This book consists of two related essays written before the coup of April 1964. In this translation the title of the second essay is employed as a title for the whole, although the original Brazilian edition was named for the first, “The Dialectic of Development.” Presumably the appeal has been enhanced, Marxian growth models not being much in fashion, and Brazilian authors being expected to discuss Brazil, not developmental theory. This is unfortunate, because Furtado’s discussion of the interrelatedness of political and economic development is worth our attention.

In spite of the original title, it may not be assumed that the author is a revolutionary. He merely employs the lingua franca of Brazilian intellectuals to arrive at a doctrine of developmentalism differing little from that of W. W. Rostow except in its superior political sophistication. Dialectics for Furtado is merely a model that explains change better than an equilibrium system. He views social processes with detachment: Capitalism “can be understood, from the economic point of view, as an expedient. . . clearing the way for accumulation” (p. 48). Political liberties were its by-product, because the state had to mediate among fluid and conflicting interests. The class struggle is real, but also necessary, because through it the demands of the workers are converted into high standards of consumption. He regards revolution as a valid alternative for producing social change, but cheaper means should be employed if available. The Marxist blueprint, therefore, is useful not only to overthrow capitalism but also to explain how it works and to make it operate more effectively. His complaint against the possessing class is not that it exists, but that it is rigid, unsophisticated, and inefficient. The problem of feeding the new urban masses, for example, he regards as a question of enlarging the incentives of the landowners rather than of replacing them with smallholders.

The second essay contains three parts. The first is a survey of the Brazilian economy, readable and compact, originally written for foreign readers. The second is a repetitive, excessively abstract explanation of the economic crisis of 1963 to 1964, reworking ideas to be found elsewhere in Furtado’s writings. The third is a cogent analysis of the situation in the Northeast. In it he demonstrates that the recent expansion of the market for sugar indirectly caused the creation of the peasant leagues and also led to their deflection after 1963 into nonrevolutionary activity.