Sunday, September 05, 2010
The Revolutionary Mind: Nothing must stand in the way of utopia
Below are some excerpts from Olavo de Carvalho, a respected conservative philosopher and historian from Brazil. He says that for the Leftist, everything hangs on a vision of a future utopia -- and he points out where that leads and how. He writes at great length to make his points, however, so what I have offered below is a sort of Reader's Digest condensed version of his argument. Even so, the piece is rather long but the perspective he offers is I think well worth reading
* There are certain aspects of reality that revolutionaries, to a greater or lesser degree, perceive in a different manner, not only from that which mankind perceived before, but also from that which the ordinary people not involved in the revolutionary movement continue to perceive even today. The first of these aspects refers to the perception of time.
What I am saying is that all revolutionaries, all members of the revolutionary movement, from the fourteenth century until now, have had a perception of time that is different from that of common people, and of the rest of mankind.
This means that if human history, the ensemble of human happening, has been leading towards a privileged moment at which a new perfect society will emerge - a society where all human dramas and all human suffering will be overcome, and where stabilization of human order will take place - if everything converges to this end - so this end, being the objective of human history, is also the foundation for its explanation... So, in the revolutionary perspective, the advent of the perfect society is the objective and hence the reason for being of all prior history. Hence, a radical inversion of the sense of time can be observed
[To most people] the past is irreversible and the future is contingent. And the present is a certainty, but is a movable certainty, which is constantly vanishing before us. This is the normal experience of time: the normal, traditional, and universal experience of time. To a revolutionary, on the contrary, that which is certain is the future, and this certainty is what drives him. Now, the meaning of everything that has happened, and of everything that is happening, comes to depend on that future.
* A second inversion is the moral inversion. Why? Because it is supposed that this future to be accomplished represents justice and good. However, it cannot be accomplished by means of justice and good. It has to be accomplished through the usual political and military means, i.e., by employing every necessary cruel, malign, and violent means.
The idea of bringing about the future good through a deep immersion in evil that, carried to the extreme, will transfigure the situation and transform it into good in the future is also an idea inherent in the structure of the revolutionary movement. However, this ends up having much deeper consequences than one could imagine at first sight. This is because the good which is imagined in the future is defined according to a moral criterion inherited from the religious traditions, from Christianity.
The perfect society exists in order to bring about that ideal of justice, of love for one's neighbor, etc., which is found in the Bible. Nonetheless, it will not be produced through these means, but rather through war, violence, cruelty, dictatorship, etc. Thus mankind becomes divided into two types of people. The inhabitants of the future, who will live in a world of justice, love, charity, etc., and will usually practice those virtues, because they will be disseminated in the social environment. Everyone will be good. And people who, in the present day, living within the still corrupted and malign world, are fighting in order to create the future world. These people are revolutionaries.
Now, the people of the future are passive beneficiaries of the advent of a world that they did not help to create. This future will be the revolutionaries' work. Revolutionaries from all generations have always considered themselves better than other human beings. As Che Guevara said: "We are the first rank of mankind."
Within the revolutionary literature, there is an immense bibliography of self-glorification of the revolutionary as a superior human type. And particularly Che Guevara wrote eloquent pages of self-glorification. Now, if revolutionaries are superior types, they are still more superior to those who will benefit from their actions. A revolutionary is a person who sacrifices himself and others in order to create a better world. He does this through cruelty, violence, stealth, lying, and whatever it takes. In the future, no one will be obliged to do any of this because everyone will live in a just society. Everyone will be good. But if the revolutionary is the superior type, this means that the evil, sin, crime, violence, and lying that he commits today are morally superior to the general virtues of the inhabitants of the future.
The revolutionary moral inversion reaches its purest expression, I suppose, in a statement by Che Guevara. When asked why so many people had to be killed in order that a better society could be created, Che Guevara answered: "We have to make this sacrifice." (As though he was being sacrificed.) This means that he was the sacrificial victim and not his victims. The man who kills becomes the victim. This structure, this argument, this twist of language has been universally adopted in the revolutionary discourse.
The violence of revolution is always attributed to those who resist revolution and not to those who practice the violence. The idea is: "We are going to kill you because you are obliging us to do so. Since you do not accept our commands, we have to kill you. And you are evil because you do not want the marvelous future, so we will kill you. Therefore the guilt for killing you does not lie with me, but with you."
Thus, this reasoning is characteristic of the revolutionary inversion. This structure is permanently present in all revolutionary discourse throughout the centuries. In other words: "The guilt for our actions always lies with the others. And we are superior people when we cheat, kill, lie, etc. We are the first rank of mankind. Therefore we are also superior to those who will be beneficiaries of the future, and who will be able to live a life of virtue thanks to our sins."
* Automatically, along with this inversion, there also exists the inversion of logic between truth and error, truth and falsehood.
However, in the revolutionary perspective, the truth is not in the world of experience because the meaning of experience is mutable at each moment. That which has just happened may acquire a new and completely different meaning as the revolutionary movement develops the next day. So, what is the criterion of truth? The criterion of truth is the final revelation of the meaning of the whole process. The truth only appears at the end of the process. And what is the truth? The truth is the just society that the revolutionary movement has created. This is the sole truth. All the rest is a mixture of truth and falsehood whose meaning will be elucidated only at the end.
This means that the normal relations between factual premises and hypothetical conclusions are inverted. The hypothetical conclusion becomes the premise for judging the premises. And this is another structure of thought that is also present in every revolutionary discourse throughout time.
This structure can be observed in the theoreticians of the French Revolution, in the philosophes who laid the groundwork for the French Revolution, like Diderot and Voltaire. It is present in Marx, in Lenin, in the World Social Forum, in Emir Sader, it is present uniformly throughout this gang. What they understand by truth is the future revelation of the meaning of history. The meaning of history is the revolution and the creation of the just society. All the rest was nothing but preparation, disguise, and twilight.
* These are only three inversions. I do not know whether you have already realized it, but there is a fourth one, which is implied in the moral inversion, and that is the inversion between subject and object. If in the act of killing an enemy of the revolution, it is the revolutionary who is the sacrificial victim, then automatically, the victim who was taken to the execution wall becomes the executioner. Hence the subject of the action becomes the object and the object becomes the subject. And this is also present in all revolutionary discourse, independently of the huge ideological, political, strategic, and cultural variations that exist within the revolutionary movement.
It is important to highlight that wherever you see the idea of a just society in the future justifying malign actions in the present, there lurks the revolutionary mentality. The ideological contents matter little because they are only occasional and local variations in relation to this constant structure. For instance, if someone thinks that the future society is the elimination of the bourgeoisie, that all bourgeois must be killed, he is a revolutionary. But if he thinks that the bourgeoisie is not the problem, but the rather Jews, and all the Jews have to be killed, he is doing exactly the same thing. The reasoning is exactly the same.
And the structure of the argument will be the same as well, because the Nazis never considered themselves executioners of the Jews, but rather victims. Particularly Himmler, who was in charge of the concentration camps, wept every time he sent a convoy of Jews to a concentration camp, thinking: "Look at the cruelty that these knaves oblige us to commit. We could do without this, but they compel us to do it."
This is exactly how the communists think, and how Che Guevara thought. This means that the revolutionary mentality is this structure of perception, and not the content, because the content may vary indefinitely. The same political movement changes its talk each week. There is no ideological stability. For instance, until the First World War, the communist movement was internationalist and the radical enemy of all nationalism.
Later on, it becomes the greatest promoter of nationalisms in the Third World because they will be used as weapons against the colonial powers. But how can a movement be nationalist and anti-nationalist at the same time? The revolutionary movement can, because the content of the discourse is changeable.
Revolution means precisely a complete turn, a complete inversion. Therefore, the inversion of the perception of the world is the basis for the revolutionary movement in all of its versions. Precisely because of that, the revolutionary movement was capable of flooding the universe with an epidemic of psychotic mendacity over time, above everything that all liars, past and present, would ever be able to accomplish.
There is nothing that can check a revolutionary in his impetus to invert the perceived reality, to say things exactly to the contrary to how they really took place. And curiously, this is what gives the revolutionary discourse much of its attractiveness. Because its attractiveness is not an ideological one, and neither is it an idealistic one. Its attractiveness is very similar to that of drugs, to that of a hallucinogenic proposal. That is to say: one adhere to it not because of a conscious motivation or idealism, as people imagine, and by the way, the idea that youth is idealist is part of the revolutionary movement's ideology.
The revolutionary does this not out of idealistic motivation but because of a psychotic attraction to inverting reality. And the denial of the structure of reality would be an act superior to the creation of reality. It is the famous "No" uttered by Satan. "I do not accept reality as it is. It is not that I do not accept this social organization or that specific situation. No. I do not accept reality. I do not accept existence."
As soon as one has said that, one becomes imbued with a feeling of greatness, of aggrandizement, which is really satanic. Now imagine when this chance is given to any poor intellectual devil, to any intellectually damaged person, like Emir Sader. As soon as one has adhered to this denial, one feels aggrandized. And if this sense of aggrandizement also comes with a license to commit every sin, as with Che Guevara, and even so to be sanctified because of this then, it is absolutely irresistible.
However, it is clearly a psychotic hallucination. Schelling talked about spiritual disease, and this is also an expression used by Eric Voegelin. At the beginning, I thought this was so, but nowadays I see that it is a psychic disease in the strict sense. It is psychopathology in the strict sense, and it is a collective psychopathology. That is why Pope John Paul II was quite right in classifying our age as the age of collective madness. It is not only a disease of the spirit, it is a disease of the psyche. It is a disorder of the perception of time, the perception of reality, the perception of the relations between subject and object, of the relations between truth and error, etc. And it is precisely because it is a disorder, because it is something sick, that it spreads so fast and formidably.
Beware of the Obama tax increases
Listening to the Democrats this summer, you're unlikely to hear about an impending tax increase. In an effort to sanitize their historically irresponsible decision to raise tax rates in the midst of a struggling economy, President Obama and the congressional majority say they are merely "allowing the Bush tax cuts" to expire.
American businesses are sitting on top of a record $2 trillion in cash — money that could be spent hiring more workers, funding new projects or paying out dividends to investors. But right now these dollars remain stuck on the sidelines.
Already grappling with weak demand for goods and services, businesses of all sizes have five main costs and expenses that impact their bottom lines. Thanks to the agenda in Washington, all are going up, turning the White House's much-touted "Recovery Summer" into the "Summer of Uncertainty." Here's a look:
•Taxes will jump next year on everything from ordinary income, capital gains, dividends and estates. And with our national debt soaring, the prospect of even more tax increases in the future seems more likely.
•Health-care costs are growing as a result of Obamacare's mandates and inflationary impact on premiums.
•Energy costs remain in limbo as leading Democrats, led by Sen. John Kerry, float the idea of passing cap-and-trade during the lame-duck session of Congress.
•Credit is becoming more expensive and is increasingly out of reach for most small businesses, partly because the 2,300-plus page financial regulatory bill encourages banks to horde their capital rather than lend it.
•Labor costs also threaten to climb higher as labor unions dig in their heels and gear up for another push to pass card check.
During last night's Oval Office address, President Obama vowed that America would "nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs." But if government doesn't stop penalizing hard work and discouraging risk taking, there won't be any entrepreneurs left.
In this environment, it's understandable why businesses — which have pared their expenses by laying off over 2 million workers since Congress passed the stimulus in February 2009 — would be reluctant to start hiring again. Hence the disappointing 71,000 jobs created by the private sector last month — a figure too small to keep up with the growth of the workforce, let alone take a bite out of the 9.5% unemployment rate.
No matter how much money President Obama borrows and spends, our economy simply will not recover until small, medium and large businesses have the confidence to put Americans back to work.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 5:27 PM