Brazilian Integralism

Brazilian Integralism

Brazilian Integralism ( _pt. Integralismo brasileiro) was a Brazilian political movement created in October 1932. Founded and led by Plínio Salgado, a literary figure who was relatively famous during the 1922 Modern Art Week, the movement had adopted some characteristics of European mass movements of those times, specifically of the Italian fascism, but differentiating itself from some forms of fascism in that Salgado did not preach racism (they even had as their slogan: "Union of all races and all people"). The name of the party was "Ação Integralista Brasileira" ("AIB", "Brazilian Integralist Action"); the reference to Integralism mirrored the choice of name for a traditionalist movement in Portugal, "Integralismo Lusitano". For its symbol, the AIB used a flag with a white disk on a royal blue background, with an uppercase sigma (Σ) in its center.


With a green-shirted paramilitary organization with uniformed ranks, highly regimented street demonstrations, and rhetoric against Marxism and liberalism, they were in favour of nationalism in a context of heterogeneous and tolerant nation influenced by "Christian virtues". Like the European fascists, they were essentially middle class. In particular, they drew support from military officers, especially in the Brazilian Navy.

The fight against Jews was always subject of polemical discussions within integralist leaders - Salgado was against anti-Semitism, while Gustavo Barroso, the chief of Integralist Militia (a paramilitary group), was known for his strong enmity towards the Jews. [Philip Rees, "Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890", pp. 25-26] This led to at least two serious ruptures in the movement: one in 1935 and the other, 1936, when Plínio almost renounced leadership of the movement.

One of the most important principles in an Integralist's life was the "Internal Revolution", or "Revolution of the Self", through which a man was encouraged to stop thinking only for himself, and instead start to integrate into the idea of a giant integralist family - becoming one with the Homeland, while also leaving behind selfish and "evil" values.

Attitudes of the Vargas regime

In the beginning of the 1930s, Brazil went through a strong wave of political radicalism. The government led by President Getulio Vargas had a degree of support from workers because of the labor laws he introduced, and competed with the Communist Party of Brazil for working class support. In the face of communist advances, Vargas turned towards establishing the integralist Estado Novo, the only mobilized base of support on the right, building upon his intensive crackdown against the Brazilian left. With center-left tendencies out of the Vargas' coalition and the left crushed, Vargas gradually started seeking to co-opt the popular movement to attain a widespread support base.

Integralism, claiming a rapidly growing membership throughout Brazil by 1935, especially among the German-Brazilians and Italian-Brazilians (communities which together amounted to approximately one million people), began filling this ideological void. In 1934, the Integralists targeted the Communist movement led by Luiz Carlos Prestes, mobilizing a conservative mass support base engaging in street brawls. In 1934, following the disintegration of Vargas' delicate alliance with labor, and his new alliance with the AIB, Brazil entered one of the most agitated periods in its political history. Brazil's major cities began to resemble the 1932-33 street battles in Berlin between the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands and the Nazi Party. By mid-1935 Brazilian politics had been drastically destabilized.

Crackdown and legacy

When Vargas established full dictatorial powers under the Estado Novo in 1937, he turned against the movement. Although AIB favored Vargas' hard right turn, Salgado was overly ambitious, with overt presidential aspirations that threatened Vargas' grip on power. In 1938, the Integralists made a last attempt at achieving power, by attacking the Guanabara Palace during the night, but police and army troops arrived at the last minute, and the ensuing gunfight ended with around twenty casualties. This attempt was called the Integralist AssaultFact|date=February 2007 and the Integralist "Pajama Putsch". [cite|author=R.S. Rose|title=One of the Forgotten Things: Getúlio Vargas and Brazilian Social Control, 1930-1954|publisher=Westport: Greenwood|date=2000|page=86.]

AIB disintegrated after that failure in 1938, and some years later Salgado founded the Party of Popular Representation (PRP), which maintained the ideology of Integralism, but without the uniforms, salutes, signals, and signs. In 1964, many of the former members of Brazilian Integralist Action took part in the military coup that overthrew João Goulart; the Catholic bishop and famous socialist D. Hélder Câmara and the Brazilian leftist Leonel Brizola were both former integralists. Today, there are very small and powerless groups in Brazil which uphold the integralist tradition.


External links

* [ "Brazilian Integralist Front"] (in Portuguese)
* [ "Site of the integralist nucleus of the south of Brazil"] (in Portuguese)
* [ "Site of the integralist nucleus of the Rio de Janeiro"] (in Portuguese, English or French)
* [}aib.html Ação Integralista Brasileira symbols at Flags of the World]
* [ "Video clip showing Integralist uniforms, parades and leaders "]

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