Reason or empty chatter: it’s your choice

 by Don Hank

Jesus and Stalin’s Dove” is another English-language debut of a column by Olavo de Carvalho to appear at Laigle’s Forum. It is an article about courageously facing reality in a Christian sense – what that means on a cognitive level and the sacrifices needed to be intellectually honest.

In today’s second column by Mr. de Carvalho “The demolition of conscience,” Mr. de Carvalho discusses “cognitive dissonance,” a recurrent theme of his. The term generally means the uncomfortable entertaining of conflicting ideas simultaneously. However, it goes deeper than that.

In our society, shaped by elitists diametrically opposed to traditional American thought, we see cognitive dissonance manifested as a conflict between what we see and hear (what we actually know) on the one hand and what the elitists – largely through media, “education” and government – impose on us (what we are supposed to “know”).

I witnessed a frightening illustration of cognitive dissonance in my hometown in 2008 and 2009, when record late frosts hit and none of the local papers carried the story either year. Obviously, this actual hard, cold fact would have conflicted with the theory of global warming and that was too risqué for the media. But even townspeople I met and spoke with as the frost still lay on the ground were strangely mum when I mentioned that in my 60+ years of life, I had never seen a frost this late in the year. They knew it was true – undeniably so — on the experiential level, but on a social level, they knew that to acknowledge this truth would be improper, even to the point of blasphemy. Gradually, over the years, they had been successfully programmed like Pavlov’s dogs, and I made them uncomfortable – even scared — just mentioning it. Some were willing to discuss it, but others looked and acted guilty, as if the acknowledgement of what we all could see with our own eyes was a shameful sin. In fact it was a sin — a sin against the leftwing establishment that needed the myth of global warming for its agenda: cap-and-trade, carbon credits, tougher emissions limits, etc.

You see, it is no exaggeration to say that Western society is mentally ill, suffering from a virulent kind of neurosis that is refractory to treatment. We need large, frequent doses of therapy. Not psychological, but philosophical therapy.

Olavo de Carvalho’s writings are all, in one way or another, valuable therapy sessions. Each one undoes a little bit of our distorted preconceptions, like untying a convoluted knot.

Over the years in which I have had the unique privilege of reading, translating and performing translation reviews of his writings, Olavo de Carvalho has gradually convinced me that the study of philosophy – a tool for analyzing thought – is by no means just a luxury item. It is in fact the key to the cage in which our minds are confined by our keepers.

Without this intellectual tool, while most of us can make noises — ranging from incoherent to vaguely cogent – in order to generally express anger, pain, frustration and anguish, and while some observers can even manage to sound authoritative at times, we can’t hope to fully articulate what it is we believe, what we desire, what we should love and what we should hate, who are our friends and who are our enemies, and what sacrifices must be made to preserve our American way of life for our children. We speak of peace when we mean war, of war when we mean peace. Of morality when we mean evil, and so on. We’ve been seduced by the “chatter,” to use de Carvalho’s word for it.

This lack of thinking skills to know with certainty, and of language skills to articulate with unfaltering conviction, what we want and why is at the heart of our malaise and of the destructive infighting among conservative Americans. And it’s the reason so few pundits today can define America’s goals well enough to steer us away from the perilous shoals.