A Brazilian Adam Smith: José da Silva Lisboa as the Founding Father of Political Economy in Brazil

Interesting paper on how ideas transcend borders.

Paulo Roberto de Almeida (Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations; Centro Universitário de Brasília (UniCEUB)) points to works of José da Silva Lisboa> He brought Adam Smith teachings to Brazil:

Indeed, Smith’s lessons were, and are, universal in nature, and his prescriptions for a sound conduction of economic policies had global reach, despite many structural differences in economic characteristics between central and peripheral nations. He recommended, in a sensible way, an even combination of the free movement of production factors (by the invisible hand of market forces) with the needed action of the State in some important strategic spheres of public
policies, such as defense, justice, infrastructure, and primary education.

No objection, then, that Smith’s lessons could be brought to Brazil through some  intellectuals, tropical mandarins somewhat equivalent to those from China, acting on behalf of a very ancient court. It is not as old as the most ancient dynasties of Imperial China, but one of the earliest States in medieval Europe, monarchic Portugal and its great seaborne Empire. One of those literati, a Portuguese-Brazilian mandarin living the epochal transition from colonial times to the new Empire of independent Brazil, was José da Silva Lisboa. He was the first and more important translator,interpreter and imitator of Adam Smith in Brazil, and one of the rare and very few disciples of the Scottish in the tropical New World. For those accomplishments, Lisboa was, soon after the conquest
of the autonomy, given the noble titles of baron and viscount of Cairu, and lately turned the patron of Brazilian political economy. But who was José da Silva Lisboa?

Historical essay about the career and work of José da Silva Lisboa, who, as a Brazilian born Portuguese subject, first read, translated, improved the works of Adam Smith for a Portuguese and Brazilian public. He held important posts as a high official of the Portuguese Crown, and after the Independence, a member of the Brazilian Parliament. Most important of his published works is “Principles of Political Economy”, which is an adapted version of Adam Smith’s most important thesis, improved over Smithian conception of “productive factors”, adding the “knowledge” or “intelligence” element. Later he was given the title of Viscount of Cairu, and as such became the patron of the Brazilian economists.

Amazing to note this..


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