Jeffrey Nyquist’s New Book Published in Brazil
The Brazilian publishing house Vide Editorial has just released a Portuguese translation of The Fool and Its Enemy by Jeffrey Nyquist, President of the Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science. The book is a masterful analysis of the crisis of the Western liberal democracies and its refusal to defend itself against its enemies (since those societies also refuse to recognize they have enemies).
Important Clarification Note About Panel Discussion With Congressman Bolsonaro
Brazilian media has been wrongfully reporting that the Inter-American Institute is organizing event with Congressman Bolsonaro in NYC
On August 25, 2017, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo published an article reporting a trip of Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro to the United States and claiming that the congressman had been invited to participate in a panel discussion by philosopher Olavo de Carvalho, fellow of the Inter-American Institute.
Last week, on October 3, a letter written by the current president of the Inter-American Institute, Jeffrey Nyquist, was sent to Folha de Sao Paulo, clarifying that the Inter-American Institute is not in any way involved in the sponsoring or the organization of the event in NYC, and requesting that the clarification note be published by that newspaper in order to correctly inform the Brazilian public about the fact that the Institute is not responsible for the organization of the panel discussion.
Folha de Sao Paulo, however, has not yet published the clarification letter sent 7 days ago and continues to claim that the Inter-American Institute is sponsoring and organizing the event with Congressman Jair Bolsonaro.
Therefore, the Inter-American Institute has decided to publish the letter sent to that Brazilian newspaper so that its readership might be correctly informed about the matter.
Documentary Movie About Philosopher Olavo de Carvalho to be Screened at VCU
Movie tells the story of homonymous book by Brazilian philosopher and fellow of IAI
On March 23, 2017, the documentary movie “The Garden of Afflictions” will be screened at the Virginia Commonwealth University at 7 PM, in the building of the Academic Learning Commons, at 1000 Floyd Avenue, Richmond, VA. The documentary is about the Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho and his book “The Garden of Afflictions,” after which the movie was named. Olavo de Carvalho is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy (IAI), Government, and Social Thought, and the most important Brazilian philosopher in action nowadays. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the film director Josias Teófilo and Mr. Olavo de Carvalho himself.
A Brief History of Male Chauvinism
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.
Under the Command of a Corpse – Part 3
Olavo de Carvalho explains why Liberation Theology is alive and well in Latin America.
Read Part II here.
Whoever reads the writings by Gutierrez, Boff, and Betto will easily find out their multiple inconsistencies and contradictions. Those flaws reveal that their thought is not the result of serious theoretical effort, but of an intention to keep the theologians from Rome busy with complex refutations, while the network of activists spread its tentacles all over Latin America, reaching, above all, poor communities that were completely deprived of any interest or ability to follow those lofty debates.
Brazilian cowboys have a name for that trick: they call it “piranha’s bullock.” When they need to cross a river infested with piranhas, they first drive a bullock into the river a few feet downstream so as to keep those carnivore fish busy with devouring it while they take the rest of the herd across the river in safety.
The theology of Gutierrez, Boff, and Betto is so futile and empty from an intellectual point of view, whereas their political activism is so intense, well thought out, and efficient, that we can only explain the trio’s more pretentious writings as a bullock sent to be devoured by the Vatican piranhas.
A brief examination of a typical sample of the style of one of those authors will suffice to make it obvious that there is no serious and honest intellectual effort in the liberation theology, but only gibberish that is more apt to deceive an uneducated or semi-educated audience than persuade well-trained theologians.
Is the style the man himself? Yes, but that can be good or bad. It can be good when analysis reveals, behind syntax and figures of speech, a living insight into aspects of human experience which are obscure and hardly speakable. Through analysis they thus come to light out of the nebulosity where they lay and become docile objects for meditation and action, being transfigured from factors of slavery into instruments of freedom. It can be bad when there is nothing to be found underneath the verbal fabric except a perverse intention to build a “second reality” out of mere words, transporting the reader from the real world into a puppet show where everything and everybody move under the command of the author, who is raised to the heights of a little demiurge, a creator of “another possible world.”
In order to demonstrate that, I will ask the reader to have the kindness to go through an exposition by Mr. Leonardo Boff, a man who is a counsellor of rulers and of a Pope (according to some) as well as, and above all, an eminent spokesman of a “liberation theology” where neither theology nor liberation can be found,
Poverty is not confined to its main and dramatic aspect, the material one, but it unfolds into political poverty through exclusion from social participation, cultural poverty through marginalization of the production processes of symbolic goods . . . .
Pauperization generates massification of human beings. The people cease to exist as a coordinated group of communities that develop their conscience, preserve and deepen their identity, and work for a collective plan. They become a conglomerate of stray individuals deprived of their roots, an army of inexpensive and manipulable labor, according to the plan for unlimited and inhuman amassing of wealth.
That situation brings about a highly authoritarian political template . . . A minimum of cohesion can be achieved only through authoritarian forms of government, which stifle the threatening cries which come from poverty.
The excerpt is from the book And the Church Became People[i]. All that is described above really happened. Those are facts, and they are historically well-documented facts, which would leave us no other choice but to say a definitive “Amen” to Mr Boff, unless, of course, we had the horrible idea of raising the following question: Where and when did that happen?
The second paragraph tells us about something that happened in Europe in the first decades of the nineteenth century: multitudes of peasants were reduced to misery through the deprivation of their few possessions, thus having to leave their land and go to the city to make up “a conglomerate of stray individuals deprived of their roots,” a reserve of inexpensive labor to be used to fuel the prosperity of the new capitalists. Karl Marx, in pages that have become classic, describes the formation of the urban proletariat out of the wreckage of the old peasantry at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
However, that phenomenon happened where the things that Boff describes in his next paragraph—“political poverty through exclusion from social participation, cultural poverty through marginalization of the production processes of symbolic goods”— not only never happened, but could never have happened. On the contrary, the migration of peasants to urban areas coincided with the advent of general elections, which not only invited but forced the participation of the masses in a kind of politics that was completely unknown to them when they lived on the countryside, isolated from the big urban centers. It also coincided with the creation of mandatory schooling, which removed the children of the proletarians from their local cultures and integrated them into the great urban culture of reason, science, and technology, which was essentially the same culture of the upper classes, those wicked capitalists. One can certainly bewail the dissolution of the old local cultures, but that was caused not by the exclusion, but rather by the inclusion of the masses into the urban political and cultural life.
The “exclusion from social participation” and the “marginalization from the processes of symbolic goods” did happen, but hundreds of thousands of miles away from Europe, in African, Asian, and Latin American countries, which would be later called “the Third World” precisely because no Industrial Revolution ever took place in them, neither therefore the integration of the masses into politics or urban culture. Mr Boff creates the fictitious unity of a hideous straw man out of selections he made from heterogeneous and incompatible historical processes, which occurred in places far away from one another. But Mr Boff’s historical Frankenstein has at least one thing substantially real about it: the hatred that he would like his readers to feel towards it in their souls.
But the monster’s physiognomy would not be complete without a third feature, which Mr. Boff fetches in another place,
That situation brings about a highly authoritarian political template . . . . A minimum of cohesion can be achieved only through authoritarian forms of government, which stifle the threatening cries coming from poverty.
It is true that authoritarian governments emerged to control the famished masses, but they neither appeared in the Europe of the Industrial Revolution, nor in the United States of that same period, where democratic institutions triumphed along with nascent capitalism. Rather, and on the contrary, they came on the historical scene in countries that either were underdeveloped, or impoverished by war, in those nations that envied the prosperity of industrialized countries, but did not have a creative and puissant capitalist class, and then decided to become industrialized in a hurry and under coercion by means of the state bureaucracy, from above, so to speak, through massive government investment and planned economy. That was the formula adopted by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and, obviously, by all those socialist nations that are so dear to Mr Boff’s heart. For the same reasons and to a lesser extent, the formula was adopted in Brazil by both President Vargas during his dictatorship (1930-45) and the military government, from 1964 to 1985.
In short, if it were possible to put together all the evils that happened in the most distant countries, in the most different times, and in the most heterogeneous regimes, we would then have the ideal monster towards which Mr Boff would like to direct the hatred of his audience. Mr Boff trusts that his readers will not notice his artificial superimposition of historical events and that, impressed by the total sum of evils, will believe they are really caught up in the claws of a monster and draw the logical conclusion they need to be liberated by Mr Boff.
This is what the Boffian “liberation theology” is all about, and nothing else. His superimposition technique is, rigorously speaking, both Mr Boff’s only dialectical and stylistic procedure and the quintessential summary of his, let’s say, thought. We can find that technique in practically every page he has written, and it is pointless to look for something different.
A few lines below the paragraphs quoted above we can find another example, in the passage in which he makes use of the figure of St. Francis of Assisi as the prototype of the revolutionary man who Mr. Boff himself intends to be. My readers, so kind and generous, will do me another favor and read this other brief paragraph,
Such attitude [St. Francis’ rejection of the goods of this world] corresponds to that of the revolutionary man and not that of reformers and agents of the current system. Reformers reproduce the system, only introducing ways of rectifying the abuses by means of reforms. . . . What [Francis] did represents a radical criticism against the dominant forces of the day . . . He did not simply made an option for the poor, but for the poorest among the poor, the lepers, whom he called, lovingly, ‘my brothers in Christ.’
Here Francis appears as a revolutionary who, instead of being a servant of the system, seeks to destroy and replace it for something completely different. I will not even discuss the historical untruth of those words, which is all too obvious. St. Francis never turned against the hierarchical system of the Church, but, on the contrary, he turned his mendicant order into the most docile and efficient instrument of Papal authority. If we employ Mr Boff’s own terms, St. Francis rigorously corresponds to the definition of “reformer,” and not to that of “revolutionary.” But that is not the point. What is truly amazing is that, according to Mr Boff, there is a clear case of protest against social hierarchy going on when Francis approaches not only the poor, but “the poorest among the poor,” that is, the lepers. But since when does leprosy choose its victims according to their social class? Were not the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, and the king of Germany, Henry VII, son of the great emperor Frederick II and Constance of Aragon, lepers either? Would Francis refuse to kiss a leper from a wealthy family? By artificially superimposing the idea of morbid deformity onto that of economic inferiority, Mr Boff turns the least anti-social of all gestures of Christian charity into a symbol of revolutionary hatred, and the reader, stunned by the composite image, does not even realize he has been fooled once again, and ends up buying as pure Catholic theology the old Marxist distinction between reform and revolution. Once his magic trick is dismantled through analysis, Mr Boff’s “liberation theology” reveals itself as nothing more than a technique for making people stupid.
This sample is enough to show that seriously discussing the theoretical content of liberation theology has only served the purpose of diverting the attention of the Roman Curia and conservative theologians away from the true nature of the liberation movement, which thrived and grew stronger as a political power in the exact measure as its intellectual pretensions were dismantled.
Intellectually and theologically, liberation theology has been dead for three decades. But it was never meant to be an intellectual and theological movement. It was and still is a political movement adorned with artificial theological pretexts of unmatched frivolity, which were driven into the waters of Rome as a “piranha’s bullock.” The herd crossed the river, took over the whole territory, and there are no land-dwelling piranhas that can pose a threat to it.
Granted, liberation theology is dead, but its corpse, raised to the top of the chain of command, rests all its weight upon an entire subcontinent, oppressing it, choking it, and blocking all of its movements. Today, Latin America is governed by a cadaver.
Translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.
[i] Boff, Leonardo, op. cit, p. 167.