Thursday, 18 August 2016

Micro Level Trends – Brazil's Automotive Sector – “Brazil 66”...Sixty Six Years of Economic Power Lifting (Part 2)

As with Soviet era Eastern Europe previously, given the general western ignorance of South America and subsequent simplistic interpretation of what was once called a “dark continent”, it was deemed useful to previously provide a quite detailed political chronology, itself driven by the tension between the socio-economic influences of the poor vs the rich.

A History of Immigration and Diversity -

Centuries long bitterness has existed, and still obviously exudes today with attempted Olympic disruption. But local rebellion was typically quickly and heavily quashed by the land owning, governing 'martial elite' with local forces akin to to Japan's regional Samuri. However, as history has shown, infrequently  full-scale revolution would spring setting new forces into play, but even herein would subsequently be handled by that elite, itself using spies and agent provocatuers to infiltrate or subtly redirect events and critical outcomes.

This the hallmark of many Latin American countries through the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

This polemic inevitable given the heavily socially (ie class) structured origins of Brazil and the effective Feudalism that intrinsically existed, the composition of which only started to alter after the 1930 Revolution and through the subsequent efforts toward social restructuring and general improvement for all.

However thus far that entrenched orientation of ethnographic mix within a mosaic society still largely delineates a person's relative position and associated life opportunities.

Thus most Native and Afro-Latin peoples previously used as slave labour have effectively remained as 'cheap labour', resulting from high birth rates, the big family and community mentality for group assistance and poor educational access.

Those foreign groups who came to Brazil as middle-class merchants (Portugese, Spanish, Germans, French, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, Indians and other Asian) have largely remained as such; able to trade and having gained footholds in banking, politics and as owners of diversified industrial and service firms; and so continued to predicate much of their current upper middle-class baring, putting formal and informal self-education high on their list of priorities.

Whilst the distant descendants of the original instigators of modern Brazil (typically Portugese and Spanish) retain much economic and political power as the effective de-facto owners of its lands, agriculture and commodities extraction rights, aswell as growing expansive vertical and horizontal business interests, from transportation companies to restaurants, to create sector based spheres of scaled efficiency.

In short a social structure which from top to bottom sees the typical attitudes of:
Top - Self-Perpetuation,
Mid - Self-Eduction
Low - Self-Preservation

From this perspective, for all the cynical criticism of the engrained power systems, or hype about the potentiality of the ethnic melting pot, in basic social structure Brazil is little different to all other EM countries, where although slowly changing, the engrained reality still predominates.

A Much Hybridised Society...Though with Distinct Limits -

Through immigration most major countries view themselves as multi-cultural, but Brazil is known to be a very highly hybridized melting-pot.

Its population today the result of long generational formal and informal inter-breeding between the  Aboriginal/Native peoples, Afro-Latinos and Europeans. The 16th/17th/18th centuries 'early' migration influx of wealthy Europeans (esp Portugese), accompanied by 'transplanted' African slaves, with another 'mid' 19th immigration flow by poorer Europeans, effectively indentured Indians to English masters, , and 'later' entry of typically marginalised Europeans, Indians, Japanese and Chinese offering specific productive knowledge and practical skills.

Thus when the 'First Republic' was born between 1822-25 the then new land had already long been a 'mosaic culture' of different national backgrounds, creeds and colours, typically marked by the “haves and have-nots”. That post-colonial reality was effectively “white and non-white”.

But with a great impetus for social integration and national self-determination -although plainly beset by social and political fractures created by narrow commercial-political wealth vs a broad agricultural and urban endemic poverty - the Brazilian identity acted as a loose umbrella from which it was deemed a new world could be born.

But this would take over a century to see the first fruits of true improved integration.

True Nation Building as the Proud Hybrid -

Such intermingling of colour and standing only really experienced since the 1950s, thanks to the social mobility and the improved lifestyle results of two important leadership drives. Firstly Vargas and his very nationalistic “Estado Novo / New State” policy with its industrial vision and economic trickle-down effects, . Secondly similar results from Kubitschek's development and infrastructure drive.

Although the broad mass of working poor had been viewed as the primary social melders for centuries, the fact is that only some ethnicities tended to inter-breed; typically the poorest Native Latinos and Afro-Latinos, from working closely together and socialising on the 'Latifundo' large farms owned by the elitist and socially remote 'Europeans'.

Yet it was that inter-breeding giving rise to mixed-blood off-spring, which in turn promoted the idea of 'Mestizaje' (racial mixing and assimilation) which loosens ties to racial roots and old identities, and so propounds the notion of a much melded, almost distilled, national identity.

So whilst 'Mestizaje' had been deployed as a propogandist tool for nation-building, and had only previously been seen at the lowest levels of society, a social revolution started to occur from the mid 20th century onward. The Vargas and Kubitschek 'golden eras' provided the strong economic foundations needed to slowly dismantle previous 'ethnic defences' amongst the middle classes, and better educated, employed and socially responsible 'non-whites' (ie Latino and Black) were able to enjoy the good times and themselves enter, and indeed grow, the middle classes.

Hence it was in the 1950s and 1960s that a new positivity underpinned the notion that to be Brazilian was to be a Hybrid.

Governmental desire to carve out and celebrate such a hybridised Brazilian character was not just prevalent in obvious cultural pursuits such as song, cinema and theatre, but as will be seen, even carried through into the Brazilian industrial output of its 'ISI' (Import Substitution Initiative). All to demonstrably create a distinctly unique national identity; one that was paradoxically separate to the outside world, yet formed from many aspects of the outside world.

Hence it was the era of the easy listening 'Bossa Nova' soundtrack, 'The Girl from Ipanema' and the word 'Samba' re-appropriated to the 23 window VW Microbus, that Brazil for the first time powerfully celebrated its essentially eclectic and fused hybrid national character on the world stage.

After another long lost era of almost two decades, greater social mobility and ethnic hybridisation would be seen again toward the end of the 20th century and into early 21st century, with even greater effect as the commodities super-cycle took hold, and the broader spread of generated wealth defied the previous effects of reactionary racism in what ad previously been dour economically depressed times.

But, as ever, eras of social improvement invariably raises expectations as general living standards improve and consumerism patterns change; with as very much seen today, any stagnation and real or perceived changes of affordability (in ever better basics and non-essentials) leading once again to social unease.

Nonetheless, Brazil seeks to obviously demonstrates itself - as its banner suggests - a truly progressive country. Long since espousing the allied idioms of

1. Cultural Fusion (the national character)
2. Ecological Consciousness (since the Rio climate summit)

[NB Indeed it seems likely that Brazil's development ideal is to increasingly operate as the de facto 'global bridge' between 1st World countries and 2nd and 3rd World countries, using the broad national socio-economic lessons learned (both good and bad) as primary hallmarks for:

A. the developmental guidance of other up-coming nations efforts
B. the cultural melding of the increasingly ethnically diverse advanced nations

In a time of 'Identity Politics' Brazil's ability to definitively mould itself both inwards and outwards is a useful case study.

Part of that is the nationalistic deployment of its automotive sector; as will be illustrated in the following Part 3, and specifically spans the various distinct phases of Brazil's efforts of independent and foreign assisted self-development:

1. Adoption for Indigenous Adaption
(eg Ford F-series, VW Fusca Wagon, VW Parati, Chevrolet Celta)

2. State Led Licensed Technology Transfer
(eg FNM – Fabrica Nacional de Motores)

3. Indigenous Development - Corporate (Mass)
(eg Ford Corcel, Karmann TC, VW Brasilia, VW SP2, FIAT 147, VW Gol / Pareti, FIAT Premio, FIAT Palio / Siena, FIAT Novo Uno)

4. Indigenous Development – Independent (Niche)
(eg Sporting : Interlagos Berlinetta, Puma, Miura, Dacon 828)
(eg Luxury : Santa Matilde)
(eg Utility : Gurgel G-15, Gurgel X-12, Troller)
(eg City : Gurgel XEF, Gurgel BR-800)

5. Indigenous Development – Technologies
(ie Fuel : Sugar Beat / Cane sourced Ethanol)
(ie Construction : Fibre-glass and 'Plasteel')

6. Multi-National Companies, Regionalisation and Globalisation
(ie Domestic and ''Parallel Export')
(eg AutoLatina)
(eg VW Gol, FIAT Palio / Siena, VW Fox, FIAT Novo Uno, Nissan Kicks)

7. Indigenous Development - Strategic and Value-Added
(eg Agrale and Marcopolo)

8. Indigenous Sector Promotion
(ie Sao Poalo International Auto Show....VW Buggy)

9. Indigenous Technological Research
(eg State, Academic and Corporate...Flex-Fuel, "Centro FEI", VW "2-UP"

Thereafter a look towards the possibilities for 'Brazilian Autos' with regards to ongoing domestic progress and improved international standing.