Influential Sociologist Francisco de Oliveira Dies at 85

He helped found PT, but was disappointed with party after Lula took over

NAIEF HADDAD
São Paulo

The Brazilian Academy has lost its "master of dialectics." The Pernambuco Francisco Maria Cavalcanti de Oliveira, better known as Chico de Oliveira, died at the age of 85 at dawn on Wednesday (10).

In 1992, the literary critic Roberto Schwarz wrote a text in homage to the sociologist and economist Francisco de Oliveira, who had just become a professor of USP at that time.

"Marxism sharpens the sense of reality of some and blunts that of others. Chico obviously belongs to the first group," Schwarz said of his friend. And he said: "Chico is a master of dialectics."

The sociologist and economist Francisco de Oliveira (Foto: Fabio Braga/Folhapress, PODER) - Folhapress

One of the most influential names in social science in Brazil since the 1960s, Oliveira wrote may essays that became cultural references, such as "Critique of Dualist Reason" (1972), "Elegia for a Re (li) gion" (1977), and "The Platypus" (2003). He had a notable presence in institutions such as USP and Cebrap (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning).

The year 2003 is decisive for understanding the intellectual and political trajectory of Oliveira. It was during this period that he published one of his fundamental texts, the essay "The Platypus."

Roughly, the animal-reptile medium, half mammal-is like Brazilian society, no longer underdeveloped, although without conditions for a modern, less unequal capitalist arrangement.

He helped found the PT in 1980, but was deeply disappointed with the party when Lula became president. He also participated in the creation of the PSOL in 2004; however, he was also disenchanted soon with this party.

Born in Recife in 1933, he studied social sciences in 1956 at former Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Recife, now Federal University of Pernambuco. 

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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