Olavo de Carvalho explains, in the column below, the psychological and sociological mechanisms by which people become pawns in the hands of leftwing political activists, who use them to get their man elected and keep him in power.
Quick lesson in sociology
By Olavo de Carvalho
Emile Durkheim, the founder of sociology, taught that there is a limit to the quota of abnormality which the collective mind is capable of perceiving. This can be given two interpretations, either simultaneously or alternatively:
I — when standards fall below the limit, society automatically adjusts its focus of perception to consider as normal what once appeared abnormal, to accept as normal, commonplace and desirable, what was once feared as weird and scandalous.
II — when the abnormality is excessive, surpassing the limits of the acceptable quota, it tends to pass unperceived or simply to be denied. The intolerable becomes nonexistent.
While it hardly corresponds to measurable quantities, the “Durkheim constant,” as it is usually called, has been found to be an effective analytical tool, particularly at times of historical acceleration, when various changes in standards occur and are put in place within a single generation and can be seen, so to speak, with one’s own eyes.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Robert Bork and Charles Krauthammer used this constant intelligently to explain the dizzying changes in American morality since the 60s. Bork wrote in 1996: “it is highly unlikely that a vigorous economy can be sustained by a weakened hedonistic environment of culture, particularly when this culture distorts incentives, rejecting personal achievement as a criterion for the distribution of rewards.” Twelve years later, the idea that bank loans are not a bargain between responsible parties but rather an indiscriminate universal right guaranteed by the government and by pressure from activist NGOs, has done its dirty work. The fact that the creators of the problem do not feel the least bit responsible for it, preferring to cast the blame precisely on those who did everything to avoid it, illustrates the fall of moral standards that I see accompanying the fall of lending standards.
However, the most interesting thing about this is not the application of the principle for the purposes of explanation but rather its practical use as a political weapon. For over a century, all movements interested in imposing sociocultural modifications against the preferences of the majority have avoided direct confrontation with public opinion. They have tried to deceive it by clever use of the “Durkheim constant,” which every revolutionary activist worth his salt knows by heart.
According to Interpretation I, the principle is applied by means of mild continuous pressure, carefully, slowly, gradually lowering the standards, first in the popular imagination by means of the arts and show business, then in the realm of ideas and educational values, followed by the field of overt activism proclaiming the most aberrant novelties to be sacred rights, and finally in the realm of law, criminalizing adversaries and diehards, assuming that any are left. With almost infallible consistency, we find that self-proclaimed conservatives conform passively — sometimes comfortably — to change without noticing that a new identity has been foisted on them from the outside like a straitjacket by those who hate them the most.
According to Interpretation II, the Durkheim constant is used to turn society upside down overnight without encountering any resistance by means of lies and bluffs so colossal that the population instinctively refuses to believe that there is anything real behind them. The actual victim of the swindle reacts vehemently to any attempt to expose it, because he feels that admitting the reality of the situation would be a humiliating confession of stupidity. In order not to feel like a fool, the poor devil is willing to be a fool without sensing that he is one, confirming the old Jewish proverb “a fool has no delight in understanding.” This is why the biggest revolutionary organization in the history of Latin America, the Forum of Sao Paolo, was set up there in an environment in which all reports about it were ridiculed as signs of insanity, despite all manner of documentary support and proof of its existence. And it is why the United States of America may soon have a president without any proof of US nationality, financed by thieves and tied by a thousand commitments to terrorist and genocidal groups, while his own biggest opponent proclaims he is “a decent person that you do not have to be scared about.”
Translated by Donald Hank
Olavo de Carvalho, 61, taught Political Philosophy at the Catholic University of Parana (Brazil) from 2001 to 2005. He now lives in the U. S. as a correspondent for Brazilian newspapers. Website: www.olavodecarvalho.org.