São Paulo Forum:
Interview with Olavo de Carvalho
By Aleksander Boyd
21.11.05 | Recently I had the chance to spend some time with an extraordinary individual. Of Brazilian origin, this university professor, thinker, philosopher and self-made investigative journalist revealed a wholly unknown reality -for me at least- vis-a-vis the nature of the Sao Paolo Forum; its members and its carefully orchestrated political goals. Often one tends to incur in the mistake of judging situations isolatedly, which, according to Olavo de Carvalho , shows not only ignorance but naivete. Aghast with the wealth of knowledge that Olavo commands on Brazilian and regional politics, I intended to unravel through a series of questions the reasons behind the emergence of 'leftist' movements and leaders across Latin America. Olavo's take is factual, radical and very much detached from the usual nonsense that one encounters in the mainstream media. Hopefully readers of this site will find his opinions illuminating, as I did.
- Olavo, you contend that the neocommunist surge in Latin America is not a spontaneous phenomena but rather the result of the successful implementation of strategies devised by Antonio Gramsci. Could you please expand into the philosophical/political underpinnings of Gramsci's methodology?
Gramsci, side by side with the frankfurtians and the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukacs, is one of the top masterminds of the so-called “cultural marxism”, which is not a school of thought but a bunch of heterogeneous proposals having in common the hate to Western civilization, and the belief that, the cultural war against it, should precede and guide the political fight for socialism. Somewhat cultural marxism is at the same time the apex of marxism and its nemesis. On the one hand, it delivers the marxist thought from the chains of soviet mediocre orthodoxy and provides it with a considerable amount of intellectual sophistication; on the other, it destroys from the inside the marxist doctrine of history, emphasizing the primacy of cultural factors over the economic ones. Economic arguments that occasionaly drop from the mouths of cultural marxists are but lip service they pay to communist tradition, but in the final practical account their inner belief is that “ideas have consequences”. They try to accomplish the practical goals of marxism by means that disavow its theory.
But while the aforementioned authors focused mainly in theoretical issues, Gramsci, who was the founder and leader of the Italian Communist Party, was interested above all in practical results. He created the strategy and the tactics of the “cultural revolution” that should pave the way for the seizure of State power by the communists. The cultural revolution should be a subtle and almost imperceptible transformation of the collective mind, intented to induce everybody to think, to feel and to act according to the tenets of socialism without being consciously socialists. Socialist symbols and values under some other name should be inocculated in the souls of people since early age. Disguised socialist influence should spread to every field of human social existence, including private life and the most intimate feelings. Child care, medicine, psychoterapy, religion and marriage counseling were preferential channels for the transmission of that influence. Christian churches, for instance, should not be criticized, but infiltrated in order to deprive them of their spiritual content and use them as megaphones for communist watchwords. At the same time, disguised communists should occupy all the posts in educational, cultural and media organizations, gradually and carefully expelling their opponents to the last man. Communist ideology should recast all the language of public conversations, in order to provide that every circulating opinion contributes unconsciously to communist-fabricated general results.
The perverted character of the whole scheme is clearly psychopatic, but so much dangerous at that. Gramsci was an admirer of Machiavelli and he believed that the Communist Party should be “The New Prince”, ruling over the whole of society “with the invisible and omnipresent authority of a categoric imperative, of a divine commandment” (sic). Only after acquiring such amount of psychological mastership over society should the Party try to conquer the State, at a time when the very possibility of finding some serious resistence was already eliminated.
- Can we assume that the weak footing upon which parties associated with pro-democracy, rule of law, decentralization and free markets values in the region is but the unconscious resultant of Gramsci's plan?
Of course. The cultural changes affect everyone far beyond the focus of its political beliefs. One may remain a conservative in politics while making so many little concessions in one's language, in one's morals, in one's general cultural outlook, that one's conservatism looses its emotional strenght and its capacity to fight. You may verify it yourself: while communists are free to preach today the same things they preached thirty years ago, with the only difference that they receive ever warmer welcomes in any elegant environment, conservatives that remain faithful to the ideals of Robert Taft or Barry Goldwater are blamed as extremists even by their fellow conservatives.
- To what extent Gramsci's theories resemble those of dictator Fidel Castro?
Fidel Castro comes from a different ideological background. He followed the old leninist strategy of the armed vanguard that seizes power by violence and creates a new society from the top. Only when he hit his head against the wall of limits opposed to the armed revolutionary spreading, in the 70's, he had the joyful surprise to be informed that many of his fellows from other Communist parties in Latin America were already high in the practice of a new and smarter revolutionary technique. The defeat of the guerrillas was immediately followed by the general adoption of the Gramscian long term strategy, that obviously didn't renounce to the use of violence but postponed it to a far better occasion. Castro welcomed the new strategy and adapted to it very efficiently. He managed to stop the guerrilla fighting and to make up Latin America communist parties to work along Gramscian guidelines. The reflux of the guerrilla movement was celebrated by almost every non-communist politician, journalist and businessman in Latin America as a sign of the “death of communism”. This mistake was due to the fact that these people cared only for the visible surface of political, military and economic facts, giving little or no attention to deep and large scale transformations in the social and cultural background that was precisely the chosen field for the expansion of communist activity at that time.
To be continued...