Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Olavo de Carvalho on socialism: A thousand combat fronts which do not advance the socialist cause ostensibly, but erode the moral and cultural values of capitalist society

Olavo de Carvalho, President of The Inter-American Institute, is interviewed by the Patrick Henry College's Intelligencer Journal on the subjects of Latin America and Socialism (obrigado para Swimming Against the Red Tide, whose post by Luís Afonso Assumpção contains different excerpts of de Carvalho's thoughts, focusing on the role of the late Hugo Chávez, as a… decoy!).
I. The Causes of Socialism

The Intelligencer: What do you believe are the underlying causes for Latin America’s shift toward socialism/communism after the region had implemented at least forms of capitalism?

Olavo: The history of Latin America in the last half century can be divided into three stages. The first, that of military dictatorships and defeat of the armed left. The second, the return of democracy and a phase of fleeting and skin-deep enthusiasm for free-market capitalism, coinciding with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Finally, the general rise of the left.
Clearly, the third stage was prepared during the second, when the public opinion thought that communism was dead and buried forever, when in fact it was only playing dead to catch its enemies by surprise. What happened was that, at the time, the right did not understand at all the process of internal transformation of the communist movement. First, the military had focused on combating the armed left without doing virtually anything against communism at the ideological and cultural levels, which, precisely at the time of the greatest repression, were quietly taken over by leftists. In almost all Latin American countries, leftists dominated the cultural and journalistic apparatus precisely at the moment when the fall of the USSR created among them a state of ideological confusion which is very conducive to a thorough strategic review, which occurred with remarkable speed, without the right—so drunk it was with triumphalistic delusion—even noticing it.

This review consisted of the following items: (1) an organizational reform of the communist parties, which abandoned the old vertical chain of command and adopted a more flexible form of organization based on network structures in order to provide a strategic coordination among all factions of the left, bypassing old ideological divisions, (2) a radical shift in the left’s ideological discourse, which, instead of focusing on a structural transformation of the economy, began to emphasize all sorts of group interests that were antagonistic to the system—against which the left no longer waged open war, but rather launched attacks from a thousand quarters, creating a total confusion in society.

These changes reflect what Augusto del Noce called, somewhat ironically, “the suicide of the Revolution:” once any clear vision of a socialist future was dissolved, the revolutionary struggle crumbled into a seemingly unconnected thousand combat fronts which, according to the same del Noce, did not advance the socialist cause ostensibly, but eroded moral and cultural values of capitalist society, which thus assumed increasingly malignant and odious features. The new generations of supporters of capitalism, already educated without the moral and cultural values that held up the regime, contributed to this process, surrendering themselves to an amoral pragmatism that made capitalism precisely the monster that leftists would wish it to be.

Meanwhile, leftists took advantage of this in order to promote and denounce corruption at the same time, laying all the blame on capitalism. The situation as a whole became so confusing that no one on the right understood what was going on. Stunned and paralyzed, conservatives and free-market liberals gradually yielded to an ideological advance whose communist profile they completely failed to notice. That is how a faction that seemed almost extinct in the early 1990’s became the almost absolute dominating political force on the continent.

The Intelligencer: What about the role of outside allies such as Russia, Iran, or China?

Olavo: The entire strategy of the São Paulo Forum clearly fits into the plans of Russia and China to create a “Brand New New World Order” to be built upon the devaluation of the dollar and the collapse of the American economy. … Note that, at the very moment that the United States are under threat of war, the Obama administration is all about weakening the American military and strengthening domestic law enforcement agencies (arming them even with military-style equipment) at the same time it promotes the destruction of the American economy through pharaonic borrowing and spending. To me it seems that the BRICS’ “Brand New New World Order” is already in power in Washington and sees as inevitable—if not desirable—the social crisis that will allow it to severely limit democratic freedoms.

The Intelligencer: Do you believe that the majority of citizens in socialized Latin American nations really believe in socialist policies, or are demagoguery and/or corruption driving the movement?

Olavo: You have no idea of the state of mental confusion and disconnection from reality in which public opinion finds itself in Latin America, especially in Brazil. None of the problems I have mentioned here is ever discussed in the mainstream media or in the Parliament. Most people believe they still live in a capitalist democracy and do not see the slightest danger of a communist dictatorship. It is as though the last newspaper that came into their hands were from about August 1990. Public debates do not reflect absolutely anything that is really going on. Moreover, it is necessary to understand that many of the profound changes that have been introduced into the social, economic, cultural, and educational life in Latin America have been established through administrative decrees, ministerial directives, and judicial rulings—that is, they have never gone through legislative debate, and they have rarely received any media coverage. Everywhere people understand democracy only as an electoral process, failing to notice that without access to essential information, this process is only a façade, with no reality inside. The state of political ignorance in which the population live today in Latin America, and especially in Brazil, shows that the difference between democracy and dictatorship has become relevant. In the United States, things have not yet reached that point, but they are very quickly approaching it.
II. The Future of Socialism

The Intelligencer: What political ideologies do you believe will dominate Latin America in the future?

Olavo: Everywhere on the continent, the political “right” is disjointed and disoriented. In Brazil, the only thing that exists under the name of  “right” is the most moderate wing of the left. In the coming decades, it is possible that some right resurfaces, not so much inspired by the traditional conservative discourse as by moral and religious grounds, since the the dominant left’s insistence on quickly modifying the country’s framework of moral values comes into direct conflict with the religious beliefs of the majority of the population. What seems that is going to happen is not a struggle between socialism and capitalism, but rather between the revolutionary spirit and Christianity.