, because it was not reflected in his work. I think we can reliably trust Newton's reflections on the debts he incurred more than Stark's efforts to put words into Newton's mouth.

Unlike Stark, the earliest Christians were impressed by the achievements of the Greeks. That is why they tried to suppress them. Paul did not know much about Plato and Aristotle, but he knew enough to worry that logoi would be less compatible with the Christian theology he was expounding than muthos. Paul, writes Charles Freeman in The Closing of the Western Mind, "may have been unsettled by his confrontation with the pagan philosophers in Athens. His response was to hit back with highly emotional rhetoric, the only weapon at hand. So for Paul, it is not only the Law that has been superseded by the coming of Christ, it is the concept of rational argument, the core of the Greek intellectual achievement itself." (Freeman's book, which highlights the many ways early Christians stood in the path of reason, puts Stark's conclusions and evidence to shame. Stark does not seem to know of its existence, though it appeared only a few years ago.) Paul gave Christians what they desperately needed to survive as an embattled community: faith. His greatness is not to be doubted; there is, Freeman continues, a depth and a power in his letters that is missing in the more placid writings of the Stoics and Epicureans. But one should never confuse Paul's passion with logic and empiricism.

It was only later, most strikingly in the writings of Augustine and Aquinas, that Christian theologians began to make their peace with reason. Stark can hardly restrain his enthusiasm for both these thinkers. A naïve believer, he remarks, may conclude from the story of the Wise Men that astrology is a valid science, but Augustine was too rigorous a thinker to accept such a conclusion. Using the power of reason, he deduced that astrology must be false: a God who gave human beings free will could not also have accepted that a human being's fate can be determined by the stars. Augustine's greatness, according to Stark, lies in his optimism; God's "unspeakable boon" was to endow human beings with a "rational nature."

With Aquinas, Stark continues, "the Christian commitment to progress through rationality reached its heights." Christian doctrines were not to be accepted merely because they had a scriptural basis; they had to be proved through logic. Like Augustine, Aquinas found a "profound humanism" in God's creatures; God did not reveal each and every truth through his word but left behind hints that allowed, indeed required, human beings, using the powers of reason, to interpret and understand his intentions.

Stark is certainly correct to emphasize the accomplishments of these remarkable figures. But to do so, he violates the methods he used to evaluate the contributions of the Greeks. Recall that Stark never judges Greek thinkers by comparing them with their contemporaries. This, however, is exactly what he does with Augustine and Aquinas; their accomplishments are lorded over the inability of theologians from other traditions to achieve the same level of brilliance. There were no theologians in Eastern religions at all, according to Stark, because all such religions, including Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, lack the idea of an all-powerful God whose essence is nonetheless understandable. Jews and Muslims do share with Christians such an idea of God, he goes on, but these faiths are handicapped by their legalism -- another hoary and unpleasant stereotype. They lack an idea of progress. (No idea of progress, in Judaism?) They do not pose questions of ultimate meaning. (Yes, he really says that.) They debate precedents rather than engage in doctrinal controversy. They are the religions that encourage scriptural literalism because their great prophets, Moses and Muhammad, unlike Jesus, left written texts behind. (Yes, he says that as well. Clearly he knows nothing whatsoever about the ancient and medieval opposition to literalism in Judaism.) Only Christians could advance the cause of reason, because only Christians believed in progress and possessed a theology encouraging human curiosity.

In a similar way, Stark, who claims that the Greeks could not advance the cause of modern science because they lived before the scientific revolution of the sixteenth century, claims that the work of Augustine and Aquinas, one of whom lived in the fourth century and the other in the thirteenth, "was the key to many intellectual undertakings, among them the rise of science." Newton, it would seem, stood on the shoulders of giants after all.

In Stark's book, players can never be identified without a scorecard; it is as if all great thinkers carry around a placard announcing their religion, and then they are all sorted into those who helped thought move forward and those who held it back. Nowhere in such a treatment is there room for the possibility that any particular thinker could find himself in two camps at once. But Augustine certainly did. In his Confessions, we see a thinker who understood that if men were created by God, the greater the men, the greater the God; but the tone of Augustine's later writings is much darker. This more orthodox thinker was not afraid to attribute increasing importance to the doctrine of original sin, thereby taking back much of the free will he had once attributed to human beings. Once a critic of Manichaeism, Augustine became more sharply dualistic. Formerly appreciative of the contributions of non-Christians, he became more insistent on the need to correct their false doctrines. An early optimist, he became increasingly pessimistic. Augustine remained fascinating to such twentieth-century thinkers as Arendt and Niebuhr because he wrestled with both the liberating and the oppressive aspects of his faith. Such a complicated figure cannot be placed into Stark's own Manichaean intellectual history.

Compared with Augustine, Aquinas is a model of consistency. Yet it makes as little sense to fence off Aquinas as merely a "Christian" thinker as it does to maintain that Augustine was as committed to reason late in his life as he was earlier. In the world in which Aquinas wrote, Greek, Jewish, Islamic, and Christian thought all borrowed from one another. "Accept the truth, whatever the source," Maimonides insisted, quoting the Talmud, and as David Novak has pointed out in First Things, this was a dictum to which Aquinas, who "treated with respect all great theologians and philosophers irrespective of religious differences with them," adhered. Searching for a way to bring to Christians a greater respect for the intellect than they had inherited from Paul, medieval scholars such as Aquinas turned back to the Greeks, and in so doing they paid their debts to the Muslim scholars who had preserved Europe's classical heritage. All theologies at the time took what they liked and abandoned what they did not.

One of the examples Stark proposes to justify his attribution of special status to Christian theology illustrates this theological bricolage. Was Jesus born to a virgin? The early church leaders were not sure; Paul, for one, thought that Jesus had brothers, which would make the case for Mary's virginity difficult to argue. Aquinas, Stark writes, was able to step in and settle the matter. Using his powers of reason and deduction, he concluded that the brothers of Jesus were not blood relations and that, as a result, Mary was a virgin after all. The whole controversy, as Stark tells the story, testifies to Christianity's intellectual superiority. Aquinas was able to do what no theologian from any other religious tradition could do, which was to use "persuasive reasoning" to alter church doctrine.

Although the Catholic Church would revere Mary and insist on her virginity, Mary's story in fact owed a great deal to non-Christians. For one thing, Mary's virgin birth has what Freeman calls a "shaky" scriptural basis, given that the Gospels mention her siblings and that one of them, John, does not mention her at all. There is a verse in Isaiah proclaiming, "Behold a virgin will conceive," but this verse, as Freeman continues, comes from the Greek version of the Old Testament, and uses the word parthenos, which could also mean young girl, rather than the Hebrew almah. When Christian thinkers in the fourth century developed their love for Mary, moreover, they borrowed extensively from paganism, especially the Greek goddesses Rhea and Tyche, as well as the Egyptian goddess Isis. Given this background, arguments on behalf of Mary's virginity testify as much to the needs of so many religions to contrast good and evil -- in Christianity's case, Eve's original sin with Mary's later purity -- as they do to powers of logic and reason.

As benefits a work of apologetics, Stark continuously relies on double standards and creates absurd classifications. Cicero, a non-Christian, believed in free will, while strict Calvinists committed to predestination were fatalists. Rather than admit any discrepancies in his airtight conclusions, Stark simply throws out the former's commitments as "an obscure philosophical matter" and takes the Christian commitment to free will as a given, even though it took Jacobus Arminius to bring the idea of free will to parts of Christian Europe under the spell of Calvinistic determinism. Augustine was an optimist about human nature at least some of the time, while John Chrysostom was a pessimist nearly all of the time, but for Stark they both played a role in advancing the Christian commitment to reason. (Needless to say, Stark makes no mention of the latter's virulent anti-Semitism -- "the synagogue is not only a whorehouse and a theater; it is also a den of thieves and a haunt of wild animals" -- because no mention is made of the entire history of Christian hatred toward the Jews, which was not exactly one of reason's achievements.)

Perhaps the most striking example of Stark's distortion of the historical record is his treatment of the Spanish Inquisition. This is, after all, the most famous example in history of a church that set itself up against reason, condemning along the way such luminaries of scientific method as Galileo. Stark loves to provoke: at one point he denies that Latin America ever became a Catholic continent, and at another he describes the whole notion of the Dark Ages -- the ones we would be living in had Jesus remained among the Jews -- as a "hoax" imposed on the world by eighteenth-century philosophers. But evidently the existence of the Spanish Inquisition is not a fact that he is willing to take on; he never refers to it by name, and in the one sentence that he devotes to the anti-intellectualism of the Counter-Reformation, he laments its legacy for "fostering misconceptions about religious opposition to science," as if it were all Galileo's fault that the Catholic Church got its awful reputation for putting him on trial.

And so it goes. Only Christians viewed slavery as sinful, Stark writes, although he acknowledges that a few Jewish thinkers did as well; the fact that Brazil and the American South were Christian and slave-owning is not important. (But posit that Brazil was not Catholic, and you solve half your problem.) Only Christians believed in human rights; all other faiths "minimize individualism and stress collective obligations," as if both the Catholic Church and Martin Luther were models of tolerance. Jews and Christians both shared the idea that history moves in a particular direction, yet "the Jewish idea of history stressed not progress but only procession, while the idea of progress is profoundly manifest in Christianity." This is to scholarship as Red Sox Nation is to fandom; I can fully understand why my fellow Bostonians would claim that David Ortiz is the greatest hitter in the world, but it staggers the imagination that a presumably serious scholar would make such a claim about one religion, and one religion only, in a world that has gotten at least a smidgeon of its ugly history of sectarian violence and faith-based hatred under control.

Reading Stark's book, it is important to remember that no major voice in American religion speaks in such triumphalist terms these days -- not the Vatican under Benedict XVI, not the theologians at evangelical institutions such as Fuller Seminary, not the Muslims who have issued fatwas against Wahhabism, not even members of the Christian right who have persuaded themselves that they are Israel's greatest friends. Rodney Stark writes in an age of reason to advance the cause of prejudice. I am all for challenging conventional wisdom, but sometimes wisdom, even of the conventional sort, has its virtues. Christianity has brought some great things into the world, but not everything it brought has been great. Other faiths made their contributions to reason as well. Wise people know this; blowhards and bigots do not.

Most of Rodney Stark's book deals not with theology, but with economic history. He sets out to prove that Christians, having invented reason, applied their intellectual powers to the world around them and created technology, capitalism, democracy, and modernity. Here is where Weber enters the discussion. He famously insisted that certain theological notions associated with the Protestant Reformation, such as the Calvinist idea of election, helped to fuel capitalist growth. The trouble this poses for Stark is not hard to see: Protestantism came along roughly fifteen hundred years after Christianity began. So if Weber is right, Stark is wrong. Christianity cannot explain capitalism if Christianity had existed for nearly three-quarters of its life on this earth without it.

All of which means that the inklings of capitalism growth must be sought in the early church -- if not the one that existed before Constantine, which even Stark admits was radically otherworldly, then the one that grew up around and after him. This is why Stark denounces the idea of the Dark Ages as a hoax, as "an incredible lie that long disfigured our knowledge of history." The notorious non-believer Gibbon imposed this absurd idea on us, and it is time to rid ourselves of it. Never one to practice the Christian virtue of humility, Stark writes that "no one has ever provided an adequate summary of what really took place" between the fall of Rome and the invention of capitalism. And so, in forty or so pages, he will do the job.

The so-called Dark Ages, it turns out, were years of remarkable innovation and progress. For the first time in human history, machines allowed production to take place powered by something other than human effort. New methods of warfare developed, encouraged by "the Christian conviction that progress was a God-given obligation, entailed in the gift of reason." (Stark never explains how the unreasonable Muslims were able to defeat those reasonable Christians throughout the entire period he is describing, although Lepanto, which the Europeans won, does get a mention. Nor does he take seriously the link between Confucianism and the development of military technology in China.) Polyphonic music was invented. Gothic architecture and painting far surpassed (whatever that means) Greek art. Vernacular languages were used by such intellectual giants as Dante and Chaucer, putting to rest any ideas of "Dark Age illiteracy and ignorance." (Only much later does Stark get around to mentioning that the Catholic Church opposed translating the Bible into vernacular languages.)

Never mind that the idea of the illiterate medieval centuries is just another of Stark's many straw men. Christians could do all these wondrous things during the so-called Dark Ages because they made three great contributions to the modern world. First, there was the idea of equality. Stark reaches back to a third-century theologian to illustrate this commitment. An important component of justice, wrote L. Caecilius Firmanius Lactantius, "is equality.... But someone will say, 'Don't you have poor and rich, slave and masters in your community?' 'Aren't there distinctions between one member and another?' Not at all. This is precisely the reason that we address one another as 'Brother,' since we believe we are one another's equals." Second, there was the reality of property rights. True, there were oddball Franciscans with their absurd vows of poverty and their troublesome saints; but as the church became as preoccupied with securing economic and political order as it did with the salvation of souls, and as it began to realize that property rights in general could justify its considerable holdings in particular, less was heard about God wanting all human beings to hold property in common. (This also means that less was heard about equality, at least in the radical form expressed by L. Caecilius Firmanius Lactantius, but Stark is never troubled by such inconsistencies.) And third, Christians, in rendering different things to God and Caesar, separated church and state. "Silly textbooks," Stark writes, tell their naïve readers that Christians endorsed the divine rights of kings, but in reality they were closet regicides, willing to consider defiance of stately authority if it conflicted with God's commands. (Into the dustbin of history go Richelieu and Mazarin and ... well, most of the history of Christianity's relationship with power.)

Armed with these Christian weapons of progress, Stark continues, capitalism flourished in full form in the great Italian city-states. Venice, Genoa, Milan -- each gets its page or two. The discussion of Florence is most typically Starkian. "An enormous amount of snobbish nonsense has been written about Florence," he bristles. This time the nonsense was the work not of Max Weber but of Jakob Burckhardt. (Stark does not stand on the shoulders of giants, but he does love to throw stones at them.) The nonsense maintained that Florentine creativity opened a path out of the Dark Ages, a view that Stark cannot accept since there was nothing dark about the medieval centuries for the modern era to leave behind. And what about Savonarola? Where does his darkness fit into Stark's centuries of Christian light? Lavishing praise on the Medicis for their protection of property rights, Stark ignores the monk who believed that Jesus Christ was the true king of Florence -- and who was condemned to death by church and state working in tandem. Savonarola joins Francis of Assisi, indeed nearly all of those who practiced Christianity in its ascetic versions, in Stark's purgatory. Otherworldliness, a distinct feature of all religions, including Christianity, is shunted aside by Stark whenever it threatens his relentless insistence on his own religion's accomplishments of worldliness.

Impressed by the achievements of the Italian city-states, travelers from northern Europe then brought capitalism to Flanders and, from there, to the British Isles. But do not think that any of this had much to do with the Protestant Reformation! Antwerp, a capitalist enclave that Stark especially admires, "was a profoundly Catholic community" in its golden age. (How many of those Catholics were actually Jews who had fled from the Spanish Inquisition is not discussed, because, of course, the Inquisition itself is not discussed.) Ultimately, though, Stark is not interested in assigning significant status to any specific branch of Christianity; Amsterdam and London, he concedes, took over the lead from Antwerp when they were primarily Protestant. Catholics and Protestants fought furiously with each other in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries over such matters as indulgences, biblical authority, the role of liturgy, baptism, and the requirements for salvation, but none of these differences matters much to Stark, whose case for Christianity is oddly irreligious. For him, Christianity is as unified within itself as it is distinct from every other religion. All Christians, whatever their sect, made the modern world; all non-Christians, whatever theirs, did not.

As capitalism began to flourish in Protestant northern Europe, it seemed to take a regressive step in Catholic Spain. And so Stark jumps in to deny that the backwardness of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain had anything to do with its Catholicism; empire and absolutism were the causes. Still, Spain did have the foresight to colonize the New World, thereby giving the capitalist revolution a whole new place to take root. Here Stark radically compresses his story, hopping from the Old World to the New even more quickly than he hopped from the medieval world to the early modern one. Spaniards themselves, he writes, realizing how dangerous the voyage across the ocean could be, did not come in any great numbers, but the British did, and from this point on Stark hurries toward his obvious conclusion: the most religious country in the modern world, our own, turns out to be the most successful capitalist society in human history. Religious freedom and economic freedom go together, Stark harrumphs, and only Christianity is responsible for both.

It is only after Rodney Stark brings us into the New World that we realize what he has omitted from his history of the West: modernity itself. Love it or leave it, nearly everyone agrees that the industrial revolution, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the whole course of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history, constituted a radical break with the past, introducing a world in which individualism reigned, and rights were demanded, and economies were expanded, and reason was unleashed. In Stark's book, however, there was no transition to modernity, because all the work of modernity had been done in the period between Augustine and Aquinas.

The implications of this point of view are as staggering as they are absurd. Diderot wasted his time on the Encyclopedia, because the Enlightenment had been anticipated by Christian theologians centuries earlier. Adam Smith need not have made a case for laissez-faire capitalism, because the Catholic Church had already done that for him. Kant and Mill were simply redundant. It is as if the most significant change in human history since the founding of Christianity had never taken place, because the founding of Christianity had rendered it unnecessary.

Stark claims that Christianity gave us the idea of free will (has he read any Judaism?), but he himself believes in a kind of predestination that would make John Calvin blush. Once the Christian theologians began to ponder theological mysteries, human history was set on a continuous course from which it never varied. Alone among religions, Stark argues, Christianity is oriented to the future. Not so; but what is so is that, alone among social scientists, Rodney Stark is trapped in the past. His history is so shoddy because, when you come right down to it, history does not matter to it. All that matters is Jesus.

The Victory of Reason is the worst book by a social scientist that I have ever read. Stark's methodology has nothing to do with history, or the logic of comparative analysis, or the rigorous testing of hypotheses. Instead he simply makes claims, the more outrageous the better, and dismisses all evidence that runs contrary to his claims as unimportant, and treats anyone with a point of view different from his own as stupid and contemptible, and reduces causation in human affairs to one thing and one thing only. How in the world, I kept asking myself as I read this book, could someone spend so much of his life trying to understand something as important as religion and come away so childish?

In a most inadvertent way, however, Stark does perform a public service with the publication of this dreadful book. For much of the postwar period, academic disciplines, including the social sciences, ignored religion, despite the fact that giants of social-scientific discovery such as Weber and Durkheim made the subject central to their understanding of the world. Turning back to those roots, scholars have begun to produce important work that helps us to understand why, if the United States is any indication, increasing prosperity did not bring increasing secularization in its wake. It is difficult not to notice that there is a religious revival taking place in the United States; indeed, a religious revival seems to be taking place everywhere in the world, with the exception of western Europe. So it is no wonder that there is a revival taking place also in the academic study of religion.

But the religious revival in the academy faces a difficult dilemma. Since many of the scholars intent on paying more attention to religion are themselves religious, or at least religious enough to care about the subject, there is often advocacy in their work. Their role, as they understand it, is to argue against those who claim that people who believe in God are somehow ignorant, biased, and soon to be extinct. Such advocacy is not contrary to contemporary academic convention. To say that religion is an important but neglected field is no different from economists claiming that their methods can help understand non-economic activities such as love and leisure; in both cases, advocacy is on behalf of a field of study as opposed to the thing one is actually studying.

No, the real problem is that most believers do not believe in religion. They believe in Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism -- in a specific faith. For them, being a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew is what matters, and while they may feel that they have more in common with devout members of other faiths than with lapsed members of their own, they retain highly particular texts, creeds, rituals, liturgies, hymns, and homilies. They, too, are advocates, even if some of them, such as evangelicals, advocate their faith more persistently than others. But they do not explore their convictions in the way academics test hypotheses. There are no statistical tests that would lead a believer to conclude that everything he has believed must be thrown out because his beliefs no longer correspond with evidence.

Scholars who are religious and who want to call attention to the role of religion in the modern world may be motivated by their faith to do so, but as scholars they must act differently within the academy than they do in the pews. And as the revival of religion in academia has begun to take hold, this is what the great bulk of them are doing. Mark Noll, an evangelical Christian, wrote a book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind that spared little in its criticisms of the faith with which Noll so strongly identifies. Others, such as Grant Wacker writing on Pentecostalism or George Marsden on Jonathan Edwards, produced brilliant books filled with nuance and balance. In the work of all these scholars, general religious convictions are always present, but specific ones are difficult to find.

Not so with Rodney Stark. His book is not about religion, it is about Christianity. Had he written that faith in God would lead people to work hard, to be concerned about their credit rating, to grow uneasy with slavery, or to raise qualms about social injustice, he would have produced a perfectly respectable retort to the prominent idea that economic take-offs have mainly to do with economics. There certainly was a cultural dimension to the rise of capitalism, and religion plays an important role in shaping culture. Perhaps because the modern academy is so secular, the role of religion in promoting Western capitalism has been underestimated.

The difficulty is that there are many religions in the West, not just one. Christianity comes in two major forms. Muslims reached far into Europe during their golden age and left an important legacy. Jews have been central to capitalist expansion from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first. Advocating religion over secularism runs the risk of dismissing secularists; advocating one religion over all the others degrades every believer who does not believe what you do. Rodney Stark is himself not a believer, or so he claimed last year in an interview on a Catholic website called the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood. But he has thoroughly absorbed the spirit of religion into his work -- not contemporary religion, with its taste for pluralism and tolerance, but old-time religion, with its appetite for exclusiveness. If the religious revival in the academy begins to take the form of Stark's Christian triumphalism, it will lose its credibility and perhaps even be sent back to the sectarian seminaries out of which it emerged. That will in the long run be Rodney Stark's contribution to his field; and while I would miss a strong academic interest in religion, I would gladly say good-bye to scholars who would rather evangelize than investigate.

25 março, 2006

24) Sobre a validade permanente da economia política dos clássicos e um grande americano...


Classy Economist
Thomas Sowell is a lifetime student of the market force.

The Wall Street Journal
Saturday, March 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Thomas Sowell's excuse for limiting interviews to an hour is that it helps him "avoid stress." But one suspects the real reason is that he has better uses for his time than to humor nettlesome journalists. In any case, it's hard to question the time-management preferences of a man who's published nearly 30 books, while also producing academic articles, long-form magazine essays and a seldom-dull newspaper column for more than two decades. Not bad for an orphan from Jim Crow North Carolina who never finished high school and didn't earn a college degree until he was 28.

Mr. Sowell's unorthodox views on racial matters have made him our foremost "black conservative," but the modifier sells him way short. He is one of the country's leading social commentators--without qualification. And his scholarship is not only voluminous but wide-ranging, covering everything from education and law to political philosophy, migration and the history of ideas. His primary discipline, however, is economics, specifically the history of economic thought, the subject in which he earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1968 under Milton Friedman and George Stigler. It is the subject he taught at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst, Brandeis and elsewhere during an academic career in the 1960s and '70s. And it is the subject of his most recent book, "On Classical Economics," which Yale has just published.

Mr. Sowell, who will turn 76 this year but looks 20 years younger, sat for an interview on a cool, drizzly morning at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, his perch since 1980, and where he is--appropriately--the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow. He describes his latest tome as "partly an old book and partly a new book." It combines four somewhat revised essays on microeconomics, macroeconomics, methodology and social philosophy from his 1974 publication, "Classical Economics Reconsidered," with four new essays, on Mill, Marx, Sismondi and economic history.

Asked why classical economics--and economists like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Mill and Marx--continues to deserve attention, Mr. Sowell replies that "if classical economics is relevant, than Mill and Marx are relevant. Why is classical economics relevant? I guess it's relevant because there are people who study it, and if they're going to talk about it they ought to know what they're talking about, which is a requirement sometimes overlooked."

Free-market economics, a legacy of the classical school, is thought of as an old conservative doctrine. But Mr. Sowell explains that it was in fact one of the most revolutionary concepts to emerge in the history of ideas. Moreover, "the thinking of the classical economist was not only a radical break from landmark intellectual figures like Plato and Machiavelli but also from mainstream thinking to this day." The notion of a self-equilibrating system--the market economy--meant a reduced role for intellectuals and politicians, he says. "And even today many still haven't accepted that their superior wisdom might be superfluous, if not damaging."

Mr. Sowell may be an unabashed free-market adherent, but he's proud to say that Professor Sowell left his personal views out of the classroom. In his 2000 memoir, "A Personal Odyssey," he relates an episode in which some students approached him after taking his graduate seminar on Marxian theory. They expressed appreciation for the course but added, "We still don't know what your opinion is on Marxism." He took it as an unintended compliment.

"My job was to teach them economics, not teach them what I happen to believe," says Mr. Sowell, who adds that efforts by some today to counterbalance the prevailing liberalism in academia with more right-wing instructors is not only an exercise in futility but a disservice to students. "Even if you succeed in propagandizing the students while they're students, it doesn't tell you much [about how they'll turn out]. I suspect that over half [of the conservatives at the Hoover Institution] were on the left in their 20s. More important, though, let's assume for the sake of argument that, whatever you're propagandizing them with on the left or right, every conclusion you teach them is correct. It's only a matter of time before all those conclusions are obsolete because entirely different issues are going to arise over the lifetimes of these students. And so, if you haven't taught them how to weigh one argument against another, you haven't taught them anything."

This lifelong passion for economics has been much on display in recent years--"On Classical Economics" was preceded by "Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy" (2000) and "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One" (2003), both of which were written for the general public. And it's worth noting the extent to which Mr. Sowell's background in the dismal science also informs his better-known works on ethnicity, race and culture. Other black conservative scholars have their strengths, to be sure. Shelby Steele writes like a dream and favors an existential approach to racial matters. John McWhorter's prose is as hip as it is provocative.

But Mr. Sowell's forte has always been rigorous analysis and adherence to facts, however stubborn and wherever they lead. And the facts led him on a writing tear in the '70s and '80s. Some titles, like "Race and Economics" (1975), "Markets and Minorities" (1981) and "The Economics and Politics of Race" (1983), betray his technical background. But Mr. Sowell's other influential books of this period--"Black Education: Myths and Tragedies" (1972), "Ethnic America" (1981), "Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality?" (1984)--are no less distinguished by the dispassionate empiricism he brings to such emotionally charged topics. In these tomes and elsewhere, Mr. Sowell's research questions the basic assumptions behind popular public policies aimed at minorities.

And in the process, he's made mincemeat of the sloppy methodology and flaccid arguments put forward by mainstream civil right leaders and their liberal sympathizers. He has shown, empirically, that affirmative action does not benefit poor blacks. He has shown, empirically, that political clout is not a prerequisite for ethnic economic advancement. And most importantly, he has exposed the harmful fallacy of using racial and gender discrimination as an all-purpose explanation for statistical group disparities.

Asked why many of these failed ideas, and the black leaders who promote them, don't seem to lose credibility, Mr. Sowell responds that the phenomenon is hardly limited to the realm of race. "You could take it beyond the black leadership," he says. "Has [John Kenneth] Galbraith lost any credibility? I remember 'The New Industrial State'"--the 1967 book in which Mr. Galbraith famously argued that large corporations were immune to marketplace forces--"but since then, Eastern Airlines has gone out of business. The Graflex Corporation has gone out of business. Similarly with all kinds of big businesses. This hasn't made the slightest dent in Galbraith's reputation. We have Paul Ehrlich, who has told us there would be mass starvation in the world in the '80s, and now we find our two biggest problems are obesity and how to get rid of agricultural surpluses." Mr. Sowell's conclusion is a cynical one. "I have a book called 'The Vision of the Anointed,' and there's a chapter in there called 'The Irrelevance of Evidence.'"

The idea to apply economic concepts to racial issues came, says Mr. Sowell, from the late Benjamin Rogge, who taught economics at Wabash College in Indiana. "I was at Cornell, and Ben Rogge came on campus to give a talk called 'The Welfare State Against the Negro.' I happened to be out of town, so when I got back I wrote him a letter that said I heard you gave this talk and that you're going to write a book on the same theme. I said it's really amazing that no one's thought of this before because there's so much material out there. At this point [in the late '60s] I had no thought that I would ever touch it myself."

The two became friends over the years and "it occurred to Ben that he was never going to write that book. And so Ben Rogge took his manuscript and simply handed it to me and said do with it whatever you can. I was flabbergasted. I don't think I ever used anything directly from his manuscript. But the fundamental idea the you could apply economics to racial issues--that was the inspiration."

Similarly, Mr. Sowell says his interest in "international perspectives"--most notably demonstrated in his lengthy trilogy on cultural history published in the 1990s--initially came from reading Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1963 classic study, "Beyond the Melting Pot." "It was really the first book I read about different ethnic groups. There were many different patterns. And more than anything else, each group had its own pattern.

"The left likes to portray a group as sort of a creature of surrounding society. But that's not true. For example, back during the immigrant era, you had neighborhoods on the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] where Jews and Italians arrived at virtually identical times. Lived in the same neighborhoods. Kids sat side by side in the same schools. But totally different outcomes. Now, if you look back at the history of the Jews and the history of the Italians you can see why that would be. In the early 19th century, Russian officials report that even the poorest Jews find some way to get some books in their home, even though they're living in a society where over 90% of the people are illiterate.

"Conversely, in southern Italy, which is where most Italian-Americans originated, when they put in compulsory school-attendance laws, there were riots. There were schoolhouses burning down. So now you take these two kids and sit them side by side in a school. If you believe that environment means the immediate surroundings, they're in the same environment. But if you believe environment includes this cultural pattern that goes back centuries before they were born, then no, they're not in the same environment. They don't come into that school building with the same mindset. And they don't get the same results."

It somehow seems an imposition to press Mr. Sowell on his next project, though he graciously allows that a collection of correspondence, as well as a book on intellectuals, is in the works. As the interview clock winds down, however, he returns briefly to the topic of race. He laments the fact that more public intellectuals aren't applying economic analyses to racial policies, even while he understands the hesitation.

"I think it would be great if someone would sit down and take a sort of systematic textbook approach to it," says Mr. Sowell. "[George Mason University economist] Walter Williams has written a couple of very good books, but unfortunately they were not well promoted. Guys like Gary Becker have other fish to fry, and they're writing for a different audience. Besides Walter and me, I don't know who else out there would write it. And heaven knows it's not the golden pathway to instant popularity."

Mr. Riley is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

23) Para os que gostam de livros de guerra...

O The Wall Street Journal deste sabado, 25 de março de 2006, traz cinco recomendações para o que o resenhista considera os melhores livros sobre os grandes conflitos do seculo XX:

Fighting Words
The definitive books on the battles of the 20th century.

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday, March 25, 2006 12:01 a.m.

1. "The Price of Glory" by Alistair Horne (St. Martin's, 1963).

Over the course of 10 months in 1916, the French and Germans killed or wounded about 1.25 million of their best soldiers in a few wooded acres around a fortress complex near the French town of Verdun on the Western Front. Alistair Horne graphically describes the sheer physics of the human carnage, yet the battle was not entirely madness: The Germans had a diabolical plan to bleed the French white, and both sides saw that a German breakthrough at Verdun might prove catastrophic for the Allies. Thanks to Horne's brilliance, Verdun is now seared in the popular memory as a slaughterhouse where well-meaning but often clueless 19th-century generals, usually from a safe distance, threw the youth of the 20th century into an inferno.

2. "With the Old Breed" by E.B. Sledge (Presidio, 1981).

There are some brilliant memoirs of the savage battle for Okinawa, but E.B. Sledge's is by far the most haunting. Sledge, who landed with the Marines on both Okinawa and Peleliu islands, describes in matter-of-fact prose how the superior discipline and bonds between fellow Marines overcame the often brilliant fighting of the desperate Japanese, who hugely outnumbered the Americans and fought from impenetrable subterranean concrete and coral-covered gun emplacements. "With the Old Breed" might serve as an antiwar ode, but the book ends by reminding the reader how well the U.S. was served in its hour of need by rare men such as his own--men that Sledge thinks it may well need again.

3. "The Face of Battle" by John Keegan (Viking, 1976).

This exploration of the soldiers' experience at Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme--all within a few miles of each other in the cockpit of Europe--introduced the young military historian John Keegan to the wider American public. Readers were fascinated with Keegan's excursus on human qualities such as fear and honor, the effect of steel and shot on flesh, and the way men ate, kept warm and armed before battle. "The Face of Battle" ushered in a new genre of military history known as the "experience of battle." Yet other efforts to convey ground-eye views of battle from antiquity to the present have never matched the level of detail and anguish, or the literary artistry, of Keegan's acknowledged masterpiece.

4. "Stalingrad" by Antony Beevor (Penguin, 1998).

We in the West cannot quite comprehend what really went on in this distant battle of Armageddon that began in late 1942, but Antony Beevor provides an extraordinary account of a terrible conflict in which the Nazis' tanks met the Soviets' T-34s, the Luftwaffe's best encountered skies full of rockets, and a million Russians fought the last crack troops that an exhausted Germany and Eastern Europe could throw at them. Soldiers on both sides accepted that capture meant either an immediate death or one far more grotesque from disease and starvation in frigid detention camps. At Stalingrad the Russians proved the better tacticians and even had the superior generals, ending for good any crazy notions that the Germans would go farther east.

5. "The Fall of Fortresses" by Elmer Bendiner (Putnam, 1980).

This too often overlooked memoir is the best personal account of American daylight bombing over Germany. The calm and reflective Elmer Bendiner, a navigator on a B-17 "Flying Fortress," describes how the Army Air Corps in Western Europe asked bomber crews to do the impossible: fly in daylight without escort into the face of thousands of German fighters and experienced flak batteries. More than 25,000 airmen did not come home. This book, framed around the nightmarish second Schweinfurt sortie, shows how the crews' high élan and skill fostered persistence despite perceived hopelessness. Bendiner reminds us in stark prose that, especially in the war's early years, the enemy enjoyed advantages of equipment, command and terrain; we simply had superior morale--and more flexible and innovative soldiers, who deeply believed that things would finally get better.

Mr. Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His most recent book is "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War" (Random House, 2005).

Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

24 março, 2006

22) Leituras econômicas para candidatos a presidente...

Acho que a confusão econômica já está instalada: um governo pretendidamente de esquerda que aplica uma política econômica alegadamente neoliberal (pelo menos é disso que o acusam seus opositores de "esquerda) e uma tropa de social-democratas que conceberam essa política "neoliberal" (e que, obviamente, não o é), mas que agora se pretende "desenvolvimentista"...
A longa matéria abaixo, do jornal Valor Econômico (24.03.06, caderno de Fim de Semana), lista uma série de livros que os candidatos deveriam ler, segundo alguns gurus econômicos (com exceção de um, que recomenda não ler nada e seguir o instinto).
Não há "Bíblia econômica", mas uma série de evangelhos, provavelmente com "soluções" parciais e limitadas para o nosso caso, um caso série de baixo crescimento, estrangulamentos estruturais e "mismanegement" administrativo.
Acho que os candidatos não vão ler nenhum deles, mas vão provavelmente ter assessores que leram vários, e virão com idéias criativas em torno de algumas inovações econômicas.
Se da discussão nasce a luz, a tentativa de aplicar todas essas idéias ao mesmo tempo pode resultar em tremenda confusão.
Não custa nada, em todo caso, repassar a lista dos títulos, como transcritos abaixo.

Reportagem de Capa
Trinta e dois livros - ou mais de 10 mil páginas - são as sugestões de leitura de 16 economistas feitas a candidatos à Presidência
Títulos de longo prazo
Por Robinson Borges e Carolina Juliano De São Paulo | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476

Os candidatos à Presidência têm, agora, uma biblioteca básica para elaborar seus programas de governo. São indicações de leitura feitas, a pedido do Valor, por 16 economistas de variadas escolas de pensamento e identidades partidárias. São 32 obras, que totalizam mais de 10 mil páginas (equivalentes a umas oito "Bíblias do Executivo", edição das Escrituras para dirigentes empresariais, da Editora Vida) e um investimento de menos de R$ 2.000. A bibliografia tem como foco principal o crescimento econômico, mas há uma tendência para livros que abordem as instituições e aspectos microeconômicos. A grande variável é qual paradigma a seguir.
Francisco de Oliveira, professor da USP e ex-membro do PT, critica o "vazio" que impera na discussão econômica dos dois partidos com mais músculos para enfrentar a disputa das eleições neste ano. Portanto, declara que é preciso voltar aos clássicos: "Essa gente precisa ler, ou reler, quase tudo. Tanto o PT como o PSDB deveriam ler uma biblioteca inteira antes de pensar em elaborar qualquer coisa."
Oliveira sugere duas obras: "Formação Econômica do Brasil", de Celso Furtado (1920-2004), e "Teoria Geral do Emprego, do Juro e da Moeda", de John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). Os dois livros estão alinhados ao pensamento desenvolvimentista. Furtado, o maior nome da escola no Brasil, é também o mais lembrado, com cinco obras na lista do Valor. Não deixa de ser curioso, pois ele era um crítico da profissão: "Os problemas econômicos são problemas que os economistas sabem formular mais ou menos, não é? Se bem que tropecem com essa idéia de que os problemas econômicos são macro ou micro, e raciocinam em termos de micro e aplicam em termos de macro, o que faz com que seja tão difícil depois sair das enrascadas em que nos metemos", disse à revista "Caros Amigos".
No outro extremo está Gustavo Franco, um tucano ortodoxo, que recomenda aos economistas do PT que não leiam e sigam a intuição, pois "o que deu certo para eles foi fazer diferente do que leram". Ora, "se a esta altura do campeonato forem ler alguma coisa diferente, o efeito pode ser o contrário". Então, é "melhor deixar como está".
A lista tem ainda três Prêmios Nobel de Economia: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen e Douglass C. North.

As reformas e seus inimigos
Claudio Haddad, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476

"Salvando o Capitalismo dos Capitalistas", de Raghuram Rajam, economista-chefe do FMI, e Luigi Zingales, professor da Universidade de Chicago (Campus), é um livro que, além de excelente resumo histórico da evolução dos mercados financeiros e de capitais, traz ótima análise dos movimentos e tendências recentes, à luz dos benefícios e da oposição dos grupos de interesse à modernização e a reformas. Os autores fazem análise técnica e factual, acrescida de elementos comportamentais, que torna esta obra de economia política essencial à elaboração de projetos e planos econômicos.
Claudio Haddad, ex-diretor do Banco Central, é diretor-presidente do Ibmec São Paulo.

Respeitar direitos e honrar contratos
Claudio Considera, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
"Direito, Economia e Mercados", escrito a quatro mãos por Armando Castelar Pinheiro e Jairo Saddi (Campus), é uma boa leitura para os formuladores de programas de governo. Os autores, com base nos fundamentos teóricos do movimento "direito e economia" desenvolvem um amplo estudo sobre regulação e concorrência no Brasil. Além da parte aplicada, os capítulos teóricos auxiliariam bastante os assessores de candidatos à Presidência a entender o papel que o direito da propriedade e os contratos jogam para o bom funcionamento do mercado e, portanto, para o crescimento econômico.
Embora o livro se destine a uma análise microeconômica, fica evidente como tais conceitos, associados ao conceito de governança, que trata da segurança institucional, explicam em grande parte por que o Brasil cresce pouco. Sem dúvida, os anos de molecagem institucional e de desrespeito a contratos e direitos de propriedade, pré-Plano Real, explicam o desastre da década de 1980. As crises mundiais e as reformas não realizadas por causa da obstrução do PT explicam o insucesso do crescimento em alguns dos anos do período FHC. Finalmente, a bagunça institucional, o solapamento das instituições, o desrespeito aos direitos de propriedade e as ameaças aos contratos explicam a espetacular mediocridade que têm sido as taxas de crescimento do governo Lula.
Outra sugestão é "Macroeconomia: Teoria e Política Econômica", de Olivier Blanchard (Campus), que contém excelente e abrangente explanação da teoria macroeconômica no seu mais recente desenvolvimento. Com ele, é possível entender como funciona o processo macroeconômico: o que determina o produto e a renda, as relações com a economia mundial, como funciona a política monetária (taxa de juros), como funciona a política fiscal (déficits e dívidas do governo); a relação salário-preços, os problemas advindos das incertezas e os determinantes do crescimento econômico. Sua leitura, principalmente pela assessoria do presidente Lula e vários de seus ministros, evitaria uma grande quantidade das besteiras que dizem.
Claudio Considera, ex-secretário de acompanhamento econômico do Ministério da Fazenda, é professor do Ibmec.

Para compreender e fazer democracia
Eliana Cardoso, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Minha primeira sugestão é "On Democracy", de Robert Alan Dahl (Yale). A democracia é o ingrediente número um da vida em sociedade. O autor explica o que ela é, por que é importante, como funciona e quais seus desafios. Também recomendo:
"Why I Am not a Christian", discurso de Bertrand Russell (disponível em Um presidente não pode misturar religião com política, como faz George W. Bush. Russell, campeão da liberdade de expressão e hostil ao dogma, defende a lógica e a evidência na sustentação de um argumento.
"Development as Freedom", de Amartya Sen (Random House, publicado no Brasil pela Companhia das Letras). Com exemplos históricos e evidência empírica, o prêmio Nobel de Economia despreza o debate estéril a favor ou contra o mercado e examina questões que interessam a todos, em especial a quem faz política econômica.
"The Mystery of Economic Growth", de Elhanan Helpman (Balknap, Harvard). É a mais abrangente e clara análise da teoria do crescimento, escrita com enorme sabedoria pelo maior especialista na área.
Por último, um livro que traz introdução aos temas do crescimento, inflação, políticas fiscal, comercial e social e que estabelece relação entre cada um deles e o desenvolvimento recente da economia brasileira. Tenho a ousadia de recomendar o meu "Fábulas Econômicas" (Pearson).
Eliana Cardoso, economista, é colunista do "Valor.

O desafio é dizer como se faz
Armando Castelar Pinheiro, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O Brasil avançou muito desde o início dos anos 1990, com as reformas, o Plano Real e, mais recentemente, uma política macroeconômica calcada em estabilização da razão dívida pública/PIB, câmbio flutuante e metas de inflação. Mas isso foi insuficiente, como fica claro nas baixas taxas de crescimento do PIB - em qualquer período de dez anos consecutivos, no último quarto de século, em nenhum caso a expansão média da economia atingiu 3% ao ano.
O grande desafio do próximo governo será elevar o teto de crescimento sustentado da economia. O que se espera dos candidatos é que apresentem programas em que expliquem como pretendem fazer isso. Nesse processo, será recomendável a leitura dos trabalhos de Douglass C. North - Prêmio Nobel de Economia - sobre o papel das instituições no processo de desenvolvimento econômico. O livro "Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance - Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions" (Cambridge University Press), me parece especialmente interessante. Nele, North mostra como as instituições operam para reduzir custos de transação, elevar a eficiência da economia e mitigar o risco de quem investe e produz.
Apesar dos avanços dos últimos anos, o Brasil permanece com instituições econômicas frágeis e pouco eficientes. De fato, como mostram os casos de expropriação de direitos de propriedade por agentes públicos e privados em anos recentes - vejam-se, por exemplo, a invasão e a destruição do laboratório da Aracruz pelo MST -, o Brasil sofre de um déficit crescente de segurança jurídica, que tem sido uma das principais barreiras ao investimento no país. E sem uma taxa mais elevada de investimento é difícil imaginar que se possa recolocar o Brasil em uma trajetória de crescimento rápido e sustentado.
Armando Castelar Pinheiro é professor do Instituto de Economia da UFRJ.

Pode-se fazer outra história
José Marcio Rego, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Os formuladores de política do próximo governo devem ler dois livros que - não por acaso - possuem as palavras "desenvolvimento" e "crise" em seus títulos e são excelentes para o entendimento da economia brasileira nos últimos 75 anos: "Desenvolvimento em Crise - A Economia Brasileira no Último Quarto do Século XX", de Ricardo Carneiro (Unesp/Unicamp), e "Desenvolvimento e Crise no Brasil - História, Economia e Política, de Getúlio Vargas a Lula", de Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira (Editora 34).
No prefácio do primeiro livro, escreveu Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo: "A rejeição ao nacional entre as elites cosmopolitas é a mais profunda desde o início do processo de industrialização. Atingiu, de forma devastadora, os sentimentos de pertinência à mesma comunidade de destino, suscitando processos subjetivos de diferenciação e desidentificação em relação aos 'outros', ou seja, à massa de pobres e miseráveis que 'infesta' o país. E essa desidentificação vem assumindo cada vez mais as feições de um individualismo agressivo e anti-republicano".
Para Celso Furtado, Bresser-Pereira "abriu novas pistas no estudo da realidade nacional" e "articulou o enfoque historicista com a análise econômica, assinalando a incapacidade de nosso povo para se defender contra as elites". E diz Bresser: "Nossa história nacional não tem sido (...) de defesa consistente do interesse nacional (...) O complexo de inferioridade colonial pesa sobre nossas elites e as leva ou a um globalismo alienado, ou a um nacionalismo retrógrado".
Na perspectiva dos dois autores, há espaço para que se formule uma política econômica novo-desenvolvimentista e profícua. É preciso que um novo presidente trave contato com essa literatura, ou a releia, na hipótese de um processo de remissão.
José Marcio Rego é professor da FGV-SP e da PUC-SP

Ainda vale ouvir José Bonifácio
Marcio Pochmann, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
"Projetos para o Brasil", de José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (Cia. das Letras; organização de Miriam Dolhnikoff) rememora uma proposta civilizadora, que tinha por objetivo viabilizar a nação brasileira a partir de sua independência nacional. Em "A Construção Interrompida" (Paz e Terra), Celso Furtado desenvolve uma visão crítica a respeito das dificuldades que precisariam ser vencidas para se viabilizar no Brasil um projeto civilizador.
Marcio Pochmann, ex-secretário da Secretaria de Desenvolvimento, Trabalho e Solidariedade de São Paulo (gestão de Marta Suplicy), é professor e pesquisador do Centro de Estudos Sindicais e de Economia do Trabalho da Unicamp.

Voltar à crítica, para mudar
Plínio de Arruda Sampaio Junior, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Em primeiro lugar, os partidos políticos devem relembrar os efeitos da globalização dos negócios sobre o Brasil com a leitura de "Brasil: A Construção Interrompida", de Celso Furtado (Paz e Terra).
É fundamental essa volta ao melhor da tradição crítica do pensamento brasileiro para compreender quais são os problemas do Brasil. Este livro é definitivo para mostrar os efeitos perversos do processo de globalização dos negócios sobre o Brasil. Como não resolvemos nossos problemas históricos, eles persistiram, se agravaram e ganharam novas dimensões. Por isso, não seria nada mal começar o programa pela reflexão, abortada pela ditadura militar, que até hoje permanece na penumbra.
Depois dessa reflexão, sugiro que o programa de governo aponte novos horizontes para o Brasil e as leituras recomendadas para isso são "A Revolução Brasileira", de Caio Prado Junior (Brasiliense), e "Em Busca de Novo Modelo", também de Celso Furtado (Paz e Terra).
A agenda do programa pode inspirar-se em "Um Projeto para o Brasil" (Paz e Terra), outra obra de Furtado, que define uma agenda de reformas ainda atual.
Por fim, indico dois livros do sociólogo Florestan Fernandes: "Revolução Burguesa no Brasil" (Globo) e "O Que é Revolução" (Brasiliense). Com todas essas leituras, poderão ter mais consciência dos problemas políticos que devem ser enfrentados para realizar as transformações que o Brasil precisa.
Plínio de Arruda Sampaio Junior, professor de economia da Unicamp, é ex-membro do PT.

É preciso seguir caminho próprio
João Sicsú, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Três livros devem ser lidos por integrantes do PSDB, PT, P-SOL e também PMDB. O primeiro deles é de Joseph Stiglitz, Prêmio Nobel de Economia: "A Globalização e seus Malefícios: A Promessa não Cumprida de Benefícios Globais"(Futura), um diagnóstico de como o Fundo Monetário Internacional, o Banco Mundial e o Tesouro americano sugerem que os países não-desenvolvidos se insiram na globalização financeira.
A principal mensagem do livro é que as promessas de conquista da prosperidade feitas por esses organismos aos países não-desenvolvidos não foram cumpridas. O resultado, muito ao contrário, tem sido a estagnação econômica e crises financeiras.
O Brasil é um exemplo de país que aderiu ao receituário do Fundo e, em conseqüência, enfrenta crises financeiras e possui uma taxa medíocre de crescimento. Índia e China são países que seguiram caminhos próprios e crescem a taxas elevadas - e não tiveram que enfrentar crises financeiras.
Outros dois livros que sugiro são coletâneas de artigos organizadas por João Antonio de Paula. "A Economia Política da Mudança: os Desafios e os Equívocos do Início do Governo Lula" (Autêntica) reúne visões marxistas, keynesianas e evolucionistas com dois objetivos: mostrar que o modelo econômico adotado pelo governo Lula é uma cópia do modelo implementado pelo presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso e que era possível adotar um modelo econômico desenvolvimentista sem que isso tivesse causado, na época, grandes turbulências políticas e sociais.
A mensagem central do livro é que a adoção de tal modelo está baseada na crença de que sacrifícios no curto prazo são necessários para que se chegue ao "paraíso" no longo prazo.
"Adeus ao Desenvolvimento: A Opção do Governo Lula" (Autêntica) é uma coletânea em que se faz um balanço do desempenho econômico recente do país. As conclusões unânimes são de que o modelo adotado foca apenas o controle da inflação e não prioriza a geração de empregos, o crescimento e a redução das desigualdades sociais. O livro, além de fazer um diagnóstico bastante detalhado da economia e da sociedade brasileiras, sugere um conjunto de mudanças que poderiam ser adotadas para se dar outro rumo ao país. Entre elas, programas sociais, políticas industriais, políticas de ciência e tecnologia e políticas macroeconômicas voltadas para o controle da inflação e para a geração de milhões de empregos. Praticamente, uma cartilha já pronta, que os candidatos deveriam consultar antes de decidir sobre programas de governo.
João Sicsú é professor do departamento de economia da UFRJ.

Um olho no futuro, outro na conjuntura
Ilan Goldfajn, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O tema da campanha deste ano será o crescimento econômico, e o livro para os formuladores dos programas de governo lerem pode ser "The Ellusive Quest for Growth", escrito por William Easterly (MIT Press), que detalha a experiência prática e o consenso acadêmico sobre os fatores que contribuem e não contribuem para o crescimento sustentado. Além disso, recomendo a coletânea que editei,"Inflation Targeting and Debt: The Case of Brazil", também publicado pela MIT Press, com artigos de renomados economistas brasileiros e estrangeiros debatendo temas como metas de inflação, dívida fiscal e os juros altos.
llan Goldfajn é ex-diretor de política econômica do Banco Central, tendo também já trabalhado no Fundo Monetário Internacional. Atualmente, é professor da Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) e sócio da Gávea Investimentos.

Como se manter bem longe do FMI
André Franco Montoro Filho, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O governo do PT não acertou quando tratou muito bem o Fundo Monetário Internacional. Antes de elaborar um novo programa de governo, os analistas do Partido dos Trabalhadores deveriam ler "A Globalização e seus Malefícios: A Promessa não Cumprida de Benefícios Globais", de Joseph Stiglitz (Futura), para aprender um pouco mais sobre lidar com o Fundo. O autor avalia o crescimento econômico dos países da América Latina que receberam auxílio do FMI. Comparando as taxas de crescimento no período de 1982-1992 com as registradas nas décadas de 1950, 60 e 70, Stiglitz constata que o crescimento médio da América Latina na década mais recente foi a metade das anteriores. E conclui que o caminho para o crescimento da região tem que ser encontrado à margem do Fundo.
André Franco Montoro Filho é professor da USP e colaborador do PSDB.

É melhor não ler nada
Gustavo Franco, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O PT está acertando a mão e isso se deve ao fato de o partido ter decidido seguir a "intuição". Não recomendo leitura nenhuma para a elaboração de um novo programa de governo. Acho que os economistas do Partido dos Trabalhadores já leram bastante, e o que deu certo para eles foi fazer diferente do que leram e obedecer ao sentido do momento. Se a esta altura do campeonato forem ler alguma coisa diferente, o efeito pode ser o contrário. Melhor deixar como está.
Gustavo Franco, professor do departamento de economia da Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, foi presidente do Banco Central do Brasil durante o governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso (agosto de 1997 a janeiro de 1999).

A microeconomia maltratada
Sérgio Werlang, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O livro "Microeconomic Theory", de Andreu Mas-Colell, Michael D. Whinston e Jerry R. Green (Oxford), tem como objetivo ensinar a teoria microeconômica, que visa explicar como as decisões individuais são formadas. Hoje, no Brasil, é bem entendida a problemática macroeconômica (austeridade fiscal, o pilar fundamental), mas a microeconômica ainda não o é. Algumas questões microeconômicos:
- Reforma das leis trabalhistas.
- Proteção ao direito de propriedade, com ação firme contra invasões do MST.
- Proteção ao direito de propriedade, por meio do respeito aos contratos de concessão existentes, aos contratos realizados entre o setor privado e o setor público e por meio da não interferência em transações entre terceiros. Pelo menos em duas ocasiões, essa interferência foi patrocinada pelo governo federal: quando o ministro das Telecomunicações estimulou a população a entrar com ações contra reajustes de preços determinados pela Anatel e quando o ministro da Saúde determinou a interferência em reajustes dos planos privados de saúde.
- Proteção dos direitos individuais, por meio da rápida execução judicial de disputas, de acordo com as leis, de forma previsível e estável.
- Maiores investimentos em qualidade da educação (pré-escola e creche) e diminuição acentuada de gastos em ensino superior público.
- Concentração dos gastos em pesquisa científica de excelência (hoje, as forças de pesquisa são dispersas regionalmente, com enorme ineficiência econômica).
- Melhorar sobremaneira as agências reguladoras e a regulamentação de diversos setores. Os mais críticos são os de gás, saneamento, seguro-saúde, eletricidade e aviação civil.
- Medidas para aumentar a concessão de crédito à economia.
- Medidas complementares à lei de falências.
- Melhorar a eficiência de diversos tributos, inclusive do IPI e do ICMS.
- Maior envolvimento das áreas econômicas na discussão de negociações comerciais internacionais.
- Continuidade dos processos de privatização e concessão.
Sérgio Werlang, diretor-executivo do Banco Itaú e professor da Escola de Pós-Graduação em Economia da FGV, foi diretor do Banco Central.

"Essa gente precisa ler quase tudo"
Francisco de Oliveira, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
A verdade é que toda essa gente precisa ler - ou reler - quase tudo. Tanto o PT como o PSDB deveriam ler uma biblioteca inteira antes de pensar em elaborar qualquer coisa. Mas destaco duas obras essenciais: "Formação Econômica do Brasil", do economista Celso Furtado (Nacional), e "Teoria Geral do Emprego, do Juro e da Moeda", de John Maynard Keynes (Atlas).
O primeiro livro é um estudo sobre o processo histórico da constituição da economia brasileira. Celso Furtado o escreveu na virada da década de 1950, no momento em que as lutas sociais reivindicavam reformas de base. Furtado expõe, nessa obra, as raízes históricas do subdesenvolvimento do Brasil e os obstáculos que impediam a formação da economia nacional. É um livro que associa a história à teoria. É o que falta aos planos de governo de hoje. A teoria não ensina nada se não estiver associada à história. E também se pode dizer que história sem teoria é só narrativa.
O livro de John Maynard Keynes é indicado porque uns e outros já se esqueceram de muita coisa. É a principal obra do economista inglês. Foi escrita em 1936 e serviu de base para a chamada teoria keynesiana, conjunto de idéias que propunham a intervenção estatal na vida econômica de um país com o objetivo de conduzir a um regime de pleno emprego. As idéias de Keynes estimularam a adoção de políticas intervencionistas sobre o funcionamento da economia.
Quando proponho que leiam essas obras não estou pedindo que voltem para o passado, mas que olhem para o passado e aprendam com ele. Os governantes de hoje estão seguindo uma teoria vazia e neutra e é por isso que andam confundindo gasto do governo com despesa. O ministro Antonio Palocci mesmo, quando vai à televisão e diz que inflação é incompatível com o crescimento, mostra que não sabe de nada, que não leu esses livros. Furtado mostra como o Brasil cresceu nas décadas de 1960 e 70 mesmo com índices de inflação altíssimos. O ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso até já havia lido essa obra, mas deve ter esquecido também.
Francisco de Oliveira, economista, professor de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de São Paulo, é ex-membro do PT.

Sem olhar para o retrovisor
Gustavo Loyola, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O Futuro Chegou - Instituições e Desenvolvimento no Brasil", de Mailson da Nobrega (Globo), é um livro adequado para os candidatos ao Palácio do Planalto. É crescente a percepção de que o crescimento econômico depende de boas instituições. E os governos desempenham importante papel na criação e fortalecimento de instituições essenciais ao funcionamento da economia e dos mercados. O livro oferece excelente oportunidade de reflexão para os candidatos e seus colaboradores na formulação de políticas públicas que podem acelerar o crescimento do país. Tomara que nenhum dos candidatos venha a elaborar seu programa olhando para o retrovisor da história, enquanto a sociedade brasileira mira o futuro que, de tão próximo, já chegou.
Gustavo Loyola, economista, ex-presidente do Banco Central, é sócio-diretor da Tendências Consultoria Integrada.

O modelo chileno como referência
Jacques Marcovitch, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Meses antes de terminar o mandato como presidente do Chile, Ricardo Lagos publicou "The 21st Century: A View from the South" (First Magazine), no qual explica a evolução da democracia e do desenvolvimento econômico em seu país. Oferece ainda prioridades para uma agenda internacional: desarmamento, combate ao terrorismo, liberalização comercial, luta contra o crime organizado e narcotráfico, a proteção ao meio ambiente, avanço científico e tecnológico. A obra contribui para o entendimento do ideário que inspirou os programas econômicos e os planos de reconstrução política adotados no Chile, assim como seus resultados tangíveis. Também indico "Ilícito - O Ataque da Pirataria, da Lavagem de Dinheiro e do Tráfico à Economia Global", de Naím Moisés, a ser lançado pela Jorge Zahar. O autor denuncia redes criminosas, beneficiárias da globalização, quase todas operando também na América Latina, onde o comércio ilegal de madeira serve de moeda de troca neste escambo invisível.
Jacques Marcovitch é professor de relações internacionais e ex-reitor da USP.

Só crescimento não é desenvolvimento
José Eli da Veiga, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
O livro que sugiro aos elaboradores dos programas de governo é "Desenvolvimento como Liberdade" (Companhia das Letras), escrito pelo economista indiano Amartya Sen - vencedor do Prêmio Nobel de Economia de 1998.
A razão para a minha recomendação dessa obra é que, ao que tudo indica, os formuladores dos programas dos candidatos nas próximas eleições ainda precisam descobrir qual é a enorme diferença que existe entre crescimento econômico e desenvolvimento.
José Eli da Veiga, professor da Faculdade de Economia, Administração e Ciências Contábeis da Universidade de São Paulo, colunista do "Valor", é autor do livro "Meio Ambiente & Desenvolvimento" (Editora Senac), entre outros.

Adeus, senhor presidente
Walter Barelli, para o Valor | Valor Econômico - 24/03/2006 - edicão nº 1476
Os analistas do PT precisam ler pelo menos três livros antes de elaborar um novo programa de governo: "O Fim da Pobreza", de Jeffrey Sachs (Companhia das Letras), "Adeus, Senhor Presidente" e "Chimpanzé, Maquiavel e Gandhi", ambos de autoria do sociólogo chileno Carlos Matus (Fundap).
A obra mais recente de Sachs, lançada no ano passado, desenha um plano de solidariedade mundial para eliminar a miséria, que mata 8 milhões de pessoas por ano. Em "O Fim da Pobreza", o economista americano sugere a adoção de um plano de ação que organize os projetos de redução da pobreza, fome e degradação econômica, para que as idéias não morram no papel por todo o mundo.
"Adeus, Senhor Presidente", na verdade, é um romance que fala sobre a história das democracias na América Latina. Começa com a transmissão de mandato de um presidente que está fazendo as malas depois que entregou o governo a seu sucessor.
Quando o presidente sai pela porta do palácio do governo com suas coisas, um menino pobre, sentado à porta, é a única pessoa que o saúda. Ninguém mais está ali para homenageá-lo, a não ser o menino, que se acomoda no mesmo lugar todos os dias, para pedir ajuda a quem passa, uma vez que morava nas ruas. É ele quem diz "adeus, senhor presidente".
Em seu outro livro, Matus define três modos de administrar a política: os estilos Chimpanzé, Maquiavel e Gandhi. O primeiro é marcado por uma metodologia de embrutecimento, em que a meta é alcançar o poder a qualquer custo. O segundo é baseado na idéia de um projeto que parece impossível de realizar sem o comando de um chefe afeito à idéia de subordinação dos meios à superioridade dos fins. Finalmente, o estilo Gandhi se inspira em valores como confiança e credibilidade. Se os assessores do PT tivessem lido esses livros, não teriam errado tanto.
Walter Barelli, economista, deputado federal pelo PSDB de São Paulo, foi ministro do Trabalho no governo Itamar Franco e secretário de Emprego e Relações do Trabalho do Estado de São Paulo nos governos de Mário Covas e Geraldo Alckmin.

20 março, 2006

21) De volta ao defensor da política industrial...

Sim, trata-se novamente de Ha-Joon Chang, o coreano de Cambridge, autor do livro
Chutando a Escada (já objeto de alguns posts neste mesmo blog) e ativo defensor de politicas industriais à la List e promotor de politicas comerciais defensivas, quando não protecionistas, para países em desenvolvimento.
Não se trata agora de seu livro, mas de uma entrevista na qual ele volta a defender os seus pontos de vista, entre eles este que eu acho sumamente irresponsável que é a defesa de um "pouco de inflação" (nem tão pouco assim, pois se trata de 15%) para ajudar no crescimento e no emprego.
Seria, no caso do Brasil, como recomendar um pouquinho só de vinho a um ex-alcólatra contumaz que está tentando deixar de beber...
Transcrevo o material agora e depois volto para comentar seus argumentos principais:

O ESTADO DE S. PAULO, 20/03/06
Entrevista com Ha-Joon Chang: Economista da Universidade de Cambridge
"O Brasil não deve desistir da indústria"

Especialista dirá a Lula que, para o País crescer, juros devem cair mais e que uma inflação de 15% não é o fim do mundo


Para crescer mais e se tornar capaz de competir nas próximas décadas com as potências emergentes (China e Índia) o Brasil precisa aumentar os investimentos. E, para investir mais, o País necessita reduzir muito as taxas de juros tolerando uma inflação de até 20%, bem superior do que a atual, inferior a 5%. "Chegou a hora de se repensar toda a estratégia", diz o economista sul-coreano Ha-Joon Chang, diretor-assistente de Estudos sobre Desenvolvimento da Universidade de Cambridge. Essa avaliação -- que causará arrepios na equipe econômica mas soará como música para outros membros do governo -- será apresentada quarta-feira em Brasília quando Chang participará de um seminário promovido pelo Conselho de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social. O evento será aberto pelo presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Chang ficou famoso com o livro Chutando a Escada, lançado em 1992. Na obra, ele argumenta que os países desenvolvidos só derrubaram suas barreiras depois de atingirem um alto grau de competitividade e riqueza. Mas hoje exigem a abertura nos setores industriais dos países mais pobres antes de eles reunirem as condições de competir em pé de igualdade. Por isso, ele afirma que o Brasil não deve ceder à pressão dos países ricos para que abra indústria e setor de serviços. Eis os principais trechos da entrevista:

Qual é a principal mensagem que o senhor vai levar ao governo?
É que o Brasil não deve desistir de sua indústria, cedendo às pressões para que se especialize em agricultura. O País, junto com outros países em desenvolvimento, está sendo muito pressionado nas negociações atuais da rodada da Organização Mundial do Comércio (OMC). Mas vou argumentar que o Brasil não pode abrir sua indústria. Antes disso, o País precisa ter uma política industrial melhor, juros menores. É uma grande pena que o Brasil não tenha ido muito bem nos últimos 30 anos. Já foi uma das economias com o crescimento mais rápido do mundo, tem empresas de sucesso como a Petrobrás e Embraer, mas tem sofrido com os juros altos, que dificultam investimentos e o avanço tecnológico. Minha mensagem será a de elevar o crescimento com investimento na indústria.

Qual a estratégia que o País tem que adotar nas negociações?
O Brasil tem tido um papel muito positivo nas negociações da OMC, o País ficou mais determinado com o governo Lula. Até então era só a Índia que defendia os países em desenvolvimento. Mas é necessário garantir mais espaço nos mercados para os países em desenvolvimento. Cada vez mais os ricos afirmam aos mais pobres que têm fracassado com o intervencionismo e protecionismo em suas economias. Os ricos dizem: não vamos permitir que vocês façam isso mais. Mas isso é um problema sério, pois os países em
desenvolvimento precisam de tarifas mais altas, mais subsídios. Como mostra o livro Chutando a Escada, os países ricos usaram amplamente do protecionismo e subsídios quando estavam tentando se desenvolver. Só depois de se tornarem suficientemente fortes, passaram a dizer que gostam do mercado livre. O Brasil deve dizer aos países ricos: O que vocês fazem é hipocrisia, quando se trata de setores em que são fortes falam em livre comércio, mas quando se trata de setores nos quais vocês são fracos, como a agricultura, querem proteção.

O presidente Lula afirmou que o Brasil está preparado para fazer concessões se houver contrapartida. O que o Brasil deve oferecer?
É óbvio que os países em desenvolvimento não podem manter o protecionismo para sempre. Mas poderia ser fechado um acordo que estabelecesse que quanto mais você se desenvolver, menor sua proteção. Mas falar que os setores farmacêuticos do Brasil e da Suíça deveriam brigar no mesmo terreno é um absurdo. Sou favorável a uma abertura no longo prazo, mas deve ser planejada segundo a capacidade de competição de cada país.

Como o Brasil pode fortalecer a indústria e o setor tecnológico?
O principal problema é a política macroeconômica. Se a taxa de juros não cair o investimento continuará baixo e sem ele não há como desenvolver a indústria. Com uma taxa real de 10%, 11%, é melhor vender a empresa e pôr o dinheiro para render. Eu mesmo faria isso.

Como baixar os juros mais rápido sem afetar a estabilidade?

Tolerando uma inflação maior. Não há evidência internacional de que haja grande diferença entre o impacto causado por uma inflação abaixo de 10% ou abaixo de 20%. É compreensível que no Brasil exista um receio de que se a inflação atingir os 20%, ela vai saltar para 100%, para 1000%. Mas o País se livrou de quase todos os mecanismos de indexação dos preços e não há mais necessidade de se preocupar da mesma maneira como no passado. A inflação está em torno de 5% e tenho certeza que poderia aceitar mais uns 5%. Não há teoria que mostre que uma inflação de 5% seja melhor do que
uma de 10%. Isso reduziria juros e estimularia investimentos. Pode parecer difícil de acreditar, mas nos anos 60 e 70 a taxa de inflação na Coréia do Sul era 20% e a economia crescia entre 7% e 10%.

Ou seja, o Brasil deveria adotar uma política econômica menos ortodoxa para poder crescer mais?
Sim. Uma recuperação do investimento é crítica para o Brasil, baixar os juros também é crítico e para fazer isso o governo terá de aceitar que a inflação poderá subir para 15% e que isso não será o fim do mundo. Além disso, a política se concentra nos detentores dos papéis da dívida. O dinheiro é usado para pagar os credores, não pode ser usado na infra-estrutura. Isso afeta as indústrias. Chegou a hora de repensar toda a estratégia.

Organismos multilaterais e investidores estrangeiros insistem que mais reformas estruturais são essenciais para o Brasil crescer mais. O senhor concorda?
É preciso cautela. Veja a China. A infra-estrutura é muito pobre e os direitos de propriedade, muito confusos. Mas as pessoas põem dinheiro lá, pois estão lucrando. As reformas têm de se concentrar em tornar o Brasil mais competitivo. E reformas, como na Previdência Social, demoram para mostrar resultado. Adota-se uma reforma hoje e nem passou um ano já querem outra. Isso cria confusão. As pessoas têm de ser pacientes.

Como o senhor vê as perspectivas de longo prazo do Brasil?
Mesmo com todos os problemas nestes 25 anos, o País continua sendo um dos casos de maior sucesso de desenvolvimento. Em 1938, o Brasil era um país menos industrializado do que o Equador. Apesar de todos os problemas, o País é hoje a potência industrial da América Latina. Isso é motivo de orgulho para os brasileiros. Mas o problema é que há outros países como a China e Índia que estão investindo em infra-estrutura, em tecnologia. Se isso continuar por mais dez ou 20 anos, o Brasil poderá não competir nem no mesmo nível de hoje. O Brasil tem de olhar no longo prazo. Não se trata mais de se preocupar com a hiperinflação daqui a três ou seis meses.

Ha-Joon Chang: Economista da Universidade de Cambridge e autor do livro Chutando a Escada.

14 março, 2006

20) Uma história da agricultura mundial desde o ano 1800...

Published by EH.NET (March 2006)

Giovanni Federico, _Feeding the World: An Economic History of Agriculture, 1800-2000_. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. xiv + 388 pp. $45 (cloth), ISBN: 0-691-12051-X.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Bruce Gardner, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland.

_Feeding the World_ depicts the history of world agriculture since
1800 as an outstanding success story. The goal of the book is to
explain how this feat was achieved.

After two brief chapters setting the stage and describing the
distinctive features of agriculture, the book consists of three
chapters (3-5) that lay out the facts as we know them (via
statistics) followed by four chapters (6-9) that investigate the
technological and institutional context in which agriculture
developed as it has. The tenth and final chapter provides a synthesis
of the facts and trends, and the pros and cons of some alternative
explanations of them in the context of overall economic growth.

The events that call for explanation, and that warrant the label of
success story, are that since 1800 the world's population has grown
from roughly 1 billion to 6.5 billion people, while food production
has not only kept up but enabled increasing per capita food
consumption, and with a trend toward decreasing prices of food
relative to other goods at least since 1850. These outcomes can be
called a success not only on their own terms but especially in view
of the Malthusian pessimism of intelligent observers not only circa
1800 but at many junctures between then and now when the world's
food-supply good fortune was thought to be at risk of ending.

The statistical chapters cover output, prices, and trade (chapter 3),
inputs (chapter 4), and productivity (chapter 5). The problems facing
numerical estimates of these quantities and their rates of change
over time are given a full and sensitive discussion. What is most
striking though is the audacious follow-up. Confrontation with these
difficulties leads not to a retreat from quantification but a series
of tables that gives annual rates of change going far back into the
nineteenth century for a great number of individual countries as well
as regional and world aggregates. A nice example of the author's
creative ambition is his time series chart (Graph 3.2) of world trade
in agricultural and total goods, 1850 to 2000. He splices estimates
from four disparate sources to show clearly the huge expansion of
agricultural trade over the period (trade volume in 2000 being 75
times the 1850 level), the even faster growth of nonagricultural
trade since 1950 (but not before then), and the big departure from
the overall trend of strong growth between the outbreak of World War
I and the end of World War II.

The culmination of the book's statistical efforts is a set of
estimates of total factor productivity (TFP) growth in agriculture.
TFP growth is found to be the principal source of output growth in
the industrial countries and an important source in the
less-developed world. TFP growth has been substantial in most
countries especially in the twentieth century, and since 1950 has
grown faster in agriculture than in manufacturing, belying the idea
of agriculture as stagnant and backward.

Chapter 6 opens the discussion of what has caused increases in TFP.
Two main sources are considered: increases in the efficiency of
resource use with given technological capabilities, and improvements
in technology. Technological change is the focus of Chapter 6, which
in 32 well-informed and closely reasoned pages highlights the
findings and controversies of the large literature on both the
sources of invention and the adoption of technology by farmers.

Chapters 7 through 9 address the characteristics of an economy that
foster, or frustrate, the development and adoption of TFP-raising
technology. Chapter 7 focuses on property rights and the economic
organization of farming -- size of farms, land tenure, cooperative
enterprise. Chapter 8 goes into more detail on the institutions that
govern property ownership and exchange, but does not assign a clear
causal role to any of them as sources of productivity growth. Chapter
9 is devoted to agricultural policies around the world. A fundamental
transformation in policies is seen, from "benign neglect" before the
1930s to a growing agenda of governmental regulation after. This
agenda of regulation and support, while politically successful, is
concluded not only to have failed to contribute to TFP growth, but to
have imposed net burdens on the economies that implemented the

Chapter 10 summarizes the results of the book in fifteen "stylized
facts." The ones most centrally related to the goal of the book are
that agricultural output grew mainly due to increases in inputs in
the nineteenth century and TFP growth in the twentieth, and that
publicly-funded research and extension have played a major role in
this growth. An implication of the brief (two-page) summary
discussion is that technological change is in the driver's seat, and
that other factors have been important only insofar as they fostered
or hindered new technology being improved and implemented on farms.
And, while there have been notable developments in property rights,
land ownership, the role of family farms, product and input markets,
and agricultural policies, the author is in the end unwilling to
credit developments in any of these areas as important causal factors
in long-term agricultural output or TFP growth, apart from the
disasters created by attempts to collectivize agriculture in the
Soviet Union and China.

The generalization offered about institutions is that they "have
successfully adjusted to the needs of technical progress" (p. 222).
It is surprising to find such a modest bottom-line role for
institutional change as a causal agent. Such a role underlies the
continuing efforts of the World Bank and others to use property
rights, markets, and related institutions as key long-term policy
levers to promote growth. I take the author's reticence to join the
bandwagon as derived from the fact that the long-term trends the book
focuses on simply do not permit sorting out causes from effects.
Still, it is notable that the discussion ends up treating
institutional change as more effect than cause. Could it be that
institutional reforms have less independent force as a source of
economic growth than current opinion sees them as having? I would
like to see the author's conclusions on this matter in more detail,
however tentative that discussion would have to be. In the case with
which I am most familiar, the United States, it is wrong to summarize
the governmental role as benign neglect before 1930. George
Washington, in his 1796 annual address to Congress, noted that
institutions for promoting agriculture grow up "supported by the
public purse; and to what object can it be dedicated with greater
propriety?" (quoted in W.L. Wanlass, "The U.S. Department of
Agriculture," in _Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and
Political Science_, 1920). U.S. land-grant universities were provided
substantial federal support starting with the Morrill Act of 1862,
and both federal and state-level support for agricultural education
and technical assistance and research have been important ever since.
For decades before 1930 waterways, irrigation, drainage, and other
infrastructure were subsidized, at times to a fault. The evidence
that these activities and investment made a difference in U.S. TFP
growth is reasonably solid.

Most of Chapter 10 is devoted not to conclusions from the earlier
chapters but rather to a discussion of the role of agriculture in
general economic growth. The discussion of this difficult issue is
knowledgeable and judicious and worth having, but has a somewhat
tacked-on feel given the stated purpose of the book.

The author, Giovanni Federico, is Professor of Economic History at
the European University Institute of Florence, Italy. He writes in
the style and substance of a modern economic historian, that is,
making cogent use of the tools of economic theory and empirical
practice. His writing is exceptionally clear and jargon-free. His
scholarship is wide-ranging and thorough and avoids superficiality.
He is an adventurous scholar. While fully cognizant of the
limitations of his data, he goes ahead anyway and quantifies his best
judgments and pushes as far as possible with their implications. He
at times likely pushes further than the data will go, but the sources
of his conclusions are transparent so if you want to challenge him
you know what you have to do.

Federico takes seriously the arguments of historians who are not
imbued with an economist's outlook, and when he finds fault with
positions taken in the literature, he does so in a gentlemanly but
firm way. On contentious topics, such as the induced innovation
hypothesis, he is sensible and fair to all sides. Though he would not
claim to have written the final word on either the measurement of
agricultural growth or the explanation of its causes, Federico's work
is an important contribution to our knowledge of the facts and their

Bruce Gardner is Professor in the Department of Agricultural and
Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is
author of _American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How It
Flourished and What It Cost_, Harvard University Press (2002).

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