I have been presenting, in newspaper articles as well as in lectures and conferences, a few conclusions of an extensive study on the revolutionary mentality. Here are the chief ones:
1. The revolutionary mentality, as it appears recorded in the writings and acts of every revolutionary leader since the fifteenth century, without one notable exception, consists not in adhering to this or that concrete politico-social proposal but in a certain structure of apprehension of reality, characterized by the inversion of the causal and temporal order and of the subject-object relation, a variety of secondary inversions deriving therefrom.
2. These inversions constitute not only a “spiritual disease,” in the sense given to the term by F. W. J. von Schelling and Eric Voegelin, but a mental disease in the strict clinical sense. The revolutionary mentality is a specific variant of “interpretation delusion,” a syndrome whose pioneering description by the psychiatrists Paul Sérieux and Jean Capgras was set forth in their classic book Les Folies Raisonnantes: Le Délire d’Interprétation (Paris: Alcan, 1909; also available online at http://web2.bium.univ-paris5.fr/livanc/?cote=61092&p=1&do=page).
Sérieux and Capgras remark: “While most of the dementing systematized psychoses rest upon predominant and almost permanent sensory disorders, all the cases that we have collected under the foregoing term are, almost exclusively, based upon delusional interpretations; hallucinations, episodic whenever existing, play hardly any role here. . . . [The interpretation delusion] is a false reasoning that has as its point of departure a real sensation, an exact fact, which, by virtue of associations of ideas conditional upon tendencies, upon affectivity, takes on, with the aid of erroneous inductions and deductions, a personal significance to the patient. . . . The interpretation delusion is distinguished from hallucination and from illusion, which are sensory disorders. . . . [It also] differs from delusional idea, an imaginary conception that is made up altogether or at least not drawn from an observed fact.” It differs too, according to the authors, from mere false interpretation, that is, from vulgar mistake, for two reasons: First, “the error is said to be, more often than not, rectifiable; the delusional interpretation, incorrigible.” Second, “the error remains isolated, circumscribed; the delusional interpretation tends to diffuse, to radiate, it associates itself with analogous ideas and organizes itself into a system.”
In a subsequent article I shall explain the specific difference between revolutionary mentality and the other varieties of interpretation delusion. Here I intend only to illustrate something that I have said and repeated dozens of times: the inversion of reality is so constant and so omnipresent a factor in the revolutionary thought of all periods that samples of it can be found in whatever the mouthpieces of revolutionary ideologies utter about subjects of their political interest. A researcher has such an immense amount of instances at his disposal that the only difficulty for him is the embarras de choix, the choice of the most obvious and illustrative cases.
I select here, at random, an article by the world-famous liberation theologist Leonardo Boff published last July 14 in Jornal do Brasil (see http://jbonline.terra.com.br/editorias/pais/papel/2008/07/14/pais20080714007.html).
Quoting Arnold Toynbee, the author says that a constant in the decay of civilizations is the disruption of the balance between the number of challenges and each civilization’s capacity to respond. “When the challenges are such that they exceed the capacity to respond, the civilization starts to decline, enters in crisis, and disappears.”
Applying this concept to the description of the current state of affairs, Mr. Boff says: “Our civilizational paradigm, developed in the West and spread throughout the globe, is everywhere failing to hold water. So severe are the global challenges, especially those concerning ecology, energy, food, and population, that we have lost our capacity to deliver a collective and inclusive response. This kind of civilization shall dissolve.”
Having reviewed, with the aid of Eric Hobsbawn and Jacques Attali, some possible catastrophic developments of the situation, Mr. Boff enunciates what, in his mind, is the only hope left: “Mankind, if it is unwilling to destroy itself, must devise a world social contract by creating global governance agencies for the collective and equitable management of nature’s scarce resources.” In short, socialist world government.
Every fact mentioned in his article is real, but systematically misplaced.
1. The challenges that Mr. Boff mentions to illustrate Toynbee’s thesis do not illustrate it, failing by far to bear it out. What Toynbee has in view are not such material difficulties as those referred to, but above all the simultaneous pressure of an “internal proletariat” and of an “external proletariat,” both engaged in destroying the target civilization. The former can be exemplified by the illegal immigrants who receive from the American government every sort of benefits (denied even to legal residents) and thereby grow stronger in order to assault the local culture and fight for the dismemberment of the United States. The “external proletariat” is represented by the multitude of organizations engrossed in a violent and incessant campaign of anti-Americanism, in which Mr. Boff himself, at least on the Brazilian scale, is a prominent voice. The action of the two proletariats is intensely promoted and subsidized by the supporters of world government, who then present the ensuing debilitation of the United States as an involuntary and impersonal phenomenon, disguising the self-fulfilling prophecy through the appeal to “historical constants.”
2. Of the four challenges adduced by Mr. Boff—ecology, food, population, and energy crises—the first three affect much less the West than Islamic and Communist countries along with their respective spheres of influence. Never has there been an ecological disaster that ranks in its effects with the Chernobyl explosion or with the widespread pollution in China, nor is there population drama that compares to the Chinese one, nor even food shortage as scary as that observed in such African countries under Islamic and Communist rule as, respectively, Sudan and Zimbabwe. If ever a paradigm was menaced by the three problems that Mr. Boff indicates, it is the anti-Western paradigm of China, of Russia, of Islamic countries. In the West, instead of overpopulation, there is nowadays depopulation; instead of food shortage, endemic obesity; and nowhere in the world are ecological risks, whether real or imaginary, kept under such strict control as in developed capitalist countries. How could a civilization be under threat of imminent extinction when the challenges to it are absent or under control? And how could it be advantageously replaced by some “new paradigm” inspired precisely by the nations that helplessly succumb to these same challenges? The inversion of reality here is so symmetrical, so patent, so literal, even so naïve, that one could not wish for a clearer and more didactic instance of interpretation delusion.
As to the energy crisis, there is none in the United States, but it is a possible risk, which is becoming imminent thanks to the activity of—you guessed it—those very supporters of world government, the likes of Pelosi and Obama, who by every possible means block new drilling, turning the owner of the largest oil reserves in the world into a nation dependent upon foreign suppliers. These, in their turn, with the money collected from their major client, finance not only propaganda campaigns but even terrorist movements against it, while at the same time arming themselves to the teeth for the “people’s war” (General Giap’s expression adopted by Hugo Chávez) against the “imperialist monster” that feeds them. As a result of the “breakdown of the imperial order”—again Mr. Boff’s words—“there begins a collective process of chaos. . . . Globalization continues, but balkanization predominates, with regional powers that may give rise to greatly devastating conflicts. . . . This extreme situation calls for an equally extreme solution.” Evidently, the extreme solution is the aforementioned planetary socialism.
In other words, of the four “challenges” that according to Mr. Boff make Western civilization inviable and call for the advent of world government, three exist only among the enemies of the West, the same enemies who inoculate the fourth one into it by spreading diseases in order to sell medicine.
Mr. Boff, himself one of the agents in the operation, albeit of a lesser kind, is aware of all this. His perception of the facts is exact. It is his interpretation of the picture that is altogether inverted, detail by detail, compulsively so, to create a system of errors in which revolutionary perfidy may look like the highest expression of good and virtue.
Translated by Alessandro Cota and Bruno Mori