1. Twisting Words in the Service of Communist Propaganda
2. Unmasking a Process
3. Implicit Ideological Action, the Central Feature of the Process
4. Unperceived Ideological Transshipment: A Summary
Chapter I – The New Communist Tactic: Persuasive Action in the Subconscious
1. An Obsolete Conception of the Efficacy of the Techniques of Persuasion and Violence in the Communist Strategy
2. Techniques of Persuasion: More Important than Sheer Force
3. Ideological Transshipment: Its Current Importance
4. Communism: An Imperialistic Sect
5. Obstacles Confronting Communist Imperialism
6. The Uselessness of Nuclear Power in Communist Expansion Through Violence
7. Communist Imperialism in an Impasse
8. A New Way Out of the Impasse: The Technique of Implicit Persuasion
9. Conditions Favoring the Communist Technique of Implicit Persuasion
10. Defeatism Vs. Love of True Peace
11. Fear-Sympathy, Implicit and Explicit Persuasion United at the Service of Communism
12. Looking Towards Chapter II
Chapter II – Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
1. The “Classical” Communist Technique of Persuasion
2. The Various Shades of Public Opinion and Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
3. The Method of Unperceived Ideological Transshipment: Its Three Intensities and Phases
4. Definition of Unperceived Ideological Transshipment: Its Artifices
5. A Concrete Example of Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
6. Reform of Structures, An Indispensable Tool in Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
7. An Objection: The Incompatibility of Liberalism with Socialism
8. What’s New About Unperceived Ideological Transshipment?
Chapter III – The Talismanic Words, A Stratagem Of Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
1. A Most Effective Stratagem
2. Method of Utilization
3. How to Prevent the Success of this Stratagem
4. An Exception About the Use of the Word Charged with a Talismanic Meaning
1. The Talismanic Word “Dialogue” and Communism
2. Ecumenism, Irenicism, and Communism
3. Dialogue, Dialectical Relativism, and Peaceful Coexistence with Communism
4. Dialogue, Irenicism, and Religious Persecution
5. Irenistic Pacifism and Dialogue
6. A World of “Transshipping” Talismanic Words
7. Dialogue and the Italian Way of Communism
8. Usefulness of this Work: The Possibility of “Exorcising” the Talismanic Word and Neutralizing the Communist Stratagem
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1908. He received his doctorate in Law from the Law School of the University of São Paulo. He was Professor of the History of Civilization at the University College of the University of São Paulo and Professor of Modern and Contemporary History in the Colleges of São Bento and Sedes Sapientiae of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.
He distinguished himself since his youth as an orator, lecturer and Catholic journalist. He wrote regularly for the Catholic weekly Legionario as well as for the monthly Catolicismo and the large daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
In 1960 he founded the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and served as the President of its National Council until his death in 1995.
TFPs and similar autonomous organizations were later founded in twelve other countries in the Americas and Europe, inspired by the book Revolution and Counter-Revolution and other works of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
Legislative measures, media and political debates all have their role in promoting the liberal agenda. However, one very effective tool is the simple word. The careful crafting and spinning of a single word or expression carries a world of ambiguous meanings that gradually shapes the thinking and mentality of the unwary victim.
How words change thinking is the subject of a this digital release of the book, Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. The American TFP is now offering this brilliant study on its web site at a time when telecommunication and the Internet make the manipulated word ever more powerful. The work makes a case study of the word “dialogue” and its use toward dissolving differences between opposing sides of an ideological debate.
Today this same ploy is used to breakdown the resistance of those who defend Catholic morality or oppose warming relations with the communist regimes of China, Cuba or Vietnam. The study is an excellent tool to unmask such word twisting.
Former President Clinton’s spin on the word “is” shows just how elastic word crafting has become. Words like “tolerance,” “empowerment” and “diversity” are all part of a politically correct lexicon that proposes a whole agenda that includes homosexual “marriage” and abortion. The expression “constructive engagement” is the keystone to American policy toward China. This term invites the listener to overlook religious persecution and human rights violation and “build upon diversity” and “manage specific differences.” In the ecclesiastical sphere, similar terms are used to bridge the chasm between the Catholic Church and Christian sects.
To understand the profound process behind the use of what Prof. de Oliveira calls “talismanic” words, Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue is an invaluable work that will give the reader the insight needed to oppose the often imperceptible use of words to change thinking.
* * *
Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue
The many meanings given to the word dialogue in certain circles have sounded false to our ears for some time. We have observed that in the daily speech of these circles and in certain press commentaries the word dialogue is used in an artificial and forced way around a fixed point of legitimate residual meaning. Furthermore, it is used in such disconcertingly daring ways and with so many underlying meanings that we felt an urgent need, as if dictated by conscience, to protest against such a flagrant violation of the rules of good speech.
Little by little, the impressions, observations and notes we gathered here and there made us feel that the diversiform twisting of the word dialogue had an underlying consistency that appeared to be something intentional, methodical and planned. In addition, we had the feeling that, besides dialogue, this included other words frequently appearing in the lucubrations of progressivists, socialists, and communists, such as pacifism, coexistence, ecumenism, Christian Democracy, third force, and so on. Once subjected to similar twisting, these words began to form a kind of constellation, supporting and complementing each other. Each word was, as it were, a talisman designed to work its own psychological effect over people. And it seemed to us that the overall effect of this constellation of talismans was such as to work a gradual but deepening transformation in people’s souls.
From our observations, it was clear that this twisting was always done with the same objective: to weaken the resistance of non-communists by giving their souls a propensity towards condescension, sympathy, non-resistance, or even surrender. In extreme cases, this twisting even succeeded in transforming non-communists into communists.
As observations revealed to us a distinct line of consistency and an invariable internal structure in the multiform and disconcerting use of these words as efficacious and subtle as a talisman, we began to suspect that if someone were to discover and explain what this line of consistency and logic was, he would unmask a new and widely used artifice employed by communism in its incessant psychological war against non-communist nations.
However, this was not the immediate reason why we decided to make a special study of the matter; it was rather the experience we shall now describe.
In 1963, we published a study entitled The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State. Translated into several languages, this study made its way through the Iron Curtain. Mr. Zbigniew Czajkowski, a director of the “Communist-Catholic” movement “Pax” of Poland, deemed it necessary to immunize the Polish public against this study by publishing an open letter to us in Kierunki and Zycie i Mysi, Warsaw magazines to which he contributes and in which he attempted to thoroughly refute our work.1 We answered through Brazil’s well-known cultural monthly Catolicismo, thus giving rise to a whole debate which is still not concluded.
In one of the points of his argument published in an article in Kierunki and reprinted in Catolicismo (no. 170, Feb. 1965), Mr. Z. Czajkowski enumerated the advantages that he saw in the simple fact that we were debating. Such advantages supposedly resulted from arguing as such, even though we did not come to an understanding. Between the lines of what the Paxjournalist wrote about the advantages of our debate was an imponderable, yet very real, Hegelian influence. And – a small thing but rich in perspectives – applying Mr. Czajkowski’s Hegelian and dialectical premise to all those words whose distortion and misrepresentation impressed us, the meaning of this same distortion and misrepresentation became clarified in a surprising manner. The point of reference explaining and ordering the entire panorama of our previous impressions and observations thus became clear, and the guileful process of psychological warfare, which until then we were only able to glimpse, was laid bare.
Whereas Mr. Z. Czajkowski alluded properly to “debate,” by means of an understandable association of ideas it occurred to us that everything he said about the matter was exactly like what we had heard or read about dialogue. Thus, the word’s varied and enigmatic meaning became clear.
So the importance of certain words, and especially of the word dialogue, as artifices of psychological warfare, was unveiled to us.
The studies resulting from this discovery led us to write the present work, which we submit for the reader’s evaluation.
It is important to emphasize at the outset that the process in question is designed to predispose those naturally refractory to explicit forms of Marxist preaching in such a way as to make them favor communism’s tactics and doctrine and finally transform them into “useful idiots,” if not convinced communists. For this very reason, the process works on mentalities in an implicitway.
A characteristic and essential note of this process is that, throughout or almost throughout its course, its patients do not perceive that they are undergoing a psychological action caused by someone, nor do they realize that their impressions and sympathies are leading them toward communism. In varying degrees of clarity, they know that they are “evolving” ideologically. But it seems to them that this evolution is a process in which they themselves are gradually discovering or deepening their knowledge of an appealing “truth,” or constellation of “truths,” without the aid of anyone else. As a rule, during nearly the entire process these patients never realize that they are little by little becoming communists. If at a certain moment this danger were made apparent to them, they would ipso facto recognize the abyss into which they are falling and would step back.
Only in the final stage of this “evolution” does the patients’ interior transformation become so evident that they realize they are tending towards communism. But at this point their mentality has so “evolved” that the hypothesis of becoming adherents of communism no longer horrifies but rather attracts them.
We call this phenomenon – or rather, this subtle process of communist propaganda – unperceived ideological transshipment. We propose to succinctly describe its essential aspects and, since it is used in different ways, to study especially its application in what we call the stratagem of the talismanic word. We will then illustrate the study of this stratagem with a concrete example or, more specifically, describe how the term dialogue is used to make innumerable non-communists inadvertently evolve towards communism.
The phenomenon of unperceived ideological transshipment has various modalities. It can either develop in all its fullness and radicality by leading the patient all the way to accepting communism, or take on a less ample and radical mode, e.g. when its victim merely becomes socialist instead of communist. In both cases, the transshipment is ideological in the strict sense of the term.
The process also may be directed only at theories and methods of action, rather than at a whole philosophical conception of the universe, of life, man, culture, economics, sociology, and politics, such as Marxism. Thus, a fiery anticommunist can be “transshipped” into one who wants only to make accommodations, concessions, and retreat. This transshipment is “ideological” in the diminutae rationis sense of the word.
We thought it necessary to show, at the end of the study, how the action of the talismanic word and the process of unperceived ideological transshipment can be stopped or even prevented by a timely word of warning to the incautious.
The New Communist Tactic: Persuasive Action in the Subconscious
Before studying unperceived ideological transshipment, it seems useful to emphasize all the importance and timeliness of the subject from the standpoint of the most recent strategy of the communists to conquer the world.
Many readers will stumble over a preliminary difficulty when they settle down to consider the subject seriously. It so happens that the press, television, and radio continuously present Russian and Chinese aggression against non-communist nations as practicable most frequently through armed invasion and through social revolutions promoted by the communist parties of the various countries to be invaded. According to this conception, violence is far and away communism’s principal instrument of conquest.
Undoubtedly, those who hold this viewpoint also speak of techniques of persuasion as a means of conquest. But they view such techniques simply as elements of classic warfare, indispensable but secondary to military operations.
In our view, under today’s conditions ideological persuasion is not regarded by the communists as something collateral, or subsidiary to, violent assault. In fact, the communists now expect greater results from propaganda than from force.
Furthermore, as far as propaganda is concerned, the direct and explicit ideological effort of the Communist Party is not its only priority: unperceived ideological transshipment, the indirect and implicit technique of persuasion, is not less, but in some aspects even more important.
These two statements are essential to broaden the horizons of many anticommunists zealously and meritoriously committed to the necessary task of alerting the world to communism’s war of conquest and violent social revolution. Anticommunists must denounce, prevent and stop the process of unperceived ideological transshipment in all its forms, including that of the talismanic word.
This first chapter is dedicated to elucidating this point.
To demonstrate the assertions we have just made it is necessary to keep in mind, above all, what the fundamental nature of the communist movement is:
— An atheistic, materialistic and Hegelian philosophical sect which deduces from its erroneous principles a complete and unique conception of man, economics, society, politics, culture, and civilization;
— A worldwide subversive organization: communism is not just a movement of a speculative nature. By the imperatives of its own doctrine it wants to turn all men into communists and shape the life of all nations entirely according to its principles. Considered in this aspect, the Marxist sect professes integral imperialism not just because it aims at imposing the thought and will of a minority on all men, but because this imposition affects man as a whole, in all aspects of his activity.
5. Obstacles Confronting Communist Imperialism
To achieve its imperialistic ambition, communism has to overcome serious obstacles. Examples:
A. The Unresponsiveness of the Masses
The communists have been preaching social revolution, bloodshed, and pillage to the entire world’s working population for about a hundred years. Nearly all this time, the communists have had virtually complete freedom of thought and action in nearly all nations. Furthermore, they have not lacked immense financial resources and the best technicians and specialists in propaganda. In spite of all this, the masses have shown themselves largely unresponsive to the lures of Marxist demagogy — which would supposedly fascinate them so easily. The fact remains that in no country has communism ever taken power by means of honest, straightforward elections. Part of this unresponsiveness is due to the fact that in many areas the situation of the needy has been considerably improved. But one should not, however, exaggerate the ideological consequences of such improvements: in some regions, like the north of Italy, where the conditions of the working classes have continuously improved since World War II, communism has achieved disconcerting successes at the polls.2
In addition, the cause of the chronic inability of the communists to win through the ballot box is also, to some degree, due to the resistance that mankind’s age-old substratum of common sense opposes to Marxism. The essentially antinatural character appearing in all aspects of communism clashes with this common sense. In Christian societies, this factor is compounded by the incompatibility between the spirit, doctrine and methods of Marxism and the spirit, doctrine and methods of the Church. The undeniable and immense consequence is that after a hundred years of existence and action, no Communist Party has succeeded in becoming a majority in any country. This fact must be strongly emphasized if we are to see in their true perspective all the obstacles that communism faces.
Answering Possible Objections
● True, communism won the Polish elections in 1957. But it is obvious that they were not free elections. Polish Catholics knew that if they defeated Gomulka they would expose their country to a Russian repression like the one suffered by glorious and unfortunate Hungary in 1956. Thus, although they were a decisive majority, the Catholics opted for what they saw as a lesser evil, namely “Gomulkian” representatives. We are not discussing whether this maneuver is licit or whether it is adroit from a strictly political point of view. We emphasize, however, that in no way can it be affirmed that a congress with a communist majority was freely elected by the illustrious Polish people. Thus, the existence of a communist majority in the Polish parliament constitutes no argument against what we have just said.
● In 1970, five years after the first edition of this work, a Marxist government took power in Chile by means of the electoral process. But it is well-known that Chilean Marxists were far from obtaining a majority in those elections. As we demonstrated at the time in an article widely circulated through practically all the countries of Latin America (cf. “The Whole Truth About the Elections in Chile,” in Folha de São Paulo, 10/9/70), in the 1964 presidential elections Allende received nothing but communist support, that is, from the Socialist Party (Marxist), the Communist Party, and a few small groups of communist dissidents. Thus, all communist vote was for Allende, and he was defeated. In 1970, however, Allende was a coalition candidate and, in addition to the communist vote, was supported by parties not directly committted to Marxism. As it turned out, while leading the other candidates, Allende received only 36.3% of the votes, compared to the 38.7% he had obtained in the previous elections. Therefore, in the 1970 presidential elections there was a drop in the overall Marxist vote; for, even joined by other forces, its percentage of the total vote was smaller than it had been in 1964. Had it not been for a political division among the other candidates, the semi-veiled but in any case scandalous support of the Chilean hierarchy and clergy led by Cardinal Silva Henriquez (who went so far as to authorize Catholics to vote for the Marxist candidate), and finally, the shameful handing over of power to Allende by the Christian Democrats when the congress had to make a choice between the two leading candidates, communism would have never won in Chile.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the leftist coalition failed to obtain a majority of the vote in the subsequent elections even though these elections were not held in an atmosphere of real freedom. Campaigning was restricted by the government. Besides vigorously applying whatever means of “persuasion” it had at its disposal, the government directly pressured newspaper and magazine editors, as well as radio and television stations through arbitrary investigations, in one instance by seizing control of stock and even closing some of them. Therefore, there was no possibility of holding a really free electoral campaign. The rank-and-file voter of the opposition — whose voice is obviously very important in an election — was deprived of the information necessary to make his free choice (cf. our articles “In Chile, a Tie Under Pressure,” and “Neither Real Victory Nor Free Election” in Folha de São Paulo, 4/11/71 and 4/18/71).
The many upheavals of the people indignant with the misery resulting from the application of communist principles to the Chilean economy was a very clear indication of how they would have voted if there had been free elections in the months prior to the overthrow and suicide of Allende.
For all these reasons, the Chilean case, like the one of Poland, is not a valid argument against the affirmation that a Communist Party has never obtained a majority in truly free elections.
● If its methods of persuasion have been so insufficient so far, to what does communism owe its position as a great force in today’s world? Certainly not to the efficacy of its methods, which continuously fail to convince public opinion.
The first and most striking factor of the success of communism has been violence. It was imposed on Russia by a revolution. In other European countries, Russia, one of the victors of World War II, established communism by brute force. Violence alone, however, was not enough. Would Russia have succeeded in defeating the Nazi invader if it did not have the help of the Allies? The Russian armies suffered a shameful defeat at the hands of tiny Finland in 1939. How can one be sure that they could have conquered powerful Germany all by themselves?
Military support during the Second World War was by no means the only benefit communism received from the West. The disastrous policies of the late president Rossevelt at Teheran and Yalta complemented by the enigmatic follies of the Marshall mission in China, contributed immensely to Soviet expansion. As late as 1957, Fidel Castro sensed the unpopularity of communism so well that he posed as a Catholic during the whole civil war in tiny Cuba, certain that he would not reach power otherwise. Only after seizing the reins of state did Castro tear off his mask.
All this shows that the communists would by no means have achieved the successes of which they now boast if they had always confronted resolute and perspicacious leaders.
Consequently, communism reached its current degree of power by violence, astuteness, and fraud, rather than by an ideological victory over the masses.
● Still, the scope of their successes should not be overestimated. Indeed, if after having been imposed on some countries, communism had at least been able to conquer the minds and hearts of the people, why would it need a huge police apparatus to remain in power? Why is it obliged to control its borders so strictly? Why is it that in spite of so many controls there is a continuous flow of refugees who face the greatest risks to go across the Iron Curtain?
B. Failure in Organizing and Fostering Production
Communism, which never succeeded in convincing or genuinely conquering, has also proven incapable of organizing and producing. Its inferiority in relation to the West in this respect is admitted by the communists themselves. Kruschevites and post-Kruschevites proclaim the need for fundamental reforms in Russia’s economic structure in order to increase production. According to them, these reforms must allow more free enterprise. In other words, the communists hope to improve productivity by applying a principle fundamentally opposed to their doctrine. It is easy to see how this failure discredits communism both with the peoples it dominates and with world public opinion.
This impotence in explicit ideological persuasion and economic production naturally presents countless difficulties for the Marxist plan of world hegemony, reducing the specter of its irresistible power to much more modest proportions. In one point, and one point only, can the communist danger seem great to the eyes of all peoples: brandishing the threat of a nuclear hecatomb, perhaps on a worldwide scale. If communism is nothing as a constructive force, it is something as a destructive force.
Although it is well known that Russia’s atomic capability is inferior to America’s, through its own natural disposition Russia, as a thermonuclear power, constitutes a greater threat to the world than any other nation. Indeed, by their very nature, the forces of disorder and revolution are less reluctant (if at all) than the forces of order to resort to destruction to achieve their plans. The normal tendency of a highway robber hidden in ambush is to attack. His victim tends to flee rather than fight back. Thus, there is a greater risk of an atomic hecatomb being unleashed by the Soviets or the Chinese than by some nation of the West.
What is this sole point of intrinsically negative superiority worth to communist expansion? Will they overcome the obstacles to this expansion? What would a thermonuclear conflict bring to the communists themselves? Though perhaps victorious initially, they would become the main victims of the hecatomb they themselves unleashed; since their power is inferior to their adversaries’, soon after their aggression they would probably suffer reprisals greater than the harm they might have caused, and would finally lose the war.
Indeed, nothing is less probable than a communist victory. And if they did attain a victory, what would be left for them but a world in which the United States and Europe would be reduced to an immense mountain of ruins? How could they build, on these smoking and shapeless ruins, the edifice of socialism which Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Kruschev longed so much to see constructed with a most perfect and advanced technology, able in a word, to compete with America’s? Just recently, Pravda, the official organ of the Russian Communist Party’s Central Committee, affirmed: “In politics it often happens that the defeats experienced by one side are not necessarily equivalent to victories of the other. The most surprising instance is that of a thermonuclear war, which would be worth nothing to the socialist bloc, even though imperialism were literally pulverized by it” (Pravda, Jan. 6, 1975, from an AFP telegram of the same date to 0 Estado de S. Paulo). This is an acknowledgment of how deadly a hypothetical Soviet thermonuclear victory over the West would be for the communist nations themselves.
In view of all this, one concludes that in spite of all appearances to the contrary, the global expansion of communism faces most serious difficulties deriving from profound causes, some difficult, others impossible to eliminate. Furthermore, one perceives that the communist plan of universal domination faces considerable risks of failure.
Communism fears to venture into the path of violence. However, explicit persuasion as promoted by the Communist Parties of different countries, has not led to encouraging results. As we have seen, the masses have been unresponsive to this technique.
Since neither violence nor explicit persuasion will work, the way out for communism must be a new method: that of implicit persuasion. This is the central point that must be insistently brought to the attention of the public.
What is there in the Western mentality that this method of implicit persuasion can exploit?
Two factors make western mentalities especially vulnerable to this action.
Man’s instinct of self-preservation is very strong. Therefore, fear is an extremely important factor in his mentality. The figure of the communist aggressor, as imagined by the vast masses of the Free World, continues to exert all its power of intimidation, whether it be a bearded, dirty, shabby revolutionary thirsty for blood and vengeance or a cold-blooded, heartless soldier ready to set off an atomic missile. Innumerable people are thus consciously or unconsciously influenced by a desire to surrender nearly everything to avoid civil war or thermonuclear catastrophe.
Furthermore, communism is not really the antithesis of what many anticommunists believe; rather, it is merely the ultimate expression — more consistent and daring — of certain principles they themselves accept. Liberalism, which triumphed with the French Revolution, sowed the seeds of communism throughout the West.3 As a consequence, the fear of communism is often accompanied by a certain sympathy for some of its aspects. There are ardent anticommunists who are more revolted by the violent methods and the dictatorial character of present-day Bolshevik regimes than by the final goals of communism. They naively feel that if the West attains such goals by bloodless methods, thereby achieving complete equality of wealth and social standing, then justice, affluence, and peace will finally reign in the world.4
C. The Fear-Sympathy Syndrome
In the very psychology of countless persons in the West there is an interplay of forces which we will call the fear-sympathy syndrome. It arouses in influential, economic, political, intellectual, and even religious sectors of society a propensity to make an accommodation with communism.5
This propensity is clearly not to be confused with the noble desire, common to all upright minds, to preserve peace by means of legitimate negotiations and judicious accords that do not entail a renunciation of the fundamental principles of Christian Civilization. Unperceived ideological persuasion goes much further than this by inducing the West to desire a semi-communist regime in order to eliminate, in its relations with the other side of the Iron Curtain, the friction caused by the stark contrasts between the communist regimes and those in the Free World, thus facilitating an accommodation between the two sides.
While fear and sympathy seem incompatible, they are not so in the present psychological situation of the West. In a word, communism does not need to stop intimidating in order to attract sympathies or vice-versa. It is in its interest to maintain all its reputation as a destructive power.
This reputation helps communism to soften the resistance of many adversaries, making them inclined to accommodate. The accomplishment of this psychological goal accentuates in these adversaries a certain sympathy for some aspects of Marxism, preparing them to accept this or that capitulation as a lesser evil, or a tolerable one.
It does not follow that communist parties around the world will gradually give up their explicit proselytism. Organized and dynamic parties serve communism as precious factors of intimidation and schools of formation for the leaders of future Marxist regimes.
Put simply, communism no longer expects to conquer world public opinion through its parties in the Free World, but rather through the technique of implicit persuasion.
We have seen how communism must renounce explicit doctrinal preaching as its principal means of conquering the world and how it now has an opportunity to carry out an implicit ideological action. We have also indicated the vulnerable points which can be successfully exploited by this implicit action in view of the state of mind in important sectors of the Free World. We now must make clear what this implicit action is by analyzing unperceived ideological transshipment.
Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
In order to get a precise focus on what unperceived ideological transshipment is, we must first show how, as a method of persuasion, it differs from the “classical” methods of a Communist Party.
As a rule, a Communist Party is formed with a nucleus of intellectuals or semi-intellectuals who stir up or exploit various factors of discontent and agitation. This is done through well-known methods — individual recruiting in universities, unions, armed forces and so on, lectures and speeches, the press, radio, television, theater and the cinema. Once the climate has been prepared, the initial handful of adepts begins to expound communist doctrine openly. Sometimes bold, sometimes cautious, they will do so immediately or wait according to circumstances. This indoctrination forms a group of fanaticized recruits. The party is established; during this first phase it stirs up, stimulates, and recruits all the “Bolshevizable” people in the circles in which it is acting, people who are predisposed to adhere to communism on account of multiple ideological, moral, and economic factors.
But experience shows that after a time these first and sometimes rapid successes of the Marxist technique of persuasion stop. Once the “Bolshevizables” of a certain circle are recruited, the ranks of the party grow only step by step as society, in its gradual process of ideological, moral, and economic deterioration, “prepares” new prospects capable of being contaminated. Naturally, communist propaganda can accelerate this process of deterioration, increasing the number of individuals possibly assimilated by the party. But they are normally a minority. While communism fills its ranks with this minority, its propaganda collides with an unresponsive majority.
How can communism conquer this majority?
To answer this question, one must first realize that this majority is made up of three different types of people: those in some measure sympathetic to communism, those categorically opposed to it, and those only vaguely opposed to it who do nothing.
Communist strategy is appropriately adapted to each one of these types:
● Those partly sympathetic to communism are influenced by communist proselytism, but not completely won over. They accept something of Marxism, especially its hostility to Religion, tradition, family, and property. Even so, they do not take their hostility to its ultimate consequences. These are the socialists and progressivists of all shades, some of whom are “useful idiots” while others are actually accomplices of communism. The communists try to gather the “useful idiots” into not specifically Marxist leftist groups. They try to place their accomplices in as many key positions as possible in such groups. Communism uses these groups as allies in the struggle to demolish the existing order of things and to seize power. Once this result is obtained, these unfortunate accomplices will be cast aside, persecuted and destroyed if they do not join the Communist Party immediately and subject themselves to it without reservation.
● The communists find it necessary to attack those categorically hostile to, and frequently even militant against communism with a total psychological offensive aiming at disorganizing, discouraging and reducing them to inaction. Taking action against anticommunist leaders is especially useful. They must feel spied upon both inside and outside their organizations, surrounded by traitors, divided among themselves, misunderstood, defamed and isolated from other currents of opinion, excluded from the country’s key positions and means of publicity, and so persecuted in their professional activities that, having barely enough time to provide for their own subsistence, they are prevented from acting effectively against Marxism.
Communism also frequently uses threats of personal retaliation against them and their families to impede the action of these brave men.
● The majority within the majority, so to speak, is made up of people indifferent to the problem of communism, unfriendly to it in different degrees, but who have no militant hostility toward it. Since they show themselves intractable to every technique of explicit persuasion, communism is left with only one way to attract them: the technique of implicit persuasion. Naturally, for this operation to be possible, the communist party must stay out of sight. It has to pick agents posing as non-communists or even as anti-communists to act in the various sectors of society. The less they are suspected of being communists, the more efficient they are likely to be. On the level of individual activism, for example, a prominent capitalist, an important local politician, an aristocrat or a priest are much more useful than a simple merchant or a laborer.
Much can be done in favor of communism in this sector of public opinion through political parties, newspapers, and other means of publicity which appear absolutely unaffected by communism but do not focus on the struggle against it as a necessity of continued and capital importance.
Such persons, political parties, and media lend a prime and precious cooperation to communism simply by maintaining a climate of superficiality and an easy and carefree optimism regarding the communist threat. This atmosphere makes anticommunist organizations appear emotional and extremist to the greater part of the public that could and should support them. Furthermore, the failure to warn the public about the present seriousness of the communist danger prevents the indifferent from becoming antagonistic to communism and the non-militant anti-communists from entering the fight. These two results are precious to Marxism, sparing it great harm. While the Marxists recruit their militants, penetrate or establish organizations of “useful idiots,” and freely carry on their continuous and inexorable work of destruction, the greater part of public opinion that would react if it realized the real seriousness of the danger, shuts its eyes, crosses its arms, and gives the adversary free rein.
This is a considerable accomplishment, but it is not enough for communism. Unable to conquer this majority, communism lulls it to sleep; as long as it is unable to conquer it, communism will be forced to advance slowly. And, if some day this advance matures and becomes undisguisable, this inattentive and distracted majority might be jolted out of its slumber and join the fight.
Thus, the red sect cannot be content with exercising the above described neutralizing and anesthetizing action over this important sector of public opinion.
Communism was very successful in founding parties practically all over the world, in organizing the left under its command, and in dismantling and neutralizing countless anticommunist organizations. But communism failed when it attempted to make the majorities accept its doctrine. These are the same majorities that communism must persuade, more than neutralize, to win its great battle in our times.
Now, unperceived ideological transshipment is the technique of implicit persuasion most suited to the state of mind of today’s majority.
The method of unperceived ideological transshipment has three possible degrees of intensity and three phases. The intensity of its effects can be just as varied.
The first phase of this method is completely preparatory. It consists in using the fear-sympathy syndrome to prepare the sectors of opinion likely to be alarmed and react at the advance of communism, to take an attitude of inertia and even resignation. We dealt with this phase in the last chapter (item 9). Unperceived ideological transshipment reaches its lowest intensity in this phase.
This intensity increases in the next phase. Without perceiving it, the patient of the transshipment process, whether an individual, a group, or a large sector of opinion, changes from an attitude of resignation to a somewhat favorable attitude of expectancy. The fruit of the process is no longer preparatory and negative; it now has something positive.
Finally, when it succeeds in transforming the sympathizer into a dedicated follower, the transshipment process reaches its full intensity and produces its characteristic result.
Essentially, the process of unperceived ideological transshipment consists in acting upon someone’s mind to make him change his ideology without perceiving it.
Several different artifices can be used to obtain this result.
Usually, these artifices are:
a) Finding, in the ideological system the patient currently accepts, points of affinity with the desired ideological system;
b) Over-emphasizing those points of affinity, from the standpoint of doctrine and emotion, so that the patient puts them above all the other ideological values he accepts;
c) De-emphasizing as much as possible the patient’s adhesion to doctrinal principles which might be irreconcilable with the ideology to which he is being transshiped;
d) Attracting the patient’s sympathy for the militants and leaders of the desired ideological movement, making him see them as soldiers of the over-emphasized principles in item “b”;
e) To go from this sympathy to cooperation in achieving goals common to the patient and his former doctrinal adversaries, or to fight an ideology or a current of opinion inimical to both;
f) Thence giving the patient the conviction that the over-emphasized principles are more consistent with the ideology of his new friends and brothers in the struggle than with his former ideology;
g) At this point, the patient’s mentality will have been changed, and his assimilation by the new ideology will only encounter secondary obstacles.
During nearly this whole process, the patient:
– will not realize that his ideas are changing, and when he finally does realize it, he won’t be frightened;
– imagines that he is acting on his own from start to finish, unconscious that he is being maneuvered.
Thus, he is gradually transformed from an adversary into a sympathizer and finally a follower.
Now we will briefly illustrate how a person hostile to communism can be unconsciously transshipped to it through the widely diffused trilogy of the French Revolution.
“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity:” Obviously, none of these words has an intrinsically bad meaning. However, they can be easily abused.
If a patient’s passion for Liberty is taken to an extreme through clever propaganda, a disorderly desire for a state of affairs without government or laws is created in him. Fallen human nature easily tends towards this, and the ideological germs bequeathed to the world by the French Revolution are fraught with stimuli toward it. According to the theoreticians of Marxism, Liberty is the end term to which the communist state should lead in its last phase.
The exacerbation of the appetite for Equality — so easily produced by man’s tendency to envy and revolt — logically leads to the hatred of all social and economic hierarchy and to the total egalitarianism inherent to the communist regime once it enters the phase of state capitalism and dictatorship of the proletariat.
Once the idea of Fraternity is over-emphasized, one soon comes to hate everything that separates men and distinguishes them in a proportionate and legitimate way, and finally, to anxiously desire the abolition of all countries to establish a universal republic: another objective of communism.
The reason we chose these three yearnings as an example is that we believe they play a role of capital importance in the Bolshevization of the West. Once these values have been over-emphasized in someone’s mind and an unbalanced emotional climate created around them, it is easy to lead him, stage by stage, to a liberal and egalitarian reformism. This increasingly radical reformism first induces sympathy and cooperation with communists, finally leading to the acceptance of communism as the absolute and perfect realization of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
With the above example, one can easily see how much unperceived ideological transshipment, itself a process of ideological action over public opinion, can be helped by so-called reforms of structure.
Liberalism and especially egalitarianism can and have inspired laws leading to an ever more revolutionary transformation of the institutions and life of many countries.
Under the laudable pretext of destroying excessive inequalities and privileges, one can go farther by gradually abolishing legitimate privileges and inequalities indispensable to the dignity of the human person and the common good. As the steam roller of egalitarianism becomes heavier and more destructive through socialist and egalitarian reforms such as agrarian reform, urban renewal, corporate and industrial reform,6 society as a whole draws closer to the communist ideal. And to the degree that public opinion becomes accustomed to this, it too will become communist (cf. The Church and the Communist State: The Impossible Coexistence, in Crusade for a Christian Civilization, vol. 6, July-Oct. 1976, item VI, p. 27). One can see how socialist and confiscatory reforms of structure amount to indirect action over public opinion, which gradually becomes communist without perceiving it.7
One might object to the above considerations about the so-called reforms of structure, by saying that they are socialist-inspired. Now, if liberalism appears to be exactly the opposite of socialism, how can one claim it has a role in these transformations?
True, since liberty naturally produces inequality, an egalitarian state of affairs would require rigid State control. However, communists don’t see it this way. For them, the total authoritarianism inherent to the dictatorship of the proletariat should establish equality between men once and for all. Once this goal is reached, political power should disappear, giving way to an entirely anarchical state of affairs in which complete freedom will no longer engender inequalities. For communists, the incompatibility between liberty and equality is only temporary. Liberty is provisionally sacrificed under the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to establish total equality. This, however, prepares the anarchical era in which full equality will exist side by side with total freedom. Communist authoritarianism is therefore ultra-liberal in spirit and purpose.
Moreover, from the standpoint of family and morality, liberalism in the capitalist regime prepares the ground for communism. The home is effectively destroyed to the degree that moral liberalism facilitates divorce, adultery, and the revolt of children and domestic servants. Mentalities thus become gradually accustomed to a state of affairs in which the family no longer exists. In other words, public opinion moves toward the “ideal” of free love inherent to communism.
The shifting of Western Christian society from one leftist position to the next on the road to Marxism is an old and deep-rooted phenomenon. It essentially constitutes a more or less unperceived ideological transshipment to communism, a transshipment which this Christian society has been lamentably undergoing for centuries.
The phenomenon is therefore not new.
What is new, however, is the aspect that it assumes by virtue of the very special effort that certain circles make, through various artifices, to give this process an unprecedented speed. Furthermore, this shift is no longer produced in stages, from center to left or from a moderate left to one more radical, but from the center or the moderate left to a categorically communist state of affairs.
Today this process shows something new, which was barely visible in the past: a bright red color. Not only is it carried on through modern artifices, but it tends to Marxism radically and directly, and is marked by an unprecedented haste. Unperceived ideological transshipment is new above all in that it no longer plays the secondary role of a collateral tool, but has now become the tactic most used by communism for the ideological conquest of the world.8
The Talismanic Words, a Stratagem of Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
In the previous chapter we studied the process of unperceived ideological transshipment. Now we turn to the talismanic word.
The stratagem we refer to as the talismanic word 9 is one of the most efficient means to carry out unperceived ideological transshipment.
It essentially consists in acting over the minds of individuals, groups, or large communities in a very sui generis way, by applying certain elastic words with a very astute technique.
The method of carrying out unperceived ideological transshipment through the talismanic word can be described in general terms, even though it necessarily requires adaptations to each concrete case.
For convenience’s sake, we will present this method as applied to a small group. Naturally, this method can be applied by a person acting individually over another or by a small group acting over a possibly much larger group.
This method’s application is developed processively as follows.
A. A Point of Impressionability
To begin with, this method presupposes that those to whom it will be applied have a special sensitivity to a certain subject.
* As far as social problems are concerned, this sensitivity could react to, for instance:
– a notorious injustice, such as can happen with certain privileges associated with class;
– a particularly dreadful risk, like that of a social revolution;
– a disaster like famine or disease.
* Regarding ideological problems – philosophy, religion, etc. – the sensitive point could be:
– the misfortune of those who are in error such as heretics, Jews, pagans, and other separated brethren,10 and the urgent need to enlighten and teach them;
– the possibility of an imminent victory, on a local or global scale, of an erroneous ideology such as Marxism, with the whole sequence of religious, cultural and moral consequences that it entails;
– the risk that the growing clash of opposed ideologies and regimes may aggravate the dangerous tensions tormenting the contemporary world to the point of causing a thermonuclear war.
B. A Point of Apathy
This method also presupposes a point of apathy or indifference symmetrical to the point of impressionability in those to whom it will be applied.
* Regarding social questions, the symmetrical point can be, for example:
— insensitivity to injustices no less notorious or numerous than those of certain rightly detested privileges. To illustrate, we here recall the most serious and widespread injustices caused by the gradual but systematic grinding away of the rights of persons, families, social groups, and regions, brought about by the massification of contemporary societies (or, as Pius XII put it in his celebrated Christmas Radio Message of 1944, by the transformation of people into masses, cf. Discorsi e Radio-messaggi, Vol. VI, p. 239). This massification can happen by the transformation of customs, by the action of socialist laws that are becoming more numerous in non-communist countries, or by the implantation of the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus, not only legitimate and invaluable personal, familiar, or regional peculiarities are mercilessly destroyed, but also harmonious, organic, cultural or social inequalities based on just motives of the intellectual, patrimonial, or moral order are sacrificed to what many call “socialization;”
— insensitivity to the consideration that, if a social revolution is a very grave evil, it is usually so above all because of unjust and pernicious objectives. Nothing is more absurd than wanting to avoid the revolution at any price, making the revolution therefore from top to bottom and thereby reaching precisely the destructive and unjust objectives one was trying to avoid.
In other words, it is absurd to bring about from the top, through the initiative of the natural defenders of order, the “reforms” communism would make from the bottom since this would mean, for the whole social body, “propter vitam, vivendi perdere causas” — to lose the reasons for living for the sake of life itself (Juvenal, Sat. VIII, 84).
— Insensitivity to the fact that, if one should do everything possible against hunger and sickness – considered here as social evils – in no way should one try to do the impossible, the utopian, since this would only sooner or later aggravate the very same evils one desires to vanquish. In many instances, profound and lasting solutions for this kind of social evil are slow. This does not mean that one should not hasten to apply them. But it is necessary to apply these solutions with redoubled concern in order to prevent the natural delay of the cure from being added to the censurable slowdown resulting from our negligence. But one must frequently give up the impatient desire for immediate results. This desire, in effect, exposes us to the risk of preferring, rather than authentic solutions, the violent panaceas extolled by demagogy and effective only in appearance.
* As far as ideological problems are concerned, the symmetrical points can be:
— Insensitivity to the risks of intemperate apostolic zeal. Since knowing the true Religion is the greatest happiness, those who do not know it are certainly to be greatly pitied. And those who use all means to bring our separated brethren to the unity of the Faith are to be praised. Therefore, we would run a serious risk if any action to this end were wanting on our part because of indifference or ignorance. However, we must not be insensitive to possible risks from the other side, that is, from the disorderly ardor of the apostle and from the naturalistic character of his methods. Disorderly zeal and naturalism can inspire the use of illegitimate techniques to attract non-Catholics, techniques such as confused terminology, implicit or explicit doctrinal concessions, etc.
Considering only the apostolic efficiency of these illegitimate ruses, we should point out that the keenest and most consistent minds among our separated brethren observe them carefully. The best and most approachable non-Catholics are the very ones who most carefully watch us in order to judge us according to our sincerity and consistence in the faith we profess. To see that we confide more in morally doubtful techniques than in the supernatural in our eagerness to obtain conversions can only cause them sadness and turn them away. We should not be insensitive, then, to these many risks.
Finally, and above all, we cannot be indifferent to the risk of exposing our own Catholic brethren to doubts about their faith, persuading them – under the guise of peaceful coexistence with our separated brethren – to attend conferences and lectures, and to read books or participate in meetings in which heresy, schism, atheism, or moral corruption might enter their souls.11 We should be even more vigilant about the preservation of Catholics than about the conversion of infidels, since in the hierarchy of the love of neighbor, no one deserves more love than the brother who participates in the same faith, as Saint Paul says: “Then while there is time, let us do good to everyone, but principally to our brothers in the faith” (Gal. 6:10);
— Insensitivity to the illicitness of renouncing some supreme and undeniable principles, and of accepting some Marxist errors, to prevent a total Marxist victory.
The victory of Marxism is undoubtedly the cause of catastrophic misfortunes. But our worst risk is not to be conquered by it in the military or political fields, but to kneel before the conqueror. To accept a modus vivendi that might mean renouncing principles to avoid the fatal consequences of our defeat, to renounce expressly or tacitly the institution of private property, for example, in order to obtain freedom of worship (cf. The Church and the Communist State: The Impossible Coexistence, in Crusade, Vol. VI, July-Oct. 1976) – is a thousand times more lamentable than suffering the persecution brought on by a noble and virtuously faithful position on orthodoxy.
— Insensitivity to the risk of communism dominating the world before the silence and inertia of Christians. If the communists brutally present us with the alternative of giving up the battle against their errors or accepting the risk of war, they implicitly require us to choose between the fulfillment of our duty as Christians or real apostasy. In that case, we must say like St. Peter that, whatever the cost, “It is more important to obey God than men” (Acts, 5:29).
C. A Talismanic Word
At this initial position, in which the patient is at the mercy of his one-sided state of mind and already prepared for the psychological action that he is about to undergo, the use of a well-chosen word can produce surprising effects. This word is the talismanic word.
This is a word whose legitimate meaning is congenial and, at times, even noble; but it is also a word that has some elasticity. When it is used tendentiously, it begins to shine with a new radiance, fascinating the patient and taking him much farther than he could have imagined.
Twisted out of shape and distorted, wholesome and even dignified words have been used to label a number of mistakes, errors and blunders. We could even say that the effects of this technique are more harmful when the word being abused is more elevated and dignified — corruptio optimi pessima. Some words with a dignified connotation that have been transformed into deceitful talismans and placed at the service of error are: social justice, ecumenism, dialogue, peace, irenicism, and coexistence.
D. Stirring Up a Network of Sympathies and Phobias
Thus charged with a new spirit, each of these words raises up a network of impressions, emotions, sympathies, and phobias in persons with the states of mind described in items A and B. As shown below, this network orients the victims toward new ideological directions: philosophical relativism, religious syncretism, socialism, the policy of the extended hand, open cooperation with communism and finally, the acceptance of Marxist doctrine.
E. Great Propaganda Qualities
The prestige of propaganda leads the victim of the transshipment process to become more and more attracted to these new ideological paths. The talismanic words correspond to what the media generally considers modern, pleasant and attractive. Thus, the lecturers, speakers, or writers who use these words do so for the sole reason of seeing their chances of a good reception in the press, radio, or television considerably enhanced. For this reason the person listening to the radio or the television or reading the newspaper will find these words used everywhere in every possible way, with growing repercussion in his soul.
F. Whose Elasticity Is Used for Propaganda Effects
The propagandistic quality of the talismanic word leads the writer, speaker, and lecturer to the temptation of using it with increasing frequency for every application, and even when it is not applicable, thus making himself more easily applauded. And in order to increase the opportunities of using such words, he uses them in analogous and successively broader ways, stretching their natural elasticity almost to absurdity.
G. Susceptible to Being Radicalized
With such a great range of uses for the talismanic word, the bolder uses cause the more moderate, sensible, and current ones to fall into disuse. Those who formerly would use the talismanic word with a slightly deformed meaning, or applaud its use as if it were a new plaything, will begin to applaud and use it in more and more exaggerated senses, until it reaches a climax. This is the phenomenon of the radicalization of the talismanic word.
H. Thus Achieving Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
This very process of radicalizing the talismanic word causes the unperceived ideological transshipment of those who use it. Fascinated by the word, they quickly accept as supreme and ardently professed ideals the successively more radical meanings that it assumes.
With the force of values accepted as supreme, these ideals in turn gradually produce in the victim of the transshipment process all the interior and exterior changes of attitude toward his former adversary, described in the previous chapter (Ch. II, item 4).
This is how the talismanic word is used to unleash the process of unperceived ideological transshipment and bring it to a close.
The reader will naturally ask if there is any way to prevent the success of the stratagem we just described.
There is a way. It is easily understood, provided that one keeps in mind some characteristics of the talismanic word.
A. The Talismanic Word Resists Being Made Explicit
The radicalized talismanic word resists being made explicit. Its real power lies in the emotion which it excites. Reflection, drawing towards the talismanic word the analytic attention of whoever uses or hears it, would disturb and impede ipso facto the sensible and imaginative fruition of the word. By keeping its meaning obstinately implicit, the talismanic word continues to be a vehicle and a hiding place for its increasing emotional content.
B. Analysis “Exorcises” the Magic Power of the Talismanic Word
The action of the talismanic word can be “exorcised” through its analysis. Thus, one understands the utility of this study, which is to make available to those who are interested the means of arresting the process of unperceived ideological transshipment by exorcising the talismanic word.
We are not suggesting here that one should never use the word with talismanic meaning, but simply that it be used properly and always in its natural and legitimate sense.
An Example of the Talismanic Word: “Dialogue”
Perhaps the summary points presented above seem to be too abstract. Therefore, in this chapter we will illustrate how the talismanic word is used by analyzing how one of them, “dialogue,” is utilized to carry on the unperceived ideological transshipment towards Hegelian relativism and Marxism.
To describe the process of unperceived ideological transshipment carried out through the changing talismanic meanings of the word “dialogue,” it is necessary:
— to make a preliminary study of its natural and legitimate meanings;
— to show in which of them evolution towards the first talismanic meaning occurs;
— to describe how successive talismanic meanings are then engendered one from the other under the action of the fear-sympathy syndrome thus advancing the unperceived ideological transshipment.
B. Natural and Legitimate Meanings
a) Preparatory Character
This part of the study is preparatory in scope.
For the reader to thoroughly understand the precise analysis of the talismanic process which we will make later on, it would be helpful to:
— clearly distinguish, in light of the natural and legitimate meanings of “dialogue,” the difference between that in which the first talismanic distortion occurs, and the others;
— keep clearly in mind the components of the legitimate meaning in which the first distortion occurs to better understand the transformations these elements undergo in each stage of the talismanic radicalization.
b) The Multiplicity of Legitimate Meanings
Analyzing the current meanings of the word “dialogue” and others connected with it, such as “dialectic”, “argument,” “polemics,” etc., we can see that they are often very different and, from a certain point of view, sometimes contradictory. This occurs in all circles, regardless of the degree of education. As the years pass, the emotional burden associated with some of these words changes their meaning, with the result that persons from different generations understand them in different ways. From one region to another, and more justifiably, from one country to another, perceptible variations of meaning at times occur.
Incidentally, this phenomenon is not confined to common usage, since in philosophical language the word “dialectic,” for example, has so many meanings that it is impossible to use it without determining precisely which meaning it is to have (see “Dialectique,” Vocabulaire Technique et Critique de la Philosophie by A. Lalande).
c) How to Study These Meanings
It seems that the best way to study the various legitimate meanings of “dialogue” would be to list, study and compare each of them with the others.
However, since the nature of this work is not preponderantly linguistic, we will proceed quickly and clearly by showing a basic element in the etymology of “dialogue” that appears in all its accepted meanings, then classifying these latter according to the twofold criterion that we will indicate later.
This method gives us a picture of the word’s meanings and allows us to put in the right perspective and with the necessary precision the legitimate meanings that will be distorted by the talismanic process.
d) Criteria for Classification
Classification of the different meanings of the word “dialogue” is made:
— according to the objective of dialogue;
— in light of the consequences to dialogue arising from the emotional attitude of those who dialogue.
With this it will be easy to see how a different meaning corresponds to each of these modalities.
It will be easier for the reader to follow our study when each of these classified meanings is accompanied by a complementary explicative word, a kind of terminology for greater clarity.
f) Selection of Meanings
It is possible that some legitimate meanings of “dialogue” are not included in this classification. It was not our intention to consider all of them, but only those that are more pertinent to the criteria of classification, that is, to the very nature of dialogue.
g) An Important Reservation
It is easy to see that it matters little in understanding our thesis if the reader prefers different classification criteria or is disappointed at the lack of some other meaning of dialogue in ours.
Indeed, the classification we propose has a merely propaedeutic character. Our exposition can be easily understood and followed once the reader has in mind the several accepted meanings of “dialogue” here made explicit with the help of the unvarying complementary words of our terminology.
h) Etymology of “Dialogue”
The Greek word dialogos is composed of dia, meaning “separation” or “disjunction,” and logos, meaning “word.” Thus “dialogue” is used in Socrates and Plato to designate the form of intellectual elaboration that two or more speakers, proceeding by questions and answers, use to distinguish things according to their genus.12
Based on this etymology, it is easy to see how in all the languages of the West the word “dialogue” (according to the dictionaries) has come to broadly apply to any kind of conversation.13
i) Modalities of Dialogue According to its Objective
A distinction should first be made about dialogue in the broad sense, the value of which will become apparent as the exposition proceeds. According to its objective, dialogue:
1. is either such that the speakers do not intend to change each other’s persuasion, which can occur:
— when it merely seeks the exchange of information or to entertain the parties (dialogue-entertainment);
— when it seeks the collaboration of the parties for the investigation or analysis of a matter that both understand insufficiently (dialogue-investigation);
2. Or, that the speakers differ on a certain subject and each one seeks, by argument, to persuade the other to change his conviction (argument).14
j) Corresponding Differences of Emotional Attitude
To these different intentions and objectives correspond respectively diverse emotional attitudes in the persons who dialogue:
1. When the speakers do not aim to change each other’s opinions, the emotional attitude is one of relaxation.
This relaxation is complete and continuous in “dialogue- entertainment.”
It is also complete in the case of “dialogue-investigation;” but as some accidental and transitory differences can arise during the investigation, some passing tension might appear.15
2. In the case of “argument,” the emotional attitude of the speakers generally has a different character: differences of conviction create a heterogeneity between the two that is in itself an obstacle to their linking with one another; the argumentation which each one uses to convince the other can easily provoke a tone of relations more or less like a fight, depending on the case.
Thus, dialogue has two fundamental modalities: one distinguished by its objective; the other by the emotional aspect of the relationship of one speaker to the other.
k) Dialogue in the Broad Sense, the Strict Sense, and Argument
The word “argument” is entirely suited to the mode of dialogue described above in point 2 of items (i) and (j).
But how does one designate the form of dialogue in number (1) of those items? It is also called “dialogue” and there is no word to distinguish it.
Along with the broad and etymological meaning already analyzed, let a strict meaning of the word thus be formed to designate mode no. (1) (which includes “dialogue-entertainment” and “dialogue-investigation”).
What is the position of the word “argument” in view of these two meanings of “dialogue”? “Argument” designates one of the modalities of dialogue in the broad sense. “Argument” is the contrary of “dialogue” in the strict sense of the word, just as the species within the genus are distinguished and opposed.
l) Argument-dialogue, Argument Pure and Simple and Polemics
There are also distinctions to make regarding argument, which has three degrees of intensity:
1. Argument can have an extremely serene and cordial character, so that, while fully keeping the content of an argument, it has the amenable appearance of dialogue in the strict sense. But since each speaker is seeking to change the persuasion of the other, we should keep in mind that we are witnessing a true argument and not a dialogue in the strict sense. This mode of “argument” resembles dialogue in the strict sense only in something accidental, that is, in its form and suavity. Thus, it is not only in the broad sense that the term “dialogue” is applied to this type of argument; it is also applied in a specific and particular way derived, as if by osmosis or assimilation, from the mere accidental likeness of dialogue in the strict sense to this mode of argument. We therefore call this “argument-dialogue.”
2. In the second degree, argument has the normal emotional warmth inherent to the interlocution in which each party wants to change the persuasion of the other. To this mode – which corresponds to the ordinary meaning of the word “argument” – we will give the name “argument pure and simple;”
3. Finally, argument can become very heated emotionally, and in this case is called “polemics” (from the Greek polemos, war). Because of its particular vehemence, polemics generally has a boisterous, noisy character and easily falls into personal attack when dealing with doctrine.16
m) Schematic Diagram of the Legitimate Meanings of “Dialogue”
These notions of the different meanings of “dialogue” are outlined below.
Dialogue in the strict sense — Interlocution in which each party does not aim to change the persuasion of the other. Relaxed emotional attitude.
Dialogue in the broad and etymological sense — Any type of interlocution.
Argument — Interlocution in which each party tries to change the persuasion of the other. Emotional attitude can easily be that of a fight.
Dialogue-entertainment — Aims to inform, entertain, etc. Emotional attitude of total and continuous relaxation.
Dialogue-investigation — Aims to investigate, study, analyze. Habitually, the emotional attitude is of relaxation. Nevertheless, accidental and transitory tension is possible.
Argument-dialogue — Emotional warmth less than usual. The content is truly an argument since it aims to change the persuasion of the interlocutor. It is only called “dialogue” because of its accidental similarity to dialogue in the strict sense.
Argument Pure and Simple — Emotional warmth common to the pugnacity inherent to the interlocution in which each party desires to change the persuasion of the other.
Argument-Polemics (or merely “polemics”) — Uncommonly heated emotionally, that is, particularly vehement and boisterous.
n) Characteristic Common to the Many Meanings of “Dialogue”
Except when taken in the broad sense, “dialogue” obviously carries a note of harmony, concord and peace in its various applications.
This note of harmony is inherent to dialogue in the strict sense of the word, that is, to dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation, to which an emotional attitude of complete relaxation is proper.
As we have seen, argument can only be called “dialogue” by analogy, when it has this note of harmony to an outstanding degree, thus becoming argument-dialogue. However mild it may be, an argument-dialogue will never be a dialogue in the strict sense, a note of pugnacity being inherent to all and any argument.
C. Pugnacity in the Several Modalities of Argument
What is the nature of this note of pugnacity? It is intellectual when each party wields arguments with the intention of persuading the other to, according to the formula of Saint Remigius, “Burn what you adored and adore what you burned.” It is volitive and emotional when the heat of colliding wills and the stridency of different ways of feeling are added to the clash of ideas.
D. Is There Anything Wrong with Argument Pure and Simple or Polemics as Such?
Is this note of emotional, volitive, or intellectual pugnacity an evil in itself? Do argument pure and simple and polemics have a pejorative character? It is a must to answer these questions properly, for the stratagem of the talismanic word “dialogue” is developed on the basis of false answers that are given to them.
We are not considering the licitness of the almost imperceptible note of pugnacity in argument-dialogue.
First, we take a look at argument pure and simple.
a) The Subject’s Relation to Original Sin
Emotional, ideological, or volitional clashes are, in themselves, fruits of original sin. It would be ideal if there never were dissensions, disputes, or struggles among men.
But since original sin does exist, is argument pure and simple profitable and legitimate?
In principle, yes.
b) Logic, the Way to Conquer the Truth and the Good
It is necessary to realize the value of this mode of argument if one admits the objective existence of truth and error, good and evil, and the fittingness of logic to lead man to the understanding of truth and free him from the snares of error, and lead him to love the good and save him from the clutches of evil.
It is thus that one can do the greatest kindness to another: free him from error and evil and give him the possession of the truth and the good.
c) The Influence of Emotional Factors
Someone could say that argument pure and simple should be cold and without passion.
Not in our opinion. Everyone is naturally attached to his convictions, and thus generally gives them up reluctantly. This attachment is much accentuated by the fact that certain convictions logically give rise to a set of habits, a way of being, and a whole lifestyle. To change them causes a man to undergo painful transformations in certain sensitive points. Moved by the noble, orderly, and strong love that he has for the truth, or by the miserable, tormented, and violent love that he has for error and evil, man does not act like a cold reasoning machine when arguing. Thus man, when arguing, engages himself totally, not just with his whole intelligence, but also with the full strength of his will and the heat of his good or bad passions.
So, argument pure and simple does not consist merely in argumentation, even though it may always maintain the primacy of reasoning, which is its main reason for being and the better part of its dignity. It is easy to see how argument pure and simple often has a salient note of emotional combativity due to the indisputable right of virtue or to the frequent interference of sin.
If it is true that sometimes argument pure and simple becomes more dignified by clothing itself in noble and superior serenity, at other times it is ennobled in the light of a fiery zeal for the truth and the good.
d) Factors of Persuasion Collateral to Argumentation
Sometimes the human spirit quite naturally begins to realize the truth of a thesis, finding it pleasing or beautiful. As there is a profound reversibility between the good, the true and the beautiful, love often helps to perceive the truth. The persuasiveness of a person who argues is not only in reasoning. It is also his whole way of being and speaking that often allows the beauty or the goodness of the cause he upholds to come through. Now, in praising the good and the beautiful, an emotional factor naturally appears that easily causes argument pure and simple to grow more ardent, at times becoming a polemic.
e) Legitimacy of Anger in Argument Pure and Simple
Someone might say that the above arguments could open the doors to anger, which should never happen in a conversation.
We just saw that man’s passions have a legitimate place in the clash of ideas. This is easily explained from the moral standpoint, since no passions are evil in themselves; they are all neutral and can legitimately influence argument pure and simple unless they become intemperate. Anger is but one of these passions and, within the limits of temperance, can put its particular mark to the clash of ideas. Incidentally, it must be said that holy anger against error and evil can often increase perspicacity rather than darken it, and so aid the lucidity of argument pure and simple.17
f) Pugnacity and Contrast Are Both Necessary to Demonstrate the Truth
To show how much a thesis is good, true, and beautiful is often a difficult task. Just above, we spoke of the effects of original sin, the habits and passions in the human spirit, and the crises that certain changes of opinion can cause for man. Man frequently hesitates when he reaches the vertex of these crises.
The contradiction between the ideas whose truth he glimpses and the life he leads seems unbearable to him. The famous alternative formulated by Paul Bourget suddenly appears in his path: Will he conform his ideas to his actions or his actions to his ideas?18
In such dark and painful situations, one must clearly avail oneself of all the really convincing resources of argumentation. Doubtless one of these is contrast.
Saint Thomas teaches that one of the reasons that God permits error and evil is to allow the splendor of the true and the good to shine forth through contrast.19 It is in no way licit to disdain the use of contrast when arguing. This recourse of the Divine Teacher is so precious that in the plans of Providence it in some way compensates for the countless hindrances caused by the existence of error and evil in this world. Now, how is contrast used except by the open and categorical denouncement of everything false in error and censurable in evil? It is not enough merely to praise the true and the good. In argument pure and simple it is legitimate to develop a tone of pugnacity as fully as possible. From this standpoint, it is legitimate to attack both false ideas and persons.
… In Regard to Ideas
First, attacking false ideas, to show how they are erroneous, contradictory, and immoral produces a salutary impact in the mind of whoever professes them, and thereby destroys a whole series of prejudices and disorderly attachments. The light of truth and the good odor of virtue can thus penetrate even a poor soul that shortly before was totally imprisoned by evil.
… In Regard to Persons
Second, in the case of persons, when the attack is made so as to point out only his error and sin, without unnecessarily touching on other things, his eyes can be opened to his real state, efficaciously inviting him to return to the truth and the good. If the attack happens in the presence of third-parties, not only is the scandal it could cause them neutralized, but their love of the truth and the good can be increased through contrast. Obviously, such attacks are justified only when they are really necessary, and they must be made according to the rules of justice and charity so that, however clear and profound they may be, they will not destroy the person’s dignity as a man and ultimately as a Christian.
Throughout history, when attacks of this nature have been made at the right moment in dignified terms they have done much good even when directed to potentates accustomed to especially respectful treatment. At times they have done great good to those attacked, and have always been very edifying for the people. Well known are the attacks of the Prophet Nathan against David, Saint Ambrose against Emperor Theodosius, Saint Gregory VII against Henry IV, and Pius VII against Napoleon. Many fruitful graces have derived from this, both to keep souls from error and evil and to attract them to the true and the good. Times change, but the profound order of things never changes. Although certainly less manageable than potentates of former times, even our contemporary totalitarian despots are not such that it can be said that this kind of attack will never do them any good.
g) Artificiality of the Abolition of Argument Pure and Simple
As we said, argument pure and simple is not a mere clash of ideas; in some aspects it is a clash of personalities.
In it there is a contact between souls such that they have a real influence upon each other through insistence, repetition (which Napoleon considered the best rhetorical figure), and the attraction or repulsion of one contender for the other. In addition the interplay of these factors makes this mode of interlocution similar to a tournament or a battle.
This enables one to see that argument pure and simple corresponds to the profound and natural necessities of human convivium, and that to cast it aside to reduce the forms of this convivium to merely dialogue in the strict sense (or to argument-dialogue) would be grave and dangerously artificial.
h) Artificiality, the Cause of Confusion and Struggle
We call it dangerous because all artificiality is dangerous. Indeed, once the forces of nature have been violated and cast out, they return with redoubled strength: Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret, said Horace tersely (Epist., I, 10,24). By not fearing to fall into artificiality because of a misconceived notion of harmony, one loses an indispensable means for the elucidation of truth in human convivium. One thus inevitably slips toward confusion, which is one of the deepest and most sinister causes of disturbances, quarrels, and prolonged, inextricable and hateful fights. It is known that nothing is more harmful to true peace — the tranquility of order (cf. St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, XIX, c. 13) — than extinguishing among men the true and the good, the sole foundations of this very order. Whoever denies the licitness of argument pure and simple, thinking perhaps to work for harmony, is in fact implanting the kingdom of discord.
i) Doesn’t Argument Pure and Simple Destroy Charity?
Upon reading these considerations, more than one reader influenced by the irenicism common in our times will feel an apprehension rising from the depths of his soul: Are we not imprudent in praising argument pure and simple? Even though we may be right in the abstract order of principle, since this mode of interlocution can be abused so easily isn’t it better to eliminate it completely? Abusus non tollit usum, answers an old juridical proverb. If argument pure and simple is licit and has a specific function in the natural order of things, it necessarily has a place in the plans of Divine Providence. Tempus tacendi et tempus loquendi — “There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (Eccle. 3:7). Applying this principle from Scripture, we can say that there are occasions when it is better not to argue, but there are others when one has the right and even the unrefusable obligation to argue. This was the example our Divine Master gave us (cf. John 8 and ff.). Thus, to never argue at all is a worse abuse than arguing badly a few times.
To present argument pure and simple as always being illicit, dangerous, and harmful to souls as a measure of prudence is a real doctrinal sleight of hand.
Moreover, if he who should argue is a Catholic, this sleight of hand shows a symptom of accentuated naturalism, For if to argue is a Catholic’s right and even a duty, how can one admit that it is impossible, with all the graces the Church gives, for him to do so according to the principles of justice and charity? Doesn’t Omnia possum in eo qui me comfortat (Philip. 4:13) — “I can do all things in him who strengthenest me” — mean anything to him?
j) Consequence: Argument Pure and Simple Does Not Have a Necessarily Pejorative Character
No. It is inadmissible to condemn argument pure and simple in thesis and to attribute a necessarily pejorative character to it.
k) Neither Do “Polemics” Necessarily Have a Pejorative Character
All that we said about argument pure and simple applies also to polemics.
Polemics possess the pugnacity inherent to argument pure and simple in the highest degree and can therefore have – when they are bad – all the exacerbations that are censurable in argument pure and simple.
Analogously, when polemics are good they have all the qualities inherent to a well-conducted argument pure and simple in the highest degree.20 This is the position we had the opportunity of sustaining more extensively in the book, In Defense of Catholic Action (Editora Ave Maria, São Paulo, 1943), which in 1949 was praised in a letter written in the name of Pope Pius XII by the Undersecretary of State, Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, later Paul VI.
For those who think that what we say about good polemics is strange, we will simply recall that, out of the evident wish of Divine Providence for the good of souls, the Holy Ghost raised up eminent polemists in the Church who enjoy the honor of being raised to the altar and whose works constitute a legitimate glory of the Catholic Church and Christian culture. Among these are Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine, Saint Bernard, and Saint Francis de Sales.
l) Argument Pure and Simple, Polemics, and Public Opinion
We could not end these considerations without making an observation on the true dimension of the problems raised when dealing with argument pure and simple and polemics. Generally, these problems are treated by taking into account only the speakers who argue or debate. When, because of the theme, argument pure and simple or polemics interest many people and are done with adequate publicity, they actually have a social importance, since they provoke a myriad of related controversies among those who come into contact with them.
The scope of this phenomenon can cause the formation of two or more currents of opinion in the heart of society. From the noisy confusion of individual disputes emerge louder voices on both sides that are richer in thought, have greater force of expression and, in turn, fire up controversies of great importance among themselves. In these controversies everything being affirmed in the various camps is synthesized, defined, becomes more profound, and is carried to its ultimate consequences.
Currents of opinion thus confront each other as it were on different stages and, prodded on by greater minds, the arguments and polemics then have an impact on lesser minds, inspiring them and providing orientation.
In their most prominent and historically important forms, argument pure and simple and polemics begin, develop, and end before the eyes of the multitudes over whom they exercise a rectrix (directive) action and in which they reach their full dimension.
It can be seen from the above that apostolic strategy cannot be conceived and carried out merely with a view to the person or the particular current of opinion with which the Catholic disputes, but in relation to the sometimes immense public that watches the polemics or argument pure and simple as an interested spectator. Now, while a highly amenable argument (argument-dialogue) can frequently be helpful in attracting and persuading, the legitimate needs of the public mind frequently require that error and evil be refuted and chastised with vehemence. Thus, in certain circumstances there is a risk that an inopportune serenity of the defenders of the good might produce in the public a real atony of its Catholic sense or moral sensibility. Here is another proof that argument pure and simple and polemics are at times indispensable.
The two thousand year old struggle of the Catholic Church against religious and philosophical systems opposed to Her is a good illustration of this point. In this struggle, dialogue has included, more or less intensely, argument pure and simple and polemics not only on the level of individual contacts but also on that of groups, nations and the whole human race.
m) Argument Pure and Simple, Polemics, and the Militant Character of the Church
The systematic proscription of all argument pure and simple and polemics, and the reduction of all contacts to mere argument-dialogue (the most serene and cordial type of argument), would have for the Church consequences whose importance could never be sufficiently emphasized.
Such dialogues would never be sufficient for all the tactical needs of the Church Militant. Indeed, something authentically militant, in the fullest sense of the word, is inherent to inimicitias ponam (“I will put enmities” – Genesis, 3:15) and to the earthly condition of the Church. She will never cease to be faced with enemies who are inspired by hostility that ranges, depending on the case, from simple antipathy to extreme hatred. These enemies will never be mere abstract ideas or adverse economics or social conditions; they will also be men of flesh and blood, who will constitute the race of the serpent21 until the end of the world. And the Spouse of Christ can never cease fighting them.
This does not mean that in every non-Catholic person or institution the Church should see only an enemy. But it is utopian to imagine that in any historical period She will find outside Her bosom only men full of sympathy, who ask Her smilingly about one point or another for which they find no explanation and go from smile to smile, without greater complications, always ending up converted.
Furthermore, in this age of concentration camps and Iron and Bamboo Curtains, a person would have to take utopianism very far to imagine that the Church faces only friendly people of good will.
Finally, this simple division of non-Catholics into two categories: adversaries; and what we could call the ignorant benevolent is unfounded. In reality, there are few among the non-Catholics whose hatred of the Catholic Church goes to the extreme, just as there are few who are exempt from any antipathy towards Her. The greater part of society simultaneously belongs, in infinitely varying proportions, to both of these categories such that benevolence, antipathy, and ignorance of the Church are mixed up in each one in a unique and particular way. This necessarily leads each Catholic to use the language proper to each type of interlocution in proportions also infinitely diverse. Industrious zeal is not to exclude any of them, but to use all of them separately or together as required by each particular case.
It is necessary to place the irenistic tendency that we have been analyzing in relation to the several meanings of “dialogue” and “argument” in its ideological context and proper psychological setting.22
A. An Evolved and Paradisiacal Order of Things: the “Era of Good Will”
What utopias and singular emotional conditions are capable of leading someone to admit as desirable and possible a new order of things, an era of what one could call “good will,” in which men would neither argue nor debate among themselves?
Such an order of things would suppose that the human race, having overcome the effects of original sin by an extensive evolution and thus consisting only of men of good will, could inaugurate a type of social relationship in which disagreements, if there were any, would be eliminated by the elucidating action of contacts lacking combativity.
B. The Era of Good Will, the Anarchist Utopianism Inherent to Communism, And the Universal Republic
The effects of this supposed “evolution” of humanity from its present stage to the era of “good will” would not be confined to the sphere of private convivium, but would logically overflow into both the juridical and political spheres. Men who err neither intellectually nor morally, or whose error is so slight that a cordial explanation puts them immediately on the right path, necessarily have a political life without dissension or friction. Revolutions and crimes are impossible among them. Further, these utopian dreams necessarily open new perspectives in juridical relations. And from one consequence to another there logically can be predicted a debilitation of the functions of law and justice so extensive that the government will be reduced to having nothing more than an administrative role and be transformed into a kind of cooperative. This is the anarchical and cooperativist state of affairs envisioned by Communism as the ideal following the dictatorship of the proletariat.
By a similar linking of consequences resulting unavoidably from one another, human evolution would have to carry its effects into an even higher sphere of relationship, that between nations. Rivalry of interests and ideological tension would disappear from international life.
Now unnecessary, the United Nations would die. On a world level a super-cooperative would join the efforts of nations just as smaller cooperatives would on the national level. It would be an anarchical type of universal republic.
Thus, in all forms of relations between individuals and nations an utterly inalterable concord would reign over a renewed earth inhabited only by men of good will.
Let us not oversimplify things. Especially at the beginning of the era of good will, dialogue would not be easy or brief if something from a former era remained. It would frequently require great patience on all sides. But the certainty of the positive final result would encourage men enough to peaceably and gradually undo all the mistakes and confusion and to endure the weary delays of such a task.
C. Religious Irenicism in the Era of Good Will
Religious irenicism would be one of the most important consequences of establishing the era of good will. In such an era, the various kinds of argument – especially combative and religious expeditions like the Crusades – should be outlawed as intrinsically evil. Placed under the most severe opprobrium, they should give way to the other modalities of interlocution, the only licit forms of contact among different religions.
D. Irenicism, Ecumenism, and Modernism
At this point in the study of irenicism one naturally thinks of “ecumenism,” the word so frequently used when speaking of dialogue.
Two forms of ecumenism should be pointed out. One type seeks – in order to lead souls to the one flock of the one Shepherd – to reduce as much as possible the number of arguments pure and simple and polemics in favor of argument-dialogue and other forms of interlocution.
This ecumenism is amply based on numerous pontifical documents, especially those of John XXIII and Paul VI. But another type of ecumenism goes further and seeks to extirpate any and all militant character from the relations of the Catholic Religion with others (cf. footnote 22).
This extreme ecumenism is evidently founded upon relativism or religious syncretism, whose condemnation is found in two documents of Saint Pius X, the encyclical Pascendi against Modernism, and the Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique against the “Sillon.”
E. Other Forms of Ideological Irenicism
What we have said here about religious irenicism is easily transposed to irenicism in any other philosophical or ideological subject.
F. Irenicism, Relativism, and Hegelianism
It can be seen that the various forms of irenicism logically lead to relativism.
In fact, the exacerbated desire for unanimous, universal, and conclusive peace in everything among men leads to the underestimation of the scope of differences between them. From this underestimation one easily comes to a relativist position which, in order to suppress those differences, ends by considering all opinions to have a relative value and denying that any of them might be objectively true or false.
This total relativism is more negative than positive, denying all other systems and yet offering no positive conception of man, life, and the universe. But the irenistic impulse is not satisfied with this. Tending to go to the extreme through its own natural dynamism, it takes on a Hegelian character.
It conceives the progress of thought and history as a result of the internal friction of doctrines or forces that are at the same time relatively true and relatively false. From this friction between thesis and antithesis would come a new relative “truth,” superseding all others, which in its turn would clash with another, yielding another synthesis, and so on indefinitely. This is the end term of the long journey which, begun in simple irenicism and going through successive refinements of it, reaches relativism and, finally, Hegelianism.
G. Collaboration with the Best of the Separated Brethren in Fighting Irenistic Relativism
We observe that extreme ecumenism produces tragic confusion among Catholics as well as the separated brethren, be they schismatics, heretics or otherwise. This confusion is certainly one of the most tragic of our confusion filled age.
Indeed, today there is no greater danger in the religious field than relativism. It threatens all religions, and any true Catholic or separated brother who seriously professes his own religion should fight it. This can only be done by the effort each one makes to maintain the natural and proper meaning of his belief against the relativistic interpretations that deform and undermine it.
The ally of the true Catholic in this fight would be the Jew or the Mohammedan who allows not the slightest doubt about what unites or separates us. It is this kind of attitude that keeps relativism out of the fields it attempts to enter. Further, it is only once this attitude is adopted that interlocution in its various modes including argument pure and simple and polemics, can help to unite souls. “Good accounting makes good friends,” says the proverb. Likewise, only clarity in thinking and expressing what one thinks really leads to unity.
Exaggerated ecumenism, which tends to make everyone hide or underestimate his real discrepancies with others, leads to a regime of maquillage, which can only favor relativism, the most powerful common enemy of all religions.
H. Irenicism, Dialogue, and Evolutionist Utopianism
The dissolution of the State in its present form and of the United Nations, replacing them with a universal anarcho-cooperativist regime on whose summit one finds a global super-cooperative, the consequent impossibility of wars (and consequent uselessness of armed forces), extreme ecumenism, religious relativism, and irenicism are all corollaries of one common principle: the evolution of human nature promoted by a period of good will in which all argument dies and men only dialogue among themselves.
Having placed the irenistic tendency – which seeks to impose itself through talismanic dialogue – in its ideological context, we briefly mention the doctrine on which this tendency is based. This is utopianism, traces of which are found in so many cultures throughout the course of history, and which erupted in the West with marked vigor after the Middle Ages. From Morus and Campanella to the utopian socialists of the last century, the course is easily shown, as it has been so often before.23
I. Importance of the Emotional Aspects of Irenistic Utopianism
Certainly important to this study is the analysis of the emotional state correlative to this utopianism since – as shown below – in order to destroy the Western world, communism exploits the emotional circumstances in which irenicism thrives more than the ideas upon which it is based.
Man, created for the earthly paradise and a state of integrity lost through sin, deep down feels a living desire for those conditions which according to the Divine plan he never should have lost. This appetite is quite explainable since each being, because of the legitimate love of self, loves what is good for itself.
In addition, the end of the aspirations of man, whom God has invited to a superior destiny, is neither in the integrity of his nature nor the earthly paradise, but in the perfect and eternal happiness of the celestial paradise.
Thus, the tendency for what we could generically and perhaps somewhat loosely call the paradisiacal throbs with a burning and unquenchable force deep down in every man. He feels this force always, though in different degrees, and it is mixed, at times consciously and at times not, with everything he thinks and desires.
Oriented by the Faith, elevated by grace, and developed according to the norms of Catholic morality, this desire of the paradisiacal constitutes an indispensable and fundamental force for the ennoblement of man in every aspect. It invites him to elevate and to perfect his soul and to improve the conditions of his earthly existence as much as possible. Above all, it invites him to aspire to Heaven and to think of it frequently. However, the Catholic must understand that although error, evil and, consequently, pain can be circumscribed, they are not eradicable from this world, as taught so well by the parable of the wheat and the chaff (cf. Matt. 13:24-30). This life has a fundamental meaning of trial, struggle, and expiation that the faithful knows to be in accordance with the highest designs of God’s kindness, justice, and wisdom. The end of man and his glorious, complete, and perennial happiness is only in Heaven.
J. Revolt, the Typical Emotional Element of the Irenic Utopianist
Because he thinks this way, the true Catholic is the contrary of the utopianist who, deprived of the light of faith, considers error, evil, and pain to be absurd contingencies of human existence that anger him. He thinks it natural for man to rise up against this triad of adversaries. Moreover, as the utopianist fails to consider the existence of another life, he is led to conclude as evident, necessary, and unquestionable that we can eliminate pain, evil, and error. Otherwise, he would be forced to admit that the very order of being is absurd.
This is what his utopia is essentially based upon. Thus, it is understandable that for the utopinianist, life cannot normally have a legitimate meaning of struggle, trial, and expiation; it can only have a meaning of soft and agreeable peace. The utopianist is by definition a pacifist “á outrance;” he is ultra-ecumenical and ultra-irenical. None of his dreams would have interior consistency or be capable of satisfying him completely if they did not include the suppression of all struggles and controversies.
It is understood that the earthly paradise based on science and technology dreamed of by utopianism includes the satisfaction of the human passions both in what is legitimate and in what is most tempestuous, unruly, and illegitimate, for the mortification of the passions is incompatible with this irenical “paradise.”
Pride and sensuality occupy a prominent place among the disorderly passions. They mark the utopianist with two main characteristics: the desire to be supreme in his sphere, not accepting a transcendent God, and the tendency to complete freedom in satisfying all the unruly instincts and appetites.
Because the utopianist believes only in this life, he thinks that the possibility of obtaining from this world all the satisfaction his being desires is inherent to the nature of things. He expects in fact to obtain this satisfaction through his own efforts. He is the “worldly” man par excellence, since he puts all his hopes in this world.24
K. Irenistic Utopianism, the Characteristic of the Worldly Bourgeois and the Worldly Proletarian
Whether the worldly be bourgeoisie or proletarians, they have a common denominator precisely in this point.
Through his fortune, social position, and political influence, the worldly bourgeois hopes to obtain complete independence, stability, and pleasure, in short, the earthly paradise his utopia promises him.
The worldly proletarian hopes to acquire the same either by becoming bourgeois or by creating for all men – of which he imagines himself the center – a micro-paradise achieved in the less brilliant, but nonetheless attractive conditions of an egalitarian society. In this new society the proletariat would be the owner of everything, and the vestiges of what was once the power of the state would be transferred to an organism with the cartilaginous consistency of a mere cooperative. In the egalitarian and cooperativist paradise the proletarian would be independent and gifted with stable and happy living conditions somehow even greater than those of the bourgeois at present.
L. The Fear-Sympathy Syndrome Works in the “Worldly” Bourgeois
Well do we know how the utopianism of the worldly proletarian, when inebriated by communism, makes him look with hatred at the paradise of the bourgeois from which he is excluded.
But, what does the worldly bourgeois think about the perspective of a worker’s paradise? Accustomed to his goods, he does not want to let them go. Nevertheless, exhausted by class struggle and fearing the perspectives of war, revolution plunder and massacre, there are times when the possibility of peacefully integrating himself in the proletarian paradise, and perhaps keeping some small advantages, smiles at him like a lesser evil. “And then,” he thinks, “who knows if this paradise will not succeed, contrary to the bourgeois society, in eliminating error, evil, and suffering? Perhaps it would be worthwhile to renounce the advantages I now enjoy in order to enter a world where no one is subject to this triple yoke.” No one… not even himself who, in the intervals between his business and his pleasures, feels so vulnerable to sickness and countless other risks.
Then, with all the impetus of his desire for a paradise on earth, the worldly bourgeois begins to find himself leaning toward socialism and glimpsing possibilities of a pact with communism. A pacifist sentiment toward this terrible adversary rises in him. The irenical dialogue smiles at him… Along with fear, sympathy begins to act in him.
M. The Fear-Sympathy Syndrome Prepares the Worldly Bourgeois for Unperceived Ideological Transshipment
It would be impossible for communism, to which it is capitally important to undermine the bourgeois society, to make dedicated disciples of Marx from most of the worldly bourgeois. The theses and arguments of this prophet of darkness are arid, confused, and uncouth, and the worldly bourgeois does not enjoy lingering over or delving deeply into anything. Furthermore, the Marxist ideology clashes head on with all his mental habits and personal interests, and he likes neither clashes nor sacrifices.
But the world communist leaders are far from being ignorant of the emotional state in which so many worldly bourgeois find themselves.
This condition is highly exploitable by communism through the fear-sympathy syndrome. With this, the worldly bourgeois is prepared for the ideological transshipment which, by repeating the word “dialogue” in a thousand different ways, will lead him to become communist without his perceiving it, or at least to take concessionist positions in the face of communism, thereby opening the doors of the citadel to the adversary.
A. Points of Impressionability and Apathy, the Psychological Frame-work of the Talismanic Word in the Worldly Mind
With the irenistic worldliness characterized above, it is easy to see in the irenicist the points of impressionability and apathy that, even when they are in embryo form, make him so susceptible to unperceived ideological transshipment:
● First point of impressionability: Quarrels, disagreements, and wars are in themselves serious evils which must be eliminated at all cost. This is accompanied by tendencies to inaugurate the era of good will and peace;
● Second point of impressionability: To achieve this, it is necessary to put an end to controversies at any price, and replace them with irenistic dialogue;
● First point of apathy: Can this peace-at-any-price be obtained? Will not drastic means be necessary to implant it, presenting an even greater evil?
● Second point of apathy: Doesn’t the abolition of controversies create moral and ideological chaos? Doesn’t this mean the victory of relativism, and thus multiply the factors of discord and war? Doesn’t it disorganize public opinion? Doesn’t it tend to disfigure the militant character of Holy Church? etc.
The soul or the mind pricked by irenicism tends not to answer the questions in the points of apathy. Simplistic, hasty, and peevish, like every utopian mind, the irenicist is not capable of taking his attention away from the points of impressionability and is irritated with someone who tries to force him to dwell on the points of apathy.
The utopianist thus becomes inclined to accept all the sequels of irenicism, even those he would have most repudiated – Communism and Modernism – before those points of impressionability were formed in his mind.
The real solution of the problem worrying our irenicist would be to recognize the impossibility of absolute and eternal ideological harmony among men and the necessity of basing good relationships on realistic foundations. For this he would, among other things, take care to avoid both excesses, that is, the omission of argument-dialogue as indicated above and the omission of argument pure and simple or polemics when they are opportune. He would strive to suppress these modes of argument when for any reason they might be objectionable. But the irenicist, influenced by the points of impressionability and not reacting against the points of apathy, is right from the start eager to give in to all kinds of one-sided thoughts, feelings, and actions, adhering only to the solutions consonant with his points of impressionability.
In this way, the talismanic word begins to work over him.
B. Multiple Effects of the Talismanic Word
The talismanic word “dialogue” is so rich in effects that they must be classified in two groups to be studied adequately:
— the direct effects it produces in the mentalities of the persons fascinated by it;
— a process through which a mentality transformed in this way and the talismanic word “dialogue” become mutually radicalized, using “dialogue” as an instrument and leading the “dialoguers” to Hegelian relativism.
C. Direct Effects of the Talismanic Word
Let us first consider the five direct effects of the talismanic word.
a) First Effect — Dialogue Solves Everything
The talismanic word begins to act over the irenicist prepared as described above (item A). He is told about dialogue. Next, he sees the word used in a new and special sense only indirectly related with its ordinary and usual meaning, and thus it shines in his eyes like something modern and elegant. People begin to use it as though it were a simple and irresistible way of changing convictions. Not to dialogue is ideological backwardness right in the middle of the atomic age. To dialogue is to be up-to-date and show how one is efficient and modern. Then the irenicist begins to think: “Dialogue solves all problems.” No need for arguments or polemics; the only thing to do is dialogue with those who think differently, even if they are communists. By the affability that characterizes it, dialogue has the magic power to remove all prejudices, and guarantees its user the glory of persuading all its opponents.
b) Second Effect — A World of Impressions and One-sided Emotions
Based on one-sided and obsessive fear of offending opponents by argument and polemics and on the certainty that there is no one he cannot convince through dialogue, our patient gradually forms a whole world of impressions and one-sided emotions, of which we will mention only those found in the Catholic who argues or debates.
According to the irenicist, this kind of Catholic employs counter-productive and old-fashioned methods of apostolate because he is irascible, ill-tempered, and vindictive, having no charity for those who are in error. He treats them with unjust and harmful severity and, in the final analysis, he is really the one to blame for their staying outside the fold.
Hatred for the Most Ardent Catholics
This one-sided impression creates an emotion, an antipathy against the Catholic apologist or polemicist, possibly even hatred. This antipathy, arising from the presupposition that all ideological controversy is evil, includes ipso facto and indiscriminately all those who argue or debate, whether properly or improperly.
However absurd it is, the apologist or polemicist begins to be hated by his brother in the Faith. The irenicist increasingly sees him as a sectarian and uncharitable Catholic, and his “error” as the only one for which there is no mercy: the tremendous “error” of being “ultra-Catholic.” It seems to be licit to use any weapon against someone accused of such an “error:” campaign of silence, ostracism, defamation, insult. And everything serves to document the accusations made against him. The most tenuous and vaguest clues and even simple rumors are proof. He, the true outcast from society en route to utopia, and no one else, is utterly forbidden to participate in the dialogue.
This causes a constantly increasing decimation among the most ardent sons of the Church Militant, that is, the most abnegated, most consistent, most perspicacious and most valiant.
We need not dwell on how much the adversaries of the Holy Church gain from this.
Admiration of and Unconditional Confidence in Those Outside the Church
This decimation coincides with growing admiration of and confidence in those who are outside the Church. Not rarely these sentiments become a “complex” capable of becoming categorical unconditionality. This makes sense, for if all our separated brothers can be converted through smiles, it is ultimately because only a few misunderstandings and resentments keep them separated from us. Their good will is perfect and unblemished.
When dialogue is properly done with those outside the Church, one must keep in mind both what separates us and what unites us. And by dexterously using charity one must know how to take advantage of what unites us in order to create, as much as possible, a cordial atmosphere when dealing objectively and tactfully with what separates us.
But in the irenical climate the Catholic dialoguer is concerned about something else. He sees only what unites him to those on the outside, seeing nothing of what separates him from them. Thus, he hopes to gain everything from coexistence and concession, and nothing from battle. His tactic is therefore naive, soft, and concessionist toward those who are outside the flock. His intransigence, energy, and suspicion are reserved only for those who, inside the Church, resist the irenical atmosphere.
c) Third Effect — Sympathy and Notoriety Resulting from the Effect of “Dialogue” in the Media
While the apostle who argues or debates is hated and slandered because of this world of impressions and emotions, the apostle of irenic dialogue is usually considered in exactly the opposite way.
As the public – perhaps now more than ever – is eager for everything that might favor its optimism and its longings for ease and well-being, it is predisposed to emphatically admire the irenic apostle.
The average man sees the irenic apostle as having a flexible and lucid intelligence that allows him to discern the profound evils of argument and polemics, and to discover the inexhaustible apostolic possibilities of “dialogue.” Benevolent and affable, the irenic “dialoguer” gives the impression of being endowed with an irresistible and almost magic appeal. Modern, he is presented as a perfect and agile expert on the most recent tactics of the apostolate, and therefore dexterous in managing “dialogue”. In a word, he appears perfectly likeable. He is happy and jovial with prospects of a rosy future prepared by a series of easy and dizzying successes.
Appeal and optimism open the doors of notoriety for our “dialoguer.” It is pleasant to talk about him, repeat his words, and praise his actions. He seems to have the gift of resolving the most difficult problems by smiling, and dissipating the most inveterate prejudices and deep seated hatreds with simple speeches as if he were a sun. He thus becomes the center of events, and everyone’s attention is focused on him. The press, the radio, and the television gladly feature him certain of pleasing the public.
d) Fourth Effect — Mirage of the Era of Good Will Appears
All this opens indefinite horizons on the mind of the person subject to the process we are studying, Far away in those horizons, there begins to appear the mirage we have mentioned earlier in this chapter (item 2, A to C.) True, this mirage is generally very vague, but nonetheless radiant and attractive: it is the era of good will, that is, of an “evolved” order of things in which empathy, of which the fullness is love, would not only be capable of frustrating all contentions but also preventing them. Yes, preventing them by eliminating their psychological and institutional causes. How peace and harmony would profit from the suppression of that for which men have fought for thousands of years – countries, national interests, inheritance, class prestige, symbols of power! If only love could eliminate the words “mine” and “yours” and replace them as outmoded by “ours,” peace would reign among men at last, and wars, crimes, punishments, and prisons would disappear. Government would be nothing more than a huge cooperative of spontaneous and harmonious actions favoring prosperity, culture, and health. In the era of good will, the total earthly well-being of society would be the only purpose of man’s endeavors.
This mirage, whose affinity with the anarchist myth inherent to Marxism we already noted (item 2, B), endowed with all the power of suggestion of man’s deepest desires, is such that it awakens a delightful emotion in countless souls that holds them fast, and from which they have not the least desire to free themselves, as if they had taken a drug.
The word “dialogue” is thus reclothed in magic and fascinating scintillations when used in this perspective. Like a real talisman it automatically endows those who use it with its prestige and brilliance.
e) Fifth Effect — Tendency to Abuse the Flexibility of the Word “Dialogue”
These various psychological factors give rise to an ever growing temptation to exaggerate the natural flexibility of the word in question.
Indeed, if a certain effect is obtained by using a certain word, the more it is used, the greater the effect.
Hence, there is a tendency to use the word “dialogue” for everything. Its use can become almost a vice so that an interview, an article, or a speech will not seem complete without some mention of dialogue.
D. Indirect and Reflexive Effects of the Talismanic Word
We now turn to the second group of effects, in which the psychological fermentation produced by the talismanic word has an effect on the word itself.
Actually a process of mutual radicalization, this interaction then affects the very manner of conducting the dialogue.
If we imagine two “dialoguers” in which this interaction occurs, we see that they will gradually change not only the successive ways of dialoguing but the very content of the dialogue.
This process takes the “dialoguers” through several phases, from irenicism all the way to Hegelian relativism.
a) First Effect — The Radicalization of the Word “Dialogue”: New and more Radical Talismanic Meanings
How does the influence of this psychological fermentation operate in the word?
Whoever strives to mount the heights of celebrity on the wings of the word “dialogue” will soon realize that the different applications of this word bring an unequalled yield in popularity.
Sometimes, the word yields very little, and it seems opaque to the public. But under different conditions the talisman shines before all with its full brilliance.
As a rule, the exploiter of the talismanic word – and of the public – will feel this without being able to explain it, and consequently begin to prefer some applications over others. If he is a bit talented, he will force the natural flexibility of the word by giving it a growing number of fascinating and profitable uses.
Why is the talisman more radiant in some applications than in others? Manipulated thus by the experts of this linguistics, what is the refulgent pole with which it tends to identify itself?
What we could call the radiant force immanent in the talismanic word “dialogue” makes itself felt more when used to insinuate that the myth of a regenerative, collectivist, and sentimental love, imagined as the directive force of a new world, is true, desirable, and viable. This myth is the pole towards which the talismanic word tends. Dialogue, in its ultimate and most hidden magical meanings, is the language of this love.
In the different stages of this quest for the ultimate meaning, “dialogue” evolves to become increasingly identified with this myth.
b) Second Effect — the Four Phases of the Process Toward Hegelian Relativism
Having described in a general way the interaction between the irenistic emotion and the talismanic word, we will now consider the various phases in which the forms and contents of the interlocution between persons of opposite convictions are processively modified, correspondingly modifying also the meaning of the talismanic word.
Before beginning the process, the speakers desire to convince each other through arguments.
The basic objective of each party is therefore to conquer the other for truth. They will thus achieve a precious good between themselves: unity, presented legitimately as the fruit of truth and which therefore cannot be conceived or aimed at except through possession of truth.
First Phase — Hypertrophy of Cordiality in Argument-Dialogue: the Talismanic Word is Born
Let us imagine that an irenistic emotional fermentation can be observed in speakers disposed to argue. This fermentation, which preludes the appearance of the talismanic word “dialogue,” consists in an ardent emotional desire for universal concord of minds and for peace in all areas of human relations.
This desire is such that it will only be satisfied when the speakers have finally reached a completely irenical and relativistic conception of man, life and the cosmos.
From the emotional point of view, the speakers are thus already potentially conquered by irenicism in favor of relativism, and, as we shall see, for its most radical form, Hegelian relativism.
Though true from the emotional point of view, this is not true with regard to ideas.
The speakers still admit the existence of an objective truth which each supposes himself to possess, while imputing objective error to the other.
Logically, the tenor of their relationship regarding the debated theme can only be argument.
This argument, even while still amiable, is imbued with a note of pugnacity. Now, this note of pugnacity is in severe conflict with the emotional state of the two speakers.
There is a conflict, then, between the logically necessary procedure – argument – and the type of relations that the persons in question would like to maintain between themselves. From this conflict results the first change in this type of relations.
Without realizing it, the parties desire unity more than truth.
As a consequence of these emotional dispositions, each one of them is led to believe that the other is always in good faith. Each believes that the outcome of his effort of persuasion depends only on the elimination of the other’s resentments.
Therefore, both reject argument pure and simple as well as polemics, and only conceive argument as a refined, smooth form of argument-dialogue. But this form still has an element of pugnacity which displeases the irenistic emotionality.
As a consequence, this irenistic emotionality distorts the meaning of argument-dialogue by over-emphasizing the note of cordiality and under-emphasizing the note of pugnacity. The initial distortion in the type of relations between the two parties is thus accentuated.
The argument-dialogue does not aim principally to obtain truth, and through that, unity; now it seeks mainly unity through cordiality in relations between the speakers. The conquest of truth through argument is only secondary.
In this way the word “dialogue” undergoes the first distortion. It comes to mean argument-dialogue conceived irenistically and takes on an ireno -talismanic sense that glows with all the appeal of the irenistic myth.
The talismanic dialogue (the distorted argument-dialogue) is now dialogue only by antonomasia.
Here we give a concrete example to make it easier for the reader to study the process of talismanic distortion of the word “dialogue” considered in the abstract. The enunciation of each phase of the process in abstracto will be followed by the description of its corresponding phase in concreto.
Let us imagine a Thomist and an existentialist who are colleagues in a university, and so have many opportunities to discuss their philosophical differences. Also, the two professors frequently have arguments for the sake of entertainment while maintaining all the social relations customary between colleagues.
As for their differences, the Thomist identifies himself with truth and reason. The existentialist disagrees with the Thomist position. Each wants to persuade the other, and they consider argument as the normal way to do this.
Let us imagine further that the Thomist, desiring to convince the other party, is motivated not only by a legitimate apostolic intention but also an ardent irenistic desire for union.
At a certain point this desire overcomes his zeal, and our Thomist begins to desire unity more than truth in his argument with the existentialist.
This inversion of aims has an immediate effect on the way he views his colleague. He will naively convince himself that his colleague is attached to existentialism because of a simple mistake and certain resentments against Thomism and ultimately against the Church. For the speaker bitten by the fly of irenicism, the other party always behaves in the argument as if he were conceived without original sin and incapable of a disorderly and vicious attachment to error.
This results in a repercussion of the irenic tendency over the procedure followed by the Thomist. If the existentialist’s main obstacle to accepting the truth is resentment, the main thing in the argument is to prevent this resentment from remaining or becoming aggravated. The Thomist then presumes that his interlocutor will repudiate as always dangerous or unjust both argument pure and simple and polemic and that he will only accept argument-dialogue when dealing with controversial issues.
In argument-dialogue our Thomist, because of irenicism, will aim principally at unity, and only secondarily at truth.
He will call this type of argument, “dialogue,” to insinuate that it is just as free from pugnacity as dialogue-investigation and dialogue-entertainment.
Thus the talismanic word “dialogue” comes forth overflowing with pacifist cordiality. “Dialogue” represents the first form of the irenistic relations between the two professors, and it glitters with the many seductions of the pacifist myth, accentuating our Thomist’s irenic ardor and drawing him towards new variations in the way he considers talismanic dialogue and puts it into practice.
Second Phase — Irenistic Cordiality Invades Dialogue-Entertainment and Dialogue-Investigation: Meaning of the Talismanic Word Is Broadened
Undergoing changes in the first phase, the talismanic word affects the irenistic emotional fermentation, and this increased fermentation begins to impress a new and broadened meaning on the talismanic word. This is the essence of the second phase.
The irenistic interlocutor, gripped by the hidden content of the talismanic word – the irenic myth – uses the talismanic word for everything like a toy whose enchantment grows as he plays with it.
The relationship between persons separated by a point of difference is not reduced to that difference. This relationship can legitimately include dialogues of investigation about other matters, and dialogues of entertainment about still others. These forms of relations can also legitimately have a favorable repercussion over argument-dialogue to the degree they contribute to preventing it from being jeopardized by the resentments and personal antipathies that so often unfortunately arise.
So the irenistic interlocutors are led to make their dialogues of investigation and entertainment more irenist, giving them the same talismanic meaning incubated in argument-dialogue during the previous phase.
What is the irenistic distortion of dialogues of entertainment and investigation? In these types of dialogue, the irenistic speakers come to underestimate the natural purpose of entertainment and investigation and to irenistically overestimate the factor of cordiality. Thus the speakers conduct dialogue to produce an intense warming of affections, and entertainment and investigation come to serve as mere pretexts.
This warming up – which they hope will help persuasion – will work over the point of difference a unifying and syncretistic action more useful than exchanging arguments in a smooth irenistic dialogue, which still conserves remnants of pugnacity.
As the irenicist increasingly exaggerates the importance of the cordiality factor in persuasion, he is led to confide more and more in dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation, while considering argument-dialogue entirely secondary or even dangerous and disturbing.
This change in the structure of relations between the irenical speakers corresponds to a new stage in the evolution of the talismanic word “dialogue.”
Because the most dynamic element of this talismanic word is irenistic, it extends itself from irenistic argument-dialogue to the two other “irenicized” forms of interlocution.
The talismanic word thus gradually encompasses all the types of relations between speakers susceptible to irenistic impregnation.
In other words, besides the irenistic influence, dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation can be forms of relations instrumental to argument-dialogue and help to assure its continuation. But under the influence of irenicism, this order of values is inverted.
Dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation begin to be seen as propulsory elements of the “persuasive” action, and argument-dialogue comes to have a secondary role that is instrumental, but uncomfortably so.
In this new hierarchy of values the talismanic word “dialogue” encompasses the three forms of interlocution mentioned above (argument-dialogue, dialogues of investigation and entertainment) and begins to incite the irenistic desires still further, giving rise to the third phase.
Under the note of irenicism instigated by the talismanic word “dialogue,” our Thomist wants to convey the irenistic ferment to his other types of relations with the existentialist. Until now, these other forms (dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation) seemed to him extrinsic to the doctrinal controversy and only capable of helping keep the cordial treatment of matters outside the controversy and maintain the latter in a serene and elevated atmosphere.
But now the irenical Thomist begins to see things differently. To him the opportunities for investigation or entertainment no longer seem to be restricted to their natural end. As he is desirous of producing a coveted emotional neutralization in the existentialist, these opportunities for investigation and entertainment now come to serve as mere pretexts for feeding and increasing the irenic drive and the supreme, unconditional desire for unity existing in the existentialist.
Thus all the forms of interlocution susceptible to irenic impregnation (dialogue-entertainment, dialogue-investigation, argument-dialogue) come together under the banner of irenicism.
Meanwhile, argument-dialogue, being less suitable for irenistic warming-up, and even dangerous because of its pugnacity, loses its principal role. To the degree it dissipates doctrinal errors it comes to have a disturbing and dangerous instrumental function in a network of relations whose main goal is to increase cordiality.
Feeling and seeing things in this way, our Thomist continues to dialogue. But how dialogue is different for him now from what it was in the previous phase! For this labor of calefaction, he avoids controversy as much as possible with the existentialist and puts all his effort into focusing on what is common to both Thomism and existentialism with indefatigable insistence, scrutinizing the most insignificant details – what he calls the “existentialist aspects of Thomism.” In this way our Thomist tries to decorate the austere Aquinan habit with a Kierkegaardian flamula and to put Saint Thomas in the cohort of admirers Kierkegaard had even before he was born.
Our inventive, irenic Thomist understands that a common enmity is at times the best cement for a precarious and budding friendship. He will seek to attack any vein of “essentialism” that he might find in one philosopher or another more ardently than the most dedicated existentialist. In this “crusade” without a cross, our Thomist is clearly not an irenicist in relation to “essentialism,” whatever form or degree it may take; but he is irenicist when it comes to promote irenicism in relation to existentialism.
Our irenistic Thomist still has one fear. He is afraid that the existentialist might suspect him of connivance with some unlucky Thomist brothers who are fighting existentialism, so he attacks these Thomists as the most dangerous of all essentialists.
These are the wiles of talismanic dialogue in this second phase.
The talismanic word dialogue gradually came to designate the whole panorama of irenistic dialogues, with the predominance of the dialogues of entertainment and investigation over argument-dialogue.
Third Phase — Irenistic Cordiality Results in Relativism: The Talismanic Word Takes On an Entirely Relativistic Meaning
The two previous phases developed under the banner of irenicism. However, the third phase is clearly relativistic.
Until now, the objective of interlocution under the pressure of irenicism was to increase unity and at the same time diminish the desire for truth. In the third phase, the desire for unity induces the interlocutors to overlook differences in order to obtain truth. To achieve this, the speakers both decide that there is no objective truth or objective error and that everything is relative.
The kind of relationship between the speakers consequently changes.
Once relativism appears, true argument becomes impossible; when the speakers deal with the matter in question, they are no longer involved in a true argument because of the very fact that it is done under the auspices of relativism.
Since the passage from simple irenicism to relativism is often unperceived, the parties could imagine themselves to be arguing and even call their interlocution “argument. ” However, argument-dialogue proper has actually ceased to exist; there only remain accidental and transitory differences which are inherent to dialogue-investigation (Chap. IV, 1, B, j).
This relativist transformation of the speakers’ relationship now effects a new distortion of the talismanic word dialogue. From being simply irenistic, the meaning of this word becomes relativistic; thus it ceases to include argument-dialogue in order to encompass only dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation.
As the talismanic word dialogue approaches the myth of the era of good will, it appears to be ever more alluring and brilliant to the irenistic relativists. It increases the intensity of the desire for unity and thus prepares the ground for the next phase.
Impelled from one refinement to another along the paths of irenicism by the talismanic word, our Thomist takes another step in his endeavor to dialogue.
He now begins to consider groundless the doctrinal differences that in the previous phase he had so underemphasized in favor of the points of convergence. He begins to see these differences as having truth and error on both sides and being more a matter of formulation than substance. Ultimately, he sees one global “truth,” as completely relative, residually present in the most contrary formulations, and serving as the substratum of a varied and indefinitely mutable reality.
With a magnifying glass our irenicist begins to look for passages of Saint Thomas that appear to justify his relativism when taken out of context. He has already ceased to be a Thomist, except for the fact that he has the hope or illusion of finding presages of Kierkegaard in Saint Thomas. But in reality nothing of the Thomist remains. Perhaps without realizing what has happened in his mind, he has become a dedicated relativist.
This inner transformation is followed by a change in his relations with the existentialist. In this phase in which irenicism becomes relativism, he eliminates argument-dialogue, which in the former phase he regarded as the ball and chain on a prisoner’s foot. The relations with the existentialist are thus reduced to irenistic dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation.
Further, this Thomist who is no longer a Thomist may still call the types of interlocution “argument,” but in reality they have nothing in common with this mode of interlocution.
The talismanic word dialogue designating the irenistic relations as they are practiced in each stage, no longer includes argument-dialogue and refers only to the two other types of irenistic dialogue now impregnated with relativistic ideas.
To dialogue talismanically in this phase is thus to practice radical relativism. Further exciting irenistic cravings in our Thomist, the euphoria of dialoging and the talismanic prestige of irenico-relativist dialogue now prepare him for the fourth phase.
Fourth Phase — Irenistic Relativism Is Now Structured in Terms of Hegelianism: The Talismanic Word Assumes the Meaning of Hegelian “Play”
In this phase relativism, which is the plenitude and not the contrary of irenicism, receives an enrichment that is not contrary to it, but rather gives it plenitude. Avid to take relativism to its final consequences, the speakers are no longer content with a purely negative relativism that merely seeks to wear away and destroy the concepts of objective truth and objective error. This is because what is merely negative is repugnant to human nature. Thus, moving to the positive phase, the interlocutors now desire to structure a complete relativistic vision of man, society, and the universe.
In this phase truth, already accepted as something relative, comes to be seen as a product of an eternal dialectic.
After assuming the character of mere entertainment and investigation, dialogue begins to be practiced as a ludus in which both parties admit that decantation of the truth will take place through dialogue, just as the clash of thesis and antithesis produces synthesis. The last stage of the talismanic distortion of the word “dialogue” is thus produced: the Hegelian stage.
One can easily see that the clash of thesis and antithesis, caused by men of “good will” impregnated with the irenistic myth, will essentially be a cordial ludus, becoming more cordial as it develops into successive stages.
The clash of thesis with antithesis can, at times, assume the form of argument pure and simple, or even of polemics, but it will not have their substance since it does not presuppose an absolute antagonism between truth and error or good and evil. Consequently, irenistic dialogue does not aim to change the persuasion of any of the parties; it seeks to produce the elevation of both to a “truth” on a higher level.25
The irenical Thomist in our example cannot, in his ardor, be content with a merely negative relativism. He endeavors to build an internal dynamic to explain the relations between the thousand opposite formulations in which, to him, “truth” appears to reside.
Above all, he hopes to find something in these relations that tends to eliminate opposition to achieve unity.
He cannot conceive of this elimination as he would have before starting the talismanic process: a condemnation, based on reason, of all formulations but one that is proclaimed as the only wholly true one.
Furthermore, he is faced with a palpable fact: these opposite formulations are found to be continually and irremediably clashing.
Irremediable? Or is this clash the remedy? Our Thomist is only too happy to answer yes. From the clash of opposite relative “truths” a superseding synthesis would be produced, and through new frictions with antithetical formulations this synthesis would produce new ones resulting in a grandiose process of universal distillation of “truths” and “truth.”
Well understood, contrary to the “antipathetic” and “discriminatory” manner of medieval Thomism, this distillation would neither condemn nor exclude anything. Everything would be fraternally and lovingly absorbed in the production of successive syntheses.
Our irenical Thomist now sees Thomism itself as one of the formulations of “truth’ contributing fragrant doctrinal incense to this process of universal ideological composition.
Perhaps he still considers himself Thomist. Perhaps he also undertakes the task of mutilating the work of Saint Thomas, tearing fragments from it with violent arbitrarity that helps him give the twentieth century a “new view” of Saint Thomas: the common doctor seen inside out.
But in reality it is easy to see that fascinated by the irenic myth and soaring on the wings of the talismanic word, our Thomist has been transformed into a real Hegelian with just a smattering of Thomism.
How surprised our Thomist would have been in the beginning of the process if he had been able to imagine that at the end of an unperceived evolution, guided by the talismanic word “dialogue” acting as an evil star, he would have reached Hegelianism, that view of reality which he formerly regarded as the contrary of everything in philosophy that he recognized as true!
If we briefly consider the main elements of this study, the conclusion clearly and easily emerges that communism is the great beneficiary of unperceived ideological transshipment and the use of the talismanic words, particularly the talismanic word “dialogue.”
It likewise becomes evident that this immense communist maneuver can be neutralized simply by someone unmasking it before the eyes of public opinion.
It is known that Marxism has kept its dialectical essence, even though it has abandoned the idealistic character of Hegelianism. According to Marx, the ascensional march of the evolution of matter is accomplished through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, just as the spirit evolved in Hegel’s theory.
With this we should ask how communism takes advantage of unperceived ideological transshipment, brought about by the talismanic word “dialogue” under the influence of the fear-sympathy syndrome.
It would be an exaggeration to say that the victim of this talismanic word becomes a materialist because he unperceivingly accepts a dialectical philosophy.
Nevertheless, communism obtains several important advantages from this transshipment:
● The acceptance of a relativistic philosophy amounts to a conscious or subconscious break with the Faith, and it prepares the soul for explicit profession of atheism;
● The acceptance of a philosophy that serves as a cornerstone for communism prepares the soul for an open adherence to communist doctrine;
● Communism cannot accept coexistence with anyone who, contrary to itself, professes a philosophy based on the recognition of the truth and the good as absolute, immutable, transcendent values existing in a perfect way in the divine essence. On the contrary, he who hopes only for the synthesis from the dialogue between thesis and antithesis cannot fail to expect good results from dialogue with a relativist Catholic who accepts Catholic doctrine as a relative “truth” – a thesis with a dialectical attitude toward the communist antithesis and destined for a higher synthesis. This position is all the more acceptable to communism since communist theoreticians, as is well known, do not consider the ultimate and definitive truth but only a moment within the eternal dialectic of matter;
● Passing to the religious field as such, we have irenic dialogue favoring interconfessionalism and weakening all religions, throwing them into a state of absolute confusion. Since for Marxism it is of the utmost importance to annihilate all religions, it is easy to understand what this effect means for the victory of international communism.
Actually, this preparation for communism by the talismanic word only exceptionally results in mere preparation. Affinity produces sympathy and sympathy inclines toward adhesion. This adhesion is made even easier by the fact that today’s public opinion is saturated by a multifaceted and intelligent system of incitements and attractions aimed at making the public sympathetic toward communism.
We must repeat that the word “ecumenism” clearly has an excellent meaning in itself (cf. Ch. IV, 2, D).
Nevertheless, it is also susceptible of an irenic meaning. Once all religions are admitted as relative “truths” in a Hegelian dialogue, ecumenism assumes the aspect of their dialectical march toward a single, universal religion synthetically fabricated from the fragments of truth in each one and despoiled of the dross of current contradictions.
Seen in this light, ecumenism is an immense preparation of all religions, through Hegelian dialogue, to participate, once they are all united, in a subsequent dialogue with the communist antithesis.
While communism can only coexist with true Catholics in a state of battle (cf. the interesting article of Rev. Fr. Giuseppe De Rosa, S.J., entitled “L’Impossibile Dialogo tra Cattolici e Communisti,” Civiltà Cattolica, Rome, 10/17/1964, pp. 110-23), its coexistence with religions that accept dialectical relativism can well be truly peaceful, since their dialogue has no pugnacity and has only the character of collaboration.
Does the fact that communism accepts peaceful coexistence with the several religions that resist it perhaps indicate that the period of religious persecutions is over?
Strictly speaking, no. Communism will accept such coexistence with religions or religious groups that, taking a Hegelian position, acquiesce to dialogue with communism on a relativistic basis. Here it seems that communism’s attitude is new, but on reflecting we see that the newness is not communism’s but rather that of certain religious currents whose position on relativism is becoming more and more weak and conniving. Communism persecuted religions when they fought it. Therefore it is consistent for communism to stop fighting those who are ready to start a relativistic dialogue with it in a climate of peaceful coexistence.
These assertions have interesting confirmations in fact, and as we see it, the Polish Communist Party supports the “Pax” group for no other reason.
The persons who join “Pax,” while still calling themselves Catholics, nevertheless acquiesce in collaborating with the communist regime in building the socialist world. These “Catholics” thus insinuate that the social thought of the Church has evolved and now supports a flexibility toward socialism that it did not have before. Now, if the thought of the Church can evolve in a social matter, it can also evolve in anything else. The position of the “Pax” group contains an implicit confession of relativism that aims at presenting a completely mutable Catholic doctrine to the public. Furthermore, by accepting irenistic dialogue with the communists “Pax” reveals itself to be a tool in promoting the spread of relativism in Catholic circles all over unfortunate Poland.
This relativistic tendency can also be observed in the controversial book Il Dialogo Alla Prova (A Cura di Mario Gozzini, Messo Secolo, Vallecchi Editore Florence, 1964), in which more than one contributor insinuates that, from the point of view of dialogue, men are not divided into ideological groups but into two large supra-ideological categories. In the various doctrinal outlooks, some people are sensitive to dialogue and capable of it, and these move toward peaceful coexistence and synthesis. These are the good. The others are insensitive to the attractions of dialogue and obstinately stick to controversy of a “dogmatic” nature, therefore lacking the mark of relativism. These are the bad, the hardhearted, and the intransigent.
One needs not have much political perspicacity to see that the bad will not have the delights of peaceful coexistence, but only the inflexible rigors of the most ferocious persecution.
When sprouting from the soil of irenic utopia, the words “dialogue” and “coexistence” make a trilogy with the word “peace.” Irenic peace is not just the absence of thermonuclear or conventional wars, revolutions or guerrillas. It has a doctrine and both public and private lifestyles, in which all clashing elements would be replaced with a cordial and dialectic coexistence of thesis and antithesis in continuous collaboration to prepare the synthesis.
Irenistic dialogue is the direct application of this doctrine, the language of this lifestyle, and the instrument of this collaboration.26
“Dialogue,” “coexistence,” and “peace” as talismanic words are used enigmatically in many circumstances. But if interpreted in an evolutionist and Hegelian sense, the enigmatic character is dissipated, and these talismanic terms become clear, precise, and perfectly harmonious with each other. Now this presents us with a transshipping action of not just the one word “dialogue,” but of a whole world of similar talismanic words.
Constructed from the irenistic lucubrations about relations between Catholics and non-Catholics, this world leads to a relativism having a Marxist and Hegelian flavor.
Until now, we have dealt with “dialogue” as an instrument of unperceived ideological transshipment.
Before we finish our study we should ask if international communism is not contemplating, along with transshipment, a large-scale political maneuver in light of the problem we set forth in the beginning of this work – the global failure of its overt proselytism.
If so, the importance of unperceived ideological transshipment becomes even more obvious to the reader.
If we consider the line of conduct assumed by the Italian Communist Party (ICP) regarding the internal politics of the Peninsula, we will find certain things that suggest an affirmative answer to our question.
For a long time the ICP tried to destroy religion by a violent and feverish campaign. In view of the overpowering electoral influence of Catholic public opinion, after World War II the ICP gradually changed its attitude, and today its most qualified representatives state that if Catholics agree to collaborate in building a socialist economy, the communists on their part will be ready to admit religion as a valid factor of the social revolution, and allow the Church to have freedom of worship.
On these terms, peaceful coexistence with the Church would be established and communistic atheism would begin a regime of irenic dialogue with the Catholic Religion to search for a new synthesis. The book Il Dialogo Alla Prova (Item 4) has important passages in this line, and so does the aforementioned article of Fr. De Rosa (Item 3). The latter transcribes interesting communist documents that imply the recognition of the present indestructibility of the Catholic Religion in Italy, and they suggest dialogue and peaceful coexistence between the Catholics and communists on the Peninsula.
In opposition to the so-called Russian Way (as in the nearly continuous ideological conflict and political persecution carried out in Russia), an Italian Way thus appears, inspired by the opportunistic sense of communism and formulated in terms of irenicism, relativist dialogue, and coexistence.
The basic document of the Russian line would be the famous Ilytchev Report (a speech given by the Committee on ideology of the Russian Communist Party’s Central Committee, 11/26/1963, in one of its meetings). The main document of the Italian line would be the no less famous memorandum about the Ilytchev Report of August 1964, by Palmiro Togliatti, the now deceased secretary of the ICP.
The Italian Way of communism is related to the approach followed by the Polish communist dictator Gomulka, a politics of temporization in relation to the Church, while simultaneously giving full support to the “Pax” movement. The religious homogeneity of Poland creates problems for communism there analogous to those a Bolshevik government would have in Italy.
The Italian Way ultimately shows the communist hope that a majority of the Catholics of the Peninsula, pressured by the fear-sympathy syndrome, will accept a veiled apostasy to avoid persecution.
We do not believe this maneuver will be successful against the great majority in a nation like Italy.
But, since the communists place hopes in it in Italy’s case, should we not ask if they do not also expect something from it for other Catholic countries, as Brazil and its sister nations in Latin America?
Giving the question an even broader scope, we wonder if communism doesn’t have a similar maneuver in mind for countries affiliated with other religions.
Everything inclines us to think so, and to us this is one of the most timely aspects of the matter dealt with in this study.
As we said in the beginning of this study, the non-communist sectors of world public opinion find themselves in a contradictory psychological situation.
To the degree they look at communism straight on, these sectors reject it out of fidelity to a whole set of values they still hold, values derived from universal common sense or the Christian legacy.
But if they see communism obliquely, that is, only in its diluted and implicit manifestations, they gradually accept it more and more. The irenistic myth and the fear-sympathy syndrome move them toward this.
Thus, if communism must keep hidden the real meaning of the myth in the talismanic word, by analogy the victim of this process is reluctant to make it explicit.
For most people the myth, brought to mind and insinuated by “dialogue,” and whose seduction is as though it were electrically charged, is only attractive when it is kept imprecise, diffused, wrapped up in the vapors of poetry. How wonderful it would be to dream vaguely about a definitive, total harmony among men in all the spheres of their relationships! But, to make this dream explicit, to strive to study it, would be the same as killing it (cf. Ch. III, 3). And why make it explicit at all? Why understand it? Myths like this are made much less to be understood than to be tasted. Someone smoking opium is not usually interested in its chemical composition. He does not want to understand opium, he wants to feel it.
In order to “exorcise” the talismanic word and incapacitate its magic effect, one must first of all discover the myth incubated in its many meanings.
Everything in existence tends to manifest itself. The irenic myth exists in the mind of its enthusiasts. Since its advance is barred from the ways of explicitness, the irenic myth, incubated in the most radical nuances of the talismanic word “dialogue,” manifests itself as clearly and intensely as it can.
So, even when it obstinately remains implicit, one who knows how can detect, characterize, and expose the myth.
The process of unmasking the myth consists in dealing with the talismanic word in its most applauded and radiant meanings and comparing them with the successively less magical ones, even the innocent and trivial ones. Once this table of comparison of the mythical and nonmythical meanings has been formed, by contrast one can discover the content of this word hidden in its mythical and radical meanings. In the case of “dialogue,” irenicism will always emerge from the comparison. It can be seen that the irenic content decreases as the word loses its talismanic force in the comparative range, and in the trivial uses this content disappears. Thus, the relativistic and Hegelian irenic myth is the magical force of the talismanic word “dialogue”.
The method of this inquiry is like an optical experiment, where the human eye looks at a translucent cloth illuminated from behind: as the cloth approaches the light source it becomes more luminous, and vice versa, proving that the luminosity is not immanent in the cloth but proceeds from the movable source behind it.
Analogously, we can say that “dialogue” shines with a light that does not come from the word itself, but from a myth placed behind it. The closer the word comes to the myth, the more luminous it becomes; the farther it is removed, the more opaque.
Once an observer exposes the myth, he can “exorcise” the talismanic word by divulging his discovery. By making the myth explicit, he will provide the patients of unperceived ideological transshipment with sufficient means to open their eyes to the action worked on them, see where they are being led, and defend themselves against it.
Once the myth has been exposed, its influence becomes null and void. The natural repulsion people thus alerted have for communism will then begin to react, and the communist maneuver will be frustrated.
This book was written with the purpose of giving the victims of this process the means to efficiently defend themselves.
* * *
We ask Our Lady of Fatima to receive this study as a filial homage of love, and that She deign to use it, however insignificant as an instrument, for the realization of the great promise made to the world at Cova da Iria:
“In the End, My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph!”
This first English edition was originally published in Crusade for a Christian Civilization, Vol. 12, No. 4, Oct.-Dec. 1982, pp. 7-40.
The original Portuguese edition was first published in Catolicismo, No. 178-179, October-November of 1965, pp. 1-12.
Last updated on February 13, 2020.
- Note from the 5th edition: Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue has also crossed the Iron Curtain. Again in Kierunki (Nos. 51-52,1967), Mr. Z. Czajkowski, Editor-in-Chief of the monthly Zycie I Mysl, wrote an article with a peculiar title: “In the Sphere of a Psychological Mystification, that is, a Polemic with Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira – Continuation.” In taking a stand against The Church and the Communist State: The Impossible Coexistence, the Polish “communo-Catholic” writer attached great importance to having sent his arguments to the author of the book he intended to refute. However, we only learned of this new attack from a seven-page report in the January 1968 issue of La Vie Catholique en Pologne/Revue de la Presse Polonaise, edited in Warsaw by the “Pax” association. This magazine, designed to inform (or misinform?) the Western public about religious life there, and particularly about the activities of the “Pax” group, only reached us after a considerable delay. In thus presenting his new attack as a continuation of the polemic, Mr. Czajkowski used the word in a very sui generis sense, as he did not take the necessary precautions to seeing that his argumentation reached the other party. Incidentally, this “Catholic”-communist had his reasons: in order to better criticize our essay, he most shamelessly adulterated the different parts he wanted to refute! (cf. Catolicismo, April 1971). This also shows on which side the mystification lies. In any case, what is important is that a qualified source in the “Pax” association, which constitutes a docile tool in the hands of the Polish communist government, has considered it timely to warn its intellectual circles against this work, a sign that Communism fears that Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue could do it serious harm in its own territory behind the Iron Curtain.
- Communism’s progress in Italy in no way invalidates what we say about the failure of the old techniques of explicit communist proselytism. On the contrary, it proves the success of the new techniques. At least the center-left, left, and extreme left currents of the Italian Christian Democratic Party have been extensively worked over by feelings of affinity and fear, cleverly exploited by ICP. In Italy this disguises its materialistic and atheistic character as much as possible, and it continually appeals for an accord with the Catholics. This softens up the Christian Democrats. Simultaneously, the danger of a war continues to dominate the Peninsula’s political panorama. From this comes the greater flexibility of the Christian Democratic Party in relation to the left, and the “good neighbor” politics between it and socialism. In turn, both – these factors weaken the anticommunist dispositions of the majority of the population, facilitate the expansion of the Communist Party, and above all produce a dangerous sliding of the center toward the socialist left, even in the ranks of the Christian Democrats. A similar phenomenon is taking place in the other so-called centrist parties of Italy, which have also been worked over by a similar communist strategy. This exposes Italy to grave danger nowadays.
- We developed this thought in our essay Revolution and Counter-Revolution (The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, 1980). We had the joy of finding that the essay’s main theses on the French Revolution being the cause of Communism were also affirmed by 269 of the Prelates present at the Second Vatican Council from 66 countries in a substantial statement of reasons in a petition promoted by two Brazilian prelates, Most Reverend Msgr. Geraldo de Proenca Sigaud, S.V.D., then Archbishop of Diamantina, and Most Reverend Msgr. Antonio de Castro Mayer, then Bishop of Campos, asking that the Council condemn socialism and communism anew. The complete text of this petition was published in Catolicismo, January 1964.
- This is a well-known myth, already present in the lucubrations of certain Protestant sects that appeared in the XVI Century, as well as in the ideology of certain “avant-garde” personages of the French Revolution. We will discuss it further in Chapter IV, 2.
- In passing, we make a marginal commentary which can elucidate an important aspect of the communist problem in our days. The considerations that we make in this chapter are important for the study of the true nature of the current estrangement between Russia and Communist China. In view of the reasons we mentioned, communism logically must renovate its methods completely in order to begin this new stage of its struggle. With each new event of importance that occurs in the Communist world – such as the split between Russia and China – we must look beyond the proximate and visible causes to see how it fits into the new methods and ends of the latest communist strategy. A careful observer must then consider the Sino-Soviet dissension in this light with the keenest critical sense. Indeed, if it is true that there are natural differences between the national interests of Russia and China, and reasons for competition between the Russian and Chinese Communist Parties for the world leadership of the communist movement, it should be noted that the split between the two “greats” of Communism presents, from the propagandistic point of view, another aspect of a wide scope. In light of the fear-sympathy syndrome it is apparent that to the free world communist China shows a somber and aggressive face which can work on the fears of the West, while Russia’s proposals of peaceful coexistence and the symptoms of its having “softened up” cause vibrations in the fibers of soul sympathetic to communism on this side of the Iron Curtain. These two faces, Russian and Chinese, are two sides of the same coin and could well be, as it were, a device for exerting a double psychological pressure on the fear-sympathy syndrome in the public opinion of the Free World, thus serving the highest interests of communist expansionism. To understand the plausibility of this hypothesis, one must keep in mind that these interests are ultimately common to all Marxists, whether Russian or Chinese. Similar considerations should be made about the current tendency toward some kind of reestablishment of the free enterprise system in Russia. On one hand, if Russia, for now desisting from a suicidal war, wants to compete with the United States in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence in the field of production, it must necessarily appeal for the reestablishment, although rudimentary, of free enterprise. The Soviet experiment has proven that progress in sectors where production is least sufficient is possible in no other way. But won’t this reestablishment be used propagandistically for other purposes? For example, will it not neutralize minds in the Free World and prepare them for the illusion that Russia is heading for a merely semisocialist democratic regime, and that the dangerous contrast between the two worlds could be eliminated if the West, in the interest of peace, consented to heavily “socialize” itself while Russia concurrently “capitalized” itself a bit? What retreats and capitulations could the action of this illusion over fear-sympathy syndrome predispose the free nations to make!
- We do not take the expressions “agrarian reform,” “business reform,” and “urban renewal” in their proper and natural senses, which can merely denote a just and proportional improvement in the living conditions of city workers, farm workers, small rural landowners, and tenants, respecting the principle of private property and attending to the social function proper to it (cf.Reforma Agraria — Questao de Consciencia by Most Rev. Geraldo de Proenca Sigaud, Most Rev. Antonio de Castro Mayer, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, and Luiz Mendonca de Freitas, Ed. Vera Cruz, 4th edition, Sâo Paulo, 1962, pp. XIX and 9). We use them in the current sense given to them by demagogy – laws that mutilate private property with the pretext of imposing the exercise of its social function, as if the proper exercise of a function could mean the destruction of the right itself. The protection of workers and of small rural landowners; the participation of employees in the profits, management, and property of enterprise, as long as it is encouraged where appropriate and not imposed by law; and the protection of renters against possible excesses of lessors, have nothing to do with the confiscatory measures about which we have just spoken.
- Here we do not mean to say that everyone who promotes reforms of this nature is necessarily a communist. The process of ideological transshipment is unperceived not only by its patients, but at times by some of those who do it.
- A graphic example of the efficacy of this surreptitious sliding of whole countries toward Communism through unperceived ideological transshipment in certain sectors of opinion, is found in Algeria, Tunisia, and above all in Egypt, where it appears to be far advanced. The successive curtailments of the right to property and free enterprise have led those nations to a profoundly socialist state of affairs which increasingly leans to the extreme left. The anticommunist statements of some of their leaders do not prove that the transformations they have imposed are not communist or do not tend toward communism. The Communist character of a transformation is a question of its nature and not of the label the politicians completing the transformation give it. By the same token, Nasser’s reforms are no less extremely socialist simply because the Communist Party is forbidden in Egypt. It would be very childish for someone to deduce from that prohibition that the country is heading in directions opposite to those of communism. Neither in Egypt, nor Algeria, nor in Tunisia (we speak of the natives) were seen reactions proportional to those in Cuba during the explicit, even theatrical, Bolshevization promoted by Fidel Castro. Even world opinion was not as impressed by the advance of Communism in North Africa as it was with that in Cuba.
- We evidently use the word “talismanic” here, and later the word “magic,” in their current meanings and in a metaphorical way.
- We use the expression “separated brethren,” now so much in vogue, throughout this study. We occasionally alternate it with “heretic” and “schismatic,” which are becoming less used in certain circles. We do this intentionally, since “separated brethren” is an expression also undergoing talismanic use. All men, created by the same God and descending from the same first parents, are brothers. Those who believe in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Redeemer of the human race, and who were baptized in His name, are brothers in an even nobler sense. No matter how deep and strong differences among men may be, these marks of fraternity remain. Therefore, nothing is more legitimate than the term “separated brethren”. To say “legitimate” is to say but little. “Separated brethren,” with evident stress on “brethren,” has the merit of giving those who use it a more vivid and up-to-date awareness of these fraternal bonds’ precedence over divisions, and thus it is a useful factor in precious apostolic overtures. Still, if it is necessary at times to emphasize that so many men who are separated from us are our brothers, it is no less necessary to emphasize at other times that they are not just any brothers but, on the contrary, are ones profoundly separated from us. The whole truth of the situation of non-Catholics relative to Catholics lies in the due and full appraisal of both elements – fraternity and separation. Now, the nature of this separation is expressed with admirable moral and canonical precision by the words “heresy” and “schism.” These words call to mind the juridical and magisterial authority of the Church, the enormous gravity of error or revolt against the Church, the severity of ecclesiastical sanctions and the necessity of the faithful remaining on guard against contagion from the unfaithful. Thus, to limit, or even suppress, the use of the words “heretic” and “schismatic” to speak only of “separated brethren,” amounts to a true talismanic mutilation of the real extent of this separation. This mutilation is particularly harmful in a climate as infested with irenicism and religious relativism as ours. This could go so far that a Catholic magazine in Holland aptly wondered when we would begin to ban the word “devil” and use only “separated angel”.
- This risk was not absent from the preoccupations of Vatican Council II, which determined that the task of better understanding the thinking of our “separated brethren” and of showing them our faith in the most efficient manner, above all through meetings in which theological matters might be discussed, does no rest on just any Catholics, but on “truly competent persons,” under the vigilance of the bishops (cf. “Decreto Conciliar de Ecumenismo,” November 21, 1964, no. 9 – AAS, LVII 1, p. 98). Clearly, “truly competent persons” is to be understood as those who have not only sufficient study to enable them to go unscathed by the sophisms of heresy, but who are also sufficiently firm in the theological virtue of Faith.
- To us, dialectic as conceived by Aristotle, though inspired by Plato, does not appear to be closely related to our theme (cf. A. Lalande, op. cit., ibid.).
- In treating “dialogue” in the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Paul VI uses the Latin word “colloquium” (loqui cum). The Portuguese equivalent, “colóquio,” also serves to designate any interlocution in the broad sense of the term.
- Contrary to argument and especially argument-investigation, dialogue entertainment has only a distant relationship with the platonic notion of dialogue.
- If dialogue-investigation includes occasional disagreements, what is the basis of its distinction from argument? Dialogue-investigation does not examine a subject about which the interlocutors disagree, but rather one about which both are at least partially ignorant. Here disagreement is merely an occasional and sporadic episode relative to some aspect of investigation. The object of argument is a subject about which there is disagreement, and it includes fundamentally and continuously the use of argumentation.
- A comparison between the terminology adopted here and that used by Paul VI in the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (AAS, LVI, 10, pp -609-59) is helpful. The theme of that document is very different from that of this work. Paul VI is basically teaching what he calls the dialogue of salvation, the apostolic dialogue of the Church, principally showing its characteristics, modes and its immense ambit, which encompasses all mankind. Consequently, the encyclical is concerned only collaterally with certain negative aspects of dialogue, as the hypothesis of a dialogue with the communists, which it classifies as “very difficult, if not impossible,” or the inviability of dialogue when non-Catholics “refuse it completely, or pretend to want to accept it.” Paul VI also refers collaterally to the danger of irenicism and syncretism in dialogue. Now in this study, the dialogue that we propose to analyze and bring to the attention of public opinion is precisely the opposite. It is not the dialogue desired by the Church to attract souls, but the dialogue cunningly distorted by communism to deviate or keep people from the Church. It is only in a preparatory and explicative sense that we concern ourselves with good dialogue. Likewise in the context of the Encyclical all the forms of interlocution between Catholics and non-Catholics including pugnacious argument and even polemics, are only rejected when “offensive” and “violent” as “frequently” happens. Therefore, Paul VI does not exclude good debate or good polemic. Thus, in the spirit of the encyclical, interlocution, which we here call dialogue in the broad sense (lato sensu), comprises as morally legitimate forms (besides dialogue-entertainment and dialogue-investigation) the three modes of argument which we call argument-dialogue, argument pure and simple, and polemics. But it is easy to see that Paul VI dwells longer on argument-dialogue, notable for its cordiality, and that he even considers it to be the one form that “most genuinely has the nature of dialogue.” In this perspective, argument pure and simple and polemics are authentic and legitimate forms of dialogue, albeit less complete. All this is to show the harmony between what we affirm about legitimate dialogue and what the encyclical about the dialogue of salvation teaches. Several of the censures we make of bad dialogue differentiate it fundamentally from the apostolic dialogue of the Church taught by Ecclesiam Suam. The latter dialogue contains nothing relativistic: it aims essentially at the conversion of non-Catholics. In addition, Catholic apostolic dialogue does not share in the irenistic illusion that the non-Catholic interlocutor is always in good faith. When speaking of the possible insincerity of certain interlocutors, the hardness of those who close their ears to the Church’s efforts at dialogue, and the dangers of irenicism and syncretism as elements of falsification of the dialogue of salvation, the Encyclical does not ignore the fact that original sin has left effects in men. Finally, though Ecclesiam Suam treats irenicism merely in passing, it nevertheless explicitly rejects irenicism and shows the apprehensions of Paul VI regarding it. Moreover, no one who had read the exhortation to the Lenten Preachers and Pastors of Rome, of February 12, 1964 – even before the encyclical – could have doubted his apprehensions. There Paul VI energetically affirms: “The sword of the spirit seems (at the moment) to rest in the scabbard of doubt and irenicism. But it is precisely for this reason that the message of religious truth ought to resound with greater strength. Men need to believe in him who shows certainty in what he teaches” (L’Osservalore Romano, French edition, February 21, 1964).
- In this sense, see what Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, Summa Theologica, 2-2, Q. 158, a. 1.
- “ll faut vivre comme on pense, sinon, tôt ou tard, on finit par penser comme on a vécu” – Paul Bourget, Le Démon du Midi, Librairie Plon, Paris, 1914, Vol. 11, p. 375.
- “All other things, above all the inferior, are ordered to the good of man as their proper end. If nothing evil existed in things, the good of man would be greatly diminished both as regards his understanding, as well as his desire for or love of good. Good is better understood through comparison with evil, and when we suffer some evils we desire the good more ardently: as the sick understand better than anyone the goodness of health, and desire it more ardently than the healthy. For this reason, Divine Providence does not totally exclude evil from things.” – St. Thomas Aquinas, Contra Gent., 111, 71.
- It may be said in passing that the condemnation of argument pure and simple and of polemics leads to the rejection of apologetics. Bad apologetics is a kind of counterpart to bad argument and bad polemic. Bad apologetics is apriorism, unilaterality, and passionate immoderation in praising or defending something, or in vituperating or attacking something. But good apologetics is the companion of good argument and good polemics. Thus, apologetics must be defended, mutatis mutandis, exactly in the same terms as argument pure and simple and polemics. In turn, bad hagiography is the transposition of bad apologetics to the field of religious historiography. Thus one frequently sees the word used in a pejorative sense, as if all hagiography were nothing more than an edifying legend without historical value, a kind of Christian fairy tale. One can easily see that the defense of good hagiography should be made with arguments similar to those of the defense of good apologetics, good debate, and good polemics, of which it is a noble companion.
- “God has never made and formed but one enmity; but it is an irreconcilable one, which shall endure and grow even to the end. It is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the Devil – between the children and the servants of the Blessed Virgin, and the children and tools of Lucifer… God has not only set an enmity, but enmities, not simply between Mary and the devil, but between the race of the Holy Virgin and the race of the devil; that is to say, God has set enmities, antipathies, and secret hatreds, between the true children and slaves of Mary and the children and slaves of the devil. They have no love for each other. They have no sympathy for each other. The children of Belial, the slaves of Satan, the friends of the world (for it is the same thing), have always up to this time persecuted those who belong to our Blessed Lady, and will in the future persecute them more than ever; just as Cain, of old, persecuted his brother Abel, and Esau his brother Jacob, who are the figures of the reprobate and the predestinate” – St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, New York, 1955, nos. 52 & 54, pp. 33-34).
- Here we understand the word “irenicism” not in the sense of a temperate love and true peace, but in that of a disorderly intemperate love of a peace obtained at any price to the harm of principles, acquired rights, etc. In short, we refer to an unauthentic peace. Pius XII, in the Encyclical Humani Generis of August 12, 1950, says of this kind of irenicism: “There is also another danger, which is graver still since it is hidden under the cloak of virtue. There are many who, deploring the discord within the human race and the confusion reigning in souls, are forcefully impelled by an ardent desire to break the barriers which separate good and honorable men from each other,- they embrace an “irenicism” (policy of appeasement) such that, putting to the side all the questions that divide men, they pretend not only to join forces against an overwhelming atheism but also to reconcile contrary opinions even in the dogmatic field… If such persons intended nothing but to better accommodate, with some renovation, ecclesiastical teaching and its methods to current needs and conditions, there would be practically no reason to fear; but some, carried away by imprudent “irenicism,” seem to consider an obstacle to the reestablishment of that fraternal unity precisely that which is based on the laws and principles established by Christ and the institutions founded by Him, or that which constitutes the defense and support of the integrity of the Faith. If all this were to collapse, all things would become united, indeed, but only for their perdition” (Discorsi e Radiomessagi, vol. XII, p. 488). Paul VI also speaks expressively about this irenicism in the part of his Lenten exhortation to the priests and clergymen of Rome, cited in footnote 16.
- Could the talismanic word “dialogue” – sometime in the remote future – lead those who use it to a gnostic-platonic religious position in which the interlocutors, by using the word, would reciprocally seek to awaken reminiscences of the past before the fall? Doubtless, there are elements in the word “dialogue” useful for this passage from Hegel to Plato. “Habent sua fata fibelli,” says the proverb. “Habent sua fata verba” we would say about words in general, especially about the talismanic word. “Qui vivra verra?” He who lives will see. It is difficult here to go beyond conjectures.
- Obviously, the word “worldly” is not used here in its usual sense, that is, of a person excessively attached to an elegant, refined, and often frivolous social life. Frivolity is always an evil. Elegance and refinement are praiseworthy in themselves, and if the frivolous man is one type of the worldly in our sense of the word, the elegant and refined man is not necessarily so.
- Could it be said that, in the Hegelian phase, all forms of interlocution between persons of different ideological positions (therefore, dialogue-entertainment, dialogue-investigation, argument-dialogue, discussion pure and simple, and polemics) continue to exist in appearance but in reality become reduced to mere forms of Hegelian “ludus?” Strictly speaking to admit this it would be necessary to insist that each one of these modes of interlocution, to the degree it is impregnated with a “Indic” sense has an extrinsic resemblance to the same mode taken in its legitimate sense (cf. Chap. IV, 1, B). Once this is admitted we see no obstacle to saying “yes” to the question. But an analysis of these extensive perspectives would require another work.
- Upon reading these considerations, a victim of the talismanic word “dialogue” will doubtless ask whether the author, so hostile to irenicism, is indifferent to the danger of a thermo-nuclear hecatomb. This question is in itself an insult, since only an insane or soulless man can be indifferent to such danger. A Catholic who does not really fear it, is not sincere in his faith. He is really nothing but a Pharisee. But for a sincere Catholic there is an even greater evil than war: sin. St. Augustine makes this idea very clear: “What is there to recriminate in war? Is it the fact that men destined to die one day are killed in it, so that the victors can live in peace? To thus censure war would be something for the pusillanimous and not religious men to do. What is justly reprimanded in war is the desire to do harm, the cruelty of vengeance, a spirit implacable and inimical to all peace, the ferocity of reprisals, the passion for dominion, and other like sentiments” (Cont. Faust., XXII, 74, PL. 42, 447). If these are the sins which war can induce men to commit, much graver is the sin to which, in the present circumstances, irenicism can lead them. This sin is apostasy, the most serious of all sins because it attacks Faith – the root of all virtues. If the condition of preserving peace is for the sons of the Church to accept a relativistic view of religion – fraudulently introduced in then by the talismanic word “dialogue” and the like – and a socialist civilization, then it must be frankly recognized that the human race is given the alternative of either obeying God, who commands us to believe in what He revealed, or obeying the communist despots who, brandishing their hydrogen bomb, command us to reject revelation. And confronted with this alternative once more there is nothing to doubt: “We ought to obey God rather than men,” warns the Prince of Apostles (Acts 5:29). In reality, however, we deny that the options confronting mankind are either apostasy or atomic destruction. True, there is the Divine precept on one hand and the communist threat on the other. But the danger of a thermo-nuclear hecatomb will be greater if we disobey God than if we disobey the despots of Peking and Moscow. If public opinion, dominated by the fear-sympathy syndrome and intoxicated with the talismanic words of irenicism, including “dialogue,” accepts a relativistic and Hegelian conception of religion, it will inevitably result in the non-communist nations accepting, in terms of coexistence and to preserve peace, the worldwide establishment of Communism. This supreme sin, precisely on being committed by nations and not only by individuals, is subject to Divine Justice in a very special way. Indeed, while the sins of individuals can be punished in this world or the next, it is not that way with the sins of nations. As St. Augustine says, since nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next life, they are rewarded for their good actions and punished for their bad actions here on earth. Thus, in terms of justice, to a supreme sin of countries corresponds a supreme punishment in this world. And this could well be a thermonuclear catastrophe. There is more danger of such a catastrophe in apostasy than in fidelity. This affirmation will be even better proven if we consider not only the punishment, but also the reward. Nations faithful to the Law of God should receive just recompense on this earth. Nothing then is more suitable to attract the protection and favor of God to a nation, even regarding the goods of this life, than heroic fidelity in the face of a thermo-nuclear danger. This fidelity is the means par excellence to drive this danger away.