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Liberation Theology

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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Jeffrey Nyquist, Olavo de Carvalho, and Diana West Talk About Communist Subversion in Latin America

Diana West, author of American Betrayal Jeffrey Nyquist, author of Origins of the Fourth World War, and Olavo de Carvalho, Brazilian philosopher who authored a dozen books in Brazil and debated Russian geopolitical strategist Aleksandr Dugin, join Allan dos Santos, host of Update Brazil, to talk about the Communist Subversion in Latin America.

Dilma's Children's Day Speech

Dilmish 101: Crash Course on the Brazilian President’s Dilma Rousseff’s Speech Style

Note: The quotes from President Dilma’s speeches were carefully translated from the Portuguese. What you are going to read is, unfortunately, an accurate rendition of her words and meaning (or lack thereof).

In a speech delivered last April, former Brazilian President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), manifesting his support for his successor, President Dilma Rousseff (2011-present), promised she would make the Brazilian people smile again. Most Brazilians would probably agree with that, but not for the same reasons he might have had in mind when he said it.

The truth is that President Rousseff has demonstrated her ability to produce mirth among the audience on the many occasions when she decided to speak her mind publicly without preparation. In almost every impromptu speech she has delivered, it is possible to find moments in which a rare combination of words, ideas, and images makes her audience think in astonishment: “No, she did not say that.” Thanks to her repeatedly disastrous and unintentionally comic speeches, she has become known as the queen of nonsense, and her peculiar oratorical style has been dubbed “Dilmês,” which can be roughly translated into English as “Dilmish.”

Her memorable lines in Dilmish have given rise to a new comedy genre on the Brazilian web, which essentially consists in simply compiling and exhibiting her gems of thought in articles, videos, memes, and songs. In her almost five years as president, she has said so many things, so badly put, and so often, that there is a true treasury of Dilmish wisdom available on the internet.

For example, last week, in a speech delivered at the ceremony that launched the First World Games of Indigenous Peoples to be held in Brazil in October this year, President Dilma Rousseff made her audience smile over and over again by offering them a remarkable series of sentences so badly crafted that they immediately became brilliant jewels of unintentional humor and major internet hits.

After ten minutes of standard welcome and praise to national and international guests, Rousseff finally decided to improvise and make some laudatory remarks about the indigenous peoples of Brazil, but with the Dilmish mode already fully on, what ended up coming out of her mouth was this:

“I believe that we need to be proud about the historical formation of this country, and going beyond the fact that each indigenous people represents a specific culture, we need to be immensely proud of being a mixture of many ethnicities in the make-up of the Brazilian nation. And here today, we hail one of them: we salute the indigenous ethnicity, which gave us, as the vice-governor of this state, here representing the governor, mentioned before, the flavor of the names that are present in all of our cities. True, but I also would like to hail something else, since no civilization was born without some form of staple food. And we have one here, as the American Indians and indigenous peoples have theirs, we have yuca. And here we are sharing yucca with corn. And certainly, we will have a whole series of other products that were essential for the development of all human civilization throughout the centuries. So, here, today, I salute yuca. I think it is one of the greatest conquests of Brazil.

 

It is hard to find a real rational explanation for why she suddenly decided to go from praising Brazilian Indians to talking about yuca (AKA cassava) and why she uttered those last three sentences of her yuca- cheering speech. The whole thing becomes even more comical when you are informed that the word yuca is a vulgar synonym for the male sexual organ in Brazilian Portuguese (because of the suggestive shape of the yuca root).

But that was not all for the day.

During her speech President Rousseff kept under one of her arms a hand-made leaf ball that, according to her, was a gift from participant from New Zealand, and just after her yuca salutation, she proceeded to attempt a quite risky mental maneuver for a thinker of her class: to use the leaf ball as a symbol for the practice of sports as a characteristically human activity. Speaking her mind like there was no tomorrow, Rousseff, in a theoretical flight of fancy, managed to concoct the following narrative:

“I am sure about this, and here I would like to show our long-established relation with sports. Here is a ball that I have been testing all the time. It is ball that was given to me by Terena and that I will take with me—and it will last as long as it takes. This ball comes from far away, from New Zealand. And it is a ball that I think it is an example, it is extremely light. I have already tried it, and it bounces. I tried it myself, I did one kick-up, no, I lie, half a kick-up. Well, but I think that the importance of a ball is precisely this: it is a symbol of the capacity that makes us different as . . . we belong to the human genus, to the sapiens species. We are those that have the capacity to play games. For this is what playing is about: the important thing is not to win, but to celebrate. That is the human, ludic, capacity of taking part in an activity whose end is itself, the activity itself.

So, sports have this characteristic, this blessing. Sports are an end to themselves, and that’s why they are not about winning, but about celebrating, about participating in the World Games of Indigenous Peoples. It is to participate celebrating the meaning of this activity that first characterizes children. The ludic activity of playing, the ludic activity of being able of playing.

So, to me, this ball is a symbol of our evolution. When we created a ball like this, we became homo sapiens or women sapiens.”

 It did not take long, of course, for the yuca and “women sapiens” sections of her speech to take over the web in Brazil in the form of a variety of jokes. Perhaps one of the most delightfully creative comic pieces created was this songified version of President Rousseff’s statements (see an English translation for the lyrics below):

 

 

“I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

And certainly, we will have a whole series of other products that were essential for the development of all human civilization.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

I think it is one of the greatest conquests of Brazil.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.

When we created a ball like this, we became homo sapiens or women sapiens.

So, to me, this ball is a symbol of our evolution.

Yuca.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

We are sharing yuca with corn.

I salute yuca.

I salute yuca.”

 

Once again I must remind my readers that those quotations from President Rousseff are actually representative samples of her speech style. They are not simply a non-habitual poor choice of words that was made in a really bad day the President had, nor are they a selection of sentences carefully put together to misrepresent her meaning. There are literally dozens of other speeches that could be quoted here to bear out the existence of the Dilmish language, and some of them are as good (or bad) as the ones above. In short, make no mistake: the woman really talks like that.

As another example, consider an excerpt from the speech she delivered on Children’s Day (celebrated on October 12 in Brazil) in 2013. She was in an important capital city, Porto Alegre, of an important southern State, Rio Grande do Sul, and the bulk of her speech was really about the Federal Administration’s new public transportation program and the opening of that city’s first subway. However, since it was also Children’s Day, a date devoted to celebrate the rights of children, President Rousseff thought it would be nice to say some words about it. So, again, after the standard introduction of greetings and praises, she activated the Dilmish mode and fired away:

“And, in particular, since I am here in this city that is so dear to me, Porto Alegre, I would like to greet Mayor Fortunati and his wife, First-Lady Regina Becker. If today is Children’s Day, yesterday I sad that a child . . . (pause) Children’s Day is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Teachers’ Day as well, but it is also Animals’ Day. Whenever you look at a child, there is always a hidden figure, which is a dog behind the child, which is something really important. So, Regina also praise you for your dedication to that cause.”

 That was literally it. She did not further elaborate upon it, nor did it become somewhat clear later on in her speech why she chose those words. That was all of it. And this is a perfect example of another important kind of Dilmish: the one in which she suddenly veers off-topic, and you have a slight hope she will eventually come back, put all pieces together, and make her point; but she never does. She just goes off-topic for no reason.

Another fantastic species of Dilmish is that in which she actually tries to make a point by stretching the resources of language to the outer limits of human logic, and the result is usually the verbal correspondent of a surrealist painting. A good example of that is the answer she gave in a TV interview in September 2010 when asked to give her opinion about the competition between opposing parties on a referendum to decide about the legalization of abortion in Brazil. According to her:

“I don’t think that whoever wins or loses, neither whoever wins, nor whoever loses, will win or will lose. Everybody will lose.”

That is also a good example of one of the beauties of Dilmish: you can make your own interpretation of the President’s words. Since you cannot really take what she says literally, you are free to exercise your hermeneutical skills and come up with the meaning you think she had in mind. It is not a game deprived of fun, if you have the time to spare, and there are many Brazilian websites and YouTube videos in which collection of sentences like that are grouped under the head “What the heck was President Dilma trying to say?” Here are some of my all-time favorites:

“All of us know that each of us choose—and life makes us choose—some of the days in which we will never forget that day.”

“The environment is, no doubt, a threat to sustainable development. And that means that it is a threat to the future of our planet.”

“It is interesting that in Brazil you are oftentimes, as Brazilians usually say, criticized for having a dog and sometimes for not having a dog. That is an interesting criticism that takes place in Brazil.”

“And we have created a program that I would like to speak with you about, which is the Science Without Borders program. Why would I like to speak about Science Without Borders to you? It is because in all others . . . because we are going to launch Science Without Borders 2. The number 1 is 100,000, but it will have to continue to do Science without Borders in Brazil.”

“By the way, once I was told by a friend that this issue of men and women was no problem at all because women are the majority, but the other part. . . the other part of the majority is made up of men, all of them being born of a woman, and that’s why everything was all right: women together with women. Because men can have boys and girls and wives, but they necessarily have—and that’s not just a possibility, it is a necessity—a mother.”

“Paes [Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor] is the happiest mayor in the world, who runs the most important city in the world and in the whole galaxy. Why the whole galaxy? Because our galaxy is Rio de Janeiro. The Milky Way is nothing compared to the galaxy of which our dear Paes has the honor of being the mayor.”

As I think my readers can see it clearly now, something is rotten in the state of Brazil, and the stench is coming from the top.

 

This post was written by Alessandro Cota, philosophy and political science researcher at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.