Arguing with apes

Olavo de Carvalho
Jornal do Brasil , January 21th , 2008

What I explained in the previous article is the most elementary requirement of verbal communication: if you wish your statements to deal with realities, and not only with words, you must possess an adequate mental representation of the object before you can enunciate a single judgment about it, even a hypothetical one.  Even if the reality in question is purely imaginary, you must imagine it correctly in order to avoid building your reasoning and arguments without a corresponding representative content.

When I reintroduced the study of the argumentative art in Brazil – with the mimicking apes immediately beginning to talk about it as if they had a long experience in the subject – I didn’t expect that the word “argument” would be turned into a fetish. It is typical of intellectual apes to think that everything is a question of “having the right arguments”. They don’t even suspect that argumentation is the lowest and most rudimentary aspect of philosophical training.  Two perfectly equal arguments can express different ideas, one true and one false, according to the mental representation behind each of them. There are no true or false “sentences”: true or false is the judgment behind the sentence, what you are really thinking – and when you utter an apparently true sentence you may be thinking nothing, or thinking a total falseness which, by coincidence, is expressed with the same words as a true judgment.

Many times I try to analyze the meaning – the judgment – that lies behind what my interlocutor says, and the poor creature thinks that I’m “arguing”. Analysis aims to discover the lived and thought reality at the bottom of a verbal construction, and not to deny or confirm a statement.  Arguments are only possible after analysis has certified that both interlocutors have an identical mental representation of the object in discussion. Only then may each one argue whether the conclusions the other reached from the object thus represented correspond or not to reality, to experience, to testimonies, etc.  But in the majority of cases what I find out is that my interlocutor doesn’t have any representation, all that he has is a verbal scheme that conventionally designates the object.  To point this out is in no way “to argue”; rather it is to show that the interlocutor has no condition to argue anything about the object in discussion, but only about words.  It gets even worse when the words that substitute the absent object come associated to emotional values and the fellow thinks that while defending those values he is “arguing”.  Sadly this has been the outcome of almost all of the discussions I have entertained with Brazilians, especially with “intellectuals”.  Genuine arguments – eventually false when confronted with reality, but genuine as arguments – I have found only in the U.S. and in Europe. In Brazil nobody knows any longer what that is.

I notice this misery chiefly in the discussions about religion. Even if the God of the Bible were totally imaginary, you would not be able to discuss Him before you had imagined Him as he is in the Bible.  This takes us back to the internal effort that I mentioned in last week’s article – the only means to fill the representative content of the expression “the God of the Bible”.  As in general the enemies of Bible only read it – when they read it at all – with a firm disposition to void the meaning of its main character, instead of filling themselves with that meaning, the end result is that we have no argument whatsoever: there is only, on one hand, the apelike imitation of the art of argumentation, and on the other, my useless effort to explain to an ape that I’m not arguing with him.

How to read the Bible

Olavo de Carvalho
Jornal do Brasil , January 17th , 2008

When you read a novel or a play, you won’t be able to judge the verisimilitude of situations and characters if first you don’t let the plot impress you, so you can relive it internally as a dream.  This is fiction: a directed, awaken dream. As the characters don’t exist physically (even if they might have existed historically in the past), you can only find them in your own soul, as symbols of human possibilities that are in you as in anybody else, but which the characters embody, in the most limpid and exemplary manner, away from the contingencies that may render obscure our everyday experience.  Reading fiction is an exercise in self-knowledge before it can be literary analysis, school activity or even entertainment: it’s not entertaining to follow an opaque story, whose developments don’t raise corresponding emotions.

The same requirement applies to History books, with the attenuating circumstance that usually the historian has already intellectually processed the data and provides us with a principle of understanding, instead of the rough plot of events. If you don’t grasp the acts of historical characters as symbols invested of psychological verisimilitude, you don’t have the least condition to then evaluate if they are historically true or not. A History book must be read first as fiction and only afterwards as reality.

The problem is that the possibilities that lay dormant in the depth of our souls aren’t always known to us, and then we cannot recognize them when they come up in fiction or History. The result is that the narrative becomes opaque. Even worse, you may let yourself be fooled by fake similarities, reducing the symbols of the narrative to conventional signs of already-known possibilities or to trivial stereotypes of actuality.  Internal recognition is not only a memory exercise, but a serious effort to enlarge the imagination, so that it may encompass even the most extreme and unexpected possibilities. You cannot do this if you are not willing to find, in your soul, monsters, heroes and saints who you never suspected to find there.

Understandably, monsters are easier to find than heroes or saints. Fear, disgust, hatred and contempt are routine emotions, and they are enough to confer a likeness of truth to whatever seems to us to be worse than ourselves. On the other hand, whatever is noble and elevated only reveals itself to those who love it, and this love immediately brings with itself a sentiment of duty, obligation, as in the well-known sonnet by Rilke, in which the perfection of a statue of Apollo transcends mere aesthetic contemplation and summons the observer to change his life, to become a better person. The humiliating impression of not being up to par with this summoning almost automatically generates a negative reaction of resentment.  By denying the existence of what is better, reducing it to what is trivial, or turning it into a misleading disguise of what is ugly and despicable, the soul finds a momentary relief for its wounded pride, restoring a tranquilizing self-image at the expense of miserably shortening the maximum measure of human possibilities.

If this problem exists with any fiction or History book, imagine what happens with the Bible, where the central character is God himself. To open oneself up to the calling of divine perfection is a task for a whole life and then some, and it comes mixed up with innumerable defeats and humiliations – but without this opening up you will not understand a single word of the Bible. One hundred percent of militant atheism is made of resentment and incapacity of serious reading.

Olavo de Carvalho answers the questions of the Editors of Wydawnictwo Podziemne

Wydawnictwo Podziemne

October 9, 2007

WP: According to common perception, a revolution was initiated in Poland in 1989 with historical significance and global consequences. There is copious evidence that this allegedly anti-communist revolt, which swept through Eastern Europe , was indeed planned by Soviet secret services and served the long-term strategy of perestroika. In Poland ‘s case the deception was facilitated by a secret agreement between the communist party, leaders of the Solidarity movement and the Catholic hierarchy – and we still see the consequences of this arrangement. What is your opinion of the Eastern European revolutions? Is it reasonable to claim that the Eastern part of the continent was truly freed then?

Olavo de Carvalho: No, Eastern Europe was not truly freed. But a fake liberation can easily be turned into a genuine one if the secret manipulators are exposed and their power is transferred to the hands of true patriots in due time . The time is now.

WP: Another small incident took place in August 1991 in Moscow. Bearing in mind the subsequent reign of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, are we dealing with the continuation of Soviet communism or with a process of genuine democratisation? How did the changes in Soviet Union in the last 17 years influence international political scene?

Olavo de Carvalho: Would you believe that the Nazi regime was truly defeated if at the end of World War II all the chieftains of the Gestapo remained in their places, undisturbed by criminal investigations and as powerful as they were before? The soviet state, the KGB and the Russian Mafia are one and the same entity. The changes in the former USSR were mostly a smokescreen designed to dupe the Western public opinion and to dismantle any international anti-communist resistance. Needless to say that the operation has been extremely successful.

WP: In the face of the revolutionary changes happening in South America, should we speak of a rebirth of Marxism or is it merely a continuation of old trends, ever present on that continent in the twentieth century? Is the old idea of convergence between the socialist and capitalist systems taking a new shape in the South American continent or is it a completely new phenomenon?

Olavo de Carvalho: Socialism as an economic system is a myth. Ludwig von Mises demonstrated, more than eighty years ago, that under a socialist veil there remains always a market economy in disguise. Socialism exists only as a “movement”, as a permanent thrust for subversion and destruction. As such, it cannot survive without the help it receives from big capitalists, or rather from the ones I call metacapitalists – the macro-investors that were made so stunningly rich by the capitalist game that they somehow transcend it and do not accept the risks of a free market anymore. They then try to consolidate their power as an oligarchy of political controllers. To this end they use socialist subversion as their tool, and at the same time the socialist leadership tries to use them as its tool. The so-called “convergence” between socialism and capitalism is just a new ornamental denomination for an old reality. Please read “The Best Enemy Money Can Buy” by Anthony Sutton. Socialism is opposed to genuine free-market economy (as well as to Christian civilizational values that sustain it), but not to monopolistic and globalist capitalism. The main supporters of the socialist subversion in Latin America are the American billionaire foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, Soros) and the radical chic elite of the American Democratic Party.

WP: What in your view are the consequences of the emerging economic and military might of the communist China?

Olavo de Carvalho: It was perhaps some communist strategic genius who persuaded Western investors that liberalizing the Chinese economy would make the political regime to liberalize sooner or later. Every smart communist knows that communism as an economic system does not exist and will never exist, that it is only an ideological device intended to keep alive the leftist revolutionary movement and communist governments. The Chinese generals are smart communists.

They know that even though socialist economy is incapable of surviving, socialism as a movement and as accumulation of political power can not only survive but prosper indefinitely through the simple trick of being a parasite to capitalism. The current Chinese economic system is a sort of organized summary of this knowledge, which by the way is not knew. Nazi-fascist economy was already based upon it, as it strived to keep a working market economy under state surveillance, sucking the resources thus created to feed the unlimited growth of the one party and of the state it created. A very similar scheme is being implemented in Brazil today: the generous opening of the economy to foreign investors, simulating the abandonment of the old socialist plans, contributes at the same time to consolidate a highly centralized political system, in which a group of leftist parties is increasingly eliminating all possibility of opposition.

WP: Later this year, some of us will commiserate the ninetieth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. Do you believe that communism is dead and buried (which seems to be the generally accepted view)? Or do you believe that the Bolshevik’s heritage is still playing a strong part in political practice today?

Olavo de Carvalho: Communism as a movement is more alive than ever. As Anatolyi Golytsin well noted, there was a moment in history when the international interests of the USSR came into conflict with the impulse to further growth of the international revolutionary movement. This conflict reached a point of rupture when it was necessary to decide, to sacrifice the structure in favor of growth. It is not a coincidence that right after the collapse of the USSR the communist movement grew so fast to the point of creating a worldwide anti-American siege – a Leninist dream that up to then had not been possible to put into practice. To me it seems clear that the work of the KGB through “active measures” abroad was much intensified precisely since the beginning of the 1990’s, exploring the widespread illusion according to which the end of the USSR meant the end of communist subversion. Lenin had prepared an expansion plan for the communist movement which, in certain moments, seemed unachievable. He imagined that, starting from Moscow , communist expansion should first reach Eastern Europe, then turn back to Asia, move in the direction of Africa and, from there, reach Latin America , thus completing the siege around the US and its allies in Western Europe. There remains no doubt today that this course has been run, that the siege is set. And its last chapter achieved success precisely in the decade that followed the “end of the USSR”. It is no coincidence that, in the leftist overtaking of Latin America, drug-trafficking organizations have played such a fundamental role. They are the financial and paramilitary base of the Sao Paulo Forum, the strategic center of Latin American Communism, which gathers around common plans and interests over a hundred legal leftist parties alongside criminal organizations such as the FARC and the Chilean MIR. If in light of these facts we reread today the book by Joseph Douglass Red Cocaine – The Drugging of American and the West (London , 1990), we realize the notable acumen of Soviet strategists who, already in the 50’s, were planning the use of drug-trafficking as a local source of support for revolutionary movements in Latin America. It is rather understandable that these plans could only have been more fully fulfilled after the “end” of the USSR , as before they were hindered by diplomatic commitments. At the same time, the dissolution of the USSR made possible deep changes in the structure of the world revolutionary movement, which provided it with an extraordinary and renewed mobility. The ancient monolithic hierarchic organization was replaced by a horizontal articulation in “networks”, which in less than 24 hours can be mobilized via the Internet for mass action anywhere in the world. The old concern with doctrinal unity gave way to an apparent pluralistic confusion which, disregarding merely theoretical divergences, preserves the strategic unity among thousands of ideologically diverse organizations. In brief, the dissolution of the Soviet imperial structure enabled an expansion of the communist movement, because it was designed precisely for this purpose. Within the alchemic alternation of dissolution and coagulation that dialectically guides communist strategy, the expansive dissolution will be followed, sooner or later, by a new hierarchical coagulation, but this time in a worldwide scale.

WP: Józef Mackiewicz, a great Polish writer and anti-communist thinker, wrote in 1962 “Great is the capacity of human nature to adapt to circumstances. Yet political realism ought not to deprive people of their imagination because it will cease to be realistic. A comparison of customs and manners prevailing in the world in 1912 with those of today, can give us a measure, although only in approximate terms, of what we could “reasonably” expect to have to accept in year 2012!” What is your point of view in this matter? What do the next five years have in store for us?

Olavo de Carvalho: If we apply Mackiewicz’s observation to the analysis o f American foreign policy, we will see that it has an outstanding prophetical accuracy. The school of the so-called “realism”, inaugurated by Hans J. Morgenthau (Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), persuaded American strategists that the power game in the world was a drama whose characters were essentially Nations States. From this perception resulted the so-called “policy of containment” which, directed exclusively by the timid idea of containing Soviet military expansion to a reasonable area, gave up the fight against Communism as an international movement. At the same time, Communist parties quickly absorbed the strategic conception of Antonio Gramsci which, favoring an informal expansion under the guise of pluralism, turned the growth of Communism invisible to the eyes of the ruling American elite. The latter even came to support this expansion as it considered the “democratic left” in the Third World as an alternative to Communism, without knowing that, from the Gramscian viewpoint, the “democratic left” was exactly the preferred instrument for camouflaged expansion.

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