The Brazilian economist and historian who fought for social justice

"This is what Celso Furtado envisioned at the end of the 90's of the last century: a scenario of ungovernability for countries like Mexico and Brazil, if they didn’t face and solve the problem of inequality."
Por Antonio López
Jul 21, 2022

“If the process of income concentration and the consequent worsening of social exclusion are not solved, countries like Brazil and Mexico will be exposed to social tensions that could translate into ungovernability.” — Celso Furtado, Global Capitalism (1998). 

This is what Celso Furtado envisioned at the end of the 90’s of the last century: a scenario of ungovernability for countries like Mexico and Brazil, if they didn’t face and solve the problem of inequality. To date, we could say that both Mexico and Brazil have not done much to make their societies more egalitarian, socioeconomically speaking. Which helps us understand the social problems they currently face and that they will surely continue to face in the future if they do not do something.

Given this scenario, today I would like to share a little bit about the life of this author, Celso Furtado. The Brazilian economist and historian who fought for social justice in his country and along the Latin American region.

Celso Furtado was born in Pombal, Paraíba, in 1920. In 1944 he graduated with a law degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Later, shocked by the economic effects of World War II, he decided to study for a doctorate in economics at the University of Paris (La Sorbonne).



He was an economist who always dedicated his intellectual work to the discussion on how to achieve development in Brazil and Latin America.

Celso Furtado was concerned about promoting a development that really translated into real well-being for people.

Together with the Argentine economist, Raúl Prébisch, they developed the school of economic structuralism; associated mainly with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). This school proposed a development alternative for the Latin American region, which consisted mainly of promoting industrialization in the region (and thus not depending on imports from already industrialized countries). This school was also known as developmentalism.

I met Celso Furtado in 2019, while I was reading about development theories. I had the opportunity to read two of his books, which I would like to recommend: “Global Capitalism” and “Economic Development: a myth”.

They are two very interesting books that invite you to reflect on the type of development we have and to which we can aspire as a society. I mainly recommend reading the book “Global Capitalism”; It is a very small but powerful book. We can see that many of the things Celso wrote, about the crisis of global capitalism, are in force today, despite the fact that more than 20 years have passed since the publication of the book.

Antonio López

Antonio López

Founder of The Bookish Man.
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