The runaway Right
by Olavo de Carvalho
If there is anything to be dismayed about, it is the difference, the abysmal disparity, between the multiplicity of fronts on which the activist Left launches its attacks against democracy, and the slavish modesty with which the advocates of democracy, while implicitly surrendering to the general strategy of their opponents, bind themselves to specific criticisms, if not to irrelevant aspects, thus losing ground even after history has favored them by proving the economic superiority of capitalism over socialism. This difference, which has already consolidated itself as an ineluctable journalistic rule – to break it means to risk being fired – represents the “asymmetric war” transposed to the battleground of culture and the media.
The immediate causes of the Right’s inferiority are twofold: a) the obsession of true liberals (e.g., libertarians) and conservatives with the economy; b) sheer ignorance. The first cause attests in itself to the ideological subservience to the enemy, inasmuch as it embraces, without further consideration, the – absolutely incorrect – Marxist premise that the economy drives history. The second is a pure and simple crime – with the only mitigating circumstance being that they commit it against themselves. The 2 causes are not independent: the passive admission of the Marxist premise shows deep ignorance about Marxism among liberals and conservatives alike. Since the death of José Guilherme Merquior, who grew weak in the presence of the Left not because of ignorance, but out of mental subservience to his youthful coterie -, I do not know, at least in Brazil, of a single one of them who has dedicated enough time to study the works of Lukacs and Adorno, Korsh, Poulantzas and the like, not to mention Marxism’s latest developments in Europe and Asia, whose very existence they are completely unaware of. Although the intellectual superiority of the Left is but a myth when it comes to the great names of philosophy, literature and human sciences (where conservatives reign), it constitutes a plain truth for the run-of-the-mill “rightwing” spokespersons in the media and the talking classes in general: they’re so immensely uninformed that they suffer blow after blow and don’t even know where they’re coming from. And if we try to warn them in advance, based upon a serious and profound study, they feel their pride’s been hurt and beat up the messenger in order to avoid the news.
This is true of Brazil, and applies to developed countries only in a slightly smaller proportion.
Thanks to this phenomenon, it is no overstatement to say that in the entire western hemisphere, for more than half a century, the only historically active political force has been the activist Left, nourished by billionaire foundations. With the exception of the brief intermission of the Reagan era – when the episodic change of direction was due exclusively to personal leaderships without any further support from politics and business circles -, it was leftist activism that has shaped at will the course of world history. The fact that less than two decades after the fall of the USSR, the Left came to dominate so many countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America, and now the United States itself, should give food for thought for apologists of the inevitable triumph of capitalism. However, the depth and breadth of this process goes much further than what can be traced back in the last few decades. One must go back to the 60s to get a partial understanding of the almost absolute control that leftist activism exerts on the flow of information in the world, molding at its own convenience, and mostly unchallenged, the very mindset of its opponents.
Invariably, the many beliefs that intellectual and journalistic activism manages to prescribe as undisputed global truths are entirely debunked within three or four decades, when it is already too late to counter their devastating effects. Worse yet, the fabrication imposes itself on international opinion, in the heat of the moment, while its refutation, no matter how meticulous and precise it might be, can only make its way to some scholars and to a minimum segment of the interested public, thereby losing any political momentum and significance. I will convey here a small sample of the disinformation scheme that managed to impose on the world the most blatant twisting of reality, shaping countless choices and political decisions, be it by dint of public opinion or public authorities, and bringing forth such effects that continue to spread to this day.
1. As early as the 50s, the joint efforts of soviet disinformation and the American elite media had succeeded in imposing on the world the myth of “McCarthyist persecution,” celebrated in innumerable Hollywood movies, to the extent that it immunized the popular psyche against the disclosure of the truth. The book by M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History (2008), restores things to their due place, with the added help of newly-disclosed soviet documents. But how can a single book neutralize decades of massive propaganda? Today we know that the “persecution” consisted of interrogating some dozens of suspects – none of them innocent – and sending them back home under the protection of the 5th Amendment, while the USSR, in the same period, slaughtered no less than three million people, with the assistance of those “poor victims” oppressed by Senator Joe McCarthy. The universal use of the expression “McCarthyism” as a synonym for persecutory hysteria certifies the degree to which the laboriously fabricated fantasy overcame reality.
2. To this day, even in conservative circles, people firmly believe that the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy did not originate in any communist conspiracy, but either in a CIA plot or as the spontaneous effect of “American social violence,” associated with the “gun culture” and the “religious fanaticism” of the Right. How it could be that all this reactionarism ended up toppling two anti-communist leaders at the hands of a communist militant and a Palestine activist, is an indecent question that must not be uttered. The evidence in favor of the communist authorship of both crimes begins to prevail in scholars’ circles, but does not reach beyond them.
3. Although it is common knowledge that the Vietnam war, lost by the communists at the battlefield, was won back by them with the thoughtful help of the American media, student activism and the golden elite of show business, it is forbidden to imply that there could have been any crime of treason worth investigating here. The assumed impersonal fatality of the Vietnamese victory, a farce in all respects, is still accepted as an unequivocal historical truth.
4. The countless proofs in favor of Ernst Topisch’s thesis that the rise of Nazism was entirely an accomplishment of Stalin, are still ignored, to the extent that Nazism and Communism, in the vocabulary of academia and the media still denote the most extreme and irreducible pair of opposites.
5. When the USSR fell, it was obvious to the few qualified observers that, if the crimes of the soviet dictatorship were not investigated and punished, the communist leadership would simply rearrange itself in new forms of organizations, soon surprising its opponent with a display of renewed and prodigious power, which is exactly what happened. The entire American and European media, without exception, suppressed as long as possible the disclosure of the evidence of those crimes, which would keep popping up from the soviet archives, but is thus far accessible only to interested scholars and gets no public exposure. The “death of communism” was a farce in all respects. It only served to disguise the real casualty: anti-communism.
6. The most cursory comparison between the communist propaganda of the 50s and the anti-American discourse of the mainstream media in Europe, the United States and Latin American suffices to prove that the slogans disseminated by the KGB more than a half-century ago wound up embedding themselves in the popular mindset, to the degree that they received the stamp of conventional wisdom.
7. Any attack that can be imputed to the Right, no matter how insignificant and without any proven authorship, is aggressively exhibited and explored in newspapers and movies, for decades on end, with the strength of a world publicity campaign. When it was indisputably proven that the attack against Pope John Paul II was the work of the KGB, the so-called “bourgeois,” “revolutionary,” “imperialist” media publicized it with the utmost circumspection and neither in Brazil nor in the rest of the world was a single speech by a conservative politician denouncing the crime of the century heard. Everyone conceded and still concedes to the Left the monopoly on the right to reopen old wounds.
These seven samples suffice to underscore the fact that communist indoctrination, amidst the full surge of capitalist triumphalism, constitutes the dominant ideology, hegemonic in all aspects. In the face of this insurmountable dominance, the timid apologies of the market economy, followed by inaction in the cultural and psychological field, are pathetically impotent. In Brazil, capitalism is transforming itself increasingly into a transient State concession, but businessmen strive more to avoid accidental faults of etiquette than to restrain the incoercible progress of capitalism’s enemies. They simply don’t understand that verbal violence is the last effective weapon of the persecuted minority. The validity of this weapon has been demonstrated many times by the communists themselves. But classic liberals and conservatives stick to a stilted politeness just to feign peace of mind and optimism, while the enemy, fully aware of the disparity in power, amuses himself with these affectations of self-assurance, because he knows he can send them to prison any time he pleases, and he’s got plenty of fiscal gimmicks for that purpose, all of them apolitical and innocuous looking.
Olavo de Carvalho, b. 1947, is a Brazilian writer and philosopher who has taught political philosophy at the Catholic University of Parana, Brazil, from 2001 to 2005. He currently resides in the U.S., working as a correspondent for Brazilian newspapers. The author of a dozen books on philosophical and political matters, he is a respected weekly columnist with a wide following in his native Brazil and an increasingly popular public speaker in this country. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute, the Atlas Foundation and the America’s Future Foundation.