Amending a personal injustice
OLAVO DE CARVALHO
Translated by Assunção Medeiros
My article "The official history of 1964”, published in O Globo on January 19, 1999, which no left wing hotshot dared to answer – all of them leaving the thorny issue in charge of a poorly equipped little teacher from the country that ended up confirming all my arguments – brought to the author an unexpected gift, and nowadays also fairly uncomfortable: the friendship of the military. You have to be crazy to declare this in public in this country, but this friendship both honors and gladdens me a lot. And because of it two illustrious Brazilian military officers, Col. Luís Paulo Macedo Carvalho, president of the History and Geography Military Institute, and Gen. Hélio Ibiapina Lima, president of the Military Club, were led to invite me to speak in both these institutions, respectively on last March 30 and 31. What I said was basically the same on both speeches, but the one in the Military Club was recorded and transcribed, what allows me to reproduce it here. The speech was impromptu, without any notes. I hereby publish the entire transcription of the recording on tape, with no alterations, only corrected in some details of language and with gaps filled out. — O. de C.
I most heartily thank General Hélio Ibiapina and all the dear friends of the Military Club for this invitation that made me so glad. I ask them permission to start the conference with some autobiographical details, not guided by vanity, absolutely not, but only because some facts of my life fit very well inside the theme we will be addressing here.
There are some people that are gifted with the ability to always be near those in power. I seem to have been awarded the opposite gift. At the time of the military government, right at the beginning of it, between 1966 and 68, I was a militant of the Communist Party and hated the military; I called them "gorillas", like everybody else in the same situation. I had many friends and relatives that suffered from the military government and during all that period I felt ostracized, like many of my generation, due to my hostility towards the regime. Nowadays, when the Left is in power, dominates everything and its members are doing very well indeed, I do not count myself among them anymore and find myself here talking to you. That is why I say that I was awarded with this gift of always making the most inconvenient friendships of the time. We all know of many people who made their careers during the military regime, and as soon as the situation changed, quickly changed sides, because it was better for their health...
Well, all the experience I had, first among the members of the left and afterwards during the long period of solitude to which I migrated after being disillusioned with the socialist approach – so I could meditate and rebuild up to a certain extent my world of ideas – all this experience taught me, in the first place, the inconvenience of speaking when you do not have a minimum of reasonable certainty. I must remind you gentlemen that my public life begins only in 1996, with the book The Collective Imbecile. Up to that point my life was very modest, very discreet, giving my lessons and writing some philosophy books that no one read. I only published The Collective Imbecile because I observed the rise of a kind of destructive mentality, not only in the political sense but even more in the sense of the destruction of human intelligence. Having observed facts that grew more and more alarming in the cultural area, and realizing that no one gave any signal of being aware of them, I said to myself: "It seems the ball is in my court”. So, having or not competence for it, it was necessary that I did something. This book, at the time, caused a wave of something I would not call anger, it was more like a wave of panic, among people of the intellectual environment that had never before been the least bit criticized and were used to the dogma of the holy intangibility of their personas. One of them, I remember clearly, was Prof. Leandro Konder, a historical communist, a man that had never been criticized because of anything, a man without a flaw, a man without sin that, wherever you ask about him, people say: "Leandro is so polished", "Leandro is a gentleman". People just do not speak badly of him. And this man, counting on his prestige of being a gentleman, had not only been lying compulsively about cultural matters, but also preaching very destructive ideas, protected for thirty years by the cloak of his supposed gentleness. So, when I dared to mess with this person, a lot of people were outraged, seemed close to a heart attack. I noticed that for these people, it hurt their hearts more to see someone attack intellectually a man like Leandro Konder, like Oscar Niemeyer or such, than to hear blasphemies against Jesus Christ. It got to the point where I saw people, in conferences I gave, being physically ill when they saw me unmask certain figures of their adoration. All this I really saw myself, none of it is invention. I saw in the faces of these people the emotion the Bible calls “scandal”. What is scandal, in the Biblical sense of the term? Scandal is a fact that contradicts our faith, which violates the integrity of our soul and shakes our trust in the order of the universe.
So, when I said certain things to certain audiences, people there felt the emotion of scandal, a kind of spiritual terror before the death of their god. I cannot say that the articles I published, gathered in that book, have really caused hate or anger. I am certain they caused fear.
People always ask me if I have ever suffered pressure, or if I was ever intimidated or threatened. Yes, this happened a few times, but no one goes silent thirty years, thinking in a quiet corner all by himself, to afterwards shrink when the first adverse reaction comes. We only shrink when – in youth, arrested by enthusiasm – we rise without thinking, against something that in the heat of our indignation seems wrong to us, and the adversary fights back; in this case, we really feel intimidated and run with our tail between our legs. Practically my entire generation did that. They did that based mainly in the flattering myth that youth is idealistic and that youth loves justice. Well, really, what would you think of a 15-year-old judge that condemned someone without ever listening to him? There is no love of Justice without the love of Truth, and there is no love of truth when there is not even patience to wait and get to know it. This means that the famous love of justice that is attributed to youth is only vanity, pretension, and arrogance. Evidently, these lowly feelings, like all base passions that a human being is capable of, can always be worked on and used by seducers. The word "seducer" comes from the Latin expression sub ducere. Ducere means "to conduct", and sub means "bellow". Meaning: a seducer leads us by our lower parts, by our weak spots, and by our hidden tendencies for the abyss. Well, there isn’t any tendency lower than vanity and resentful arrogance. Whoever says to a fifteen-year-old kid that he is superior to the generation of his parents because he has the spirit of justice is just a cheap seducer and a liar. But I think there was not a single generation in the history of the 20th century that did not hear this siren song. I also heard it, I was also seduced. I also found wonderful to imagine myself the great avenger: at seventeen, eighteen years of age I was certain I knew what were the evils of the world, that I knew which people were guilty for the evils of the world, and which punishment should be given them. I was also certain that the greatest evil in the world was that I was not given the tools to punish all those that were guilty. Therefore: to solve everything just one thing was needed — give absolute power to Olavo de Carvalho and his pals. Everything would then be solved, so I thought at seventeen, and all my generation thought so with me. Do you call this spirit of justice? I call it spirit of stupidity, spirit of arrogance, spirit of foolish pretension. The difference between the people of my generation and I is: I realized that and they did not.
When I mention people from my generation, sometimes that means people that were much closer to me than just members of the same generation. During a certain period of time I shared an apartment with Rui Falcão, that was afterwards president of communist Workers Party, and both of us were really close to José Dirceu (another famous left wing politician), who never left our apartment; at that time, these were my comrades. I realized I was an arrogant clown, and they never realized anything of themselves up to the present day.
I do not know if I ever came to be anything worthwhile, but that piece of crap that I used to be is no more. I cannot fool myself so easily now, I cannot tell myself as I did then: "Olavo, you know who is to blame for the evils of the world", "Olavo, you have the right to claim the ownership of the universal whip to apply it to the back of all the bad guys", and so on. Well, I now am 52 years old, I must have learned something during this period, but certainly, if I did learn, it was because I refrained from speaking during twenty years or more. Only yesterday, in the conference I gave at the History and Geography Military Institute, I was telling them I did like Buda, who, being taken by doubt, sat beneath a tree and said: I will not rise from this place until I find the answer. I also had a friend, who is already deceased, who was a great clinical psychologist, Juan Alfredo César Müller, who, in his youth, having terrible vocational doubts, entered a church and said to himself: "I will get down on my knees and will pray until I get the answer or I will die here on my knees." Thus, he obtained the evidence, a kind of a signal from God that he should become a psychologist, and rarely was a vocation so clearly right as the one from this great genius of clinical psychology. When we want the truth, that is what we should do, when we do not want the truth we make anything up, whatever seems to us more flattering, whatever pleases more our group of reference, and we condemn the rest of the world because they do not agree with us. Whoever studies the history of the 20th century will see that all the destructive movements, all the movements responsible for the deaths of millions of people, all of them, were always headed by youth, and that the militants at the service of these movements were always young. Was that so because youth has the spirit of justice? Please add up the number of dead: a hundred million from communism, plus twenty million from fascism and so on, without mentioning the wonderful militants of 1968 — Woodstock — in favor of drug dissemination, that have transformed the world into a feud of drug dealers. How many people have drugs killed, and who is responsible for this? The entire blame falls to these young people, with parents who cowardly continue to flatter them by saying: "You have the spirit of justice", "You have the spirit of truth", "You are better than us". You should never say that to a child, never, never, never. One century of flattery to youth resulted in two hundred million dead. Is it not time to stop this? Is it not time for the adults to learn that young people should not be flattered but educated, even if they do not like it? Very well, I have a bunch of kids, I have eight children, I was never cruel to them, and never humiliated them, but I also never flattered them. I only said what a father should say to a child: "I love you my son", "Get down from there or you will get hurt", "Stop hitting your little sister", and all these things that fathers do. But I never said: "You are the incarnation of the spirit of justice", "You are the moral conscience of your father", none of these cowardly things that degrade the soul of youth. We can express good feelings to our children without inoculating them with the most destructive of illusions. But our generation received immense doses, huge doses of this flattery. And, flattered like that, we believed that all we needed was weapons and we would do the rest, we would build a better world. And how would we build this New World? Using the old expedient of killing — kill whoever did not wish for it. This is always the solution, whatever the problem, isn’t it? We took literally what Jean Paul Sartre used to say: "Hell is the other". So we just kill them and everything is settled; it is enough to kill people who do not agree with us. Being raised with this mentality, — which fortunately I got rid of, but I did it progressively, because it is an illusion to think that you get rid of the Marxist poison simply by changing the club you go to; it does not work like that, it is an inner process that requires true psychoanalysis, a progressive removal of the enclaves, of the complexes, the mental habits that impregnate our soul —, being raised with this mentality, it was this way that I judged the movement of 1964. To judge it, condemn it, and abominate it I did not need to know a lot about it. All that was needed was the sound of a word. And which word was that? It was the magic word – "Right". What was the crime of the military? They were the Right. Well, the right means necessarily evil, so these people were evil incarnate. I was not interested in knowing what they were doing, why they were doing it, etc. One did not need to know anything about them to hate them and condemn them. It was a kind of ontological badness that was attached to their constitution, regardless of what they did or did not do. If a man from the military helped a sick person on the street, he would continue to be bad. If a man from the Left was mean to a child, even so he would still be good, because badness and goodness did not depend on acts, but on ideological identity. Well, this metaphysics, this horrendous metaphysics of Manicheism, it is the essence itself of politics. One of the greatest theoreticians of politics in the 20th century was Carl Schmitt. He asked himself what was the essence of politics, what distinguished politics from other activities, what distinguished politics from moral, from law, from economy, etc. And he says this: when a conflict between factions cannot be rationally arbitrated by the analysis of the content of the concepts involved, and when therefore the conflict becomes the raw confrontation between a group of friends and a group of enemies, this is called — Politics. Well, it is easy to understand that, in this sense, Schmitt’s definition inverts Clausewitz’s definition, which says that war is a continuation of politics by other means. Schmitt discovered, much more realistically, that politics is a continuation of war by other means. Well, during all human history there was politics, but there were other dimensions and other activities that were considered more important. Religion was one of them; even the rulers occupied themselves more with religion than with politics. In the 19th century, a man called Napoleon Bonaparte discovers a terrible thing: politics, he says, is the inevitable destiny of modern times. Everything will become politics and men will not occupy themselves with anything except politics. He discovers the general politicization of everything. And what does general politicization mean? It means that all the conflicts cannot be arbitrated by the analysis of the contents of the terms in question, but will be solved always by a confrontation of power between the group of friends and the group of enemies. That is, civilization ends and barbarism begins. The general politicization of everything is simply barbarism, institutionalized violence, be it under the guise of physical violence or of the moral violence of the imposed lie as mandatory truth. Napoleon predicted this in the beginning of the 19th century, but his prevision only becomes totally true in the 20th century. In the 20th century everything is politicized, and that is the reason why this was the bloodiest and the most violent century of human history. Beginning in the 20th century you see a rise of the violence indexes that is totally incomparable to the parallel growth of the population. The general politicization of life means that a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old boy, that has barely started life, that does not have the slightest idea of what is going on in this planet, is already taken, already inscribed in the list of friends, whose only finality is to kill the group of enemies. But is this life? Is that a vision to be offered to youth: politicize them since birth, offer them the vice of political militancy as if it was the highest incarnation of ethics and good? Well, how many times have I heard Brazilian intellectuals making the apology of politicization, reproaching people who are not politicized! For instance, a man that occupies himself more with religion than with politics is denounced as an idiot or senseless, an individual who occupies himself more with the upkeep of his family than with politics looks like an inferior being. When we analyze the term and understand the practical implications of this concept, we see that this apology of politicization is the most monstrous thing an ideologist ever invented. Well, it was in the light of this mentality that I judged, without knowing, the movement of 1964. Having realized I had condemned an accused without having listened to him, without ever seeing him, without knowing where he was, one day I was made aware of my own ignorance and said: Well, now I have to go home and think about it.
Then I asked myself the decisive philosophical question. The decisive philosophical question is "What?" — Quid? I asked myself: What happened in 1964? What was it exactly about? This means, lets leave aside for a moment the evaluation of events, the investigation of their deepest causes, the conjecturing of long term consequences, etc. etc., and lets ask the most simple and the most decisive of questions. What happened?
Well, what happened in 1964 was this. In January of that year, Luiz Carlos Prestes went to Moscow, and presented to Mikhail Suslov a report on the Brazilian situation. I do not know what was the content of that report, but Suslov’s conclusion was significant: he concluded that Brazil was ready for a civil war in the country, and at that time authorized Luiz Carlos Prestes, upon his return to Brazil, to start this civil war. Luiz Carlos Prestes came back with this authorization and, if he did not carry out this task immediately, he would have done so after some time. If there wasn’t yet the condition to trigger a civil war in the country on a national scale, there was however condition to paralyze the economy, instate rebellion in the Armed Forces and do everything that was necessary to make viable the civil war ordered by Suslov.
In short, something was being prepared here, whose size people sometimes do not evaluate correctly. What would be a communist revolution in a country the size of Brazil? It would certainly be the greatest communist revolution in the history of the Americas. That is what was being organized here. At the same time it is evident that a reaction to this revolution was also being organized. What reaction was that? Where would it come from? It would come mainly from some civilian leaders, particularly in São Paulo, with Governor Adhemar de Barros and in Rio de Janeiro with Governor Carlos Lacerda. One of the resources these two leaders used to face an eventual communist threat was the constitution of paramilitary troops, with money they gathered from businessmen and with the discreet and evidently illegal support of the military police in these two states. The details from Rio I do not know (the subject is under research and I cannot say anything certain about the extension of paramilitary resources under the command of Lacerda), but the situation in São Paulo I knew very well. The Military Police, that was then called Public Force, was a kind of Adhemarist Church, a cult, a sect. The officers from the MP seemed to have been born adhemarist, as if it was something in their DNA. If Adhemar de Barros said to them: "You gather a load of three thousand machineguns and deliver them at such and such address", they would do it. And some paramilitary organizations were under construction, like for instance PAB (Patrulha Auxiliar Brasileira / Brazilian Auxiliary Patrol), that was a troop of vagabonds and hotheads, lumpen proletariats, exactly like the fascist troops of Mussolini.
Well, I do not believe that fascism is the greater of the evils; fascism is a reaction to communism, fascism is to communism the same that a fever is to an infection. Fascism is not causa sui, it does not produce itself, but even so it is a pretty dangerous thing. I do not know how to measure the extension of these paramilitary troops outside of São Paulo. In Paraíba, certainly, there were organizations of this kind. A communist historian called Moniz Bandeira, who even though he is a communist always seemed to me to be honest in his writings, says that there probably were in Paraíba around ten thousand armed men. Very well, I discovered these things a few years ago, while I was studying to rewrite the final chapters of a piece of writing called O Exército na História do Brasil (The Army in the History of Brazil), published by Odebrecht Foundation and by the Library of the Army (BibliEx). At that time I was a freelance writer hired by Odebrecht, and one of the services that came to my hands was to revise and correct the text of this book. The chapter related to the Revolution of 1964 had many gaps in it, and I decided to fill these gaps on my own. It was looking through books and documents, making interviews with eyewitnesses of the time, that I became aware of all this. There was someone else, however, that had discovered this long before I did: General Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco, in September 1963, was Chief of Staff of the Army’s General Command, and he made a speech alerting his peers to the danger of the proliferation of paramilitary organizations, that in a moment of crisis could usurp the functions of the Armed Forces. He did not refer only to the famous leftist organization, the "Groups of Eleven”, nor to the Peasant Leagues: he spoke in the plural, without mentioning ideological coloring, and with an underlying understanding that any paramilitary organization was an insult and a danger to the regularly constituted Armed Forces. Well, I came to think about that in 1996, and Gen. Castelo Branco was concerned about it in 1963: can you measure the size of my somnolence, of my stupidity, of my idiocy? Can you measure the state of hypnosis I lived in during all these years between 1964 e 1996, to wake up one day and see that this man had already realized all that thirty-three years before me?
Very well, here were the communists building up their revolution and the right-wing Governors building up their little paramilitary troops of little fascists, PAB even had that very particular khaki uniform, that reminded us a lot of the “brown shirts” of the SA. So, with a bunch of armed communists on one side, and a bunch of armed fascists on the other, what would happen? Certainly, a new Night of Saint Bartholomew. But the Right was always bolder, more valiant, and was better armed: this meant that if the initiative of the reaction to the communists fell exclusively to the civilian leaders, not a single communist would have arrived alive at the end of 1964. The communist revolution would have failed. The communists would have been beaten, like they were by the Armed Forces. But how many would they have killed, and how many of them would have been killed? The number cannot be calculated, but beyond that we can still understand that this was right in the middle of that time we called the Cold War, when the two great countries did not duel with each other directly, but through situations exactly like this one, built up in peripheral countries. Therefore, if there were a civil war here, lots of people would want to help either side. It would have been a festival of universal generosity: the United States sending weapons and technical assistance to one side, and the Soviet Union and China sending weapons and technical assistance to the other side. It would have been a great extravagance of fantastic kindness, just like Vietnam. And we would have lived all this for a decade or two.
This was the scenario that was around at that time, this is not some speculation done a posteriori, these were plans that were already being executed on both sides. In the night between March 31 and April 1, what does, however, the Army do? It moves ahead, occupies the streets, disassembles the communist machine, puts a leash in the right-wing troops, and lastly cuts the heads of their leaders, first by putting pressure on them, and afterwards getting to the point of removing Adhemar de Barros and Carlos Lacerda from office. But, even before that, the army took a more decisive action, which was to create the General Inspection of the Military Polices, through which all the state military polices, virtual partners of the right-wing paramilitary troops all over Brazil, were put directly under the authority of the army and taken back to their normal discipline.
This immense operation of dismantling both a left-wing revolution and the weaponry of the right, cost how many deaths? Two, three, five at most. How many people died in political conflicts between 1964 and the end of the mandate of Marshal Castelo Branco? How many? Five? Six? This was the price we paid for the dismantling of not only the greatest revolutionary machine ever built by the communists in all of Latin America, in all three Americas, but also the dismantling of the weaponry for the reaction of the civilian armed right, which simply disappeared from history and was forgotten. This is what happened in 1964. When we see this, there is only one thing we can say: This was a work of genius. Not many people can disassemble a bomb of this size with such small, insignificant, loss of human life. Of course, afterwards there was some violence, because after four years the left re-equipped and thrust itself into the enterprise of the guerillas. Due to the guerillas, some three hundred men from their own side died, plus some two hundred men from the other side.
At worst, five hundred people — and this along more than one decade, in a country the size of a continent. This must have been the cheapest price in human lives that any regime in the world ever paid to regain its own stability. Never was a communist revolution stopped with so few deaths. Well, but we will always find some impudent wit to say to us: "But even a single death is already revolting!" Well, we are perfectly aware that his kind of attitude is hysterical acting, a pretense. When someone says that a total of five hundred deaths is less serious than a total of a thousand deaths — or than the seventeen thousand deaths of adversaries of the Cuban regime —, we have there already implicit that all the deaths are bad. We can only calculate a greater or lesser evil if we already admit that both are evil. But every time it is said that here we had less violence, that a member of the bloody regime of Fidel Castro does not have the moral authority to criticize the moderate use our military government made of a violence that was started by the left in the first place, there always is a hypocrite, a sophist, a communist liar to pretend that he is so Christian, so kind, that he cannot admit the death even of a mosquito, and it is precisely this kind of scoundrel that throws at our face the beautiful sentence: "But even a single death is already revolting!" Well, any beginner in the study of logic knows that it is not possible to level a categorical statement and a comparative statement. For instance, if I say that Aids is more serious than the flu, I am not making the apology of the flu, I am presupposing that both are diseases, that both are evil, right? And, if a certain individual, supposing he has Aids, discovers he has only the flu and is happy with this, should we conclude that he likes the flu, that he loves the flu, that he is an apologist of the flu and would wish to spread the virus of the flu all over the world? Is the relief of a lesser evil an apology of evil? Only a perverse being, as all communists without exception are intellectually perverse, can pretend that he believes in a thing like that.
When we show that the price paid by this country to get rid of a civil war that probably wouldn’t ever end was a low cost, there is always not only a cheat to insinuate that we loved paying that price, but also a wise guy that tells us that what we are doing is "morbid accounting". Which one of you never heard this expression? Well. We all know that the communists hate "morbid accounting". And why do they hate it? They hate it for a very simple reason. They hate it because all the death tolls show that they are the greatest murderers, that they always get first prize in universal killing, that no regime in the world can equal, in murdering appetite, these benefactors of humankind. If we add up the total of victims of communism in the 20th century, we will see that this number is higher than the number of deaths in both world wars, plus the number of victims of all the dictatorships of the right, plus the total number of victims from earthquakes, heart attacks, and various epidemics. This is not just a manner of speaking: it is a cold hard fact, mathematically measured. This means that communism was the greatest affliction known to man since the Universal Flood. There are no other terms for comparison. The plague, proportionally, was less serious than communism. Have we totally lost our sense of proportions? Or is the fear of being accused of doing "morbid accounting" making us blind to the proportion of the evils? Do the defenders of an ideology that is such an assassin, so intrinsically homicidal, have any moral authority to badmouth our "morbid accounting", as if the ugliness, the badness was not in committing homicides, but in adding them up? As if producing cadavers was less serious that counting them? Whoever condemns the "morbid accounting" is always the one that has the most crimes to hide, that has therefore a good reason not to make these sums. For the accounting, morbid or not, shows that in a country with more than a hundred million inhabitants a military government was able to stop a revolution without making more than five victims, and that after that this same government was able to dismantle a guerilla without killing more than three hundred of its fighters (losing at the time two hundred of its own fighters). In neighboring Cuba, in times of peace and without having been challenged by any guerilla, the communist government killed almost twenty thousand people. No, it’s not the accounting that’s morbid: morbid is the effort to hide the results of it.
Well, but was that the only thing that happened in 1964 — a very successful movement, that dismantled two war machines and gave peace back to the nation, with insignificant loss? No! Right after that, the people that were in this movement had to govern. How did they govern? Did they have a program? Did the at least have an ideology ready? They didn’t. We can see that they did not have it, for the governments originated from the Revolution of 1964 tried, in the following years, two policies that are exactly the opposite one from the other: first, a conservative internationalist policy, with Castelo Branco, and after that a liberal, state-centralized policy, with Ernesto Geisel. In sum, they tried the opposite poles of the ideological spectrum that existed in the country at the time. That proves they had no ideology whatsoever. Well, not having an ideology means that this movement was not started to implement any determined ideology, but it was carried out simply to take the country out of a catastrophic emergency and that, even though these governments never presented any government program, they ended up having a list of achievements much superior, either to the Vargas Era, or to the governments that succeeded them. What realizations are these? Let’s go back to the definition: the movement of 1964 was an emergency movement to dismantle two war machines, to stop the country from entering into a state of civil war, and, after that, even though it did not have a clear ideology nor clear cut plans, was able to do — what? Lets see: in 1964, the number of people that lived in a situation of misery, that lived with less than a minimum salary in this country was sixty percent of the national population. When the military regime was over, it had fallen to twenty-some percent. That means that, this regime that had no ideology, that did not have plans, that did not even know what it was supposed to do, was able to take out of misery forty percent of the Brazilian population. And what would be forty percent of the Brazilian population? Today, that would mean seventy million people, at that time some fifty million. That is when I ask myself: are we all asleep? Do we not realize things? Have we lost our sense of proportions? You tell me: which regime of the 20th century, which economic plan, fantastic as it was, be it the Five Year Plan from Stalin or the New Deal from Roosevelt or any other, was ever able to take from misery and give more human conditions to 50 mi1lion people in the course of one generation? Who did that? Who can brag as much? We were able to do it. When I say "we", "we, Brazilians, did it", — see the irony of it! —, I am giving myself credit for the works and the glory of those I abominated and called "gorillas". And they, the abominable gorillas, gave me the possibility of proudly saying today: We, Brazilians, did this, we had the victory — the greatest victory over poverty that was known in the 20th century. And do we have any reason to be ashamed of this? Do any of those fifteen-year-old kids that were fifteen when they were fifteen, and that now, when they’re over fifty, are still fifteen, silly, irresponsible and above all liars, do any of them have the authority to judge and condemn the movement that did this?
When we ask ourselves what happened in 64, that’s what it was. People were taken to prison, there was torture, and there were deaths. I had relatives that were tortured, and I myself went through a lot of fear and humiliation. I had friends who were killed. A dear friend of mine, João Leonardo da Silva Rocha, got hit so badly by some soldiers, according to what was told me, that he went crazy. He was never normal again. But I would have to be a monster of selfishness to condemn as a whole, for these acts of violence – revolting and intolerable as they may be in their own scale – a regime that saved the country from a civil war and fifty million people from misery. Because no one ever did that with so little violence. Really, we are talking about three, four, five hundred dead! How many people died in the United States in political conflicts during the same period? How many black men were beaten up and killed, and how many white men killed in return? This in the full exercise of democracy, with all the legal guarantees, with no danger of a civil war. To kill four hundred, five hundred or three hundred, the Americans do not need a civil war. In their civil war five million died — it was the greatest war the world had ever known until then. And our regime, to stop a civil war and then to dismantle the leftist guerilla, killed three hundred, lost two hundred. Now, should we compare our military to the governors of other nations – to the Cubans, to the Spanish that were the forefathers of Dr. Garzón, who burned mass groups of nuns, to the Americans that kill each other unceasingly, to the sweet English that never stopped killing the Irish, to the Russian who killed thirty million of their countrymen, to the Chinese that killed sixty million – or should we compare them to God and condemn them for not being perfect?
If there ever was a human government that did better than this, please show me. More than that, if there ever was a communist government that did better than this, show it to me. I’ve never seen it. But all these obvious things that I’m saying seemed to be lost from sight, became invisible and incomprehensible, hidden by so many lies and so much communist talk – paid its weight in gold by businessmen from the unscrupulous and irresponsible press. And all this was lost from sight for a very simple reason: this military government, that wasn’t oppressive, that wasn’t a fascist government, that did not have all the main traits that characterized all the dictatorships and all the fascist movements, it did not have the least intention of inoculating an ideology in the population. It did not have any ideology to inoculate. Once in a while you’d see some posters saying, "Brazil, love it or leave it", or some ads on TV talking about its accomplishments, a road, a power plant, a bridge — all of it with less noise and less expense than any civilian government before or after it. That was all. I ask you: was there fascist indoctrination inside the schools? Was there an indoctrinating movie industry paid by the government to implant fascist ideas in the population? No: the government gave money so the opposition could make movies! Were there TV programs pounding into us again and again the official discourse, 24 hours a day, like in Cuba and in all the other communist and fascist countries? No! There wasn’t any of it. The soaps, the most popular genre on TV, were they used by the government to transmit ideological propaganda? No. The soaps were all written by notorious communists like Dias Gomes and Janette Clair, and when the government censored any erotic scene, judging it improper for the eight o’clock soap, when children were still awake, there was a storm of protesting! Was there any publishing company dominated by the government, publishing ideological material all the time to implant the official doctrine in the population? No! On the contrary, never was the left-wing book publishing market so prosperous — most of the time with subsidies from the government —, inside the universities all there was communist propaganda and one simply did not notice any ideological effort on the part of the government. The only step the government gave in that direction was the inclusion of the discipline Moral e Civic Education. But what happened to MCE? I was there, “me lads”, I saw it! I saw it happen. I saw the Communist Party decide, very simply: we will position our militants as MCE teachers everywhere and we shall turn this discipline into a communist propaganda channel. It was said and immediately done. Did the government stop this? Did it do anything to stop it? No! That is, besides giving freedom to the communists to do what they wanted, it gave them tools, financed communist films, let communist occupy all the MCE teaching posts, let the communists take over the press and the universities, where they today exert a cynical power of censorship.
All this happened because there was an individual called Golbery do Couto e Silva, a general of the Army and the main counselor of military presidents, that believed in some theory called "pressure cooker theory". And what was this pressure cooker? It was that, according to him, "we cannot close up all the holes, there has to be a little escape valve..." And where was this little escape valve? It was in the universities and culture, the editorial movement and show business — it was in all channels for the communication of ideas. All of that was handed over by the government itself into the hands of the communists. What a beautiful theory, eh? That was all the communists wanted, it was all they needed to turn their military defeat into a political victory, because at that time the works of the Italian ideologist Antonio Gramsci were beginning to come into the country. He said goodbye to the Leninist theory of insurrection and created a new strategy based in two things: on one hand, what he called the Cultural Revolution, that is, the dominion of the vocabulary, the dominion of the mental automaticisms, in such a way that, whether people knew it or not, they would start speaking and thinking like communists and would end up accepting communism, with or without that name, as if it was the most natural thing in the world; on the other hand, what he called the long march of the left into the machine of the State, which meant: occupy all the posts inside the bureaucracy. Slowly, with a lot of patience, through the occupation of space, from indications, even through selection exams, — for example, the government opens a selection exam for the Federal Police and, when you take a closer look, ninety percent of the candidates that show up are communists, they were sent there.
Now, what kind of fascist government is this, that had no militancy, that had no party for the masses, that had no ideology, that did not even have a program for mass indoctrination, a discourse to be repeated in the schools? Its simple: this government was never fascist. It was a government born inside an emergency, created to stop a civil war, which came to power and had to lead the country somehow, without ever daring to deepen its intervention in Brazilian history to the point of constituting a real revolution. Was the movement of 64 a revolution? I don’t think it was. I also think that to dispute with the leftist and insist on the term "revolution" when they say it was just a coup is to yield to a leftist bundle of values, a leftist vocabulary. For to a leftist a revolution is the best thing in the world. The communists are the ones who love revolutions. Why do we have to imitate them? What we have to say to them is this: you communists, you make your revolutions. We make modest things, in which not many people die, we are not professional killers, we are not trying to turn the world upside down all the time, we only act in emergencies to stop catastrophes. Because we are not like you, we do not have the solution to all evils, we are not good incarnate, we do not believe that we have the revelation of truth to authorize us to kill half of the world to save the other half. In sum, we are people, we are human beings, we are not angels of the Lord like you, we do not have the authority to make History in our own image, and because of that, when we came to power in 1964, we governed with wisdom, with patience, with kindness, with serenity and above all we protected you from the civilian right that wanted to kill you. If there was a single communist left alive at the end of 1964, whom does he owe that to? To the Armed Forces.
That is what happened in 1964. I ask you: where was I? I was sleeping. Sleeping in the cradle of leftist mythology, fed with words, especially with adjectives: "Fascist!” "Exploiter!” "Imperialist!" Ah! but these words moved me! The power they had! Feeding myself with them, I could stay a long time away from asking myself what was happening in reality. When finally — and against my wishes — I discovered what happened, I said to myself: what can I do now? I cannot change the course of past history, but I can say some nice things to these people that took part in all of this, that had some participation in 1964 and that helped to build Brazil. It is no good to arrive hypocritically up to you and apologize. That’s not what this is about. But there is one thing I can do. I can say to you: do not be ashamed of your work. Lift up your heads, be proud, and do not allow any hypocritical communist to come and turn himself into your inspector. Never, never yield your dignity to the false morality of the times; never sacrifice all that is high and noble in you to what is low and ignoble in anybody else. This was what I wanted to ask all of you. Thank you very much.
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