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Mostrando postagens com marcador Roger Scruton. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Roger Scruton. Mostrar todas as postagens

terça-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2020

Roger Scruton: Swimming Always Against the Tide - Theodore

Uma pequena homenagem do grande Theodore Dalrymple ao gigante do pensamento conservador da contemporaneidade recentemente falecido.

Swimming Always Against the Tide

Roger Scruton, R.I.P.

Sir Roger Scruton, the British conservative philosopher who was preeminent for nearly half a century, died on January 12, after an illness that he had borne for six months. He was 75.
He showed great moral courage throughout his career, swimming against the intellectual tide of his time regardless of the deprecation, insult, denunciation, and even hatred directed at him. For a long time, his very name among much of the British intelligentsia was a byword for political atavism or evil, as if he had been a radical advocate of tyranny and pogroms rather than a defender of freedom and civilized values. At the time of his coming to public notice, much of the intelligentsia refused to believe that a highly gifted and knowledgeable man could also be a conservative. Their own rejection of all that was traditional seemed so self-evidently right to them that they thought that the only possible explanation for someone who valued tradition was obtuseness, moral turpitude—or both.
Scruton’s work was so broad-ranging that the term Renaissance Man seems hardly inappropriate. He published books on Kant and Spinoza, on Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, on the aesthetics of music and architecture, on animal rights, on wine, on hunting, on the importance of culture, on the nature of God, on man’s relations with animals, and on many other subjects. He wrote novels and short stories of distinction, and two operas. The words of Dr. Johnson’s epitaph for Oliver Goldsmith come to mind: he left scarcely any style of writing untouched, and touched nothing that he did not adorn.  
This is not to say that many people, or indeed anyone, would agree with all that he wrote, scarcely to be expected in view of his immense output. He accepted disagreement with equanimity, as the natural and laudable condition and consequence of freedom. Unlike many of his detractors, who affixed labels to him and then believed in their veracity, he was fair-minded to those with whom he disagreed and whose ideas he believed had had a disastrous effect on Western society. In the two editions of his book about thinkers of the New Left, for example, he praised them generously for whatever he considered praiseworthy in them. He paid them the honor of reading their work with attention, trying hard to decipher what it meant (by no means easy, given their frequent resort to high-sounding, multisyllabic verbiage), and refuting what was sufficiently intelligible to be refutable.
Contrary to what his detractors supposed, his reaction to the writers he criticized was far from the result of blind prejudice, ideology, or preconceived ideas. Sartre, for example, was—for his earlier work—Scruton’s hero. Sartre had then the ability seamlessly to combine observation and experience of life with subtle metaphysical thought, very much contrary to the kind of philosophical training that Scruton received at Cambridge, where application of philosophy to life as it is lived was regarded almost as vulgar but which had the compensating advantage of precision and rigor. It was only the later Sartre, an apologist for tyranny and mass murder, whom Scruton reprehended. In other words, he made the necessary distinctions.
Scruton was much in favor of Brexit but was far from a small-minded isolationist. He regarded France, and Paris in particular, as his second, and perhaps as his spiritual, home. His experience of the events there in 1968, however, was formative, and the memory of these events remained a warning to him for the rest of his days. Unlike most young intellectuals, he was appalled, not exhilarated, by the events of May 1968. He saw them as the willful destruction of a beautiful civilization by the spoiled beneficiaries of that very civilization and as a rejection of refinement in favour of crudity. He sided with the preservers rather than with the destroyers. The fragility of our cultural inheritance was clear to him.
He was revered in several Eastern European countries where, with others, and at some risk to himself, he helped keep alive the hopes of dissident intellectuals. He ran clandestine philosophical seminars in several countries. It was a matter of disappointment to him that young British people were so cut off from any historical knowledge and so lacking in powers of imagination that they had no conception of what life in a totalitarian system could be like. This is important because all judgment, including of one’s present situation or predicament, is comparative, and without an awareness of just how terrible things can be, one can easily, and frivolously, start down the primrose path to perdition.
In his last and moving article in The Spectator, indeed in the last paragraph he published in his lifetime, he stressed the importance of gratitude for what one has been fortunate enough to inherit. Take nothing for granted, preserve what is worth preserving, understand the fragility of things, remember debts to the past as well as to the future, take delight in the world. Such was the lasting message of this exceptionally gifted man.
To me he was always kind and encouraging. Much more important, he was an exceptionally good father to his children.  
Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

domingo, 23 de dezembro de 2018

"Arqueologia da ofensa": os ataques a Roger Scruton - The New Criterion

O politicamente correto, irmão menor do marxismo cultural – que derivou para diversas outras deformações políticas – tem um novo nome, ou pelo menos uma proposta de nova disciplina acadêmica, a "arqueologia da ofensa" (ou do xingamento).
De fato, as pessoas nem mais percebem quando estão sendo intolerantes com o pensamento alternativo, ou simplesmente conservador, como é o caso de Roger Scruton.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Offense archaeology

On excavating the old “offenses” of Roger Scruton.

Isometimes happens that a new discipline begins to be practiced before it is officially named. This has occurred recently with the widespread attacks—on campuses, on the streets, and even in legislative bodies—against individuals who have been determined to express or even to entertain heterodox opinions. The process is remarkable for its swiftness, its ferocity, and its icy disregard for protocol, customary procedure, and such quaint scruples as due process or evidentiary rigor.
Over the years, we have regularly had occasion to mention and lament this modern version of witch-hunting, in the unfolding of which reputations and careers are destroyed for wearing the wrong sort of shirt, making offhand comments that irk the self-appointed guardians of some designated victim group, or writing something that contravenes the spoken and unspoken consensus of opinion about some newly sensitive issue.
Ware happy to report that this practice, active informally for years, at last has “local habitation and a name”: offense archaeology. As far as we know, there are no classes, professorships, or academic majors devoted to the discipline, but such institutional recognition is surely only a matter of time. And besides, who needs academic certification when boots on the ground already make the practice vivid, intimidating, and newsworthy?
The term “offense archaeology” seems to have entered circulation earlier this year when the British journalist and education-industry gadfly Toby Young was appointed to a U.K. university watchdog group. Mr. Young had been a nimble and Tabasco presence on Twitter, where his politically incorrect observations won him a wide and amused following but also the consternation of the constitutionally offended. When his government appointment was announced, his articles and Twitter feed were scrutinized for impermissible remarks and attitudes, and he was pilloried and then sacked.
The latest example of offense archaeology involves a figure much higher up the intellectual food chain, the English philosopher, novelist, and public intellectual Sir Roger Scruton. Last month, Sir Roger was appointed to advise the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as the unpaid chairman of a new public body to champion beautiful buildings. As the British journalist James Delingpole reported, the “leftist whinge brigade” instantly wheeled into action, employing the same hysterical tactics it used with such success against Toby Young. Even as we write, Sir Roger’s voluminous writings and public presentations are being excavated. Politically incorrect phrases are unearthed, torn from their original context, and passed like antique shards in front of the tremulous outrage meter of the Left.
As of this writing, it is not clear whether the campaign against Sir Roger will succeed. The usual nonentities in Parliament and in the press have eagerly joined in the attack against him. The Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne, sniffed, “Nobody holding [the views that Scruton holds] has a place in modern democracy. The prime minister needs to finally show some leadership and sack Scruton with an investigation into how he was appointed in the first place.” Another MP said, “With every passing hour it becomes clear that Roger Scruton has a history of making offensive comments. It beggars belief that he passed a vetting process.”
Imust be said that Roger Scruton’s work offers a target-rich environment for the bullies. On subjects ranging from fox hunting and sexuality to the nature of Islam and what counts as good art, his work is a compendium of against-the-grain attitudes and arguments. A generation ago these would have been regarded as traditional Tory opinions. But today, what is more verboten than that? Sir Roger, it should also be said, happens to be one of the most brilliant, articulate, and wide-ranging intellectual figures in the Anglosphere, a man of incandescent intelligence, aesthetic sensitivity, and political courage. It is worth pausing to underscore the courage. In the 1980s, he worked tirelessly and at great personal peril behind the Iron Curtain to help those fighting against the totalitarian jackboot of Communist tyranny. All this makes his attackers appear faintly ridiculous to everyone but themselves, but not, alas, any less virulent.
Tdate, Sir Roger has responded to the preposterous assault against him in two table-turning ways. First, he issued a statement declaring, “I have been offended and hurt by suggestions I am anti-Semitic or in any way ‘Islamophobic.’ ” If the issue is feeling offended, then two can play at that game. And we’d like to add for the record that we, too, are deeply offended by such moronic, partisan attacks against a distinguished, public-spirited individual. What sort of redress are we entitled to? What high horse may we mount?
Sir Roger’s second response is more amusing and potentially more fruitful. Instead of apologizing for his past statements, he has embraced them. Moreover, he and his assistants are in the process of making a compendium of potentially “offensive” things he has said or written so that his would-be inquisitors may understand and exploit the full spectrum of his obloquy. “Roger has decided,” one reads on his personal website,
to collect as many of his outrageous remarks as he can discover, so as to include them in a folder, to appear on this site. His opinions on many topics diverge shockingly from those of The Guardian, and it would be very helpful to his critics to be provided with the necessary evidence, together with snippets of the more easily digestible arguments, since those too will be proof of crime. Topics such as hunting, marriage, pop music, Israel, sex, gender, identity and the nation have provided Roger with such opportunities for criminal thinking that we are sure we will be able to provide our readers with a bulging folder of charges. This will save Roger’s critics a lot of unnecessary trouble and serve to brighten their lives with a sense of their own righteousness.
We suspect that this proleptic gambit will be effective in embarrassing his tormentors, though whether it will also disarm them is as yet uncertain.
The practice of offense archaeology dramatizes a number of troubling questions about the status of free speech, open debate, and, indeed, the nature of our common life together in a polity that once gloried in championing its commitment to tolerance and rational disputation. Sir Roger is fond of quoting a famous passage from the second chapter of John Stuart Mill’s 1859 manifesto On Liberty: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion,” Mill wrote, “is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
ASir Roger has noted, Mill’s argument is not the last word about the dynamics of free speech. But it is assuredly a vital first word. It used to be that in civilized discourse, one would avoid giving offense where one could. The politically correct imperative today, on the contrary, enjoins one always to take offense if one can. “There are now,” Scruton wrote in “The Art of Taking Offence,” an article for The Spectator last August,
experts in the art of taking offence, indeed whole academic subjects, such as “gender studies,” devoted to it. You may not know in advance what offence consists in—politely opening a door for a member of the opposite sex? Thinking of her sex as “opposite”? Thinking in terms of “sex” rather than “gender”? Using the wrong pronoun? Who knows. We have encountered a new kind of predatory censorship, a desire to take offence that patrols the world for opportunities without knowing in advance what will best supply its venom. As with the puritans of the seventeenth century, the need to humiliate and to punish precedes any concrete sense of why.
Scruton goes on to recall the case of the Conservative Party politician Boris Johnson, who sparked outrage last summer when, in the process of defending a woman’s right to wear a burka, he observed that a woman wearing one resembles a letterbox. The problem for those crying foul, Scruton observed, is that a burka-clad person does resemble a letterbox, just as a “man in white tie resembles a penguin or a woman in feathers resembles a chicken.” Reality counts for something.
There are two takeaways from the burka-and-Boris episode. One involves the panicked pusillanimity of the official class. Factota from the Prime Minister on down instantly jettisoned Johnson and ran for cover, trembling in the corner lest the outrage brigade accuse them of similar torts against the gods of political correctness.
The second takeaway brings us to a fundamental question about the nature of our society. “We live,” Scruton wrote, “in a face-to-face society, in which strangers look each other in the eye, address each other directly, and take responsibility for what they say. This custom is not just a fashion. It is deeply implanted in us by a thousand-year-old religious and legal tradition, by the Enlightenment conception of what citizenship means, and by a literary and artistic culture that tells us that we are in everything duty bound to see the other as on equal terms with the self. Being face to face with strangers is at the root of our political freedom.” That being the case, who really has legitimate grounds for being offended when someone turns his back (or covers her face) in the public square, thus directly challenging a basic tenet of our society?

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 4, on page 1
Copyright © 2018 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com 

segunda-feira, 22 de setembro de 2014

Eleicoes 2014: a mistificacao ordinaria dos totalitarios - Roger Scruton

Scruton e o "otimismo inescrupuloso" do PT

Blog do Orlando Tambosi, 21/09/2014
Tentando sufocar os críticos, a campanha petista lança uma cruzada em favor do "pensamento positivo". Em entrevista à Veja, o filósofo britânico Roger Scruton, autor de As vantagens do pessimismo, analisa os riscos do "otimismo inescrupuloso", cultivador de "fantasias convenientes":

Um ranheta contumaz que torce para que o Brasil dê errado. É essa a imagem que a candidata Dilma Rousseff tem de seus críticos, a julgar pela cruzada contra o pensamento negativo que o PT levou ao horário eleitoral essa semana. A campanha é estrelada por um boneco batizado Pessimildo, de sobrancelhas grossas, olhos cansados e queixo protuberante — parece uma mistura do Seu Saraiva, o personagem de Francisco Milani no Zorra Total; com Statler, o crítico rabugento dos Muppets; Carl, o viúvo solitário de Up - Altas Aventuras; e Gru, o vilão de Meu Malvado Favorito. No vídeo levado ao ar, Pessimildo passa a noite em claro "para ver o pior acontecer" e se diverte com a perspectiva de que o desemprego cresça no Brasil — o que, hoje, é bem mais do que uma perspectiva. Um narrador de tom jovial faz pouco caso do fantoche: "Vai dormir, vai'.

Pessimildo é uma caricatura, mas bastante reveladora das obsessões da campanha petista. Desde o início da corrida eleitoral, a presidente Dilma Rousseff tem atacado os "nossos pessimistas", que "desistem antes de começar". Para ela, como para seu antecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, "pessimismo" se opõe a valores como "verdade", "vitória" e "progresso". "Pense positivo, pense Dilma (sic)", recomenda a campanha petista, à maneira dos manuais de autoajuda.

As armadilhas deste otimismo desmedido são analisadas em The Uses of Pessimism ("As Vantagens do Pessimismo", em edição publicada em Portugal), que o filósofo inglês Roger Scruton lançou em 2010. 

Não se trata de defender a melancolia, a desesperança, a indiferença ou o ressentimento — o livro não tem nada de sombrio. Seu alvo é o "otimismo inescrupuloso". E, com frequência, o Otimildo da campanha petista é aquele que constrói sua mensagem com base em falácias, exageros, ilusões — ou na pura e simples manipulação da verdade e dos números. 

"Pessoas verdadeiramente alegres, que amam a vida e são gratas por esta dádiva, têm grande necessidade do pessimismo — em doses pequenas o bastante para que sejam digeríveis", escreve Scruton.

Pessimildo, o ranheta da propaganda petista.
Vai dar tudo certo - A primeira armadilha apontada pelo britânico é a "falácia da melhor das hipóteses". É o engano típico dos apostadores, que "entram no jogo com a plena expectativa de ganhar, levados por suas ilusões a uma situação irreal de segurança" - uma descrição aproximada do transe em que vive a área econômica do governo petista. O apostador só aparentemente assume riscos, escreve Scruton. No fundo, o que ele faz é bem o contrário: julgando-se predestinado, dobra a aposta convicto da vitória que acredita "merecer". Em 2011, logo após assumir, Dilma contava com que o país crescesse 5,9% ao ano - em média! - em seu governo. A poucos meses de concluir seu mandato, Dilma amarga resultados tão ruins que só podem ser comparados aos anos Collor e ao governo de Floriano Peixoto, nos primórdios da República. O país está em recessão técnica, mas nem isso abala o otimismo palaciano. Como o jogo, o irrealismo é em si uma espécie de vício, analisa o filósofo. 

Eu tenho um plano - Uma das falácias centrais analisadas por Scruton é a do planejamento, que consiste na crença de que sociedades podem ser organizadas como exércitos em torno de um plano desenhado por um poder central. Dessa armadilha deriva o furor regulatório dos burocratas e idealistas instalados na máquina pública. É a marca de regimes autoritários, claro, mas também envenena sólidas democracias. Para Scruton, o maior exemplo dessa falácia é incansável disposição dos arquitetos da União Europeia para editar marcos regulatórios cada vez mais detalhados e intrusivos, ignorando o "o modo como, pela lei das consequências não planejadas, a solução de um problema pode ser o início de outro". Scruton dá como exemplo a determinação de que o abate de animais na UE se faça na presença de um veterinário. O objetivo: remover da cadeia produtiva os animais doentes, possivelmente impróprios para o consumo. O resultado: onde o diploma de veterinário é difícil de obter, e o profissional, portanto, é muito bem remunerado, pequenos abatedouros se viram obrigados a fechar, pondo em dificuldades também os pequenos criadores.

Um corolário da falácia do planejamento é o inchaço da máquina pública. É sintomático que Dilma, uma notória "planejadora", tenha levado o primeiro escalão a abrigar 39 ministros, incluindo o da Pesca, para, segundo informou recentemente a presidente, não descuidar da tilápia. A falácia reside na crença de que um exército de iluminados tenha soluções, de canetada em canetada, para todos os problemas do país. E é grande o apelo desse falácia. "Todo mundo quer empurrar seus problemas para o estado, com a certeza de que há um plano para sua sobrevivência que não exija esforços de sua parte", afirma Scruton a VEJA. "Como digo em meu livro, não há como convencer as pessoas a abrir mão dessas falácias, e só um desastre pode momentaneamente incutir a verdade em suas mentes."

Eu tenho um sonho - A campanha eleitoral brasileira parece uma coleção das falácias analisadas por Scruton. Uma delas é particularmente recorrente: a utopia, uma visão de futuro em que os homens terão superado suas diferenças e resolvido todos os problemas. Marina Silva, a presidenciável do PSB, tem o discurso mais utópico da corrida presidencial – já se definiu como 'sonhática', por oposição aos políticos 'pragmáticos', e acredita que seu eventual governo poderia atrair os melhores quadros dos partidos brasileiro, incluindo os arquirrivais PT e PSDB.

Claro, a mobilização política terá sempre um forte acento otimista — Martin Luther King não teria feito história se, em vez de um sonho, tivesse apenas uma sugestão a dar... A falácia da utopia, contudo, vai bem além disso: acena, não com dias melhores, mas com o fim de todos os males. É uma promessa, por definição, irrealizável. Como o eleitor pode se precaver contra esse tipo de ilusão? "Não é fácil. Ninguém vota em pessimistas. Ainda assim é possível distinguir os políticos realistas – aqueles que reconhecem os problemas e estão preparados para encará-los, como Margaret Thatcher e Winston Churchill. Mas, claro, dependemos de uma cultura de seriedade e responsabilidade", diz Scruton. "Isso existe no Brasil?"

Pior não fica - A reportagem informa Scruton da existência do palhaço Tiririca, o deputado mais votado em 2010, candidato à reeleição em 2014, cujo slogan é "pior do que está não fica". É possível cultivar um pessimismo "esclarecido", sem sarcasmo, sem desistir da política? "Sim, é possível", responde Scruton. "Mas é mais provável que isso ocorra durante uma crise nacional, quando as pessoas precisam de liderança e por isso irão procurar qualidades morais, realismo e coragem nos políticos. O sarcasmo pode ser bem-sucedido em tempos de paz e riqueza, mas não em tempos de conflito e privação. O fato de que políticos no Brasil sejam vistos como piada sugere que as coisas no Brasil não estão tão mal."

As armadilhas do progresso - Expoente do pensamento conservador, Scruton dá especial atenção às armadilhas do "progressismo". O filósofo considera enganoso estender o entendimento que se tem do progresso na ciência a outras áreas. Que a ciência avance, por acumulação de conhecimento, é inegável. Mas é "questionável acreditar, por exemplo, que haja progresso moral contínuo, que avance à velocidade da ciência", escreve. Em um país na79ª posição no ranking do Desenvolvimento Humano das Nações Unidas, contudo, "progresso" é palavra de ordem no debate político. Como países emergentes devem lidar com a necessidade de se desenvolver, sem ceder às falsas esperanças? Scruton não é contra o progresso, é claro, mas lembra que algumas mudanças acontecem para pior. "Acho que é sempre necessário considerar o que as pessoas têm e aprender a dar valor a isso. Não virar as costas ao passado, aos costumes e às instituições que são a medida da felicidade das pessoas", diz. "É também necessário reconhecer o custo do progresso, em termos de prejuízos ambientais, migrações e desagregação das famílias. É necessário enfatizar esses aspectos para lembrar as pessoas das boas coisas que elas podem perder."

As armadilhas da igualdade - Uma das ciladas do otimismo inescrupuloso é o que Scruton chama de "falácia da agregação", que o filósofo ilustra com o seguinte exemplo: uma pessoa pode gostar de lagosta, chocolate e ketchup, mas isso não significa que deva combinar os ingredientes no mesmo prato. Para o filósofo, o lema da Revolução Francesa incorre na mesma falácia: só se promove a igualdade às custas da liberdade. Como países ainda tão desiguais como o Brasil devem enfrentar a questão? "É justo lutar pela igualdade quando as desigualdades, de modo manifesto, dividem e ameaçam a ordem social", responde Scruton. "Mas é errado acreditar que se pode perseguir a igualdade e a liberdade ao mesmo tempo. Para que haja uma sociedade mais igualitária, é preciso conter ambições e garantir que a renda seja distribuída, mesmo contra a vontade dos contribuintes."

Fantasias convenientes - Embora disseque todas as falácias do otimismo desmedido, Scruton não tem esperança de que "otimildos" recuem de suas ilusões. Ao contrário, eles se voltarão contra seus críticos e seguirão com suas fantasias convenientes, e com energia renovada, bradando por mais progresso, novos planos, mais belas utopias. Para tanto, recorrerão a diversos "mecanismos de defesa contra a verdade", afirma Scruton, como a inversão do ônus da prova e a transferência de responsabilidades. Como esses truques podem ser tão eficientes? "Nós todos evitamos a realidade quando ela é inconveniente. A verdade é uma disciplina difícil. É importante que cada sociedade acomode instituições - locais de debate, think tanks, universidades - onde a liberdade possa ser buscada a todo custo", diz. "Enquanto houver liberdade de expressão e de opinião, a verdade pode ser dita e, gradualmente, infiltrar-se na opinião pública. Mas isso leva tempo e é necessário que as pessoas aprendam a respeitar os que dizem a verdade." (Veja.com).

sexta-feira, 2 de maio de 2014

The Need for Nations - Roger Scruton (lecture delivered in Hungary)

*Here is a lecture I recently delivered in Hungary. 
The Need for Nations
Roger Scruton
(received: May 2nd, 2014) 

The project of European integration, advanced by politicians and elites of defeated nations in the wake of the Second World War, was founded on the belief that nationhood and national self-determination were the prime causes of the wars that had ruined Europe. There were disputes as to who started it: Napoleon? Bismarck? The French Revolutionaries? The Revolutionaries of 1848? The Reactionaries and Monarchists? Metternich? Talleyrand? Garibaldi? Fichte? Wagner? Louis XIV? But, however far back you went, in the eyes of the post-war political survivors, you came across the demon of nationalism, locked in conflict with the pure spirit of Enlightenment. As a result of this founding myth European integration was conceived in one-dimensional terms, as a process of ever-increasing unity, under a centralised structure of command. Each increase in central power was to be matched by a diminution of national power.
          In other words, the political process in Europe was to be endowed with a direction. It is not a direction that the people of Europe have chosen, and every time they are given the chance to vote they reject it – hence everything is done to ensure that they never have the chance to vote. The process moves always towards centralisation, top-down control, dictatorship by unelected bureaucrats and judges, cancellation of laws passed by elected parliaments, constitutional treaties framed without any input whatsoever from the people. In the current debt crisis the European elite – composed largely of the governing circles in France and Germany – has assumed the right to depose the elected governments of Greece and Italy, and to impose their own henchmen, chosen from the ranks of obedient apparatchiks. Meanwhile Hungary is constantly assailed with provocative questions and threats of investigation, for having dared to pass its own laws about matters in which the European political class has tacitly assumed sovereignty. In this way, the process is moving always towards imperial government, making very clear that the opposite of nationhood is not Enlightenment but Empire. And only one thing stands opposed to this result, and that is the national sentiments of the European people.
          As an Englishman and a lover of the civilisation of Rome I am not opposed to Empire. But it is important to recognise what it involves and to distinguish the good from the bad forms of it. In my view the good forms serve to protect local loyalties and customs under a canopy of civilisation and law; the bad forms try to extinguish local customs and rival loyalties and to replace them by a lawless and centralised power. The European Union has elements of both arrangements: but it suffers from one overwhelming defect, which is that it has never persuaded the people of Europe to accept it. Europe is, and in my view has ever been, a civilisation of nation states, founded on a specific kind of pre-political allegiance, which is the allegiance that puts territory and custom first and religion and dynasty second in the order of government. Give them a voice, therefore, and the people of Europe will express their loyalties in those terms. In so far as they have unconditional loyalties – loyalties that are a matter of identity rather than agreement – they take a national form.
          The political class in Europe does not like this, and as a result has demonised the direct expression of national sentiments. Speak up for Jeanne d'Arc and le pays réel, for the 'sceptred isle' and St George, for Lemmenkäinen's gloomy forests and the 'true Finns' who roam in them, and you will be called a fascist, a racist and an extremist. There is a liturgy of denunciation here that is repeated all across Europe by a political class that affects to despise ordinary loyalties while surreptitiously depending on them. In recent years Hungary has been a particular target of attack. There are extraneous reasons for it in Hungarian history, of course, and I don't need to remind you of them. But those reasons are not what animate the European elite. The present Hungarian government, by making issues of national identity and national sentiment fundamental to its platform, has excited a strong and censorious response from the European Union, regardless of any other grounds for such disapproval.
          On the other hand, national sentiment is, for most ordinary Europeans, the only publicly available and publicly shared motive that will justify sacrifice in the common cause – the only source of obligation in the public sphere that is not a matter of what can be bought and sold. In so far as people do not vote to line their own pockets, it is because they also vote to protect a shared identity from the predations of those who do not belong to it, and who are attempting to pillage an inheritance to which they are not entitled. Philip Bobbitt has argued that one major effect of the wars between nation states in Europe has been the replacement of the nation state with the 'market state' – the state conceived as a firm, offering benefits in exchange for duties, which we are free to join or to leave as we choose. (See The Shield of Achilles.) If this were true, then the nation, as an identity-forming community, would have lost its leading role in defining political choices and loyalties. Indeed, we would have emerged from the world of political loyalty altogether, into a realm of self-interested negotiations, in which sacrifices are no longer accepted, and perhaps no longer required. But if the present crisis has convinced us of nothing else, it has surely brought home to us that the capacity for sacrifice is the pre-condition of enduring communities, and that when the chips are down politicians both demand sacrifice and expect to receive it.
          We have been made well aware by the Islamists that not everyone accepts the nation as the fount of unconditional loyalty. The followers of Sayyid Qutb, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s, tell us that national obedience is a form of idolatry, and that it is to Allah alone that obedience is owed. There is a direction connection between those ideas and the failure of Middle Eastern countries to acquire stability since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and their division into nation states. The European nations have never whole-heartedly accepted that kind of theocratic absolutism, and firmly rejected it at the Treaty of Westphalia. The problem for Europe is that the ensuing centuries of territorial jurisdiction have implanted sentiments that do not fit easily into any kind of imperial ambition. In the circumstances of modern democratic government it is only on behalf of the nation that people are prepared to think outside the frame of self-interest. Hence the new imperial project has entered into conflict with the only source of sentiment upon which it could conceivably draw for its legitimacy. The nation states are not equally stable, equally democratic, equally free or equally obedient to the rule of law. But they alone inspire the obedience of the European people, and without them there is no way that the machinery of the Union can act. By replacing national accountability with distant bureaucracy, that machinery has left people disarmed and bewildered in the face of the current crisis.
          We see this clearly in the matter of the common currency. The Euro, imposed without proof that the people of the 'Eurozone' had any desire for it, was immediately understood, by many politicians in the Mediterranean, as a way of enlarging the national debt. This was very obviously the case in Greece. Bonds issued in Euros would benefit from the strength and probity of the Northern economies, and would be regarded as safe bets by investors who would not dream of buying bonds issued in drachmas. And the people of Greece agreed, since nobody alerted them to the cost – the national­ cost – that will be paid, once the Eurozone breaks up, as surely it must. Now that the day of reckoning is approaching, people all across the continent sense the need to prepare themselves for hard times. In a crisis people 'take stock', which means that they retreat to the primary source of their social attachment, and prepare to defend it. They do not do this consciously. But they do it nevertheless, and the futile attempt by the politicians to denounce the 'extremism' of the people whose inheritance they have squandered merely exacerbates the reaction. But the situation is not a happy one, since there is no trans-national idea of Europe to which the politician can appeal by way of identifying an object of loyalty outside the borders of the nation state. The half-century of peace and prosperity has fed upon the European cultural inheritance without renewing it. For it is all but impossible for a European politician to evoke the civilisation of Europe when its source – the Christian Religion – has been expunged from official documents and openly repudiated by the European courts. One ground of the current attacks on the 'nationalist' government of Hungary by the European Commission is that the Hungarians have drawn up a constitution which, in its preamble, describes the Hungarians as a 'Christian nation': two words that have been expunged from the official vocabulary of Europe. Indeed, if you look at the verdicts of the European courts, and especially of the Court of Human Rights, you will find a systematic bias against Christianity and Christians which has no other explanation than the ideological assumptions on which the European project has been built.
          The constitutional treaties likewise have made a point of granting no favours to the Christian faith or to the morality that has sprung from it. A 'cult of the minority' has been imposed from above, as a kind of rebuke to the people of Europe for being Europeans in spirit. This official multiculturalism has done nothing to reconcile immigrant communities to their new surroundings; instead it has destroyed much that was confident and joyful in the national cultures of Europe and rejected the Christian pieties in favour of a kind of morose materialism.
          The result of official multiculturalism is in fact cultural blindness – an inability to perceive the real cultural distinctions that obtain across the European continent and which are rooted in the custom and history of the nation states. If the architects of the Euro had taken national cultures properly into account they would have known that the effect of imposing a single currency on Greece and Germany would be to encourage Greece to transfer its debts to Germany, on the understanding that the further away the creditor the less the obligation to repay. They would have recognised that laws, obligations, and sovereignty don't have quite the same meaning in the Mediterranean as they do on the Baltic, and that in a society used to kleptocratic government the fairest way out of an economic crisis is by devaluation – in other words, by stealing equally from everybody. And they would have recognised that, by imposing a single currency on Greece and Germany nevertheless, they would sow the seeds of mutual resentment.
          Why didn't the architects of the Euro know those things? The answer is to be found deep within the European project. Cultural facts were simply imperceivable to the Eurocrats. Allowing themselves to perceive culture would be tantamount to recognising that their project was an impossible one. This would have mattered less if they had another project with which to replace it. But – like all radical projects, communism being the archetype – that of the European Union was conceived without a Plan B. Hence it is destined to collapse and, in the course of its collapse, to drag our continent down. An enormous pool of pretence has accumulated at the centre of the project, while the political class skirmishes at the edges, in an attempt to fend off the constant assaults of reality.
          Thus we have to pretend that the long observed distinctions between the Protestant North of our continent and the Catholic and Orthodox South is of no economic significance. Being a cultural fact it is imperceivable, notwithstanding Weber's (admittedly exaggerated) attempt to make it central to economic history. The difference between the culture of common law and that of the code napoléon has likewise been ignored, at the cost of alienating the British and the Danes, for whom law has ever been a social rather than a political product. The distinction between the Roman and the Ottoman legal legacies has been set aside, as has that between countries where law is certain and judges incorruptible and places where law is only the last resort in a system of bribes. Times and speeds of work, and the balance between work and leisure, which go to the heart of every community since they define its relation to time, are ignored, or else regimented by a futile edict from the centre. All that is distinctive of the Hungarian experience – the shock of the Treaty of Trianon, which divided the Hungarian people from each other, the distinctive culture of a land-locked country in which a large population of Roma has never properly settled, the still present record of the country's struggle against Islamic domination – all this too has been ignored. And everything is to be brought into line by those frightening courts – the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights – whose unelected judges never pay the cost of their decisions, and whose agenda of 'non-discrimination' and 'ever-closer union' is calculated to wipe away the traces of local loyalties, family-based morality, and rooted ways of life. Not surprisingly, when you build an empire on such massive pretences, it very soon becomes unstable.
          We can rescue Europe, it seems to me, only if we can recover the project that Charles de Gaulle wished to place at its heart, and which was effectively scotched by Jean Monnet – the project of a Europe of Nations. It will not be easy to unravel the web of regulations and edicts contained in the 180,000 pages of the acquis communautaire; nor will it be easy to redefine the roles and the structures of the European courts and the competences of the European Institutions. But the most difficult thing will be to obtain agreement on what national sovereignty really means. In particular, what will sovereignty mean in the aftermath of the European Union? Conservative politicians in Britain often speak of recapturing powers from Brussels, as though these powers will not have been altered by captivity, and as though they can be easily domesticated when they are brought back home. This is like Menelaus thinking that home life in Mycenae would be just the same when he had returned victorious from Troy, the recaptured Helen obediently trotting behind, as it was in the good old days before she left.
          The situation of Europe today reminds us that by conceiving pre-political loyalties in national, rather than religious terms, European civilisation has made room for the Enlightenment. The national idea is not the enemy of Enlightenment but its necessary precondition. National loyalty marginalizes loyalties of family, tribe and faith, and places before the citizen's eyes, as the focus of his patriotic feeling, not a person or a group but a country. This country is defined by a territory, and by the history, culture and law that have made that territory ours. It is the emergence of territory from behind religion, tribe and dynasty that characterises the nationalist art and literature of the 19th century, and the national anthems of the self-identifying nations were conceived as invocations of home, in the manner of Sibelius's Finlandia or the unofficial national anthem of England, 'Land of Hope and Glory'.
          In short, Enlightenment means borders. Take away borders, and people begin to identify themselves not by territory and law, but by tribe, race or religion. Nationality is composed of land, together with the narrative of its possession. It is this form of territorial loyalty that has enabled people in Western democracies to exist side by side, respecting each other's rights as citizens, despite radical differences in faith, and without any bonds of family, kinship or long-term local custom to sustain the solidarity between them. For on the foundation of territorial attachment it has been possible to build a kind of civic patriotism, which acknowledges institutions and laws as shared possessions, and which can extend a welcome to those who have entered the social contract from outside. You cannot immigrate into a tribe, a family or a faith; but you can immigrate into a country, provided you are prepared to obey the rules that make that country into a home.
          National loyalty is not known everywhere in the world. Consider Somalia. People sometimes refer to Somalia as a 'failed state', since it has no central government capable of making decisions on behalf of the people as a whole, or of imposing any kind of legal order. But the real trouble with Somalia is that it is a failed nation. It has never developed the kind of secular, territorial and law-minded sovereignty that makes it possible for a country to shape itself as a nation state rather than an assemblage of competing tribes and families.
          The same is true of many other countries in which Islam is the dominant faith. Even if such countries do function as states, like Pakistan, they are often failures as nations. They seem not to generate the kind of territorial loyalty that would enable people of different faiths, different kinship networks, different tribes to live peacefully side by side, and also to fight side by side on behalf of their common homeland. They are more likely to fight each other for possession of the homeland than to join forces in protecting it. And their recent history might lead us to wonder whether there is not, in the end, a deep conflict between Islamic conceptions of community and the conceptions that have fed our own idea of national sovereignty. Maybe the nation state is an anti-Islamic idea. Certainly that is what Sayyid Qutb would have us believe. Living in 'the shade of the Koran', as he famously put it, you surrender to God, not to mortals. And all lesser jurisdictions, including those founded on territory, custom and man-made law, are abolished by the supreme jurisdiction of the Almighty. (Fi zilâl al-qur'ân.) Ayatollah Khomeini said the same, when he dismissed patriotism as paganism.
          This observation is, of course, pertinent to the Middle East today, where we find the remnants of a great Islamic Empire divided into nation  states. With a few exceptions this division is the result of boundaries drawn on the map by Western powers, and notably by Britain and France as a result of the Sykes-Picot accords of 1917. It is hardly surprising if Iraq, for example, has had such a chequered history as a nation state, given that it has been only spasmodically a state, and never a nation. It may be that Kurds, Sunnite Arabs and Shi'ites in Iraq could all come, in time, to see themselves as Iraqis. But this identity will be fragile and fissiparous, and in any conflict the three groups will identify themselves in opposition to each other. Indeed, it is only the Kurds who seem to have a developed national identity, and it is an identity opposed to that of the state in which they are included. As for the Shi'ites, their primary loyalty is religious, and they look to the homeland of Shi'ism in Iran as a model in turbulent times. Today we are witnessing the collapse of civil order in Syria, a country which has never been a nation-state, but in which one minority sect, the 'Alawites, controlled the main centres of power, striving for legitimacy through aggressive territorial claims against Lebanon and Israel. The current civil war is degenerating into a war between the sects, with Christians as the principal victims.
          The vexed question of Islam and modernity takes us too far from our topic; suffice it to say that tribe and creed have always been more important than sovereignty in Islamic ways of thinking, and the non-emergence of nations in the Middle East is partly explained by this, as is their embryonic emergence in those countries, like Lebanon and Egypt, with substantial Christian minorities, maintaining long-standing trade links with Europe.
          More importantly, I have no doubt that it is the long centuries of Christian dominance in Europe which laid the foundations of national loyalty, as a loyalty above those of faith and family, and on which a secular jurisdiction and an order of citizenship can be founded. It may sound paradoxical, to identify a religion as the major force behind the development of secular government. But we should remember the peculiar circumstances in which Christianity entered the world. The Jews were a closed community, bound in a tight web of religious legalisms, but governed from Rome by a law which made no reference to any God and which offered an ideal of citizenship to which every free subject of the Empire might aspire.
          Christ found himself in conflict with the legalism of his fellow Jews, and in broad sympathy with the idea of secular government – hence his famous words in the parable of the Tribute Money: render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. The Christian faith was shaped by St Paul for the use of communities within the Empire, who wanted only space to pursue their worship, and had no intention of challenging the secular powers. Hence 'the powers that be are ordained of God' (Romans 13). And this idea of dual loyalty continued after Constantine, being endorsed by Pope Gelasius the First in the 6th century, in his doctrine of the two swords given to mankind for their government, that which guards the body politic, and that which guards the individual soul. It is this deep endorsement of secular law by the early Church that was responsible for the subsequent developments in Europe – through the Reformation and the Enlightenment – to the purely territorial law that prevails in the West today.
          It is very clear from the history of our continent, that new forms of solidarity have here come into being which owe much to the Christian inheritance, but which are premised on the assumption that legitimacy is a man-made and not a God-bestowed achievement. Nations emerged as forms of pre-political order that contain within themselves the principles that would legitimise sovereign government. Political theorists of the Enlightenment such as Locke and Rousseau tried to encapsulate this legitimising process in a social contract, by which the members of society form an agreement to be governed in a certain way in exchange for renouncing the state of nature. But it is surely obvious that if people assemble to consider a contract that will unite them, it is because they already belong together, already acknowledge that the welfare of each depends upon the actions of all. A contract, however strong its terms, can never establish more than a conditional obligation, whereas political order depends, in the end, on an unconditional component, as do marriage and the family. Without this unconditional component no community can survive a real crisis.
          The social contract therefore establishes a form of government that will protect and perpetuate an allegiance that precedes the contract and makes it possible. This allegiance is shaped by history and territory, and by all the forms of association that spring from these, notably language, customary law and religious observance. Seeing things in this way, religious observance is demoted to one factor among others, and is reshaped as a subject of law, rather than a source of it. That, to my mind, is the great achievement of European civilisation: to have placed man-made law at the heart of the community, to have subordinated all associations, including those stemming from religion, to the demands of the secular jurisdiction, and to have established the institutions through which law can adapt to changes in social life instead of blurting out some 'eternal' message revealed in circumstances that have vanished, leaving no other trace.
          However, law so conceived is territorial and therefore national. It is a law that defines boundaries, beyond which its writ does not run. Claims to jurisdiction from a place outside those boundaries are fiercely resisted, as we know from the history of England and from the conflict between the crown and the papacy that has been decisive in forming many of the nation states of Europe. When it is proposed that the corpus iuris should permit European courts to charge British citizens with criminal offences, and extradite them to the place most convenient for their trial, it is hardly surprising that British people receive this suggestion with outrage. Their conception of law is the common law conception, which does not permit people to be held indefinitely without trial, and which depends for its authority on the 'law of the land', as embodied in cases decided in the sovereign territory of the English Crown. This attachment of law to territory is not some arbitrary limitation, as though there were a universal jurisdiction from which local jurisdictions are derived by restriction. It is the very essence of law, as the European experience has defined it. We are heirs to a conception of law as arising from the attempt to settle conflicts, to establish institutions, to adjudicate rights and duties, among people who are bound to each other as neighbours. Law, as we know it, is produced by the place that needed it, and is marked by the history of that place. (The contrast with the Shari'ah is obvious, as is the contrast with the 'natural law' of the stoics and the Universal Church.)
          Hence the attempt to build a European Empire of laws that depend upon no national allegiance for their authority is not merely bound to fail. It is likely also to undermine the authority of secular law in the minds of the European people. There is already in the social contract theories of the eighteenth century a kind of wishful thinking about human nature, a belief that people can reshape all their obligations without reference to their affections, so as to produce an abstract calculus of rights and duties in the place of their contingent and historical ties. The French Revolutionaries began their seizure of power in this way, proposing a declaration of the rights of man and the citizen that would sweep away all the arbitrary arrangements of history and place Reason on the throne that had previously been occupied by a mere human being, who had arrived there by the accident of succession. But within weeks of the Declaration the country was being governed in the name of the Nation, the Patrie, and the old contingent association was being summoned in another and (to my mind) far more dangerous form, in order to fill the gap in people's affections that had been made by the destruction of customary loyalty, religious usage, and the unquestioned ways of neighbourhood. This was clearly perceived by Burke, who reminded his readers that human beings are thrown together by accidents that they do not choose, and derive their affections not from their decisions but from their circumstances. It is proximity, not reason, that is the foundation of ordinary charitable feeling. Take that thought seriously, and you quickly come to see that territorial forms of association are the best remedy that we have against the divisive call of ideology. National attachment is precisely what prevents 'extremism' from taking hold of the ordinary conscience.
          This is why we must distinguish national loyalty, which is the sine qua non of consensual government in the modern world, from nationalism, which is a belligerent ideology that looks for a source of government higher than the routines of settlement and neighbourhood. Nationalism is an ideological attempt to supplant customary and neighbourly loyalties with something more like a religious loyalty – a loyalty based on doctrine and commitment. Ordinary national loyalty, by contrast, is the by-product of settlement. It comes about because people have ways of resolving their disputes, ways of getting together, ways of cooperating, ways of celebrating and worshipping that seal the bond between them without ever making that bond explicit as a doctrine. This is surely how ordinary people live, and it is at the root of all that is best in human society, namely that we are attached to what goes on around us, grow together with it, and learn the ways of peaceful association as our ways, which are right because they are ours and because they unite us with those who came before us and those for whom we will in turn make way. Seen in that way national feelings are not just natural, they are essentially legitimising. They call upon the sources of social affection, and bestow that affection on customs that have proved their worth over time, by enabling a community to settle its disputes and achieve equilibrium in the changing circumstances of life.
          National sentiments enable people successfully to defend themselves in wartime. But they are also essential in peacetime too. This we are now seeing in Europe, as the sovereign debt crisis begins to affect the lives of ordinary people. Governments are calling on their citizens to make sacrifices for the common good. They are not asking them to make sacrifices for 'Europe', still less for the European Union. If they were to use this language then they would be forced to recognise that Europe is not the bureaucratic machine that has conferred upon them the small measure of legitimacy that they can claim, but a spiritual inheritance that the machine has tried to extirpate. Hence the only invocations that they can make address national sentiments. They speak of the need to pull together, for the sake of our community, and at every point their language invokes the contingencies of human affection, that make it possible for people to give up something for the sake of others – a habit of mind that social democracies do not normally encourage. They are not speaking the language of nationalism, but the language of attachment, which is something entirely different. Their response to the crisis of Europe reveals that the nation state is not the problem but the solution – it contains within itself the only motives to which politicians can now appeal, when the effects of the European project are finally being felt across the continent.
          In conclusion I must say something about the situation of Hungary today, as I understand it, and the relevance of the national idea to the Hungarians. That Hungary is a special case is evident. The Hungarian language is an isolated remnant of a linguistic group that was for the most part extinguished by the Indo-European migrations, and bares little or no relation to any of the surrounding tongues. Ordinary uneducated Hungarians are therefore isolated from their immediate neighbours by their language. They have also been isolated from each other by the forcible division of their territory at the end of the First World War. The remnant of territory that they still enjoy is shared with a substantial minority of Roma, whose unsettled ways are often resented by their neighbours, but whose cause inevitably gathers support in the wider world. The Jewish minority that survived the Nazi occupation suffered further persecution under the communists, but nevertheless is active in making its presence known. Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire. People in these networks include many who are rightly suspicious of nationalism, regard nationalism as the major cause of the tragedy of Central Europe in the 20th century, and do not distinguish nationalism from the kind of national loyalty that I have defended in this talk. Moreover, as the world knows, indigenous anti-Semitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.
          Those are only some of the factors that stand in the way of a collective pre-political attachment in this part of the world. The European Union offers an idea of citizenship which is in fact a citizenship of nowhere. It encourages people to move from their homeland and to settle elsewhere in the Union, and inevitably those who move are the educated class, whose departure deprives the country of its teachers, doctors, lawyers and surgeons, and provides no replacements for them. The EU also encourages the sale of land to foreign nationals – so building a non-resident landlord class, which has no personal interest in the beauty and moral order of rural life, and which sees land merely as an investment, to be put to use. This has led, and will lead, to tensions of a kind that can be resolved only by a firm political will.

          For there is no alternative to nationality. If the government in Budapest is to enjoy legitimacy, that legitimacy must come from below, from the people whose unity and identity is expressed in the workings of government. This legitimacy must be inherited by each government, whether right or left, whether minority or majority. It must not be a loyalty of cliques, or a reprimand to the peasantry issued by the intellectuals of Budapest, or an edict issued by the true Hungarians in the villages against the traitors in the city. The electorate itself must be identified in territorial terms, since the jurisdiction is territorial, not ethnic or religious. The alternative is fragmentation, as competing ethnic groups or factional interests form parties whose purpose is not to rule in the interest of everyone, but to pillage for the sake of the group. I don't wish to comment here on the existing political parties in Hungary or to raise the question whether any of them has seen government as an opportunity for plunder rather than a duty to secure the common good. But I do know that, until the institutions of government are seen by Hungarians as representing the country, rather than some faction within it, the government will suffer a deficit of legitimacy. It will them lose its principal advantage over the EU in its battle for the affections of the Hungarian people.

domingo, 14 de julho de 2013

A frase da semana: Roger Scruton e a verdade subversiva

Educação real sempre é, em certa medida, subversiva. A posição padrão da humanidade é a conformidade ideológica e a busca da verdade é sempre ameaçadora. Hoje nós vivemos em um mundo com valores socialistas moderados, aceitação acrítica da igualdade e uma suspeita institucionalizada para com o sucesso, a distinção e a alta cultura; este tipo de coisa tomou conta de nossas universidades. Hereges são perseguidos, como sempre foram, e os mesmos têm que trabalhar secretamente ou em algum grau de privacidade. Mas eles também se alegram com isso, pois esta é a prova de que estão certos.

Roger Scruton, entrevista à revista Vilanova, 10/07/2013

Addendum: definição rápida de Scruton sobre o conservadorismo:
"O conservadorismo significa encontrar o que você ama e agir para proteger isso. A alternativa é encontrar o que você odeia e tentar destruir. Certamente a primeira alternativa é um modo melhor de viver do que a segunda."

E, para completar com Scruton: 
"...Brasília, aquele ícone internacional da alienação urbana..."

domingo, 2 de outubro de 2011

Roger Scruton - um desconhecido no Brasil

Até a revista Veja entrevistar este intelectual inglês, todos nós, ou quase todos nós, desconhecíamos Roger Scruton. Não é para menos: os comitês editoriais que dominam as editoras brasileiras mantêm um cerco a quem não pensa como a grande maioria da ignorantzia universitária brasileira.
Bem, um filósofo detestado por esses meios, porque se refere a eles com palavras duras -- basta ler O Imbecil Coletivo -- se encarrega de diminuir um pouco nossa ignorância.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Até que enfim
Olavo de Carvalho
Diário do Comércio, 21 de setembro de 201

A mídia brasileira sempre acaba descobrindo as coisas. Basta esperar umas quantas décadas, e você, já maduro ou velhinho, recebe a informação vital que poderia ter mudado o seu destino se lhe chegasse na juventude.
Quem primeiro me falou de Roger Scruton, no início dos anos 90, foi Daniel Brilhante de Brito, o brasileiro mais culto que já conheci. Citei o filósofo inglês em 1993, em A Nova Era e a Revolução Cultural, antevendo – nada é mais fácil neste país – que sua obra dificilmente chegaria ao conhecimento dos nossos compatriotas. Decorridos sete anos, o Dicionário Crítico do Pensamento da Direita, pago com dinheiro do governo à fina flor da esquerda falante – 104 intelectuais que prometiam esgotar o assunto –, ainda exibia despudoradamente a total ignorância universitária de um autor que, àquela altura, já era tido no seu país e nos EUA como um dos mais vigorosos homens de idéias no campo conservador (v.http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/textos/naosabendo.htm). Só se pode alegar como atenuante o fato de que não haviam excluído Roger Scruton por birra pessoal. Ao contrário, eram rigorosamente democráticos na distribuição da sua ignorância: desconheciam, por igual, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Russel Kirk, Thomas Sowell, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Alain Peyrefitte e praticamente todos os demais autores sem os quais não existiria nenhum “pensamento da direita” para ser dicionarizado. Uma breve consulta ao popular Dictionary of American Conservatism, publicado três anos antes, teria bastado para dar àqueles cavalheiros a informação mínima que lhes faltava sobre o assunto em que pontificavam, mas provavelmente as verbas federais com que encheram os bolsos não bastaram para comprar um exemplar.
Voltei a falar de Scruton, à base de uma vez por ano, de 1999 até 2008. Em vão. Durante muito tempo vigorou nas redações de jornais e nas universidades o mandamento comunista de Milton Temer, “O Olavo de Carvalho não é para ser comentado” (v.http://www.fazendomedia.com/fm0023/entrevista0023.htm), que o zelo dos discípulos estendia aos autores citados nos meus artigos. Alguns, é claro, liam esses autores em segredo, como quem se escondesse no banheiro com um livreto de Carlos Zéfiro. Mas esperavam, para comentá-los, que o tempo apagasse toda associação entre aqueles nomes e a minha pessoa. Assim transcorreu o prazo de uma geração.
Imagino o que teria sido a vida de milhares de estudantes brasileiros se lessem, logo que publicado em 1985, o hoje clássico Thinkers of the New Left. Naquela época, o marxismo já estava cambaleante, mas as idéias da “Nova Esquerda”, que prometiam injetar-lhe vida nova, estavam acabando de aterrissar na taba. Se Antonio Gramsci e Louis Althusser já eram estrelas nos céus acadêmicos tabajaras, outros, como Michel Foucault e Jürgen Habermas, mal haviam desembarcado, e outros ainda, como Immanuel Wallerstein e E. P. Thompson, ainda eram vagas promessas de novos deslumbramentos que só na década de 90 iriam espoucar ante os olhos ávidos da estudantada devota. A cada um desses autores Scruton consagrava modestas oito ou dez páginas que os reduziam ao estado de múmias, fazendo jus àquilo que mais tarde se diria de outro filósofo conservador, o australiano David Stove (também desconhecido nestas plagas): “Ele não faz prisioneiros. Escreve para matar.”
Se alguma longínqua esperança na recuperação da dignidade intelectual marxista ainda restava na minha cabeça de esquerdista desencantado, foi sobretudo esse livro que a exorcizou. Uma tradução brasileira dele teria feito bem a muita gente. Talvez tivesse até debilitado a fé de Milton Temer no monopólio esquerdista da racionalidade, poupando-o do vexame de continuar carregando essa cruz nas suas costas vergadas de septuagenário.
Foi para impedir essa tragédia que a elite esquerdista dominante nos meios universitários e editoriais não só se absteve de ler livros conservadores como também tomou todas as providências para que ninguém mais os lesse. Não que agisse assim por um plano deliberado. Não: essa gente pratica a exclusão e a marginalização dos adversários com espontânea naturalidade. A regra leninista de que não se deve conviver com a oposição, mas eliminá-la, incorporou-se na sua mente como uma segunda natureza, e desde que a esquerda tomou o poder neste país tornou-se um hábito generalizado e corriqueiro suprimir as vozes discordantes para em seguida proclamar que elas não existem.
Por isso é que só agora o indispensável Roger Scruton chega ao conhecimento do público brasileiro, por iniciativa das páginas amarelas da Veja de 21 de setembro, onde ele diz o que todo mundo pensa mas não tem meios de dizer em voz alta. Exemplos:
1) Os arruaceiros de Londres não são pobres excluídos. São meninos mimados, sustentados pela previdência social, que se acostumaram à idéia de que têm todos os direitos e nenhuma obrigação.
2) Nenhum país pode suportar um fluxo ilimitado de imigrantes sem integrá-los na sua cultura nacional.
3) Toda a ideologia de esquerda é baseada na idéia imbecil da “soma zero”, onde alguém só pode ganhar alguma coisa se alguém perder outro tanto.
4) Marx, Lênin e Mao pregaram abertamente a liquidação violenta de populações inteiras, mas a esquerda fica indignada quando lhes imputamos a culpa moral pelas conseqüências óbvias da aplicação de suas idéias, mas se um conservador escreve uma palavrinha contra os excessos da imigração forçada, é imediatamente acusado de fomentar crimes contra os imigrantes.
5) A União Européia é inviável. O euro, paciente terminal, que o diga.
6) A esquerda sente a necessidade de sempre explicar tudo em termos de culpados e vítimas, mas, como cada explicação desse tipo logo se revela insustentável, é preciso buscar sempre novas vítimas para que as ondas de indignação se sucedam sem parar, alimentando a liderança revolucionária que sem isso não sobreviveria uma semana. A primeira vítima oficial foram os proletários, depois os índios, os negros, as mulheres, os jovens, os gays e agora, finalmente, a maior vítima de todas: o planeta. Em nome da salvação do planeta, supostamente ameaçado de extinção pelo capitalismo, é lícito matar, roubar, seqüestrar, incendiar, ludibriar, mentir sem parar e, sobretudo, gastar dinheiro extorquido dos malvados capitalistas por meio do Estado redentor.
Em todos esses casos, é historicamente comprovado que a situação das alegadas vítimas, sob o capitalismo, jamais parou de melhorar, na mesma medida em que piorava substancialmente nos países socialistas, mas a mentalidade esquerdista tem a tendência compulsiva de sentir-se tanto mais indignada com os outros quanto mais suas próprias culpas aumentam. É o velho preceito leninista: Acuse-os do que você faz, xingue-os do que você é.
A par da sua obra propriamente filosófica, de valor inestimável para os estudiosos, Scruton tem dito essas coisas, de uma verdade patente, há muitas décadas e com uma linguagem ao mesmo tempo elegante e ferina que desencoraja o mais inflamado dos contendores.
Espero que a entrevista da Veja desperte a atenção dos leitores para os livros desse autor imprescindível.
A respeito do item 6, convém acrescentar aqui uma informação de que talvez o próprio Scruton não disponha, mas que vem mostrar o quanto ele tem razão. Nos anos 50, grupos globalistas bilionários – os metacapitalistas, como os chamo, aqueles sujeitos que ganharam tanto dinheiro com o capitalismo que agora já não querem mais se submeter às oscilações do mercado e por isso se tornam aliados naturais do estatismo esquerdista – tomaram a iniciativa de contratar algumas dezenas de intelectuais de primeira ordem para que escolhessem a vítima das vítimas, alguém em cuja defesa, em caso de ameaça, a sociedade inteira correria com uma solicitude de mãe, lançando automaticamente sobre todas as objeções possíveis a suspeita de traição à espécie humana. Depois de conjeturar várias hipóteses, os estudiosos chegaram à conclusão de que ninguém se recusaria a lutar em favor da Terra, da Mãe-Natureza. Foi a partir de então que os subsídios começaram a jorrar para os bolsos de ecologistas que se dispusessem a colaborar na construção do mito do planeta ameaçado pela liberdade de mercado. As conclusões daquele estudo foram publicadas sob o título de Report from Iron Mountain – a prova viva de que o salvacionismo planetário é o maior engodo científico de todos os tempos. O escrito foi publicado anonimamente, mas o economista John Kenneth Galbraith, do qual não há razões para duvidar nesse ponto, confirmou a autenticidade do documento ao confessar que ele próprio fizera parte daquele grupo de estudos e ajudara a redigir as conclusões.

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