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Philosophy Seminar

Introduction to the Philosophy Seminar – Part 2

How Do Cultural Shifts Happen? A lecture originally delivered online in Portuguese as an introduction for Mr. Olavo de Carvalho’s Brazilian Philosophy Seminar. 

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

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

So, from this you can see that, being among the most used, the most imaginatively powerful, and the most entrenched in our culture, this simple pair of concepts (progress and backwardness) can make people not to understand a number of historical processes.  That is to say, if people judge historical processes in terms of progress or backwardness, they will never be able to grasp the reality of what they are considering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

End of the second part.

 

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

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

http://www.4pt.su/en/content/eurasia-war-networks

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.

BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela — Two young men carry a cardboard coffin in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, on Tuesday.Photo: AFP

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.

maduro's nephews

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

 

 

david-horowitz-gageskidmore-photo

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.

venezuelans

35,000 Venezuelans Cross the Border With Colombia Escaping Economic Crisis

Last Sunday, July 10, 2016, Nicolás Maduro opened the borders and the result was a mass exodus to Colombia. Venezuelans crossed the border to buy food and supplies in order to escape Venezuela’s Socialist Paradise crisis.  See reports by Al-Jazeera and PanamPost.

 

 

Carlyle

The Crisis Part II: Good and Bad Leaders

The wise leaders that Carlyle believed necessary are the only possible palliative. But such men, in truth, are reticent and timid – not eager for the limelight. After all, being a leader of fools is dangerous business.

Alas, our noble men of genius, Heaven’s real messengers to us, they also rendered nearly futile by the wasteful time; – preappointed they everywhere, and assiduously trained by their pedagogues and monitors, to ‘rise in Parliament,’ to compose orations, write books, or in short speak words, for the approval of reviewers; instead of doing real kingly work to be approved of by the gods! Our ‘Government,’ a highly ‘responsible’ one; responsible to no God that I can hear of, but to the twenty-seven million gods of the shilling gallery.

-Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets, 1850

 

Part I of this series touched on the politicization of education through a dumbing-down of students and through the denial of human nature in the social sciences. Considering today’s educational system from a strategist’s standpoint, it appears to be an attempt to subvert the larger society, perhaps even to destroy it. Such a system could only have been created by an enemy. This enemy’s trick has been to disable human instinct, denying the very existence of instinctual things. We no longer accept that there are two sexes. We are taught to deny what is noble.

Our internal enemy has attempted to paralyze all those moving parts within the human psyche that make reason possible. And he has made a school that is, in fact, a concentration camp for the child. He has encircled our children with a fence and he calls roll every hour to make sure that none have escaped. It is important, at the outset, that the students find themselves institutionalized. To expose the child to something brilliant, to something interesting, to something inspired, is forbidden. One must accustom the child to the most mediocre thinking, to the most uninspired ideas – to profound boredom from which only an entertainment culture can offer escape.

The new teaching refrains from laying a foundation; for the new educator, as revolutionary, is a destroyer who seeks to annihilate everything. He seeks to eradicate the past, to eradicate man and woman, to eradicate the parent, to eradicate both the nation and the patriot – and finally, to eradicate God. This is the work of today’s education. It is a work of disorganization, disintegration, and hatred. The revolutionary seeks a blank canvass upon which to paint in whatever color he chooses. The chosen color, of course, will be red.  Those countries already submerged by the nihilist dictators are arming themselves. They are getting ready to unleash a wider destruction. Like all psychopaths they are motivated to find victims wherever they can. The consumption of victims is their mode of self-affirmation.

The Revolution, called down upon us by the Left, has been with us a long while. It marches from victory to victory. The long retreat of civilization has been happening before our very eyes, by a slow and almost imperceptible process. Our educational system proves to be a revolutionary success, for the experiment has not been turned back. It has been turned up like the burner of a stove on which we are all being cooked. The majority is indoctrinated, their evaluations contaminated by revolutionary lies, so that they do not even know they have been brainwashed. And yes, on every news channel you hear but different variations on the same political message. The message always includes a dash of feminism, multiculturalism, socialism, and the celebration of polymorphous perversity. Our enemy has attempted to indoctrinate our children with these themes. They socialize the young to accept their revolution. They educate and organize. They shape the public’s mentality. They give out the ideas that will carry them forward – and it isn’t long before the process takes on a life of its own. After a few generations, when the old teaching has been forgotten, the leaders of the new generation will have only one lexicon, only one vision, and freedom will be dead. In its place will come a new tyranny, sold as a new and higher form of morality in which the chief sins are (1) sexism, (2) classicism, and (3) racism.

See how adept the revolutionary teachers are at carrying forward their new teaching – as morality. Thomas Carlyle once observed that “man never yields himself wholly to brute Force, but always to moral Greatness.” But men, being stupid, sometimes yield to a counterfeit moral Greatness. That is what we have today. As a prime example, consider the moral outrage expressed by our political and media elites in response to Donald Trump’s desire to curtail Muslim immigration. By the most ancient and time-tested standards of morality, this suggestion was not immoral. He did not break the Ten Commandments in uttering it. Yet it is taken as proof of Trump’s moral depravity. Those within the Republican Party who did not denounce the racism of Trump’s remark nonetheless judged him guilty of a “ridiculous position” (Chris Christie), or of being unserious (Jeb Bush), or of “being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric.” (Lindsey Graham.) Carly Fiorina said that Trump’s “overreaction is as dangerous as Obama’s under reaction.” John Kasich called Trump’s proposal “outrageous.” Former New York Governor George Pataki said Trump’s remarks “are idiotic, next thing we will be banning loudmouth, racist billionaires.” Marco Rubio said that Trump’s “habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore said that “Trump’s fascist talk drives all minorities from [the] GOP.” And, of course, Hillary Clinton vilified Trump by saying, “This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.”

Here is a great example of the revolutionary ideology at work. A simple, common sense statement, uttered by someone seeking a leadership position, is likened to Hitlerism. The new teaching has taken hold. It predetermines the mentality of the ruling class, which now consists of the persons whose thinking has been pre-programmed by our national enemies. In saying what he said, Donald Trump did not deprive anyone of their rights under the Constitution. He did not vilify anyone. He is not a hater, or an advocate of racist theories, or an advocate of genocide. How has it come about that he is slandered as such? Of course, we know perfectly well that he has transgressed. Should we publicly agree with Trump, we might also suffer ostracism; and feeling alone in our agreement with him, we are afraid.

The instinct that remains undestroyed in us knows that Trump is right. His concerns are patriotic, perhaps even “patriarchal.” We shudder at the political incorrectness of it. But deep down, we feel something contrary, something counter-subversive. We have been indoctrinated to believe that everyone is equal when everyone is different. We have been told that a Muslim is interchangeable with a Christian, that the populations of the Middle East are interchangeable with the populations of Europe – as if humanity were a bottle of milk that must be homogenized. When Trump says that his own Muslim friends agree with him, the journalists disbelieve him. He must be demented or insane, they say to themselves. He is not to be taken seriously. It is some kind of “stunt.” Trump tries to explain that he is motivated by considerations of safety and prudence. The elite sneer. But the public, still possessing a shadow of its old instinct, twitch with buried feelings that are breaking through to the surface.

Trump did not say Muslims are bad people. He did not say “all Muslims are enemies.” But everyone instinctually knows there is a risk associated with admitting thousands or millions of Muslims into a non-Muslim country. Common sense therefore begs the question: “Why take an unnecessary risk?” For why is it necessary that thousands of Muslims immigrate to the United States? If there is a risk associated with this immigration, why should it continue? What is to be gained?

This great example of Trump’s statement on Muslim immigration reveals the kind of leadership we have today – in the media and in government. We do not have leaders, in fact, but – as Thomas Carlyle noted – “assiduously trained by their pedagogues and monitors, to ‘rise in Parliament,’ to compose orations, write books, or in short speak words, for the approval of reviewers; instead of doing real kingly work….” Consider the kind of men and women we have in positions of leadership today. For such a large percentage to denounce Trump, when he has only made a common sense recommendation, suggests that these men and women are frauds; that they are the creatures of Leftist groupthink, lacking the moral courage required for independent thought. It could not be more clear what this example shows; namely, that our own leaders – excepting Mr. Trump – deny that we have the right to defend our sovereignty and our culture. They imagine that such a defense is racist.

One might ask what else they imagine?!

The Left dreams of a world without America on the assumption that America is the fountainhead of sexism, racism and war. The United States, under the control of Leftist politicians like President Obama, slowly commits suicide. Instead of an instinct for survival, our leadership of today shows us that theirs is an instinct for self-destruction. Merely listen to Mr. Trump, then listen to the nonsense of the elitsts who denounce him. These have no vision for distant things, no power of thought – mere dummies to some unseen ventriloquist. The reader should ask: Would George Washington have opened the United States to Muslim immigration in 1795? If this was such a good and glorious thing to do, why didn’t he think to do it? The idea of allowing masses of Muslim immigrants into the United States in 1795 would have been judged crazy by all educated Americans of the time. (And were they not better educated than we are now?)

Why do the “educated” of today think Muslim immigration so necessary? It cannot be that today’s leaders are so much wiser, or possess better character, than George Washington.

I believe that President Washington, if he could speak to our generation, would pour such abuse upon our present leaders, that it would ring in their ears ever after. And for them, in response, to reproach Washington as a sexist or racist, would illicit such fiery contempt from the great man, that they would be forced to own their shame. For are they not all feminists? Are they not all multiculturalists? – that is to say, advocates of national suicide? These mock leaders who raise the banners of so many mock faiths are yet the destroyers of their country. Yet there they stand, condemning Mr. Trump.

The real leader and the mock leader are here side-by-side. The one is concerned for the safety of his country while the other feigns concern for Islam. Where is the concern which is owed to Americans? Cannot we glimpse, behind it all, that common theme of hatred for what is good and normal, and a sick preference for what is harmful and abnormal? Is this not the malice of the inferior man – the malice of the demagogue, usurping high office with a sack of clever lies?  Our modern age, with its mass media and mass politics, has aroused the envy of the inferior to a fever pitch. This envy has organized itself through political self-hatred, turning malevolence into a science. The irony appears at once, as the man who loves America is denounced as a hater by those who are the real haters; that is, haters of America. Of course, some of those denouncing Trump are the puppets of political correctness – sad shills who have no business leading anyone. But hatred is at the bottom of it.

Notice how the inferior man, as leader, must always pretend to be a champion of humanity. Even in this, he is a faker. He has no dignity, but gives himself airs. His own mind is numbed by the facile nonsense that passes his own lips. Reality does not register with him. Only when a great tragedy has occurred, does the shock of the moment lay bare the feeble human being that is struggling to emerge from beneath the ideological garbage dump of a clouded mind. The terrorist attacks on France offer a rare example of clarity breaking forth from one such “leader.” On the day following the attacks, President Francois Hollande made a speech in which he said: “Fellow citizens, what happened yesterday in Paris and Saint Denis near the Stade de France was an act of war.” But the President of the United States, in his press conference, affirmed the altruistic duty of every Christian country to take in Muslim refugees. He denied that Christianity and Islam have stood opposed to one another for over a thousand years, that the principles of Islam are as obnoxious to Christianity as the principles of Christianity are to Islam. Obama effectively denied that admitting millions of Muslims into Europe is a recipe for civil strife. Even more, he suggested that the integration of Muslim and Christian (under the auspices of safeguarding Muslim refugees) is a solemn moral obligation.

The international demagogue who styles himself a champion of humanity turns out to be the enemy of his own country. How can he be a champion of humanity when his own people are so disregarded? Take Hillary Clinton as a further example. This regrettable deviant has been heralded as the most brilliant women in America. But she doesn’t have an original bone in her body; neither is she distinguished for her scholarship, or her contributions to science. She is an intellectual nullity. Her thinking is taken from leftist ideological tracts. Her moral courage consists in parroting the latest politically correct ideas. She does not regard private property as sacrosanct. She does not accept that marriage is between a man and a woman. She does not believe in the nation state. Her politics is that of Robin Hood, a famous bandit whose motto was to “rob from the rich and give to the poor.” On the subject of same-sex marriage and gay rights, Secretary of State Clinton made the following extraordinary statement:

I will never forget the young Tunisian who asked me, after the revolution in his country, how America could teach his new democracy to protect the rights of its LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered] citizens. He saw America as an example for the world, and as a beacon of hope. That’s what was in my mind as I engaged in some pretty tough conversations with foreign leaders who did not accept that human rights applied to everyone, gay and straight. When I directed our diplomats around the world to combat repressive laws and reach out to the brave activists fighting on the front lines … I changed State Department policy to ensure that our LGBT families are treated more fairly.

Here we see Clinton openly advocating U.S. interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. Here is an American homosexual imperialism that not only flies in the face of American diplomatic tradition, but flies in the face of traditional American folkways. The greatest U.S. Secretary of State is generally said to have been John Quincy Adams. In 1821 Adams asked what America has “done for the benefit of mankind?” As our greatest and wisest Secretary of State, Adams said that America “has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth” to the nations on the virtues of liberty and justice and equal rights. Adams stated:

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of … the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….

How different we find the policy of Secretary of State Clinton, who initiated a global campaign supportive of sodomy. Is this now our banner – our sacred cause among the nations? In the annals of imperial ambition God and man has never seen the like. According to Secretary Clinton herself, it was (in effect) the policy of her State Department to combat all those local laws and government edicts which forbade homosexual activity. Clinton not only engaged in “some pretty tough conversations with foreign leaders,” she directed “our diplomats around the world” to engage in a new form of warfare. Under her guidance, U.S. representatives in 70 countries (where sodomy is yet illegal) were to act as “change agents.”

In other words, American resources and personnel were deployed in support of sodomy. Whatever the reader may think of sodomy, let us objectively consider the policy repercussions. Was this in the best interests of the United States? Most curious of all: Is there not a declaration of war against Islam in Mrs. Clinton’s policy? Yet this declaration of war is not seen or acknowledged as such, though it is certainly there. The unreality of Clinton’s worldview allows her to advocate diametrically incompatible policies. On the one hand she provokes Islam. On the other hand, she wants millions of Muslims to immigrate here. From the strategist’s point of view, this policy is entirely obvious. Yet our pundits and political observers see nothing. They have no idea there is a game, and could never guess that someone stands to gain from it.

While homosexuality is allegedly widespread in the Muslim world, it is nonetheless forbidden by traditional Islamic teachings. In a collection of Mohammad’s sayings, set down by Abu ‘Isa Muhammad ibn ‘Isa at-Tirmidhis around A.D. 884, we learn that Muhammad cursed sodomites and recommended the death penalty for men involved in homosexual acts.

If the central principle of Islam is that “there is one God and Mohammed is his Prophet,” the words of the Prophet on this matter are highly significant. To show that traditional Islam is far from homogenized into the Unitarianism that has supplanted Christianity in the West, a Muslim cleric in Hungary recently stated [JihadWatch.org], “These homosexuals are the filthiest of Allah’s creatures. A Muslim must never accept this disease, this terrible depraved thing.” To show that this was hardly an isolated instance, a Muslim cleric in Uganda has threatened to organize death squads against homosexuals. In Great Britain Christians have been unsuccessful in opposing pro-homosexual education in schools; but two primary schools in Bristol have shelved anti-homophobia storybooks in the face of local Muslim “fury.”

In 2007 an Iranian MP, Mohsen Yahyavi, told British officials that, “According to Islamic law, homosexuality is a grave crime.” Yahyavi explained that homosexuality is only tolerated if done behind closed doors. If this behavior becomes public, the offender “should be put to death.” It is, indeed, against traditional Islam that Hillary Clinton’s homosexual imperialism wages a peculiar kind of war. Yet Hillary says that Trump is divisive for suggesting a temporary suspension of Muslim immigration into the United States! At the same time she would deny that any seed of enmity has been planted against Islam by her campaign of promoting homosexual activism in Islamic countries. Inexplicably, during last month’s Democratic presidential debate, when asked whether we are at war with radical Islam, Mrs. Clinton said the following:

I don’t think with we’re at war with Islam…. I think we’re at war with jihadists. I think we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries and have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say that we are somehow against Islam – that was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said, after going to a Mosque in Washington, we are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and repression; and yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.

Is Hillary Clinton such a fool that she doesn’t know what Islam teaches? If the leaders of various Muslim countries hear a tough-talking U.S. Secretary of State actively subverting traditional Islamic law, they are unlikely to see her as a genuine ally. Here, Clinton is not merely playing the usual political game of having her cake and eating it. In this context one needs to appreciate the ingredients of this cake; for every cake is made from a recipe, and every recipe has been carefully devised to produce specific culinary effects. One has to ask if this pro-homosexual policy was purposely designed to alienate traditional Muslims and incite further jihadist activities against the United States. Was that her real purpose in advancing the homosexual agenda in the Muslim world?

To understand the game of putting two scorpions in a bottle, one has to look beyond the madness of the stated agenda. Why would cynical people, concerned mostly with their own power, make use of the LGBT issue in the first place? For that matter, why is the forcible integration of Muslims into Europe and America so important? The answer is simple. Hillary Clinton and others of her ilk, who believe themselves figures of destiny, are advancing a hidden agenda. Does Hillary Clinton know whose agenda it is? We may doubt that she fully understands. Failing to look within, she never finds herself out. Lacking personal integrity, honor, and compassion, there is no real organ of discernment left to guide her. She is mere appetite, representing a desire for power and self-aggrandizement. There is nothing genuine or good in her. There is nothing of lasting value in what she does. She and her ilk are, as Carlyle said, “windy Counterfeits” who seek to take the place of better men. In our egalitarian stupor we are confused about the differences between the fraudulent and the authentic, between true and false, between hollow and full. To get ourselves out of this mess, noted Carlyle, it will require that

the few Wise will have, by one method or another, to take command of the innumerable Foolish; that they must be got to take it; – and that, in fact, since Wisdom, which means also Valor and heroic Nobleness, is alone strong in this world, and one wise man is stronger than all men unwise…. That they must take it; and having taken, must keep it, and do their God’s Message in it, and defend the same, at their life’s peril, against all men and devils. This I do clearly believe to be the backbone of all Future Society, as it has been of all Past; and that without it, there is no Society possible in the world.

Carlyle was born of humble origins in 1795. He was against, as he explained, “INSINCERITY in Politics and in Life, DEMOCRACY without Reverence, and PHILANTHROPY without Sense.” In this we find a more nuanced position, more precise in the warning it offers us. He saw the growth of insincerity, irreverence and muddleheaded altruism – and he sounded an alarm. Today his message goes to the heart of the present leadership crisis.

It may be observed that we choose leaders who espouse shallow optimism, not realizing how dangerously insincere they are. Notice how our political debates are peppered with irreverence and cynicism. To top it off, we soothe ourselves with a promiscuous philanthropy tending toward national bankruptcy. Is this so hard to see? The wise leaders that Carlyle believed necessary are the only possible palliative. But such men, in truth, are reticent and timid – not eager for the limelight. After all, being a leader of fools is dangerous business. The wise man sacrifices his peace of mind when taking up political office, while the mediocrity sacrifices nothing (having neither peace nor mind worth saving). As the fool is nothing, the attainment of office means everything to him. He overruns the state in his eagerness for power. He shouts down the wise. It is what he calls “democracy.”

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.

Brazilians demonstrate against the Workers' Party President Dilma Rousseff

Anti-Marxist Revolution in Brazil?

In recent weeks and months, we have been flooded with news about the Syriza “miracle,” about how the Greek leftists will manage to pull the country out of the state of decay in which it languishes. The Greek Finance Minister was placed high on all pedestals of European and universal glory, as if he were John Maynard Keynes and Hegel himself combined into one. Propagandistic nonsense has reached its utmost peak. Too little or even nothing at all is said, however, about how the house of cards built by revolutionary Dilma Rousseff – a former combatant in the urban guerrilla organizations – is coming down. Mature and responsible, the country’s civil society is not the prisoner of leftist myths. It refuses to go on a wild goose chase, as it happens in so many other places.

Millions of people are out demonstrating, asking for president Dilma Rousseff’s resignation. The endemic corruption of the leftist regime is being denounced by the masses that have taken to the streets, but largely ignored by the media elites, which are connected to those neo-Bolshevik channels financially supported by the Putin autocracy and its friends. The Sao Paulo Forum with its radical exhortations continues its maneuvers of hypnotizing the public opinion. Lies abound, but are starting to not be believed anymore. Protesters are being slandered as “American agents”, “spies”, “fascists” etc. Yet, less people than ever buy into these slanders.

The protests are being organized by a grassroots initiative with an openly liberal (non-leftist) orientation – the Free Brazil Movement (MBL). Signatures are being gathered for Dilma Rousseff’s dismissal. It turns out that philosopher Olavo de Carvalho’s anti-totalitarian ideas have taken root in Brazil. Olavo, a remarkable social thinker execrated by the Left, knows a great deal about Marxism and revolutionary utopianism in general, at any rate a far greater deal than Dilma and her followers. He is familiar with the famous 11th thesis on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it.” The world is changing in Brazil.

The hyper-corrupt bureaucracy of the Workers’ Party, so outrageously obvious during the World Cup in 2014, is coming face to face with a resurgent civil society. What is being foreshadowed, it seems, is a peaceful, non-violent revolution. Marxist revolutions are explosions of violence. But not the anti-totalitarian ones. It is now clear that millions of Brazilians feel the need to expose twaddle, nonsense, irresponsible foolishness, cynical demagoguery masquerading as a springboard for collective bliss.

Dilma and her crowd may not be Marxists in a traditional, strictly ideological sense, they accept and even profit from some liberal economic principles, but, when all is said and done, they still share, subliminally, the Marxist anti-capitalist and “anti-imperialist” revolutionary delusions, expectations, and fever. Therefore, their enduring affinities with the continental far left, including Hugo Chavez’s heir, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

The protests are directed against the acute institutional, social, economic, and moral crisis that has dramatically worsened over these past few months. I do not know if a revolution to the full extent of the term has begun crystallizing as of right now, but this is certainly a revolutionary situation as defined by Lenin himself: “Those at the top cannot govern by using the old methods, those at the bottom, the great masses, beyond social divisions, no longer accept them.”

A fool’s tongue is long enough to cut his own throat: in this case, a Marxist one turned upside down! The great historian Robert Conquest’s dream is gradually coming to life–a united front against radical fallacies. It is high time these chimeras were exposed for what they really are: myths, legends, delusions, fantasies of salvation, ideological fairytales with pernicious effects.

 

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

This article was originally published on FrontPageMag.

This essay was translated from Romanian into English by Monica Got.

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