Brazilians are demanding “Menos Marx, Mais Mises.” Looks a lot like Spanish, but it’s Portuguese. Spanish would be “Menos Max, Mas Mises.” Little trivia, there. In either language it means “Less Marx, More Mises.” Everybody knows who Karl Marx was, not everyone knows who Ludwig von Mises was. He’s the father of the Austrian School of Economics which advocates free markets in everything as the way to achieve the highest order of everything.
Brazil has been under the spell of Marixism for some time now and Brazilians are beginning to see how Marxism makes a messism of everything.
The intellectual underpinnings of the recent Brazilian protests are the result of a decades-long movement seeking a deep ideological change in the country. It is said that Hayek advised Anthony Fischer not to go into politics, but to influence intellectuals instead, believing that the intellectual arguments would prevail in the long run. Fischer went on to create the Institute of Economics Affairs. Some years later we saw public figures like Thatcher and Reagan. Something similar is happening in Brazil.
In the 1980’s, Brazil faced hyperinflation, dictatorship, and state bankruptcy. Brazilians who had studied abroad and learned free market economics and understood the importance of individual liberty began to form groups designed to teach these ideas to businessmen. They translated many books from Mises, Hayek, Kirzner and even Ayn Rand. Several “Institutos Liberais” (Liberal Institutes) were created, but the movement remained small and ultimately ineffectual for several years. [Note: by “liberal” they mean classical liberalism, much like today’s conservative philosophy, not the scrambled-brain goo that passes for “liberal” nowadays] In the mid 90’s, it almost disappeared. Intellectually, the 90’s were essentially leftist. Marxist anti-market and anti-globalization views were dominant in virtually all of Brazil’s universities.
Unlike the Olavo’s conservative movement, the libertarians lacked a central ideological leader.
A single conservative philosopher began to rise to prominence. Olavo de Carvalho denounced the left’s dominance as a Gramscian cultural revolution strategy. [“Gramscian” refers to Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), who promoted “cultural hegemony” which is the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society—the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores—so that their imposed, ruling-class worldview becomes the accepted cultural norm. Today we call it poltical correctness. Ed. TeeJaw] He [Olavo] benefited from the increased availability of the internet and started to gather followers nationwide. As a college professor, Olavo taught while smoking, drinking coffee and quoting obscure philosophers. As an activist, Olavo pulled no punches against his ideological opponents [My kind of guy!]. He started several private long-distance courses and maintained a website full of libertarian and conservative content, one of few such collections Brazilians could access at the time. As years passed by, he broke with libertarianism, becoming more conservative Olavo continued to grow his audience as corrupt practices of Brazil’s Workers Party became known to the public and lent support to his theories. The number of his students and followers (Olavetes) skyrocketed and many other conservatives thinkers have risen to popularity since.
Libertarians, on the other hand, started a movement of their own. Unlike the Olavo’s conservative movement, the libertarians lacked a central ideological leader. In a relatively short period of time, they have achieved very impressive results. Today, libertarianism is growing faster in Brazil than in any other country. The word “Mises” is the subject of more Google searches than either “Marx” or “Keynes.”
Everywhere, the human spirit yearns to be free. I’m not sure libertarianism is the way to go given its self-destructive tendencies. I’d go with Olavo.