Developmentalism was a response to the challenges and opportunities created by the Great Depression of the 1930s. National projects for development and industrialization in peripheral countries had the same origins, as Keynesianism in core nations.
The developmentalist wave, and the Keynesian experience, had their hey-day in the three decades that succeeded the end of the Second World War. The political and social climate was saturated with the idea that it was possible to adopt national and international strategies for growth, industrialization and social progress.
The results, although still far from equally spread out, were not bad. Compared to any other period of capitalism, before or after, the developmentalist and Keynesian era performed much better, in terms of rates of GDP growth, job creation, increase in real wages but, in the case of countries like Brazil, still fell short of achieving the universalization of social and economic rights.
During the 1990s, liberal cosmopolitanism set out on an adventure to dismantle the idea of the nation. To this end, it occupied itself with hiding and denying the existence of hierarchies and domination in international relations, exalting the regenerating virtues of competition and stigmatizing the intervention of the State.
The result, a disaster from a material point of view, and, furthermore, shaky on theoretical grounds, clearly proved the need for a return and modernization of the development agenda, adapted to the new conditions of the global economy.
Part of this aggiornamento (Italian for spirit of change and open-mindedness) requires us to take a stand against the very mental dependence which faced, in Celso Furtado, an obstacle of intelligence and sufficiently strong character to make him into an unorthodox reference whilst still alive. The International Celso Furtado Center for Development Policies comes into being with the purpose of honoring Furtado’s life and work.
This signifies, from the very outset, an intellectual commitment to confront, with equal fearlessness, the theoretical and political challenges to development in our time. (Adapted from the text by Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, the Celso Furtado Center`s first president. Read in full).
The Celso Furtado Center supports research and the growth of teaching on the subject of Economic and Social Development in the institutes of economics and social sciences of Brazilian universities, by means of republication of classics, such as A economia do subdesenvolvimento (The economics of under-development), by A. N. Agarwala and S. P. Singh, and Desenvolvimento e subdesenvolvimento (Development and Under-Development), by Celso Furtado, as well as works dealing with the views of Raul Prebisch and other economists and researchers, all included in the Political Economics and Development Collection. This support also manifests itself in the inclusion, in the Center`s study grant programs, of specific lines of research related to theoretical discussions on the subject of economic and social development.
The Center is also one of the founders of the Brazilian Network of Economic Development Teaching, created through a joint initiative of Brazilian university professors, and backed by IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research) and the Brazilian office of ECLAC (the UN`s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). Its prime purpose is to bring together, through a permanent Network of exchange, professors of Economic Development, both at under-graduate and at post-graduate levels, with a view to improving the quality of teaching of this subject in Brazil.
In August of 2011, the Center organized a workshop on The New Developmentalism and a Structuralist Macroeconomy of Development, which dealt with one of the most talked-about ideas of modern-day unorthodox economic theory, namely the idea of a new developmentalism, a project created by the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo by a group of economists working under professor Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, a councilor of the Celso Furtado Center. This movement has organized itself around the document entitled Ten Thesess on New Developmentalism, which can be seen at (www.tenthesesonnewdevelopmentalism.org/theses_portuguese.asp), and to which hundreds of economists have thus far subscribed.