Olavo de Carvalho
Diário do Comércio, October 23, 2006
Modern social science, with all its presumption and arrogance, has failed to bring forth any discovery that ever approached, in accuracy and explanatory power, the Hindu doctrine of the four castes, whereof the Marxist conception of class struggle is but a remote and caricatural imitation, hence deriving whatever impression of truthfulness that it may make upon the foolish mind of the university “intellectual proletariat.”
For anyone who has taken the trouble to make a little study of the Hindu explanation of the historical process, it is impossible, on observing the sequence of power structures that succeed one another throughout Western history, not to notice that it exactly repeats the transition from the rule of brahmanas to that of kshatriyas, from this to the rule of vaishyas, and from this to the misrule of shudras and the confusion of pariahs which foreshadows either the end of society or the return to the initial order.
Here I shall briefly summarize that doctrine, not as it stands in its pure original formulation, but in my adaptation of it, in courses and lectures delivered since 1980, intended to make it more flexible as an explanatory instrument of more recent historico-cultural processes.
The brahmanas are the intellectual caste, intent on the search of spiritual knowledge and on the construction of a social order that more or less reflects “the will of God”—the laws determining the entire structure of reality.
The kshatriyas are the warriors and aristocrats, who over the structure of reality place the glorification of their own dynastic traditions and the expansion of their military power.
The vaishyas are the bourgeois and merchants. In everything they seek profit and economic efficiency, which they illusorily take as an actual power, ignoring the military and spiritual bases of society and in the end being swiftly destroyed by the shudras. These are the “proletarians,” in the Roman sense of the term. Incapable of governing themselves, they matter only because of the power of the many, because of the quantitative extension of the “offspring.”
The brahmanas fall because of their difficulty in remaining faithful to their original spiritual intuition, entropically crumbled into ever more insoluble and violent doctrinal disputes of a stifling artificiality.
The rise of aristocratic power, with the formation of modern nation states, started directly out of the need to appease religious conflicts by means of an external, political-military force.
The kshatriya government falls because the aristocratic-military establishment is essentially an expansionist and centralizing power, which must rely on an ever-growing bureaucracy whose officials it cannot keep up providing indefinitely, therefore having to collect them from among the most talented members of both lower castes, who are to be given necessary training for the exercise of their new functions in the administration, in the judiciary, in the foreign service, etc. Hence the origin of the modern “intelligentsia,” as a byproduct of an educational system designed to shape officials for the state: once the state bureaucracy is consolidated as a means of social ascent, candidates for it are always in greater number than the positions available, while, at the same time, schooling, itself an instrument of selection, must necessarily reach much more students than those to whom it can secure positions in the civil service. The bureaucracy with which the kshatriya state controls society thus becomes a time bomb. On the one hand, it goes without saying that the bureaucratic intelligentsia soon lays hold of the effective control of the state, dreaming of shaking off its shoulders the yoke of an increasingly idle and costly aristocratic caste. On the other hand, there is the throng of those rejected. Their ambitions were aroused by schooling, frustrated by job selection. They make up the contingent of what I have called “potential bureaucracy”—the growing army of those individuals with some training but no role. Their only possible place in society is within the state, but the state has no room for them. They are the revolutionary class par excellence, the leading character in the adventure of modern times. Before long they will be dreaming of a state that is molded to their needs. Until they manage to create it, they busy themselves with endlessly chattering about all matters, thus spreading their rancor and their frustrations throughout society and, above all, adorning themselves with the prestige of the ancient brahmanas, of whom they constitute the inverted caricature. The “intellectuals” are the lay clergy of the Revolution. If you have ever heard of PT, the Brazilian Workers’ Party, you know what I am talking about. Further on I shall come back to it.
On the other hand, the aristocratic state causes much expense and cannot sustain itself indefinitely with the resources from a traditional and artless agrarian economy; the economic expansion requires the mobilization of specific skills which are those of the vaishyas. Bankers and industrialists furnish the state with a new economic basis, by regimenting shudramanpower in proportions never dreamed of before and by replacing the ancient agrarian economy with modern capitalism.
It is at this moment—and under this aspect only—that the difference between two systems of ownership of the means of production becomes historically determinative, creating a peculiar situation which Karl Marx will misleadingly project on the whole course of history. But it is also clear that the rise of capitalism, in itself, presents no risk to the aristocratic class, which easily adapts to the new ways of amassing riches and, by means of marriages and the award of titles of nobility, integrates into its ranks the new rich who ascended without ancestral nobility, sine nobilitate (s. nob. for short, hence the term “snob”). To this adaptation there corresponds, politically, the transition from the absolute monarchical state to the modern parliamentary monarchy, a process that does not have to be violent or traumatic, this being the case only in France because the excessive growth of state bureaucracy had fatally occasioned an even greater growth of the “potential bureaucracy” and had turned into sheer revolutionary rancor the frustrated ambitions of the intelligentsia. This very intelligentsia is what brought about the revolution. There was not a single capitalist among the revolutionary leaders, and the bourgeoisie, as was seen in England, never needed any revolution to climb the social scale up to a status to which it was insistently invited by the aristocracy itself. The concept of “bourgeois revolution” is one of the greatest frauds in the history of the social sciences. The elements in the potential bureaucracy, in turn, cannot be defined economically. Their only common trait was the education which distinguished them from the masses. They came from all classes—the peasantry, the old clergy, the petty bourgeoisie, the impoverished sectors of the aristocracy itself. Theirs was not a unity of origin, but of social station and ambitions. The true formula of their unity lay in the future: in the image of the perfect state, invested with all the virtues which they themselves thought to embody. Living off a self-glorifying fantasy, a psychological compensation for their vexatious social position, it is no wonder that they conceived of themselves as inheritors of the intellectual authority of the brahmanas but also imagined that they were the natural successors to the Church as spokesmen and keepers of the poor and oppressed, namely the shudras. Everywhere they speak on behalf of “science,” but also of “social justice.” They imagine that they embody at the same time the highest spiritual authority and the downtrodden rights of the lowest caste. But just as there was no bourgeois in the vanguard of the “bourgeois revolution,” there shall be no proletarians among the leaders of the “proletarian revolution.” The entire revolutionary sociology is an ideological fraud destined to cover up the power of the “intellectuals.” These are not a caste. They are an interface accidentally born of the cancerous swelling of the bureaucracy, and for this very reason they will fight to make it grow even more wherever they have acquired the means to do so. They are, strictly speaking, pariahs—a confused, deluded mixture of fragments from the speech of the various castes. They are the pseudo-caste, with neither function nor axis, sociopathic by birth and calling.
The rise of the capitalist bourgeoisie is not a revolutionary process. It is a long, complicated process of absortion and adaptation. French capitalism was born weakly and has remained stunted because of the Revolution, which came along with the bureaucratic expansion and has continued to live off it until today, in a nation that is the paradise par excellence of “intellectuals.” Capitalism rather developed in England, where the aristocracy smoothly adapted to their new capitalist functions, and in America, where, the presence of the aristocracy of blood being sparse, that same capitalist bourgeoisie invested itself with the heroic-aristocratic ethos, generating a new kshatriya caste. I must observe in passing that this transfiguration of the American bourgeoisie into aristocracy—the most important and vigorous phenomenon in modern history—would never have been possible without that profound Christian impregnation of the new class which rendered it, in contrast to the farce of the “intellectualls,” the partial, distant, but authentic heir to the brahmana authority.
In the Hindu doctrine there is never a shudra government. The shudras are, by definition, the ruled and not the rulers. A guy may have been born a shudra, but on ascending to positions of importance he is already an “intellectual” (if Lula continued to be a lathe operator, he would be just a lathe operator). What there can be is the government of intellectuals passing themselves off as the shudra vanguard and, of course, oppressing the shudra more than ever to make them form the economic basis of a boundlessly expansive state bureaucracy.
Economically, the shudra government, or socialism, has verbal existence only. In 1921 Ludwig von Mises thoroughly demonstrated that the completely nationalized economy is infeasible and that therefore every self-styled socialist regime would never be more than a capitalism disguised under the iron armor of state bureaucracy. History has not ceased to prove him right ever since.
From this brief exposition it is possible to draw some conclusions that historical experience abundantly proves:
1. Wherever state bureaucracy becomes the predominant way of social ascent, as in eighteenth-century France or in nineteenth-century Russia, the potential bureaucracy tends to grow indefinitely and become a generator of revolutionary pressures. Many modern nations alleviate these pressures by creating an indefinite number of cultural and academic sinecures in order to integrate and somehow “officialize” the potential bureaucracy, but, on the one hand, this is a very expensive palliative, one that can only be afforded by a powerful capitalism, which precisely presupposes that the revolution be aborted in time; on the other hand, the members of the officialized potential bureaucracy may for a while be satisfied with their new roles in capitalist society, but social ascent itself will eventually make them even more presumptuous and arrogant. This explains why it is precisely in those countries where intellectuals have the best living conditions that they are the most resentful enemies of the society which fosters and flatters them while, by compensation, they are unable or perhaps unwilling to deal this society the final blow, confining themselves to constituting a permanent structural corrosive agent which on the whole is neutralized by technical progress and capitalist growth.
2. Where a potential bureaucracy as yet not perfectly officialized holds in possession a political party as its main vehicle of social integration, this party, embodying in its own eyes both the supreme intellectual authority and the rights of every real or imagined victim of social injustice, will necessarily place itself above the laws and institutions, arrogating to itself every right and every virtue and acknowledging no higher judgment than its own.
3. Every hope of integrating this party into the normal democratic process will be repeatedly frustrated, for it will never construe its participation in this process but as a temporary concession—in itself repulsive—to those conditions which preclude the attainment of its goals.
4. The conquest of total power will always be the goal and the single raison d’être of this party, which will attempt all sorts of coup d’état and at the same time will regard as a coup d’état any attempt, however timid and limited, to prevent it from reaching its goals. Examples of it abound in Brazil. The latest one is that in which the leaders of the ruling party openly preach violent resistance to its possible election defeat, while literally denouncing as a “coup d’état” the simple journalistic disclosure of the money that they used in a dirty trick against their opponent.
5. Since the primordial function of the revolutionary party, beneath the most diverse ideological pretexts, is exactly to create a bureaucratic state to serve its own members, it is normal and inevitable that this party, once invested with state power, should regard the state as property of its own, using it for ends of its own without finding the least immorality in it. The potential bureaucracy is sociopathic by birth and by definition; and its form of government, as soon as there are conditions for it to be established, is and will always be organized sociopathy.
6. The affinity between the revolutionary party and common banditism is something more than a temporary conjunction of interests. From the perspective of the potential bureaucracy, the only evil in the world is that it does not have absolute power, is that there is a society that transcends it and obeys it not. Every other evil, if it weakens this society and facilitates the conquest of total power by the revolutionary party, is a good. The solipsistic self-idolatry of the gang boss and that of the revolutionary leader are one and the same, with the slight difference that there is a little bit of intellectual refinement in favor of the latter. It is ridiculous to say that a party like PT “has turned” into a gang of delinquents. It is a born delinquent.
7. The insistence of opponents on pretending that this party can honorably participate in the normal political process will always lead to conditions of “asymmetrical warfare,” in which one side will have all the duties, and the other all the rights.
PS—Those who have had the misfortune of being members by birth of the potential bureaucracy cannot pursue but three courses of life: (1) integrate into the revolutionary sham and brag everywhere that they are benefactors of mankind, (2) fall into marginality, mental illness, self-destruction, or banditism, (3) understand their historical situation and struggle to escape from an essentially grotesque social condition and to acquire through study and spiritual self-discipline the dignity of the true status of brahmana, which implies renouncing all political power and every psychosocial benefit of participating in the revolutionary intelligentsia. Economically, to make a livelihood from intellectual activity outside the revolutionary scheme of mutual protection is a formidable challenge.
The challenge to those who were born vaishyas is to resist the siren song of revolution and to impose capitalism as a morally superior way of life. This is impossible without the cultivation of the kshatriya discipline and without the acceptance of the heroic burdens of a new noble caste, which implies the absorption, even if slight, of the brahmana legacy. The struggle in the modern world is between vaishyas and the potential bureaucrats—that is, between those who feed the state and those who feed upon it. If the former let themselves be hypnotized by revolutionary culture, they are finished, and with them the shudras as well, who lose their status of free workers and become slaves of the Communist bureaucracy.
Translated by Alessandro Cota and Bruno Mori