September 19, 2014

Leite: The Revolutionary Mentality is the Confusion of our Time

>Olavo de Carvalho

>Olavo de Carvalho

– By Fabio L. Leite

The ideas of the Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho provide important tools not only to analyze, but to criticize and resist the destructive current cultural currents of our time. Many of these currents spring from the ideologies that oppressed our brothers and sisters in Europe.

Olavo de Carvalho currently lives in Virgina.

THE THREE INVERSIONS

Three “inversions” characterize the revolutionary mentality (Nazism, Communism, feminism, homosexualism et.al.) writes philosopher Olavo de Carvalho regardless of their putative values or whether they use peaceful or violent means. They are:

  1. Inversion of Perception of Time

    The utopic future is fixed, everything before it is fluid. The past can be reinterpreted as many times as necessary to justify the progress toward that fixed future. The present can be shaped at will to bring that future. Because the past and present are seen as naturally fluid, there is no sense in the concept of reality itself resisting the coming of this inevitable progress. Any resistance can only come from other ignorant or evil wills who oppose this natural fluidity.

  2. Inversion of Morality

    Because the fixed future is the sum of all good, anything done to achieve it is equally good; the “tribunal of history” would absolve all “crimes” committed by the revolutionary who helped bring about that future, after all, in hindsight, when that future arrives, those actions will not be seen as crimes at all. The revolutionary is thus rendered incapable of feeling guilty for whatever lie, deceit, theft, or even murder he/she commits. They are all virtuous acts, because in his heart they bring about the sum of all good.

  3. Inversion of Subject-Object

    Because that future is fixed and somehow inevitable, any person who is killed in individual murders, terrorist acts or even genocides, is not the victim, but the culprit. They were opposing the inevitable coming of the fixed future that is the sum of all good. They put themselves in front of the unstoppable train of history.They are not only victims, they are *guilty* of opposing the revolution.

    Actually, the revolutionaries who killed them, see themselves as the real victims, who were forced to do something they wouldn’t because of the stubbornness of those killed in not accepting, or not even adapting, to the revolutionary supremely good future. He did not kill them. He was just a tool of history. They used him to commit suicide by throwing themselves against the wave of history. They maculated him, for had they not being evil and opposed him while he was bring the perfectly good future, he would never have had blood in his hands.

THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY IS IDOLATRY OF THE FUTURE

The revolutionary mentality is not simply a political movement. Indeed, it has adopted politically contradictory positions several times, and even at the same time. See Liberals who are pro-feminism and the homosexual agenda in the West and at the same time are supportive of Islamic regimes where women and gay rights are crimes punishable by death.

It is not an accidental contradiction that they don’t notice. It is a calculated ambiguity, for both positions help to destroy the enemy (the West or the US) and that destruction advances the coming of the progressive future they envision. So both actions will be taken at the same time, not out of ignorance, but of astute planning.

It is not about coherence, it is not about morality, right or wrong. It is a sick idolatry of the future, in which all actions are moral for the simple reason they are “progress” toward that future. It is, as the name say, a mentality, a mentality that can adopt religious or anti-religious discourses, Anti-Christian or Christian agendas, right or left issues, nationalist or internationalist approaches.

We can spot it when we find the three inversions in the perceptions and attitudes of a person or movement. It’s never about the topics that might be in discussion but in how they are dealt with. In Olavo’s words, it’s “a spiritual and psychological problem, but it’s most visible manifestation and its main tool is political action.”

Actually, revolutionaries could even bring many to their numbers by putting forward an issue and allowing their enemies to fight it and even win over it, as long as they fight with a revolutionary mentality as well.

THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY IS A GLOBAL CULTURAL MOVEMENT

The revolutionary mentality is more than simply a kind of framework with which we can understand current issues. It is a cultural movement that can be traced back to its origins with historical documents. Actually, it is the *only* global cultural movement that exists with continuity and historical self-awareness in the last 500 years, along and over a number of countries, many times pretending to be a local group in each. It started forming around the 15th century and the French Revolution is its first major expression, starting the era of totalitarianisms, world wars and constant genocides.

Revolutionaries refer to each other, sometimes disagreeing, sometimes seeking perfect continuity, or creative ways of applying what they consider to be universal principles to the circumstances of their time. This means that it is a spiritual and cultural movement that is aware of its own history, not a cabal of enlightened, not a conspiracy, neither an up-down movement with elite leaders, nor a bottom-up endeavor.

Like once the Germanic tribes were forming an entirely new civilization we would call the West while the Greek-Romans of the East Roman Empire still thought of them as mere barbarians, the revolutionary mentality is a new existential way of being in the world and of how understanding this same world. Its pillars, and the common thread in all forms of revolutionary actions, are the three inversions explained by Olavo de Carvalho.

In the 200 years since the revolutionary mentality acquired political expression, it killed more than all the previous wars, epidemics, natural catastrophes in history put together. These genocides committed by those imbued with revolutionary mentality include not only wars but even the persecution of their own innocent populations in peaceful times – those who “resisted” the coming of the glorious future.

Indeed, every failure of that impossible future coming to existence is attributed to some kind of personal resistance or betrayal, never to the fact that reality cannot be molded and the glorious future is but an illusion.

THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY JUDGES ALL HISTORY

Olavo further defines the revolutionary mentality thus:

[I]t is a state of spirit, permanent or transitory, in which an individual or group believes to be able to reshape the whole of society, sometimes even human nature itself, by means of political action. This individual or group also believes that as an agent or carrier of a better future, he/it is above any judgment made by present or past humanity. They only respond to the “tribunal of history.”

That tribunal, though, is by definition the very future society that the individual or group claims to represent in the present; and as this future society can only provide witness or judgment in the present through this very person or group, he/it becomes its only sovereign judge over his/its own acts.

Not only that, he/it becomes the judge of all humanity, in the present, in the past and in the future. Thus abled to accuse and condemn all laws, institutions, beliefs, values, costumes, actions and works of all ages, and above the judgment of them all, the person or group sees him/itself so above historical humanity that is accurate to call him Super-Man.

A significant work of literary fiction to depict that mentality is “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. By traveling to the future, it claims it is as fixed as space. H.G. Wells, a socialist to whom social-democrats were not radical enough, believed a World State was inevitable and desirable and promulgated it in his book “The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution.”

Olavo compares three evils to better illustrate his concept. Nazism and Communism are revolutionary movements, but the Ku Klux Klan is not. Both Nazism and the KKK believe in the superiority of a race, which is a disgusting idea in itself. But, at least currently, KKK believers do not want to mold all reality and society to put their twisted idea forward. They would be satisfied to eradicate all black people from their area.

Nazists and Communists, on the contrary, not only want to eliminate a certain groups of people from a certain area. That would be an evil, but limited. They really think that the very existence of these people and their roles in society is a “bug” in reality, and they seek to correct reality itself. They envision a fixed future, to which they work to progress, and where every means is moral for the simple reason of helping this progress, and everyone who does not support it, or who is simply not changed by it, is an enemy, found guilty and worth of death.

THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY JUDGES ALL HUMANITY BASED ON A HYPOTHETICAL FUTURE

Olavo provides the following further description of the revolutionary movement:

[W]hat typifies the revolutionary movement without any confusion is that it gives all authority of judgment over all humanity, present and past, to a hypothetical future. The revolution is, for its own nature, totalitarian and universally expansive: there is no aspect of human life that it does not wish to submit to its own power, no region of the globe it does not seek to touch with the tentacles of its influence.

That is why the American Independence is not considered a revolutionary movement by Olavo. It was a conservative war of independence, to solve a limited, local problem, that of an authoritarian king. It did not purport to know any fixed universal future, it did not invert morality, it did not invert subjects and objects of moral actions, it did not have a solution for the world: it wanted a United States of America, not a United Nations of the Globe.

THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY VS. “THE CULTURE WARS”

It is of uttermost importance that we understand these three inversions of the revolutionary mentality, so we can spot it wherever it appears, independently of the issues being talked about, even when they are issues we ourselves care about.

These are powerful tools to write analysis of all the cultural and political “mess” we see around us today. It can explain politicians obsessed with “change”; the “cultural wars”; and why traditional values from different countries seem to not cope with the wave of revolutionary thought that invades them.

It can explain how a country that was fiercely atheist and leftist yesterday can have leaders trying to play the role of pious conservatives; the rise of the left to the main presidencies of Latin America; why a communist super-power has become the reference for growing capitalism; and why even conservative churches participate in world councils that seek the utopic future of a union among all churches, “saving” the whole religious scenario of the world from itself.

The “issue” is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution. And the revolution is, despite all issues, the concentration of power, the union of forces, through the spread of the revolutionary mentality and its three inversions.

HOW TO FIGHT THE REVOLUTIONARY MENTALITY

To fight this cultural monstrosity, we must also not put the “issues” first, even if they are being pro-life, pro-Christianity, “pro-love”, “pro-truth”. We have to fight the very substance of the revolutionary mentality, because it can advance even with pro-Life and pro-Christian ideas. Either being pro or against gay parades and unions, if the political action advances a whole planning for the whole of society, it is the revolutionary mentality in action.

We must radically abstain from working for, or even wishing, any kind of fixed future, any kind of whole planning for the whole of society. We must abstain from considering we can revise the past to justify this image of the future.

We must, at the cost of our very souls, avoid measuring the goodness of our actions according to their impact in “changing” the world toward a “better place”, and never judge people and ourselves as “pro” or “con” utopic ideals. Actually, we should not judge others even regarding their final salvation, much less concerning if they are “helpful”, “conscious” or not in relation to any social good.

We must reestablish that the past is fixed and unchangeable, that the future is like an amorphous foam of possibilities wherein our own choices are but few among the infinite elements of circumstantial tensions that will influence it. We can be saved from our sinful past, but not really change it.

We must always remember that our choices in the present have much more impact in our stand in Eternity than in our own future.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Read Olavo’s original article “A Mentalidade Revolucionária

Fabio L. Leite lives in Brazil and is a reader of the AOI Blog

Comments

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Father Seraphim Rose wrote of many of the same ideas in his book: Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age He failed, however, to see that his solution, a Christian monarchy was filled with the same problem. De Carvalho seems to go even more deeply, at least from these excerpts.

    The inversions spoken of here are exactly what Nietzsche preached too.

    One must be careful too, not to sink into an existential apathy but look to the tools of the Church: prayer, repentance, forgiveness, almsgiving, worship and chastity–learning to embrace with joy the holy present so that God might reveal Himself in it.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      The cultural forms that Carvalho outlines are only possible in de-Christianized Christendom. Ideas drawn from the well of Christian thought are powerful and when the cultural memory of God grows dim for whatever reason (sin, the attacks of cultured despisers, whatever) their power is retained although the new forms are distortions, grotesque caricatures of their former beauty and ultimately destructive to the human person. This occurs because the world view the ideas shape becomes self-referencing as notions of the transcendent character of those ideas are lost.

      Put another way, ideology arises in a world de-sacramentalized. Once the sacred character of creation is lost, the only option is utopian tyranny.

      Longing for a Christian monarchy cannot reverse this. Only a restoration of the Gospel in the spirit and power that the early Christians knew offer any hope and it may take a collapse before that Word is heard again. Then again, maybe not. We don’t know.

      I found this section particularly powerful for a reason I will explain below:

      To fight this cultural monstrosity, we must also not put the “issues” first, even if they are being pro-life, pro-Christianity, “pro-love”, “pro-truth”. We have to fight the very substance of the revolutionary mentality, because it can advance even with pro-Life and pro-Christian ideas. Either being pro or against gay parades and unions, if the political action advances a whole planning for the whole of society, it is the revolutionary mentality in action.

      We must radically abstain from working for, or even wishing, any kind of fixed future, any kind of whole planning for the whole of society. We must abstain from considering we can revise the past to justify this image of the future.

      We must, at the cost of our very souls, avoid measuring the goodness of our actions according to their impact in “changing” the world toward a “better place”, and never judge people and ourselves as “pro” or “con” utopic ideals. Actually, we should not judge others even regarding their final salvation, much less concerning if they are “helpful”, “conscious” or not in relation to any social good.

      We must reestablish that the past is fixed and unchangeable, that the future is like an amorphous foam of possibilities wherein our own choices are but few among the infinite elements of circumstantial tensions that will influence it. We can be saved from our sinful past, but not really change it.

      These words tell us that we must always expose the lie as a lie. Argue in terms of the lie, and the lie is never revealed as a lie because the ground on which it rests is never touched. One a lie is exposed as such, it loses its power just as Christ’s death put death to death.

      I used to think that building walls against the cultured despisers would buy time to educate those who were confused by their words. Then I saw the same confusion (and moral and intellectual corruption) among those who would be charged to lead the restoration were it ever to take place. Now I see it is only the Gospel and the life that emanates from it. Again, that means we have to recover that spirit and power that the Early Christians knew.

      Somebody said these words and I find myself in agreement:

      The leaders we can believe in are the Saints and Fathers. The men we can trust are those who have the Saints and Fathers as their leaders.

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        Fabio Leite says:

        Christians can organize themselves in several ways: republics, monarchies, central governments (not a problem for small countries), federalist governments (ideal IMO for large countries). They can even be under Christian or Christian-neutral governments.

        The only thing we cannot do is to base our lives, and thus our governments, on the misguided mentality that we will “change the world”. When a normal person says that, what is usually meant is that we can help in bringing some limited improvements in the lives of a limited number of people.

        When a revolutionary says that, he means it literally. He wants to change the *world*, the entirety of existence. Even if action over just a few people, the revolutionary seeks to change their whole lives, even the meaning of their lives, even their bodies.

        When a Christian helps a person and that “changes the life” of the helped one, it’s not the Christian doing anything. We just give a very limited help in supporting or motivating the person to open his heart to the Holy Spirit, and God is the only one who can make a “revolution” in one’s life, for only He has the wisdom, the knowledge, the love and the power to do so. Every revolutionary, trying to take the betterment of the world in his own hands is just repeating that old Luciferian pride.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          I agree, the problem, as we have seen in the history of the United States, is the greed of the individuals for money, power and control creates as centripetal force for central control. John Adams was not a traditional Christian but he said one very insightful thing about the U.S. under the Constitution: “The government we have created is only suitable for a Christian people, it is wholly unsuitable for any other”

          The reason he was correct, IMO, is that only in a Christian culture where holiness and virtue are the primary goal, can there be self-government and any sense of genuine freedom. As the U.S. has become less and less Christian and now more and more anti-Christian the totalitarian impulse is not hiding any longer. Combine that with the consumerist essentially fascist economy and what freedom there appears to be is largely an illusion—politically. Laws these days punish the law abiding for the excesses of a few and have little or no impact on the lawless.

          So, the only road to real, lasting freedom is the Christian quest for holiness and the consequent expression of virtue, communion and community in love.

          “Put not your trust in the princes of men…”

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            Fabio Leite says:

            I think we Orthodox have the proper word for that: ascesis.

            We need, either in the US or in Brazil, an ascetic government that “fasts” from many excesses, from desires, that practices proper neptic attention to prevent governmental temptations.

            Much of the concept of separation of powers and true federalism work because it increases the neptic aspect of government.

            But it’s true that you need an ascetic people. For all modern standards, the Puritans were as asceptic as a lay person can be living in the world.

            I would dare to add to what John Adams said… The original american form of government is not only for any kind of Christianity, but for ascetic Christianity. This asceticism includes not putting too much trust in government itself. The mistake that the Orthodox world has always committed politically was to put far too much trust in government. If we had true Orthodox asceticism together with an ascetic government, it would be far more difficult for the revolutionary mentality to seduce anyone.

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              Bill Congdon says:

              Mr. Leite, I am struck by your image of a government (and by extension, a culture, and the people who make up the society) that “fasts” from desires. It suggests Rene Girard’s concept of metaphysical desire, but manifest on a corporate level. (Just a striking but undeveloped thought at this point.)

              UPDATE: I Googled Girard and Carvalho together and it seems that Carvalho has indeed been influenced by Girard. I will need to pursue this further. Thank you for this post!

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        Fr Tim says:

        Fr, your summary and observations are correct and enlightening. Thank you!

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    Michael Bauman says:

    “But if you shall indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto your enemies, and an adversary unto your adversaries” Exodus 23:22

    Intertwined in the inversions is the idea that we are autonomous individuals perfectly capable of controlling the future and that we should.

    If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

    Everything is “global’ these days. “Global” solutions for local even common personal problems and no one may opt out.

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      Fabio Leite says:

      The concept of absolute autonomy and of social utopia, that is that of individualism and socialism, are just the two faces of the same coin.

      Only absolute individuals can be the “atoms” of a perfectly undifferentiated amorphous mass. Collectivism and individualism always come together because they are the same thing seen from different perspectives. Only when you have intermediary natural institutions like family, church, autonomous villages and others we can achieve balance between the two. And of course, in case of the Orthodox Church itself, the concept of communion of persons (human/human and human/divine persons), the twin idols of individualism and collectivism fall appart.

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    Thank you all so very much for your comments! Your words have been very helpful to me today! Fabio, when are you coming to visit us? Excellent article! Please give us in America and those around the world more of the thought of the people of Brazil, especially, the Orthodox Christians!

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