How are political systems likely to shape the choices, uses, and effects of technological progress? This important new book addresses that question in a case study of Brazil's national alcohol program, Proalcool. Proalcool's stated goals are economic growth, and the reduction of personal regional income disparities, through the production of alcohol as a substitute for petroleum fuels used in internal combustion engines. Established by presidential decree in 1975, the program sought to save Brazil's floundering sugar industry and today can be counted as one of the world's largest and most advanced alternative energy experiments. To better understand how Brazil's political system has shaped this technology, the author investigates the program's actual social and economic consequences. He then seeks explanations for these outcomes focusing on the systemic or structural reasons that determined the development of Proalcool's technology. He concludes that the program is best understood as an agent and as a product of an authoritarian political regime, and goes further to analyze its potential role in Brazil's nascent democracy. The book offers an evaluation of the ways in which the new democratic regime in Brazil is likely to shape the choice, use and development of technologies with the potential for profound and lasting changes on the Brazilian economy. By comparing and contrasting the essential features of a democratic regime with a bureaucratic authoritarian one, the author outlines the ways in which the new Brazilian regime--and other Latin American regimes--are likely to shape their technological choices and the futures of their citizens.