A Brief History of Male Chauvinism

Olavo de Carvalho takes on the anti-male prejudice that offends the intellect and twists history.

 

Women have always been exploited by men. That is a truth that nobody doubts. From the solemn lecture halls in Oxford to popular TV shows, from Collège de France to pop music groups, the world reaffirms that certainty, maybe the most unquestionable truth that has ever crossed the human mind—that is, if it ever actually crossed it, for it might have come straight out of wombs into academic books.

Not desiring to go against such an august unanimity, I here intend to list a few facts that may reinforce, in the hearts of believers of all existing and yet-to-be-invented sexes, their hatred against heterosexual adult males, those execrable creatures that no one who was unlucky enough to be born as a male wants to be when he grows up.

Our narrative begins at the dawn of time, at some imprecise moment between the Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons. It was in those dark ages that the exploitation of women started. Living in caves, the human communities were constantly ravaged by the attacks of wild beasts. Males, taking advantage of their prerogatives as members of the ruling class, hurried to secure for themselves the safest and most comfortable of places of the social order: they remained inside the caves—what rascals!—preparing food for their babies, while the poor females, armed only with clubs, went outside to fight lions and bears.

When the hunting and gathering economy was replaced by agriculture and cattle-raising, men took advantage of women again, always assigning them the hardest jobs, such as moving rocks and blocks of stone, taming wild horses, and cutting furrows on the ground with a plough, while they, those lazy pants, stayed home painting pottery and weaving. That is revolting.

When the great empires of antiquity dissolved, yielding their places to a bedlam of warring fiefdoms, feudal lords quickly formed their private armies, exclusively made up of women, while men took refuge in castles and remained there enjoying the good life, delighting in the reading of the poems that warrior women wrote, in between battles, to praise their manly charms.

When someone had the extravagant idea of spreading Christianity throughout the world, which required sending missionaries to all corners of the Earth, where they ran the risk of being impaled by heathens, stabbed by highway robbers, or butchered by an audience bored with their preaching, the heavy burden of that mission was laid upon women, while men Machiavellianly stayed home and made novenas before their family altars.

The poor women were victims of the same kind of exploitation on the occasion of the Crusades, where, clad in heavy armors, they crossed deserts to be run through by the swords of the moors (female moors, of course, since the partisans of Mohammed were no less sexists than we). And what about the great voyages of discovery!? Seeking gold and diamonds to adorn idle males, brave female seafarers crossed the seven seas and fought against ferocious indigenous male warriors whose only advances towards them were, alas, of a military nature.

Finally, when the modern state instituted military conscription for the first time in history, government armies were made up of women, and beheading at the guillotine was the punishment for those who insisted on resisting or dodging the draft. All of that, of course, so that men could stay home reading The Princesse de Clèves.

In short, for millennia women have been dying in the battle field, moving blocks of stone, erecting buildings, fighting wild beasts, crossing deserts, seas, and jungle, making all sorts of sacrifice for us, idle males, to whom no challenge remains other than that of getting their hands dirty in soiled diapers.

In exchange for the sacrifice of their lives, women, our heroic defenders, have not demanded from us anything except the right to raise their voices at home, make a few cigarette burn marks on tablecloths, and, occasionally, leave a pair of socks in the TV room for us to pick up.

 

Translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Crisis, Part I The Politicization of Education

 
“We must organize the Intellectuals.”
– Willi Münzenberg

“I sing in praise of college,
“Of M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s,
“But in pursuit of knowledge
“We are starving by degrees.”
– Popular ditty from the 1920s

In Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Albert Jay Nock explained that a monkey can be trained, but only a small percentage of human beings can be educated. He added that his students at the Ivy League schools were, in large part, monkeys. But is that fair given the bureaucratic nature of universities then and now? A bureaucracy cannot teach children or adults how to think. Bureaucracies can give standardized tests, and offer standardized curriculum. They can offer one-size-fits-all programs, and even “elite” programs; but everything is based on the law of averages, and groupthink, and a type of intellectual conformism. If Marshall McLuhan was right to say the “medium is the message” then if the medium is a bureaucratized school, the message signifies the bureaucratization of the human mind. The fact that billions of dollars have been poured into this kind of education, and that it produces increasingly dismal results year after year, testifies to a kind of mass stupidity – a readiness for intellectual shackles.

Consider what our schools now teach: The typical high school textbook features Senator Joseph McCarthy as the main villain of American history, and Martin Luther King, Jr. as the main hero. Very little is taught about George Washington or the Founding Fathers. The ever-present and subversive subtext redirects us to racism, sexism, and U.S. imperialism. Yes, this is the kind of history that is taught in U.S. schools. The Founding Fathers were slave owners, right? George Washington was rich, right? Even Lincoln was a racist. And if a high school junior knows nothing else about the country’s history, she knows this.  A moralistic judgment about the past is presented, showing that our forefathers were racists and homophobes. In this way the past is discounted. In this manner a war is waged against certain traditions and sentiments, all presented in a one-sided way by educational bureaucrats. Of course, everything presented is factual – or mostly factual. It is presented, however, to students that have not been properly taught how to read. These students arenever given the task of organizing their own ideas, since their ideas have already been organized for them. The facts used in school textbooks are carefully selected in advance, through a process of careful editing.

Edmund Burke once observed of the French Revolutionaries, “It is undoubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical; but in general, those who are habitually employed in fault finding and displaying faults, are unqualified for the work of reformation: because their minds are not only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things.” The teaching of history has become a kind of tearing down of the past, a slandering of our forefathers. This does not help young people at all; rather, it hurts them. It disarms them before their enemies. It fills them with a vague sense of guilt. And as Burke says, it leaves them without positive inspiration.

Many decades ago, Jose Ortega y Gasset noted that the modern university “has abandoned almost entirely the teaching or transmission of culture.” And there is no doubt he was right. A gigantic disconnect has occurred. We have failed to transmit our history, and we have also failed to transmit our culture. The other side of this coin is the collectivists’ war against the individual. Shorn of our patriotism and our sense of national self-preservation, the individual is shorn of autonomy by a process of “dumbing down.” Those who are ignorant and incompetent must be ineffectual as individual human beings. Such people are easily manipulated by deceptive demagogues.

Robin S. Eubanks has written a book titled Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. She argues that latter-day public education has been purposely designed to hinder the intellectual development of children. Near the end of her book, on page 358, she writes, “Education in the 21st century is no longer an end. It is a means of domination and enrichment and exploitation by a self-select few. That’s why when you cut through the layers of [today’s educational] theory … it is always human consciousness being manipulated and modified via education. Education remains the ultimate and timeless cultural weapon against the individual….”

I was recently invited to hear Ms. Eubanks give a talk in which she said, “This is about political power. There is no mass prosperity when political power and economic power are combined.” And this is what the schools are facilitating in the mind of the students; that is, the takeover of the economy by the state. In her book she points to educators who are quoting from Karl Marx (in an elliptical fashion) about the collectivization of the mind “by converting the aims of the individual into general aims.” According to Eubanks, “That’s easier to do if the individual is only marginally literate with little factual knowledge.”

This is a terrible thing to do to the young, and it is not the only terrible thing being done. The attack on history, the cultural disconnect, and the dumbing down of the students, is accompanied by an outright denial of human nature itself. This is the part of the educational assault that gives the game away. For thousands of years philosophers have argued about human nature, but few denied there was such a thing. Such a denial is, in fact, contrary to reason if we consider the definition of the word nature (as given by Google): “the basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it.”

It would be laughable to argue that human beings have no basic or inherent characteristics. Yet this is what modern social scientists and educators are taught to believe. If this sounds strange, read the blog entry of Rationally Speaking for 17 November 2008. It is titled “Is there such a thing as human nature?” – written by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a “philosopher” at the City University of New York. Pigliucci relates an incident when he was co-teaching a course at Stony Brook University with another professor. “At some point the issue of ‘human nature’ came up, and my colleague looked at me with a mix of surprise and pity; human nature, she maintained, is a quaint concept that has been long abandoned by serious scholars….”

In Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, we read how the academic battle against the very concept of human nature has involved “political smears” and “personal attacks” against researchers who uphold the idea that humanity has “basic or inherent features.” According to Pinker, “The taboo on human nature has not just put blinkers on researchers but turned any discussion of it into a heresy that must be stamped out. Many writers are so desperate to discredit any suggestion of an innate human constitution that they have thrown logic and civility out the window.” Of course, this is to be expected insofar as we are talking about a war that is being waged all around us. For this denial of human nature is not some silly academic game. It is indeed a war waged in earnest, according to a strategic concept which requires that certain ideas prevail. These ideas, it turns out, set the stage for a general assault on the pillars which uphold civil society; for as Pinker explains in his book, “The denial of human nature has spread beyond the academy and has led to a disconnect between intellectual life and common sense.”

In a psychological war, waged to overthrow existing society, the elimination of common sense may be understood as the negation of our basic instincts; first, a negation of the instinct for self-preservation; second, a negation of the instincts of husbandry; third, the negation of the instincts of wifery All these negations are observable in the foreign and domestic policies of the United States. We see it in our trade policy, in government finance, in the family courts, and – yes – in education.

The educational program of America today is a negation of man’s nature, man’s common sense, and man’s instincts. To escape the violence of chaos and civil war a country must have various institutions where legitimate authority exists and is exercised. This authority relies on common sense and instinct (i.e., human nature). To function properly a family requires the authority of the father, which is “patriarchal” authority. In terms of the national government, we may refer to the patriarchy of the Founding Fathers.

It is not for me to prove that authority has a sexual component. Ask any mother of a teenage boy. No further proof is needed. If masculine authority is denied, what happens to masculinity and what happens to authority? Do they collapse? Is the one castrated and the other neutered? To accomplish this, one has recourse to homosexual advocacy. For the masculine, by nature, rejects the homosexual and has – throughout history – been opposed to homosexuality which it considers “effeminate.” By normalizing homosexuality the natural authority of the masculine is negated. Once again, the tactic adopted fits the strategic end. The way is paved to revolution. Tradition cannot be maintained in church or state. It breaks down and all forms of authority break down with it. For all of them are rooted in patriarchy, and patriarchy cannot coexist with its nemesis. A profound anarchy and changeability takes hold of society as fashion supplants principle, permissiveness supplants discipline, and emotionalism rides roughshod over rational insight.

It is not a coincidence that today’s education produces effects detrimental to political and religious authority, to principle, discipline and reason. What is intriguing is the way that all these developments serve the strategic interest of a particular power and a particular cause – almost as if we were looking at a clandestine method for disrupting society. Would it surprise you if such a method was developed long ago by Willi Münzenberg (1889-1940) of the Communist International? “We must organize the intellectuals,” he told the Comintern. “We must avoid being a purely communist organization.” For in this circumstance many seeds must be planted in the minds of impressionable children and young adults. InThe ABC of Communism N.I. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky wrote: “the Communist Party is not merely faced by constructive tasks, for in the opening phases of its activity it is likewise faced by destructive tasks. In the educational system … it must hasten to destroy everything which has made the school an instrument of capitalist class rule.”

Would this not entail the destruction of common sense, the denial of human nature and instinct, the negation of legitimate authority and civil order? Münzenberg believed that all aspects of society make up a new political battlefield. And the high ground of this battlefield is found in education; and this high ground must be seized at the earliest opportunity.  The victims in this battle cannot see they are under attack. They do not know what a cultural weapon is, or how psychological warfare paves the way to their eventual destruction. Our leaders and our people believe that instinct is a myth used by reactionaries to preserve male privilege and its lamentable homophobia. Away with masculinity! It is reactionary! It is a threat!

“No shepherd, and one herd!” wrote Nietzsche. “Everyone wants the same; everyone is equal: he who has other sentiments goes voluntarily into the madhouse.”

The Supreme Court has declared that marriage is between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, and unions of this kind are no different than the union of man and woman. This shows that the poison has reached the vital organs. And we have no antidote. In fact, we manufacture the poison ourselves and do not need the originators of the poison to continue making it.

“A little poison now and then; that makes pleasant dreams,” wrote Nietzsche. “And much poison at last for a pleasant death.”

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published at jrnyquist.com on July 25, 2015. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Jeffrey Nyquist, Olavo de Carvalho, and Diana West Talk About Communist Subversion in Latin America

Diana West, author of American Betrayal Jeffrey Nyquist, author of Origins of the Fourth World War, and Olavo de Carvalho, Brazilian philosopher who authored a dozen books in Brazil and debated Russian geopolitical strategist Aleksandr Dugin, join Allan dos Santos, host of Update Brazil, to talk about the Communist Subversion in Latin America.

Dilmish 101: Crash Course on the Brazilian President’s Dilma Rousseff’s Speech Style

Note: The quotes from President Dilma’s speeches were carefully translated from the Portuguese. What you are going to read is, unfortunately, an accurate rendition of her words and meaning (or lack thereof).

In a speech delivered last April, former Brazilian President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), manifesting his support for his successor, President Dilma Rousseff (2011-present), promised she would make the Brazilian people smile again. Most Brazilians would probably agree with that, but not for the same reasons he might have had in mind when he said it.

The truth is that President Rousseff has demonstrated her ability to produce mirth among the audience on the many occasions when she decided to speak her mind publicly without preparation. In almost every impromptu speech she has delivered, it is possible to find moments in which a rare combination of words, ideas, and images makes her audience think in astonishment: “No, she did not say that.” Thanks to her repeatedly disastrous and unintentionally comic speeches, she has become known as the queen of nonsense, and her peculiar oratorical style has been dubbed “Dilmês,” which can be roughly translated into English as “Dilmish.”

Her memorable lines in Dilmish have given rise to a new comedy genre on the Brazilian web, which essentially consists in simply compiling and exhibiting her gems of thought in articles, videos, memes, and songs. In her almost five years as president, she has said so many things, so badly put, and so often, that there is a true treasury of Dilmish wisdom available on the internet.

For example, last week, in a speech delivered at the ceremony that launched the First World Games of Indigenous Peoples to be held in Brazil in October this year, President Dilma Rousseff made her audience smile over and over again by offering them a remarkable series of sentences so badly crafted that they immediately became brilliant jewels of unintentional humor and major internet hits.

After ten minutes of standard welcome and praise to national and international guests, Rousseff finally decided to improvise and make some laudatory remarks about the indigenous peoples of Brazil, but with the Dilmish mode already fully on, what ended up coming out of her mouth was this:

“I believe that we need to be proud about the historical formation of this country, and going beyond the fact that each indigenous people represents a specific culture, we need to be immensely proud of being a mixture of many ethnicities in the make-up of the Brazilian nation. And here today, we hail one of them: we salute the indigenous ethnicity, which gave us, as the vice-governor of this state, here representing the governor, mentioned before, the flavor of the names that are present in all of our cities. True, but I also would like to hail something else, since no civilization was born without some form of staple food. And we have one here, as the American Indians and indigenous peoples have theirs, we have yuca. And here we are sharing yucca with corn. And certainly, we will have a whole series of other products that were essential for the development of all human civilization throughout the centuries. So, here, today, I salute yuca. I think it is one of the greatest conquests of Brazil.

 

It is hard to find a real rational explanation for why she suddenly decided to go from praising Brazilian Indians to talking about yuca (AKA cassava) and why she uttered those last three sentences of her yuca- cheering speech. The whole thing becomes even more comical when you are informed that the word yuca is a vulgar synonym for the male sexual organ in Brazilian Portuguese (because of the suggestive shape of the yuca root).

But that was not all for the day.

During her speech President Rousseff kept under one of her arms a hand-made leaf ball that, according to her, was a gift from participant from New Zealand, and just after her yuca salutation, she proceeded to attempt a quite risky mental maneuver for a thinker of her class: to use the leaf ball as a symbol for the practice of sports as a characteristically human activity. Speaking her mind like there was no tomorrow, Rousseff, in a theoretical flight of fancy, managed to concoct the following narrative:

“I am sure about this, and here I would like to show our long-established relation with sports. Here is a ball that I have been testing all the time. It is ball that was given to me by Terena and that I will take with me—and it will last as long as it takes. This ball comes from far away, from New Zealand. And it is a ball that I think it is an example, it is extremely light. I have already tried it, and it bounces. I tried it myself, I did one kick-up, no, I lie, half a kick-up. Well, but I think that the importance of a ball is precisely this: it is a symbol of the capacity that makes us different as . . . we belong to the human genus, to the sapiens species. We are those that have the capacity to play games. For this is what playing is about: the important thing is not to win, but to celebrate. That is the human, ludic, capacity of taking part in an activity whose end is itself, the activity itself.

So, sports have this characteristic, this blessing. Sports are an end to themselves, and that’s why they are not about winning, but about celebrating, about participating in the World Games of Indigenous Peoples. It is to participate celebrating the meaning of this activity that first characterizes children. The ludic activity of playing, the ludic activity of being able of playing.

So, to me, this ball is a symbol of our evolution. When we created a ball like this, we became homo sapiens or women sapiens.”

 It did not take long, of course, for the yuca and “women sapiens” sections of her speech to take over the web in Brazil in the form of a variety of jokes. Perhaps one of the most delightfully creative comic pieces created was this songified version of President Rousseff’s statements (see an English translation for the lyrics below):

 

 

“I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

And certainly, we will have a whole series of other products that were essential for the development of all human civilization.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

I think it is one of the greatest conquests of Brazil.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

When we created a ball like this, we became homo sapiens or women sapiens.

So, to me, this ball is a symbol of our evolution.

Yuca.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.”

 

Once again I must remind my readers that those quotations from President Rousseff are actually representative samples of her speech style. They are not simply a non-habitual poor choice of words that was made in a really bad day the President had, nor are they a selection of sentences carefully put together to misrepresent her meaning. There are literally dozens of other speeches that could be quoted here to bear out the existence of the Dilmish language, and some of them are as good (or bad) as the ones above. In short, make no mistake: the woman really talks like that.

As another example, consider an excerpt from the speech she delivered on Children’s Day (celebrated on October 12 in Brazil) in 2013. She was in an important capital city, Porto Alegre, of an important southern State, Rio Grande do Sul, and the bulk of her speech was really about the Federal Administration’s new public transportation program and the opening of that city’s first subway. However, since it was also Children’s Day, a date devoted to celebrate the rights of children, President Rousseff thought it would be nice to say some words about it. So, again, after the standard introduction of greetings and praises, she activated the Dilmish mode and fired away:

“And, in particular, since I am here in this city that is so dear to me, Porto Alegre, I would like to greet Mayor Fortunati and his wife, First-Lady Regina Becker. If today is Children’s Day, yesterday I sad that a child . . . (pause) Children’s Day is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Teachers’ Day as well, but it is also Animals’ Day. Whenever you look at a child, there is always a hidden figure, which is a dog behind the child, which is something really important. So, Regina also praise you for your dedication to that cause.”

 That was literally it. She did not further elaborate upon it, nor did it become somewhat clear later on in her speech why she chose those words. That was all of it. And this is a perfect example of another important kind of Dilmish: the one in which she suddenly veers off-topic, and you have a slight hope she will eventually come back, put all pieces together, and make her point; but she never does. She just goes off-topic for no reason.

Another fantastic species of Dilmish is that in which she actually tries to make a point by stretching the resources of language to the outer limits of human logic, and the result is usually the verbal correspondent of a surrealist painting. A good example of that is the answer she gave in a TV interview in September 2010 when asked to give her opinion about the competition between opposing parties on a referendum to decide about the legalization of abortion in Brazil. According to her:

“I don’t think that whoever wins or loses, neither whoever wins, nor whoever loses, will win or will lose. Everybody will lose.”

That is also a good example of one of the beauties of Dilmish: you can make your own interpretation of the President’s words. Since you cannot really take what she says literally, you are free to exercise your hermeneutical skills and come up with the meaning you think she had in mind. It is not a game deprived of fun, if you have the time to spare, and there are many Brazilian websites and YouTube videos in which collection of sentences like that are grouped under the head “What the heck was President Dilma trying to say?” Here are some of my all-time favorites:

“All of us know that each of us choose—and life makes us choose—some of the days in which we will never forget that day.”

“The environment is, no doubt, a threat to sustainable development. And that means that it is a threat to the future of our planet.”

“It is interesting that in Brazil you are oftentimes, as Brazilians usually say, criticized for having a dog and sometimes for not having a dog. That is an interesting criticism that takes place in Brazil.”

“And we have created a program that I would like to speak with you about, which is the Science Without Borders program. Why would I like to speak about Science Without Borders to you? It is because in all others . . . because we are going to launch Science Without Borders 2. The number 1 is 100,000, but it will have to continue to do Science without Borders in Brazil.”

“By the way, once I was told by a friend that this issue of men and women was no problem at all because women are the majority, but the other part. . . the other part of the majority is made up of men, all of them being born of a woman, and that’s why everything was all right: women together with women. Because men can have boys and girls and wives, but they necessarily have—and that’s not just a possibility, it is a necessity—a mother.”

“Paes [Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor] is the happiest mayor in the world, who runs the most important city in the world and in the whole galaxy. Why the whole galaxy? Because our galaxy is Rio de Janeiro. The Milky Way is nothing compared to the galaxy of which our dear Paes has the honor of being the mayor.”

As I think my readers can see it clearly now, something is rotten in the state of Brazil, and the stench is coming from the top.

 

This post was written by Alessandro Cota, philosophy and political science researcher at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

Brazilians Take it to the Streets and Say: “Go Away, Left. This is not Cuba.”

See video footage, for the first time translated into English, of the Brazilian popular demonstrations against the Workers’ Party and its power structure.

What you are going to watch below is a raw video footage of one of the many demonstrations that have happened in Brazil in the last two years. The 2015 March 15 demonstration, for example, according to the Brazilian Federal Police, gathered 3 million Brazilians in the streets, protesting against the Workers’ Party and its power structure. The amazing thing about the demonstrations is that they are truly popular. There are no political parties, pressure groups, or professional activists coordinating them; and they are not funded by big corporations. It is truly a legitimate popular movement. The Brazilian people, seeing that their political leaders were unable to give voice to their ailments and fight for what’s right, decided to take the lead and demonstrate against the Workers’ Party.

In this particular video, you will see a confrontation between two groups of demonstrators: ordinary Brazilian citizens and card carrying union members from CUT (Unified Workers’ Central Union), the main national union center in the country, an organization that gives its full support to the government party. The anti-government protesters chant against the Workers’ Party, express their disgust and indignation at the Brazilian Left, and burn red flags, showing in deeds what they mean in their words: “This is Brazil, we don’t want any red flags here.”

Viewer discretion is advised, since Brazilians mince no words when they can finally say (and be heard) what they really want.

Note: This video has gone viral on Facebook among Brazilian users. I have tried to find the exact date and place where this protest took place but I have not been able to do it so far. It looks like this video footage was taken in 2013, in São Paulo, at the beginning of the wave of anti-Workers’ Party protests.

 

This post was written by Alessandro Cota, researcher at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

Philosophical Notes and Remarks (1)

Notes and remarks from Olavo de Carvalho’s philosophical journal, addressing a number of timeless and contemporary issues.

 

The Difference Between Christianity and Philosophy

All comparison between philosophies and Christianity—an incurable vice of historians of philosophy—is complete nonsense because a philosophy is nothing but a doctrine, a man’s thoughts, and Christianity is the acting presence of God Himself in the world. They are as different from each other as the idea of a thing is different from the thing itself. If you spend the rest of your life thinking about cats, that will not make flesh-and-blood cats spring from your thoughts. A philosopher may create the most reasonable arguments to support his philosophy, but he cannot produce a miracle to bear it out, multiplying loaves of bread or calming a storm. Aristotle said that the truth is a property of judgments, that is, of thoughts; however, when Jesus Christ said that He Himself is the Truth, that truth is not present in thought, but in the reality of the world. When Christianity confronts itself with the many philosophies, it competes with them, so to speak, on unequal terms, given the utter disproportion of ontological substance between being and thinking.

Mutatis mutandis, if a philosopher wants to refute Christianity, he can only do that in thought. In fact, to suppress the Christian miracles by means of an act of thought would be the most astonishing miracle.

 

Logic and Philosophy

Logical contradictions are mere formal errors which can usually be corrected through the rephrasing of a sentence. Material contradictions, on the other hand, are objective impossibilities, which become even more scandalous when one attempts to rephrase them. On the level of discourse, both kinds of contradictions may be confused, but there is nothing more frustrating to me than noticing that my readers perceived only a logical contradiction where I actually pointed out a material contradiction.

That distinction is the litmus test for anyone aspiring to become a philosophy student.

To pick and hunt simple logical contradictions in a person’s argument is not philosophy. It is just grumpiness. I NEVER devote any of my time to doing that.

In general, and save for a few exceptions that can be counted in the fingers of a one-handed man, philosophy professors of Brazilian universities are incapable of not only grasping that difference, but also of making a distinction, in practice, between equality and analogy—an ability that should be almost instinctive.

ALL gender ideology derives from that incapacity, which some are born with and others acquire as a hysterical symptom, inoculated into their minds by psychopathic professors.

 

On Walking Before God

In my whole 68 years of life, I have met only one human being whose actions were constantly inspired by his love of God. But I have never met a single person whose actions were eminently guided by his love of neighbor.

 

The Cultural War Against the West

Stalin launched the Soviet cultural war in the 1920s, and it has not stopped growing to this day. The American show business industry is not only the largest anti-American but also anti-Western civilization propaganda machine there is, in the broad sense of a designed civilizational destruction. No a single movie is produced, even if apparently “conservative,” where Western man is not depicted as the embodiment of evil materialism at odds with the superior spirituality of tribal societies and even animals (see for example The Bear, 1988, Never Cry Wolf, 1983, and way before those, Elephant Walk, 1954, among thousands of others).

 

Economy and Society

Ludwig von Mises taught that there was no difference between a state-run economy and a completely out-of-control economy. Today we know that the Soviet government simply made up its statistics because it had no idea of what was going on in the economy. It’s Murphy’s law: the more order there is, the more chaos there is as well.

 

Global Elites and the Catholic Church

We should have no doubts about what’s going on today. The powers of this world are implementing by force a comprehensive and complete program to bring about a new civilization, where the state, associated with a handful of big economic groups, will have total control over society. The largest number of families will be dissolved (in the USA alone, 50% of families have already been broken), reducing the masses to an agglomerate of isolated individuals, with no organic relations, only associated with one another through a mechanical and regulated juxtaposition, that is, by the mediation of the state, living in a state of permanent sexual and hallucinogenic excitement without a break, while only 10% of the population work to support them. That is the plan. Gay rights, abortion, environmentalism, and all other topics of the leftist agenda are nothing but instruments to realize that plan. Malachi Martin’s book, The Windswept House, describes the effort by the globalist elite to integrate and use the Catholic Church as an instrument for their plan; an effort that, during the papacy of John Paul II, was already almost victorious. The adaptation of the Church to the values of the new civilization is an integral part of that plan, and it is IMPOSSIBLE that Pope Francis does not know that.


Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.  Translation from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

The Violation of Language

When language becomes corrupt, mankind is out of touch with reality.

In The Fourth Political Theory, Alexander Dugin says some profound things which need to be acknowledged (even by one who opposes his call for the destruction of the United States). “In political post-anthropology,” he writes, “all is reversed: leisure and work (the most serious occupation, actual work, is watching television shows), knowledge and ignorance…. Traditional male and female roles are reversed. Rather than being esteemed and experienced elders, politicians are chosen for their youth, glamour, appearance and inexperience. Victims become the criminals and vice versa….”

Dugin correctly sees that a kind of inversion has been taking place. And this inversion is fundamental. It is a symptom of mass transformation within the soul. Humanity, as it were, has two poles; and these poles are being disrupted, negated, and reversed. As odd as it may seem, when writing about the balance of power between the great bipolar actors (Russia and America), we are now accustomed to a denial of bipolarity which merely promises a reversal of this same polarity. This may have to do with mass neurosis and the denial of death, or it is the result of some black alchemical process.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court validated gay marriage as a nationwide right. Setting aside the nonsense that passes for debate on both sides of this question, the thing that is most troubling is that marriage is now defined without regard for male and female. According to the most ancient spiritual teachings, gender is a universal principle having to do with regeneration. Only the union of male and female has regenerative significance. Justice Kennedy rejected this idea when he wrote: “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.”

But Mr. Justice Kennedy, the fulfillment of marriage is found in children. And as for Mr. Chief Justice Roberts, who argued that the court’s ruling was short-circuiting the democratic process, I am afraid that even a majority vote in favor of gay marriage does not make it possible for men to produce offspring without women. All that such rulings or votes can do is eliminate the previous definition of the word “marriage,” which my grandfather’s 1943 Webster’s International Dictionary defines thus:

marriage, n. 1. State of being married, or being united, to a person or persons of the opposite sex as husband or wife; also, the mutual relation of husband and wife; abstractly, the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of legal dependence, for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.

As you can see, the Supreme Court has violated the English language; that is, the Court has assumed a power that no government authority may safely assume. It is the most arbitrary power imaginable; for the Supreme Court may now say that “up” is “down,” and “black” is “white.” We cannot tell what such a court will do next; for it is now certain that no property is safe, no contract protected. Anything may happen. We are no longer ruled by laws, for laws are made of words and now, as of this moment, words are made of nothing, having no intrinsic meaning. They are sounds only, with meanings that may be politically assigned or reassigned. For that is what our Supreme Court has done, and in doing so, they have turned all law into gibberish. And this, I maintain, is the most dangerous thing of all. It is not only marriage that has been undermined. It is the state, the Constitution, the English language, and public sanity. This, in fact, is the same practice which shows up in the neutering of our military power and our economic power. It is a symptom of inner dissolution, a collapse of instinct, and a descent into anarchy. What I have been writing these many years has never been primarily about the threat from Russia or China. My writings have been about the progressive falsification of reality, national self-deception and the corruption which attends our social decline. I merely picked the most clearly suicidal elements in our national self-deception as principle themes. The same distorted language we use for referring to enemies as “partners” is here replicated in our use of the term “same-sex marriage.”

The enemies of America can see this. They revel in it, even though their own societies are riddled with perversion. The Russians were the first to be victimized by insane leaders. Lenin and Stalin were psychopaths who modeled the Russian state on their own mental disturbance. But Americans were never ruled by Lenin or Stalin. So what is our excuse? How have we come to something that is worse than Leninism or Stalinism? For the dictator’s wickedness is something we can relate to. It is an old story, going back to the Caesars. But an evil that inverts reality, that violates language and mocks foundational concepts, is not an evil that can be understood in the same way. Here is a spiritual perversion that brings us to the doorstep of the occult; to something unseen, to something connected with the black arts.

On the day of the fateful decision Justice Scalia noted: “What really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.”

This new knowledge, which attacks the English dictionary, which attacks the foundation of legality itself, signifies the destruction of all law. The U.S. Supreme Court has committed an act of unfounding, of unraveling, of self-elimination. This act does not really speak to the issue of tolerance or intolerance for a particular minority. This act is only nominally about homosexuals. In fact, the gay community has been used as a political pawn to effect a kind of black alchemy. Now, at this point, any violence might be done to anyone. Each of the various “causes” may be activated against the others; for what restraint does the law now have? What reverence? What credibility? It has lost the sense of its own words, descending into madness itself.

There can be no justice when words are used in a perverse sense, when meanings can be inverted and the world turned on its head. No ideology can make a lie into truth. No special pleading will flip the earth on its axis. Universal Law always prevails. The nihilist who denies this law is a harbinger of his own destruction. The society that salutes this nihilist, who elevates him to the Supreme Court, who makes congresses and presidents out of his kind, cannot be saved.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published at jrnyquist.com on June 29, 2015. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Introduction to the Philosophy Seminar – Part 2

In the second part of his lecture, Mr. De Carvalho discusses the concept of progress and lack of progress when applied to societies and history and begins to outline the true nature of philosophy as education for understanding real life problems.

 

Student: In an interview you gave to the Atlântico magazine, you said that instead of dividing the political spectrum into right-wing and left-wing, we should try to classify political movements as revolutionary and counter-revolutionary, because this latter pair of concepts enables us to see, for example, that some political positions and movements usually regarded as right-wing are actually revolutionary and thus belong together with left-wing movements—something which escapes our view when we use the usual definitions of left and right. Regarding this problem you have been addressing so far, have you developed another key to understanding the problem of progress, something like your concepts of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary?

Olavo: No, I have not. What I am doing is merely splitting apart a pair of concepts and saying that they do not form a pair of opposites in reality. More accurately, only at the level of vocabulary—only semantically speaking―, is backwardness the opposite of progress. In historical reality, there is no such thing as a phenomenon of backwardness which is the contrary of progress. Even if in our minds we conceive of progress as a forward movement and backwardness as backward movement, the fact is we know that in reality time never moves backwards and that it is impossible for it to do so. Now, let us examine the expressions “advanced societies” and “backward societies” in light of this. It is obvious that the current conditions of any society can get worse, but they cannot literally go back to a prior state because the present conditions of a society include all their prior states. Some people say: “Oh no, we’re going back to the Stone Age!” But being born in the Stone Age is one thing, and having to live with Stone Age instruments after having known all the technology we have today is quite another. This is not going back to the Stone Age. This is something totally different; this is deterioration, not backwardness.

From this it is evident that this simple pair of concepts, progress and backwardness, are among the most frequently-used, most imaginatively powerful, and most entrenched ideas in our culture; and they can keep people from understanding a significant number of historical processes. That is to say, if people judge historical processes in terms of progress or backwardness, they will never be able to grasp the reality of what they are considering.

Wanting to become intellectuals, historians, philosophers, and so on, the poor and naive students will naturally apply to and eventually enter universities. The problem is that as they gain entry into the world of high culture, they will receive a severe impact of a huge network of intellectual blinders. Of course, they will also get a lot of positive knowledge, but when we compare the sum total of material knowledge they learned, the whole of the content they acquired at university, with the system of concepts that organize this knowledge, we see that the latter is always more powerful. Why? Because the contents and their organizing concepts relate to each other as form relates to matter, in the Aristotelian sense of these words, and because it is the form of a body of knowledge that determines what this knowledge means.

Now, the study of philosophy has precisely the purpose of enabling you to create your own network of concepts according to the actual needs of the quest for knowledge and not according to pre-established social ends, which are rather focused on the creation, expansion, and conservation of cultural fashions. Philosophy is an instrument for the creation of conceptual structures capable of comprehending and transcending the structures of the cultural fashions that prevail at the moment. In this sense, philosophy is a powerful instrument of deculturation. So, since your task is to try to see beyond the horizon of the culture in which you live, the first thing you need in order to be able to do this is to learn how to retrieve the lost cognitive and intellective possibilities from times past.

How do you restore these possibilities? In the first place, you must have the necessary materials at your disposal, that is, the texts and documents that tell you exactly what happened in the periods of the past you are studying. Next, you must use your imagination to try to understand—note well—not the authors of the past as they understood themselves but rather your own situation as those authors would understand it if they were alive.

You cannot study Plato, for example, from the viewpoint of the contemporary culture because you will never understand him. Why? Because, in addition to that series of important cultural mutations that took place in the twentieth century, we are now going through a gigantic transformation in our society, a transformation determined by a factor called “technology.”

The impact of technology on modern society and culture has been only gradually perceived and integrated into human consciousness, and, strictly speaking, we are not yet living in a technological civilization, because technology does not decide and determine all social processes, although it determines a great and significant number of them. But there are still a lot of things that are based on processes which have nothing to do with technology. For example, consider the fact that in our society there is a large number of religious people and that these people live, partially at least, within a cultural environment upon which technology has little or no influence at all because it simply has nothing to do with religion.

However, it is one thing to live in an environment where people believe in the existence of a God who has created the world and who is going to drive the process of history until it reaches a certain goal—the end of the world and the passage of all things into eternity. Now, it is quite another to live in a culture where everything is a matter of technology. And the fact is that as the impact of technology on society gets stronger, our culture tends to consider all matters in the light of technology.

The first and most immediate consequence of this is that everything that lies beyond the reach of technological action ends up falling beyond the reach of people’s imagination as well. (When I say “immediate,” however, I do not mean that this effect occurs without any delay, since several decades, at least, may be necessary for it to take place.) Because if technology becomes the main lens through which we view reality, then, sooner or later we will end up only thinking about those things which fall within the grasp of technology or which will supposedly fall within the grasp of technology in the future. This means that, in a sense, the realm of human action (in its material sense) becomes the ultimate horizon of reality and that nothing exists beyond it.

It is evident that the territory which falls within the grasp of man’s technological agency is vast. For instance, we may expect that someday all currently existing diseases will be cured by technological means. This has not happened yet, but we may fairly expect it will, and it is a fact that people have hopes that it will indeed happen. When people contract a disease for which there is no cure yet, what do they usually do? They sit tight and hope that, within two, three, four, five, ten, or twenty years, a cure for their disease will be found. For example, I think that all the HIV-positive people in the world entertain this kind of hope. So, as I was saying, there is indeed a realm of existence which can be affected by man’s technological action and this realm is very large. However, when technology is understood as the key to existence, then, quite naturally, all that lies beyond the theoretical possibility of technological action ceases to attract people’s interest. The world, seen from this viewpoint, becomes a sort of laboratory for us to conduct our experiments (which, of course, may go right or wrong), and everything that cannot be tested through experimentation ceases to be of any interest for us.

As a consequence, all those dimensions of existence upon which technology cannot act in any way are viewed as nonexistent or irrelevant—an example of this is the phenomenon of death. Nowadays people cannot seriously think about death, only about how to postpone it, which is actually thinking about how to extend human life, or how to prolong human existence. Prolonging human existence is indeed a technological possibility, and more than that, it is a possibility that technology has been able to realize so far. But what about death itself? The fact is that sooner or later, we are all going to die, that death is part of the structure of reality, and that no life-prolonging technology can possibly change this structure. And because the phenomenon of death cannot be affected by technology, because the reality of death lies beyond the reach of technological action, the concept of death is not integrated into our society and we live in a culture where death has no place. For centuries death was one of the most predominant themes in culture, but now, suddenly, the topic of death is gone. People do not talk about it anymore; they only talk about health, about extending life, about eliminating pain, and so on.

When you set out on a quest for high culture in a cultural situation like that, you start your intellectual journey with a huge blind spot in your field of vision, because an entire dimension of reality is invisible for you, as if it has never existed.

Now, the study of high culture and philosophy can help you recover the vision of those lost dimensions of reality, that is, it can help you become capable of imagining that which is not usually imaginable in your own culture. The problem is that acquiring high culture is often identified with acquiring the credentials necessary to obtain government authorization to enter the teaching or the researching profession. This poses a problem for all those who seek to acquire high culture. For it is one thing to want to acquire high culture in order to be able to understand reality, and specially the reality of history, of civilization, of human existence throughout the ages. It is quite another thing to want to acquire high culture in order to be able to practice this or that profession. In fact, these two uses of high culture are not just different, but opposed to each other, because you will have to adapt yourself to the present culture to the utmost, if you want to be able to represent high culture professionally.

This is why I consider the academic institution to be the worst enemy of higher studies nowadays and why I have remained on the fringes of academia all my life. I have always feared it because I knew it did not strengthen people’s consciousness to enable them to understand reality, but rather molded their minds to enable them to perform certain social roles. Besides, I have also noticed that the social role of the academic and the scientific profession can be so hostile to a true understanding of reality that even the best minds, to the extent they strive to adapt and be successful in those professions, have to maim themselves intellectually so as not to say things that would be incomprehensible or shocking in their professional environments. Of course, there are exceptions to this. There are people who are able to have an academic career and still remain in touch with reality, but they are very scarce.

While I was watching “Voegelin in Toronto” — the DVD of a 1978 conference at York University in which Eric Voegelin participated as a lecturer and panelist—, I came to the realization that if you compared what Voegelin had to say to what the other participants had to say, you would find that while Voegelin was talking about realities, they were discussing typical academic topics of philosophy. And they were no ordinary professors, but first-rate philosophers like Bernard Lonergan and Hans-George Gadamer, among others. Voegelin, however, sounded so strikingly different from them that I think they could not really understand what he was saying, because it was too grave and too serious.

We can never forget that universities are schools, and that school education does not pose real-life challenges to students, but it is merely designed to afford theoretical teaching and practical training to students. In this sense, a school is like, for instance, a military academy, where students do battle exercises, go through shooting training, and so on and so forth, but they do not go to real wars or shoot their classmates. In this sense, a school, or a military academy “non é una cosa seria,” as Pirandello says. That is to say, it is not a serious thing. For things only get serious when you see some actual combat. There, in the battlefield, the enemy is not trying to teach you anything, he just wants to kill you. So a soldier who has a good military training and a soldier who has combat experience are worlds apart.

This means that everything that is adapted to suit a school education mindset is merely an imitation of real situations and processes. In short, academic and school education simulate reality. And they always do it from a safe distance, since students and teachers are confined behind walls that protect them from reality. Because of academic freedom, for example, a student or teacher cannot be held accountable for what he says. Now, if you are a politician, a minister, or the head of a company, everything that you say has consequences. But if you are a teacher or a student, little of what you say has consequences, since most of what is said during a class is said for the sake of learning. In the classroom, for example, a teacher can teach the exact opposite of what he truly believes. If he wants to do it, there is really nothing to keep him from doing so. Because ultimately what a teacher says to his pupils has always a didactic purpose and therefore is tentative, experimental, provisional. Nothing that he says is definitive, so to speak.

Now, if you want to understand the reality of what is happening now in politics, society, and culture, you have to remember, first of all, that reality does not fit curricular and disciplinary requirements. In other words, it is just not possible to reduce reality to a scheme of standardized approaches that correspond to the names of the various disciplines and to the curricular gradations of education. Let me give you an illustration of the irreducibility of reality to the exigencies of academic study. Think of any war. Nowhere can you find a war perfectly adequate to the exigencies of, say, a War 101 college course, another war that fits the purposes of a War 102 course, and a third one that is perfectly suited to War 103. No, actual wars do not come already adapted to fit different course levels. Likewise, there are no wars suited for the methods of the science of economy, nor wars tailor-made for the purposes of sociology, nor wars adapted for the study of political science. The reality of war is one and the same for every science. However, let us say I am a political scientist and I have to teach a course on war for freshmen in a university. In that case, I will have to select from the concrete reality of war only those elements that match my discipline. That is to say, I will have to shape the phenomenon of war according to the requirements of political science rather than according to the requirements of the objective reality of war. This means that the more the academic institution grows and expands, the more it becomes an essential instrument of subdivided professional departments serving societies immediate practical needs, and the less it serves the purposes of the quest for knowledge.

That is a real tragedy—the great tragedy of the twentieth century. In the last few decades, not only in Brazil, but everywhere, the universities, rather than being centers for the education of first rate intellectuals, have become hubs of political recruiting, of training of political activists to defend the most stupid ideas in the universe. Nowadays, virtually no first rate intellectuals are well integrated into the academic milieu. In every field, the best are always at least slightly out of place in that environment or have a conflicting relationship with it. Besides, we should never forget that the university is an educational institution for the masses, not for the elite, and also that anyone in the amorphous mass of university students can earn a bachelor’s degree, become a Ph.D., a professor, etc. What is worse, nowadays most people think they have a right to earn a college degree, as if this were one of the fundamental rights of man, which, of course, makes the coordination between academic education and the quest for knowledge even more difficult. Now, please note that so far I have been only talking about a problem that pertains to the structure of academic education, a flaw that is inherent in the very nature of academia, and I have not brought into the picture the possibility of deliberate academic censure and boycott (which are things that indeed happen in colleges, universities and research institutes). Worse than that, this academic wickedness is actually a reflection of that structural problem, which means that even if academics were as honest as they could be, the very structure of academic education would still be problematic. However, the fact is that, academics, for multiple reasons—internal power struggles, maintenance of the prestige of the academic class, and the like—do not always behave honestly. So, when we put together the obstacles to the pursuit of knowledge that derive from the structure of academia and the malice and wickedness that exist in there, the result we get is the end of the knowledge of reality.

This means that, in an academic environment, the possibility of carrying out a serious investigation into the true reality of things is virtually nil, except for those who are geniuses, who have such impressive personalities that nobody dares to mess with them. These people are allowed to do what they want, for both their students and colleagues think them crazy and find it best not to mess with them. This was, for example, the case of Eric Voegelin. Because people were afraid of him, they did not try to stop him from doing what he wanted, but they kept a distance away from him. In fact, they did not understand much of what Voegelin was talking about. For example, there is a famous anecdote about Voegelin’s first lecture at the University of Munich. Among the attendees were some of the greatest German intellectuals, including Ralf Dahrendorf, the most eminent political scientist at that time. But Dahrendorf, after he had heard Voegelin’s lecture, confessed he was perplexed by it and said he could not understand a word of what Voegelin had said: “He did not talk at all about the Constitution, about human rights, and things like that. I do not understand, what sort of political science is that? He was talking about something else altogether, and I do not know what that something is.” The fact that Voegelin was never understood in the German academy did not result in any form of boycott against him, but had he been any less rigorous a person, he would have been crushed by the German academic environment. Voegelin eventually got fed up with German academics and decided to go back to the United States, leaving all his German students at a complete loss, because for them, Voegelin was a light in the darkness. But the truth is that Voegelin could not take—who would imagine this?—the mediocrity of the German university.

Another amazing thing about the universities is that they usually maintain their prestige long after they have lost their intellectual vigor, just like mummies. An illustration of this is that almost anywhere in the world people still think that the German universities are great universities, as if we were still living in the 1920s. A similar phenomenon takes place here in the United States when somebody mentions Harvard in a conversation, in spite of the fact that nowadays Harvard is nothing more than a training school for leftist activism. People praise Obama, for instance, because he once was the president of the Harvard Law Review—which is nowadays nothing but a periodical of the extreme left, a magazine for semi-illiterate people, but which still retains the prestige conferred upon it in the old days. A quite curious thing is the fact that those who contributed the most toward the destruction of the academic institution—the leftist activists of the 1960s—are the ones who benefit today from the prestige of those universities they themselves have helped to destroy. This is plainly a usurpation. It is like murdering a person to take over his position and title, just like in Alexandre Dumas’ “The Man in the Iron Mask.”

This course—in fact, not only this course, but all that I do in education—has been designed to give an answer to the following problem: What exactly should you do if you want to study history, culture, philosophy, religion, and so on, “in order to know things as they really are,” as Leopold Von Ranke put it, regardless of whether you were ever able to use that knowledge in an academic profession or not, and regardless of the risk that you might become incomprehensible if you succeeded in gaining such knowledge? If you have the courage to take on this challenge, you can attain knowledge of things as they really are, you can attain objective knowledge of reality. But, take note: the more you know, the more you know things that others do not. So, right from the start, knowing more is knowing things that others do not know, and thus the more you know, the less understood you will be by those who do not know. If you want to pay that price, if you think knowledge is worth it, those are the first things you have to bear in mind. Personally, I think knowledge is worth it. I have devoted my life to the pursuit of knowledge and I do not regret it in the least. Quite to the contrary, I think it is great. However, over the years, I had to learn not to expect to be comprehended by the ignorant, for they simply cannot understand me. Also, bear in mind that if you really want to be a serious scholar and not only viewed as such by the ignoramuses who pretend to be scholars, you will have to engage in a series of practices and follow a number of protocols of learning which will allow you to get where you want. This is what I have been doing all my life and is what I would like to teach others to do.

So, when I start thinking about a problem, I want an actual answer for it. Ranke’s sentence, “I want to know things as they really are,” is always on my mind, and I truly believe human intelligence is capable of attaining this kind of knowledge. However, the “things as they really are” are not necessarily the same as people like to imagine they are. Besides, when you find out the truth about the past, for example, your new knowledge changes your view about people who live in the present, that is, you start looking at them from a different perspective. Also, you become able to make comparisons between the past and the present according to a significantly larger scale of reference, and as a result things that may be novelties to other people may be not so new to you, because you may have points of comparison which other people do not have. As a consequence of your accumulated historical knowledge, you will know beforehand that many of those high hopes people usually entertain are not going to lead anywhere. Also, a terrible thing may happen to you: once you have understood a series of processes, once you have acquired a large measure of philosophical and historical culture, it may happen that people do not really want to hear your opinion, because they would rather cling to their prejudices and silly ideas. Let me tell you that this is not at all uncommon: it does happen all the time, putting you in a rather awkward position.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point. There was this one time when I was walking down a street and came across an old lady who had fallen down to the ground and was laying there, wiggling and squealing in a fit of hysteria—I even thought she was having an epileptic seizure. As I reached out to help her get back up on her feet, she started punching me and screamed: “I hate men, I hate men!” So what could I do? I simply told her: “You know what? Screw that. I’m not trying to help you anymore; if you don’t want my help, then you won’t get it.” That is precisely the situation you will sometimes find yourself in when dealing with politicians, public men, opinion leaders, business leaders, military officers, and so on and so forth. Because they refuse to listen, the only thing you can tell them is something like this: “Look, I have a solution to your problem, but if you don’t want to listen, that’s your loss. I was just trying to help.” That is to say, you will be regarded as an unheeded and unwanted adviser who actually knows how to a fix a problem. Even so, even if this happens to you, and it may very well happen, I still think that the quest for knowledge is the best of purposes in life because when you understand how things are, at least you do not suffer like a helpless animal, but with all the dignity of a human being, for you know what the problem is.

The purpose of this course is to convey to you a part of my experience of searching for knowledge, and in this sense, in this course we are not going to study “philosophy,” our subject matter is not “the philosophical tradition,” but rather something that is known as reality. But you might ask: what is reality? Roughly speaking, everyone knows reality and what reality is. Reality is where we live, where we move, where we have joy, where we cry, where we have hope, where we have our struggles, our victories, our defeats, and so on and so forth. In short, reality is the realm where we have all of our internal and external experiences—that is reality. And when philosophy first appeared in the world, it came up precisely as an inquiry into reality, not as an academic discipline where you had to perform certain rituals in order to be accepted into a professional community. When compared to philosophy, that is, to the study of reality, this professional or academic “philosophy” is merely a child’s play. It is something we cannot take seriously for even a minute and, in fact, we should always keep our distance from it.

End of the second part.

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This lecture was delivered online in December 2008. Translation from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota and proofreading by Benjamin Mann.