Brazil’s March to Socialism Gains Impetus with the Decisive Support of the “Catholic Left”
A “smoke screen” of confusion in present-day Brazil masks revolutionary agitation and especially the destabilizing action of the “Catholic left”
“Perhaps the greatest challenge facing our government over the next few years is getting Brazil to occupy her place in the world. However, for Brazil to take her place in the world, our people must occupy their place in Brazil. This can only happen through a great social transformation, a true social revolution. I am not afraid to say this word. We owe our people a true social revolution” (“Nós não temos o direito de fracassar,” O Estado de S. Paulo, 1/3/2003). These expressive words at President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s inauguration, by José Dirceu, the Presidential Chief of Staff, outlined the new administration’s program.
An attentive observer can easily see that this socialist-inspired promise of a “true social revolution” in Brazil is making considerable progress. True, such advances are not always clear and unequivocal. They jerk back and forth amidst a confusing and gradually deteriorating sociopolitical situation.
As will be seen below, the crucial factor in this process of political, social and economic revolution is the key and ostensive role played by the “Catholic left.”
A Socialist Program Slips in Amid Apparent Confusion
Someone analyzing these first months of the new administration will find a national atmosphere of great confusion and often disconnected actions in politics and government. At least, that is the way it appears. This can be seen in:
– speeches, interviews and measures by authorities that are often rectified or denied;
– endless debates on reforms announced as important but which drag on with proposals and counter-proposals making it impossible for the man-in-the-street to know what is really happening in Congress;
– the reported record-breaking harvests, the product of private enterprise by farmers, and yet the so-called social movements threaten, harass and attack that same private initiative;
– the government’s pompous proclamations that violating the law will be tolerated while authorities often ignore violent attacks against the right of private property;
– the maintenance of a relative stability in economic policies while making promises that are never fulfilled but always delayed;
– proposed gun-control bills to curtail the right to self-defense by law-abiding citizens and, on the other hand, growing insecurity and in-your-face boldness of organized crime which leaves many authorities in almost complete paralysis.
All this appears like a chaotic labyrinth of ambiguity and indecision, where proposals and counter-proposals leave the country zigzagging without a defined goal. However, a more careful analysis of the facts show there is a method to this chaos. The old bankrupt socialist ideology is slyly creeping in, ready to take over Brazil and try once again yet another of its utopian and disastrous follies.
A bloodless but authentic revolution
This chaos deeply concerns the vast majority of Brazilians, who reject socialist ideas, methods and goals even when not expounded clearly.
The shrewd and subtle instinct of demagoguery seeks to disorient the intuition and weaken the will of those who oppose it by developing plans in an atmosphere of confusion. The tactic is to veil goals with imprecise terminology that insinuates without saying. Above all, the public cannot discover that these proposals and actions are part of a firm and coherent doctrinal bloc.
Socialist forces cannot clearly reveal that they have started a revolutionary transformation of the country toward their own utopias lest opposition would grow quickly and become almost universal.
“As is well known, revolutions use, as it were, intuition or very finely honed political instincts that lead them to say or hold back according to what suits them, and that inspire them to pick adequate slogans and clever formulas to reveal their designs by stages,” noted Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira in his best-seller Agrarian Reform, A Matter of Conscience (3rd. ed., 1962, p. 46).
The vast majority of our peaceful and orderly population, which frontally rejects socialist ideology, is thus gradually dragged to a revolutionary, albeit bloodless, state of affairs. In the above-mentioned work, Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira adds:
“Ideological and institutional crises naturally tend to spread to all of life’s domains, including the use of vocabulary. They exert pressure upon some words, causing them slowly to lose their clarity and take on ever broader and less precise meanings. This is what happened, for example, with the term ‘revolution’…
“The word ‘revolution’ often designates an action supported by force to impose the acceptance of some violation of their rights on a government, large number of people or whole people. In this sense, the overthrow of a head of state is a revolution. The same can be said of a government that, supported by force, increases its attributions beyond the limits established by law. In both hypotheses, the circumstance of whether there is bloodshed or not is only accessory: an archetypical revolution is bloody but there can be bloodless revolutions of a much more profound revolutionary nature” (3rd. ed., p. 45).
Revolutionary agitation in the present Brazilian circumstances
Just a few aspects of Brazil’s recent socio-political life would suffice to see how opportune it is to recall the promise-threat of Minister José Dirceu at the inauguration.
a) Leftist agitation has quickly spread throughout Brazil with land invasions in rural and urban areas. The Landless Movement (MST) and the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) – both with a strong presence in the Ministry of Land Reform and INCRA – carried out invasions, lootings, and vandalizing of public and private property. They helped block highways, take over toll booths and hold people prisoner. Threats to property became a permanent fixture hanging over farmers who normally work their own lands in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
In face of this agitation, the government did not even take one serious measure to curb such abuse. To the surprise of many, President Lula received and fraternized with MST leaders and donned the movement’s cap in a symbolic gesture that clearly signaled his adherence to their goals. A few days ago, the head of state reaffirmed that stance when, commenting on the untimeliness of another violent MST action, referred to “my MST friends.”
Furthermore, several highly-placed authorities such as the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, defend tolerance vis-à-vis actions of the “social movements.” Attorney-General Cláudio Fontelles even went so far as to justify certain types of land invasions.
b) In a clear affront to the judiciary branch, executive branch members such as the secretary for human rights, Nilmário Miranda, and Workers’ Party (PT) members such as its national president, José Genoíno, attacked judges that have issued verdicts condemning MST members. They insist that so-called social movements should not be “criminalized.” This naturally tends to turn them into a class of citizens above the law.
c) There is a systematic campaign aimed at demoralizing the judiciary branch. This consists of insistent talk on the “absolute need” to establish “outside control” of the justice system, which would jeopardize the independence of all branches of government and the very foundations of the rule of law.
d) “Zero Hunger,” the government’s flagship poverty program, has shown to be an empty shell and the real intentions of its promoters are being exposed. Impartial experts have confirmed that the poverty figures used by the program are undeniably inflated. The program now serves as a lifeline to support the failed land reform settlements and MST camps. According to press denunciations, the program also serves as a front for radically leftist political activities. It is said to prepare the way for “management councils” patterned after Cuba’s Committees in Defense of the Revolution or Venezuela’s Bolivarian Circles. It also favors PT recruiting in places where the party still has no following.
e) The financial community has long waited for tax reform to simplify and lower the tax burden and thus make the economy more competitive. Amid the confusion surrounding tax reform bills, the nation was surprised by proposals that increase taxation even further. Well-known tax experts called the reform a product of Marxist ideology. They pointed out that the reform will deal a strong blow to private property and free enterprise, fundamentally shake the present economic model, and transform the country into a bankrupt socialist regime.
f) There are ever increasing number of complaints that the Workers Party is using and taking over government offices. Many analysts seriously point out the risk that the PT will govern Brazil for many decades as a one-party system.
g) Several disquieting signs of potential threats to the freedom of expression are appearing. There is even talk of a new “Ministry of Propaganda” and proposals that would establish “social control” of the media.
Foreign policy: forming an international revolutionary front?
The present government also wishes to change foreign policy, leading to very serious concerns:
a) Much importance is being given to what are actually totally delusive diplomatic victories like that at the recent World Trade Organization in Cancún, Mexico, in which Brazil insisted on the worn-out leftist mantra of a North-South confrontation of the poor countries against the rich.
b) In a confusing diplomatic move, Brazil offered to “mediate” a dialogue with FARC or host a U.N. dialogue with the Colombian terrorist group. This group is closely linked to drug-trafficking and seeks to spread is tentacles in Brazil. FARC spent many decades speaking of “dialogue” yet went full steam ahead with the “industry” of deaths and kidnappings, which it now might set up in Brazil.
c) After proclaiming his belief in democracy from the U.N. podium, President Lula and his retinue went to Cuba to lend prestige to Fidel Castro’s regime, whose ideological affinity with many of the present Brazilian leaders is notorious.
All over the civilized world, leaders condemned the Castro regime’s suppression of political opponents, including the execution of three by firing squad. Meanwhile, Brazil chose to buttress the old Cuban dictator and even provide financial aid to ensure his regime’s survival.
This attitude of satisfaction with Fidel Castro and his tyrannical regime contrast with the much-trumpeted “haughty” and “pro-active” foreign policy which has led President Lula to openly confront the policies of President Bush.
This clamorous contradiction is found in the words that President Lula’s special aide, Friar Betto, addressed to students in Cuba: “To enemies, denunciation; to friends, discreet criticism” (Folha de S. Paulo, 9/28/2003).
The “Catholic left” clamors for “profound social transformation”
Analyzing the above-described panorama, one concern is all consuming: the growing presence and ever more strident clamor of the “Catholic left” for an undefined profound social transformation that is none other than the announced “social revolution.”
The “Catholic left” presents itself as the genuine interpreter of the most obscure popular longings. Contrary to the centrist and peaceful nature of Brazilians, these hotheads present their own radically leftist goals as “popular demands.” They brandish inflated figures on poverty and hunger, and create the idea of unstoppable multitudes of the destitute roaming about the vastness of Brazil. They conjure up the most tragic prognoses if their proposals are not carried out.
“Misery is too great, the social movements form a pressure cooker that is about to explode. Everyone can see the poverty. Recent social conflicts only go to show that society wants and needs change,” said the archbishop of Salvador, Geraldo Majella Agnelo, president of CNBB [National Conference of Brazilian Bishops] on September 7. On that day, the Church organization represented by the cardinal organized a march titled “Cry of the Excluded” in several Brazilian cities (Folha de S. Paulo, 9/8/2003).
On the pretext that the poor are acting in legitimate self-defense, the “Catholic left” creates the erroneous idea that the Church wants the most radical equality and spreads a state of mind viscerally hostile to any political, economic or social hierarchy.
The tenets of the “Catholic left” affirm that the “downtrodden” must see every property owner as a “thief” since he possess that which the have-nots are entitled. Thus, supported by the “Catholic left” and the demagogic clamor of a certain media, the so-called “marginalized,” organized in “social movements,” believe they have the right to invade their neighbor’s property armed with sticks, sickles, or weapons.
These “Catholic” leaders of socialist bent say little or nothing about the role of Christian charity to resolve disputes peacefully in cases of real need. Imbued with a false notion of “social justice,” they rally against the present socio-economic order as a whole to the joy of socialists, utopians and terrorists, who reap the fruits of this agitation.
Land Reform: a key tool of the “profound revolution” in Brazilian society
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira sounded the alarm about the “agitation of corpuscles of the leftist intelligentsia and socialist snobs supported by certain people in plush residential neighborhoods, demagogues ensconced in political parties, fashionable technocrats and sacristy-driven “conscientizers.”
These interlinked and effervescent corpuscles, which mutually praise and support one another, have for many decades launched an attack on the principle of private property as taught by the Church for 2,000 years, and practiced by Christian nations who vitally need it for their preservation.
In many of his works, Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira also focused on the “Catholic left” as the most influential force pushing forward global socioeconomic reform by centering primarily on socialist land reform.
Clashing frontally with the Church’s moral and social doctrine, Catholic leftists first seek to destroy the rural landowning class (according to the hackneyed and unjust socialist principle of taking from the rich to give to the poor). This land-reformist animus is inspired by the philosophical principle of equality. Contrary to what Catholic doctrine teaches, inequality among those owning rural or any other property is said to be intrinsically unjust.
Once reaching the extreme goals of land reform, private property in rural Brazil will be destroyed, and the country will have taken a decisive step toward the complete, profoundly egalitarian transformation of its whole socio-economic structure.
Thus, the egalitarian fury of the “Catholic left” steamrolls over all evidence and relentlessly attacks private property.
— The “Catholic left” is not interested in the recent successes of Brazilian agriculture which, based on free enterprise, only favor the social and economic common good of the country.
— These activists refuse to take notice of the overwhelming fiasco of the land reform settlements, which have produced misery. This misery is amply documented in the recent book, Land Reform: Myth and Reality, by journalist Nelson Ramos Barretto, head of the TFP office in Brasilia. The book has made a big impression nationwide and is already in its third printing.
— they ignore the injustices committed against those landowner who devote their peaceful lives to work, increase their own assets, and make the country grow in a legitimate and orderly fashion.
The result is an endless series of land invasions of rural and urban properties, largely instigated by the CPT, in violation of the law. There are also the so-called social movements like the MST demanding that the government round up farmers who are merely defending themselves from unjust attacks on their properties and families.
The “Catholic left” employs a cunning maneuver where a strange reversal of roles takes place: the invaders are presented as peaceful and orderly; and the landowners who, forsaken by authorities, defend their rights, are called aggressors! They act as if the right of private property had already been abolished in Brazil.
All this is causing a growing misunderstanding and indignation among the population. They ask: Where will this all lead?
One sees this apprehension everywhere: attentively reading the news, listening to what people are saying, taking the pulse of the man-in-the street, or acute observations when traveling throughout our vast countryside. A growing number of Brazilians from all walks of life are becoming increasingly (and legitimately) indignant and concerned over the progressive march toward socialism which the left and its religious acolyte, the “Catholic left,” is being imposed on the country.
These sentiments of incomprehension and indignation are reaching a crescendo. A profoundly pensive Brazil is waking up from its longstanding lethargy. This is a Brazil which wants to remain authentically Brazilian and in legitimate continuity with her past. This Brazil seeks to use that past to advance her steps and remain faithful to herself. She does not renounce all that she once was.
The growing gap between this authentic profoundly pensive Brazil and the superficial leftward leaning Brazil can lead to an extremely grave friction of unpredictable consequences.
The TFP calls for stability and social peace
Distancing itself from strictly political affairs unrelated with doctrinal principles, the TFP has always sought to live harmoniously with all legitimate political regimes.
The TFP remains faithful to the ideals and conduct of its founder, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira – who it remembers with admirations as a man of faith, thought, struggle and action on this eighth anniversary of his death. Accordingly, the TFP once again alerts Brazilians to the danger of destabilizing forces organizing all over the country to promote class struggle.
The TFP wishes to cordially alert the authorities and make clear to all segments of the population that those comprising the average, sensible and authentic Brazil want neither a socialist and confiscatory land reform nor its accompanying profound socio-economic changes.
In this atmosphere fraught with concern, discord and threats, the TFP once again places its efforts at the feet of Our Lady of Aparecida, Queen and Patroness of Brazil. It makes its own the trusting Christian supplication that Brazilians have long directed to her: “Protect Holy Church, O tender and loving Mother, protect our country, O Lady of Aparecida!”
São Paulo, October 3, 2003
The Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property — TFP
That concludes this issue of LulaWatch. Until next time,
C. Preston Noell III