Fearful lie

The protest of the Russian government against the moral equation of Nazism with Communism boils down to one of the most fearful historical falsifications of all times. Fearful because of the magnitude of the lie enveloped therein and doubly fearful because of the easy credulity with which it is generally welcomed by non-Communists and even anti-Communists.

Even John Earl Haynes, the great historian of American anti-Communism, underwrites this error: “Unlike Nazism, which explicitly placed war and violence at the core of its ideology, Communism sprang from idealistic roots.” Nothing in the historical documents justifies this statement. Centuries before Nazism and Fascism emerged, Communism was already spreading terror and slaughter throughout Europe and reached an apex of violence in the France of 1793. The very conception of genocide—the thorough extermination of peoples, races, and nations—is Communist in origin, and its clearest expression was already in the writings of Marx and Engels half a century before the birth of Hitler and Mussolini.

The romanticized idealism is on the periphery and not at the core of the Communist doctrine: the leaders and mentors have always laughed at it, leaving it to the crowd of “useful idiots.” It is significant that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or Che Guevara dedicated very few lines to the description of the future Communist society and its supposed beauties, preferring to fill whole volumes with the emphatic expression of their hatred not only of the bourgeois and the aristocrats but of millennia of intellectual and moral culture, pejoratively explained away as mere ideological camouflage for financial interest and lust for power. Among non-Communists, the usual ascription of idealistic motives to Communism is born of no objective sign that they can identify in the works of the Communist grandees, but simply of the inverse projection of the rhetoric of accusation and denunciation that bubbles in them as in a cauldron of hate. The naïve reader’s spontaneous reaction before these works is to imagine that so much repulsion to evil can only be born of a deep love of the good. But it is proper to evil to hate itself, and it is simply not possible that the reduction of all moral, religious, artistic, and intellectual values of humanity to the condition of ideological camouflage for lower impulses is inspired by the love of the good. The gaze of fierce suspicion that Marx and his continuators direct against the most elevated creations of the past centuries denotes, rather, the satanic malice that attempts to see evil in everything so as to look more bearable in the comparison. To accept the legend of Communist idealism as true, we would have to invert all standards of moral judgment, admitting that the martyrs who let themselves be killed in the Roman arena acted out of vile interest, whereas the murderers of Christians in the Soviet Union and in China acted out of sheer goodness.

In the rare moments when one of the Communist theoreticians allows himself to contemplate imaginatively the supposed virtues of the future society, he does so in such exaggerated and caricatural terms that they can only be explained as a fit of hysterical self-excitement with no connection with the substantive ground of his theories. No one can repress an ironic smile when Trotsky says that in the Communist society every street sweeper will be a new Leonardo da Vinci. This, as a project of society, is a joke—Communism as a whole is a joke. It is only serious as an enterprise of hate and destruction.

Moreover, the Russian protest purposely suppresses two fundamental historical data:

1. Fascism was born of a mere internal split of the Socialist movement and not as an external reaction. Its origin, as has been conclusively proved, lies in the disappointment of European Socialists with the adherence of the proletariat of the several nations to the patriotic appeal of the war propaganda in 1914. Grounded on the idea that economic class solidarity was a deeper and more solid bond than national identities—allegedly factitious inventions of the bourgeoisie to camouflage its economic interests—Lenin and his party fellows believed that in the event of a European war the proletarians called to the trenches would rise en masse against their respective governments and would turn the war into a general Socialist uprising. This is exactly the opposite of what happened. Everywhere the proletariat adhered enthusiastically to the appeal of bellicose nationalism, against which not even some of the most outstanding Socialist leaders in France and in Germany were immune. At the end of the war, it was only natural that the Leninist myth of class solidarity should be subjected to dissolving critical analyses and that the concept of “nation” should be revalued as a unifying symbol of the Socialist struggle. Hence the great divide of the revolutionary movement: the one part remained faithful to the internationalist banner, thus being compelled to perform complicate mental gymnastics to reconcile it with the Soviet nationalism, while the other part simply preferred to create a new formula of revolutionary struggle—the nationalist Socialism, or National Socialism. It is not devoid of meaning that at the origin of “German Socialism”—as it was universally called in the thirties—the largest dose of financial contributions to Hitler’s party came precisely from the proletarian militancy (see James Pool, Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler’s Rise to Power, 1919–1933, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). For a body that Communists would later claim to be exclusively a class instrument of the bourgeoisie, it would have been quite a paradoxical beginning, if only this Soviet official explanation were not, as indeed it was and is, just a publicity ploy to camouflage ex post facto Stalin’s accountability for the strengthening of the Nazi regime.

2. Ever since the twenties the Soviet government, persuaded that German nationalism was a useful tool for breaking the bourgeois order in Europe, applied itself to promoting in secrecy the creation of a German army in Russian territory, thus violating the prohibition imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Without this collaboration, which intensified after Hitler’s rise to power, it would have been impossible for Germany to become a military power capable of disturbing the world equilibrium. Part of the Communist militancy felt deeply disappointed with Stalin on the occasion of the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which in 1939 made the Soviet Union and Germany partners in the brutal imperialist attack against Poland. But the agreement came as scandalous news only because no one outside the high Soviet circles knew about that military support, which was already more than a decade old and without which Nazism would never have come to constitute a menace to the world. Denouncing Nazism in words and promoting it through decisive actions was the constant Soviet policy since the rise of Hitler—a policy that was interrupted only when the German dictator, contrary to all that Stalin could have expected, attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. From both the ideological and the military points of view, Fascism and Nazism are branches of the Socialist movement. (There is no need to emphasize their all too obvious common origin in evolutionism and in the “cult of science.” Whoever wishes to learn more about it will do well to read Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, New York: Norton, 2004.)

But there still remains one point to be considered. While Communism proved uniformly cruel and genocidal in all countries where it spread, the same cannot be said of Fascism. Communist China soon surpassed the USSR itself in genocidal fury against its own population, but no Fascist regime outside Germany ever compared, not even remotely, with Nazi brutality. Rather, in most nations where it prevailed, Fascism tended toward a soft authoritarianism, which not only reserved the use of violence for the most dangerous armed enemies, but even tolerated the coexistence with hostile and rival powers. In the very Italy of Mussolini, the Fascist government accepted the rivalry of the monarchy and the Church—which in Hannah Arendt’s most pertinent analysis already suffices to exclude it from the category of “totalitarianism.” In Latin America, no military dictatorship—whether “Fascist” or not—ever reached the record of a hundred thousand victims that, according to the latest calculations, has resulted from the Communist dictatorship in Cuba. Compared with Fidel Castro, Pinochet is a harmless little dove. In other areas of the Third World, no allegedly Fascist regime ever did anything like the horrors of Communism in Vietnam and in Cambodia. Nazism is a specifically German variant of Fascism, and this variant is distinguished from the others by the abnormal dose of violence and cruelty that it desired and attained. In the matter of perilousness, Communism is to Fascism as the Mafia is to some neighborhood rapist. But we should not forget what Saint Thomas Aquinas says: the difference between hate and fear is a question of proportion—when the assailant is weaker, you hate him; when he is stronger, you fear him. Fascism is easy to hate simply because it was always weaker than Communism and above all because, as an organized political force, it is dead and buried. Fascism never had at its service a secret police the size of the KGB, with its five hundred thousand officers, unlimited secret budget, and at least five million informal agents throughout the world. Even in terms of advertisement, Goebbels’s lies were childish tricks as compared with Willi Münzenberg’s refined techniques and with the powerful industry of desinformatzia still fully operative in the world. While at the end of World War II the general pressure of the victorious nations led two dozens of defendants to the Nuremberg Court and initiated the implacable persecution to Nazi war criminals—which lasts until today—the end of the Soviet Union was followed by general efforts to prevent any accusation, however small, from being brought against Communist leaders responsible for five times as great a genocide. In Cambodia, the single country that has had the courage to essay a judicial investigation against the former Communist rulers, the UN did everything to thwart this initiative—which to this day is dragging through a thousand bureaucratic obstacles—awaiting death of old age to deliver the offenders from punishment. Fascism attracts hate because it is a gruesome relic of the past. Communism is alive, and its perilousness has not at all diminished. The fear that it inspires transmutes easily into affectation of reverence, for the selfsame motives that led Stalin’s entourage to feign love for him so as not to confess the terror that he inspired.

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on August 8, 2008, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota and Bruno Mori.

Sacred Causes

It is a natural impulse for man to escape from the narrowness of personal and family daily routine to venture into the wider universe of history, where he feels his life transcends itself and acquires a superior “meaning.” The most banal and crude way of doing this, accessible even to the mediocre, the unqualified, and the rascal, is militancy in a party or “cause,” that is, in some group selfishness embellished with pompous words like “freedom,” “equality,” “justice,” “patriotism,” “morality,” or “human rights.” These words may represent some substantial value but they do not mean anything when, instead of filling them with his own personal substance, it is the individual who acquires from them all the value that he may have. The most criminal illusion of modernity was to persuade people that they can ennoble themselves through their identification with a “cause,” when in fact all causes, regarded as names of abstract values, can only acquire concrete value through the nobility of the men who represent them. The bottom of degradation is touched when some “causes” become so highly prized that they seem to infuse virtue in any deadbeat, phony, or thug who consents to represent them. The very word virtue is derived from the Latin vir, viri, which means “man,” designating that virtues are qualities proper to individual human beings and not to general abstract ideas, however beautiful and attractive the names of these ideas may be.

There is no greater evidence of this than Christianity itself, which, prior to being a “movement,” a “cause,” an institution, or even a doctrine, was a flesh-and-blood person, the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom, and exclusively from whom, everything else that came to exist in the history of the Church receives any validation it may aspire to get.

When taken as maximal or only measure for gauging good and evil, a “cause” acquires the prestige of sacred things and becomes an object of idolatrous alienation. Now, to a greater or lesser extent, this happens to all, absolutely all, economic, social, and political causes of the modern world, with no exception. Communism, fascism, feminism, the black rights movement, the gay rights movement, and sometimes even free-market liberalism cannot admit any greater virtue than the adherence to their causes or any greater sin than that of fighting against them. To a militant, “a good person” is anyone who sides with him in his cause, “a bad person” anyone who is against it. It is a judgment against which one cannot allege, not even as an attenuating circumstance, any universal value embodied in a concrete person. Even though all those movements are historically confined, making no sense at all beyond a strict chronological limit, the moral judgments based thereupon are accompanied with a claim to timeless universality, abolishing even the sense of cultural relativity: to enragées feminists, the male’s authority is hateful in all times, even in those in which the hardship of economic conditions, natural dangers, and the threat of constant wars made unthinkable any wish for sexual equalitarianism.

What is more: the effort made in public in favor of a “cause” is so an absolute and definitive a criterion for judgment that, once this criterion is met, it exempts a person from practicing in his private life the very virtues that the movement to which he belongs claims to represent. The allegation, for example, that Karl Marx established the most rigid class discrimination at his home, excluding from his family table an illegitimate son he fathered with his housemaid, is considered a “mere” argumentum ad hominem which proves nothing against the sublime value of the Marxist “cause.” In the same fashion, Mr. Luiz Mott[1] is praised for his fight in favor of gay marriage, even though he brags about having hitherto gone to bed with more than five hundred men, that is, about having never had the least respect for the institution of marriage, whether it be homosexual or heterosexual. Mutatis mutandis, the most obvious personal virtues of an opponent become irrelevant or despicable in comparison to the fact that he is “on the wrong side.” Morally speaking, Francisco Franco, Charles de Gaule, or Humberto Castello Branco[2], men of exemplary personal honesty, were infinitely superior to Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, serial killers who murdered his own friends, not to mention Mao Dzedong, a compulsive rapist. But what communist would admit seeing in this detail a sign, even a far removed one, that the nobility of the cause he defends may not be as absolute as it appears to him? Even the virtues of the martyrs and saints do not mean a thing in comparison with a high office in the Communist party.

When I say that this phenomenon signifies that all that is contingent and provisional has been made sacred, I am not using figurative language. Mircea Eliade, and following his path, all the historians of religion, defined “the sacred” as all that to which one ascribes an ultimate value, a sovereign and insurmountable judging authority, which is, in turn, immune to all judgment. Insofar as they understand adherence to, or rejection of, their cause as the ultimate and unappealable criterion for judgment of human conducts, those movements I referred to above have become grotesque caricatures of religion and morality, and through their mere existence, they already bring about the moral degradation of mankind on the level of sheer politically opportune criminality.

[1] A leader of the gay rights movement in Brazil.

[2] Marshall Castello Branco was president of Brazil from 1964 to 1967, the first three years of the military dicatorship in that country.

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on January 17, 2012, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

God and Dr. Hawking

In a recent statement, the physicist Stephen Hawking, contradicting his previous pronouncements, said that the universe could have appeared from the mere spontaneous interplay of the laws of physics, without any intervention of a Creator God.

The time when the declarations of physicists were heard as divine decrees is gone. Today their statements arrogate to themselves a super-divine authority, judging and suppressing God himself.  And they do not content themselves in doing this in the sphere of pure theoretical considerations: they extend their jurisdiction to the whole domain of social existence, demanding that education, culture, and law be molded according to their scientific world view, under the penalty of their being convicted for acts of fanaticism and crimes against the democratic state.

Yet, at the same time, the signatories of these decrees brag about their exemplar epistemological modesty, swearing to practice the constant review of their own beliefs and never to impose on anyone any definitive scientific truth, which, they admit, does not even exist.

The coexistence, in the same brain, of such overwhelming presumptions and such a candid feeling of critical restraint should be enough to show that something is not working well in that brain.

First of all, we rarely see one of these pontiffs of knowledge displaying any consciousness of the distinction between the real world and the object studied by their specialized science.

The “universe” Prof. Hawking refers to is not that of general human experience but an abstract one, the universe as it is known by the science of physics.  Neither Prof. Hawking nor any other scientist of his area can offer us the least proof that the universe of physics is “real.”

In point of fact, there is no thornier problem for all of them than that of the ontological statute of the particles studied by the most developed and most precise branch of science, quantum physics. They know a lot, almost everything, about these particles, but they do not know what they are or in what sense the word “reality” could be applied to them.

The very fact that the presence of the observer modifies their behavior has led many of those scientists to the most extreme speculations on the subjective—or “spiritual”—character of the entire physical universe. When we do not know whether a thing exists within the mind, outside of it, or in both these places at the same time, and when we do not know—assuming this latter hypothesis to be true—the location of the connection that binds together both aspects of this thing, we must recognize that all we know about it is its appearance.

The universe of physics is a system of appearances, of “phenomena,” which coincides with the real world in some respects but differs from it in others.  To ask whether a system of appearances could have appeared by itself, or whether it would need a God to create it, is not only an idle speculation but obviously has no bearing on the question of the origin of the real world.

When Prof. Hawking says that “the world” could have appeared by itself, what he means to say is that “his” world—a certain system of phenomenal appearances, considered only in its abstract internal constitution (and supposing this constitution is entirely known, which is still far from being true)—“could” be conceived, with no logical contradiction, as the spontaneous result of the working of its own laws, without the intervention of an external element.

To say this is practically to say nothing—not even about the pure system of appearances as such. This is only the statement of a logically possible proposition about a group of hypotheses.  To transform this into a conclusive statement that “God did not create the world” is a sort of rhetorical hyperbole that borders on insanity or pure and simple charlatanism.

No serious scientist has the right to ignore the almost insuperable difficulties interposing between the laws of quantum physics and any statement, as modest as it may be, on the nature of reality in general.  The first of these difficulties is that quantum physics is not even sure as to the statute of reality of the objects that it studies.

To make things worse, Dr. Hawking is not even talking about quantum physics. He is talking about the Big Bang, a theory that draws on contributions from quantum physics but does not have a thousandth part of the credibility that, within its limits, quantum physics undeniably has.

In strict terms, what Dr. Hawking said is that in theory the Big Bang could have been caused by the spontaneous action of the four forces that make it up, with no external help. Even supposing that this statement is strictly true (I have no condition to confirm or deny this now), the following problems would remain:

(1) If there are forces that preceded or determined the “Big Bang,” then the Big Bang itself is not “the origin of the world” but only of a certain stage of its existence.

(2) Where did the four forces come from: out of nothing or were they created?

(3) That something may happen in theory does not prove that it has necessarily happened.

(4) We do not even know whether the Big Bang happened or only may have happened.

Translated into the language of logic, professor Hawking’s declaration means: “There is a possibility that other possibility may be causa sui and not the result of a third possibility.”  Very nice! But it does not tell us anything about what really happened.  And it does not answer at all the most decisive question in the history of philosophy, thus expressed by Leibniz: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

No matter how competent he may be in his field of studies, Dr. Hawking frequently behaves as a show-biz star, impressing the audience with spectacular statements which become even more spectacular when, one year later, he denies them with that same air of certitude with which he first uttered them.

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on September 13, 2010, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

The God of the Philosophical Dabblers

If there is an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God, it is obvious that we cannot know Him as an object, or even as an external subject, but only as the active foundation of our own self-consciousness, maximally present as such at the very moment in which our self-consciousness, entering into full possession of itself, asks itself about Him. Such is the method adopted by experts on the subject, like Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Saint Francis of Sales, the mystics of the Philokalia, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, or Louis Lavelle.

When a Richard Dawkins or a Daniel Dennett examine the question of a “Supreme Being” that would have “created the world” and naturally arrive at the conclusion that this Being does not exist, they reason as if they were present at the moment of Creation as external observers, and what’s worse, as external observers from whose intimate constitution the omnipresent God had had the kindness of becoming absent for a few moments so as to allow them to observe Him from the outside and witness His existence or non-existence. This objectified God does not and cannot exist, since he is logically self-contradictory. Dawkins, Dennett, and tutti quanti are absolutely right when they declare him to be non-existing, for they themselves were the ones who invented him. And in addition, through some sort of unconscious shrewdness, they were careful enough to conceive him in such a way that the empirical proofs of his non-existence are, rigorously, infinite, being able to be found not only in this universe but in all possible universes, since the impossibility of a self-contradiction is universal to the maximum degree and in the eminent sense, not depending upon the physical constitution of this of any other universe.

If you do not “believe” in the God of the Bible, this does not make the slightest methodological or logical difference in your attempt to investigate His existence or non-existence, provided that your attempt is honest. Whatever the case, you can only discuss the existence of a previously defined object if you discuss it according to the definition given at the outset and do not change this definition in the course of a conversation—which is tantamount to substituting the object with another and discussing something else. If God is defined as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, you have to demonstrate the non-existence of this God, and not of some other god that you invented in order to suit the needs of what you intend to prove.

The method adopted by the likes of Dawkins and Dennett is based upon such an elementary, such a grotesque logical mistake that it is enough not only to intellectually disqualify them in this particular realm, but also to cast a shadow of suspicion upon the whole of their work on any other subject-matter, although it is possible that people who are incompetent to deal with a question that is fundamental to all mankind may reveal some ability in treating secondary problems, where the emotional charge is lower.

Far from being able to be investigated as an object of the external world, God is also defined in the Bible as a person, and as a sui generis person who maintains an intimate and secret dialogue with all human beings and indicates to each of them an inner path for them to know Him. Only if you look for signs of this person in the intimacy of you soul and do not find them at all, even following all the indications given in the definition, it will be legitimate for you to declare that God does not exist. Otherwise you will be proclaiming the non-existence of another god, a point on which the Bible will completely agree with you, with the only difference that you imagine, or you pretend to imagine, that this god is the God of the Bible.

When an enemy of faith makes an effort to cling to the Biblical definition of God, he always does so in a partial and caricatural way, and the results at which he arrives are even worse than those of the “creation” argument. Dawkins argues against omniscience, asking how God could possibly be aware of all thoughts of all human beings at the same time. The question is formulated in an absurd way, assuming that self-consciousnesses are objects that exist per se and questioning the possibility of knowing all of them at once ex post facto. But self-consciousness is not an object. It is a vacillating power, which constitutes and conquers itself to the extent that it asks itself about its own foundation and, not finding such foundation within its own boundaries, it is led to open itself to more and more consciousness, until it disembogues into a source transcendent to the universe of experience and notices that out of this source, which is per se unattainable, comes its strength to intensify itself. Ten lines by Louis Lavelle on this subject, or the paragraph in which Aristotle defines God as noesis noeseos, self-consciousness of self-consciousness, are worth more than all the works that Dawkins and Dennett could possibly write in the course of infinite earthly existences. A God who supposedly “observes” every consciousness from the outside is a character of a cock-and-bull story—one who was especially invented to prove his own non-existence. Instead of asking how such god would be possible, and knowing in advance that this god is impossible, a qualified philosopher starts off from the contrary question: how is self-awareness possible? God does not know self-awareness as an external observer but as the transcendent foundation of its possibility of existence. But you can only perceive this if, instead of playing logical games with made-up concepts, you seriously investigate the problem from your own inner experience, with the maturity of an accomplished philosopher and having a comprehensive knowledge of the status quaestionis.

What is killing philosophy in today’s world is amateurism, the intrusion of dabblers who, ignoring the very formulation of the question they discuss, take delight in puerile and inconsequential guesswork, which is even more ridiculous when adorned with a varnish of “science.”

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on March 18, 2019, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

Human Consciousness At Risk

Iwould like to invite the reader, once again, to accompany me on a brief philosophical investigation. The subject matter of this inquiry—the foundations (or lack thereof) of human consciousness—seems to be far removed from current political affairs; however, if one is patient enough to read through this article, one will see this is not actually the case. Never as today – when an elite of enlightened bureaucrats fiddles at will with the very pillars of civilization, like a band of escapees from a mental institution playing the scientists in an atomic laboratory – has it been so vital for every inhabitant of the planet to acquire a clear view of the constants which define the human condition, before the very image of humanness disappears from their memories under the impact of deforming experiments enforced on a global scale. And one of those constants is precisely that every human constant only shows through, as if in filigree, beneath the unceasing flow of historical mutation. Only a knowledge of the comparative history of civilizations and cultures can show, underneath that almost deranging diversity of forms, the endurance of the general structure of the human spirit. And since that which is at risk of immediate loss due to that vortex of forced transformations is primarily the very unity of each and every individual’s self-consciousness—for the fragmentation of culture results in the shattering of souls—, never has it been so important to know the historical mutations of the image of the “self” throughout the times, so as to distinguish, in that image, what is accidental and transitory from what is essential, permanent, and indispensable to the ultimate defense of human dignity.

One of the richest repositories of materials for such study is found in autobiographies. The historical development of that literary genre, in parallel with the changes that occurred in people’s experience of time, memory, and the act of narrating itself, evinces in a most clear manner the transformations suffered by individual self-consciousness over the ages.

Among the various works that have been recently published on the subject, Louisiana State University English Professor James Olney’s Memory and Narrative: The Weave of Life-Writing (The University of Chicago Press, 1998) is one of the most useful, because, focusing on the history of the autobiographical genre in the period going from Augustine’s Confessions (397) to Samuel Beckett’s scenic monologue Company (1979), it manages to outline very clearly—over the passage from one extreme to the other—the gradual loss of the sense of the unity of self-consciousness, a unity without which the very intention of narrating one’s own life becomes absurd.

For both Augustine and Beckett, the structural model of the narrative is the same. Augustine illustrates it by the example of prayer. When he recites one of the psalms, he already knows it—completely and beforehand—by heart. As he recites the psalm, the words that follow one another are gradually actualized within time against the static backdrop of the whole text that is stored in his memory. When the recitation is over, the psalm has become complete within time and is thus returned to his memory, ready to be recited again and again and again. All autobiographical writings bear such a structure to some extent. The life to be told is complete in one’s memory, but it continues during its recollection and still after the narration is over, and is thus returned to one’s memory so it can be told again, or perhaps read or heard. What is the “substance” of this narrative? It is time; but which time? Is it the past, which no longer exists? The present, that infinitesimal atomistic instant which dissolves as soon as it appears? The future, which has a merely hypothetical existence? This riddle is more or less the same both in the Confessions and in Company.

Although joined in their shared concern with time, memory, and the self, these two books could not be more antagonistic in their views about such matters.

Augustine’s memoirs are the formal confession of a soul that, by fully assuming the authorship, the responsibility, and the consequences for each and every one of its acts, thoughts, and inner states, even the most obscure and remote in time, attends its own trial as if exhibiting an integral identity, whose various conflicting internal forces cannot but emphasize the tensional unity of the whole. Augustine is able to do so because he composes his narrative before an omniscient audience—God Himself. “To walk before God” means precisely to act and think in constant confrontation with the symbol of “omniscience”—that unreachable and insurmountable source of all consciousness, the only guarantee of the sincerity of thoughts, acts, and recollection. Although that expression is present in the Bible, Augustine was the first to verbalize the meaning of the experience that is condensed therein. He who walks before God governs and conceives himself at every moment, as if before the Last Judgment, in the complete form of his individual being that is consciously responsible for the act of choosing its own eternal fate. The complete life of the future is thus the measure for the recollection of the past, which the narrator undertakes in the present.

It is from this realization that Augustine extracts the solution to the problem of the unsubstantiality of time. God is not only omniscient: He is eternal. Boethius would later define eternity as the “the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of unbounded life,” but this concept was already implicit in Augustine. If life’s various moments have no common unity, they cannot but crumble into utter nothingness. Only their total and simultaneous unity is real, and such unity is eternity itself, and nothing else. Time, merely in itself, really does not have any substantiality whatsoever. It is but a mirage, a “moving image of eternity.” If Augustine is able to master his past intellectually, that is because he exhibits it before the eyes of omniscience. If he is able to intuit the continuity of his own existence, this is because he regards it as a temporal reflection of eternity. The structure of moral self-awareness is the same structure of time—past, present, and future—in the axis of eternity.

This idea of the individual – as a complex and dramatic unity that is formed and assumed at the crossroads of the past, present and future—has been so incorporated into the Western tradition that it came to be the inspiration for the whole modern psychology of personality. Sixteen centuries after Augustine, Maurice Pradines, in his Traité de Psychologie Générale (1948), would define consciousness as “the memory of the past prepared for the tasks of the future.” Even in Freud, to whom much of the guilt (or the merit) for the dissolution of the unity of the self is wrongly ascribed, the personality is the resultant of an arbitration that is increasingly imposed upon the antagonistic impulses of the Id and the Superego by conscience. Nothing celebrates the final victory of unity more clearly than the famed prophecy by the father of psychoanalysis: “Where there is Id, there shall be Ego.”

In Company, there is a completely different perspective. Here a paralytic old man, on the stage, listens to episodes of his life—the life of Samuel Beckett himself—being narrated and commented on, in monologue, by a faceless voice. Could it be the “voice of conscience?” Yes and no. The voice tells the old man about himself, now in the second person, now in the third. He who in the present recalls the past no longer knows if that past is his own, of a third party, or of an imagined character. And the voice sets forth a frightful challenge to the old man’s sense of identity: if you cannot recall your own birth, how can you be sure that the life you remember is the same as that of the person whose birth you think to be your own?

Just like Augustine, Beckett’s character—which is indistinguishable from the author himself—draws his memories from the foil that is provided to him by an invisible interlocutor who transcends the narrator and has over him the authority of a formative entity. The result is thus different according to the identity of the interlocutor. God’s eternity and omniscience confer upon Augustine’s autobiographical image the unity of a story undertaken as responsible personal creation. But Beckett’s interlocutor is not omniscient; he is merely more cunning than the character in the play. He is the critical reason, that corrosive potion which dissolves the sense of the temporal unity of the self by means of epistemological demands which the self cannot meet. The paralytic old man does not even have the power to say “I” with awareness of the foundations of his self, but perhaps for that same reason he cannot be imputed with guilt for his sins or merit for his achievements. The crumbled I is incapable of telling his own story; he is a victim of his own existence and therefore has no responsibility over it whatsoever. Augustine’s narrative rises from the obscure bottom of the heart to the divine light which allows him, in response, to participate in its own unity and clarity. Beckett’s narrative, on the other hand, comes from an external gloom that obscures what little light the ego believed itself to have.

From one extreme to the other, Olney records some stages of the “crisis of narrative memory” which, as a common thread, pervades the whole history of the modern Western mentality. He traces the beginning of the “crisis” to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions (1782), but he is mistaken. That “crisis” was already fully established in René Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), which presents itself as an inner autobiography, as the narrative of a cognitive experiment (cf. http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/apostilas/descartes.htm and http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/apostilas/descartes2.htm). The hideous confusion that the philosopher produces there between the concrete existential self and the abstract concept of the self as absolute self-consciousness (cogito ergo sum), going from the former to the latter without noticing the leap from the temporal to the deductive realm, is one of the most prodigious mutilations ever imposed upon the autobiographical awareness of Western man. Beckett’s problem was already there. As Jean Onimus (Beckett, un Écrivain devant Dieu, Desclée de Brouwer, 1967) well noted: “Place yourselves at the Cartesian cogito at its starting point,… and you shall see Beckett’s man in the full extent of his misfortune.”

The Cartesian self cannot tell its story because it is merely an abstract form isolated in space and cut off from temporal experience. However, if Descartes presents it in a narrative form, it is because he literally does not realize what he is doing. Cartesianism is not the inaugural chapter in the dissolution of narrative self-consciousness (in an unpublished text from my Philosophy Seminar I have ascribed the questionable honor to Niccolò Machiavelli’s autobiographical fragments), but it is indeed an important episode in that process. Descartes’s inconsistency would be greatly amplified by Immanuel Kant’s idea of the “transcendental I.” This hideous creature of German philosophy possesses the authority to determine the boundaries of all experience that is accessible to the wretched existential I, without ever being limited itself by such borders; but it does not allow the existential I, in spite of that fact, even the smallest and narrowest crevice through which to see what lies beyond those boundaries. That creature is called “transcendental” precisely because it shuts off all doors that lead to what is “transcendent.” Settled at the medial heights of the transcendental I, which lies but slightly above the existential I, Kant does not permit anyone to rise above himself. The perverse satisfaction with which he believes himself to be determining the “boundaries of human knowledge” shows that he believed himself to be like what a “guardian of the gate” is in the initiatory ladders, a metaphysical Pasionaria, screaming to the seekers of eternity: “They shall not pass! They shall not pass!” I have not a shadow of a doubt that Beckett’s interlocutor is the Kantian transcendental I. Kant, on one hand, believed that human knowledge was limited to the experience of the senses, of space and time; on the other, he used to say that the data of experience are chaotic crumbs, upon which consciousness imposes its own unity. Left to itself, however, and devoid of the backdrop of eternity, consciousness itself crumbles. Beckett’s isolated and desperate man, even more than in Descartes, is present and manifested in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781). By denying consciousness access to eternity, the transcendental I makes consciousness itself inaccessible and evanescent.

Thence derives the apparently logical and profoundly absurd demand which comes from the darkness: the idea that only the self which remembered its own birth clearly would have the authority to assert that its story was indeed its own story is entirely based on a Kantian prank, which, in turn, has a colossal ineptitude as its premise—it amounts to assuming that the only legitimate self-consciousness would be that of a being which could consciously observe its own birth. In order to do that, however, such a being would have to exist in time before entering temporal existence. In real experience, each and every beginning, each and every pregnancy, takes in place in obscurity: luminosity is attained progressively. To tell the story of one’s own life without having witnessed one’s own birth is not undue pretentiousness: it is simply a real condition of human experience. Because it intends to critique experience, the transcendental I establishes premises which deny the possibility of all experience, and therefore of its own critique.

Beckett is aware of the humorous trait of his own speculations. But Kantian humor is pathetically involuntary. Olney’s study has the merit of developing the fundamental concept of the “crisis of narrative memory;” however, it is rather incomplete when trying to illustrate the concept. Descartes is but mentioned in passing, and Kant’s name is not even present. And both the neglect of Proust, who spent his life trying to solve the Augustinian problem of time, and of Arthur Koestler, who recorded in his Darkness at Noon (1940) the dwindling of self-consciousness as a “grammatical fiction” under the pressure of modern totalitarianism, are unpardonable. The author also does not seem to make the connection between the “crisis of memory” and a parallel and inseparable process: the epidemic of autobiographical and biographical narratives consciously falsified for purposes of political propaganda, a phenomenon which was observed in France at least a century before the not-so-conscious liar that was Rousseau.

It would indeed be impossible for the dissolution of self-consciousness not to be accompanied by a progressive loss of sense of intellectual responsibility and by a formidable expansion of amorality, manipulative cynicism, and sadistic cruelty. The destruction of the civilizational basis of human existence does not begin on the battlefields nor in the stock market: it starts in the quiet studies, where seemingly harmless men—whether philosophers or UN bureaucrats—attempt to be wiser than God. It makes no sense to dissociate the crisis of self-consciousness from the progressive modern rejection of the sense of eternity, and it is not possible to accept the dissolution of self-consciousness while simultaneously trying to preserve high moral standards of conduct. In our time, which marks the end of an age, the historical consequences of intellectual decisions made three, four, or five centuries ago take on the form of totalitarianism, widespread violence, genocide, and above all the universal reign of falsehood. Those who seek a remedy for such evils in political action will have to understand, sooner or later, that their root lies in the ethereal realms of abstract thought. And those who, due to personal preferences, devote themselves to abstract thought should examine with all sincerity of conscience the devastating effects of the seemingly innocuous abstractions which were created by the philosophers of the last few centuries. In this sense, philosophy is politics, and politics is philosophy.

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on March 13, 2006, and translated from the Portuguese by Pedro Cava and revised by Alessandro Cota and Benjamin Mann.

Shutting Off The Gas

The way political commentary in Brazil delights in trivia, leaving aside the essentials, obliges anyone who understands the gravity of the phenomenon to alert the public that what is being sold today as journalism is in fact a new and different product, with the opposite finality of what was being consumed a generation ago under that name.

The Portuguese word for news, “noticia,” comes from the word “notar,” which means to grasp, apprehend or perceive. When the news you receive from various channels arrives with a uniform content and in an absolutely identical tone, it is clear that it is not expressing human perception, which is varied and individualized by nature and devoid of engineering work, i.e., a template pre-set on the facts, not to reflect them but to substitute them.

The case of the Oslo terror attacks is a prime example from this standpoint. Flagrantly erroneous information was disseminated throughout the world in a matter of minutes, in a tone suggesting universally recognized certainties, at a rate such that its contradictions became apparent only to a few, one here, another there, without the force required to reject the homogeneous mass of falsehoods which, like the lethal bubble in the famous movie, had already engulfed whole multitudes.

As I have said before, terrorist attacks are never an end in themselves. They are always inserted in some general strategy which, by bloodless political or propaganda means, prepare for the attacks and reap (or produce) their results. The physical destruction must be preceded and followed by moral demolition efforts or political blackmail which transform the mere carnage into a specific political advantage. To give but 2 classic examples, September 11 was based on a whole decade of growing anti-American propaganda and immediately managed to invert the initial impression of horror at the terrorism, transforming it into a global wave of hate against the US (see: http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/traducoes/terrorism2.htm); in Spain, less than 24 hours after the 2004 attack, a huge popular protest was already in the streets, not against the terrorists but against … the conservative government of Prime Minister Aznar (Portuguese-language site: http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/semana/040325jt.htm). But we needn’t go that far from home. In Brazil, between 1964 and 1988, every bomb, every arms robbery and every kidnapping was followed by intense propaganda based on the slogan that the blame for these crimes lay not with their perpetrators but with the government that fought them. The legend of “young idealists in the struggle against tyranny” bore its fruit with the massive comeback of the communists to the country and their unstoppable rise to power (Portuguese language site: http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/semana/110428dc.html). I cite my previous articles to emphasize the continuity of the analyses I have been making, chapters added to many years of study on the phenomenon of the revolutionary mentality.

Now in the Norwegian case, the only propaganda campaign observed was aimed against the terrorist himself, but associated with the obvious scapegoats, Zionists and conservative Christians. The golden rule in the analysis of terrorist attacks is: Find out whom the campaign being observed is targeting and you will see that the responsibility for the crime lies in the opposite direction.

Anders Behring Breivik himself gave us a valuable clue when he said in his “Manifesto” that he was not a Christian but just a Darwinist convinced that Western Christian civilization is more highly evolved than others. This not only refuted the official version of the “mainstream media” but unequivocally aligned Breivik with the ideological pattern of the materialist, evolutionist French Nouvelle Droite (New Right) headed by Alain Benoist. This is another thing that the enlightened political commentators aren’t aware of, or for that matter, that the Nouvelle Droite is a staunch ally… of “Project Eurasia,” brainchild of Alexander Dugin and Vladimir Putin!

Based on this information, I announced on my program True Outspeak of July 27, 2011, that we would soon see, behind all these perverse attempts to smear Zionists and Christians, the truth bearing a label with three letters: K, G and B, or in their new version, modified for the nth time, F, S and B[1].

No more than 48 hours later, on Friday July 29, I received from my Romanian friend Anca Cernea this news report from the Russian agency RiaNovosti: Breivik had been in Belarus several times, receiving terrorist training from the local section of the FSB (http://en.rian.ru/world/20110728/165436665.html). Actually, while there, he also had contact with a “rightwing extremist,” Viacheslav Datsik, but Datsik, jailed in Norway for arms smuggling, has just confessed to working for the FSB.

To clarify still more, Breivik states in the “Manifesto” (http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Russia-as-the-mass-murderer%E2%80%99s-political-model-22193.html) that the ideal target for his struggle would be to substitute the European political structure, which he calls “dysfunctional,” with a model of authoritarian democracy “similar to that of Russia” (sic). And, on top of that, he praises Vladimir Putin to high heaven.

To round out the picture, Russian interest in destabilizing the Norwegian government is as plain as the nose on your face: Norway is Russia’s only competitor in the supply of natural gas to the European continent – that is, the only obstacle standing in the way of Vladimir Putin’s dream of one day bringing Europe to its knees simply by threatening to shut off the gas.

[1] Russian Federal Security Service, replacement of the KGB

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 article was originally published in the newspaper Jornal do Brasil on August 26, 2011, and translated from the Portuguese by Donald Hank.

Sociopathy and Revolution

Modern social science, with all its presumption and arrogance, has failed to bring forth any discovery that ever approached, in accuracy and explanatory power, the Hindu doctrine of the four castes, whereof the Marxist conception of class struggle is but a remote and caricatural imitation, hence deriving whatever impression of truthfulness that it may make upon the foolish mind of the university “intellectual proletariat.”

For anyone who has taken the trouble to make a little study of the Hindu explanation of the historical process, it is impossible, on observing the sequence of power structures that succeed one another throughout Western history, not to notice that it exactly repeats the transition from the rule of brahmanas to that of kshatriyas, from this to the rule of vaishyas, and from this to the misrule of shudras and the confusion of pariahs which foreshadows either the end of society or the return to the initial order.

Here I shall briefly summarize that doctrine, not as it stands in its pure original formulation, but in my adaptation of it, in courses and lectures delivered since 1980, intended to make it more flexible as an explanatory instrument of more recent historico-cultural processes.

The brahmanas are the intellectual caste, intent on the search of spiritual knowledge and on the construction of a social order that more or less reflects “the will of God”—the laws determining the entire structure of reality.

The kshatriyas are the warriors and aristocrats, who over the structure of reality place the glorification of their own dynastic traditions and the expansion of their military power.

The vaishyas are the bourgeois and merchants. In everything they seek profit and economic efficiency, which they illusorily take as an actual power, ignoring the military and spiritual bases of society and in the end being swiftly destroyed by the shudras. These are the “proletarians,” in the Roman sense of the term. Incapable of governing themselves, they matter only because of the power of the many, because of the quantitative extension of the “offspring.”

The brahmanas fall because of their difficulty in remaining faithful to their original spiritual intuition, entropically crumbled into ever more insoluble and violent doctrinal disputes of a stifling artificiality.

The rise of aristocratic power, with the formation of modern nation states, started directly out of the need to appease religious conflicts by means of an external, political-military force.

The kshatriya government falls because the aristocratic-military establishment is essentially an expansionist and centralizing power, which must rely on an ever-growing bureaucracy whose officials it cannot keep up providing indefinitely, therefore having to collect them from among the most talented members of both lower castes, who are to be given necessary training for the exercise of their new functions in the administration, in the judiciary, in the foreign service, etc. Hence the origin of the modern “intelligentsia,” as a byproduct of an educational system designed to shape officials for the state: once the state bureaucracy is consolidated as a means of social ascent, candidates for it are always in greater number than the positions available, while, at the same time, schooling, itself an instrument of selection, must necessarily reach much more students than those to whom it can secure positions in the civil service. The bureaucracy with which the kshatriya state controls society thus becomes a time bomb. On the one hand, it goes without saying that the bureaucratic intelligentsia soon lays hold of the effective control of the state, dreaming of shaking off its shoulders the yoke of an increasingly idle and costly aristocratic caste. On the other hand, there is the throng of those rejected. Their ambitions were aroused by schooling, frustrated by job selection. They make up the contingent of what I have called “potential bureaucracy”—the growing army of those individuals with some training but no role. Their only possible place in society is within the state, but the state has no room for them. They are the revolutionary class par excellence, the leading character in the adventure of modern times. Before long they will be dreaming of a state that is molded to their needs. Until they manage to create it, they busy themselves with endlessly chattering about all matters, thus spreading their rancor and their frustrations throughout society and, above all, adorning themselves with the prestige of the ancient brahmanas, of whom they constitute the inverted caricature. The “intellectuals” are the lay clergy of the Revolution. If you have ever heard of PT, the Brazilian Workers’ Party, you know what I am talking about. Further on I shall come back to it.

On the other hand, the aristocratic state causes much expense and cannot sustain itself indefinitely with the resources from a traditional and artless agrarian economy; the economic expansion requires the mobilization of specific skills which are those of the vaishyas. Bankers and industrialists furnish the state with a new economic basis, by regimenting shudra manpower in proportions never dreamed of before and by replacing the ancient agrarian economy with modern capitalism.

It is at this moment—and under this aspect only—that the difference between two systems of ownership of the means of production becomes historically determinative, creating a peculiar situation which Karl Marx will misleadingly project on the whole course of history. But it is also clear that the rise of capitalism, in itself, presents no risk to the aristocratic class, which easily adapts to the new ways of amassing riches and, by means of marriages and the award of titles of nobility, integrates into its ranks the new rich who ascended without ancestral nobility, sine nobilitate (s. nob. for short, hence the term “snob”). To this adaptation there corresponds, politically, the transition from the absolute monarchical state to the modern parliamentary monarchy, a process that does not have to be violent or traumatic, this being the case only in France because the excessive growth of state bureaucracy had fatally occasioned an even greater growth of the “potential bureaucracy” and had turned into sheer revolutionary rancor the frustrated ambitions of the intelligentsia. This very intelligentsia is what brought about the revolution. There was not a single capitalist among the revolutionary leaders, and the bourgeoisie, as was seen in England, never needed any revolution to climb the social scale up to a status to which it was insistently invited by the aristocracy itself. The concept of “bourgeois revolution” is one of the greatest frauds in the history of the social sciences. The elements in the potential bureaucracy, in turn, cannot be defined economically. Their only common trait was the education which distinguished them from the masses. They came from all classes—the peasantry, the old clergy, the petty bourgeoisie, the impoverished sectors of the aristocracy itself. Theirs was not a unity of origin, but of social station and ambitions. The true formula of their unity lay in the future: in the image of the perfect state, invested with all the virtues which they themselves thought to embody. Living off a self-glorifying fantasy, a psychological compensation for their vexatious social position, it is no wonder that they conceived of themselves as inheritors of the intellectual authority of the brahmanas but also imagined that they were the natural successors to the Church as spokesmen and keepers of the poor and oppressed, namely the shudras. Everywhere they speak on behalf of “science,” but also of “social justice.” They imagine that they embody at the same time the highest spiritual authority and the downtrodden rights of the lowest caste. But just as there was no bourgeois in the vanguard of the “bourgeois revolution,” there shall be no proletarians among the leaders of the “proletarian revolution.” The entire revolutionary sociology is an ideological fraud destined to cover up the power of the “intellectuals.” These are not a caste. They are an interface accidentally born of the cancerous swelling of the bureaucracy, and for this very reason they will fight to make it grow even more wherever they have acquired the means to do so. They are, strictly speaking, pariahs—a confused, deluded mixture of fragments from the speech of the various castes. They are the pseudo-caste, with neither function nor axis, sociopathic by birth and calling.

The rise of the capitalist bourgeoisie is not a revolutionary process. It is a long, complicated process of absortion and adaptation. French capitalism was born weakly and has remained stunted because of the Revolution, which came along with the bureaucratic expansion and has continued to live off it until today, in a nation that is the paradise par excellence of “intellectuals.” Capitalism rather developed in England, where the aristocracy smoothly adapted to their new capitalist functions, and in America, where, the presence of the aristocracy of blood being sparse, that same capitalist bourgeoisie invested itself with the heroic-aristocratic ethos, generating a new kshatriya caste. I must observe in passing that this transfiguration of the American bourgeoisie into aristocracy—the most important and vigorous phenomenon in modern history—would never have been possible without that profound Christian impregnation of the new class which rendered it, in contrast to the farce of the “intellectualls,” the partial, distant, but authentic heir to the brahmana authority.

In the Hindu doctrine there is never a shudra government. The shudras are, by definition, the ruled and not the rulers. A guy may have been born a shudra, but on ascending to positions of importance he is already an “intellectual” (if Lula continued to be a lathe operator, he would be just a lathe operator). What there can be is the government of intellectuals passing themselves off as the shudra vanguard and, of course, oppressing the shudra more than ever to make them form the economic basis of a boundlessly expansive state bureaucracy.

Economically, the shudra government, or socialism, has verbal existence only. In 1921 Ludwig von Mises thoroughly demonstrated that the completely nationalized economy is infeasible and that therefore every self-styled socialist regime would never be more than a capitalism disguised under the iron armor of state bureaucracy. History has not ceased to prove him right ever since.

From this brief exposition it is possible to draw some conclusions that historical experience abundantly proves:

1. Wherever state bureaucracy becomes the predominant way of social ascent, as in eighteenth-century France or in nineteenth-century Russia, the potential bureaucracy tends to grow indefinitely and become a generator of revolutionary pressures. Many modern nations alleviate these pressures by creating an indefinite number of cultural and academic sinecures in order to integrate and somehow “officialize” the potential bureaucracy, but, on the one hand, this is a very expensive palliative, one that can only be afforded by a powerful capitalism, which precisely presupposes that the revolution be aborted in time; on the other hand, the members of the officialized potential bureaucracy may for a while be satisfied with their new roles in capitalist society, but social ascent itself will eventually make them even more presumptuous and arrogant. This explains why it is precisely in those countries where intellectuals have the best living conditions that they are the most resentful enemies of the society which fosters and flatters them while, by compensation, they are unable or perhaps unwilling to deal this society the final blow, confining themselves to constituting a permanent structural corrosive agent which on the whole is neutralized by technical progress and capitalist growth.

2. Where a potential bureaucracy as yet not perfectly officialized holds in possession a political party as its main vehicle of social integration, this party, embodying in its own eyes both the supreme intellectual authority and the rights of every real or imagined victim of social injustice, will necessarily place itself above the laws and institutions, arrogating to itself every right and every virtue and acknowledging no higher judgment than its own.

3. Every hope of integrating this party into the normal democratic process will be repeatedly frustrated, for it will never construe its participation in this process but as a temporary concession—in itself repulsive—to those conditions which preclude the attainment of its goals.

4. The conquest of total power will always be the goal and the single raison d’être of this party, which will attempt all sorts of coup d’état and at the same time will regard as a coup d’état any attempt, however timid and limited, to prevent it from reaching its goals. Examples of it abound in Brazil. The latest one is that in which the leaders of the ruling party openly preach violent resistance to its possible election defeat, while literally denouncing as a “coup d’état” the simple journalistic disclosure of the money that they used in a dirty trick against their opponent.

5. Since the primordial function of the revolutionary party, beneath the most diverse ideological pretexts, is exactly to create a bureaucratic state to serve its own members, it is normal and inevitable that this party, once invested with state power, should regard the state as property of its own, using it for ends of its own without finding the least immorality in it. The potential bureaucracy is sociopathic by birth and by definition; and its form of government, as soon as there are conditions for it to be established, is and will always be organized sociopathy.

6. The affinity between the revolutionary party and common banditism is something more than a temporary conjunction of interests. From the perspective of the potential bureaucracy, the only evil in the world is that it does not have absolute power, is that there is a society that transcends it and obeys it not. Every other evil, if it weakens this society and facilitates the conquest of total power by the revolutionary party, is a good. The solipsistic self-idolatry of the gang boss and that of the revolutionary leader are one and the same, with the slight difference that there is a little bit of intellectual refinement in favor of the latter. It is ridiculous to say that a party like PT “has turned” into a gang of delinquents. It is a born delinquent.

7. The insistence of opponents on pretending that this party can honorably participate in the normal political process will always lead to conditions of “asymmetrical warfare,” in which one side will have all the duties, and the other all the rights.

PS—Those who have had the misfortune of being members by birth of the potential bureaucracy cannot pursue but three courses of life: (1) integrate into the revolutionary sham and brag everywhere that they are benefactors of mankind, (2) fall into marginality, mental illness, self-destruction, or banditism, (3) understand their historical situation and struggle to escape from an essentially grotesque social condition and to acquire through study and spiritual self-discipline the dignity of the true status of brahmana, which implies renouncing all political power and every psychosocial benefit of participating in the revolutionary intelligentsia. Economically, to make a livelihood from intellectual activity outside the revolutionary scheme of mutual protection is a formidable challenge.

The challenge to those who were born vaishyas is to resist the siren song of revolution and to impose capitalism as a morally superior way of life. This is impossible without the cultivation of the kshatriya discipline and without the acceptance of the heroic burdens of a new noble caste, which implies the absorption, even if slight, of the brahmana legacy. The struggle in the modern world is between vaishyas and the potential bureaucrats—that is, between those who feed the state and those who feed upon it. If the former let themselves be hypnotized by revolutionary culture, they are finished, and with them the shudras as well, who lose their status of free workers and become slaves of the Communist bureaucracy.

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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on October 26, 2006, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota and Bruno Mori.

Terrorisms and Globalisms

The Brazilian military has not caught up with the new era in international politics and examines the politics of today with outdated categories.

For more than a decade leftist intellectuals infiltrated at Brazil’s National War College and staff colleges around the country have sought to sell to officers of our armed forces the theory that, with the fall of USSR, Communism is over, the world has become unipolar, and the one and only pole, with its growing ambition of world dominance, is the virtual enemy against which strategic plans of national defense should be turned.

Cowed by persistent campaigns of journalistic slander that accuse them of the worst crimes, by the creation of a Ministry of Defense that excludes them from ministerial meetings, by budget cuts that reduce the armed forces to impotence, by the proliferation of environmentalist and pro-Brazilian Indians NGOs that exclude ever larger areas of Amazonian territory from military surveillance, and so on and so forth, many officers tend to accept that theory, which allows them to glimpse, behind so many humiliations they have suffered, the figure of a culprit: American imperialism.

Starting from these assumptions, they see the reaction of the Bush administration to the 9/11 attacks as another step of the American imperialist advance that puts the world in danger and, naturally, Brazil as well. To give more credibility to that “conspiracy theory,” the latest editorial of Ombro a Ombro, a newspaper of military affairs distributed to thousands of Brazilian officers, even rehashes an old cliché of the anti-American campaign from the time of the Vietnam war, dividing Washington’s ruling elite into “doves,” who want to submit American belligerence to the control of the UN, and “hawks,” who do not accept to be kept on a rein and want to rule the world. The conclusion drawn from this is obvious: national defense should ally with “doves,” giving support to multinational forces that, from Cuba to China and from the European Economic Community and to Mr. Yasser Arafat, want to tear off the wings of the “hawks.” The conclusion is so consistent with the assumptions that it almost automatically imposes itself. There is only one problem: the assumptions are false.

(1) There is no unipolar world. There is, on the one hand, the alliance between American and Israel and, on the other, the bloc of leftist globalism, entrenched in the UN. From a military point of view, the globalists’ fortresses are China—involved in an increasing nuclear preparation on a global war scale—, Russia (that has never ceased to sneakily help terrorists all over the world), a few heavily armed Arab countries, and, last but not least, the worldwide network of narcoterrorist organizations; economically, their stronghold is the European Economic Community, without whose support Arafat’s assaults against Israel would have already ceased for being out of gas; from a political and publicity point of view, the big international leftist media (including the main American newspapers) that trash George W. Bush on a daily basis.

(2) The United States are not a mirror-image of the Soviet Union; they are not a right-wing totalitarian state capable of formulating long-term strategic plans which continue to be faithfully followed down the generations, but rather a democracy, whose foreign policy changes from water to wine after each new presidential election.

(3) All the imperialistic pressures that would have been behind the humiliation of our Armed Forces were applied during the government of the most innocent of the “doves,” Mr. Bill Clinton, and not during George W. Bush (presumably a “hawk”) administration.

(4) At that same time that Mr. Clinton put all those pressures on us and on many other countries he also cut his own country’s military active duty personnel, budget, combat war crafts, and nuclear resources, blocked the investigation into Arab terrorist infiltration, seriously weakened the CIA and FBI, and, in short, did exactly the opposite of what would be logically expected in an imperialistic advance. What is more: elected with the support of Chinese funds for his presidential campaign, he also vetoed investigations into Chinese nuclear espionage in Los Alamos and moved heaven and earth to transfer the control of the Panama Canal, a strategic zone, to China. Finally, after 9/11, he joined in the international left’s outcry that blamed the victims for the terrorist attacks and demanded that the United States, instead of exercising its right of defense, consented in becoming a mere auxiliary force of United Nations. What kind of imperialist Yankee is he? Therefore, seen as signs of Washington’s imperial ambition, the anti-Brazilian pressures from the Clinton administration make no sense at all. Seen as maneuvers intended to turn Brazil against the United States and to strengthen the other pole of global dominance, they make all the sense in the world.

(5) The media campaigns against our armed forces—in parallel with the beatification of terrorists of the 1970s—have always come from leftist journalists who, in terms of international politics, side with that second pole, against the United States.

(6) Our military have not only been materially and morally disarmed. They have been intellectually disarmed: the suppression of courses in “revolutionary war” from the curricula of staff colleges has left two generations of army officers completely unprepared to take action in the context of continental revolutionary violence, today more intense and widespread than in the 1970s. The then Brazilian president is today an enthusiastic supporter of a presidential candidate who, at the meetings of the São Paulo Forum, from 1990 to 2001, signed successive solidarity pacts with Latin-American terrorist organizations.

(7) Most of the NGOs that infest the Amazon rainforest, removing it from the control of the armed forces, have no roots in the United States, but rather in European countries and the United Nations, that is to say: they belong to the other imperialistic pole, that of anti-American globalism (which has the support of Mr. Clinton and all the other doves of the American aviary).

Based on those observations, one can only conclude that our armed forces, and especially the new generations of officers, are the target of a vast and persistent disinformation and manipulation effort, intended to turn them into docile instruments of organized anti-Americanism, of the continental revolution, and of the leftist globalist pole. Today, flattering promises made by four left-wing presidential candidates announce, at the end of two decades of humiliation, the restoration of the dignity of our armed forces. But can there be dignity in someone who sells himself so cheaply to those who did so much to lower his price?

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute, 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 article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora on Septemeber 8, 2012, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.