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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.

 

 

Under the Command of a Corpse – Part 3

Olavo de Carvalho explains why Liberation Theology is alive and well in Latin America.

II.

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.

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.

Golitsyn’s Methodology and the Trump Administration

The new methodology provides explanations for many contradictions and anomalies in the communist world on which the old methodology throws no light. It explains the confidence of the communist world and the loyalty and dedication of the vast majority of its officials. It explains the reasons for disclosures of information by the communist world about itself and relates them to the requirements of long-range policy. It explains the seeming tolerance of a totalitarian system toward dissension openly expressed by its citizens in their contacts with foreigners. It provides criteria for assessing the reliability of sources, for distinguishing genuine secret agents and defectors from provocateurs, for distinguishing genuine information from disinformation and propaganda. It provides pointers to the identification of agents of influence in the West. It suggests that disinformation, recognized as such, can provide clues to the intentions of its authors. It offers guidance on the relative importance of the official and unofficial communist sources. It diverts attention from spectacular communist polemics between parties and focuses it instead on the solid advances in the groundwork of communist cooperation and coordination. It points the way to recovery from the crisis in Western studies and assessments of communism. It could help to revive the effectiveness of Western security and intelligence services. It explains the communist victory in the Vietnam War despite the Sino-Soviet split. Above all, it explains the willingness and ability of the communist world, despite the appearance of disunity, to seize the initiative and to develop and execute its strategies in relation to the United States, the other advanced industrial countries, and the Third World in the quest for the complete and final victory of international communism.

-Anatoliy Golitsyn, New Lies for Old, p. 102

 

What would Anatoliy Golitsyn, the KGB defector who correctly anticipated the fake collapse of communism, say about the Trump administration? I believe he would say that the communist strategists have launched a new provocation based upon a supposed split between the communist-dominated U.S. Democratic Party and (Soviet) Russia.

This supposed split offers some tantalizing tactical advantages to the communist side. It diverts attention from the extensive and treasonous collaboration of the American Left with Russia and the communist bloc. It also helps to camouflage future collaboration on the part of Trump’s critics. (People who warn of Russian interference with the elections will not be scrutinized too carefully themselves in this regard, especially by a media that is packed with communist operatives). To say that Trump is a Russian puppet diverts attention from the fact that those leveling the accusation have served Russia and the communist cause for many years. It weakens the authority of a president who has promised to reverse the many policies of national self-negation which have been the mainstay of the Democratic Party, and the watchword of the Republican establishment.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to relay commands to his leftist cadres within the U.S. Federal Government. This is why he stayed in Washington. For all intents and purposes, he is still president; that is, he is the commander-in-chief for the communists in Washington. Their conspiracy continues, as ever, toward the “inevitable” convergence of capitalism with communism (on communist terms).

It is important (from the communist point of view) that nobody guess the actual situation, that nobody see how far the subversion has gone, or how powerful the communist side has become within the state. While Obama was U.S. President an identical circumstance played out in Washington as in Moscow. In both capitals the communists were depicted as an inconsiderable and irrelevant minority. In reality, the presidents of both countries were committed communists. The levers of power were in their hands, and the world suspected nothing. While Obama worked to disarm the United States, Putin worked to rearm Russia. While Obama undercut our allies abroad, Putin invaded Crimea and intervened in the Middle East. As the danger grew, as Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next and final president, the collaboration between Washington and Moscow was guaranteed to result in America’s defeat.

But then a miracle happened. Donald Trump was elected president; a man of impeccable nationalist instinct, of remarkable courage in the face of the enemy. The communists were aghast at his victory. And so, strange as it seems, they decided on a preposterous fraud. While they posed as Russia’s enemies, Donald Trump would be depicted as Russia’s friend.

For the leading communists to deny their communist affiliation was a preliminary strategic step in both Washington and Moscow. Freed from the label of what they had actually been, the communists were able to advance without opposition from those annoying anti-communists. And now they are compelled by the logic of their false position to paint the “patriotic American dinosaur” (Donald Trump) as Russia’s puppet. Here the real puppet points to the man and declares that he is the puppet. It is a history-making deception. It is grand and it is bold. It cynically estimates the ignorance of the populace, the corruption of the political class, and the willing treachery of the media. It relies on the fact that the smartest strategists and analysts on the American side have been sidelined or murdered. So there is nobody to call out the truth.

Who now dares say the truth about what has happened in this country? Anyone writing in this vein is committing career suicide. Therefore, only someone without a career would dare to write along these lines at all! Even then it means being assigned to a death list, like Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko. (You want a successful career? You want to live? Sing the tune that is assigned. Play a role out of the communist script. You can be a conservative if you wish, but you will be Moscow’s conservative.)

Of course, you probably think I am crazy. You think communism went away in 1991. You think that communism no longer exists. But then you will have to explain how we got here – with communist thugs using open intimidation on the streets of our cities! If communism lost the Cold War, why does it presently hold such power in government agencies, universities and newspapers? Why do you think U.S. counterintelligence is spying on the President of the United States and his staff? Who wants to bring him down? You need to explain all the variable phenomena of today: from the communist-inspired economic sabotage of global warming “science” to the insistence that our border remain a sieve. It is only our enemies who stand to gain from these policies.

But communism is dead. Nobody believes in it anymore. We are told that the last true believer in communism was Stalin’s protégé and USSR Communist Party Ideology Chief Mikhail Suslov. Gorbachev and Yeltsin, and other top Soviet officials, made a show of abandoning communism. But I tell you it was only a show. Former KGB officer Anatoliy Golitsyn insisted that all communist sources of information are larded with falsehood; that communist officials publicly and privately make misleading statements about themselves, their thoughts and their intentions.

What do we actually know about the thinking of Mikhail Suslov or Mikhail Gorbachev (for that matter)? We only know what Communist Party officials say is true – about themselves and their party. And communists lie! There is also a more subtle point, which may seem contradictory, but is fundamental at the non-ideological level: It is irrelevant what Suslov or Gorbachev believed. Their personal beliefs would be decisive only if Marxism had been a mere belief system, if it represented a stable set of principles; but Marx himself did not believe in Marxism. He laughed at people who believed in it. Why would it matter if Suslov also did not believe?

What is decisive to understand about Marxism is its ever-shifting role as a rationale for a new kind of power. What is important here is not the particulars of the rationale itself, but the spirit which calls forth the rationale in the first place. If we want to understand how the great totalitarian machine is able to morph and shift and change with the times, we must go to its soul. At bottom Marxism is a strategy behind which stands a pathological desire for absolute power and global destruction. The outward phenomenon of Marxism is merely the intellectual camouflage of the politically self-actualized psychopath. Here is the outward expression of his rationalization for murder, for seizing power. This outward expression has changed time and time again, but its spiritual essence is always the same. And we always seem to miss the point of it. We always seem to address the inner thoughts and intentions of people who are assumed to believe or not believe in a set of “principles.” But this is an error. We do not understand these people at all! The communist does not take ideas seriously. He is serious only about power and strategy.

A mask is not an idea. A strategy is not a principle. These are tools, weapons, methods. Marx did not believe in his tools. He used them, and his followers used them, until the tools of the hour no longer served their purpose. Then the old tools, the old weapons, were discarded for a new set of weapons – “new lies for old.” Those who talk about belief or disbelief are only talking about the superficial shell of the thing, which can be replaced with a new shell – a new outward appearance. If Marx did not believe in Marxism, then the true Marxist should not believe in it either. It is a sorry swindler who believes in his own swindle. Behind the shell of the communist’s outward pretenses we find the same core phenomenon: the malevolent soul of the destroyer, the envious lusting for power and revenge, the hatred of the good for being the good. And in this soul’s self-affirmation we find, curiously, a reformulation of the same old totalitarian themes; the same old bag of tricks for debasing and leveling humanity. All that being said, the outward shell of the supposedly debunked Marxism is by no means out of the game. Out-and-out communism could return to power at any time. The various outer shells – the rationales and swindles – may change and shift as circumstances require; yet the driving force from within remains ever constant, ever alert to new opportunities. Marxism is strategy, not belief. That is why Mao Zedong said, “Marxism is better than a machine gun.” One does not believe in a machine gun. One uses it, merely, to neutralize an enemy. One must keep in mind the usefulness, in this regard, of ideological mortars and howitzers and atomic bombs – the whole arsenal of political correctness.

But you cannot get over this idea; namely, that communism is dead. You saw it die on TV. How can we talk once again about Marxism-Leninism? Or as an Estonian presidential candidate once asked in response to my discourse: “What’s Marxism-Leninism?” His pained expression relayed the idea that Marxism-Leninism was something that didn’t really exist. Nobody believed in it, so why did it matter? Even the communists don’t believe in communism anymore. It’s as simple as that! Any idiot who tells you that there are true-believing communists should wear a dunce cap. Russia a democracy. China is capitalist. Cuba is an open society with superb health care. And that nice little North Korean man is a champion of world peace!

It is merely one more ridiculous proposition out of many. In fact, it is the final ridiculous proposition. It is the proposition that crushes man’s soul. To say that communism doesn’t exist is to surrender. It means giving up your country to the communists who don’t exist. Remember the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s 1984? It was a ministry that dispensed nothing but lies. Now imagine if the Ministry of Truth disbanded itself and admitted to lying. “We are turning over a new leaf,” says the Ministry of Truth. “We are now the Ministry of the Real Truth.” Oh, it’s such a relief! Finally, we can believe in them! Marxism-Leninism is gone and the Marxist-Leninists are now honest! If they say we won the Cold war, we won the Cold War. In a world where nonsense is often believed, why would this nonsense not be accepted as the New Gospel (according to Saint Gorbachev)? The hammer and sickle comes down, the tricolor goes up. How could you question that? It’s like being against chocolate!

So where did all the communists go? Did they simply revert to Christianity? Did they become Scientologists? Stop and think for a moment. You control half the planet and you’ve been fooling people in every country for decades. And what do you do for an encore? You fall off the edge of the flat earth! Well, I guess they topped themselves after all. And then, twenty-five years later, suddenly, you discover they have taken over your child’s mind and sent him into the street to beat up an old displaced factory worker wearing a hat which says, “Make America Great Again.” You have the CIA and FBI spying on the President of the United States to the advantage of change agents. And Congress is dragging its feet on Trump’s cabinet nominees because they’ve been honey-trapped by the Satanic Pedophile communist zombie apocalypse. It is real Satanism, real pedophilia, real undead communists, and a real apocalypse.

Have you ever seen the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? It’s an allegorical fiction about a communist takeover. Well, we’re living it. In fact, the pod people are attempting to convince the world that they are the ones fighting the alien invasion! This lie is repeated on every news channel. And you might easily believe them: First, because you did not understand who the enemy was. Second, because you don’t believe in pod people. Third, because you voted pod people into the White House in 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012. And when the pod people finally colonized your government and rotted out your nuclear arsenal, the old pod president didn’t go back to Illinois. He remained in Washington to command the pod-people army inside the federal government, while Mr. Trump erroneously believes himself to be in charge.

So they don’t believe in Marxism-Leninism anymore? So why do we have socialized medicine? And why does Vladimir Lenin, who died in 1924, lie calmly with his eyes closed in his mausoleum on Red Square – not buried in a grave with a stone marker? No doubt, he is kept on display in Moscow because “nobody there believes in him anymore”! It’s a funny kind of not-believing in someone, don’t you think?

Nobody in Moscow believes in communism! They refuse to bury Lenin because he makes a nice tourist attraction. And besides, Vladimir Putin wears a cross and says he believes in God. (Well, he doesn’t really like to talk about it. But we think he believes in God.) And so, at the end of the day, we are all Kremlin puppets. We are all bouncing helplessly at the end of Moscow’s string. Even now the puppet-master appears to be at odds with his most secret creatures – the moles at CIA and FBI! Appearances notwithstanding, the puppeteer must always hide the puppet’s strings. This he accomplishes by a diversion in which he calls the man (Trump) a puppet and the puppet (Obama) he calls a man. And so, as well, he calls his friend enemy and his enemy he calls friend.

If President Trump could read one paragraph of these scribblings, I would wish that he read this last paragraph. Then he might understand, in an instant, who his enemies are – both foreign and domestic. And I say, that enemy is not an opponent, not a competitor, not a business rival. No, no. I mean – an enemy! And once our president can tell friend from foe, his strategic compass will align to true north and half the battle will be won.

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

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

Strategical Possibilities and Dialectical Games

NATO membership for Ukraine means death for Russia.
– Alexander Prokhanov

In the first stages of Zyuganov’s creation of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (not without some participation on my part, as well as Prokhanov…), efforts were made to interpret and conceptually appraise the presence of the national component in the Soviet worldview (National Bolshevism), but this initiative was abandoned by the leadership of the [Communist Party], which had occupied itself with some other matters…. However, on the level of rhetoric and first reactions, Russian Communists in all senses present themselves as confirmed national conservatives – sometimes even as ‘Orthodox Monarchists.’”
– Alexander Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory

 

Alexander Dugin, quoted above, is not an ideologist. He is a strategist. Before delving into what strategy is, or can be, let us first consider the situation in Ukraine. Either Russian troops will drive into Ukrainian territory after 9 May, or Russia will rely on secret agents within the Ukrainian government to re-establish (or maintain) indirect control of the country. This latter strategy, if successful, could give Moscow a fresh avenue for making mischief within the EU. The fact that Russian clandestine structures are already embedded throughout Europe is hardly acknowledged or fully appreciated by expert opinion. Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is acknowledged, of course, but this is trivial in comparison.

Moscow’s grand strategy has always been multi-dimensional. To achieve a goal, the Russians do not merely follow one line of approach. They follow several parallel and opposite lines of approach simultaneously. This makes it difficult for Western strategists and politicians to anticipate Russian moves. Again and Again, Russia baffles us. We remain mystified, failing to realize that Russia possesses clandestine instruments developed under the Soviet Union that are unmatched in sophistication. We have nothing that can compete with these. To give a brief overview, there is the economic and financial penetration of Europe by Russian businesses and front companies. There is the role played by Russian organized crime in terms of blackmail and money-laundering. There also exists, as during the Cold War, classic networks of secret agents engaged in infiltrating governments and influencing policy. With regard to all these elements, until the countries of Europe grasp the possibilities open to Russia’s clandestine forces there will never be a full appreciation of the way Moscow is likely to use its military forces in combination with diplomatic leverage.

It was Clausewitz who said that war is politics carried on by other (i.e., violent) means. It was Lenin who inverted this dictum, saying that politics is war carried on by other means. The Bolshevik Revolution was not merely a social and political revolution. It signified a revolution in strategic thinking that has never been fully appreciated. Victory may be achieved with a combination of military and non-military means. It may be achieved through economic sabotage, through information warfare, or even through the corruption of government, language and culture.

The famous words of the ancient Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, may serve as the inspiration for a new and all-pervading strategic science. Here strategy becomes the ruling god of all, the first principle of government and the East’s answer to the constitutional politics of the West. Oh yes, even in its decadence, the United States is (at least partly) guided by its Constitution. The Russian Federation is guided by its long-range policy (based on Sun Tzu’s principles). “All warfare is based on deception,” wrote Sun Tzu. “Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

The brilliance of Sun Tzu lies in the fact that his dialectical approach to deception can be applied to any set of opposites. Thus we may rewrite Sun Tzu’s words: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when you are a Communist, you must appear to practice capitalism (e.g. in Beijing); when you are a cynical atheist, you must appear as a Christian (e.g., Putin); when you are attacking an opponent through Islamic surrogates, you must appear to be attacked by these same surrogates (e.g., in Chechnya); when you possess strategic nuclear supremacy (as Russia does), you must appear as a mere regional power (because Obama says so). Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

The transposing of opposites from the dimension of time-space, to the ideological dimension of left-right, is only one of many permutations. If it was possible for Putin to have a Chechen alibi prior to the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11, it was also possible for him to have a Christian alibi (by jailing Pussy Riot) in the midst of the cultural breakdown of the United States. As Global Warming is used as a pretext to sabotage the economies of the West, it is pro-forma for Putin to declare that he believes in “global cooling.” Again, one might use the analogy of an alibi. Given these examples, we cannot take Moscow’s stated intentions at face value. Does Moscow really want to annex Ukraine, or push Ukraine into Europe’s open arms? Is Ukraine itself a poison vat, ready to spill into Europe? Again, Putin is making for himself an alibi: so that when Western culture turns gay, Putin will not be blamed; when global warming is found to be a hoax, Putin will not be blamed; when Ukraine is bailed out by the EU and proves the final straw that bankrupts Europe, Putin will not be blamed. (In fact, he will present himself as Europe’s savior.)

Sun Tzu suggested that excellence in warfare consists in winning without fighting. To accomplish this you infiltrate the enemy camp and disrupt his plans through provocation, sabotage, and by sowing confusion; you prevent enemy factions from joining together; you demoralize the culture, spread irrational ideas among the intelligentsia, promote lawlessness and drunkenness among the working and professional classes. As Sun Tzu said, “In all fighting, direct methods may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”

You must know your enemy’s direction of march, but he must never learn yours. The best strategy is one that is unknown to others, and the most effective warrior is one who enters the enemy camp unrecognized. To accomplish any objective, depict yourself as one for whom the objective is inconceivable. Many might be capable of stopping you. But who would think they had to?

 

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

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

Under the Command of a Corpse – Part 2

Olavo de Carvalho explains why Liberation Theology is alive and well in Latin America.

II.

Read Part I here.

If the child and even its name came ready-made from the KGB, that does not mean that its adoptive parents, Gutierrez, Boff, and Betto have no merit whatsoever in spreading it throughout the world. On the contrary, they played a crucial part in the victories won by liberation theology and in the mystery of its survival.

The three of them, but mainly the two Brazilians, have always acted on two different levels at once. On the one hand, they produced artificial theological arguments for the consumption of the clergy, the intellectuals, and the Roman Curia. On the other hand, they spread sermons and popular speeches and intensely devoted themselves to the creation of a network of activists which would become well-known as “basic ecclesial communities”[i] and would make up the seed of the Workers’ Party, which has been governing Brazil since 2002.

In his book And the Church Became People (E a Igreja se Fez Povo)[ii], Boff confesses that the whole thing was a “bold plan,” hatched according to the strategy of the slow and subtle “war of position” advocated by the founder of the Italian Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci. The strategy consisted in gradually infiltrating all the decisive positions in seminaries and lay universities, in religious orders, in the Catholic media, and in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, without making much noise, until the time was ripe for the great revolution to come into view.

John Paul I, soon after the 1978 conclave that elected him pope, had a meeting with twenty Latin American cardinals, and he became astonished at the fact that most of them overtly supported liberation theology. On that occasion, they informed him that there were more than 100 thousand “basic ecclesial communities” spreading out revolutionary propaganda in Latin America. Until then John Paul I had known liberation theology as a theoretical speculation only. He was far from thinking that it could have been transformed into a political force of such dimensions.

In 1984, when Cardinal Ratzinger began to dismantle liberation theology’s theoretical arguments, four years had already passed since those “basic ecclesial communities” were transfigured into a mass political party, the Brazilian Workers’ Party, whose members and activists definitively do not know anything about any theological speculation, but can swear that Jesus Christ was a socialist because that is what the party leaders tell them to believe.

In other words, liberation theology’s feigned theological argumentation had already done its job of being food for debate and undermining the Church’s authority, and was functionally replaced by overt preaching of socialism, where the apparently scholarly effort to bring Christianity and Marxism together yielded the right of way to the peddling of cheap clichés and slogans in which the mass of activists neither looked for nor could find any rational argumentation, but only those symbols that expressed and reinforced their sense of belonging to a group and their fighting spirit.

The success of this second enterprise was proportional to the failure of the trio in the field of theology. In the United States or in Europe, an opinion-maker who aspires to be a political leader may not survive his own discredit, but in Latin America, and especially in Brazil, the mass of activists is leagues away from any intellectual concern and will continue to find their leader credible as long as he is backed up by his party and has enough political support.

And in the case of Boff and Betto, they received nothing less than formidable support. When the guerrillas which the Latin American Organization for Solidarity (OLAS, founded in 1966 by Fidel Castro) had spread throughout the subcontinent failed miserably, left-wing activists took refuge in non-military leftist organizations, which were putting into practice Antonio Gramsci’s ideas about “cultural revolution” and “war of position.” Gramsci’s strategy made use of massive infiltration of communist agents in all institutions of civil society, especially in the educational system and the media, to spread punctual, isolated, non-labelled, communist proposals so as to produce, little by little, an overall effect which could not be identified as communist propaganda, but through which the Party, or similar organization, could end up mentally controlling society with “the omnipresent and invisible power of a divine commandment, of a categorical imperative” (sic).[iii]

No other instrument could better serve that purpose than the “basic ecclesial communities,” where communist proposals could be sold with the Christianity label. In Brazil, the overwhelming growth of those organizations resulted, in 1980, in the foundation of the Workers’ Party, which initially presented itself as an innocent pro-labor union movement of the Christian left, and which only gradually revealed its strong ties with the Cuban government and various guerilla and drug-trafficking organizations.  The greatest leader of the Party, President Luís Inácio “Lula”da Silva, has always acknowledged Boff and Betto as the masterminds of both his organization and of himself.

Born in the bosom of the Latin American communism by means of the “basic ecclesial communities,” the Party would not take long to return the favor by establishing, in 1990, an organization under the anodyne denomination of Foro de São Paulo (São Paulo Forum) whose purpose was to unify the many leftists currents in Latin America and become the strategic headquarters for the communist movement in the subcontinent.

According to Frei Betto’s own testimony, the decision of founding the São Paulo Forum was made in a meeting between Lula, Fidel Castro, and Frei Betto himself, in Havana. For seventeen years the São Paulo Forum had grown in secret, having a membership of nearly 200 organizations, and mixing together legally established political parties, kidnapping groups as the Chilean MIR, and drug-trafficking gangs as the FARC— which denied having anything to do with drug trafficking, but traded, every year, 200 tons of Colombian cocaine for weapons that Brazilian drug-dealer Fernandinho Beira-Mar smuggled from Lebanon.

When Lula was elected president of Brazil in 2002, the São Paulo Forum had already become the largest and most powerful political organization that had ever been at work in the whole Latin American territory. Its very existence, however, was totally unknown to the Brazilian people and cynically denied when a researcher would blow the whistle about it.

The general concealment of the São Paulo Forum, an operation to which the entire Brazilian mainstream media contributed for seventeen years with exemplary obstinacy, is one of the most curious and depressing episodes of the history of the press in the world. From that episode one can have an idea of the power that the pool of left-wing parties associated with the Workers’ Party exerts over the entire class of opinion-makers in Brazil. But the curtain of obsequious silence extended far beyond Brazilian national borders: in 2001 during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., two “experts in Latin America,” Kenneth Maxwell and Luiz Felipe de Alencastro, openly denied the existence of the São Paulo Forum.

For many years, based upon extensive documentation gathered by Brazilian attorney José Carlos Graça Wagner, I denounced the São Paulo Forum’s activities. But I was the only columnist of a major Brazilian newspaper to do it, and all kinds of pressure and threats were made against me to prevent me from doing so. I even published online all the minutes of the Forum’s general assemblies since its foundation, but even in face of such irrefutable proofs the slavish self-censorship of the Brazilian journalistic class did not yield even an inch in its obstinacy in denying the facts.

The media blockade reached its peak of intensity when, in 2005, Mr Lula, already President of Brazil, made a detailed confession about the existence and the activities of the São Paulo Forum. His speech was published on the Presidency of the Republic’s official website, but even so, the mainstream media in full force insisted on pretending that they did not know anything about it.

Finally, in 2007, the Workers’ Party itself, feeling that the cloak of protective secrecy was no longer necessary, came to trumpet the feats of the São Paulo Forum to the four corners of the earth, as they had always been obvious, banal, and well-known. Only then the newspapers allowed themselves to speak about it.

Why could the secret be revealed at that point? Because, in Brazil, all the ideological opposition had already been eliminated, and what remained as “politics” was only electoral vying for offices and denunciation of corruption scandals coming from within the left itself; whereas, on a subcontinental scale, twelve countries were already ruled by parties that belonged to the São Paulo Forum. The “basic ecclesial communities” had risen to power. At that point who would be concerned with theological debates or ethereal objections made twenty years earlier by a cardinal who took the literal sense of the writings of liberation theologians in a serious manner, but barely scratched the political surface of the problem?

The Workers’ Party, throughout its twelve years in power, managed to expel all the conservative opposition from the political scene while it shared the political arena with some of its more radical allies and a soft center-left opposition, governing the country by means of bribery, murder of inconvenient people, and systematic appropriation of funds of state companies to finance the growth of the Party. The rise of kleptocracy culminated in the Petrobrás case, where the siphoning of funds from state companies reached the level of billions of dollars, becoming, according to the international media, the largest case of business corruption of all times. This succession of scandals brought about some discomfort within the left itself and also constant complaining in the media, which led the Workers’ Party’s intelligentsia to rally in full force to defend their party.  Mr Betto and Mr Boff have been busy with this kind of activity for more than a decade, and theology, in their business, is only an occasional supplier of figures of speech which they design to adorn the Party’s propaganda. Liberation theology, at last, embraced its true calling

 

To be continued.

Translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

 


[i] The mass of activists, as distinguished from their leadership, is called, in communist technical language, “base.” Not by coincidence liberation theology uses that word to name its “basic ecclesial communities.” The flock had to become “base” so that the shepherds could become political commissars.

[ii] Boff, Leonardo. E a Igreja se Fez Povo. Eclesiogênese: A Igreja que Nasce do Povo (São Paulo: Círculo do Livro, 1988.),  especially chapters XII and XIII.

[iii] Olavo de Carvalho, A Nova Era e a Revolução Cultural: Fritjof Capra & Antonio Gramsci, 4th ed. (Campinas: Vide Editorial, 2014).

 

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.

Cardbox Coffins: That’s What Venezuelans Can Afford to Bury Their Dead

According to report by several news sources, in Venezuela, the poor can no longer afford wooden coffins and are burying their dead in card box coffins.

Nicolas Maduro’s nephews have admitted to drug-trafficking in partnership with the FARC

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s nephews have admitted to drug-trafficking in partnership with the FARC, according to news report by El Nuevo Herald: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/venezuela-es/article91491757.html

 

 

A Good Fight: The Political Journey of David Horowitz

David Horowitz is a political thinker and cultural critic who enjoys challenging leftist shibboleths. His main contribution to contemporary political discourse is a passionate commitment to an outspoken, unabashed, myth-breaking version of conservatism. If communism was the triumph of mendaciousness, he argues in this poignant collection of writings, conservatism cannot accept the proliferation of self-serving legends and half-truths.

This makes his public interventions refreshingly unpredictable, iconoclastic, and engaging. He is a former insider, and his views have the veracity of the firsthand witness. Horowitz knows better than anybody else the hypocrisies of the left, the unacknowledged skeletons in its closet, and its fear to come to terms with past ignominies. He is an apostate who sees no reason to mince his words to please the religion of political and historical correctness. His masters are other critics of totalitarian delusions, from George Orwell to Leszek Kolakowski; in fact, Horowitz’s awakening from his leftist dreams was decisively catalyzed by the illuminating effect of Kolakowski’s devastating critique of socialist ideas. Unlike his former comrades, however, Horowitz believes in the healing value of second thoughts.

Vilified by enemies as a right-wing crusader, Horowitz is, in fact, a lucid thinker for whom ideas matter and words have consequences. His break with the left in the late 1970s was a response to what he perceived to be its rampant sense of self-righteousness, combined with its readiness to endorse obsolete and pernicious utopian ideals. Born to a Communist family in Queens, Horowitz flirted with the Leninist creed as a teenager but found out early that the Communist sect was insufferably obtuse and irretrievably sclerotic. He attended Columbia, where he discovered Western Marxism and other non-Bolshevik revolutionary doctrines. From the very beginning, he had an appetite for heresy.

He joined the emerging New Left and went to England, where he became a disciple and close associate of the socialist historian Isaac Deutscher, author of once-celebrated biographies of Stalin and Trotsky. Thanks to Deutscher, Horowitz met other British leftists, including the sociologist Ralph Miliband (father of the current leader of the Labour party). Consumed by revolutionary pathos, he wrote books, pamphlets, and manifestoes, denounced Western imperialism, and condemned the Vietnam war.

Once back in the United States, he became the editor, with Peter Collier, of Ramparts, the New Left’s most influential publication. In later books, Horowitz engages in soul-searching analyses of his attraction to the extreme radicalism of the Black Panthers and other far-left groups. Under tragic circumstances—a friend of his was murdered by the Panthers—he discovered that these celebrated antiestablishment fighters were fundamentally sociopaths. What followed was an itinerary of self-scrutiny, self-understanding, and moral epiphany. He reinvented himself as an anti-Marxist, antitotalitarian, anti-utopian thinker.

Obviously, David Horowitz is not the first to have deplored the spellbinding effects of what Raymond Aron called the opium of the intellectuals. Before him, social and cultural critics (Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Nathan Glazer, to name only the most famous ones) took the same path; Bertolt Brecht’s Marxist mentor, Karl Korsch, broke with his revolutionary past in the 1950s. Even Max Horkheimer, one of the Frankfurt School’s luminaries, ended as a conservative thinker. As Ignazio Silone, himself a former Leninist, put it: The ultimate struggle would be between Communists and ex-Communists.

In Horowitz’s case, however, it is a struggle waged by an ex-leftist ideologue against political mythologies that have made whole generations run amok. Like Kolakowski and Václav Havel, Horowitz identifies ideological blindness as the source of radical zealotry. He knows that ideologies are coercive structures with immense enthralling effects—indeed, what Kenneth Minogue called “alien powers.” Putting together his fervid writings is, for him, a duty of conscience. He does not claim to be nonpartisan and proudly recognizes his attachment to a conservative vision of politics. But he is a pluralist: He refuses the idea of infallible ideological revelation, admits that human beings can err, and invites his readers to exercise their critical faculties. He does not pontificate.

Judith Shklar once wrote about a liberalism of fear, a philosophy rooted in the awareness that the onslaught against liberal values in totalitarian experiments inevitably results in catastrophe. Horowitz’s conservatism is inspired by the conviction that utopian hubris is always conducive to moral, social, and political disaster. It is not an optimistic conservatism, but a tragic one. Horowitz confesses that he is an agnostic, yet he realizes that liberty, as a nonnegotiable human value, has a transcendent legitimation in religion. In the absence of a moral ground, individuals are suspended in a moral no-man’s land: Rebels become revolutionaries and exert their logical fallacies to eliminate deviation from a sacralized ideology.

For Horowitz, the main battle is now related to cultural hegemony. He understands that political rivalries are directly linked to clashes of values. Refusing to be pigeonholed into a formula, he combines themes belonging to classical liberalism, Burkean conservatism, and neoconservatism. His social criticism is a response to what he perceives to be the collapse of the center in American politics and the takeover of the liberal mainstream by proponents of refurbished leftist fallacies. He regards anticapitalism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Zionism as ideological mantras meant to camouflage a deep contempt for human rights.

The Black Book of the American Left is an illuminating contribution to our understanding of what Hannah Arendt once called the ideological storms of the 20th century. It shows how American radicals partook of the same romantic passions and redemptive fantasies as their European peers. The philosophical languages were different, of course, but the electrifying desire to negate the existing order, no matter the human costs, was the same.

Vladimir Tismaneanu is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Western Civilization and the History of Ideas.

This article was originally published on TheWeeklyStandard.

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