Ignoring the Essential

There are some elementary historical data about the communist movement which are ignored by most people and less known or well forgotten by the leading cultivated minorities, but without which it is literally impossible to understand anything whatsoever about recent world history. If you try to inform yourself and to take these data into account, you’ll realize how many obscure issues become automatically transparent, with little interpretative effort.

1. Communism has been, throughout human history, the only – I repeat: the only – globally organized political movement, with ramifications and agents in the most remote places of the Earth, all disciplined and prepared to immediately, coordinately and simultaneously spring into action upon the first call issued from their command centers.

2. Although it has at its disposal a huge number of organizations and mass parties, Communism is substantially a clandestine movement, whose command and action plans must remain invisible to the masses, even in such periods of lawfulness when many communist organizations can move publicly without being persecuted. The primacy of the clandestine elite over the visible leadership has been, at least since Lenin’s time, a keystone clause of the communist strategy. It is impossible to understand this strategy and the tactics that implement it by taking into account only the undisguised role of the most visible communist leaders in each country, and without having access to the internal discussions and the international connections of each organization.

3. Communism has been, throughout the world and throughout the ages, the only political movement that has at its disposal unlimited financial resources, far superior to the West’s biggest known fortunes and to the combined budgets of many governments. Its potentials of action must be measured according to the level of its resources.

4. Only a tiny part of the communist activity consists of directly or indirectly recognizable doctrinarian propaganda. The main and most significant part consists of infiltrating and blending into all sorts of organizations – political parties (liberals and conservatives alike), media, unions, government and private enterprises, cultural, educational and charitable institutions, the armed forces, Freemasonry and so on – it is an endless list – in order to turn them into useful tools for the communist strategy, through which it is possible to control the entire society, making the Party an “omniscient and invisible power” (the phrasing comes from Antonio Gramsci, but the idea itself existed much earlier). It is infantile to believe that, once implanted in those entities, the Communists will then turn to indoctrination or proselytism, as if they were protestant shepherds preaching the Gospel among infidels. Co-opting all forces that may serve the communist strategy is an extremely subtle and complex mechanism, which requires massive doses of camouflage and deceptiveness, with many contradictory moments on its way.

5. It is foolish to imagine communism as a “doctrine” or an “ideal”, particularly when it purports overtly preaching the abolition of private property. The communist movement has never had nor needed any doctrinal unity, and has proved one thousand times its capacity to tactically adapt to the most disparate ideological formulas, either sequentially or simultaneously, thus leaving the uninformed observer (including politicians in general and the near entirety of liberal and conservative intellectuals) completely bewildered. The most aggressive atheistic campaigns, for instance, coexist pacifically, in the midst of the communist movement, with the practice of taking advantage of the religious discourse to reach the heart of the masses. Mutatis mutandis, exploring radical nationalistic feelings goes side by side with the effort to dilute national sovereignties into bigger, regional or world unities, so that, behind the scenes, the communist movement benefits from the patriotic resistance as well as from the ascendant global power. The unity of the communist movement is strategic and organizational, not ideological. Communism is not a set of theses: it is a power scheme, the most flexible, vast, integrated and efficient one that ever existed. Even Islamic radicalism, which is so quickly expanding nowadays, would be powerless without the support of the world network of communist organizations.

6. An even more egregious form of foolishness is to believe that the logical-formal opposition between the abstract concepts of capitalism and communism can be translated, in the field, into a mortal conflict between capitalists and communists. To the multiple local and temporal situations corresponds a countless number of shades and transitions, which leaves much room for the apparently strangest arrangements and complicities (but only apparently so). No one will understand anything whatsoever about the historical world we live in without taking into consideration the enduring collaboration between the communist movement and some of the West’s greatest fortunes, Rothschild’s and Rockefellers’s for instance. The classic books on this matter are those from the English economist Anthony Sutton, but already in 1956 the US House of Representative’s Reece Committee gathered substantial proof that some billionaire foundations were using their huge resources “to destroy or discredit the same free market system that gave rise to them.” Today these foundations rank among the most solid pillars supporting the socialist government of Barack Obama.

Ignoring or misunderstanding these facts lies at the root of liberals’ and conservatives’ incapacity to resist the triumphant march of communists in Latin America. Many still believe, for example, that democracy will win a big victory by forcing the FARC to abandon the armed struggle and to constitute a legal party. They can’t understand that to create a recognized political force is the final purpose of any armed struggle – in Colombia or anywhere else. Guerrillas don’t win wars: all they want is a politically advantageous defeat. That’s the reason why they open fire on the government forces, in the jungle and in the city, and, at the same time, place their agents in key posts of the legal leftist parties, where they protest the blood shed and appeal dramatically for a return to lawfulness. They did it in Brazil, and they are doing it now in Colombia.

While liberals and conservatives can’t attain a clear vision of the whole and complex phenomenon of communism, while they insist on fighting the most immediate and repugnant aspects of this movement, if not only communist doctrines in abstract, they are doomed to defeat even as they claim victory.

The fact that no international anti-communist movement has emerged makes it difficult for many people to put together this whole picture, which communists themselves so easily get. But the absence of social support cannot work as a pretext for intellectual laziness. There will always be some individual minds capable of thinking above group prospects, when they exist, or without them, when they don’t exist. Nothing justifies that these minds be kept aside from the public discussions, while the ignorant hold the monopoly of the microphones. In this as in all other human affairs, those who have studied nothing are full of simplistic certainties and proclaim them with a huge sense of superiority, totally unaware of their ridiculous role. Those who have studied the issues may look deranged or eccentric, but after all, why do we study if not to learn something that most do not know?

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 April 3, 2009.

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