Leninist morals


Por Olavo Carvalho *

“We must make use of all sort of stratagems, maneuvers, illegal methods, covers and subterfuge”, wrote Lenin in “The Left, Childhood Disease of Communism”. It is a general formula of the conduct of the left. But the immediate context clarifies even more its sense and its current validity: Lenin said these words when he was getting ready to launch NEP, the policy of opening markets that led the world to believe that socialism had lost its brutish and revolutionary vocation, disarmed western prevention and attracted to the URSS bulky foreign investments that were afterwards, naturally, taken over by force.

This was the first of an endless series of  “light” camouflages that socialism has been adopting to this day.

And Lenin would conclude: “When we have conquered the masses through a reasonable attitude, then we shall apply the offensive tactics.”

Since then it became the praxis in the communist parties to keep at the same time two lines of action, a violent and a pacifist one, a radical and a moderate, alternating its exhibition on stage according to the conveniences of the moment. Alternating also the modality of the relationship between these two lines, that can sometimes be a partnership, sometimes competition or antagonism, in a way that the movement would at times look weak and divided, and at other times united and strong. Anatoliy Golitsyn, in his book “New Lies for Old”, showed that, in Soviet politics, this last altering reflected the rhythm of progression of the revolutionary strategy, according to the advice of Sun-Tzu: “Show yourself weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”.

This premeditated ambiguity can be personified in separate figures, which represent simultaneously the two facets of the party, like – in the state of Rio Grande do Sul – you can see in Tarso Genro and Miguel Rosetto, corresponding, mutatis mutandis, to Harlequin and Pierrot, or to Laurel and Hardy. This mechanism can also appear as the opportunistic adaptation to the changes of the historical rhythm, in such a way that the aggressive and unpleasant tactics are put aside as inadequate to the new times, without ever being, because of that, morally condemned. But it can also be manifested as ambiguity in the strict sense of the term, that is, as a double-meaning discourse. When Mr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho declares that  “he does not know” whether today he would still make use of the violent action in which he was involved in the seventies, at the same time that he praises as heroes the ones who took part in it, what he is saying is that he will return to them as soon as he feels it is the proper moment to do so.

It is not a question of morality, but of opportunity. Such is, therefore, the performance we can expect from him in the Ministry of Justice: “When we have conquered the masses through a reasonable attitude, then we shall apply offensive tactics.” The only hope that communist violence does not return to afterwards accuse as violent the reaction of its victims is that the “reasonable attitude” does not reach the desired results. And this depends on the timely decoding of each ambiguous word of Mr. Nunes Ferreira as the latent threat they are. There is also the very remote hypothesis that he becomes aware of the Leninist malice of his conduct and, with no wasting of time, repents of his own past. Repents of it not only as his past, but as a focus of infection that must be cauterized so it never gets inflamed again, in the very same and exact sense which I examine my own communist militancy, not with the nostalgia of someone that pats the head of his extinct youth, but with the realism of someone who confesses a grave moral error.

Benedetto Croce distinguished moral repentance – which condemns the act itself as intrinsically evil – from “economic repentance” – which does not abjure the act, but merely its undesirable consequences: a thief is ashamed of having robbed, another of not having been able to escape the police. Even the pure moral repentance does not guarantee the criminal will never act again. But the economic repentance is almost a guarantee of reincidence.

* Olavo de Carvalho, filósofo, brazilian philosopher, journalista e writer brazilian.

Notes

1. Translated by Assunção Medeiros

2. Article sent to Época’s newsroom (Brazilian Magazine) for the edition of Nov. 3, but not published!

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