Dados vol. 25 n. 2 Rio de Janeiro 1982

Autoritarismo e Após: Convergências e Divergências entre Brasil e Chile

Santos, Wanderley Guilherme dos


Taking democracy to mean the absence of authoritarianism and believing that the logic of power is of a cumulative nature, leading any social order towards a monopolistic pattern of power relations unless this trend is resisted, the author tries to answer one basic question: how to avoid the emergence of authoritarianism and, if it emerges, how to avoid it becoming stable? The fragmentation or dispersion of political resources, within or without the parliamentary arena, and the radicalization of political positions are seen as sufficient albeit not necessary conditions for the emergence of authoritarianism -should they occur, the ensuing instability of the political process would lead to a situation of decisional paralysis or immobilization, prompting a violation of the rules of the political game. Two cases which seem to fit the model are analyzed in a comparative perspective: Brazil and Chile. It is argued that in both cases the demise of the democratic order did not result from political fragmentation but rather from the ideological radicalization which transformed viable segmented systems into polarized systems. From a different angle, the paper deals with the question of bow to change an authoritarian order by means of a transition which is negotiated by the government. It is argued that an authoritarian system is inherently unstable by virtue of a social life in constant mutation. Faced with potential power locii created by social transformations, authoritarian regimes tend to expand their areas of control. ln the absence of legitimate channels through which dissent may be voiced antagonism to the regime becomes diffused and redemptory conspiracies blossom. To the extent that repression is successful in terms of increasing the predictability of social behavior, it also leads to the fragmentation of the authoritarian coalition into competitive cliques which are unable to agree on who is the enemy once the credible enemies are wiped out. This is the reason why a negotiated transition to a non-authoritarian situation is the least divisive alternative facing authoritarian regimes. The author concludes by pointing out the importance of a politically skilled opposition, capable of negotiating a program of maximum possible liberalization, instead of fighting over what should be the acceptable minimum, as well as of preserving some space for negotiations over substantive demands. It is suggested that the breakdown of the authoritarian power monopoly is liable to be more successful if the various repressive factions must face a pluralist instead of a monolithic oppositionist front.

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Autoritarismo e Após: Convergências e Divergências entre Brasil e Chile