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Securing SexMorality and Repression in the Making of Cold War Brazil$
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Benjamin A. Cowan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627502

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627502.001.0001

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Only for the Cause of the Pátria

Only for the Cause of the Pátria

The Frustrations of Interwar Moralism

(p.21) 1 Only for the Cause of the Pátria
Securing Sex

Benjamin A. Cowan

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter One explores the heritage of right-wing activism across the twentieth century, beginning in the 1910s and continuing through the presidency (1930-1937) and dictatorship (1937-1945) of Getúlio Vargas. The radical (sometimes fascist) Right of early twentieth-century and interwar Brazil developed certain key modes of reaction. Lamenting modernization itself, and hearkening back to a mythic, medieval European past, this Right linked anticommunism, anti-modernism, and panic about morality and masculinity in ways would revive in the latter half of the century. Such panic encompassed seminal, patriarchalist reactions to urbanization, modern entertainment, and gender deviance (especially “new” womanhood, though moralists paradoxically directed their prescribed solutions at the nation’s boys). This chapter shows that Getúlio Vargas tempered or coopted much of this early moralism—the state cooperated with conservatives only insofar as doing so was expedient, privileging statist approaches to the critical issues of gender, reproduction, and education. Illustrating the peculiar dynamics of Vargas-era right-wing moralism, this chapter begins to show that Cold War conservative authoritarianism cannot be understood without attention to the structures of difference, enmity, and national (in)viability developed by extreme rightists long before 1945. Though we think of post-1964 military authoritarianists as “modernizing conservatives,” radical rightists’ anti-modernism, developed in the era of fascism, formed the core of a moralistic anticommunism that would gain ascendancy in dictatorial Brazil.

Keywords:   Getúlio Vargas, Estado Novo, Fascism, Moralism, Catholic Church, Integralists (AIB), Anticommunism, Modernization, Youth Organizations, Sexuality, Women and Gender

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